“What shoes do I need to wear” is most likely not the first question that pops into your head when you’re thinking about either starting or expanding your inventory of kayaking equipment. However, if you’re a kayaker already, you’ll most likely be well aware of the difference that a good pair of water shoes can make to your overall kayaking experience.
In this comprehensive user guide, we’re going to take a look at what to look for in the perfect pair of kayaking shoes. As you’ll probably know if you’ve had a look, the market for kayaking shoes is no small one, and navigating your way around it to the best pair of shoes for you can be quite tricky if you don’t know what to look for.
What Purpose Do Kayaking/Water Shoes Serve?
First and foremost, a good pair of water shoes will increase how comfortable you are quite considerably. Although water shoes are not specifically designed for kayaking, but a lot of water sports as a whole, they are still extremely functional for kayaking.
Shoes that are designed for use in water or wet environments have been, obviously, designed with slippery and wet surfaces as the first and foremost concern. They do, therefore, make for great footwear on slippery surfaces to stop you from sliding around uncontrollably. They’re perfect for safety in a number of respects – slipping and sliding all over the place is never what you want! In terms of kayaking, they’re great from stopping you sliding about unintentionally when standing up on you kayak, or when leaving or entering your boat.
The bottom of water shoes are also designed to be durable, usually being constructed of a thick rubber design. They are therefore great for protecting your feet when underwater too. For example, if you’re walking out into the water with your kayak, the bottom of your feet will be more protected from rocks or other sharp objects that you wouldn’t want to have stuck in the bottom of your foot.
The top of water shoes are designed to dry quickly too. Not only is this advantageous for the comfort of your feet, it also means that the shoes last longer and are more durable – no mold or bacteria can grow as water cannot live in the shoe’s fabric for any length of time.
There are different types of water shoes available, some of which are more suited to kayaking than others. Later on in this guide, we’re going to cover some of our favorite/what we think are the best kayaking shoes out there today.
Variations of Water Shoe
Much like most things in life, kayaking/water shoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each of which is great for serving different purposes.
Arguably the most common design of water footwear, water shoes are those that look most similar to normal shoes that you might wear out on the street. They have durable soles, and are perfect for walking through water in that might have a slightly rough bottom. In addition to being comfortable when they’re out of the water, they’re ideal for preventing damage to the bottom of your feet from anything that’s in the water.
Relatively self-explanatory we would think, water sandals are footwear designed for the water, that look most similar to sandals as opposed to shoes. They are extremely easy to slip on and slip off, and make for a convenient, quick and comfortable design.
Water sandals come in open and closed-toe design, and are very airy in comparison to some other water shoes. They can also be multipurpose – being comfortable, they can be easily utilized as normal footwear for use in the warmer months.
More similar in design to a large sock, water boots are often made of neoprene – material that’s usually found on the inside of higher-end wellington boots.
Advantages and Disadvantages to Water Shoes
Wearing water shoes can have its advantages and disadvantages. In our opinion, the potentials downsides are massively outweighed by the upsides.
Foot protection – Water shoes are great for protecting your feet when they’re under the water, or even out in the sun. Jagged rocks and debris can easily cause damage to the bottom of your feet. A good pair of water shoes can help protect against this
Safety and Grip – The soles of water shoes are grippy and have excellent traction capabilities. If you’re often moving around on slippery surfaces, a pair of water shoes will help to minimize the risk of slips and falls as a result of poor grip
Temperature Control – when you’re out in the elements, it’s easy for your feet to become too warm or too cold quite quickly. Being one of the parts of your boy that help to regulate your temperature all-over, keeping your feet at a comfortable temperature can be very important.
Multi-Purpose – Water shoes can be used or other purposes outwith kayaking too. They can be used for regular normal wear when it’s warm, going to the beach, or even out and about and around the house. They’re very versatile.
Heat – Even though temperature control can be one of the advantage’s of water shoes, those that don’t use breathable fabrics can quickly result in too much heat building up inside the shoe
Smell – Like all other items of clothing, water shoes will begin to smell if they’re not washed at appropriate and suitable intervals
Important Points To Look Out For In Kayaking Shoes
When you’re looking for a pair of water shoes for kayaking, you should be sure to look out for a few main points that could make a big difference to you in the shoes that you’re considering.
Good build quality is important in a pair of shoes for kayaking. Depending on how regularly you intend to use your water shoes, a high level of build-quality could be more or less important.
If you’re going to be wearing your water shoes regularly and for long periods of time, you should look for a pair that are well-rated for being constantly taken in and out of water. You should also make sure that the pair you are considering have a thick, well-made, durable sole. The more you walk overland the more quickly the soles of your shoes will wear. Choosing a pair that are extra durable and well-made will ensure that they last as long as possible.
A great tip for keeping your shoes in top condition, regardless of build-quality, is to never put them away when they’re still wet or damp.
Comfort/A Good Fit
A good fit is extremely important in a water shoe. Make sure that you find a pair of shoes that have a snug fit to your feet. Shoes that have extra space or are too tight will quickly begin to rub and irritate your feet. This problem will only worsen when the shoes become wet and heavy.
A good breathability rating is another key point to look out for in your kayaking shoes. Although most kayaking shoes should be made of a breathable fabric, not all water shoes necessarily will be. A breathable fabric will mean that your feet can stay at the right temperature, without getting too warm.
Fabrics with holes such as mesh are perfect, since they allow airflow naturally.
Style of Shoe
The intended use of your water shoes should be one of the most important considerations that you make before buying. Although you will most likely be using your shoes for kayaking for the majority of the time, having a pair of water shoes that can be utilized in other sporting activities is never going to be a bad thing, provided that they’re still great for kayaking.
The Best Water Shoes For Kayaking
Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport – Versatile Water Shoe
Merrell’s All Out Blaze shoe are some of the most versatile water shoes available on the market. Being based on a mesh construction, the shoes are great for both breathability and drying – they won’t hold onto a great weight of water for any time at all.
Unlike a lot of other alternatives, the All Out Blaze Aero Sport is extremely suitable for many purposes. Being a very supportive shoe, it’s ideal for hiking and similar activities that might be heavier on the sole of your shoe. If you’re looking for a shoe that can comfortably support your feet across a variety of both wet and dry terrain, it’s a fantastic choice.
The sole of the All Out Blaze Aero is thick and flexible. With the top of the shoe boasting an enclosed design, it’s a good choice for protecting your feet and keeping debris away when on wet or dry land.
For further comfort, these shoes also feature Omni-fit technology, which means you can ensure the best fit on your feet.
- Great for: kayaking, walking, camping, most outdoor activities
- Constructed From: rubber sole, synthetic mesh
- For: Men and Women
Mishansha Quick-Dry Barefoot Water Shoes
Mishansha’s Barefoot Water Shoes are another extremely versatile pair of shoes. They are perfect for kayaking, as well as a range of other outdoor activities, such as fishing, diving, and general wear at somewhere like the beach or pier.
Being constructed from extremely breathable Spandex Fabri, these Mishansha will keep your feet cool and dry. They’re great for walking, running, and swimming in comfort. Unlike some other mesh footwear, these shoes have a thicker part of material around the toe area, to keep the end of your feet more comfortable and reduce the impact.
The Mishansha Quick-Dry shoes also have drainage points in the durable rubber soles. No matter how much water enters, you can be sure that it’s going to get drained out quickly and efficiently so that you can be as comfortable as possible at all times.
- Great for: kayaking, swimming, boating, beachwear, exercise and a lot more
- Constructed From: Spandex Fabri, Lycra, Rubber
- For: Men and Women
Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandal
The Chaco Z2 Sports Sandal is one of the most popular water footwear choices available, and for good reason too.
In terms of comfort, the Z2 features the “LUVSEAT” Footbed, as standard in all Chaco footwear items. This system boasts excellent support to all areas of your foot, making hours of wearing extremely comfortable and pleasurable.
They’re extremely durable and long-lasting too. Thanks to a midsole construction of PU, you can be sure that Chaco Z2’s are going to be on your feet for a long time. PU is extremely durable and does not wear nearly as badly as other materials commonly found in sports sandals – merely one of the reasons that these shoes make for a great long-term investment.
This Sports Sandal features a fully-open top. Just like a regular sandal, plenty of air will always be circulating around your feet. Great for drying off and keeping your feet cool on those hot days outdoors.
The Z2’s are also great for traction and grip, featuring Chaco’s “ChacoGrip” that is both non-marking and fantastic for enhanced grip when on wet surfaces. Thanks to this and their adjustable straps, the Z2’s are more versatile than a sandal-styled water shoe might usually be – they’re perfect for walking, kayaking, swimming, and casual wear.
- Great For: kayaking, walking, water/theme parks, general wear
- Constructed From: Polyurethane, rubber, polyester
- For: Men
- Chaco also offer the “ZX2” for women, check it out here!
Body Glove Men’s 3T Barefoot – Cinch Water Shoe
The Body Glove 3T is a fantastic water shoe for kayaking. It mimics the feeling of having nothing on your feet, which is one of the very feelings that a lot of kayakers miss when wearing shoes.
The 3T model of Body Glove’s Cinch Water Shoe makes use of the 3-toe pocket system, which allows for a great level of articulation and feeling in the toes compared to a regular shoe design.
The shoe also features an integrated drainage system, which allows the shoe to dry off quickly once you come out of the water, as well as being breathable and airy for your feet. The 3T’s are also extremely easy to get onto your feet, thanks to their stretching fabric upper design.
- Great For: swimming, walking, running, general wear
- Constructed From: Manmade stretching fabric, rubber soles
- For: Men