We consider water shoes to be a summer essential for anyone who likes spending time around the water of any description. Whether you enjoy kayaking, spending time around waterfalls, hiking through rivers and streams, or wild swimming – water shoes can make your life so much easier and more comfortable too.
There are quite a few different types of water shoes for you to choose from though, so finding the ones best suited to your preferences and outdoor activities can be a bit of a challenge without a bit of help.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best water shoes out there in various different styles, shapes, colors, and price ranges to help you choose the ones that you’ll be wearing this summer.
Best Water Shoes: Top Picks By Category
The Keen Astoria West Shandals offer good levels of grip while still being stylish, comfortable, and highly breathable out of the water. When you are in the water though, these women’s sandals protect your feet from any sharp rocks or other below-surface obstacles.
The Chaco Classic Flips are highly supportive flip flops. They are quick-drying and can be fully submerged in the water without any issues. These flip flops come in versions for men and women and in multiple color options so you will likely find some that are the perfect fit for your needs and preferences.
If you are looking for water shoes that can help keep you stable on your feet when moving over slippery surfaces, the Helly Hansen Crest Watermoc Water Shoes are a great choice. Not only do they provide superior grip but they are also very easy to slip on and off so they are very convenient too.
Best Water Shoes and Aquatic Sandals Full Reviews
The Helly Hansen Crest Watermoc Water Shoes have an EVA midsole and rubber soles that are flexible, tough, and durable. They provide a huge amount of grip so moving over slippery surfaces is no issue if you are wearing these water shoes. They slip on and off so there are no shoelaces, velcro, or straps that can get caught on underwater obstacles.
- The rubber soles are durable but flexible so they provide great levels of comfort and protection
- Extremely good levels of grip to help keep you stable on wet surfaces
- A breathable mesh upper keeps you comfortable and allows your feet to dry while you’re not in the water
One of the coolest things about the Olukai Ki’ihele Water Shoes is that they have a drop heel that can quickly change them from shoes into slides. There is a shock-absorbing gel in the insole that helps protect your feet from hard impacts while moving around on dry land and in the water. You can slide these on and off with ease thanks to the elastic panels on each side of the shoes that stretch enough for your feet to slide in and out when required.
- They have non-marking rubber soles which offer good grip on wet surfaces
- Very lightweight and breathable
- A donation is made from part of every sale to the Ama OluKai foundation which honors people who preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage and Aloha spirit of Hawaii
The Vivo Barefoot Esc Tempest Water Shoes are a cross between running shoes and water shoes. The soles are tough and flexible and offer great levels of protection while still being comfortable enough for you to remain highly active while wearing them. As they are made from recycled materials, they are environmentally-friendly water shoes too which is always a good thing!
- Made from recycled materials using ethical and environmentally friendly methods and they are vegan-friendly too
- Great for active outdoor enthusiasts who like to move around quickly whether they are in the water or on dry land
- They have lots of grips and protect your feet extremely well no matter what type of terrain you are traveling over
The Speedo Zanpa AM Water Shoes are true water shoes as they have been designed to solely be worn in the water. They trap in heat very well so they are well-suited to cold water activities where you need a bit of extra warmth. These water shoes have quite a tight fit so you don’t have to worry about them coming off as you move through the water.
- Very good at trapping heat to help keep you warm while spending time in cold water
- A more budget-friendly pair of water shoes than some of the others on this list
- Made from thick rubber and has light springy soles for comfort and protection
The Decathlon Aquashoes 500 are a no-frills pair of water shoes. They are quick-drying and have a breathable mesh upper that helps keep you comfortable both in and out of the water. These water shoes are unisex so they are suitable for men and women and also fit in with normal summer attire.
- The versatile design lets you wear the Decathlon Aquashoes 500 as water shoes but also as casual summer shoes
- A tough rubber sole protects you from sharp rocks and other underwater hazards
- Quick-drying and breathable
The Astral Brewer 2.0 are water shoes for men and the Astral Brewess 2.0 are water shoes for women. They have built-in aqua socks and waterproof shoelaces so they are a very practical and convenient pair of water shoes. One of the best features of the Astral Brewer and Brewess 2.0’s is how much they look like standard sneakers allowing you to wear them for water sports and everyday life too.
- Built-in sock liner so you can wear them without socks
- Very supportive so they are very comfortable to wear even for extended periods
- There are drainage holes in the arch and the outside of the shoes which lets water drain out without having to remove the shoes
The Crocs Men’s Swiftwater Mesh Deck Water Shoes are lightweight, durable, and a very sporty pair of water shoes. They have a relaxed fit so they are comfortable to wear and can handle life in and around the water with few issues. Whatever your thoughts are on standard crocs – these are very different and much more suited to outdoor adventures.
- Stretchy mesh upper to help keep your feet cool and comfortable
- Large drainage ports allow water to drain out quickly
- The outsoles have deep channels providing good levels of grip
The now-famous Crocs Classic Clog provides lots of arch support and has a very water-friendly design. There is a heel strap to make sure they fit snugly and securely and they are extremely easy to clean. As they are available in so many different colors, you’ll likely be able to find ones that suit your style.
- Non-marking soles
- Lightweight water shoes
- Lots of drainage holes
Originally designed and developed with the U.S. Men’s White Water Rafting team, the Chaco Torrent Pro were always going to be some of the best water shoes you can find. While there are drainage holes in the toe bumper, a lot of water simply drains out through the polyester mesh the shoes are made from. There is no insole in these water shoes as this would reduce the drainage capability – instead, a mesh layer separates your feet and the midsole.
- Strong arch support offers additional foot protection
- Drys quickly and water drains out extremely fast thanks to the mesh construction
- Vegan-friendly water shoes
The Keen Astoria West Shandals are some of the best water shoes for women as they can adapt to water sports, city life, and hiking too. There is a wide toe box that offers lots of foot protection and the aqua grip soles make sure you stay on your feet in wet and slippery conditions. The soles are cushioned for extra comfort, support, and protection.
- A very tough and durable pair of water shoes that will last a long time
- Great levels of grip and foot protection
- Adaptable water shoes as they can be worn for water sports or as wet hiking shoes
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Merrell Choprock Sieve Shandals are normal sneakers at first glance. They are well-suited to be worn as a hiking shoe when you will be traveling through rivers and streams. These water shoes have built-up ankles for additional support and plenty of grip too.
- Ideal for water sports enthusiasts and keen hikers too
- Superb levels of grip
- Looks just like standard sneakers so can be worn as very versatile footwear
The Teva Hurricane XLT2 Sandal is more of a walking shoe that can be worn in the water as opposed to a specifically designed water shoe. These shoes are surprisingly tough and can handle lots of outdoor environments with little issue. They make for great outdoor shoes in warmer conditions where you might venture in and out of the water.
- Available in bright patterns and colors as well as more subtle designs
- Molded rubber soles provide lots of ankle support and protection
- Highly tough and durable water shoes
These aren’t your standard flip-flops. The Chaco Classic Flips have rubber ridges that grab onto wet surfaces giving lots of grip and stability. They also double up as a great recovery shoe after a long hike thanks to the support and cushioning they provide.
- Vegan-friendly flip-flops that are as comfortable in the water as they are on dry land
- Much more supportive than you might expect flip-flops to be
- Ultra-comfortable and ultra-tough water shoes
What to Look For in Water Shoes: Buyer’s Guide
When trying to find the best water shoes for you, there are certain things to look at and keep in mind that can help make your decision-making process a little bit easier.
Fit and Comfort
Your new water shoes will likely have more of a casual feel to them when comparing them to hiking boots or other outdoor shoes.
That being said, you should still spend a bit of time making sure that your water shoes fit you nicely and comfortably. If you are going to wear water shoes both in and out of the water, a super tight-fitting pair might not be most suitable as, while they might offer a secure fit in the water, they could be too uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time out of the water.
If you want a water shoe that you will only wear for water sports, then a tighter fit might be just what you need.
Either way, you will want to avoid any rubbing or chafing as these can quickly dampen your enjoyment of your time in the wild. Some water shoes have adjustable straps to help find the most suitable fit. These could be a good choice if you want to wear your water shoes for multiple outdoor activities.
While performance is always important when it comes to outdoor gear, comfort is a big factor when it comes to water shoes. If your feet are uncomfortable, it won’t be too long before you decide to head home to take off your shoes. Your water shoes should provide good levels of protection, support, and comfort. The best water shoes for you will fulfill all of these things to a high standard.
You also need to keep in mind that you might be wearing your water shoes for extended periods of time on dry land too. Features such as breathable mesh can make a big difference in your comfort levels.
Finding the best water shoes means different things to different people. For some, the best water shoes will be the ones that perform the best, and how they look is of no importance. However, to some other people, the best water shoes will perform as they need to but will also look cool and stylish too.
If you are going to be wearing your water shoes purely for swimming or water sports, they will likely be in the water more than they are out of it so maybe the appearance isn’t so much of a factor in this situation.
If you want a multi-activity water shoe though, you might find that the best water shoes for you are ones that have an appearance suited to your personal preferences and style.
Soles and Grip
Water shoes need to protect your feet from hidden underwater hazards and different terrain types too. That’s why the best water shoes have thick soles that stop any sharp objects from reaching your feet.
Rough terrain is another hazard that your water shoes have to be able to handle. Even if you are only planning on wearing them for water sports or swimming, you’ll still need to get from your car to the water. This can mean having to walk over pointy rocks which can be very uncomfortable without a thick sole protecting your feet.
Wet conditions make things even more challenging for your water shoes. The best water shoes need to have high levels of grip so you can move around slippery rocks or even wet boat decks without any issue.
As fun as it is to be in and around water, without the right levels of grip, your water shoes will struggle to offer the performance you need from them.
As with all outdoor gear, the best water shoes need to be tough and durable to handle everything the wild will throw at them. Rough terrain, muddy trails, and general outdoor environments can take a heavy toll on your footwear.
A thick rubber outsole and durable materials can make your water shoes last much longer than other shoes would in the wild. Other things like a quick-dry mesh upper, a thick foam arch support, and a premium build quality will all make a difference to the life expectancy of your water shoes.
As much as we might like to walk around outdoors in bare feet, our feet are nowhere near durable enough to do so. That’s why we want our water shoes to be tough enough to let us move around freely and comfortably without worrying we are going to get injured.
Water Shoe vs Aquatic Sandal
Water shoes tend to come in two different types – water shoes and aquatic sandals.
While there are clear similarities between the two types, water shoes have been designed to primarily be worn in the water. They usually have more of a snug fit and tend to have features that make them more comfortable to wear in the water.
Aquatic sandals tend to be outdoor shoes that you can also wear in the water from time to time. They are still classed as water shoes as they usually have drainage holes to allow water to drain out and they also tend to be quick-drying. However, whereas water shoes have been designed with the water in mind first, aquatic sandals are aimed more at being adaptable to multiple outdoor activities that may include the odd trip through some water.
Water shoes will be lighter and are well-suited to water sports such as kayaking, and aquatic sandals are heavier and will be more durable to allow them to be worn on multiple terrain types in and out of the water.