water shoes for kayaking on an orange kayak

13 Best Water Shoes for Kayaking 2023 [Rated by Kayakers]

Searching for the best water shoes for kayaking?

We’ve got you covered with this list of the best kayaking shoes. 

We’ve spent a lot of time in the water, so we’ve tried and tested different types of water shoes.

🏆Don’t have time to read the entire article? The overall best water shoes for kayaking are these Astral TR1 Mesh Minimalist Water Shoes

Whether you are just testing the waters for the first time or already a veteran kayaker, no one can deny how important shoes are. 

So, get your kayak ready and dive into this list of the 13 best water shoes for kayaking

Top 3 Picks: Best Kayaking Shoes

#1 TOP PICK

Overall Best Kayaking Shoes

Astral TR1 Mesh Minimalist Water Shoes

#2 TOP PICK

Best Women’s Water Shoes for Kayaking

Astral Loyak Water Shoes

#3 TOP PICK

Best Men’s Shoes for Kayaking

KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandals

13 Best Water Shoes for Kayaking

Pricing Guide:

  • $20-$50: Budget
  • $50-$75: Mid-Range
  • $75 & above: Pricey

1. Astral TR1 Mesh Minimalist Water Shoes

Overall Best Water Shoes for Kayaking

  • Best For: Those looking for the best well-rounded water shoes
  • Style: Water shoes
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Price: $$$

If you could only buy one pair of shoes on this list, the Astral TR1 Mesh Minimalist Water Shoes are the ones to get. 

These are one of the best, if not the best, water shoes for kayaking and hiking.

These water shoes have rubber outsoles that are extremely grippy and sticky while providing excellent abrasion resistance.

The polygiene-treated insoles help eliminate foul odors, and the mesh uppers offer good ventilation

Like the Astral Loyak, the TR1 has a hydrophobic canvas and drainage holes.

These shoes have a very roomy forefoot area, so it’s perfect for wide feet. The footbed is also quite level, which enhances balance and agility. 

The TR1 is quite similar to the Loyak, but we found that the former is more durable and provides better warmth than the latter. 

The rubber soles and cushioning are also thicker. Paddle at ease with these amazing water shoes. You definitely won’t regret it. ▶️AMAZON – MEN’S | WOMEN’S

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very comfortable
✅Antimicrobial
✅Great grip and traction
👎Pricey

2. Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoes

Best Water Shoes for Paddle Boarding

  • Best For: Those looking for paddle boarding water shoes
  • Style: Booties
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Price: $

As the name suggests, the Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoes will make you feel like you’re walking barefoot while protecting your feet from injuries. 

These kayaking shoes are also perfect for paddle boarding or stand-up paddle surfing in cold weather conditions.

Our favorite feature is the 3T’s reduced sole heights, which makes it convenient to wear inside our kayaks, and the ultra-grip soles make walking on wet surfaces very manageable. 

We found that the three-toe pocket system is more comfortable than a five-toe system, especially for those who have smaller toes. 

It does take a bit of getting used to, but it gets easier the more you wear the shoes.   

The drainage system works well and makes these shoes breathable and quick-drying, but the drainage holes do get filled by sand. 

However, we love how perfectly they fit our feet and how comfortable they are to wear all day long. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Excellent grip
✅Great fit
✅Comfortable
👎Tricky to put on when wet
👎Drainage holes get filled with sand

3. KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandals

Best Water Shoes for Men

  • Best For: Those looking for high-quality kayaking shoes for men
  • Style: Sandals
  • Closure: Bungee Lace
  • Price: $$$

If you’re looking for closed-toe sandals for your next kayaking trip, these KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandals are one of the best footwear for kayaking that money can buy. 

These shoes have a durable water-resistant upper and provide superior grip and excellent traction on wet terrain. 

The toe bumper offers additional safety and prevents your toes from getting injured. 

We love that the removable insoles provide great arch support, and they can be removed to speed up drying. 

The bungee laces let us customize the fit, but those with wider feet might struggle to put these on

We also noticed that the sizing seems to run small. If you have wide or swollen feet, we recommend going up half a size to one full size for a better fit. 

These are definitely one of the best sandals for kayaking, and we highly recommend them. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Comfortable and has arch support
✅Water-resistant
✅Toe bumper
👎Sizing runs small
👎Pricey
👎Not meant for wide feet

4. Astral Loyak Water Shoes

Best Kayak Shoes for Women

  • Best For: Those looking for high-quality kayaking shoes for women
  • Style: Water Shoes
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Price: $$$

The Astral Loyak Water Shoes are one of the best water shoes in the market, especially for women. 

These lightweight water shoes have a very minimalistic design, but that does not mean that they let up when it comes to performance.

These water shoes have rubber soles, making them extra grippy, sticky, and resistant to abrasion

There are drainage holes and a mesh that help provide ventilation on hot days.

These waterproof kayak shoes also have a hydrophobic, quick-dry canvas with two sets of water-resistant laces.

If you have wide feet, these shoes are perfect for you. We love how the toe box is wide enough, and the footbed feels balanced and stable. 

These are also very lightweight and make you feel like you’re walking barefoot at times.

These water shoes are amazing, and we struggled to find any faults outside of the fact that they have little to no arch support. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very comfortable
✅Perfect fit
✅Great for wide feet
👎Little to no arch support

5. Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandals

Most Comfortable Kayak Sandals

  • Best For: Those looking for water shoes with podiatrist-certified footbed
  • Style: Sandals
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Price: $$

These timeless Chaco Z2 Classic Athletic Sandals are perfect for anyone looking for a comfortable pair of water shoes that will last for years. 

These kayak sandals have a lot of great features, but our favorite would be the podiatrist-certified footbed

For those with flat feet or planning to go on kayak trips that involve a lot of walking, these kayaking sandals are very comfortable and have great arch support.   

The adjustable straps add a nice touch as we can customize the fit, and the toe-loop keeps our feet in place at all times. 

The rubber outsoles performed well and had excellent grip while we were traversing through rocky and wet terrain.

Depending on the size of your toes, I found that the toe-loop could be a bit tight on the men’s version, and the sandals need a few days to be broken in. 

All in all, these are amazing sandals and are definitely worth every penny. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very comfortable
✅Great arch support
✅Adjustable straps
👎The toe-loop is a bit tight
👎Needs to be broken in

6. Teva Original Universal Urban Sandals

sandals water shoes for kayaking
Image by REI

Versatile Kayaking Sandals

  • Best For: Multi-purpose kayaking sandals
  • Style: Sandals
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Price: $$

Made with recycled polyester webbing uppers, these Teva Original Universal Urban Sandals are durable, quick-drying, and comfortable. 

This pair comes with adjustable hook-and-loop that are padded for extra comfort.

One of our favorite things about these kayaking sandals is that they’re antimicrobial, so there’s no need to worry about having smelly feet all day. 

This is especially great for those who are out and about in a warm and humid climate. 

We found the midsoles incredibly comfortable and perfect for all-day excursions. 

The rubber outsoles provide fantastic traction and protection on rocky terrain and wet surfaces. 

Remember that these Teva sandals offer little to no arch support, so this might not be a good choice for those with flat feet. 

But for those looking for high-quality open-toe sandals, these will not disappoint. ▶️BUY ON REI 

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Versatile
✅Lightweight
✅Antimicrobial
👎No arch support

7. Merrell Hydro Moc Water Shoes

Most Breathable Kayak Water Shoes

  • Best For: Those looking for comfortable water shoes
  • Style: Water Shoes
  • Closure: Slip on
  • Price: $$

These Merrell Hydro Moc Water Shoes are just as incredible as they look. 

If you’re on the hunt for the best kayaking water shoes that are incredibly comfortable, you should put this pair at the top of your list.   

Even though these shoes have a unique design, they’re actually effortless to put on and take off. 

The rubber soles provide traction and grip, but we noticed that the footbed could get quite slippery when wet, affecting mobility.

These kayak water shoes are also very breathable, and the ventilation makes them quick-drying. 

These might look a bit clunky, but it’s one of the most lightweight kayaking sandals we’ve tried. 

They also need to be broken in, so expect some blisters after the first few uses.

The best feature of these water shoes is their comfort, making the top of the list in this department. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very comfortable
✅Lightweight and breathable
✅Great grip and traction
👎Sizing runs large
👎Unique design is not for everyone
👎Needs to be broken in

8. Aleader Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Most Budget-Friendly Athletic Water Shoes

  • Best For: Those looking for quick-drying shoes
  • Style: Water Shoes
  • Closure: Bungee Laces
  • Price: $

Perfect for hot and humid weather, these Aleader Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes have engineered mesh that will keep your feet cool and dry. 

Besides being incredibly breathable, they’re also lightweight and quick-drying

The bungee laces make it easy for us to adjust the tightness of these kayaking shoes and customize the fit to our liking. 

These athletic water shoes also have a lightweight water drain outsole that drains the water quickly. 

This is one of the best water shoes we’ve tried at this price range, and they’re also quite durable.

The drainage holes work great, but we noticed pebbles and sand get stuck in them, so just keep that in mind when walking on sand or gravel. 

While the soles provide excellent traction in wet and slippery conditions, these shoes are not built for hiking. 

However, these are the best quick dry water shoes in this price range. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON   

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Budget-friendly athletic water shoe
✅Quick-drying
✅Breathable
👎Sand and pebbles get stuck in drainage holes

9. Merrell Waterpro Maipo 2 Water Shoes

Quick-Dry Canoeing Shoes

  • Best For: Those looking for versatile water shoes
  • Style: Water Shoes
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Price: $$$

If versatility is what you’re after, these Merrell Waterpro Maipo 2 Water Shoes are one of the best canoeing shoes that you can wear anywhere and in most conditions.

The shoes have contoured and padded collars and lace-up closures with integrated webbings, making them easy to put on and take off

They are also anti-microbial, which helps reduce stinky odor after a long day of kayaking and hiking. 

We love how soft and cushiony the midsoles felt on our feet while offering enough support. 

The rubber outsoles have deep lugs and provide excellent traction and protection on wet and dry terrain. 

Even though these shoes don’t have a minimalistic and slim design, we found that they are very lightweight.

These shoes are versatile and can be used while paddling, hiking, or wading through streams and rivers. They’re also quick-drying and drain quickly. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very versatile
✅Quick-drying
✅Lightweight
👎Pricey

10. NRS Boundary Boots

Best Cold Water Kayaking Boots

  • Best For: Kayaking in cold water
  • Style: Boots
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Price: $$$

Perfect for those kayaking in cold water, these NRS Boundary Boots will keep your feet warm and toasty all day long. 

These knee-high kayak boots fit so comfortably while having enough flexibility so you can easily get in and out of your kayak without feeling restricted.

The 5mm neoprene provides warmth and comfort, while the textured rubber outsoles provide protection and grip while walking on rough and wet terrain.

If you like to go winter kayak fishing, these lightweight boots will definitely keep your feet warm and dry all day long.

They can be a little tight on the calf for some people, and the toe boxes were definitely made for narrow feet.

Since the boot is made with neoprene, it can get a bit tricky putting them on, so it helps to have a thin sock to help slip them on easier.

While we do wish they had half sizes, these are hands down the best kayaking footwear for cold weather and will give you value for your money. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Perfect for cold weather conditions
✅Will keep your legs warm
✅High-quality
👎Pricey
👎No half sizes

11. Astral Hiyak Water Boots

High-Quality Kayaking Boots

  • Best For: Those looking for durable kayak boots
  • Style: Boots
  • Closure: Lace-up and velcro straps
  • Price: $$$

The Astral Hiyak Water Booties are great if you’re searching for durable, high-quality kayaking boots

They have a hydrophobic, quick-dry canvas upper, and the closure is a combination of water-resistant laces with velcro straps. 

What impressed us the most with these shoes is the fantastic grip and traction that the soles provide. 

The rubber outsoles work great on wet and slippery surfaces while still providing moderate protection from rocky terrain.

The toe boxes are roomy enough to spread your toes, and the shoes are also extremely lightweight, which gives a barefoot feel while walking. 

The soles are thinner than usual, which might be a dealbreaker for those who want more underfoot protection. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Durable
✅Comfortable
✅Lightweight, barefoot feel
👎Pricey
👎Thinner soles

12. NeoSport Premium Neoprene Men & Women Wetsuit Boots

Best Water Booties for Kayaking

  • Best For: Those looking for budget-friendly water booties
  • Style: Booties
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Price: $

If you’re looking for affordable, high-quality kayaking booties, these NeoSport Premium Neoprene Men & Women Wetsuit Boots are the perfect pair for you.

These booties are well-made and work great for those with narrow feet.

The soles are puncture-resistant, and you can choose between three thicknesses depending on the water temperature. 

However, these booties are not made for swimming. 

The water entry barrier did keep the water from entering through the zippers, but the booties don’t have any drainage holes, so we had to dump the water out every time it got in. 

The soles are a bit thinner than we like, but they’re still quite decent for the price.

Despite all that, we’re pleasantly surprised by how well they kept our feet warm in cold water and were comfortable to wear for long periods of time. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Durable
✅Comfortable
✅Keeps feet warm
👎No drainage system
👎Gets filled with water

13. Mares 2mm Neoprene Water Shoes

Best Lightweight Water Shoes

  • Best For:Kayaking in warm water
  • Style: Booties
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Price: $

If you’re looking for the best water shoes to wear for your next kayaking trip in the tropics, look no further than these Mares 2mm Neoprene Water Shoes. 

Lightweight and portable, these water shoes are the perfect travel companion for those who are kayaking in warm water.

These ankle boots are only two millimeters thick with a rubber outsole. 

What stood out to us was how well-made they are for their price. 

The rubber soles are thick enough to protect our feet while walking on rocky terrain. 

Even though these water shoes are lightweight, they’re still rugged and durable. 

One minor issue we have is with the sizing. We’ve noticed that they run a bit large, so make sure to order a size smaller than your regular size. 

All in all, these water shoes are durable, affordable, and well-made. ▶️BUY ON AMAZON   

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Budget-friendly
✅Well-made
✅Durable
👎Sizing runs large

Types of Water Shoes for Kayaking

kayaking sandals on a paddleboard

There is a wide variety of water shoes to choose from on the market. Water shoes vary from barefoot water shoes to knee-high neoprene booties.

Flip flops are never a great option as they get slippery when wet, and they don’t provide any stability or protection.

Finding the perfect pair of water shoes will take your next kayaking trip to the next level.  

Sandals

Water sandals are great options to consider while choosing your kayaking footwear. 

They’re different from flip flops since water sandals provide traction to help prevent accidents while walking on slippery or rocky surfaces. 

Since they have straps that securely fasten around your ankles, you won’t have to worry about them drifting away while wading in rivers and creeks. 

However, water sandals are not recommended for long-distance hiking or kayaking in frigid temperatures

Water Shoes

Water shoes are considered the best for kayaking, especially if you frequently move from dry surfaces to wet surfaces and vice versa. They usually have neoprene uppers and rubber outsoles. 

One of the reasons why water shoes are the most popular type is primarily because of the safety and comfort they provide, as well being quick-drying

However, they can be hot on the feet during hot summer days and relatively inflexible compared to other shoes. 

Booties

Booties are usually snug around the foot and have a bit of traction. They’re perfect for kayaking and will keep you from sliding on your watery kayak raft. 

They’re an ideal choice, especially because they’re usually made of neoprene, which works great as an insulator

The downside of booties is that they’re not recommended for long-distance hiking since they don’t provide enough cushion or support for the feet. 

Kayaking Shoes Buying Guide: What to Consider 

kayaking with cooler on a lake

When buying the perfect pair of kayaking shoes, there are several important factors to consider. 

The material, breathability, grip, durability, and the time they take to dry must all be considered. 

Your water shoes should be comfortable, have great odor-control capabilities, and should drain rapidly

If you love kayaking and other water sports, your water shoes’ versatility should also be considered, as they must work well in dry and wet terrain. 

Season

Not all kayak shoes are created equal. When choosing the best kayaking shoes, you also have to consider what season you’ll be wearing them.

During summertime, choose kayak shoes made of a thinner neoprene upper or mesh. Your focus should be on breathability and how lightweight the shoes are. 

On the contrary, during winter or colder seasons, your kayaking footwear must have at least four to five millimeters of neoprene to keep your feet warm.

Material

The best shoes for kayaking are usually made from neoprene which is lightweight and has non-slip features. 

Although some manufacturers would add other materials, it is still the best choice for water shoes for kayaking. 

Neoprene can also be thicker or thinner, depending on the season. 

Mesh material is also great for water shoes as it makes them more breathable and provides ventilation. 

Rubber outsoles are also a must, as they are pretty durable and provide excellent grip and traction, whether in or out of the water. 

Closure Type

  • Slip-on Slip-on closures are very convenient and easy to use. However, they can be challenging to use for those with large and wide feet. 
  • Lace-up –  Lace-up closures give a snug and safer fit during kayaking activities, but they take longer to lace up or adjust. 
  • Bungee lace – Bungee laces are great for customizing the fit of your water shoes. They also make the process of wearing and removing your shoes quite speedy.
  • Velcro straps – Velcro straps are typically found in sandals and booties. They give you a more secure fit and make it easy to put on and take off your water shoes.
water shoes for kayaking

Grip

It is common knowledge that kayakers transition from wet and slippery surfaces to dry and rough terrains. 

That’s why kayaking water shoes must have fantastic grip and traction so you won’t slip on wet surfaces. 

They will also keep your feet protected from rough and rocky terrain so you don’t accidentally cut or injure your feet. 

Drainage

Drainage is one of the critical factors in choosing a water shoe. 

The best shoes for kayaking must be quick-drying to avoid discomfort and prevent the growth of bacteria and molds that cause bad odors. 

Some water shoes have drainage holes, while others are designed to be water-resistant and won’t absorb too much water. 

Waterproofing is not necessary, as water shoes are not meant to keep your feet 100% dry. 

Like a wet suit for the feet, they are meant to keep you warm and safe from injuries.

Fit and Comfort

The best guideline in choosing your water shoes is that they should fit you like a glove

It can be incredibly uncomfortable when your water shoes are bigger or smaller, as wearing the wrong size can affect stability and mobility.

Make sure that there is good ankle and arch support to give you a better balance. 

As much as possible, go for closed-toe water shoes to prevent injury. 

Versatility

Versatility is often looked down on or forgotten when looking for the best kayak shoes. 

A kayaking adventure does not only require paddling. Sometimes, hiking and climbing are part of the adventure. 

If your itinerary does not include much hiking, simple water shoes or sandals are perfect. 

But if heavy-duty hiking while carrying your kayaking bag is needed to get to your destination, make sure to invest in versatile water shoes that will provide protection, traction, and insulation while you are in and out of water.

Odor-Control

Having stinky feet is a common problem with wearing water shoes. 

However, some have synthetic materials and coatings to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. 

Aside from having this feature, kayaking shoes must also be cleaned and maintained regularly. 

These types of kayaking footwear are exposed to water and damp conditions, which are the primary reason for mold and bacteria build-up. 

That’s why it’s important to choose quick-drying water shoes that can be easily washed or wiped after every kayak trip.

FAQs: Best Shoes for Kayaking

What are the best waterproof shoes for kayaking?

While there are waterproof shoes on the market, the best kayaking shoes focus on quick draining as a priority, as no shoe is waterproof if the water is more than ankle deep. 

A shoe that can purge water quickly or keep your feet warm is more important than waterproofing.

Are sandals OK for kayaking?

Water sandals can be a good choice, but they need to provide good traction and protection from rocks. 

The biggest benefit of sandals for kayaking is that they typically drain rapidly and dry out fast. The downside is that they provide almost zero warmth in cold weather conditions.

How do I keep my feet dry while kayaking?

Keeping your feet dry while kayaking is not the priority, as it is inevitable that you will end up with your feet submerged in the water at some point. 

It’s more important to keep your feet protected and warm than it is to keep your feet dry. Good water booties work like a wetsuit to protect your feet. 

Do you need water shoes for kayaking?

Yes, wearing water shoes for kayaking is recommended as it will not only protect your feet but also give you proper stability and traction.

They will also keep your feet warm and dry if you plan on going kayaking in cold weather.

Wrap-Up: Best Water Shoes for Kayaking

⭐Skipped to the end? Our overall top recommendation for the best kayaking shoes is the Astral TR1 Mesh Minimalist Water Shoes.  

Now you have a comprehensive list of the best water shoes for kayaking. From sandals and booties to water shoes, this guide makes going on a kayaking trip so much easier. 

Your best kayaking experience is now waiting for you. Fill up your kayak coolers and grab any of these water shoes for your next kayak trip and make it the best one yet. 

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