The 15 Best Water Shoes For All Adventures

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Single runner running in rain and making splash in puddle

Water shoes can keep you comfortable and safe while participating in fun activities such as kayaking, surfing, or fishing. They’ll save your hide because they drain water quickly and are usually made of a material that doesn’t absorb water.

Wearing water shoes is smart, even if you think they may be overkill. Trying to kayak in sneakers will lead to blisters, and I’ve lost more than one flip-flop on sticky, sandy riverbanks.

On a grosser note, water shoes can protect you from critters and bacteria that might try to snack on your toes. Good traction helps keep you safe on wet and slippery surfaces, and some water shoes also have insulation, which is great for chilly waters.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a pair of water shoes.

  • Performance. You want shoes that perform well in the activities you’ll be participating in. Performance might include traction if you hike in rocky terrain or shoes that protect your ankle in loose terrain.
  • Fashion. Gotta look good out there.
  • Fit and comfort. This is tops for me. I don’t care how I look, but I’ve got to be comfortable.
  • Support, especially if you tend toward issues such as plantar fasciitis.
  • Price and value.
  • Durability. Do you kayak once a year or every weekend?
  • Personal preference.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to the 15 best water shoes to help get you started.

TL;DR: Water Shoes Compared

Brand Best For Durability Price
Astral Loyak (Men, Women) Water Crossing Good $$
Speedo Surfknot Pro (Men, Women) Paddling Medium $
Crocs Lightride Pacer (Men, Women) Overall Comfort Good $$
Foot Tracker Wading Boots Anglers Excellent $$$
Keen Newport Hydro Sandal (Men, Women) Rocky, Wet Hikes Good $$
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Best Water Shoes

1. Astral Loyak (Both Men and Women)

Astral Loyak AC Water Shoes - Women's
Astral / REI

The Astral Loyak comes in styles for men and women and is a great shoe for those who do vigorous activities around water. They are made of breathable materials, so your feet don’t squish around and stay wet.

The Astral Loyak AC women’s water shoe has ripstop mesh uppers to keep debris out. It also has thermoplastic urethane reinforcements to prevent abrasion.

They are durable and have excellent traction to prevent accidents on slippery surfaces. The downside is that they take a little longer to dry than some brands, and they are available only in whole sizes – no half sizes. They also aren’t recommended for heavy use in whitewater.

Astral Loyak Water Shoes - Men's
Astral / REI

The men’s style also has excellent traction and is flexible and comfortable. It has canvas uppers, an air mesh lining, and drainage holes at the toe and heel to let water escape and prevent silt from entering.

The style also takes longer to dry and has no half sizes. Both men’s and women’s start at around $100, but I think these are worth it based on traction, comfort, and style. These would be great to have on a river cruise because they’re stylish and comfortable even when wet.

Pros

  • Excellent traction
  • Keep debris out

Cons

  • Not quick drying
  • Not for whitewater use

See Related: The Ultimate Beach Packing List: What to Bring to the Beach

2. Crocs LiteRide Pacer (Men and Women)

Crocs Womens Literide 360 Pacer
Crocs / Amazon

The Cros LiteRide Pacers are different from most Crocs you’re used to – y’know, the ones you own that are somehow coming back into style. These look like sneakers with drainage holes and are fashionable enough to go from the water to streetwear. Heck, they’re fashionable enough not to look like Crocs.

Both the women’s version and men’s version have light, resilient foam insoles and come in a range of colors. They are great for canoeing, boating, or walking the dog in the rain. They are budget-friendly options, costing about $35 to $40.

Reviewers of men’s and women’s styles say they felt comfortable wearing them. They also praised the shoe’s stylishness. The downside of these shoes is that they only come in whole sizes and require a little longer to dry than some water shoes.

Pros

  • Fashionable
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Whole sizes only
  • Not quick drying

FUN FACT: Crocs were chosen as the default footwear of the future world in the Mike Judge cult classic Idiocracy. Ever wonder why? In a New York Times interview Mike Judge said:

“…when we were shooting the movie, the wardrobe designer showed me these shoes — they weren’t out in the world yet. And she said, “This is a start-up, they’re making these shoes and they’re going to look completely ridiculous.” Plastic shoes with holes in them.

And I said to her, “The only thing I’m worried about is, what if these things blow up and by the time the movie comes out, they’re everywhere?” And she said, “Oh, that’s never going to happen. No one is going to buy these things.”

And then, the movie comes out, and they are all wearing Crocs, and those shoes were just becoming huge.

See Related: Best Hiking Shorts for Men and Women

3. Speedo Surfknit Pro (Men and Women)

Speedo Women's Water Shoe Surfknit Pro
Crocs / Amazon

The Speedo Surfknit Pro has an S-Trac-designed outsole that disperses water and improves performance. It is thick enough to offer protection against rocks and sharp objects. The shoe also has a comfortable and removable hydrophobic rubber EVA insole.

Both the men’s and women’s versions are pull-on styles, which makes them easy to slip on and off and especially good for those who have trouble tying laces. The shoe dries quickly, in about two hours, and more quickly if you remove the insoles. They cost about $40, which isn’t too bad considering what you’re getting.

Some reviewers said the women’s water shoes added a little resistance to pool workouts while also improving traction. Male reviewers said they wore them for laps around the river. One downside is that the sizing seems to be slightly off.

Some reviewers say the shoe tends to run large, while others found it to run small. Another potential downside is that they look like water shoes, so fashion-conscious folks will want to bring along a pair of land shoes if they plan to do much walking in the city after their swim.

Pros

  • Protects against sharp objects
  • Easy slip-on
  • Quick drying

Cons

  • Look like water shoes
  • Sizing isn’t always standard

See Related: Best Travel Sandals for Beach Destinations

4. DigiHero Water Shoes (Unisex)

DigiHero Water Shoes for Women and Men
DigiHero / Amazon

DigiHero water shoes are a great budget water shoe option that come in various colors to match any swimsuit. They are good for water yoga, surfing, or pool swimming.

They also are good for traveling, because they take flatten to take up very little space. They are very quick drying and are usually dry in under two hours.

Although they are marketed as shoes, they are more like water socks, which makes them a decent option if you prefer socks or more flex in your feet. They also have a snug fit but start at $10, so it’s also a great budget option.

The main downside is that the soles are very thin, so they wouldn’t be appropriate for much walking on rough terrain or rocky beaches.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Quick drying

Cons

  • Thin soles

See Related: 40 Best Hiking Trails in the World

5. Salomon Tech Amphib 5 (Men and Women)

Salomon Tech Amphib 5 Water Shoes - Women's
Salomon / REI

The Salomon Tech Amphib 5 water shoes have a tough rubber sole, protect feet and provide a reliable grip on slippery decks, wet rocks, and rocky trails. They are made of quick-drying, breathable materials that keep out dirt and debris. They are excellent shoes for water sports and are fashionable enough to wear downtown afterward.

Salomon Tech Amphib 5 Water Shoes - Men's
Salomon / REI

Both the men’s and women’s water shoes have collapsible heels, so you can wear them as regular shoes or as slip-ons with the heel down. The price is a bit on the spendy side at about $110.

Reviewers say the women’s sizes run quite large; however, the men’s run true to size. The reviewers also give the shoes high marks for trekking around rivers. One reviewer of the men’s style who had wide toes and narrow feet said the shoe was too narrow midfoot and caused discomfort.

Pros

  • Excellent traction
  • Fashionable
  • Collapsible heels

Cons

  • Women’s sizes run large

6. Native Shoes Jefferson Shoes (Kids)

Native Shoes Jefferson Shoes - Kids' in Apricot
Native Shoes / REI

Native Shoes Jefferson Shoes are great water shoes for kids. They come in bright, kid-friendly colors and have all-over perforations that help feet breathe. They slip on easily and clean quickly.

The EVA discourages bacteria growth. They are also sustainable because they are recyclable and a vegan option. They are a good choice for water parks, pools, and beaches.

Good Housekeeping says they are durable enough to last all summer. That all depends on what you’re doing all summer, as some reviews say that the shoes are not durable or comfortable enough for hikes or long walks.

Pros

  • Great, durable kids shoe
  • Easy slip-on
  • Sustainable

Cons

  • Only work well for shorter walks

See Related: Essential Tips for Hiking with Kids & Toddlers

7. KEEN Newport Hydro Sandal (Men and Women)

KEEN Women's Newport H2 Sandal
KEEN / Amazon

The Keen Newport Hydro sandal is a water sandal with a closed-toe design. The shoe has a non-marking rubber outsole, so you can wear it indoors as well as outdoors. It also has multi-directional lugs for strong gripping. These are great for river crossing and rock hopping. You never know when a great hike will get wet, so be prepared!

Its cushioned insole is comfortable. The shoe also has Eco Anti-Odor to break down sweat and odor and rigid toe bumpers to protect your feet. The shoe has a cinch cord for tightening or loosening the fit and is suitable for most adventures.

KEEN Men's Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandals
KEEN / Amazon

The women’s shoes run small, so you should order a slightly larger size. The men’s run true to size. You can also order a half size, if necessary. Prices range from about $90 to $130, depending on size.

Most reviews of the shoes praise them highly, although one wearer would like a video to help them tighten or loosen the shoes. One person thought they were too heavy. One person complained of chafing when the shoes were new.

Pros

  • Grips well
  • Anti-odor
  • Non-marking rubber sole

Cons

  • Women’s sizes run small
  • Some may consider them heavy

8. Foot Tracker Wading Boots (Men)

Foot Tractor Wading Boots - Sticky Rubber
Foot Tractor / Patagonia

While we consider water shoes as either a thin slip-on or a water-friendly sneaker, they come in all shapes and sizes. For example, these Foot Tracker wading boots are made primarily for anglers.

They are extremely durable and comfortable, sold by Patagonia, and developed in partnership with Danner (one of my favorite bootmakers). Uppers are made of leather with nylon padding.

The outsole uses Vibram® Idrogrip, which keeps you from slipping on mixed-surface riverbeds and streams. The boots come with studs for times when you need more traction. The boots also feature perforated drains to clear water quickly.

They are pricy, running around $450 and up. However, one reviewer points out that they outlast several pairs of other brands, making them a better value in the long run.

You can also have the boots resoled through Danner. The boots also are a bit heavier than some competitors, weighing about 69 ounces. Patagonia and Danner offer a lighter-weight version, River Salt wading boots, for hikes and wet wading.

Pros

  • Great for anglers
  • Excellent gripping technology with optional studs
  • Durable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Very pricy

See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World

9. Bahama Vent PFG (Men and Women)

Men's Bahama™ Vent Loco III Shoe
Columbia / Columbia

The Bahama Vent PFG is a lightweight vented casual shoe that’s great for tropical vacations and offers traction for boat, boat decks, and land use. The men’s upper combines leather and canvas, while the women’s is made of breathable mesh.

The midsole provides cushioning. The sole on the men’s style also has ports for venting. You can easily slip the shoe on.

Women's PFG Slackwater™ Breeze Slip Shoe
Columbia / Columbia

The men’s style starts at about $55. Reviews praise the sole’s superior gripping nonmarking qualities. The women’s style starts at about $45.

The shoes are also good for boaters who prefer socially responsible companies because they were made as part of BSR’s HERproject™, which strives to empower women. Customer reviews praise their style, fit, and comfort but say the stitching wears quickly. They also say the shoes smell when worn without socks. Ew.

Pros

  • Traction
  • Easy slip-on
  • Socially responsible brand

Cons

  • May smell after being worn

See Related: Best Vacation Dresses for Summer & Beach Trips

10. Merrell Hydro Moc (Men, Women, and Kids)

Merrell Hydro Moc for Men, Women, and Kids
Merrell / REI

The Merrell Hydro Moc is an extremely lightweight and easily packable water shoe that is comfortable with or without socks. The shoe also is durable and supportive enough for short walks. The upper is porous, which makes it a good choice for many aquatic adventures, such as pool swimming, kayaking, and boating, but not for walking on the beach.

Prices start at about $30 for kids and $60 for men’s and women’s styles. The kid’s and women’s styles come in fun colors. The men’s are a bit more basic.

Reviewers like the heel strap for a good, snug fit. They also say the shoes have great traction in rocky river crossings; however, the holes let debris in. Some reviewers say the support is not quite optimal for longer hikes.

Pros

  • Packable
  • Durable
  • Good traction

Cons

  • Let debris in
  • Support may not be enough for long hikes

11. Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch (Men and Women)

Body Glove Women's 3t Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe
Body Glove / Amazon

The Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch is a great water shoe for people who prefer barefoot but want protection and traction. The shoes have stretchy neoprene uppers and grippy rubber soles, protecting against rocks, coral, and slippery surfaces.

Their snug fit and flexibility are reminiscent of rock climbing shoes. They work best for surfing, river and ocean adventures, kayaking, and powerboarding. They have an excellent drainage system and dry quickly.

Body Glove Men's 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe
Body Glove / Amazon

The women’s version costs about $60 to $70; the men’s starts at around $40. Some reviewers complained that they had to wait several weeks to receive the shoes after placing their orders.

Another reviewer said that since the shoes were similar to aqua socks, you don’t need the thumb space that you typically need in athletic shoes. Some people complained of blisters on the heel.

Pros

  • Stretchy neoprene uppers
  • Gripper soles
  • Dry quickly

Cons

  • Slow to arrive when ordered online
  • Some users experienced blisters on their heels

12. Waverunner (Men and Women)

Wave Runner Men's Water Shoes - Quick Drying Performance and Travel Aqua Sneakers
Wave Runner / Amazon

Waverunner is one of the best water sneakers. The lightweight shoe has stretchy mesh materials around the foot and an anti-slip rubber sole that protects your feet from sharp rocks and other objects.

Drainage holes keep the shoe dry. They are good for hiking, swimming, and boating and are comfortable. Because they are sneakers, you can also wear them out of the water.

Wave Runner Water Shoes for Women - Quick Drying Water Shoes with Style - Outdoor Lightweight No-Slip Aqua Sneakers
Wave Runner / Amazon

They come in various bright colors. As of writing, the men’s version costs about $30, and the women’s Waverunners about $27.

The downside is that small pebbles sometimes get stuck in the holes of the soles. Also, while many reviewers found them comfortable all day, others found the arch supports less than optimal.

Pros

  • Protects feet from sharp objects
  • Stay dry
  • Fashionable
  • Good price point

Cons

  • Debris can get stuck in the soles

13. NRS Kicker Wetshoes (Men and Women)

NRS Men's Kicker Wetshoes
NRS / Amazon

These shoes look like classic water shoes. Neoprene uppers have a titanium coating that provides good insulation, making them a good choice in colder weather. However, the downside is that a neoprene upper requires more drying time than a breathable mesh upper.

The shoe also lacks drainage ports, which may give them a squishy feel. However, without holes, the shoes are less susceptible to debris getting into them. The toe box provides sufficient room for wide feet.

NRS Women's Kicker Wetshoes
NRS / Amazon

The shoes have a rubber outsole and are perfect on wet surfaces. They also have a 2mm shim in the soles that protects them from sharp rocks.

They don’t perform as well on muddy surfaces, however. Reviewers liked the cuff, which you can tighten for a snug fit to keep out grit.

Both the men’s and women’s versions of these water shoes sell for about $53.

Pros

  • Good insulation
  • Rubber outsole provides traction and protects from rocks
  • Keep out debris

Cons

  • Requires time to dry
  • Not suitable for muddy surfaces

See Related: Best Personal Item Bags for Travelers

14. WHITIN Amphibious Water Shoes (Men’s)

WHITIN Men's Quick Drying WHITIN 
 Amphibious Water Shoes
WHITIN / Amazon

WHITIN Amphibious Water Shoes are reasonably priced, fashionable, and quick drying. Removable insoles further speed up the drying. They can go from water to town easily.

They have a roomy toe box, mesh uppers, and an excellent water drainage system. They also have rubber soles for traction and a heel counter for strength and stability.

They are best for shorter hikes, boating, water sports, and places where trendy shoes are important. They’re also pretty affordable, at about $40.

Reviewers write they are comfortable and easy to put on and take off. They also praise their lightweight. Some found glue on their shoes and said they weren’t wide enough.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fashionable
  • Good traction and stability

Cons

  • Some are reported to have excess glue on them
  • Inconsistent sizing

15. Chaco Z Cloud 2 Water and Sports Sandal (Men and Women)

Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandals - Women's
Chaco / REI

Chaco is a well-known brand that’s been around since the 1980s. The company is known for its social responsibility and gives 3 percent of its after-tax profits to causes that help the planet and people. The company’s customer service also is top-notch.

Chaco shoes are popular for both water and land adventures. Chaco shoes feature a single strap that loops around the big toe, foot, and ankle that you can adjust with a buckle.

The strap on the regular shoes does not adjust enough for wide feet; however, Z Cloud 2s do come in a wider width. They have a memory foam-type sole. The sandals also have non-marking rubber soles and podiatrist-certified Luvseat polyurethane footbeds.

Chaco Z/Cloud Sandals - Men's
Chaco / REI

Sandals dry more quickly than closed-toe water shoes; however, they don’t offer as much protection as full coverage water shoes in rugged terrain. Before buying sandals as your primary water shoe, consider how you’ll use them. They are great for boat trips, beach walking, wading, water sports, and short hikes.

Women’s and men’s styles come with various colored straps and retail for about $100. They have a vegan-friendly construction. Reviewers caution that you must adjust the strap properly for a good fit.

Also, some people didn’t like the way the strap fits around their toes. Another reviewer, who suffers from plantar fasciitis, says they found the new version of these shoes to be very comfortable for all-day wear.

Pros

  • Non-marking soles
  • Podiatrist-certified footbeds
  • Quick drying
  • Socially responsible brand

Cons

  • Strap pleases some but irritates others
  • May not be suitable for rough terrain

How to Care for Your Water Shoes

Now that you’ve chosen your favorite water shoes, you’ll need to care for them properly to get your money’s worth. Here are a few tips:

  • Rinse your shoes with cold water after each pair of wearing them.
  • If the shoe has a removable sole, remove it and rinse it separately.
  • If you’ve worn them for a while, washing them completely will help prevent odors. You can wash them in a sink with warm water and dish or laundry soap or in a washing machine in water no hotter than 30 degrees.
  • Dry your shoes in the sun. If you have a removable sole, remove it and dry it separately. You should not dry them in a dryer.
  • If your shoes do pick up odors, use a sachet or activated charcoal disk to eliminate odors. Baking soda and tea bags can also be effective.

FAQs

Can you use water shoes for running and other sports?

You can sometimes use water shoes for other sports, depending on how much support the shoes provide your feet and arches. Some water shoes can work fine for hikes on dry land as well as water.

Running is a little more tricky. Because most water shoes are lightweight, they can be a good fit for people who sometimes run barefoot. However, most water shoes provide less cushion and support than running shoes and may not work as well for long-distance, high-performance running.

How do I choose the perfect size for water shoes?

Sizing depends on the brand and type of water shoe. Closed-toe shoes often require a size larger, especially if you are using them for hiking or water sports; however, this rule of thumb is not universally true.

To get the best fit, try shoes on in the store. If you buy online, read the reviews and manufacturer’s instructions to see whether the shoe runs true to size, large or small.

Also, consider whether you will wear the shoes in winter when you need thick neoprene socks. In that case, you might want to order a size larger than you typically wear.

What is the difference between water shoes and aqua socks?

Both aqua socks and water shoes protect your feet in the water. Although the lines between the two have become more blurred recently, traditionally, the main difference is that water shoes have rubber soles to provide grip.

Water socks or aqua socks are also frequently used by snorkelers and surfers in the water, while water shoes are often used on the rocky shore. People are increasingly using water shoes for kayaking and boating. Also, some minimalist water shoes have much in common with aqua socks.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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