Water shoes used to be one of those embarrassing things that your mum made you wear as a kid, right?
Luckily, times have changed.
And as more people recognize the benefits of hiking in water shoes, they’ve become better looking and more comfortable.
I’m going to introduce you to the world of hiking in water shoes and help you out by listing the best water shoes for hiking of 2021.
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- TOP 14 Best Water Shoes for Hiking of 2021
- Salomon Men’s Techamphibian 3 Water Shoes
- Olukai Men’s Eleu Trainer Shoes
- Teva Men’s Terra-Float Churn Waterproof Sneakers
- Columbia Men’s Drainmaker IV Water Shoes
- Merrell Men’s Capra Rapid Sieve Water Shoes
- Men’s Eddie Bauer Amphib Shoes
- Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandals
- Chaco Women’s Torrent Pro Shoes
- Astral Women’s TR1 Mesh Minimalist Hiking Shoes
- Merrell Women’s Choprock Hiking Shoes
- Merrell Women’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoes
- Keen Women’s Evofit One Water Sandals
- North Face Women’s Litewave Amphibious II Water Shoes
- Clorts Women’s Lightweight Quick Drying Hiking Sandals
- Water Shoe Hiking – What to Bear in Mind
TOP 14 Best Water Shoes for Hiking of 2021
Salomon Men’s Techamphibian 3 Water Shoes
Review: These water shoes look like trail shoes but they are actually water shoes, or amphibious shoes to be exact.
They have quick-drying mesh panels and the collapsible heel makes these shoes even more versatile by allowing them to transform from a shoe to more of a slipper. They also have formidable traction so you’ll feel safe on wet, slippery terrain.
- Full closure anti-debris mesh design.
- Fast drying.
- Additional side strap on the heel provides a secure fit rather than just relying on the lacing.
- EVA midsole provides cushioning and stability.
- Sizing runs narrow.
- The heel closure works lose over time and has to be tightened during longer wears.
Olukai Men’s Eleu Trainer Shoes
Review: These water shoes are designed to resemble the feel of walking on wet sand, maintaining a good ground feel and lightweight while providing support and cushioning.
They are some of the few water shoes that don’t actually let any debris into the shoe, and they’re comfortable enough to wear without socks.
- Dual density EVA foot bed provides support and cushioning.
- Sticky rubber outsole has groves in the forefoot for extra flexibility.
- Open mesh upper allows for drainage and quick drying.
- Effectively keep out course sand and debris.
- Small fit.
Teva Men’s Terra-Float Churn Waterproof Sneakers
Review: True to form, these Teva water shoes have all the comfort and durability of a Teva sandal but with some extra mesh for protection and support.
They are cool, well-draining, quick-drying and with excellent cushioning, which is something you don’t usually get in sandals.
- Very well cushioned with a Floatlite midsole.
- Mesh upper is quick drying and keeps feet cool.
- Rubber outsole provides great traction and is designed to expel water from underfoot.
- Narrow fit and no wide sizes available.
Columbia Men’s Drainmaker IV Water Shoes
Review: These shoes are designed to be lightweight, fast-drying and extremely grippy. They have high traction, omni-grip sole and a lightweight midsole that gives a little extra cushion than you’d expect from a sandal.
They are ideal for hikes with minimal debris and the occasional river crossing or raining day.
- Excellent ventilation and water drainage.
- Protective toe cap and enclosed mesh upper.
- Omni-grip rubber outsole.
- The drainage holes and mesh let small stones and sand into the shoes but not so easily out again. This could be remedied a bit by wearing quick-dry socks.
- The lace holes aren’t reinforced and could be a weak point.
Merrell Men’s Capra Rapid Sieve Water Shoes
Review: These water shoes find the middle ground between the completely enclosed mesh uppers and open sandal designs, with an enclosed front and protective toe cap, and open heel.
Drainage holes allow water to escape quickly the hydra hiker design is quick drying.
- Comfortable and supportive EVA footbed.
- Grippy rubber outsole has a drainage channel.
- Foot stays securely positioned in the shoe once wet.
- Sizing runs small.
- They unfortunately do collect little stones.
Men’s Eddie Bauer Amphib Shoes
Review: These versatile shoes are designed to be comfortable in a range of situations, providing excellent drainage, support, and traction while sporting formidable durability.
They are quick to dry with a perforated footbed for extra drainage, and their outsole is designed to push water away.
- SportGrip XT siped rubber outsole.
- The footbed is perforated for quick drainage.
- Lightweight EVA midsole.
- Might be some issues with small stones and sand.
Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandals
Review: These sandals solve some of the debris-catching issues of the enclosed mesh uppers of other water shoes. They will be the quickest to dry and won’t hold onto to any sand or grit that may pass through.
They are also extremely comfortable with a contoured EVA footbed and provide support through a TPU shank.
- Very quick to dry and no issues with debris.
- Rubber sole with multi-directional lugs for traction.
- Runs ½ size small.
- Durability issues with stitching at the base of the heel strap.
Chaco Women’s Torrent Pro Shoes
Review: These water shoes could easily pass as casual sneakers for use about town, but they’re capable of a whole lot more.
They have all the comfort and practicality of a sandal style water shoe but with a closed toe and fully enclosed upper to keep your toes safe and your feet free of debris. The polyester upper dries quickly and is treated with an antimicrobial to keep odors at bay.
- Luvseat EVR midsole is women’s specific.
- ChacoGrip Plus rubber soles with an aggressive tread.
- Knitted mesh upper is lightweight and quick drying.
- Durable, enclosed toe cap keeps your toes safe.
- Sizing runs small.
Astral Women’s TR1 Mesh Minimalist Hiking Shoes
Review: If you’re a minimalist in your life and your shoes, these shoes are the versatile option you might want to adopt.
They have a 1mm drop which leans them towards the minimalist category for shoes, while being comfortable, quick drying and grippy enough to wear for almost any occasion. They are ideal for ultralight hikers, providing enough cushioning and support for longer hikes but without the cumbersome weight of boots.
- Little holes in the toe and heel to let water out.
- The G.15 rubber sole is very grippy.
- Wide toe box for ample toe spread.
- Removable insole allows for some customization.
- Despite the antimicrobial treatment, they will get funky if they stay damp for too long.
Merrell Women’s Choprock Hiking Shoes
Review: This is another great amphibious shoe that looks like a trail runner but is designed to not hold on to water so that you can hike through multiple streams but have comfortably dry and blister-free feet on land between.
- Sturdy rubber toecap means you can stub your toe on anything underwater and not feel a thing.
- Compression molded EVA midsole.
- Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs.
- May not be comfortable without socks.
Merrell Women’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoes
Review: The All Out Blaze Sieve is a very popular water shoe that provides more of a sandal design. It has openings instead of mesh panels so water will drain instantly, but it still provides excellent support, stability, and traction.
These are a very durable pair of water shoes that will last for many summers of hiking.
- Vibram outsole with 3mm lugs.
- Springy, well-cushioned feel.
- Durable waterproof leather and neoprene uppers are well suited to the water.
- The openings do let small stones in but they can wash out easily enough.
Keen Women’s Evofit One Water Sandals
Review: Keen’s Evofit water shoes score top points for comfort, and sleek, lightweight design.
The engineered synthetic Evofit upper provides a sock-like fit while the rubber sole maintains good ground feel, leaving you protected but with a barefoot experience.
- Metatomical footbed is comfortable and provides arch support.
- TPU inserts and PU midsole provide stability.
- Mixed rubber outsole provides grippy traction.
- Sizing could be tricky – try before you buy!
North Face Women’s Litewave Amphibious II Water Shoes
Review: These are another great pair of amphibious shoes that keep the forefoot enclosed and protected in quick-drying mesh while leaving openings either side of the heel.
The PU-coated leather toe caps keep your toes protected while the design is sleek and tidy enough to double as a day-to-day shoe.
- Collapsible heel transforms the shoes into slip-ons.
- Injection molded EVA midsole.
- UltraATAC rubber outsole provides durable tread.
- Quick drying mesh forefoot.
- There’s actually not much to fault with these shoes.
Clorts Women’s Lightweight Quick Drying Hiking Sandals
Review: These sandals provide a good mid-range/budget option for hiking. They are completely enclosed with quick-drying mesh uppers and synthetic overlays for structure.
The sole provides a little arch support and good traction, and the overall fit is comfortable enough to wear without socks.
- Protective toe cap.
- Rubber outsole and cushioned EVA midsole.
- Breathable, quick-drying mesh and screened drainage holes.
- Some issues with little stones getting trapped inside if they manage to enter from the top.
Water Shoe Hiking – What to Bear in Mind
I’m going to make some basic assumptions here: that you’re hiking in warm, summer conditions, and that you’ll be doing some river crossings.
Those are the two main criteria that make hiking in water shoes worth considering. You won’t have to take your hiking boots on and off each time you cross a river, and your feet will dry out quickly and stay cool and ventilated while you hike.
But, there are some things to consider before you choose the best hiking water shoes for your summer adventures.
Amphibious Shoes vs. Water Shoes vs. Sandals
There are multiple different styles of shoes that can be classed as water shoes.
The original water shoes that you probably wore as a kid still exist, but the technology has advanced and the styles have changed.
They look and feel for all intents and purposes like a regular running or walking shoe, but they’re designed to be comfortable without socks, usually have some drainage holes for letting out water quickly, and can cope with getting wet repeatedly.
They won’t dry out as quickly as true water shoes or sandals, but they’ll dry out much faster than regular shoes and will remain comfortable even when they’re wet.
Hn their truest sense they are like mesh socks with a rubber sole. The water shoes on this list are hiking-worthy have a little more cushioning and support, with durable soles and toe caps to keep your feet more protected.
Sandals with Closed Toes
These can be an excellent choice of water shoe as any debris that might enter the shoe can escape easily and they can provide an impressive amount of support.
Which style you choose will really come down to personal preference.
Are you going to do the whole hike in your water shoes or do you just want to keep them on hand for the occasional stream crossing?
This decision will affect the weight and to a degree the durability.
You can get away with less durable shoes if just want them for stream crossing, but you’ll also want them to be super light so they’re not weighing you down, attached to your pack while you hike.
Alternatively, if you plan to complete a multi-day hike in your water shoes, they’ll need to be durable, have the right support and ideally some cushioning.
Also, blisters are always a possibility when there’s water involved so carry some synthetics socks just in case you start developing a hot spot – and put them on before it turns into a blister not after!
Getting little stones and grit stuck in your shoes is probably one of the main issues that water shoes have to contend with.
Designers of water shoes deal with this by either having large enough drainage holes or upper openings that any debris can wash out or by trying to prevent it from entering in the first place by having a completely screened upper.
Go for either sandal with a more open design, or completely enclosed shoes if you’re going to be facing gritty conditions. Shoes that fall in the middle with small unscreened openings may trap the stones.
There are some excellent women’s hiking sandals on the market that would solve this problem and still offer a quick-dry design without being specific water shoes per se.
Other Things to Consider
Traction is super important if you’re going to be going anywhere near water. Water makes things slippery! You don’t necessarily need really rugged tread, but the material itself will want to be grippy, ideally rubber.
Average water shoes may not provide adequate protection for your toes. Look for a well-formed toe cap that will protect your toes from stubbing against unseen underwater obstacles like drift wood and odd-shaped rocks.
If you’re interested in water shoes for more general beach wear and won’t necessarily be wearing them for full-length hikes, check out my article on the best water shoes for rocky beaches for a range of options to suit everyone. There are some lighter weight, more minimalist and affordable options.
Maybe boots are more your thing after all?
Alternatively, you may have read this article and decided that actually, water shoes aren’t going to suit your hiking style. And that’s completely fine! That’s what I’m here for, to help you choose the best product for your needs.
If that’s the case, I have some great articles on hiking boots where I can guarantee there will be something for you. I’ve compiled lists of the best hiking boots for men and women respectively, together with an article on the best hiking boots for wide, flat or narrow feet so that you have the best shot at finding the pair to suit your priorities and foot type.
Can You Wear Water Shoes for Hiking?
Yes, definitely! Water shoes can be a great option for summer hikes that will involve multiple river crossings.
Should Water Shoes be Tight?
Water shoes are designed to be worn without socks (although there’s no reason why you can’t wear some synthetic socks if you want), so the fit around the midfoot and heel should be snug enough to keep your foot secure and not sliding around.
You should always make sure that there is plenty of space in the toe box though so your toes aren’t cramped.
What Type of Shoes to Wear for Hiking?
Water shoes are an excellent option for hiking if there’ll be water involved. They protect your feet from unseen obstacles while you’re walking through the water and then drain and dry out quickly while you continue to walk on land.
What are the Best Water Shoes for Hiking?
There are many great water shoes available for hiking. It’s just a case of finding a pair that fit your foot shape and are comfortable for you. All of the shoes on the list above are good choices.
Hopefully, this article has answered all of your questions on hiking in water shoes, and you’ve found the best water shoes for hiking on your next river-prone adventure.
Remember, everyone’s feet are different and the vast majority of negative reviews online come from people who didn’t get the right size or style for their foot. For the best results, go to a store and try on some different shoes before you commit!
Feel free to share your thoughts on water shoes for hiking below!
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