You’d love to feel the water on your bare feet, but that isn’t always possible, is it? Think about how you almost slipped while trying to walk across moss covered rocks last year on your hike at the river, or how gross you felt wading through the children’s pool at the water park. What about campsite showers or just the wet conditions during the rainy season?
You need a good pair of water shoes, and we’ve reviewed ten of the best water shoes currently available to help you get started. There’s a time to let the water wash over you and a time to keep your feet protected. Let’s take a look.
Our first water shoe is a polyester upper with a rubber sole. It comes in a wide variety of colors designed to please both men and women whether they’re into bright colors or something neutral. It transitions well from dry land to water conditions. It’s form fitting, but the polyester is highly breathable, allowing it to dry out quickly whether from sweat or the sea.
It slips on quickly and folds up when you need to get on the move. The toe area is reinforced with a toe guard to help prevent injury even in slick situations. The design protects against wear and tear points and the tread grips tough surfaces, so you never feel unstable.
Our next water shoe resembles a sneaker, but the upper and lower materials are breathable and dry quickly. The mesh upper material helps move air throughout the shoe and offers drainage through the side wall. The next time you step in a river, water will drain instead of squishing inside the shoe.
These are built for hiking in wet conditions. There’s plenty of support and plenty of space between your foot and the ground. Low profile lacing allows the shoe to stretch around your foot without the hassle of tying laces. The sole uses Traxion, a synthetic material that increases traction on delicate surfaces.
The Vifuur shoe is a sleek profile with no laces. It’s designed to wrap around your foot and provide more tactile response between the ground and you. It’s unisex and comes in a wide variety of designs. A blend of Lycra and cloth helps the shoe slip on and off quickly even when wet.
Lycra fabric dries quickly, but the rubber sole gives you stability and grip. They’re lightweight and feel more like socks than shoes. They transition well from water activities to other areas where you need a lightweight shoe (such as, for example, yoga on the beach).
The Promate is an unusual design intended to maximize traction in sports where you have to use more than just the sole of your foot to balance. The tread pattern moves all the way up into the arch of the shoe, allowing you to use the sides of your feet more efficiently. They’re good for water sports that require a lot of maneuvering.
The upper material is neoprene, the same material as wetsuits. It’s highly breathable and drains well, allowing water to move in and out. The rubber sole keeps grip even when you’re underwater, and the shoe conforms to your foot and covers your ankle, so they’re never in danger of slipping off.
Merrell’s option is another sneaker style water shoe that provides plenty of protection between your feet and rough terrain. It’s designed to slip on and off with drawstring-style, elastic laces for quick adjustments. The upper material is a leather and synthetic material, a durable combination that also allows the shoe to breathe.
Open areas along the sides of the shoe allow water to drain quickly and bring air in, so your feet stay cool and dry. The rubber sole has excellent grip and plenty of cushioning to resist impact from even tough hikes. They’re excellent for hiking in all weather conditions and for exploring rivers and waterfalls.
Aleader is a quick drying, sneaker style shoe with complete protection for toes. It has a thick sole to put distance between your feet and the ground, but water and air move in and out quickly for ultra-fast drying times. They’re perfect for walking on days just after it has rained, or for activities near the pool or beach.
This shoe is lightweight and responsive, more so than a traditional sneaker. Plus, the shoe’s liner makes the shoe comfortable to wear barefoot (a must for water shoes). Lateral contrast stitching resists wear and tear, and even with heavy water use, the stitching doesn’t weaken. It comes in a wide variety of colors to satisfy any taste.
The Surfwalker is a lightweight shoe with a light profile perfect for water sports or beach wear. It uses an S-trac sole for excellent grip and a back loop to make getting even wet shoes on easier. The upper is a four-way stretch material that grips your foot but allows for maneuverability and reduces sore spots.
An air mesh insert promotes faster drying times and prevents blisters. It’s breathable, so you won’t feel sweaty. Plus, the shoe is designed to provide maximum feedback between your feet and the ground, which is better for many water sports involving maneuvering. It also makes them great water shoes for park environments.
This is a water shoe and sports sandal combined. It uses a combination of synthetic materials for durability and a more comfortable fit. It offers great protection around the toes and puts a lot of distance between your foot and the ground. Hook and loop closures allow you to quickly adjust the fit depending on the situation without worrying that the shoe will come undone.
Open sides and heel allow water to drain while encouraging optimum airflow for more comfort. The sole has deep rubber treads for maximum grip even in places such as rivers or lakes, where the ground may be particularly slippery. Elastic laces stretch as you move but never come undone and never put pressure across the top of your foot.
The Hurricane is an open sandal with textile straps and hook and loop closures. The rubber sole prevents impacts from rough terrain and provides support and traction. They’re great for hot weather when you can’t stand the thought of putting on a shoe, but don’t want to walk completely barefoot.
Adjustments across the toe area and the ankle ensure the shoe stays put no matter what you’re doing. They have a stiff sole for lots of support and to help prevent slipping or rolling your foot while on uneven terrain. They’re durable and easily washable.
Our final shoe is a boat style sneaker with stretch laces and open mesh. Air flows through the shoe freely and helps keep your feet fresh and dry. There’s a stretchable heel insert to help customize the fit and prevent slipping. A Traxion sole has excellent grip even on slippery surfaces such as a wet boat deck.
They grip your feet and are excellent for activities that don’t involve a lot of heavy walking. Think wading through tide pools or lounging on a boat. The neoprene upper is excellent at protecting your feet from water hazards, and the soles have enough impact resistance that you won’t get hurt jumping onto uneven terrain.