Best Water Shoes for Beach and Hiking -Buyer’s Guide

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If you’re planning your next summer adventure, a good pair of water shoes is undoubtedly a must-have. But where to begin? With a wide range of options offering anything from cost-effectiveness to durability, choosing your next pair of best water shoes for beach can feel like a daunting task.

best water shoesWe have narrowed down your choices to the top-rated shoes that will get you the most bang for your buck—whatever that may mean for you. Some people may need a cheap pair of shoes to get them through a short lake vacation, while others may be looking for a durable shoe that will last through many rugged adventures. Whatever it is you need, you will find a great pick from this diverse list of the top water shoes, compiled from reviews from consumers just like you.

Water shoes are different, although often confused with, water sandals. The differences between these two types of shoes are that shoes have better traction for navigating wet environments and cover the entire foot. Additionally, they have an enclosed toe to protect the top of the foot, unlike water sandals.

If you’re spending a day at the pool or water park, a water sandal is fine. If you plan to be out in nature, trekking through trails or paddling down a waterway, a water shoe is a must-have.

Some paddlers may fool themselves into thinking that a standard shoe or even going barefoot will suffice. Sneakers and boat shoes will become waterlogged, squish with every step you take, and your feet will become sensitive and prone to rubbing that will surely cause blisters. In short, you will soon feel miserable if you go this route.

Barefoot is also not suitable for turbid waters. You never know what may lay on the floor of the water you are in. Even if you plan to stay in your kayak the entire time on the water, you will still need to consider launching and docking, as well as the possibility that you may overturn your boat or come upon an interesting place to explore and swim. Luckily, there are a variety of shoes available with options sure to meet your needs and fit your budget.

When looking for a water shoe, several factors must be taken into consideration. The shoe must be able to drain water and dry quickly to prevent uncomfortable wet feet and the inevitable rubbing blisters that would soon follow. Water shoes worth the investment will have good draining systems. Many styles now have holes in the soles of the shoe to channel water out of the shoe, or will have a mesh upper that prevents water from becoming trapped and dries quickly.

water shoes pairMost certainly, you will want to be sure that you are purchasing a shoe that has great traction to prevent falls, and a sturdy underfoot to protect your feet from what lays on the waterbed floor. The midsole and sole of the shoe are also of importance. You need a soft, sponge-like material, such as EVA foam, which will be a boon to your ability to walk long distances without cramping or discomfort.

Additionally, heavy shoes are not practical for hikes or water sports, as the weight will cause the muscles to tire more easily. All of these factors, as well as input from real customers, have been taken into consideration when compiling the list of the ten top water shoes.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best water shoes for beach and hiking.

1. Croc’s Swiftwater Mesh Sandal

Croc’s have never looked so good as the Swiftwater Mesh Sandal. The sleek design of the Swiftwater combines style, comfort, and utility. Croc’s come in three different fits so that you can decide if you would prefer a looser fit, a relaxed fit, or a snugger fit with no extra room.

Wear these shoes to your next water aerobics class or for a light hike through a rocky river bed. One of the greatest benefits of these shoes is the ability to wear them around town in between adventures.

Croslite Material

The sole of these shoes is made of the Croslite material, an odor-resistant Closed Cell Resin material. The material provides comfortable cushioning and absorbs impact well, making these shoes great for extended wear.

Mesh Upper

A mesh upper allows the shoe to breathe better and dry more quickly, preventing sensitive, easy to blister feet.

Cost and Value

With style and comfort coming together seamlessly, the Swiftwater gives you good bang for your buck. They are suitable to wear while running normal errands in addition to your aquatic hobbies, making these shoes more versatile than many other shoes on the market.

Pros
  • Great for a variety of activities
  • Odor resistant material
  • Three fits available to suit your needs
  • Comfortable sole
Cons
  • Women’s shoes reportedly have a thinner sole, making excursions through creeks and rocky river beds uncomfortable.
  • Toe covering can be uncomfortable for those with wider feet.

2. Speedo Watercross Shoes

Let your amphibious side go wild with these hybrid shoes from Speedo, a long-standing leader in aquatic gear. The Speedo Watercross shoe is available in Men’s and Women’s. The sneaker style of the shoe gives you the ability to wear a natural looking shoe to wear while running around town.

Don’t allow looks to deceive you—the shoe offers superb performance in and out of the water despite looking like a land-lovers shoe.

Lightweight

Choosing a lightweight shoe is the most viable option for those intending to wear them for extended periods of time. Heavy shoes wear out your feet and ankles more quickly. Watercress hits the mark when it comes to lightweight and capable of being worn for long walks.

Style

With a design that makes them seem suited for the gym just as much as the water, the Watercross make is easy for you to do them anywhere. Visiting a rainy city? Bring these with you so that you don’t have to suffer the ill effects of wearing waterlogged shoes on walking tours.

Cost and Value

Those with active lifestyles will appreciate that the price tag on these shoes comes far from breaking the bank, while permitting the wearer the freedom to travel seamlessly from wet environments back to civilization thanks to the sporty sneaker style of the shoe.

Pros
  • Great drainage and quick dry ability
  • Styled for all-day wear
Cons
  • Runs small

3. Keen Newport H2

 Find your bliss in nature as you walk along trails and river beds in Keen’s Newport H2 water shoes. True comfort and versatility frees you to explore for long periods of time without foot cramping or blistering. Washable polyester webbing on the upper shoe allows you to adjust the fit for ultimate comfort, and the material is easy to wash.

With the airy feel of a sandal, Newport H2’s feel light on your feet and allow them to breathe, while still offering the superior protection of a sturdy, full coverage shoe worthy of long treks.

Footbed Design

For superior comfort and support, a metatomical footbed design is featured in this shoe. The design supports your arches and cradles the natural contours of your foot. Cover more miles knowing that your feet will stay cramp-free.

Toe Protection

Keen Newport H2’s use Keen Patented Toe Protection. The outsoles of the shoe wrap up and over the toes to provide you with the best protection for your toes in any terrain. Whether it is a rock underwater or a tree root under leaves, your toes are kept safe any potential hazards.

Cost and Value

You will be hard-pressed to find a shoe as suitable for outdoor adventures, making the cost of the shoe well worth the purchase. These are long-lasting shoes and will see you through many miles on wet trails and through river beds. Although the cost of these shoes is on the upper end of available shoes, you will not regret putting your money toward these shoes.

Pros
  • Great for rivers and hikes
  • Well-designed footbed
  • Razor siping sole provides great traction
Cons
  • Stitching in some pairs may not begin to unravel after heavy use (Note: the company has stated that they are working on improving this feature)
  • The odor will be apparent if they are not regularly cleaned
  • High price tag

4. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe

Outdoor enthusiasts who often find themselves mucking in marshes or trailblazing in wetland areas will rejoice upon the discovery of Merrell’s All Out Blaze Sieve water shoe. Sporting a Vibram TC5+ sole, you know that you have the best the industry has to offer to protect your feet.

Design

If there is one thing Merrell is great at, it is designed high-quality shoes that match exactly what you need for your adventure. A waxy, waterproof leather upper and a sturdy toe covering provide your feet utmost protection. Yet, the shoe is airy, and hollowed lugs in the shoe make it lightweight.

Superior Sole

The sole of this shoe is the creation of pure genius. Unify Midsole technology creates a soft, well-contoured fit thanks to soft EVA foam running the length of the shoe with firmer foam pods places strategically throughout the shoe to give you just what your feet need.

The Vibram sole provides an excellent grip both in mud or on slippery surfaces—wherever the shoes may take you, you can rest assured that you have the right grip to conquer the terrain.

Cost and Value

Coming in at the high end of the price range for shoes, any outdoor enthusiast who will be regularly out on the water will get their money’s worth from the All Out Blaze Sieve shoes.

Pros
  • Vibram sole technology
  • Great traction
  • Hiking and watersports
  • True to size
Cons
  • Cost may be prohibitive to some
  • Not suitable for those needing a lot of arch support

5. Body Glove 3T Max

Reconnect with nature putting your best, “barefoot” forward. The Body Glove 3T Max is a nature lover’s dream. The minimalist style of the shoe makes you feel like you really are barefoot running through the woods or traipsing through a river without sacrificing the protection or safety of traction. Paddlers will also appreciate the shoe, which will let you wiggle your toes in the water and feel the cool of the stream run across your toes.

Adventurer’s Delight

Outdoor enthusiasts will love this shoe. One pair of shoes covers all your needs from running, paddling, surfing, and swimming.

Minimalist

A zero-drop heel makes you feel just like your walking barefoot. Barefoot shoes have become increasingly popular, particularly among runners and paddlers. Feel free and lose the chains of confinement of more structured shoes.

Those who suffer from flat feet, or who otherwise need a supportive arch, will not benefit from the minimalist design and should look to other shoes with more structure.

 Cost and Value

The cost of the shoe is well worth the value. You will get many miles from this shoe. Minimalist runners will be able to get the best use of their dollar with this shoe, as these are considered a “barefoot” running shoe in addition to being a great shoe for paddling and more relaxed water sports.

Pros
  • Ideal for paddle sports
  • Allows for full use of toes
  • Three toe design makes it easier to put on than 5-toed designs
  • Minimalist design
Cons
  • Difficult to put on
  • Not for those needing well-structured shoes

6. Northside Brille II

Looking for a low-cost hybrid water shoe? Look no further than the Northside Brille II water shoe. The shoes feature a durable rubber sole with extra grip for great traction, has drawstring shoelaces to cinch the shoe quickly and utilizes mesh and neoprene uppers for quick dry properties.

Removable Insoles

The removable insoles are a great feature of the shoe. You can easily clean the shoes and lay them out to dry quickly by removing the insoles. Wearers report that they do not find themselves having an issue with the insole bunching up or moving around inside the shoe during use. To boot, the insoles are designed to cushion your foot and keep you comfortable.

Thick Soles

The thick rubber soles of the shoe make them ideal for exploring waters with rocky bottoms. A thick sole and a cushioned midsole will make it easy for you to wear the shoes for extended periods of time and take long, leisurely walks.

Cost and Value

These shoes will not last over many adventures, but are a great option for those who need a budget friendly shoe for a one-time excursion, or who will be using the shoe very lightly, such as kayakers.

Pros
  • Budget friendly price
  • Athletic styling
  • Comfortable sole for those with flat feet.
Cons
  • Not along-lasting shoe
  • Not for those with a high in-step

7. Aleader Quick Dry Water Shoes

For a low dough, high quality water shoe, look at the Aleader Quick Dry water shoe. Another amphibious shoe on the list, the shoe looks like sneaker and functions like a top-quality water shoe, worth far more than what you’ll pay.

Drainage

FluidFlow technology allows water to drain freely from the upper mesh. Additionally, a built in ComforDry sockliner creates both cushioning and provides a cooler, drier shoe.

Amphibious

One of the greatest benefits of this shoe is that is it amphibious. That means you only need one pair of shoes on your adventure, because these will dry quickly, and will look just like your sneakers so that you look in style with athletic clothing if you plan to go out after you’ve finished playing in the water.

Cost and Value

The cost of this shoe is near the lower end of the spectrum of water shoes, yet offers comfort, support, and superior traction that will make you feel like you got away with a steal.

Pros
  • Great arch support
  • Comfort for all-day wear
Cons
  • May run small
  • Rocks and small seashells can get stuck in the sole of the shoe

8. Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0

Athletic styling meets a water shoe capable of handling the outdoors with you. With traction so good that you can water jog with greater ease, and comfort that lasts for long excursions, you can’t go wrong with the Speedo Hydro Comfort 4.0.

Style

A discreet water shoe in the guise of a sneaker, the athletic style will look great with whatever you wear. Rubber soles paired with quick drying uppers will surely make you forget that you’re wearing a water shoe after just a short time out of the water.

Versatility

This shoe is extremely versatile and will see you through a variety of activity. Whether it be a water aerobics class, a fishing excursion, or a day paddling the lake, these shoes will meet the demands of your sport. Wearers have even reported being able to wear these on vacation for walking sightseeing tours with no discomfort or irritation.

Cost and Value

Not intended for hikes or more strenuous activities, this shoe is cost friendly for those who will be fishing, paddling, or enjoying days lakeside. The hybrid style of the shoe and the quick dry abilities mean that you will be able to wear these shoe more often in and out of the water, which will help you to get the best use of your dollar.

Pros
  • Easy drainage hole
  • Quick drying mesh upper
Cons
  • Difficult to remove rocks that get into the shoe
  • Some wearers report needing more support

9. L-Run Unisex Barefoot Skin Shoes

The L-Run offers two distinct benefits—price and portability. So flexible that they can be rolled up and extremely lightweight, this is a fantastic shoe for backpackers with limited space, vacations, or minimalists.

Surfers and paddleboarders will also celebrate this minimalist shoe that allows the wearer to feel barefoot while still supplying protection from rocky ocean floors. Additionally, because the shoe moves with your foot rather than constraining it, paddleboarders will find this to be a great shoe for SUP yoga sessions.

Triathletes have even reported wearing the L-Run Barefoot shoes for the swimming leg of triathlons, as they make for an easy transition to bike shoes by eliminating the hassle of wiping sand and dirt off your feet.

This shoe is not recommended for those who will be wading through marshes or other bodies of water with potentially sharp hazards, such as oyster shells.

Flexible and Lightweight

Your feet will be able to move freely in L-Run Barefoot shoes. If you hate the constraining feeling of structured shoes, these will feel like a dream. Additionally, because of the minimalist, lightweight design of the shoes, you will barely feel them on your feet.

Cost and Value

You can’t go wrong with the low-dough price tag available on these shoes. Pay a bargain price, and get a gem in return. These shoes cost little more than a disposable Walmart pair of shoes, but will last longer and provide more comfort and traction.

Pros
  • Great for sport use from triathlons to surfing to paddleboard yoga
  • Compact size
Cons
  • Sand can get into the shoe
  • Not ideal for extreme environments

Avadar Barefoot Quick Dry Aqua Shoe

Another sleek, minimalist shoe on the list, the Avadar will conform to your feet and allow you the ultimate in flexibility. The minimalist design makes them physically flexible, while good traction and a great shoe pad give you flexibility in use for various sports.

Multi-Use

Hit the trails for a run, take your board out into the surf, or go for a bike ride wearing these. The diverse use of the shoe allows you total freedom to explore without being weighed down with extra shoes in your pack.

Quick Dry

Featuring a shoe pad and drainage holes to provide an ultra-quick dry, you won’t need to worry about your feet becoming soft and sensitive in these shoes. Designed to keep your feet healthy, you can rest at ease knowing that your feet will be able to keep up with you on whatever adventure you embark.

Cost and Value

Yet another low-cost shoe that will hold up over time, the versatility of use of the shoe lets you stretch your money even further.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to get on
Cons
  • Run slightly large

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Water Shoes

Ventilation and Drainage

The last thing you need mid-adventure is a water-logged shoe reeking of mildew. Choosing well ventilated shoes with quick-dry capabilities will keep your feet from pruning and becoming sensitive, and will reduce the weight of the shoe as you enjoy your excursion.

Water-logged shoes can create the perfect environment for athlete’s foot to develop. Additionally, wet shoes are more likely to cause blisters as your softened feet rub the inside of the shoe. The last thing you need during your escape to the wilderness is itchy or sore feet.

branded water shoes

It is of high importance that you choose a shoe that will drain well and dry quickly to be sure to prevent problems with discomfort. Well ventilated and easy to dry shoes will maintain the health of your feet, so it is important to not overlook this factor when selecting a shoe.

Foot Protection

Any water lover will tell you that the mystery of what lays beneath is a major part of the attraction of water sports and exploration. However, it is important to keep your feet protected from those mysteries, as some may hurt or injure you.

Keeping your feet safe and comfortable is a top priority for any water shoe. The features of the shoe should match the use. Think about the environment in which you will most often use your new shoes, and which factors will play the most important role in your total comfort.

A shoe with a sturdy foot covering is preferable for those who will be spending time on trails among twigs and leaves. Washable webbed laces that allow you to adjust the tightness of the shoe will be the most beneficial for outdoor enthusiasts hitting the trials. Shoes with this design are sturdier and have qualities more similar to a normal shoe, but still, allow your feet to feel freer than a standard hiking shoe.

Those spending a day at the lake will look primarily for comfort, and having a soft mesh upper will be suitable for the experience.

What’s under your foot is what counts the most. Whether you are swimming in waters with potentially sharp objects in the substrate or spending a leisurely day at the lake with unknown, hidden objects laying in the grass, you want to be sure that your foot is protected from whatever potential hazards may be present in your environment.

Traction

No matter what you plan to do, traction should be of high importance. In any wet environment, there will be potentially slippery surfaces. Good traction will prevent falls that could ruin your fun getaway.

There are several different types of traction that shoe manufacturers use. A textured rubber, or rubber-like, sole will provide you the best grip on slippery surfaces and provide ample traction.

Lightweight

Water shoes are intended to be more lightweight than normal shoes due to the nature of their use. Your shoes will become somewhat heavier when wet, making a more minimalist, lightweight style preferable.

However, you must keep in mind that shoes meant for hiking will need to be sturdier, and therefore contain heavier, more structured material than the shoes you would want to do SUP yoga, for instance.

Hiking water shoes will naturally be heavier than other shoes, but still, maintain a lightweight quality to allow you to enjoy your hike without wearing out your feet and legs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a water shoe and a water sandal?

A water shoe is sturdier and can handle the elements better than a water sandal. Whereas a water sandal will leave parts of your foot exposed, a water shoe encloses your foot and protects your toes from unseen objects laying on the water’s floor or on the ground.

Do I need a water shoe or a water sandal?

If you plan to lay out on the beach, hang out at the pool or water park, or go boating, then a water sandal will meet your needs. Activities that don’t involve many unknown elements, or that involve primarily sitting or laying won’t put your feet at risk of injury like more active pastimes will.

Water sandals do not actually protect your feet; rather, they give you an underfoot padding to aid in comfort as you walk along surfaces that may be hot, concrete, or otherwise slightly uncomfortable.

A water shoe is needed if you intend to do any hiking or paddling through creeks, rivers, streams, or rocky ocean floors. Safety is a key element to exploring the outdoors. Failure to properly prepare could result in a ruined trip and possibly even a visit to the ER. Water shoes provide safety for your feet with superior protection and traction to help you grip wet surfaces.

How much can I hike in water shoes?

Light hikes are very do-able in some shoes. You will want to be sure that you are wearing a shoe like the Merrell All Out Blaze Water Sieve or the Keen Newport H2’s so that you have the best protection out on the trail.

For choosing any best water shoes for beach and hike, caution should be heeded when considering the length and intensity of the hike. Strenuous hikes or multi-day backpacking trips will require a true hiking shoe, perhaps with waterproof qualities if you plan to cross streams.