The Best Water Shoes in 2021 – Tested & Reviewed
Looking for the Best Water Shoes? Our team has got you – and your feet – firmly covered! With so many options on the market, it can be a challenge to find water shoes that live up to expectations. That is exactly why we’ve bundled our top-rated, best-value options that deliver on quality, durability, and comfort in a handy Best Water Shoes overview.
We’ve carefully considered all the factors that are important when buying water shoes for water sports, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. We know you need shoes that are quick-drying, breathable, cushioning, and have enough traction to handle wet surfaces and slippery surfaces. Based on this, we’ve picked 3 styles for every occasion: a water sandal, an aqua sock, and a hybrid hiking shoe/water shoe. We’ve also ensured each style is either unisex, or available in both a men’s water shoes, and a women’s water shoes, including something for every reader.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
- ANTI SLIP OUTSOLE- Wearable rubber outsole, which protects your feet from being hurt by sharp objects when in water.
And here’s an overview of the best water shoes on the market today:
These water shoes also score highly in Amazon customer reviews, as we think other consumers are often the best gauge to measure quality, durability, and performance. Discover our 3 favorite water shoe styles below and upgrade your outdoor gear with these first-class footwear options.
Tip: Different types of footwear classify as ‘water shoes’, including sandals, hiking shoes, running shoes, and aqua socks. To get a better understanding of the different types of water shoes available, we’ve included a quick buying guide at the bottom of this post with basic info on each type. Check it out if you need more details to help you determine which type of water shoe matches your needs best!
Best Water Shoes
MOERDENG Aqua Socks Swim Shoes
- ANTI SLIP OUTSOLE- Wearable rubber outsole, which protects your feet from being hurt by sharp objects when in water.
The MOERDENG Aqua Socks are unisex and simply come in combined men’s and women’s sizes. The design consists of a non-slip outsole made of quality rubber. Topped by an elasticated upper made of lightweight, breathable mesh. The rubber outsole is heavily lugged for extra traction on slippery surfaces, ideal for scaling slippery cliffs with ease. The bottom of the sole also features drainage holes to enable water to quickly flow out.
25+ Color Varieties
The MOERDENG Aqua Socks are super easy to slip on and off. The stretchy mesh silhouette comes with a bungee cord closure, allowing you to quickly adjust the tightness for a comfy, secure fit. Another perk is that the MOERDENG Aqua Socks are available in over 25+ different color combinations. From classic black with neon yellow accents to vivid purple: there’s a match for every style preference. We know color may not be your biggest priority, but we think it’s fun to have the option to match a shoe to your wetsuit or outdoor gear. Because being protected in the water, and supported on land, is not just about practicality, but can be stylish too!
Though MOERDENG isn’t a renowned outdoor brand, the manufacturer does have the customer reviews to back up that it’s trustworthy and authentic. Sometimes we’re a bit hesitant about taking a chance on a less-established brand, or a brand only available via Amazon, as you’re taking a bit of a risk due to the lack of reputation. However, one thing we value higher than the branding is customer ratings. And for the MOERDENG Aqua Socks, the customer reviews are 5-stars and top-notch. Giving you the peace of mind that you’re getting an awesome deal on water shoes, without compromising on quality or comfort. Other outdoor enthusiasts confirm the aqua socks perform well in all kinds of scenarios, whether you’re using them as river shoes to wade through streams, or as footwear for kayaking adventures: they get the job done. They’re also rated for providing great traction, and according to reviews, are comfy enough for all-day wear.
Simply a steal
Of course, there are some cons. As the MOERDENG Aqua Socks are super affordable, you have to trade off a bit on durability. The construction and materials are slightly less high-end than those of pricier brands, for example, the KEEN Newport Sandals as listed below. Some consumers also mentioned that the insole of the shoe can stain on initial wear, leaving a slightly blue-ish hue on your toes or sock liner. Also, the bungee cord lacing system needs to be handled with a bit of care, as some say its a bit flimsy and prone to breaking when applied too much pressure.
That said, overall the consensus of consumers is clear: those minor cons are worth the trade-off for the affordability, comfort, and performance. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly pair of water shoes with a comfortable fit, great traction, and a fun color variety: this could be your perfect match. We think the MOERDENG Aqua Socks are simply a steal at the price listed and would recommend you to get your hands on them now before stock runs out or pricing changes!
- Great traction
- Lugged rubber outsole
- Breathable mesh upper
- Secure bungee cord closure
- Not the most durable
- Lacks arch support
- Sole may stain feet
KEEN Newport H2 Sandal
- Performance sport sandal featuring bungee lacing system and rear pull-on loop
The KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is a perfect match for hikers who want an all-in-one solution, with lightweight and versatile appeal. This high-quality water shoe has the airiness of a sandal, the comfort of running shoes, and the durable protection of sturdy hiking boots. Don’t be fooled by the ‘water shoe’ title. This quality design offers premium performance both in and out of the water. If you love packing light and only plan to bring one pair of shoes: the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is a perfect candidate to keep you comfortable on your feet all day long.
As this product is designed and manufactured by an expert in outdoor gear, the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal lives up to a high-quality standard. The water sandal features many innovative design-accents, all developed to add more comfort, safety, and grip to your hiking experience. For example, the shoe features razor siping. This means it has undergone a process of having thin slits cut across the rubber surface of the sole to improve ground traction in wet conditions. The shoe’s multi-directional lug pattern adds even more traction. Keeping you from slipping or losing your footing in streams, on slippery rocks, and muddy slopes.
A natural favorite
The KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is also an eco-friendly design.. Instead of using harmful Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) to create a water-repellent layer on their outdoor gear, KEEN only uses non-toxic alternatives friendly to the environment. A big plus in our books! The same natural approach is applied to the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal’s Anti-Odor footbed. The footbed features special probiotic technology, meaning that this footbed can naturally break down odor in sweat – no chemical requires. No smell, no pollution to the environment, what’s not to love about that?
We also like that the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is made in the USA, adhering to quality regulations as set by the US-market. Other perks are a compression-molded EVA midsole, a quick-dry lining, and a durable 100% polyester webbing on the upper sole. This quality pair of water shoes/water sandals also feature a rubber toe bumper to keep your feet safe on trails, or in the water. This also comes in handy if you plan to do any special excursions when packing these sandals for a sunny holiday. At just 14.2oz, the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is also lightweight enough to carry in a backpack on multi-day hikes, and/or takes up minimum weight allowance in your luggage.
This is a great choice in water shoes for nearly all intermediate hikes, wet or dry. Do note that when worn for beach hikes, sand will get between your toes – due to the lack of a mesh lining. Also, if you plan to walk/hike on uneven undergrounds or very strenuous trails, this water shoe may not provide the arch support and durable protection needed, and you’d be better off settling for a solid, waterproof hiking boot instead.
Excellent customer reviews
Outdoor enthusiasts give the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal a big thumbs up on performance, comfort, versatility, and quality. Confirming the water sandal lives up to the high-standard KEEN has set for outdoor gear. Some consumers do recommend ordering half a size up from your regular shoe size, as the sandals tend to run small. Another minor con is that the sandal can have some rough edges where the fabric meets the sole, which can cause blisters. This is exactly why we recommend you to break-in the shoe before setting off on your adventure, helping to smooth out edges. We also don’t love the price of the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal, which is a bit on the higher side for a water shoe. However, we do think it’s worth the investment, considering this high-quality pair of water shoes, designed by an expert brand in outdoor gear, will no doubt outlast a low-grade pair that you can buy at regular shoe stores.
- Molded EVA-midsole
- Made in the USA
- Multi-direction lug pattern
- Works well in the water and on land
- Expert brand in outdoor gear
- May take some time to break-in
- Slightly pricey
- Can run small
- Sand will get between your toes
Teva M Arrowood Swift Lace Hiking Shoe
- Float-Li te outs ole is s uper durable and feather light
This design may look like a regular sneaker, but the Teva Arrowood Swift is so much more. The brand set out to create the Arrowood as a hybrid: a hiking shoe that combines the benefits of trainers, water shoes, heavy-duty boots and trail runners in one, multipurpose style. The result? A trendy piece of footgear that doesn’t compromise on traction, grip, and comfort. Now, let’s clarify one thing: this isn’t your typical water shoe, so if you’re looking for an aqua sock-style, this may be too versatile for your needs. However, considering the design features a special water-ready, quick-drying Ariaprene layer, the shoe is breathable, quick-drying, and excellent for wading through streams, lakes, and waterfalls.
Special Floatlite Sole
The Arrowood Swift Lace features many of the brand’s special techniques and materials. For example, it comes with Teva’s highly-rated Floatlite sole. This ultralight, durable sole is big on comfort but doesn’t add weight to the design. Ideal for storage in a backpack. And, according to reviewers, the sole is ‘one of the most comfortable they’ve ever felt’. Others compare the comfort to cushy orthopedic shoes, without the bulkiness and un-attractive looks. The rubber Floatlite sole also comes with individual rubber ‘pods’. These pods are distributed over the exterior surface, providing extra traction and grip.
The Teva Arrowood Swift Lace is a 5-star favorite amongst consumers on Amazon. Outdoor enthusiasts praise the design’s versatility, durability, ergonomic sole, and contemporary feel. Hikers confirm it’s a stylish and lightweight alternative to traditional bulky hiking shoes, with the added bonus of being quick-drying in watery scenarios. So, regardless if you’re hiking a trail that requires you to wade through streams or conquer waterfalls, or simply want to relax on a long beach walk, the Teva Arrowood Swift Lace has got you – and your toes – firmly covered! Minor cons are that this shoe is not fully waterproof, only water-resistant and quick-drying. Therefore, using them as water shoes during snorkeling trips is not recommended, but partial submersion is no problem at all!
- Rubber Floatlite sole
- Excellent traction
- Quick-drying Ariaprene material
- Super comfortable, ergonomic insole
- Expert brand in outdoor gear
- Excellent for hiking and backpacking
- May lack some arch support
- Not designed for active water hobbies
Which type of water shoe is the ‘best’ completely depends on where and when you plan to wear it. For watersports such as kayaking, or other water-based activities, an aqua sock-style like the MOERDENG Swim Socks can be a perfect, secure fit. However, if you plan to take your shoes hiking and want them to be supportive and cushioned enough for intensive walking, consider a slightly less traditional option such as the Arrowood Swift Lace by TEVA instead. Though not fully waterproof, it does come with extra breathability and moisture-wicking properties to quickly-dry the fabric, and you’re feet. Whilst its comfortable footbed and excellent traction are ideal for strenuous hikes on the wet and slippery underground, and whilst wading through rivers and streams. If you want an all-in-one solution that works well in and around water, and on hikes, a hiking sandal such as the KEEN Newport H2 could be a great option. This water sandal has the comfort, grip, traction, and durability needed for all kinds of outdoor scenarios, combining the perks of aqua socks, and hiking shoes, in one lightweight, comfy silhouette.
Rest assured: all 3 options on our list score highly on value, quality, and comfort in Amazon customer reviews! Whichever you choose, we’re confident it will live up to expectations.
It’s hard to pick a winner, considering all 3 products are very different. However, if we had to pick a favorite based on the best value-for-money, we’d settle on the MOERDENG Aqua Socks. For the price listed, we think you simply can’t go wrong. Budget-friendly, without compromising on quality or comfort: this style is highly-praised in Amazon reviews. With hundreds of 5-star ratings, it’s clear the MOERDENG Aqua Socks are both cheap, and cheerful. The design’s textured rubber outsole provides excellent grip, whilst the bungee cord lacing system allows for a secure, snug fit. The stretchy sock is easy to slip-on, and according to customers is comfy enough for all-day wear. Plus, with over 25+ color options to choose from, you can even match them with your wetsuit, surfboard, or other outdoor gear.
It’s not the most durable aqua sock on the market, but we think considering its affordability, it’s definitely one of the best-value aqua socks/water shoes you can find.
Best Water Shoes – Buying Guide
Types of Water Shoes
Aqua socks are the style that often comes to mind when considering water shoes, for example, the Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 This type of water shoe features a rubber sole, topped by a stretchy, sock-like silhouette. The flexible, often neoprene, shell makes them breathable, lightweight and comfortable, whilst the rubber outsole adds protection. As aqua socks are specifically designed to be worn in and around water, these are a preferred choice for water activities such as kayaking or surfing, swimming, and beachside relaxation.
Do note that there is quite a difference in the quality of aqua socks on the market. You can pick up a $5 pair of these water shoes at a local store, but for actual protection against the elements, you may want to consider spending a bit more. Because if an aqua shoe is made of low-grade materials, you have the risk of puncturing the sole on sharp rocks or tearing the fabric shell quickly. Look for a design with a quality neoprene upper sole and a high-traction rubber outsole for top performance.
Water sandals are a hybrid between regular hiking sandals and special aqua socks. Water sandals most commonly have thick, high-traction soles, an open-toe design, and strap lacings. Some water sandals may also feature a breathable mesh lining between the straps, providing an extra barrier from debris, sand, or dirt entering the footbed area.
Though most water sandals are durable enough for walking and some water sports, they can lack a bit of the extra support needed for strenuous hiking or running. For strolls on the beach or slippery undergrounds, water sandals are an excellent choice. But consider upgrading to waterproof hiking boots if you’re looking for a heavy-duty water shoe for challenging terrains.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
Hiking boots that come up as a search result when you look for water shoes are a waterproofed version of standard hiking boots. Often aimed at hikers and backpackers who hit trails with varying terrains, such as wading through streams and muddy or slippery underground, they offer outstanding support combined with waterproof perks. As these are a heavy-duty style of footwear, a hybrid hiking boot/water shoe is often a bit heavier, and bulkier, than a slimline water sandal.
What sets them apart from regular hiking boots, is that this type of water shoe comes with drainage holes around the footbed, and is made of waterproof and/or quick-drying materials. A perk of choosing waterproof hiking boots over regular water shoes is that they are built more solidly, provide more arch support, and offer extra traction on slippery undergrounds. Plus, with thick and durable soles, this type of shoe can conquer sharp rocks and uneven muddy terrain with ease. Whilst the special drainage system helps manage moisture and prevent the inner footbed from retaining water.
Do note that we do not recommend this pair of shoes for purely water sports or leisurely water activities. As the boot is heavier, it will weigh you down when fully submerged.
Barefoot Water Shoes
Barefoot water shoes are a waterproof version of the innovative barefoot shoe, that’s rapidly growing in popularity. Instead of featuring a rubber outsole, a barefoot water shoe only has a soft-shell silhouette made of flexible rubber. This means that though they lack traction, they are extremely lightweight and agile for use in the water, surfing, boating, or beach running. The flexible, stretchy silhouette closely follows the contours of your foot for the most ‘natural’ feeling. They provide an extra barrier of protection against hot sand, dirt, or vegetation, mimicking the feeling of walking barefoot, whilst keeping your soles safe. Due to their lightweight silhouette, they are great for water sports and can be fully submerged without weighing you down.
We would not recommend these for hiking, backpacking, or for use on hazardous terrains such as sharp rocks or rocky cliffs, due to the lack of arch support, traction, and rubber outsole.
Water Shoe Buying Factors
When shopping for water shoes, there are a few things we’d recommend you to consider, a.k.a. the buying factors. These are our top tips:
A water shoe needs to offer great breathability, as you don’t want moisture to get trapped. Designed with a mesh upper sole, or an open mesh silhouette, are a personal favorite of ours, due to their excellent ventilation and moisture-wicking abilities.
We also recommend picking a shoe made of a quick-drying material with excellent durability, for example, high-quality neoprene. You need a shoe that is lightweight enough to not weigh you down when in the water, yet is also durable enough to withstand heavy-duty usage. If you’re picking a water sandal, shoe, or boot, check if the silhouette has the required water drainage elements, for example, holes on the rubber sole or special drainage holes on the sides.
If you plan to wear your water shoes for walking and hiking on slippery undergrounds, pay close attention to traction. A slip-resistant Vibram rubber outsole with a heavy lug pattern can make a big difference to your stability on slippery surfaces. Aqua socks can lack the excellent traction needed for challenging undergrounds, so carefully consider where and when you’ll be wearing the product.
Also, consider how much support and cushioning you want from a water shoe. A lightweight water sock/aqua sock only comes with limited arch support, whilst a waterproof hiking boot may be heavier but does have the cushioning needed to conquer longer trails. The style of the insole differs greatly based on brand and type. One water shoe may come with a special cushioned Eva foam footbed and insole, whilst another barefoot type water shoe doesn’t even feature a rubber insole. If you’re prone to getting fatigued feet and need some extra support to stay on your feet all day long, consider a water sandal instead.
Brands of Water Shoes
With so many options on the market, picking the right brand for your needs can be a challenge. We’re often asked which brand we prefer, but honestly, this is very personal and depends on your buying criteria.
For example, if comfort is top-priority, perhaps consider the Swiftwater style by Crocs, a brand well-known for their comfort-level. If durability is key, an outdoor expert such has Merrell is a solid choice, because it adheres to superb quality standards. And if you want to buy from an expert in aquatic fun, why not consider Speedo, which besides first-class swimsuits, also has a collection of water shoes. You see: recommending a brand isn’t that straightforward, because we don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
That said, if we had to list some brands that get our seal of approval, we’d include Merrell, Aleader, Adidas, Speedo (especially the Speedo Men’s Surfwalker style), and Columbia.