September 27, 2020 12 min read

Top Water Shoes we reviewed at GILI Sports (read on to find out why)

Not all water shoes are created equal. Our guide will help you decide what's right for your needs and budget. Here are our top 3 water shoes picks:

Best Quality

Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw II

What we like:

  • Easy to put on and pull off
  • Sock-like fit
  • Fast drainage
  • Great traction
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    Best Value for Money
    Wave Runner Aqua Jet

    What we like:

    • Thick sole
    • Flexible
    • Ultra-lightweight
    • Cheap price tag no compromise of quality
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      Best for Women
      Aleader Women's Mesh Slip-On

      What we like:

      • Insole cushioning
      • Easy to wash
      • Excellent grip
      • Super comfortable
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        What are water shoes?

        Water shoes are specially designed for water-based activities. A pair of water shoes can save you from painfully stumbling over rocky beaches, provide you support while walking in between spots, and give you added grip with the rubber outsole on slippery surfaces.

        Below we have chosen some of the best aquatic shoes on the market this year that are perfect for stand up paddle boarding and water sports and outdoor adventures.

        Top 22 Best Water Shoes for 2020 - leash

        What should I look for in water shoes?

        Finding the best water shoe for you is based on some specific attributes of the shoe. When shopping, you should consider:

        • Size
        • Insole / Outsole
        • Material
        • Comfort
        • Durability
        • Breathability

        Carefully considering the above features will keep your feet safe while on the SUP, hitting a watery trail, or simply enjoying an afternoon on a beach.

        Size

        Unlike regular shoes, water shoes do need to be a tight and snug fit. This is because when they hit the water they give a little and you don’t want them falling off or rubbing. If possible, it is recommended you try before you buy. But if you cannot, do check the manufacturer’s size guides. It’s not unusual to go down one size for the perfect fit since you won’t be wearing any socks.

        Insole

        It is important to remember that water shoes are not designed to be waterproof. Instead, they allow water to pass in and out. This means the insoles need to be flexible and breathable to move in sync with the shoe and provide enough cushion for comfort. For optimal drying time look for removable insoles to speed up the process.

        Outer Sole

        The best water shoes fit like a sock but allow you to walk over rocks and reef pain-free. Make sure you get a sole that matches up with your intended activity. A thin sole is perfect for completely watery adventures. Whereas, a thicker sole with added grip and holes allows water to drain while you explore the rough and wet ground.

        Material

        The best shoes for water are made from either neoprene or mesh. The material is specifically chosen for the intended activity. Neoprene is perfect for water enthusiasts who are paddle boarding, surfing, open water swimming, or scuba diving. The best thing about neoprene is you get an extra added level of thermal comfort, ideal for keeping your toes warm in the cooler months.

        If you are after shoes for the water and a spot of trekking in between, then check out those made up of mesh. With these, you get the breathability, ventilation, and water flow perfect for boating, paddle sports, and general beach use.

        Top 22 Best Water Shoes for 2020 - paddling

        Comfort

        This goes without saying. To get the best out of your water shoe, you need to have maximum comfort and this comes from perfect sizing and quality materials. There are certain features that you can look for in the designs that provide added comfort and ease to your shoes. Look for easy-pull tabs, elasticated bands, padded heel and toe areas, rubber outsoles, and draining capabilities.

        Durability

        Even though water shoes are lightweight, this does not mean that you need to compromise on durability. Each water shoe is designed with specific activities in mind. With care and proper use, there is no reason why your pair of water shoes shouldn’t last for multiple seasons. Remember to wash your shoes after each session, especially after exposure to salt water, and allow for proper drying.

        Breathability

        Most water shoes offer fantastic breathability with the mesh materials, keeping your feet cool and allowing for fast drying. More heavy-duty water shoes often have ventilation holes in the sole or upper panels to give better results when fully submerged in water.

        10 Best Men’s Water Shoes

        Zhuanglin Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes - Best Rated

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        For comfort, breathability, and durability, there are no better men’s water shoes than the Zhuanglin Quick Drying Aqua Shoes. Customer reviews rate this product to tick every box.

        The mesh upper panels provide excellent ventilation and allow water to pass through no matter where your adventure takes you.

        ComforDry sockliner insoles give firm yet comfortable support and the rubber outsole gives superb grip for all surfaces while keeping the shoe lightweight.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Breathable mesh panels
        • Quick-drying
        • Anti-slip
        • Drainage holes in bottom sole

        What We Like

        • Suitable for every activity
        • Comfortable for hiking
        • Excellent drainage
        • Wide sizes, make sure you check the guide chart
        • Women’s equivalent available

        What Could Be Better

        • Sand causes interference with the toggle laces

        Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw 2 - Best Quality

         

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        If you are going to be hitting the water on your paddleboard and are after the best quality water shoes, then you have to get your hands on a pair of Adidas Outdoor Jawpaw 2.

        The design is a combination of textile and rubber, designed as an easy slip-on shoe with a simple pull tab for ease of use.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Pull-on design
        • Rubber anti-slip sole
        • “Climacool” 360-degree cooling
        • A maximum design drainage system

        What We Like

        • Easy pull-on with tabs for taking off
        • Sock-like fit
        • Fast drainage
        • Great traction and grip

        What Could Be Better

        • Not the best on the sand, keep for water only

        Wave Runner Aqua Jet - Best Value

         

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        Are you looking for the best bang for your buck? The Wave Runner Aqua Jet’s are where you would put your money.

        These are the ultimate choice for water sport enthusiasts for their quick-dry and slip-free designs.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Anti-skid sole
        • Lace closure
        • Excellent drainage
        • Solid sole

        What We Like

        • Thick sole yet still flexible
        • Variety of colors to choose from
        • Ultra-lightweight

        What Could Be Better

        • Sizes do run big so consider to take a size down

        NRS Paddle Wetshoe - Best for Paddling

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        These booties are designed for paddle sports in mind. Whether you are in a kayak or on a SUP, the NRS Paddle Wetshoe is a great choice for the added traction and warmth factor.

        The stretchy neoprene material gives a sock-like feel and sensitivity when wearing in the water.

        Specs & Key Features

        • High top profile
        • 3mm neoprene
        • Zip closure with easy pull tabs
        • Sticky rubber sole

        What We Like

        • Interior fleece lining gives excellent warmth
        • Great for solely water-based activity
        • A superb grip on slippery surfaces

        What Could Be Better

        • Not great on land or rocks

        Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe - Best for Hiking

         

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        Merrell’s All Out Blaze shoe is a bit more heavy-duty than others which makes it a great men’s water shoe as an option for wet land-based adventures.

        The sandal like design keeps your feet cool but you also have extra traction with the thicker base sole.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Slip-resistant with unifly midsole
        • Combination of materials for durability
        • Bungee lace and neoprene collar
        • Light and breathable

        What We Like

        • Fast-dry time avoids blisters and rubbing
        • Fantastic traction
        • Comfortable and breathable
        • Easy to clean

        What Could Be Better

        • Traction is not fantastic on slick wood

        KEEN Evofit One Water Sandal - Best Durability

         

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        The KEEN Evofit acts as second-skin for protecting your feet on wild, outdoor adventures. With a PU midsole you gain an added spring in your step that makes tackling most terrain a breeze.

        The specially designed Evofit fabric is moisture wicking to give you excellent breathability results and long lasting durability.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Exceptional comfort and protection
        • Heightened insole
        • Arch support
        • Cleansport NXT™ odor control

        What We Like

        • Durable and will last multiple years
        • Excellent comfort
        • Superior design
        • Multiple color varieties

        What Could Be Better

        • Can be a bit tight in size if wearing water socks as well

        Barerun Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Shoes - Best Lightweight

         

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        These are the ultimate lightweight shoes for in the water. Run, fish, leap, and paddle. These Barerun Barefoot Shoes won’t weigh you down.

        The outer soles are not compromised either. You will have excellent rubber bottoms suitable for most activities. When you’re done, simply fold them up and pack them away.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Buoyant
        • Neoprene material
        • Lightweight and flexible, fold completely in half

        What We Like

        • So lightweight you cannot feel them on your feet
        • Fast drying
        • Float in water in case they fall from bag/pocket
        • Can fold up and fit in small pockets

        What Could Be Better

        • Narrow fit, so not recommended for wide feet for risk of damaging seams

        FEETCITY Men’s Water Shoes - Best water shoes with pockets

         

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        Do you ever find yourself in need of an extra pocket? Well these water shoes from FEETCITY fit the bill.

        Slip these on your feet and stash away some cash for a paddle boarding stop, or tuck your keys in for safe keeping.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Neoprene
        • Sock-like fitting
        • Lightweight
        • Rubber outsole for extra grip
        • Small pockets

        What We Like

        • Cheap price tag
        • Comfortable and free feeling
        • Small side pockets to fit money, credit card, or keys
        • A small degree of warmth is provided

        What Could Be Better

        • Sizes run small, so order one size bigger than normal

        Croc Men’s Swiftwater Wave Water Shoe - Best plastic water shoes

         

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        Change your perception of Croc’s right now. They have evolved and developed some great footwear that rightfully deserve their place as one of the best aquatic shoes on the market.

        The Shiftwater Mesh Water Shoe is tough, fast-drying, lightweight, and quick to dry, making this a great option for SUP fishing or other similar activities. And most importantly, they will not be confused with the originally designed clown shoes from Croc!

        Specs & Key Features

        • Mesh upper panels
        • Secure hook and loop closure
        • Superb comfort
        • Super durable

        What We Like

        • Comfortable and durable
        • Cushioned insole and great fit
        • Lightweight and fast drying

        What Could Be Better

        • The soles are not as flexible as other options

        Astral Loyak - Best Style

         

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        Do you want to look stylish but be prepared for the water? Hands down, the Astral Loyak are the most stylish water shoe for men out there.

        As well as top marks for design, this shoe is high-performing in traction, drainage, breathability, and flexibility.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Great design and style
        • Efficient drainage
        • Flexible
        • Good traction

        What We Like

        • With the style you can go from beach to party without changing your footwear
        • Great fit with decent comfort levels
        • Surprising amount of traction

        What Could Be Better

        • Unfortunately warmth and durability let this shoe down

        10 Best Women’s Water Shoes

        ALEADER Mesh Slip-on - Best Overall

         

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        The ALEADER Mesh Slip-On water shoes tick almost every box, making them the best overall option for women.

        The exceptional lightweight feel will have you leaping through rivers, hopping on rocks, and paddling your way to victory in no time.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Open mesh at top
        • ComforDry sockliner
        • Breathable and durable air mesh
        • Rubber sole

        What We Like

        • Excellent insole cushioning
        • Washable and easy to clean
        • Provides excellent grip
        • Super comfortable fit

        What Could Be Better

        • Not good for long distance walking or treks

        NRS Kicker Remix Water Shoes - Best on a Tight Budget

         

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        Some people do need to shop on a shoestring and this is where the NRS Kicker Remix comes in. These womens shoes for water are a great option to keep the toes toasty in cooler waters but maintain a certain degree of traction.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Tight and snug fit
        • 3mm neoprene
        • 2mm plastic edged shims for protection
        • Rubber sole for traction

        What We Like

        • Cheap price tag
        • Comfortable
        • Great for swimming
        • Keep your feet warm

        What Could Be Better

        • Missing a strap to keep secure on feet
        • No drainage

        Easy USA Women’s Aqua Wave Water Shoes - Best Lightweight

         

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        If you are searching for the best lightweight water shoes for women, then look no further than the Easy USA Aqua Wave. The thick rubber sole is capable of handling most terrains, but the mesh material allows drainage and flexibility.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Thick rubber sole
        • Toggle secure on heel
        • Slip-on style
        • Mesh body for flexibility

        What We Like

        • Sleek design in an assortment of colors
        • Durable materials
        • Ultra lightweight and can fold up
        • Excellent drainage through the mesh

        What Could Be Better

        • Inconsistent sizing

        Roxy 1mm Prologue Round-Toe Surf Boots - Best for Surfing

         

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        Soft soled and plenty of flexibility. These water boots from Roxy are the best for surfing and other water sports. You won’t run the risk of damaging your boards but you will be giving your toes that extra layer of protection.

        Specs & Key Features

        • 1mm freemax neoprene
        • Reinforced back heel
        • Drainage holes to allow water out
        • Good for water temperatures at 65°F - 70°F

        What We Like

        • Zero chafing with flatlock seams
        • Super comfortable
        • Great grip

        What Could Be Better

        • Low profile allows sand in easily

        DLGJPA Water Shoes - Best for Fishing

         

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        The DLGJPA shoes look more like sneakers but still provide all the needed features of a water shoe. The extra support you get from these make them perfect for wading through water while fishing or exploring.

        All the water simply drains out through the sole which has an excellently designed drainage system that helps with quick drying post-adventure.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Mesh upper panels
        • Full coverage sneaker design
        • Elastic strap closures
        • Rubber sole with drainage holes

        What We Like

        • Super fast drying with the mesh and lower sole design
        • Great support with sneaker style
        • Ideal for all outdoor activities

        What Could Be Better

        • Not the best for long distance walking

        Merrell Hydrotrekker Syn Shandal - Best for Kayaking

         

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        Is it a shoe? Is it a sandal? The Merrell Hydrotrekker is the best of both! Enjoy this hybrid on land or at sea, the possibilities are endless.

        This is a highly rated water shoe for women kayakers and outdoor enthusiasts.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Elastic cord lace with lock
        • Neoprene tongue
        • EVA midsole
        • Removable EVA insole

        What We Like

        • Materials have been specially chosen for comfort
        • Excellent ventilation and drainage through side panels and sole
        • Contoured insole for added comfort

        What Could Be Better

        • Heavy when used in water only

        JBU Mermaid III - Best for Snorkelling

         

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        A fantastic design using the combination of mesh and neoprene gives the JBU Mermaid III top marks as a water shoe. These are lightweight but have a protective rubber sole so you won’t have to dash across hot sand again.

        We recommend this one for anyone wanting to try snorkelling with their paddleboarding.

        Specs & Key Features

        • EVA insole
        • Secure strap for fitting
        • Mesh upper drainage system

        What We Like

        • Great for swimming
        • Lightweight and sock-like fit
        • Will never fall off while exploring

        What Could Be Better

        • Sizes do run small

        Merrell Waterpro Pandi 2 Mary Jane Trail shoe - Best for Wide Feet

         

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        Do you struggle finding the right fitting shoe? This option from Merrell is designed for wider feet in mind. The toe box is roomier and the insole can be removed for even more space if required. And the best thing is, they look great as well.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Fully adjustable velcro strap
        • Removable EVA insole
        • Rubber sole and mesh upper panels
        • Wide design

        What We Like

        • Extra cushioning in the heel for added support and stability
        • Closed toe
        • Secure fitting
        • Stylish design

        What Could Be Better

        • Remember the sizes are wider than normal

        Native Shoes Jefferson Bloom - Best Style

         

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        Are you looking for something to have the “wow-factor” when you hit the beach? This pair of Jefferson Bloom’s from Native Shoes will definitely do the trick.

        This pair of perforated, lightweight slip-on’s will take you from beach to street, turning heads every time.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Water-resistant
        • Slip-on
        • Easy cleaning
        • Durable rubber

        What We Like

        • Complete rubber material means they can be fully submerged in water
        • Fast drying
        • Long lasting
        • Easy to put on and take off

        What Could Be Better

        • Run one size larger than average

        DBX Women’s Water Shoes - Best Chic

        DSG Women's Water Shoes product image

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        If you are after something a bit more feminine and chic then this is the shoe for you. The DBX water shoes are cute, subtle, and quite frankly super pretty shoes that you could run errands in after the beach.

        What could be better? They are also super comfortable!

        Specs & Key Features

        • Slip-on
        • Foam foot bed
        • Flat seams
        • Pull toggle

        What We Like

        • Lightweight
        • Assortment of colors to choose from
        • Low profile

        What Could Be Better

        • Soles could give more protection

        2 Best Water Shoes for Kids

        Stride Rite Made 2 Play Water Shoes

         

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        Are you wanting to take the kids out for an adventure with you? The Stride Rite Made 2 Play Water Shoes offer fantastic protection for their little feet to give you the peace of mind while exploring the wilderness.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Rubber sole
        • Mesh lining
        • Memory foam insole
        • Velcro strap secure

        What We Like

        • All materials are easy to wash
        • Toe wrap for protection
        • Sneaker style design

        What Could Be Better

        • Wear out fast if kids are using often

        L-RUN Kids Swim Water Shoes

         

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        If you are planning a day out on the water or at the beach, then it is essential that you kit your kid out with a pair of these from L-RUN.

        The sock-like design provides ultimate comfort and protects the little feet from hot sand and sharp rocks while exploring.

        Specs & Key Features

        • Rubber outsole
        • Stretchy material
        • Fast drying

        What We Like

        • Snug fit that won’t restrict your child's fun
        • Adhesive material to prevent slipping
        • Very flexible

        What Could Be Better

        • Durability struggles to keep up with too much play

        Frequently Asked Questions:

        What are the most comfortable water shoes?

        The comfort of a water shoe really depends on your feet and what activity you intend to be doing. Make sure you do your research carefully, check the size charts, and purchase the correct shoe for you.

        What are the best water shoes for the beach?

        We recommend you look for a hybrid with perforated panels to allow sand to escape if you are going to be spending a lot of time on the beach.

        Can you swim in water shoes?

        Yes! Neoprene water shoes are designed with swimming in mind. Make sure you get that snug fit so you don’t lose them in the water.

        Warren Tsoi
        Warren Tsoi

        Editor - Warren is an avid waterman and conservationist who will take any chance to be outdoors. He believes the best way to protect our environment is to get people outside to appreciate nature.


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