Best Water Shoes Reviewed for Wicking & Protection
So you like to hit the water, getting a thrill from water-related sports activities, relaxing at the pool, or you simply like to enjoy your spare time skipping through streams? Then, you must have come to a conclusion that regular sports shoes or everyday footwear will not fit your needs when they get waterlogged; you more than likely need a good pair of water shoes for women and men. You need shoes that protect your feet and are lightweight for longterm use. Water shoes are very different than shoes made for casual daily use, so we don’t recommend trying to use your standard kicks for water polo. Take a look at our top 10 recommendations below to find the perfect pair of water shoes for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 105 hrs of research
Synthetic And Mesh Upper
Quick Lacing System
Sticky Rubber Outsole
Padded Tongue And Collar
- Ryka Hydro Sport
- Under Armour Kilchis
- Crocs Swiftwater
- Speedo Zipwalker 4.0
- Mohem Poseidon
- Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve
- Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
- Cudas Shasta
- Adidas Climacool Boat Lace
- Columbia Drainmaker III
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Ryka Hydro Sport
Synthetic And Mesh Upper
Quick Lacing System
Sticky Rubber Outsole
Padded Tongue And Collar
Laces Come Undone In Water
If you're after a pair of training shoes to wear near the pool, or just sneakers that you can wear to the beach or on the boat without having to worry about your safety and foot health, then the Ryka Hydro Sport is an excellent choice. This is a sneaker that was designed with one specific purpose in mind, and that is keeping your feet well planted on the ground, even if it happens to be wet tile.Read more
The Hydro Sport is made with materials that won't deteriorate when wet, even if it's used in heavily chlorinated water. This sneaker features a synthetic and mesh upper that won't pick up water, and will dry easily, a textile lining and cushioned tongue and collar to prevent rubbing and discomfort, as well as special drainage ports to make water elimination faster and easier.
Sticky Rubber Outsole
The outsole on the Hydro Sport is made with sticky rubber that'll keep you glued to the ground beneath your feet, without exception. The toe bumper is a nice touch, not only because it protects you from any unwanted toe injuries, but it also allows for a bit of extra traction at the tips of your toes.
Cost and Value
If you look at the Ryka Hydro Sport as water footwear, then it may rank slightly above average in terms of cost. However, as training footwear (which it really is), it comes at a price that's a bargain. This sneaker will do just as well for water aerobics as it will for physical therapy, nature walks, or casual everyday use near wet surfaces.
2. Under Armour Kilchis
- Abrasion Resistant
- Easy Lacing System
- Contoured Build
- Appealing Design
- Longer Break-In Time
There’s not much to explain here; everybody is familiar with the reputation of Under Armour performance equipment. Their water footwear is no less as any of their other successful products, as the Kilchis quickly became one of the most popular models upon release. Making sure you count the right features when hitting the water, Under Armour designed this piece in a lightweight, breathable, and very good-looking manner.Read more
You just can’t go wrong with the midsole of any Under Armour footwear; they’re carefully engineered to maximize their function in relation to the sport they’re meant for. This one is no exception, including a smart draining system within the midsole that optimizes draining time without affecting the original performance qualities. The perforated footbed adds yet another layer of cushioning and contributes to the drainage.
Fixed bungee laces
The Kilchis approach includes a lacing system that is completely independent of other Under Armour footwear. The laces are placed in a fixed position with a tension system. Tying your shoes is as easy as pulling the strings and lacing them together. The tension on the laced provide further support to the upper foot and guarantee the right fit throughout the whole day.
Just like the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0, this foot apparel consists of a dedicated water build rather than minimalist surfing footwear. The Under Armour Kilchis is possibly one of the most functional water footwear in terms of the depth and dedication of your performance, allowing you to access more functionality in comparison to slimmer and simpler water shoe approaches. A durable lifetime and UA’s guarantee assure your money is on the right pair.
3. Crocs Swiftwater
- Protects Your Toe
- Smoothly Underwater
- Easy Draining System
- Massaging Dotted Footbed
- Minimal Cushioning
Realistically speaking, Crocs is, and will always be the most iconic sandal-type footwear brand. Their quality and comfortability are things known by everyone; Crocs is one of those brands that definitely formed part of our wardrobe at some point in our life (if not currently). The Sandal approach to the Swiftwater family is one of the most iconic water footwear, suitable for any activity in which your feet are close to water (or submerged in it).Read more
Crocs’ signature cushioning system, the CrosLite, has been a part of each of their products for a long time – and the Swiftwater Sandal is not an exception. The compression foam is molded by the pressure of your foot to deliver an optimal, personalized fit that comforts you throughout the whole day. The foam is highly durable and will continue to perform uniquely regardless of your weight, size, or sex.
Unlike their traditional design, the Swiftwater Sandal features a breathable mesh upper build. The mesh is water-friendly and makes the foot apparel easier to deal with underwater, providing slight upper foot protection from external elements. The easy-draining mesh retains no water and counts with strategic holes on the upper build to maximize draining efficiency.
Crocs products, in general, are some of the most versatile sandals/clogs. The Swiftwater promises a respectable level of performance and efficiency on water for its price. Fairly below the average value of this list, the Crocs Swiftwater delivers a very good performance-value relation. The durable materials of this pair guarantee that your money is well invested in foot apparel that won’t require replacement anytime soon.
4. Speedo Zipwalker 4.0
- Great Traction
- No Slippage
- 4-ways Stretch Upper
- Easy-drying Materials
- Quick Zipper Closure
- Skin Irritating Zipper
Unquestionably one of the most remarkable watersports brand, Speedo makes it into our list at the third position with the Zipwalker 4.0 release. If you’re not sure on what exactly you’ll be doing, this is the pair you should be looking for – a simple an efficient solution for any activity on or under water. The design is inspired by surf, but its performance qualities make it suitable for a wide range of other water sports.Read more
Soaked feet are possibly one of the most annoying experiences when wearing footwear on or under water. This is why the Zipwalker 4.0 allows water to quickly escape the shoe, also counting with water-friendly materials that will dry much faster than traditional builds. When you leave the water, it makes sure that the water doesn’t come with you in your shoes.
Underfoot s-trac protection
Speedo’s s-trac technology is a common feature amongst the Zipwalker series, except this year the Zipwalker 4.0 has received an updated s-trac outsole. The highly resistant and durable materials make sure that water disperses evenly on each movement, preventing slippage while providing excellent traction even while wet or moisturized. This outsole also prevents external objects from penetrating the foot apparel and harming your underfoot and the pool or the beach.
Speedo applies a nearly perfect combination of functionality and affordability when it comes to their Zipwalker 4.0. This series is known for their high efficiency and low cost, taking into consideration the performance-enhancing technologies and features it includes for such a low price. Needless to say, the Zipwalker 4.0 is considerably below the average value and is the best value on this list.
5. Mohem Poseidon
- Very Light
- Good Everyday Walking shoes
- Super Flexible
- Not For Rough terrain
- Little Arch Support
Although they look like they could contribute to a fashion website men's footwear, the real purpose they bear is the one for water-related activities. Sharp looking for summer strolls down the beach they will perform equally good on and in water. This fashion piece made of breathable air mesh upper is water resistant, very light and comfortable, and suitable for any water-related activities that do not require scaling very rough terrain.Read more
Air mesh upper
These shoes are made of the well-known air mesh upper that allows the feet to be well ventilated, super light and comfortable.
In many cases, when considering to purchase this type of footwear, you will have only the aspect of usability to consider. With these, however, you do not get only the practicality of water shoes, you also get style and good look of a casual fashion sneaker with a sporty look.
Cost and Value
Falling in the same price level as a few other products mentioned above in this list, this one is surely within the lower price corner, although last, hardly the least - they do look great and for the price you can have them - it is a bargain.
6. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve
- Waterproof Leather
- Easy On And Off
- Hollowed Lugs For Lightness
- Promotes Good Reflex
- Built-In Ankle Protection
- Sizing Issues
- Narrow Fit
Merrell's AOB Sieve water footwear is a masterfully designed piece of footwear that will attack the terrain with no hesitation thanks to its Unifly™ midsole that will protect your feet from all kind of obstacles and terrains you might stumble upon, it’s water-yielding properties will allow the foot apparel to dry quickly thanks to its Waxy Waterproof Leather Fabric Lycra.Read more
Waxy waterproof leather fabric upper
This water-resistant upper will allow the feet to dry very quickly and no water will be enclosed within the footwear, allowing the wearer to avoid unpleasant feeling or wet feet, which also might result in sore and rubbed feet and painful blisters.
This midsole is shaped so that it efficiently activates the whole foot, distributing the workload of the feet, its design will minimize the terrain’s roughness and, at the same time, will provide strong support for your feet. This midsole also offers supplementary agility thanks to the circular slugs.
Cost and Value
It would be a difficult task to find another pair of footwear that would provide the same amount of comfort and protection as they provide for the price you can have them.
7. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
- Stretchy Upper
- Good For Swimming
- Enduring Sole
- Quickly Drains And Dries
- Not True To Size
- Not Suitable For Hiking
A perfect lightweight slip-on foot apparel that will make your day at the beach unforgettable, comfortable enough to be kept on the whole day and light enough to go swimming without taking it off. The new S-TRAC TPR outsole for streaming the excess water away and the Air mesh upper is what makes this shoe to fall within our Top 15.Read more
S-TRAC TPR technology streamlines water away from the bottom of the outsole, providing better grip with the surface and more safety for the wearer on wet and slippery surfaces.
Air mesh upper
Air mesh upper is what can be held accountable for the quick-drying property of this footwear and the weight, making this pair comfortable and allowing you to keep them on even when swimming.
Cost and Value
Another one of that lightweight, slip on shoes that do not seem much, but provides you with proper protection, are light and easy to put on and can be taken everywhere, for the price you can have them and the purpose - these are a good choice.
8. Cudas Shasta
- Very Light
- Extra Toe Protection
- Heel Protection
- Comfortable For Short Hikes
- Stretchy Fit
- Slow To Dry
This slip-on super light water footwear with stretchy mesh upper made of neoprene will snug your feet and provide a tight, sock-like embrace, it will be most useful for scaling waterfalls, crossing river beds or ocean beds and going on an amazing boating trips, however, I would not suggest them for a longer, or even a shorter, hiking trip. They offer a toe and heel bumper, and an anti-slip outsole.Read more
Protective toe and heel bumper
Protective toe and heel bumper on this sock - like embracing slip-on foot apparel will protect the most vulnerable parts of your feet, not making them great hiking footwear, but perfect for boat trips and scaling rivers and waterfalls.
Anti-slip and non-marking grippy outsole
Anti-slip and non-marking grippy outsole is one of the most important aspects of every water footwear, and this will make it an excellent choice in order to feel secure on a wet or slippery surface.
Cost and Value
This shoe may not survive many seasons or super long hikes, however, it offers good protection and is very comfortable, and with the price tag hanging quite low, you would not regret this choice after they have served their time.
9. Adidas Climacool Boat Lace
- Perfect For Boating Trips
- Quickly Drying
- Good For Land And Sea
- Good Traction On Wet Surface
- Not For Longer Hikes
- Not For Rough Terrains
This foot apparel will not only be a great companion during your water-sports related activities but will also ensure that you look good in them at the same time - a feature, not all the water footwear can provide. Equipped with ClimaCool technology and the unique drainage system throughout the sole is made to perform best on a boat trip or on water.Read more
This technology is designed to provide you with the best possible ventilation and moisture control and will increase breathability around the foot providing you far better comfort than most other shoes.
Unique drainage system
The unique drainage system implemented in this footwear consists of the perforated textile footbed and perforated outsole that will shed the water from the shoe at maximum speed, keeping the inside as dry as possible.
Cost and Value
Although this is a very well-known brand this model will not cost a lot for you, and, considering the brand, the low price will not result in a bad quality shoe, this would cost a bit less than the average water footwear on the market.
10. Columbia Drainmaker III
- Super-Sharp Grip
- Added Cushioning
- Faster Water Drainage
- Not For Beaches
This footwear is very quick drying and one of the most versatile in the range and will be able to protect your feet even on rough terrain and would be an excellent choice for sports for both - water and land. It has a high number of big drainage points built in the heel and forefoot section for quicker water shedding and has a razor siping outsole for better traction.Read more
Built-in drainage points
In this model the drainage points have been made bigger and increased in numbers, therefore increasing the speed of water drainage by 33%.
Razor siping outsole
The outsole is made of non-marking Omni grip with razor siping, therefore allowing the footwear to get a grip on wet and slippery surfaces.
Cost and Value
Although this foot apparel is at the (considerably) upper side of the pricing tab, you would not regret spending an extra dollar on the reinforced cushioning and protection of your feet, if you enjoy active water sport.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Just like in every other type of footwear, the weight is a decisive factor at the moment of making a purchase. This all depends on what you’re looking for, though. A casual beach-goer won’t mind an extra ounce or two on their shoes; however, if we’re talking about performance in any water sport, you should opt for a shoe that is as lightweight as functionally possible.
As the weight of the shoe reduces, certain qualities and performance aspects of the shoe will be reduced as well. For instance, a thin and lightweight build will prove efficient to someone looking for minimalism, but at the same time, these shoes will deliver considerably lower levels of protection.
If you’re considering any sort of performance, it’s important that you determine the aspects of such sport in which you’ll need the most assistance from your shoe. Keep in mind that you may need to reduce some aspects in order to enhance others. If your sport calls for high levels of protection, you should opt for a thicker material, which at the same time will increase the weight of your shoe.
You will typically find water shoes with bungee lace systems and thin mesh uppers, with a relatively thin sole typically comprised of EVA rubber. Some of the more favored designs mimic the feel of a sock, but companies are also making water shoes that have more of a build to them, closing in on the style and protective capabilities a shoe might have.
Of course, the more material used to build the shoe, the heavier it will be, but since water shoes are not full shoes, they don’t have every protective property and even the heaviest of them are more lightweight or flexible in comparison. Water shoes that can be used for hiking may be thicker and less flexible in comparison to what is known as a “wet shoe”, but all maintain that level of flexibility that you won’t have in a full-blown shoe.
Think; walking through water unknowing of what you will be stepping on next whether it be through rough rocks or other external hazards. Your feet are fragile and susceptible to a number of injuries and ways to become damaged if barefoot. Even navigating through a beach has its hazards.
People have been known to step on left behind objects, even needles, which has been reported washed up on beaches which are best avoided, to say the least. Not saying you will likely step onto anything in particular, but there’s plenty of things you can step on that you would be best to have a protective layer between your feet and it while doing so.
With an adequately designed, quality water shoe, you can enjoy a barefoot feel with proper drainage without the exposing your feet to the jagged surfaces of rocks and hazardous materials the bottom of your feet may come into contact with.
Good Materials for Sole Protection:
Always keep in mind that protection is a feature that must be present in all water shoes. Regardless of the discipline, you practice and how minimalist the shoes for such activity need to be, there should always be some dedicated space and weight to the protection of your feet.
It’s a huge mistake to underestimate environments like the beach, as you never know what you’ll step on next. Some users make the mistake of thinking they don’t need any sort of protection to walk on rocks at the beach until they step on a water hedgehog or even worse – a sharp coral. Don’t get it wrong, protection is paramount at any point during beach activities; sharp corals, for example, will slice your skin open with extreme ease just by stepping on them or making brief contact.
The grip goes hand-in-hand with the protection that the sole provides as it is generated by the very material used for the outsole, which is the bottom-most portion of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground.
Tread Profile: The tread profile is critical, and needs to be designed where water cannot be trapped underneath, but rather have outlets to be forced outward from the bottom of the shoe with each step. This is especially important as water shoes are regularly used in moisturized or even completely wet environments where the surface is slippery.
Outsole Pattern: The outsole pattern is not such a critical decision; there have been (and will continue to be) thousands of manufacturers and designers that claim their outsole design is the most efficient one when it comes to preventing slippage. The truth is that any intuitive outsole pattern is enough to reduce your chances of slipping – you don’t have to break your head analyzing the patterns and reading explanations on how the shapes work. What is important is that you count with an outsole that allows multidirectional action and versatility. Certain water sports call for forceful and spontaneous movements that can easily out-force a low-quality outsole.
Movement: The grip of a shoe will react differently based on the direction in which your movements are directed. This also depends on the outsole pattern; in a sport like surfing, you should opt for a grip that holds you steadily together to the board as there are no lateral feet motions involved. However, a sport that calls for constant feet movements in all directions isn’t compatible with a vertical grip.
Regardless of the purpose of your shoe, it must count with a reliable and strong grip. When looking for the best water shoes, we highly recommend that you keep your eyes on two things: the outsole material and the outsole pattern. The most optimal material for anti-slipping purposes is rubber and its other synthetic variations, such as vulcanized rubber.
If this is your case, we highly recommend you to look for an omnidirectional grip. This type of outsole will allow you to perform forceful movements in any direction while remaining in absolute control of your balance.
As you can probably guess, a shoe that is meant to be near water (or submerged in it) can easily become a slipping hazard. A non-slipping grip is paramount for this kind of footwear, as any slippage can quickly become extremely dangerous in environments like the pool, a boat, a dock, and a wide variety of surfaces.
Just like with most shoes, you don’t want your feet bathing in its own perspiration. The same can be said for the water that will inevitably find its way inside your shoe easily if you completely submerge them.
For this reason, a water-sealed shoe will not work for the situations in which you would find yourself using a proper water shoe for. Let’s say you find yourself an adequately lightweight shoe that is extremely flexible, but the material that the upper is made of does not let the moisture from the inside escape effectively.
You will find yourself walking in a shoe filled with water, which is very inconvenient at the very least. This is why a water wicking or breathable shoe is just not good enough. You need ventilation and drainage.
A water shoe is more than just a shoe that you can wear under water. It’s a pair of shoes that you can efficiently use when getting involved in activities and sports near water. As you can probably guess by now, an efficient drainage system is paramount in order to achieve an efficient wear, especially if performing sports whether it’s practice or competition.
When we get into the water, some of it tends to make its way back with us stored in our shoes. This is one of the first things you want to prevent when using water shoes. The best water shoes are those that include a drainage system that clears your feet from any residual liquid once you’ve left the water.
There are two parameters that determine the quality of the draining capacity in a water shoe:
Effectiveness: We’ll refer to effectiveness as the ability of the drainage system to clear as much water as possible. In order to achieve an effective drain, it’s important that the perforations through which the water will escape are correctly placed in key areas of the shoe. If the draining channels were located on the upper foot. On the other hand, a channel system located in a lower position (underfoot level, for example) will make the water escape much more easily.
Speed: Speed, as you can probably guess, refers to the quickness with which the water will escape the shoe. The speed with which the shoe will drain the water will be determined by the size and amount of draining channels, as well as the materials of the shoe in general. This may make you think that bigger channels mean better, but in reality, the optimal size for these channels is similar to that of the drainage holes on the Crocs Classic.
Furthermore, the upper build of the shoe plays a big role in both the draining effectiveness and speed. A mesh-like material will make the shoe drain considerably faster, and it will also help ensure that as much water as possible exits the shoe.
These are holes either on the side of the sole or the bottom that allows water to flush out from the inside of the shoe.
Made of open mesh primarily
This means you will have a sole (preferably with drainage ports), but the rest of the shoe would be comprised of a permeable synthetic mesh upper to allow water to pass through.
Stay away from Leather
Leather naturally has water resistant properties, which will trap moisture inside the shoe. The only “water shoes” you should consider that are comprised of leather are those with a sandal design. Yes, there are some.
This goes hand-in-hand with drainage and breathability, but is independent as wicking materials work by effectively pulling moisture away from the skin, outward. Even with proper drainage, your foot’s surface will still hold moisture. This is where wicking material comes into play. Fleece works well for moisture wicking, but materials such as cotton or wool are not effective in this regard as they hold water in, and do not allow it to evaporate easily.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Water shoes can have many uses! Wear them in the pool, at the beach, days at the lake or creek walking with friends. Many surfers wear water shoes as well for traction as well as protection or warmth when surfing in areas with sharp reefs.
After a bit of wear and tear on your water shoes, it's important to scrub the footbed, to make sure any bacterial buildup is removed. This helps prevent odor, and also protects your feet!
Be sure to let your water shoes air dry after use!
Other Factors to Consider
First, let’s make clear the difference between water shoes and water sandals as these two have a different purpose. Water sandals, in general, have the same properties as a water shoe – they are designed for on-water activities, however, while water sandals offer you the same comfort and protection, they are only meant to protect the bottom of your feet, the toes are not enclosed and therefore these will not be appropriate choice when you are doing more than just an easy boat trip. Water shoes have the toe section closed off making them more like the ordinary sports shoe, enabling the wearer to endure rougher terrain as you go in and out of the water.
There are many types of water shoes, there are also water shoes and water sandals, and there is a big difference between them, although some water shoes can be called sandals, you can easily spot the difference, as water shoes have the toe section closed off, therefore providing more protection for your toes, and making this type of shoe more suitable for sporting activities, while the toe section for water sandals is open making this type of shoe more appropriate for simple walks or fishing by the lake.
Water shoe price tags can vary, highly, along with their general performance or functionality. You need to know what kind of activities you will be getting yourself into, before actually buying any water shoes, this article contains the advice and best-use tips you will need to make an educated decision, so you can find the right shoes for your adventures, or the pool.
Frequently Asked Questions
As mentioned previously, water shoes not only provide a safe barrier between rocks and other objects, they also provide slip protection, are much more comfortable than regular shoes, are much lighter in weight (not to mention practical), and easily drain. A quality water shoe won’t break down due or fall apart due to moisture damage, and you won’t need to worry about mold either. What are water shoes used for? Well, in short, to walk through water effectively, with a degree of protection.
This was also covered previously, but if you missed it, there are four main types, but countless terms are used and sometimes the line between each is blurred. The main types with easily distinguishable differences are boat shoes, water sandals, wet shoes, and aqua shoes.
The easy answer is, absolutely! But, certain materials break down due to moisture more easily than others. Don’t ruin your walking shoes. Water shoes are crafted to withstand water, with material and seams that do not fall apart due to constantly being wet. That’s what they’re made for.
Some are. You need to make sure to get the right type. You also need to be aware that any strenuous hikes may render any water shoes useless, so we recommend easy hikes if you use a water shoe. A perfect water shoe for hiking would be the Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve, and similar types would suffice.