Have you ever gone to load your kayak by yourself, only to find that it's…
A common misconception amongst beginner kayakers is that general running shoes are fine for kayaking, or no shoes at all.
Problem is, kayaking involves a lot of water (obviously) and walking on harsh, uneven, and slippery surfaces - rendering normal running shoes or bare feet completely useless.
So, you need to find a suitable pair of shoes designed for kayaking. Water shoes are one of the most important parts of a kayaker’s inventory.
Made out of synthetic rubber, these flexible shoes are comfortable, durable, and can grip to a variety of surfaces such as sharp rocks.
Whether you’re new to kayaking or if you’re experienced in the water sport, it’s important to find the right pair of shoes for you. They’ve got to fit perfectly, feel comfortable, and they need to perform well.
Here is our review of the best water shoes for kayaking!
OUR TOP PICK
The key to a good pair of water shoes for kayaking is shoes made from a material that dries quickly. When water stays in the shoes, it can make kayaking very uncomfortable and can result in blisters and sore rubbing.
These SIMARI Water Shoes are made of 92% polyester and a breathable mesh fabric upper. This upper stretches across the feet (thanks to the elasticated material) and allows for enough ventilation to dry the shoes quickly whilst keeping your feet warm.
This material is met with an 8-hole drainage system that exemplifies the quick drying time.
The polyester and elastic blend means these shoes are flexible yet highly durable, which is ideal for walking on the grooves of uneven rocks and surfaces underwater.
Along with the elasticated upper, the shoelaces are also elasticated, allowing you to put on and take off the shoes quickly. They also come with a locking system to adjust the tightness of the laces.
As for the soles, these water shoes are equipped with a durable rubber sole that has bumpy grooves. These grooves are designed to grip to any surface, including slippery rocks, grit, and hot sand.
When testing this product, we liked how versatile the shoes are for a variety of water sports, including kayaking, sailing, beach volleyball, and snorkeling.
- Breathable - Mesh upper comes with drainage system for ventilation and quick dry time
- Elasticated - Stretchy laces and neckline allows for easy adjustments
- Durable sole - Textured rubber sole protects feet on a variety of surfaces
- Sizing - Size guidelines are slightly off, recommended ordering a size down
Contrary to popular belief, men and women anatomically have different feet! While some water shoes claim to be unisex, most of these shoes are actually designed for male feet.
So, if you’re a gal looking for some water shoes for kayaking, you need some female-specific shoes.
The hiitave Women’s Water Shoes are designed specifically to fit the shape of a woman’s foot.
This is accompanied by no heel lift (ensuring you have maximum traction and control along your whole foot) and a wide toe design, which allows for enough freedom of movement to prevent feeling restricted.
These shoes are made of a polyester blend with an elasticated mesh upper, allowing for proper breathability and a fast drying time.
This is met with a drainage system that prevents your feet from feeling heavy in and out of the water, making the shoes ideal for a range of water-based activities.
When testing this product, we liked how the shoes incorporated an elasticated neckline and lace system, which allowed us to easily slip on the shoes.
This is met with a lock system that keeps the shoes snug, ensuring for a lightweight and almost barefoot feel.
- Lightweight feel - Breathable materials and snug fit keeps the shoes light in and out of water.
- Designed for women - Specifically for the shape of women’s feet .
- Ultra-grip sole - Extra traction for slippery surfaces, sharp rocks, and more.
- Designed to have snug fit - Make sure to order a half size smaller than usual.
The key to a good pair of water shoes for kayaking is finding a pair that makes you feel like you’re not wearing any shoes at all.
This is to allow the user complete control of their movements in and out of the water, as heavy shoes can ruin balance on uneven surfaces.
The Racqua Water Shoes are designed specifically for a lightweight fit. This is achieved by a widened toe design, which allows your toes enough freedom of movement for balance inside the shoe (and it makes you feel like you’re not wearing shoes).
The shoes are made of a polyester and elastic blend with a mesh upper, which helps to keep the feet cool when in and out of the water.
The mesh upper is also equipped with small drainage holes, allowing for water to drain in and out of the shoes. This means you don’t have to sit in your kayak or walk on land with waterlogged shoes.
These shoes come with a rubber sole, complete with an ultra-grip texture that grips to a range of surfaces. This anti-slip sole also comes with a protective toe guard to prevent stubbed toes against hard rocks.
This toe guard is flexible, allowing your feet to grip to surfaces as if you’re not wearing shoes.
When testing this product, we discovered they run slightly bigger than usual. We recommend ordering a size smaller than your regular size to prevent the shoes from slipping off.
- Toe guard - Protects toes from injuries and allows for extra grip and balance.
- Lightweight - Made from lightweight materials to prevent feet from feeling heavy.
- Drainage system - Small drainage holes to prevent waterlogged shoes.
- Not for hiking - Rubber soles are slightly too thin for hiking purposes.
You’re not just going to be wearing shoes when you’re in the water - you’ve also got to think about the journey to the water.
If you know you’ll have to do a bit of walking (or even hiking) with your kayak before you get to the lake, river, or sea, you need a pair of shoes that can withstand the harsh terrain out of water.
The L-Run Athletic Hiking Water Shoes are ideal for taking your kayak to the water, and the actual kayaking itself. These shoes are made of a flexible and lightweight polyester material that is also equipped with an elasticated neckline and a mesh upper.
The mesh upper allows for proper ventilation to keep your feet cool in the heat, and warm in the cold.
One of the best features of these shoes is that they have removable shoelaces. While elasticated shoelaces are easy to use, these shoes come with an optional large velcro-style strap that makes it even quicker to put on and take off the shoes.
This is highly convenient, especially because you won’t have to worry about knotted shoelaces!
When testing this product, we found that these shoes are truly made for walking thanks to the non-slip outsole. This sole is slightly thicker than the other shoes on our list, which is ideal for walking to and from the kayak spot.
It works to protect your feet and toes from sharp rocks and stones.
- Optional shoelaces - Remove shoelaces for added convenience.
- Thick outsole - Protects feet from harsh and sharp terrain both in and out of the water.
- Flexible - Molds around the feet for a lightweight feel.
- Thicker than others - Slightly thicker fabric means these shoes have a slower drying time.
If you’re an avid water sports fan, you’ll need a pair of good quality water shoes that can provide foot support for multiple activities, including kayaking, swimming, windsurfing, snorkeling, fishing, beach volleyball, and more.
The Spesoul Water Sports Shoes are designed to be worn for an array of water-based activities, thanks to the thickened rubber soles that are textured for maximum anti-slip traction.
While the sole is thicker than other water shoes for kayaking, this means the shoes will typically last longer and can be worn for multiple purposes.
These shoes are made of a polyester blend with an elasticated neckline, elastic straps, and a mesh upper.
Not only does this allow for breathability and suitable water drainage, but it also means the shoes are comfortable and flexible to wear. The elastic straps can be adjusted easily, and allow for quick on and off.
As these shoes are so flexible (even with the thick rubber sole), we found that they were ideal for traveling as they simply folded up into a smaller size, meaning they take up minimal room in luggage.
- Thick rubber sole - Hardy yet flexible sole is durable and ideal for multiple water sports.
- Portable - Can fold in half for easy storage when traveling.
- Lightweight - Surprisingly lightweight despite the thicker sole.
- Design - Few design options
What To Look For In Water Shoes For Kayaking
Kayaking is a really fun water sport, but only if you take the necessary safety precautions. You don’t want to risk twisting your ankle because your shoes weren’t designed for underwater use, nor do you want to constantly shake sand and pebbles from them.
Here is our handy buyer’s guide on what to look for in water shoes for kayaking!
Most importantly, the shoes have got to fit properly, and they need to feel comfortable. When you’re kayaking, the last thing you want to think about is how your feet are rubbing against your uncomfortable shoes.
Likewise, you want enough comfort to balance on sharp rocks, uneven terrain, grit, sand, and more.
In most cases, you’ll probably benefit from ordering a size smaller than your regular size. This is because you ideally want a snug fit to prevent your shoes from slipping off.
The idea is to find a pair of shoes that protects your feet whilst feeling like you’re not wearing any shoes at all.
We recommend opting for a slim shoe rather than a wide one, especially if you’re in a sit-in kayak. This allows enough room inside the kayak for your feet to move, and will prevent you from tripping over in and out of the water.
Most water shoes are made from the same materials, but here is the basic rundown of what materials you need for a pair of water shoes.
Ideally, the majority of the shoe should be made of polyester, which is a flexible and lightweight material that provides a waterproof layer. Next, you need to look for a mesh upper (the top part of the shoe).
Mesh provides ventilation to keep your feet cool in the heat and warm in the cold, which is ideal for kayaking in cold waters. Plus, mesh uppers means the shoes can dry quickly!
Elasticated necklines are great for two reasons. One, they don’t restrict your movements and will prevent rubbing or blisters. Two, the stretchy material means it’s easy to put on and take off the shoes.
You also want to look for elasticated shoelaces with a lock system for quick adjustability.
While polyester water shoes provide some sort of waterproof protection, it’s inevitable that your feet are going to get wet. Walking in waterlogged shoes is never a comfortable experience, which is why it’s best to look for shoes with a decent drainage system.
This drainage system is typically found in the form of small holes at the bottom of the shoe. The holes should be small enough to allow water to drain without letting in sand or pebbles. This will also help achieve a lightweight feel.
Ideally, look for a rubber sole. Rubber soles aren’t as hardy as normal running shoes, but they are great for water sports.
Rubber soles are lightweight, provide enough protection to your sole and toes, and are fitted with an anti-slip texture to allow for maximum traction on a range of surfaces.
If possible, look for shoes that come with a toe guard. This should protect your toes from being stubbed against sharp rocks.
Rubber soles are also the best for various terrain conditions. You won’t just be wearing the shoes in the water, after all. You’ve also got to consider the type of terrain you’ll walk on when carrying your kayak to the water.
Will it be a simple concrete sidewalk, or will you have to walk through a woodland floor to reach the rapids?
Plus, rubber soles offer just enough flexibility to be folded in half, which is ideal for saving space when traveling.
Above all else, you’ll need water shoes that will last. Water shoes aren’t designed to last decades of vigorous water sport activities, but you’ll need the reassurance that they won’t fall apart after 3 uses.
The best way to determine the durability of water shoes is to read the customer reviews. Reviews are a great way to gauge the satisfaction of the product, and will give you an idea of whether the shoes are right for your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Go Barefoot In A Kayak?
Whether you want to wear shoes or not while in a kayak is completely up to you. Some people will argue that wearing shoes can be uncomfortable and will prohibit your kayaking experience - especially if those shoes aren’t waterproof or have a poor drainage system.
There’s nothing quite as bad as sitting in a pair of waterlogged shoes, after all.
However, while you don’t necessarily have to wear shoes inside the kayak, you’ve got to consider going barefoot outside the kayak.
You will have to carry your kayak to the water’s edge, and if you accidentally fall out of the kayak, you risk cutting yourself on sharp objects like rocks and debris.
Not only this, but you also risk slipping on algae and grime in the water, which is a huge risk for head injuries and twisted limbs. For the sake of safety - especially if you’re kayaking in harsh conditions like rapids - it’s recommended that you wear water shoes.
Can You Wear Crocs Kayaking?
Crocs are highly versatile shoes that come with massive drainage holes that keep water out of the shoes. Yes, you can wear Crocs for kayaking, but you’ve also got to consider the downsides.
While Crocs are fine for sit-on kayaks, you might find the shoes are too wide for sit-in kayaks. Plus, they have a habit of falling off, which isn’t ideal for kayaking in harsh conditions where the shoes might drift away if you fall into the water.
However, even if they do drift away, Crocs are so lightweight that they will simply float in the water for you to catch them.
Another downside to wearing Crocs while kayaking is that while they provide enough ventilation to keep your feet cool, they don’t offer any thermal protection. If you’re kayaking in cold conditions, Crocs will do very little to keep your feet warm.
Finding the right pair of water shoes is a necessary part of the kayaking experience, but it’s certainly worth doing your research to find a pair that fits your needs (and your feet!).