When you’re in the water, shoes typically aren’t required. But if you want the added comfort and protection when you stroll the beach or go on activities like diving, hiking, kayaking, or surfing, it helps to gear yourself up with the right footwear. Whether it be in the form of sandals, boots, slip-ons, or sneakers, water shoes keep your feet not only dry and secure but also at peak performance.
Aquatic shoes have evolved in a lot of ways, with modern options boasting a broad range of features, including water drainage, underfoot traction, and thermal protection. Whatever outdoor adventure you plan on embarking on this summer, there’s a pair out there that’s meant to be your water buddy. Barefoot slip-ons and sandals should work well enough for a casual day at the beach or some light water sports. But if you’re going on rocky terrain or other rugged exploits, it’s better to invest in bulkier shoes or something with a strong grip at the bottom. We’ve done a digging of our own and rounded up here some of the best water shoes on the market — all of which you can count on for superior comfort and functionality.
At a Glance:
- Best multipurpose:
- Best adjustable sandal:
- Best for surfing:
- Best for easy storage:
- Best for rafting:
- Best for paddling:
- Best for canyoneering:
Best multipurpose: Crocs Classic Clog Slip On Water Shoe
This Crocs Classic Clog is a slip-on casual water shoe made with comfort in mind. Super lightweight and breathable, its synthetic sole provides you with the extra support you need. There are ventilation ports in place as well to help shed sand and water quickly plus pivoting heel straps for a secure fit. Available in tons of different colors, this is the perfect water shoe if you’re looking for simplicity and comfort. Although ideal for the beach, this model can also be worn in various settings, including walking, gardening, and lounging at home as well as in the pool, gym, or shower.
Best adjustable sandal: Teva Women’s Original Universal Sandal
With a robust Eva footbed, this Teva Women’s Original Universal Sandal provides you with ultimate comfort. Its Durabrasion rubber outsole provides the stability and traction you need to stay on your feet. This water shoe’s universal adjustable strapping system and easy hook-and-loop closure let you find the perfect fit for your feet. We recommend this pair especially if you’re looking for a very comfortable water sandal that’s also breathable. It comes in various prints and color combinations so you’ll never go out of style.
Best for surfing: SIMARI Water Shoes Quick Dry
The upper of these Simari Water Shoes are made of ultra-breathable, lightweight Lycra material. With salt and wear resistance, these shoes are built to last. These are lightweight and compressible, with a unique sole design that features ergonomically molded shock-absorption performance cushioning. The soles are made of rubber materials, complete with excellent air permeability and non-slip resistance. It’s a great pair of quick-drying water shoes that provide traction in slippery and wet conditions, including surfing, swimming, and diving.
Best for easy storage: Vifuur Water Sports Shoes Barefoot
This pair of slip-on water shoes from Vifuur features a soft, breathable, and quick-drying fabric that’s comfortable on the feet. They’re very convenient to put on and take off, thanks to their smooth neck design that also prevents chafing. The upper is elastic and flexible so you can move with ease, while the non-slip rubber sole offers strong support and is tough enough to protect your feet from sharp objects, gravel, stone, and rough ground. Bendable into small pieces, they don’t take much space when packing. Use them for swimming, windsurfing, and other beach activities.
Best for rafting: Astral Loyak
Don’t be deceived by the stylish look of the Astral Loyak. This model has the flexibility, traction, and durability you need for your whitewater rafting or stream-splashing adventure. The upper is crafted from stitched Cordura fabric that is durable and highly abrasion-resistant, yet quick-drying and breathable, thanks to the drainage holes that let water escape while minimizing entry of sand and silt. The outsole, on the other hand, is made of rubber, which helps keep your footing on slick rocks and slippery river beds, complete with flex grooves so your feet can flex naturally.
Best for paddling: NRS Paddle Wetshoe
The NRS Paddle Wetshoe is specifically made for paddling but is also great for any activity where you’ll be on the water most of the time. Its super stretchy Terraprene neoprene upper uses a titanium laminate to keep your foot warm even on cold days, complete with a fleecy VaporLoft lining that repels moisture and quickly dries so your foot remains comfy. Additionally, it’s built with a 5mm neoprene insole for comfortable paddling all day and rubber sole wraps for toe and heel protection. Traction is also on point, which means you can walk confidently on slippery stones. This pair truly is fun to wear in the water.
Best for canyoneering: Adidas Terrex Hydro_Lace
Specially constructed to meet the demands of canyoneering, the burly Adidas Terrex Hydro_Lace works best in wet, rocky terrain. The upper is crafted from a PVC-like material bonded to a soft neoprene lining, which provides a warm, comfortable feeling and surrounds the foot like a suit of armor. The outsole is made of stealth rubber, offering solid grip and stickiness on the slickest and wettest of rocks. This pair of boots can handle day after day of abuse in rugged whitewater slot canyons.
If you’re having a beach day or going on a hike, you need to protect your feet — and water shoes do just that. Whether you go want a casual and comfortable water shoe, a durable yet breathable water sandal, or a heavy-duty shoe that provides great traction, we’ve provided you with the information you need to choose the perfect pair for your needs.
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