Best Kayaking Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Quality

Do you love to be out on the water but find that your shoes are not made for that kind of purpose? No reason to be discouraged any longer! You will find the most excellent kayaking shoes available here, and each shoe has different properties which will help you maintain warm and comfortable feet no matter where your kayak takes you.

Featured Recommendations

Easy USA Wave
  • Easy USA Wave
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • TPR Injected Sole
  • Price: See Here
Aleader Mesh Slip On
  • Aleader Mesh Slip On
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • ComfortDry Sock Liner
  • Price: See Here
Northside Brille II
  • Northside Brille II
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • EVA Midsole
  • Price: See Here

It is essential to have good shoes while out on the water kayaking. Many people do not realize this until they experience something they will never forget. Cold feet and no traction will make you cringe when you think about getting into your kayak and heading out. There are plenty of other downsides to a poor kayaking shoe, or worse, no shoe at all. Having shoes that do not repel water will make you feel as if you have a set of rocks tied to your feet. This gives you a heavy feeling and can contribute to poor balance. Using no shoes at all is a terrible idea. The thought of stepping on rocks and oysters with no protection is cringe-worthy. Protection to your feet is everything in kayaking. A good grip, flexibility, and lightweight, waterproofed material is the route to go.

 

 

15 Best Kayaking Shoes

 

 

1. Easy USA Wave Water Shoes

These easy to use Easy USA Wave Water Shoes are one of a kind. The Easy USA Wave Water Shoes are ideal for kayaking as they are lightweight and repel water. Added protection on the bottom of this water shoe is bound to keep pain at bay while the mesh upper is quick drying for ultimate use. Available in many colors, the Easy USA Wave Water Shoes is stylish and comfortable!
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TPR Injected Outsole
The Easy USA Wave Water Shoes features a TPR Injected Outsole that is incredibly comfortable for a water shoe! The TPR Injected Outsole is machine washable and incredibly durable, protecting your feet from harm.

Mesh and Neoprene Upper
The Easy USA Wave Water Shoes offers a mesh and neoprene upper that is both quick drying and incredibly durable. Neoprene is one of the toughest, most excellent all around rubber. Get the job done using the Easy USA Wave Water Shoes.

Cost and Value
The Easy USA Wave Water Shoes has a lot to offer you in terms of kayaking. Mesh uppers allow for a quick drying method as the neoprene rubber infusion creates long lasting durability. TPR Injected Outsole give maximum comfort and protection at an affordable price. Stay tough with the Easy USA Wave Water Shoes.
Pros
  • TPR Injected Outsole
  • Neoprene and Mesh Upper
  • Maximum Comfort Sole
  • Quick Drying
  • Optimal Traction
Cons
  • Bunched Sole

2. Aleader Mesh Slip On

The ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes is made for the water and everything in between! Offering maximum protection, the ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes is made with your comfort in mind. Added technologies in the ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes will ensure that you will not slip, giving ultimate traction control. Dry liners are added to give a comfortable and cooling feel that will benefit the foots health for years to come.
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Water Grain Outsole
The ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes have a water grain outsole. The water grain outsole will keep you in an up right position while on the most slippery surfaces. Maximum grip and maximum comfort.

ComfortDry Sock Liner
The ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes were made with your foot health in mind. The ComfortDry sock liner is in place to help keep your feet cool and dry. By doing this, the ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes offer you a healthy climate for your feet at all times.

Cost and Value
Offering supreme protection, the ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes have been designed to fit all of your water sport needs. The cool and comfortable sole inserts allow for maximum protect and amazing comfort while the mesh upper delivers constant airflow. The no-slip traction is a well needed benefit for those slippery rocks and great stability to prevent any pain in the feet. The ALEADER Mesh Slip On Water Shoes come in many colors and sizes, made to fit your feet.
Pros
  • ComfortDry Sock Liner
  • Water Grain Outsole
  • Solyte Midsole
  • Mesh Upper
Cons
  • Narrow

3. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve

The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe is an all around outdoor shoe for a day in the woods that leads to an afternoon on the water. The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe provides an ultimate and durable sole that is puncture proof and built with added comfort. With a leather and neoprene upper, this shoe is made durable and flexible, without retaining water. With added odor eating technology, this shoe will stay odor free and will outlive any other water shoe.
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Unifly Midsole
The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe has an added technology that will deliver an endless comfort to the sole of your foot. The Unifly Midsole is put in place to ensure maximum comfort and absorb any shock your day my deliver.

Anti-Microbial Treatment
The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe is made fresh and covered in a layer of anti-microbial treatments that help eat and fight odors while they are on and off of your feet. The M Select FRESH treatment is one of a kind and will keep these shoes smelling fresh all day.

Cost and Value
With so many added features to the Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe, price is not an issue. The durable outsole gives excellent traction and support to your feet. An added technology prevents odors while a cushy midsole keeps long lasting comfort. With a shoe this good, there is no need to worry about your feet anymore while out on the water!
Pros
  • Unifly Midsole
  • Anti-Microbial Treatment
  • Thick, Rubber Outsole
  • Leather and Neoprene Upper
  • Protective Toe Bumper
Cons
  • Heavy When Wet

4. Cior Barefoot Quick-Dry

4. Cior Barefoot Quick-Dry
Looking for a feel of non existence on your feet? Look no further. The CIOR Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Aqua Shoes is an incredibly flexible shoe that is both stylish and durable. Added comfort technologies will keep your feet in heaven for hours on the water. Made with a special design to keep your feet dry, these shoes have become and all time favorite for the one the water fanatic!
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Quick Dry Drainage Holes
The CIOR Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Aqua Shoes are incredibly quick drying with the technology built into these shoes. The quick dry drainage holes are located on the bottom of the sole, allowing water a constant escape route. No more squishy, wet soles with these excellent water shoes!

Arch Support
Unlike any other, the CIOR Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Aqua Shoe offers phenomenal arch support. The thick foam built into this water shoe gives you a natural feel while preventing the arch ache that everyone dreads. Stay comfortable!

Cost and Value
With safety in mind, the CIOR Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Aqua Shoes offer a unique, thick outsole that protects from both pain and slip. Added holes in the outsole give optimal drainage while the uppers repel water. With shoes this good, you will want to stay in the water, all day long.
Pros
  • Quick Dry Holes
  • Thick, Rubber Outsole
  • Flexible Material
  • Added Arch Support
  • Optimal Traction
Cons
  • Drainage Holes May Clog

5. Dreamcity water shoes

5. Dreamcity water shoes
The Dreamcity water shoes are just as they are named, dream city! These amazingly waterproofed shoes have a lot to offer you in the sense of foot care and safety! Allowing a constant flow of air, the Dreamcity water shoes have mesh uppers that maintain maximum breathability. The comfortDry sock liner gives a great comfort while helping to maintain cool and dry feet. Wet and slippery conditions? No problem! The Dreamcity water shoes have excellent traction for the worst terrain.
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Water Grip Outsole
The Dreamcity water shoes have an amazing grip on traction. In the most extreme, slippery conditions, the Dreamcity water shoes will protect you from slipping and falling with the water grip outsole that it has to offer.

Mesh
The Dreamcity water shoes are made from mesh, and more mesh. Offering optimal breathability the mesh upper and lower are designed to keep a constant flow of air coming and going through this water shoe. That being said, this shoe is quick drying!

Cost and Value
The Dreamcity water shoes have a lot to give to you and your feet. Quick drying, this shoe is designed with loads of mesh materials to give a constant airflow and circulation within the shoe. Added comfort in the midsole keeps you on your toes and comfortable for any excursion. The Dreamcity water shoes have an excellent grip on terrain and will prevent any slipping. Stay safe in these dreamy water shoes!
Pros
  • Extra Mesh
  • Water Grip Outsole
  • ComfortDry Sock Liner
  • Holes in the Soles for Added Drainage
Cons
  • Tongue Rubs

6. Northside Brille II

6. Northside Brille II
With exceptional traction and durability, the Northside Brille II Water Shoes are ideal for out on the water adventures! Injected soles deliver maximum comfort while neoprene and mesh uppers give the ultimate breathability. No slip traction is added for those rocky climbs out of the water. Giving you a protective fit, the Northside Brille II Water Shoe comes with a draw string to assist in securing this water shoe for tons of excursions!
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Secured Fit
No more worrying about your shoes falling off or failing you in the water! The Northside Brille II Water Shoes have an added draw string which will help you secure your shoes on for those days on the beach!

EVA Brushed Insole
Comfort is key in the Northside Brille II Water Shoes. This water shoe offers an added bonus of an EVA Brushed insole, giving maximum comfort within this shoe, wherever you go. The Northside Brille II Water Shoes have your feet in mind.

Cost and Value
With so many added benefits packed into the Northside Brille II Water Shoes, you will find that these shoes are some of the best. Added comfort with and EVA midsole will support your feet for many hours on the water. The neoprene and mesh upper will provide a long last durability and breathability to help maintain both the shoe and your feet. Added traction features will ensure a safe exit out of the water and are made for the most intense terrain. At an affordable price, you can't miss out on these!
Pros
  • EVA Midsole
  • TPR Injected Outsole
  • Elastic Draw String
  • Neoprene and Mesh Upper
Cons
  • Stitching Known To Fray

7. Mares Equator Dive Boots

7. Mares Equator Dive Boots
The Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are well known for being lightweight and incredibly flexible. Easy to wear, the Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are slip on and go water shoes. Added tread on the sole gives optimal grip while the neoprene makes for a waterproof fit. Make those bulky water shoes a thing of the past, use the Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots and you will not be disappointed!
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Lightweight
The Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are made from neoprene material which gives this boot a lightweight feel. Avoid the water shoes that are bulky and get in the way. The Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots give you a natural feel and are easy to pack!

Neoprene
The Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are made with warmth and comfort in mind. Avoid the sand and dirt debris with these neoprene water shoes. Made with dive suit materials, the Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are bound to keep your feet warm, in the coldest of waters!

Cost and Value
With water shoes this good, you'll be disappointed you didn't find them sooner! The Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are a well insulated, neoprene material that help maintain warm temperature control within the water shoe at all times. The neoprene also keeps dirt and debris out of the shoe and avoids constant irritation and blisters! Added traction to the sole, the Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots are bound to keep you on your toes. At a cost you can't complain about, these shoes are well worth the price!
Pros
  • Added Traction
  • Lightweight and Travel Friendly
  • Incredible Flexibility
  • Neoprene
  • Temperature Control
Cons
  • Run Large

8. Cudas Shasta Water Shoe

8. Cudas Shasta Water Shoe
The amazing Cudas Shasta Water Shoe is one of the best water shoes to date! Made perfect for kayaking, this show has excellent grip, toe protection and the ability to dry incredibly fast. Added lining allows feet to stay warm in cool water while mesh allows the feet to air out and dry at the same time! With a pull tab on the back, these shoes slip on and come off super easy, making the Cudas Shasta Water Shoe an all time favorite.
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Heel and Toe Bumpers
Anything can happen while you're out on the water. You may find a spot you want to get out of the water and relax. The Cudas Shasta Water Shoe has you covered with added toe and heel bumpers that are a firm rubber to help protect against rocks and debris.

Outer Sole
The Cudas Shasta Water Shoe has an amazing anti-slip, non-marking outsole offered with this water shoe. Ideal for water sports and the swimming pool, this shoe will not allow your feet to slip out underneath you and will keep you on your toes, giving you ultimate push off and go!

Cost and Value
The Cudas Shasta Water Shoe has all the features in a water shoe that you could want! Added comfort, warmth, and breathability, this water shoe is ideal for any occasion on the water. The toe and heel protection will keep your feet safe while the x-band will keep the Cudas Shasta Water Shoe secured on your feet. You cant miss out on a water shoe like this.
Pros
  • Bumpers for Heel and Toe
  • X-Band Security
  • Non-Slip, Non-Marking
  • Liner for Warmth
  • Pull Tab for Heel
Cons
  • Rubs on Heel
  • Can be Incredibly Hot

9. Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0

9. Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0
The Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 Water Shoe is ideal for any activity in or on the water. Featuring an incredible outsole that prevents slip, this hydrophobic water shoe is secure fitting and fast drying. No more soggy soles, the Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 Water Shoe repels water and keeps feet warm and dry. Added bungee strap with toggle closure will keep these water shoes in place for hours of fun.
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Hyrdophobic
The hydrophobic shoes are well known for repelling algae, dirt, sand, and water. These irritating bits of debris and water will never bug you while you have your feet in the Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 Water Shoe. Always blocking the water, the hydrophobic shoes will also keep your feet warm.

Security
The Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 Water Shoe has a new sense of security! The water shoe features a bungee strap that includes a toggle enclosure. This toggle strap with included enclosure allows you to tighten your water shoe to help maintain a secure fit and keep your feet stabilized.

Cost and Value
Stay on top of the water or in the water with the Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 Water Shoe. Constant security and stability are maintained by a bungee strap and an enclosed toggle, allowing you to keep your shoe in place for several hours of fun. The hydrophobic shoe repels water and debris while the thermoplastic rubber sole keeps your feet safe and prevents slipping. With safe and secure shoes at this low price, you can't go wrong!
Pros
  • Hydrophobic
  • Thermoplastic Outsole
  • Ultra Lightweight
  • Quick-Adjusting Bungee Strap
Cons
  • Narrow Style

10. Viakix Water Shoes

10. Viakix Water Shoes
The Viakix Water Shoes are all about comfort. Designed with a mesh upper, these shoes are incredibly breathable and drain water very well. No more soggy soles with the Viakix Water Shoes, as they dry incredibly fast! The Viakix Water Shoes are versatile for any situation. Best made for kayaking, these shoes have excellent grip and stability, allowing you to maintain your balance for hours on the water.
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Durable Sole
The Viakix Water Shoes offers a one of a kind sole that contributes to both durability and comfort. The added foam in the flexible, rubber sole gives you the ability to walk on a variety of surfaces with a no-slip grip.

Quick Drying Mesh
The lightweight, quick drying mesh gives your feet an incredibly healthy environment that remains non-soggy and clean. Added benefit of no foul odors assist in keeping a healthy environment. The Viakix Water Shoes offers it all to maintain a great environment for your feet.

Cost and Value
The price of the Viakix Water Shoes is both affordable and worth it! Giving your feet a warm, dry climate while assisting in a healthy foot, this shoe is made for anything in the water. As versatile as it is, the soft, comfort sole will support your feet while protecting them from debris and sharp objects. The Viakix Water Shoes is worth every penny.
Pros
  • Added Foam to Outsole
  • Quick Drying Mesh
  • Highly Versatile
  • Ultra-Lightweight Insole
Cons
  • Insole Tears
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11. NRS Boundary Shoe

11. NRS Boundary Shoe
Coming in eleventh on our list is the NRS Boundary Shoe. Engineered to be waterproof and warm, the Boundary Shoe is guaranteed to deliver a dry trip. Each boot is individually tested to ensure waterproofness. As for NRS, their quality is well known amongst kayakers and other wet sports practitioners. Using highly durable materials like neoprene, the build of this shoe is appropriately equipped to endure kayaking.
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Waterproof neoprene upper build
The Boundary Shoe is guaranteed to prevent any water from going through the material of the shoe. A 5mm neoprene upper build counts with glued, blind-stitched and double-taped seams to make sure your feet stay dry and warm during every ride. A breathing panel is located around the ankle area to allow some of the steam generated by your corporal heat to exit; ideal for wet and soggy portages.

High-traction wrap-up sole
The sole of this shoe wraps the underfoot starting heel-high and gradually lowering to the toes. An insole thickness of 7mm delivers the protection and support you need for rough and long rides. The sole material also counts with grippy patterns that improve traction, which complements the high-traction qualities of the rubber sole. Lastly, a 2mm plastic shim adds another layer of protection against cutting objects.

Cost
The NRS Boundary Shoe has a cost that exceeds the average value of this list, but this doesn’t make it any less of a good candidate. Featuring the quality than NRS if known for, the Boundary Shoe counts with the right materials and design to be a decent kayaking shoe. Full neoprene construction and 7mm of insole protection sound pretty good for the price.
Pros

7mm neoprene insole

The sole is durable and very grippy

The ladder buckle strap at the top and an instep strap hold the foot in place

Cons

Too bulky for small kayaks Wide feet need to go a size up

12. NRS Paddle Wetshoes

12. NRS Paddle Wetshoes
Despite being built for the paddler women, The NRS Women's Paddle Wetshoe is an excellent choice for all types of boaters. It provides warmth and comfort in a variety of water sports, fitting comfortably over bare feet, thick socks, or drysuit equipment. The construction features mainly neoprene, a highly durable and resistant material. Contoured by heat-reflective laminate, the NRS Paddle Wetshoes are guaranteed to keep a fresh inner.
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Side-entry zipper closure
The closure of the NRS Paddle Wetshoes consists of a gusset-backed YKK side-entry zipper that opens easily and widely. It allows for much simpler on/off over wetsocks, drysuit socks and even bare feet. This closure also contributes to the waterproofing of the shoe; when closed correctly, it will prevent any liquids from leaking in through the zipper. After unzipping, you should be able to slip your feet into the shoes fitting like a glove.

VaporLoft lining
A fleece-like lining delivers the dryness you need to kayak comfortably. The water-repelling material, VaporLoft, contains quick-drying properties that assure a dry environment for your feet regardless of the performance length. Combined with a 5mm neoprene insole and a 3mm high-traction outsole, you’re guaranteed to be protected against rocks, roots, and water. Additionally, VaporLoft is a moisture-wicking compound, which also prevents the development of odors caused by humidity and sweat.

Cost
Once again, NRS appears on our list – except this time featuring a cost that matches the average value of the list. The NRS Paddle Wetshoes aren’t too cheap nor too expensive; what they are for sure, though, is great kayaking shoes. The vaporloft lining will prevent your pair from smelling bad while waterproof construction keeps your feet dry. It offers quite a bit for what it costs.
Pros

Constructed from neoprene and heat-reflective titanium laminate

Easy to put on and take off

VaporLoft water-repelling lining supports barefoot performance

Has extra padding around the exterior ankle area to avoid pressure points inside the boat

Cons

If you get your feet wet somehow, they’re messy to remove

No wide sizing options

13. Kokatat Scout

13. Kokatat Scout
The Kokatat Scout is designed for versatility, easy use, and comfort. The lightweight build makes a perfect combination with the easy on and off design, creating a shoe that is simple to handle. A mid-top construction offers higher protection and supports up to the half of the shins, featuring easy-pull tabs for even easier wear. A neoprene upper build creates a protected environment for your feet both in and outside the boat.
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Vulcanized rubber sole
The footbed of the Kokatat Scout is comprised of medium-thickness vulcanized rubber. It involves an outsole and toe cap made from vulcanized rubber. This rubber has been treated with a vulcanization process, which enhanced the gripping qualities of the shoe amongst other characteristics. Aside from being more durable, this rubber is also slightly stickier, providing better traction.

3mm double-lined neoprene upper
The Kokatat Scout counts with a 3mm upper build made entirely from neoprene. This material has both physically-resistant and waterproof properties, ideal for the environment of a sport like kayaking. Double lining is used to reinforce the integrity of the materials and assure long-term durability, also making the materials harder to tear through external bodies or obstacles.

Cost
Kokatat isn’t particularly known for kayaking shoes, but the Scout release is still a decent candidate. Considering what it delivers, and the fact that its price meets the average value of the list, we’d say the Scout is a good purchase. Featuring vulcanized rubber and a double-lined neoprene upper, this shoe is guaranteed to last enough to cover its worth.
Pros

Made mostly from waterproof neoprene

Vulcanized rubber sole and toe cap

The double-lined upper build is more durable

Easy-pull loops tab and simple to put on

Cons

Sized for barefoot users; keep the thickness of your drysuit or wetsocks in mind when choosing the size

14. Sea to Summit Ultra Flex

14. Sea to Summit Ultra Flex
Sea to Summit makes it 14th in our list with their new release of the original Flex Bootie. The Ultra Flex Bootie keeps the initial low-profile and sensitive design. However, it counts with a modern fit and an updated shape for the last. Now featuring a Velcro closure system, the Ultra Flex Bootie allows for a secure and steady closure while keeping its sensible approach.
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Rubber laminated sole
The Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Bootie delivers sensitiveness while still providing you with all the protection you need. The laminated rubber sole prevents sharp objects from tearing through the material. It’s tough enough to protect your feet, yet flexible enough to allow for comfortable and natural positioning of feet within the bootie.

Y-pull Velcro closure system
The secure strap closure system allows for users to adjust the level of upper foot support they want. The Y-pull Velcro strap system creates an adequate fit for each user, increasing support without taking away any sensitivity or support. Specially designed to mold around your foot, the strap will not create any pressure point on the upper foot or the sides.

Cost
Featuring a cost lower than the average of the list, Sea to Summit makes a good entry with the Ultra Flex Bootie. With durable construction and affordable value, we believe the Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Bootie is worth the investment. Protective enough thanks to the laminated rubber sole and easy to wear, this shoe is likely to fulfill your needs.
Pros

Lightweight and highly flexible

Counts with great sensitivity         

The sole delivers great feedback and flexibility

Ideal for a wide variety of other water sports (paddling, rafting, windsurfing, sailing, etc)

Cons

Not waterproof; they retain water until you drain them

The sole offers little to no protection against rocks and roots

15. O'Neill Freaksneak

15. O'Neill Freaksneak
Last but not least is the Freaksneak low-top water boot by O’Neill. Despite not being the best water shoe brand, O’Neill is well-known as a quality wetsuit manufacturer. The Freaksneak release takes a breathable and quick-drying approach with a partial mesh upper build and a high-traction rubber sole. The shoe offers a stable platform yet a slightly flexible build to move your feet freely as you need it.
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Quick-draining ports
The O'Neill Freaksneak counts with three small drainage pots on the midsole of the shoe. Located on each side of both shoes, these ports allow for quicker drainage and help maintain a fresh and partially-dry environment for your feet. It’s complemented by a mesh forefoot upper build for breathability, staying cool both inside and outside the boat.

Superstretch neoprene
Featuring a super stretch neoprene construction, the Freaksneak water shoe by O’Neill is an ideal choice for kayaking. The neoprene portion of the upper prevents your feet from being exposed to water, while a molded rubber sole provides the traction and protection needed within the boat. The side draining holes help prevent ballooning within the shoe while still allowing for water and air to flow through freely.

Cost
The Freaksneak is not specifically designed to be a kayaking shoe, but its versatile construction and low cost make it an acceptable entry. With a price below the average value, the Freaksneak features a construction of quality materials including super stretch neoprene. Considering it’s suitable for many other water sports, the O'Neill Freaksneak is worth its value.
Pros

The stretchy materials give your feet freedom

Breathable upper build and drain ports on the midsole

Compatible with most other water sports

Textured pattern on the outsole improves traction further

Cons

Won’t prevent water from getting to your feet

The lacing closure provides little upperfoot support

After reviewing all of the greatness in these shoes, you will find it much easier to pick out a good shoe for kayaking. As previously mentioned, kayaking shoes support you in many ways including, stability, grip, and safety. Picking out a good shoe is the first step to kayaking comfortably.

When you think about what kind of shoes you should wear for kayaking, you need to mainly consider comfort and the environment that you will be kayaking in. Are there lots of slippery rocks where you stop? What is in the water? Is it sand or oysters? Identifying all of these things will help you determine a great kayaking shoe. The majority of these shoes will assist you in keeping algae, sand, and debris from entering the shoe, which will help in foot safety and comfort. Versatile and ideal for many water situations, the shoes on this list that are reviewed will keep you comfortable and dry, and are the most highly sought after kayaking shoes. That in itself should tell you something about the quality and durability, let’s not forget the excellent value.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Shoes for Kayaking

Protection

Kayaking shoes vary in degrees of protection which depend on the environment that you’ll perform in. If you’ve kayaked before, you’ll know there are different difficulties, surfaces, situations, and speed at which kayaking is practiced.

As a kayaker you may find yourself scampering up jagged rocks, walking through mud, over debris and sand. Thus, before considering anything else regarding protection, you should analyze the circumstances in which you’ll go kayaking to determine the right level of protection you need.

You’ll always want to make sure you have a certain degree of protection for safety purposes. Your soles should never be too slim nor made from materials that won’t resist stinging objects. Unless you’re an advanced kayaker and have a use for thin soles, we recommend sticking to at least medium sole thickness.

Protection not only comes from the underfoot, and we kept this in mind during research and evaluation of the best kayaking shoes. Waterproof protection, for example, is an essential aspect of protection that doesn’t necessarily involve physical resistance.

At the same time, areas like the upper build shouldn’t be forgotten either. You never know where the next root, branch or rock will land. Preferably, kayaking shoes should be equipped with a protective toe cap and at least one base material that protects the upper foot from impact.

We decided to make protection one of our evaluation criterion, keeping two things in mind while measuring it. First, the overall protection that the shoe offers as a whole. Second, the protection the shoe provides concerning its purpose. This means that minimalist shoes, for example, provide less protection in general, but because they’re designed to do so. Thus, they’re meeting their purpose.

Protection doesn’t end once you get in the kayak; this sport involves walking and moving on surfaces that are commonly difficult. Opt for a shoe that will keep you protected both inside and outside your boat.

 

Terrain

The terrain is the first thing you should examine before going on a kayaking trip. It’s crucial that you know where you’ll be walking to get shoes that can protect you adequately under those circumstances. A beach shoe meant for sand is of very little use during an excursion in a rocky and branch-ridden location.

The rougher the terrain, the thicker you’ll want the sole. You also wish to utilize materials that are resistant to abrasion; soft meshes and fabrics may easily be ripped by elements in similar environments. It’s likely that you’ll face moisturized and wet surfaces. Thus we advise looking for shoes with a grippy material.

Better safe than sorry; you’ll want to be overprotected rather than exposed in case you encounter an unexpected scenario. Unless you know the kayaking area with certainty, we recommend wearing shoes that are protective.

If you travel around walkable terrain, then you should opt for the most comfortable shoes you have. Keep in mind that you’ll have to walk over a few obstacles, but also keep in mind that you’ll spend most of the time on the boat.

Shoe height

There are (typically) three size standards when it comes to the height of kayaking shoes: knee-high (high), ankle-high (mid), and low-top. Each height has different purposes, and the designs are entirely different from one another. There are multiple factors to keep in mind while choosing the right shoe height for you.

Knee-high kayaking shoes are customarily used under circumstances that call for the most protection, generally in cold climates or overly-rough environments. A knee-high shoe is expected to be waterproof, as their primary function is retaining heat both in and outside the boat. Because they’re heavier and the bulkiest of them all, high kayaking shoes aren’t too versatile and may not fit in small boats.

The high-top shoes call for a snug fit to prevent water from entering and pooling. In most cases, they’re made of waterproof and physically resistant materials. Ankle-high shoes are a middle point between high-top and low-top shoes; it’s for intermediate occasions – not too protective, but not too light either.

Ankle-high shoes are ordinarily waterproof as well and may offer heat retention or not (depends on the climate they’re meant for). As the name suggests, these shoes are high enough to cover your ankle. This provides better protection, but at the same time reduces mobility. This is what most beginners use as it’s the ideal height for overall kayaking under neutral circumstances.

Last but not least, low-cut shoes are meant for hot environments that call for breathable and comfortable shoes. They’re also the most versatile of all kayaking shoe heights; they’re the most flexible and comfortable as well. Do note that they offer the least protection, though. Low kayaking shoes usually feature a combination of neoprene and breathable fabric in the form of a mesh.

Waterproofing

For some users, waterproofing is an unnecessary feature, while for others it’s vital. In most cases, what determines the need for waterproof materials is the climate. All kayakers who are out in cold water use waterproof shoes, and it’s the best way to go.

Waterproofing is not limited to cold waters, though. Most users prefer dry feet at the moment of maneuvering and getting a decent grip on the boat. As you can probably guess, this is much harder if your shoes are soaked and lack traction. It’s also used in the form of moisture-wicking linings to prevent bacteria, fungi, and the development of adverse smells.

While it doesn’t protect our feet from solid objects, waterproofing plays a vital role. In cold environments where it’s paramount, the lack of waterproofing may translate into a cease in your performance. At some point in your kayaking, your toes and feet are very likely to go numb due to constant exposure to cold water.

Materials like neoprene are favorites amongst kayaking shoe users and manufacturers. It’s important that the closure system is easy to handle and functional; this is where waterproofing fails the most commonly.

 

Slippage prevention

You’ll spend most of your time in the kayak, but you still must consider the time you’ll spend outside the kayak. If you’re just starting on the sport, then you’ll be surprised by the number of times you’ll have to get off your kayak. When you do, you want to make sure that you count on slip-preventing properties on your shoes.

We looked for outsole materials that offered strong gripping qualities. Synthetic rubbers such as vulcanized rubber had a slight advantage in our ranking. This is because such rubbers have been treated to obtain a stickier and stronger grip on most surfaces. The best kayaking shoes are those that can walk over wet obstacles without slipping.

 

Insulation

All kayakers do not need padding, but those who ride on cold waters must see insulation as a vital part of their equipment. It’s highly crucial that performers who’ll be exposed to cold waters are adequately protected from its temperature. Insulating materials are a must for this practice.

Synthetic rubbers are the favorite material for these scenarios. Aside from being highly durable, they also tend to have abrasion-resistant qualities, are lightweight, flexible and offer heat retention. Rubbers themselves are not naturally insulating, but they are very easy to treat with insulating processes.

Such materials are utterly simple to mold and inject, making them suitable for insulating gear. They’re also mixed with stronger and denser compounds to add structure to the shoe. The colder the water, the more insulation you should look for.

Note that insulation and waterproofing are not the same things. Waterproof shoes prevent water from going through the materials or into them, but it doesn’t protect you from heat transfer. Insulated shoes will avert cold molecules in the water to adhere or get through the rubber of the kayaking shoe.

Insulation is achieved by compromising all the space within the material in a manner that external molecules can’t enter. This is done by injecting gasses such as oxygen and nitrogen into the materials. The particles act individually, and when compressed against one another, they block any other molecule trying to breach in.

Materials

As another criterion for this guide, the materials of a kayaking shoe depend on the degree of your performance amongst many other things. In general, kayaking shoes are constructed from neoprene rubber or similar compounds, which is also the material used for most wetsuits.

Synthetic rubbers like neoprene are ideal for wet environments and water sports thanks to their waterproof properties. Neoprene is a material with a vast variety of applications, even in watersports gear. Not only does it protect from water, but it’s also suitable for insulating products.

Many kayaking shoes mix neoprene with titanium parts to increase protection and durability even further. It’s most commonly seen in the form of toe protectors as well as integrated into parts of the upper build.

Here are some of the aspects of the materials you should keep in mind when looking for kayaking shoes:

  • Thickness
    The thickness of the materials is directly proportional to their level of protection. The thicker your shoes, the more unlikely it is for something to hurt your feet directly. A kayaking shoe may vary in thickness around its build; the upper build has its thickness independently from the sole, for example. Aside from a thick top, you should also consider a thick sole. A more abundant bottom will also provide you a stable platform while walking over obstacles.
    For frigid waters, you should look for at least 6mm of neoprene insulation. Normally, kayaking shoes made from neoprene count with a 5mm upper and a 3mm high-traction sole. Of course, this may vary from one manufacturer to another, but it’s an estimate of what to look for in neoprene kayaking shoes. Keep in mind the size of your boat when selecting thick shoes; you’d be surprised by the alarming amount of users that purchase shoes that don’t fit their boats.
  • Weight
    As in most sports performance shoes, the weight is a factor to consider when looking for the best kayaking shoes. Some users believe that the weight of your shoes is irrelevant while kayaking, as you spent most of the time on the boat. The thing is that the weight of a shoe not only affects you when you have to walk. As a shoe becomes heavier, some features like protection increase, but many others are hindered. To start with, the thicker and more substantial a boot is, the less mobility you’ll have within the boat. If you find yourself in an unfortunate scenario, you’ll want to count on shoes that allow you to maneuver your way out freely.
    Thickness and bulk may also obstruct breathability in cases where kayaking is performed in hot circumstances. Fortunately, synthetic materials allow for manufacturers to create materials that offer quality features while weighing much less than traditional materials.
    Kayaking shoes should be neither too lightweight nor too heavy. They should be light enough to be able to breathe, drain, and easy to move around with. They should be heavy or thick enough to protect your feet from direct damage. Do note that lighter shoes put less stress on your feet as well, and are the most comfortable shoes.

Temperature

The temperature of the water can be your worst enemy as a kayaker. It’s because of this that you must be protected from it in cold circumstances. Shoes that allow for heat transfer will ultimately result in numb feet. The last thing you want is losing the senses on half of your extremities.

In extreme cases, exposure to cold water may lead to hypothermia. We’re not only talking about shoes anymore at this point. This is why beginner kayakers are recommended to travel in slow and neutral waters. Those of you riding cold waters should consider wetsuits and waterproof, insulated boots as a must.

As for warm water and hot climates, the temperature is no less of a threat. In this case, it’s not the water temperature that should worry you, but the humidity. Hot regions call for breathable and fresh kayaking shoes. If you allow for heat to accumulate consistently in your shoes, you’ll experience the consequences.

 

Quick-drying materials

Regardless of what the water temperature is, you should opt for quick-drying materials when choosing kayaking shoes. The ideal thing is for materials to remain in their natural (dry) state, and if they become wet, to return to their original state as soon as possible.

It’s vital for kayaking shoe materials to come with at least two features; a quick-drying approach, and a non-absorptive construction. If the materials of your shoe absorb any water, they will become soaked in a matter of minutes into your trip. Soaked shoes bring you no benefits, as opposed to the extensive list of effects it will have on your feet.

If your kayaking shoes get wet from cold waters, quick-drying materials will help you reduce the time your feet are exposed to the cold liquid. This is of little use if your feet will keep getting continuously exposed, but it’s beneficial if it’s a one-time incident.

Creating a fresh environment for your feet is essential as a kayaker. Materials that dry quickly prevent humidity from affecting the fit of the shoe as well as internal traction. Additionally, our skin may react differently to the materials of the shoe in moisturized conditions. The quicker the shoe dries, the quicker you’ll regain the qualities you lost in the water.

Moisture-wicking inner materials are also a significant advantage. They help regulate the effects of sweat on the shoe. Humidity and sweat can help develop bad smells within the shoe if untreated. The longer they stay, the more attached the scents will become to the shoe.

Kayaking shoes come in a range of thicknesses and materials that are primarily tailored to the temperature of water you’ll be kayaking in. Cold water kayakers will want a thick neoprene or waterproof shoe, while those in warm water will need something with airflow to keep feet from overheating.

Breathability

Breathability is the opposite of insulation and is what you should look for in a warm-water kayak shoe. The hotter the environment, the more breathability you should opt for. Breathability may be hard to obtain under certain circumstances, as water can usually pass through the same spaces as air. It often comes in the form of mesh panels, but any water that reaches the mesh panel will compromise the inner build. This is why we commend breathing systems that are waterproof.

Gore-Tex, for example, is a membrane used to allow for breathability without allowing water to break in. This is done by placing small layers that allow for water in its gaseous form (vapor) to exit while blocking liquid water molecules. Because molecules in the way of gas are smaller, water is not able to get through.

If heat is retained within the inner build, a series of consequences will likely happen. Our body produces its heat, especially during a performance. The more effort we make, the more heat we generate. This includes our feet. If on top of the heat we generate by ourselves we expose feet to concentrated heat within the shoe, irritation and excessive sweating are likely to happen.

Too much sweat brings consequences at the same time. The loss of inner sensibility and traction, as well as odors, fungi, and bacteria, are some of the effects of sweat. Our feet emanate a considerable amount of heat, just like our hands. Thus, it’s crucial that warm-water shoes count with a system that allows air to flow through freely.

 

Comfort

This is an aspect you should consider regardless of the sport your practicing or the way in which you’re practicing it. The simple truth is that, to achieve your most optimal performance possible, you need to be in a state of comfort. The last thing you want as a sports performer is your equipment to add more stress to your body, both physically and mentally.

Realistically speaking, it’s much harder to concentrate when something is bothering you. Whether your feet are too hot, the material is creating friction with your skin, or there’s not enough space, you’ll have that thought in your mind the whole time.

Because of this, we selected shoes that create a comfortable performance environment for your feet. We kept in mind that comfort must be delivered both inside and outside the kayak. Kayaking is a sport where your lower body only moves when you’re going to exit the boat. Aside from that, you spend the rest of the time seated. Once you’re in the kayak, you’ll have little to no mobility to even think about adjusting your shoes.

Comfort isn’t something you should sacrifice to obtain another feature. A kayaking shoe with a high upper build is of little use if the toe box is too small, for example. The truly best kayaking shoes are those which contain a healthy balance of all the features, comfort included.

The thing about this criterion is that comfort is not something generated by a part of the shoe. To obtain satisfaction, every element of the shoe must play its role adequately. If one part of the shoe is uncomfortable, then the rest of the shoe is awkward as a whole. We’ll elaborate on some of the aspects that help produce greater comfort in kayaking shoes.

  • Sizing
    It’s imperative that you have accurate knowledge of the shape and size of your foot to purchase shoes correctly, not only kayaking shoes. No matter how the product is described to you, you won’t honestly know if it’s compatible until you wear it. The sizing is not something you can get wrong; choose the wrong sizing, and every aspect of the shoe will fall apart regarding performance.
    Check the manufacturer’s sizing chart to make an accurate purchase. There, you should be able to see the exact measures recommended for each shoe size.
    Kayaking shoes must be selected in a size that allows for the material to compress the area it covers mildly. It should not strangle your feet, but it should hold them with slight force. The sizing of a shoe can get to be hurtful if chosen incorrectly, causing blisters and damage upon the foot’s skin.
  • Support
    The support is one of the most underestimated and ignored features of performance shoes in general. It plays a vital role in the fit and comfort of any shoe, and it’s holding the shoe and the foot together. This has multiple important reasons, but the first explanation is that the shoe and the foot must act as one element to achieve an optimal fit.
    Shoes are meant to resemble our feet in every possible aspect. This encompasses moving in synchronicity with our feet. If a shoe lacks support, the loose fit will cause the shoe to tilt forward and backward as we walk.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is neoprene?
A:
Neoprene is a compound classified as synthetic rubber. It counts with many qualities that are ideal for wet environments like the ones presented in kayaking. It’s highly used for both kayaking shoes and other kayaking gear, as well as wetsuits. Neoprene, in particular, is highly flexible and moldable, also thick enough to protect the body to a certain degree.

Although it doesn’t initially count on thermal insulation qualities, neoprene is utterly easy to inject and treat with insulation processes. Gasses like oxygen and nitrogen are used for this, but nitrogen is preferred for kayaking shoes due to other chemical advantages it has over oxygen, but it’s not a better insulator.

Q: What shoes are best for kayaking?
A:
Depending on the environment you’ll perform you should vary the footwear you use. For cold waters, you want a shoe that is as protective as possible without affecting other features of the shoe. It’s important that the shoe is both waterproofed and insulated to prevent exposure to water at all costs.

For neutral kayaking or warm-water rides, you should opt for more relaxed shoes. Under these circumstances, you should focus on breathability and mobility. Your priority here is avoiding heat accumulation as well as getting as much comfort as you can for the long ride.

Q: Where can I buy kayaking shoes?
A:
Kayaking shoes can be found in retail stores of many water sports. General sports store, fishing stores, kayaking stores, boating stores, amongst others. You may also find kayaking shoes and other kayaking products through online purchasing platforms like Amazon.

On Amazon, you’re guaranteed to find the ideal product for you out – you have diversity from all over the world. Additionally, you’re able to compare prices quickly and access the best deal. Our affiliate link will take you to the most trustworthy and affordable seller of the selected item, and it will also give us the commission to keep writing useful and factual buying guides.

Q: How should kayaking shoes fit?
A:
Kayaking shoes must always fit comfortably regardless of the type of water you run on.  You don’t want your shoe dancing around your foot, nor do you want your feet to be strangled by the shoe.

The optimal fit is that in which you’re able to move your toes freely within the shoe, and one that allows for natural feet placement. If your shoe pushes your toes against each other, then the fit is not correct.  In the case of waterproof shoes, the fit may be slightly tighter around the collar to ensure that water can’t go in so easily.

Q: What kind of kayaking shoes are there?
A:
Kayaking shoes can be classified based on multiple of their qualities. To start with, they’re customarily classified depending on the temperature of the water their meant for. Here you’ll find shoes for all types of water; cold water kayaking shoes, neutral shoes, and breathable shoes for hot environments.

They can also be classified on their level of insulation, though this would fall into a sub-category of water temperature. You can also divide kayaking shoes into three different group based on the cut; low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut. The low cut goes below the ankle, the middle goes above the ankle, and the high-cut goes up to the shin.

Q: How long do kayaking shoes last?
A:
It’s impossible to tell the exact duration of a kayaking shoe, as too many factors intervene upon each product and user individually. However, a quality kayaking shoe that has been taken care of should easily endure over a year and a half of comfortable and optimal performance.

This is in the case of professional kayaking shoes. Other shoes such as universal water shoes may be suitable for the task, but may not necessarily adequately equipped for kayaking performance. Thus, these shoes may not endure some of the obstacles presented in kayaking and last less than expected. The same applies to users who take their kayaking shoes to other sports.

Q: How much do kayaking shoes cost?
A:
The cost is not something you can define in general, as kayaking shoes range in quality, insulating properties, height, weight, and many other aspects. Quality kayaking shoes can be found anywhere above $30 or so. Depending on the degree of commitment to the sport, you may opt for beginner shoes which aren’t too expensive or top-of-the-line elite performance shoes.

Naturally, as the shoes get better, they get more expensive as well. A top-notch kayaking shoe can easily cost you near to $100. However, if you’re a dedicated practitioner, this is not necessarily expensive, as those shoes are highly durable.

Q: Can I use water shoes for kayaking?
A:
Technically you can. It’s not the right choice, nor the most optimal one, but kayaking can be recreationally practiced with water shoes. If you’re not a consistent kayaker, it would have little sense to acquire a kayaking-specific pair of shoes. So, if it’s a rare occasion, you may get away with kayaking on water shoes.

You don’t need a specific pair of shoes for kayaking, but having the right design does make a huge difference. If you’re a repetitive kayaker, then you should opt for a pair of shoes that you only use for that activity.

Q: What should I do if my kayak flips over?
A:
Exiting a flipped kayak is not hard at all. The most important thing, especially for beginners, is to stay calm. If you’re wearing a skirt inside the kayak, then you should always have the skirt’s pull tab visible and at a range where you can access it easily.

When flipped, the first thing is to reach for the tab. Once you’re holding it, lean forward with your upper body and pull. You’ll immediately start falling out of the boat and will be able to reach the surface. It’s important that you lean forward instead of backward, else your butt will lift from the seat and make it harder for your thighs to exit.

The maneuver is simple, and it’s called the wet exit. All beginners are recommended to learn and practice the exercise before their first expedition.

Q: What are the best kayaking shoes for beginners?
A:
If you’re a one-timer at kayaking, any pair of shoes that allows for mobility and versatility will do. Inside the group of kayaking shoes, though, the best shoe for beginners are neutral, low-cut or mid-cut kayaking shoes.

We don’t recommend that beginners ride on cold waters with high-top boots until they’ve got some practice. Instead, opt for a pair of shoes that allow for ankle and toe mobility, as well as breathability if required. Most importantly, make sure that the shoe fits comfortably inside the kayak and that it doesn’t become an obstacle to exit.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia, Neoprene,
  2. Southwind Kayak Center, The Proper Clothing for Kayak, Jul 27, 2016
  3. Frontenac Outfitters, Kayak Parts and Terminology,
  4. ExplainThatStuff, How Does Gore-Tex Work?, Jul 02, 2017
  5. Industrial Rubber Goods, Types of Synthetic Rubber,
  6. Wikipedia, Thermal Insulation,


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