Best Water Shoes Reviewed & Compared

So you like to hit the water, doing different water-related sports activities, relaxing at the pool, or you simply like to enjoy your spare time slipping 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.

Best-Water-Shoes-Pair-of-breathable-shoes

When spending a lot of time on the water it is inevitable that your feet will get wet, regular shoes, no matter the quality or brand, will get wet in no time, this will not only significantly shorten the lifespan of your shoes but will also be harmful to your feet. Water shoes are specifically designed for these kinds of activities, as they do not absorb and enclose the water, rather letting it freely flow, not absorbing the moisture and keeping your feet safe from moisture damage.

Last Updated: December 25, 2017
By Sergio Bettiol:

This updates brings an expansion to the product list up to 15 products, with some of the top additions being the Crocs Swiftwater Sandal, Vibram Signa, and Speedo Zipwalker 4.0. We’ve also enhanced the criteria for evaluation and purchasing advice to provide further insight on how to select the right pair of water shoes. Lastly, our FAQ section covers the most commonly regarded questions about the topic.

Featured Recommendations

Crocs Swiftwater Sandal
  • Crocs Swiftwater Sandal
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • CrosLite cushioning
  • Price: See Here
Vibram Signa
  • Vibram Signa
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Polyester mesh
  • Price: See Here
Speedo Zipwalker 4.0
  • Speedo Zipwalker 4.0
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Underfoot s-trac protection
  • Price: See Here

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.

 

15 Best Water Shoes

 

1. Crocs Swiftwater Sandal

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).
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CrosLite cushioning
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.

Mesh upper
Unlike their traditional design, the Swiftwater Sandal features a breathable mesh upper build. The mesh is water-friendly and makes the shoe 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.

Cost
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 a shoe that won’t require replacement anytime soon.
Pros

Protects your toe

The upper build behaves smoothly underwater

Easy draining system

Massaging dotted footbed

Cons

Not enough cushioning for active water sports

2. Vibram Signa

If you’re familiar with Vibram, you’ll know they’re one of the leading brands when it comes to all-terrain footwear. Their Signa water shoe release has been just as successful as their outdoorsy models, blending quality, comfort, and water-friendliness into a single pair of versatile shoes. Ideal for the pool, the beach, and any wet environment, the Vibram Signa is a comfortable solution for wet trips.
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Polyester mesh upper
An upper build that provides protection and adjustability is exactly what you need when performing water sports. The polyester mesh upper stretches and expands to the shape of your feet, delivering an optimal level of both support and comfort. But this is no traditional mesh; the polyester-infused material won’t be ripped apart so easily thanks to its abrasion-resistant qualities.

Intuitive draining holes
When kayaking, surfing, or performing anything on water the last thing you want is soggy shoes. Vibram knows this, and thus their polyester-infused mesh upper build counts with thousands of micropores that exponentially increase the draining speed. Furthermore, additional perforations are strategically placed in key areas where water gets easily retained. This not only makes draining even faster, but it also ensures that nearly all the water (if not all) will make its way out.

Cost
Vibram’s Signa sits right at the average value of this list. Although not the cheapest water shoe out there, certainly not the most expensive one either. We believe the Vibram Signa offers a fair relation between efficiency and cost based on the characteristics and carefully designed functionalities of this shoe. Being suitable for various sports, this pair can save you from having to buy multiple other pairs for different activities.
Pros

Easy to wash (Machine wash cold/air dry)

Vibram wave grip prevents slippage on wet surfaces like boards

Fast and efficient drainage

Easy to put on and off

Cons

Wide feet users may need to go half a size up (seller’s instructions)

3. Speedo Zipwalker 4.0

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 of shoes you should be looking for – a simple an efficient solution for any activity on or under water. The design of this shoe is inspired by surf, but its performance qualities make it suitable for a wide range of other water sports.
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Quick-dry construction
Soaked feet are possibly one of the most annoying experiences when wearing shoes 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, this shoe 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 shoe and harming your underfoot and the pool or the beach.

Cost
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.
Pros

Great traction and no slippage

4-ways stretch upper

Breathable and easy-drying materials

Quick zipper closure

Cons

The seam edges of the zipper irritate the upper foot of some users

4. Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0

4. Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0
With their reputation for water performance equipment, it’s no surprise to see Speedo with a back-to-back entry on the upper positioning of the list. The Hydro Comfort is one of the most successful series by Speedo, if not the most successful one, and the fourth volume is just as efficient as the previous three. The Hydro Comfort 4.0 comes with a completely new design and revamped features from its predecessors.
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Perforated insole
The insole of this shoe can hardly get any better; the perfect cushioning for water activity, odor-preventing properties, and an easily removable approach. Furthermore, this insole features a smart drainage system thanks to strategic perforations located in key areas of the insole to optimize water exit. The utterly comfortable material is soft enough to cushion yet firm enough to support the underfoot during the performance.

Non-marking outsole
The Hydro Comfort 4.0 counts with an outsole that is not only abrasion resistant and highly durable but also non-marking. The rubber compound delivers an excellent grip on almost any surface, even while wet. The combination of quality materials and an intuitive outsole design prevent this shoe from leaving skids or marks on any surface. This outsole counts with the adequate feats to perform a variety of aerobic and water sports.

Cost
The Hydro Comfort 4 is a much more complete water shoe in comparison to clogs, sandals, and surfing shoes. Although this product exceeds the average value of the list, it also counts with a more dedicated and functional build that the majority of the other products. Basically, you’re getting the functionalities of a running shoe with a water design – making it an excellent cost-to-performance ratio.
Pros

Utterly comfortable and breathable

Suitable for performance out of water

Enough cushioning for any sport

Drains extremely fast

Cons

Some users reported issues with the length of the laces

5. Under Armour Kilchis

5. Under Armour Kilchis
There’s not much to explain here; everybody is familiar with the reputation of Under Armour performance equipment. Their water shoes are no less as any of their other successful products, as the Kilchis quickly became one of the most popular water shoes 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.
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Easy-drain midsole
You just can’t go wrong with the midsole of any Under Armour shoe; they’re carefully engineered to maximize their function in relation to the sport they’re meant for. This water shoe 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 shoes. 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.

Cost
Just like the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0, this shoe consists of a dedicated water build rather than a minimalist surfing shoe. The Under Armour Kilchis is possibly one of the most functional water shoes 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 of shoes.
Pros

Welded synthetic overlays provide resistance to abrasion

Friendly lacing system is fast and effortless

Easy-drain contoured midsole and insole

Appealing design

Cons

A bit stiff on the underfoot for some users

6. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve

6. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve
Merrell's AOB Sieve water shoe is a masterfully designed water shoe that will attack the terrain with no hesitation thanks to it’s 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 shoe to dry quickly thanks to its Waxy Waterproof Leather Fabric Lycra.
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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 shoe, allowing the wearer to avoid unpleasant feeling or wet feet, which also might result in sore and rubbed feet and painful blisters.

Unifly™ midsole
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 offer supplementary agility thanks to the circular slugs.

Cost and Value
It would be a difficult task to find another pair of shoes that would provide the same amount of comfort and protection as these shoes provide for the price you can have them.
Pros
  • Waterproof leather fabric upper
  • Stretch collar for easy on and off
  • Hollowed lugs for lightness and agility
  • Very light 
  • No blisters thanks to built-in pad ankle protection
Cons
  • Size not always matches the description
  • Narrow middle part of the shoe

7. Zhuanglin Quick Drying Aqua

7. Zhuanglin Quick Drying Aqua
One of the best water shoes there is currently on the market. This shoe offer an extremely comfortable fit, providing a soft cushioning and breathability along with an unconditional grip on wet and slippery surface thanks to its Water Grip outsole. Best for daily or travel walking. However, this shoe will not be the best fit for active water sports.
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Water Grip outsole
The most important aspect of this shoe is its admirable ability to stay put on slippery and wet surfaces, this has been achieved with the Water Grip outsole of the shoe, providing the wearer security and stability during hikes.

Breathability and drying
As your feet will get wet no matter what, this shoe will provide the necessary protection against both - insufficient ventilation and moisture. The open mesh of this shoe upper guarantees good ventilation of the feet, and the holes in the sole will allow the water to leave the shoe as quickly, as it came in.

Cost and Value
This is one of the cheapest options you can have, and, to be honest, the price of this shoe is really underestimated comparing to the benefits it can offer in terms of comfort and everyday use.
Pros
  • Extremely light
  • Very breathable
  • Holes in the sole - letting the water escape from the shoe
  • Equally comfortable on water and on the ground
  • Dry quickly
Cons
  • Size does not mach the fit

8. RYKA Hydro Sport 2

8. RYKA Hydro Sport 2
The Hydro Sports series proved to be a success with its first release. RYKA decided to revamp their Hydro Sport in a modernized and better-equipped second version. This update consists of a large open mesh build that delivers the maximum drainage efficiency. But, since mesh alone wouldn’t bring any structure, a TPU quarter cage supports your feet both outdoors and underwater. The tongue construction resembles a burrito, fixing the tongue in place even while wet.
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Chlorine resistant
Chlorine can be a huge obstacle to your footwear when practicing water sports. The chemicals used to clean the pool cannot only stain your shoes but also contribute to their degrading. The coated materials prevent chlorine molecules from adhering to the build, enhancing the product’s durability in its original state.

Perforated nitracel footbed
The carefully engineered footbed acts as both a cushioning agent and a further drainage system. The strategically placed perforations optimize drainage to make it a matter of seconds; it also delivers underwater comfort to feet. The nitracel footbed is highly durable and easily removable or interchangeable for a water performance insole. The insole is also resistant to chlorine and helps prevent the development of bacteria, odors, and fungi.

Cost
RIKA’s Hydro Sport 2 is yet another complete shoe with a water approach. Its value sits just around the average value of the listed products, and its performance on and under water can easily surpass your expectations. The amount of sports-oriented features in this shoe make it really worth the purchase, considering its value is fairly accessible for what you get in return.
Pros

Excellent underwater grip

Perfect fit for most users

They develop no smells from humidity or moisture

Sheds water quickly

Cons
  • The lace straps are not as durable as the rest of the shoe

9. Adidas Climacool Boat Lace

9. Adidas Climacool Boat Lace
This shoe 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 shoes can provide. Equipped with ClimaCool technology and the unique drainage system throughout the sole this shoe is made to perform best on a boat trip or on water.
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ClimaCool technology
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 shoe consists of perforated textile footbed and perforated outsole that will shed the water from the shoe at a maximum speed, keeping the inside of the shoe as dry as possible.

Cost and Value
Although this is a very well-known brand this shoe 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 shoe on the market.
Pros
  • Perfect for boating trips
  • Quickly drying
  • Equally good on dry surface as on water
  • Good traction on wet surface
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not suitable for longer hikes
  • Not suitable for rough terrains

10. Columbia Drainmaker III

10. Columbia Drainmaker III
This shoe is a very quick drying and one of the most versatile in the range, and will be able to protect your feet even on a 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 a better traction.
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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 shoe to get a grip on wet and slippery surfaces.

Cost and Value
Although this shoe is at the (considerably) upper side of the pricing tab, you would not regret spending extra dollar on the reinforced cushioning and protection of your feet, if you enjoy active water sport.
Pros
  • Super-sharp grip
  • Added cushioning
  • Faster water drainage
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not for walking on beaches due to sand

11. Aleader Mesh Slip On

11. Aleader Mesh Slip On
This is an all-purpose amphibious shoe that is equipped with a quickly drying, breathable mesh will allow the wearer to feel comfortable on any surface. Equipped with FluidFlow technology and Water Grain outsole, this lightweight slip on shoe will be your best companion everywhere you go whether it's in or out of the water. .
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FluidFlow technology
The FluidFlow technology of this shoe will make sure, that the water drains from the inside of the shoe as quickly as possible - through the outsole.




WaterGrain outsole
The Water Grain outsole will provide a superb traction and control on wet and slippery surfaces, and allow you to conquer places no other slip on water shoes would dare tackling.

Cost and Value
The average price for these shoes feels a lot less than they would deserve, judging by the customers reviews. Even more so - if you catch them on a discount you would regret not giving this model a chance to prove itself. Possibly one of the best in terms of value against the price.
Pros
  • No insoles required
  • Lightweight
  • Soft and cushy bottom
  • Perfect, snug fit
Cons
  • Minimal arch support
  • Not intended for longer hikes

12. Keen Whisper

12. Keen Whisper
This elegant shoe will perform equally good on water and on ground. Made from elastic materials and a comfortable footbed it will be your best friend during a normal day or your water related activities, designed specifically for women feet, this shoe has a metatomical EVA footbed design with the EVA midsole that will account for the support and comfort, and a lug pattern combined with a lacing system that will guarantee the protection and safety of your feet.
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EVA footbed and midsole
EVA metatomical footbed makes for the best support of the feet making this shoe on the top list for hiking water shoes, along with the EVA midsole that provides great cushioning and rebound.

Lug pattern sole and lacing
The lug pattern sole will provide the best grip with wet and slippery surfaces, and the secure fit lacing system will provide an easy on and off slip function of the shoe and an efficient securing of the shoe.

Cost and Value
This shoe, although lightweight and not very complicated by the looks, and falling within the same price level as the rest of the models mentioned above, does provide a great value for the price as they can be worn during your daily activities, too.
Pros
  • Specifically designed for women
  • Comfortable
  • Very light
  • Good arch support
Cons
  • Not fit for a rough terrain
  • Stretching out over time

13. Cudas Shasta

13. Cudas Shasta
This slip on super light water shoe 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 on amazing boating trips, however, I would not suggest them for a longer, or even a shorter, hiking trip. The shoe offer a toe and heel bumper, and an anti slip outsole.
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Protective toe and heel bumper
Protective toe and heel bumper on this sock - like embracing slip on shoe will protect the most vulnerable parts of your feet, not making them a great hiking shoes, 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 shoe, 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 offer good protection and are very comfortable, and with the price tag hanging quite low, you would not regret this choice after they have served their time.
Pros
  • Very light
  • Extra toe and heel protection
  • Comfortable for short hiking distances
  • Strechy upper
  • You can easily swim wearing these
Cons
  • Slow to dry

14. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0

14. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0
A perfect lightweight slip on shoe that will make your day at the beach unforgettable, comfortable enough to be kept on 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 Top10.
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S-TRAC TPR
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 shoe and the weight, making this shoe comfortable and allowing you to keep them on even when swimming.

Cost and Value
Another one of those lightweight, slip on shoes that does not seem much, but provides you with a 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.
Pros
  • Stretchy upper adding more comfort
  • Can be taken with you swimming
  • Enduring sole - can be worn on a rougher terrain
  • Quickly drains and dries
Cons
  • Not true to size
  • Not suitable for hiking

15. Mohem Poseidon

15. Mohem Poseidon
Although these shoes look like they could contribute to a fashion website mens 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 does not require scaling very rough terrain.
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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.

Style
In many cases, when considering to purchase water shoes, you will have only the aspect of usability of these shoes, 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 shoes mentioned above in this list, this shoe is surely within the lower price corner, although last, but hardly the least - they do look great and for the price you can have them - it is a bargain.
Pros
  • Stylish
  • Very light
  • Handy lacing system
  • Can be used as everyday walking shoes
Cons
  • Could not use them on rough terrain
  • Low support for your arch

 

How to Find the Best Water Shoes

By now you should understand the importance of choosing the right water shoe model and type for your preferences and your needs. 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.

Best-Water-Shoes-hiking-with-light-water-shoes

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.

 

Criteria for Evaluation of the Best Water Shoes

 

Weight

Best-Water-Shoes-stepping-on-rock-coming-out-of-river

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.

What we mean by “functionally possible” is that the weight should only be reduced to a point in which it doesn’t affect other qualities of the shoe. Reducing the overall weight of a shoe can be beneficial just as much as it can be harmful to your performance. Minimalism may seem like an advantage at first sight, and while most users consider it to be so, this is only true to certain extent.

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.

Before making the purchase of any water shoe, it’s important that you analyze the activities in which you might be involved while using them. If you’re just looking for an adequate pair of shoes for the pool, the beach, or simply recreational activities in the water, the weight is something that may not have too much importance.

However, if you’re considering any sort of performance, it’s important that you determine the aspects of such sport in which you’ll need to 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.

The purpose of having water shoes is to be out of your shoes while still keeping your feet protected. This means the material used and the overall density of the shoe will be at a minimum, to ensure you can enjoy the comfort of being barefoot without having to completely be so.

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.

 

Underfoot Protection & Traction

Best-Water-Shoes-hiking-with-keen-water-sandals

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. Soles of water shoes may be made from rubber and EVA material. You will also find Vibram soles on some, which are very protective yet cushioned and flexible.

Note: Some water shoes may also blend the line between aqua socks, in which case are usually not as protective as one with a sole, but are typically more flexible, with a more accommodating fit. They aren’t quite socks, as they are thick, and not made to wear under other footwear.

The best water shoes are those that deliver all-around protection, not just the underfoot. However, the underfoot is possibly the most delicate area of feet and they can easily be harmed if your shoes are not equipped adequately. The outsole must be reliable and made of a material that will prevent most objects you may normally find at the beach (rocks, junk, coral) from penetrating the outsole and harming the foot directly.

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.

 

Grip & Slippage

Best-Water-Shoes-girl-in-pink-shoes-standing-on-wet-rock-in-water

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

If you’re part of the performance environment, you might want to opt for a superior grade of grip and non-slipping features. These features would not be oriented to prevent slippage on any surface, but rather in specific surfaces related to the practice you’re undertaking (a water-skiing board, for example).

 

Breathability

Some users would normally think that water shoes don’t require any breathability, as water itself is enough to maintain your feet fresh. While water does play a role in the cooling of feet, this fact alone is not a reason to not count with a breathable approach. The first thing to keep in mind is that, despite being water shoes, your feet won’t be submerged the whole time regardless of the activity you’re performing.

Whether you’re on the beach, the pool, or any similar environment, it’s utterly important that your feet have consistent access to fresh air. Performance in general increases our corporal heat (feet included), and water sports are not an exception to this fact. It’s certainly unlikely that your feet become overheated during performance if you’re submerged in water, but you have to keep in mind that your body heat doesn’t go back to normal as soon as you stop performing.

Some water sports such as surfing and swimming involve just as much as feet activity as traditional sports. Once you exit the water, your feet may continue to have a considerable upsurge in heat, and it’s at this point that a breathable construction becomes paramount.

Keep in mind that you won’t be necessarily submerged during the whole experience with water shoes, so it’s important to considerate breathability as an evaluation parameter just like it was any other type of footwear. You may also want to wear your water shoes casually, and the lack of breathability would become an obstacle in this scenario.

Luckily, breathability is pretty much a default feature of water shoes; normally, the same perforations and spaces designated for drainage work as ventilation channels for fresh air at the same time. Because of this, it’s hard to come up with a shoe that lacks breathability. If a shoe counts with an efficient draining design, you can take for granted that it’s breathable enough for comfortable use.

Mesh upper builds are a big contribution to both drainage and breathability. Unless your sport requires a specific upper build material or a very special design, we recommend that you always stick to water shoes that count with mesh on the upper build.

 

Drainage

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.

Don’t get it wrong, though – water shoes won’t air dry your feet automatically or remove the water molecules from them (or not yet, at least). You should be looking for a design that prevents water from creating ponds or small pools under your feet. The lack of an effective draining system will result in water becoming an obstacle to your performance.

“But hey, I thought the water wasn’t an obstacle for water shoes, isn’t that their purpose after all?” Water shoes will continue to work perfectly even if the inner build is completely filled with water – the materials won’t suffer any damage and the shoe won’t be physically affected in any way. This is because water doesn’t obstaculize your footwear, but rather your feet.

There are two parameters that determine the quality of the draining capacity in a water shoe: effectiveness and speed. We’ll refer to effectiveness as the ability of the drainage system to clear as much water as possible; the speed, as you can probably guess, refers to the quickness with which the water will escape the shoe.

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, for example, the shoe would be full of water before it started to drain. On the other hand, a channel system located in a lower position (underfoot level, for example) will make water escape much more easily.

It’s very important that the inner build doesn’t create a pond under your foot; this often happens when the drainage system is located too high, and thus water accumulates a bit before it is able to reach the exit channels.

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.

What to look for in a shoe made to allow proper drainage and fast drying

  • Drainage Ports – 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.
  • Moisture Wicking – 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.

 

Different Types of Water Shoes

Best-Water-Shoes-couple-sitting-at-a-beach-relaxing

Not all water shoes are created equally. In fact, there are several different types of water shoes, and it may be a bit confusing to differentiate between each as the line between each is a bit blurred. Although the terms used for any given water shoe depends on who you’re asking, there are some clear lines between a few types. The most notable being those made for hiking, those made for boat use, those made for swimming pool use, rafting, etc, and those made for the beach or light land use. Although, all offer the general aspects and capabilities mentioned above (just to different degrees catered to their specific usage), and some are diverse enough to be used in any way. Let’s take a look at the water shoe types available and the specific occasions where each excels.

Note: Water shoes are not to be mistaken for aqua socks. Aqua socks are made to be worn inside shoes that are susceptible to becoming water-logged and act as a protective layer. Water shoes, on the other hand, are completely independent.

Some common water shoe terms

  • Aqua Shoes – This is a broad category, still, but people use the term to refer to water shoes that are made mainly for high-performance purposes, and doing such things as hiking where the user can step through rivers, but maintain the safety of their feet as they generally incorporate the most underfoot protection. They are usually worn without socks, however, some people wear socks with them. In short, they do well in and out of water.
  • Wet Shoes – These are not very versatile, and are specific to in water use. Try to venture with them on land and you’re going to have a problem. The material composition is that of a wet-suit.
  • Water Sandal – Although the term “sandal” is used, these are more or less a shoe, with benefits of a sandal. They are similar to the typical aqua shoe, but without the toe protection.
  • Boat Shoes – Also known as deck shoes, these are what you will find, as the name suggests, people using on boats, and they are typically slip-resistant and not very efficient to swim in. They are made to walk on hard, wet surfaces without slipping. Some are made of oil coated leather, and they are usually worn without socks.
  • Fivefingers – Fivefingers are made by a few brands, but the most notable are by Vibram. These are highly versatile shoes that can be used in many instances, from a boat deck to the beach, to the backyard pool.
  • Beach Shoes  – Beach shoes is another broad term that some companies use to market sandals, slippers and other types of water-use footwear. There really is no absolute beach shoe, but if any type would be the owner of the term, the typical aqua shoe would make the cut.

 

FAQ

 

Q: Why use water shoes instead of being barefoot, or using regular shoes?

A: 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.

 

Q: How many different types of water shoes are there?

A: 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.

 

Q: What’s the best place to buy water shoes?

A: Well, if you’re looking for convenience, online is the way to go. But, there are pros and cons to buying online and buying in-store. If you buy in store, you can get a better perspective of any particular water shoe you are interested in. If you buy online, you will need to utilize reviews as we provide in order to know what to get. Luckily for those who don’t have the time to make it to the store, we have you covered!

 

Q: Will water ruin my standard shoes?

A: 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.

 

Q: Are water shoes good for hiking?

A: 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.