This testing and review water shoe photo shows a closeup of a Columbia Drainmaker IV water shoe on a beach getting hit by a wave.

15 Best Water Shoes (2020)

We recommend the best water shoes for men, women, and kids for kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, hiking and more

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The best water shoes are robust and versatile enough to wade in a river, trek across a sandy beach, ride in a whitewater raft, grip a slippery boat deck and hit the water park.

The best water shoes provide support, traction, and fast drainage — and there are a lot of varieties to choose from.

The best water shoe for you will depend on your own level of activity and what you’re really looking for. In our top 15 water shoes for 2020, we recommend the best water shoes for snorkeling, the best water shoes for beaches, for kayaking, for paddle boarding, rafting, and even running. We include water shoe recommendations for men, women, and kids.

This photo shows a man wearing a pair of water shoes with his feet in the water on an ocean beach.
Do you want a great outdoor experience? Invest in the right water shoes and don’t look back.

However, what you won’t see in this guide are cheap knockoffs. The problem with cheap knockoffs is that they tend to unravel or come unglued. When you finally get a chance to get outside and have fun, the last thing you want is to lose a great day because your water shoes failed to do their job. On the other hand, if you’re looking for durable and well designed water shoes, you’re in the right place. We only recommend high quality gear designed by companies we trust.

Our most recommended water shoes will handle everything from water parks to creek crossings, sail boating, jet skiing, rafting, fishing, river tubing and even some light hot-weather hiking. In addition, the best water shoes tend to have lots of breathable mesh and are made with hydrophobic materials that repel water and dry fast. They are built to last.

15 Best Water Shoes 2020

1. Columbia Drainmaker IV Water Shoe

Best all-purpose water shoe

This best water shoe image shows the Columbia Drainmaker IV men's water shoe.
Who’s it for? The Columbia Drainmaker IV water shoe boasts a versatile water and trail-ready design and comes in a wide variety of sizes for men, women, and children. We’re big fans.

The Columbia Drainmaker IV Water Shoe does just about everything right. Its upper has plenty of breathable mesh that provides good ventilation in hot weather — and it dries quickly. The insole is full of drain holes, plus the inside base and sides of the Drainmaker IV include drain holes, too. As its name suggests, this water shoe drains water fast. The Techlite midsole offers great cushion, so much so that we actually like wearing the Drainmaker IV around the house and in town. The exterior sole is a tough and grippy rubber, capable of scrambling over dry trails and wet rocks alike.

As for looks, at a casual glance, the Drainmaker IV looks like a lightweight outdoor/trail shoe. Because the overall design is so versatile, the Columbia Drainmaker IV is our favorite water shoe for camping — and Columbia makes sizes for the entire family. The fit is spot on. You can wear these with a pair of socks just fine, but when you wear it barefoot, the heel and ankle area snug up surprisingly well, even when the shoe is soaked. Check out our full Drainmaker IV review or start shopping for your size. One more thing: The Columbia Drainmaker IV price-to-value ratio is outstanding. Highly recommended.

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Columbia: Men’s | Women’s | Big Kids | Little Kids

Columbia Drainmaker IV
Drains water fast
Provides full-coverage protection for feet and toes
Great grip and traction
No real cons

2. Chaco Torrent Pro Water Shoes

Best water shoe for getting wet all day long

This best water shoe review guide photo shows the Chaco Torrent Pro water shoe.
The Chaco Torrent Pro gives you an excellent barefoot fit with shoe-like protection that still swims well in the water.

The Chaco Torrent Pro was designed by professional whitewater athletes who are getting in and out of the water frequently, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t benefit from the Torrent Pro. You a surprisingly grippy sole and a fast-draining shoe with closed-toe protection and a nimble design. In fact, the Chaco Torrent Pro is so good for anyone who wants to play in and out of the water, that it very nearly edged out the more trail-friendly Columbia Drainmaker IV for the number one spot in this year’s guide. Let’s put it this way: We’d rather walk a mile in the Drainmakers but we’d rather play in the water with the Torrent Pros. And if you want to swim, too? The edge definitely goes to the Chaco Torrent Pros for swimming.

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Backcountry: Men’s | Women’s

Amazon: Men’s | Women’s

3. NRS Arroyo Wetshoes

Best water shoe for stand-up paddle boarding 

This photo shows the NRS Arroyo Wetshoe for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and rafting.
Why buy them? The NRS Arroyo Wetshoe pairs a stable sole with a trim water sock-like fit.

Our top pick for the best stand-up paddle boarding water shoe goes to the NRS Arroyo Wetshoe. All NRS gear is created and tested extensively by whitewater rafters, kayakers, and paddle boarders who know exactly what they need for long days on the water. The Arroyo blends a simple water sock-like design with a flat sole that’s designed to help you maintain your balance and control on wet and moving surfaces like the deck of your SUP. But that’s not all, they’re trim and fit into kayaks with ease. Plus, they are inexpensive and the price-to-value ratio is outstanding.

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NRS: Men’s | Women’s

REI: Men’s | Women’s

4. Merrell Choprock Water Shoes

Best water shoe for river hiking & exploring

This best water shoe photo shows the Merrell Choprock shoe.
Why buy them? The Merrell Choprock is at home on uneven ground, wet or dry.

The new Merrell Choprock is perfect for scrambling around rocky river banks and beaches. We like the burly rubber toe bumper. The integrated webbing loops for lacing gives you an adjustable, secure and stable fit. The midsole has channels for fast water drainage, and the Vibram Megagrip outsole offers great overall traction. If you want an even lighter and airier version, try the Merrell Choprock Sandal version.

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Merrell: Men’s | Women’s | Kids

Shop all water sports shoes at Merrell — including the cool Hydro Moc — and get FREE shipping!

5. Adidas Terrex Climacool JawPaw Slip On Water Shoe

Best water shoe for snorkeling

This water shoe/sock photo shows the Adidas Terrex ClimaCool JawPaw Slip On Water Shoe.
Why buy them? The Adidas Terrex Climacool JawPaw is trim with a bit of extra sole for traction.

The Adidas Terrex Climacool JawPaw Slip On Water Shoe is more like a burly water sock. The uppers use Adidas Climacool mesh for drainage, drying and breathability. The outsole is perforated, too, for fast drainage. The Traxion outsole offers decent traction, but the JawPaw shines best in the water: When we want to swim or go in for some relaxing snorkeling, we appreciate a trim and slim overall construction most.

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Amazon: Men’s | Kids

Shop ‘Water Shoes’ at Bass Pro Shops and get FREE 2-Day Shipping on orders over $50!

6. The North Face Skagit Water Shoe

Best no-fuss water shoe

This water shoe photo shows The North Face Skagit men's water shoes.
Why buy them? The North Face Skagit Water Shoes are a solid, lightweight, no-fuss water shoe contender.

The North Face has been turning out a lot of great trail shoes lately, and the company’s water-focused take hits all the critical features you need in a great water shoe. You get a quick-drying, lightweight antimicrobial, anti-odor upper with a rugged TPU overlay toe cap. The midsole features drain holes while the outsole is siped and uses The North Face’s proprietary EXTS outsole traction system. We particularly like the easy-on heel and tongue finger loops.

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Backcountry: Men’s | Women’s

7. NRS Kicker Remix Wetshoe

Best water shoe for kayaking and rafting

This best water sock image shows the men's NRS Kicker Remix Wetshoe.
Why buy them? The NRS Kicker Remix Wetshoe slips on and stays on, even when whitewater rafting or running rapids in an inflatable kayak.

More rugged water sock than water shoe, the NRS Kicker Remix pairs a warm 3 mm Terraprene neoprene upper to keep your feet warm in cold water. Better yet, NRS gives you a naturally shaped, roomy toe box. We especially like the 3 mm rubber sole, which gives you great traction and protection from rocks — the protection isn’t as good as you’ll find in bigger water shoes, but compared to most water socks, it’s excellent. Of course, the Kicker Remix is aimed at whitewater kayakers and rafters, but it’s great for all sorts of water sports. Oh, one more thing: With this sort of design, the Kicker Remix isn’t really about draining water and drying out. Get the Kicker Remix if you plan to get wet and stay wet.

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NRS: Men’s | Women’s

REI: Men’s | Women’s

8. Astral Loyak Water Shoe

Best water shoe for travel

This best water shoe image shows the men's Astral Loyak water shoe.
Why buy them? The Astral Loyak offers low-key style but boasts a technical foundation. Plus, they’re the best water shoe for travel because they’re lightweight and packable.

The Astral Loyak M’s (men’s) or W’s (women’s) are a super low-volume water shoe with a hydrophobic canvas upper that screams urban style. They definitely have a casual, low-key look but dig a little deeper and they’re surprisingly technical. The flexible rubber outsole has Razor Siping, which creates slits of extra surface area that help provide traction on slick surfaces. It has drain vents, a stretch mesh forefoot and durable canvas uppers. Did we say the Astral Loyak is flexible? The Loyak is super flexible and ultra-packable, which makes it a particularly great water shoe for travel.

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REI: Men’s | Women’s

NRS: Men’s | Women’s

9. NRS Vibe Water Shoes

Best street-ready water shoe . . . with serious outdoor cred

This best water shoe photo shows the NRS men's Vibe Water Shoe.
Why buy them? The NRS Vibe Water Shoes sport a low-key style but are built for on-the-water use.

The NRS Vibe Water Shoe blends an urban style sensibility with more outdoor-ready features than looks would imply. The NRS Vibe features a sticky rubber sole that’s been siped for extra traction on slick rocks. The upper is made from tough, quick-drying Cordura nylon while the toe-box and tongue are woven with a highly breathable fabric for hot-day ventilation. Meanwhile, drainage ports in the instep help clear water with each step. On the inside, NRS uses low-profile seams and a cushy non-absorbent EVA forum footbed for barefoot comfort.

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NRS: Men’s | Women’s

10. Adidas Outdoor Terrex Voyager SUMMER.RDY Speed Water Shoe

Best water shoe for running and rocky beaches

This best water shoe photo shoes a product photo of the Adidas Terrex Voyager SUMMER.RDY Speed water shoe.
Why buy them? The Adidas Outdoor Terrex Voyager SUMMER.RDY Speed Water Shoe is a hybrid running and water shoe, making it comfortable and solid for long treks to the beach or river.

The Adidas Outdoor Terrex Voyager SUMMER.RDY Speed Water Shoes use sticky “Stealth Rubber” that came from Five Ten’s rock climbing shoes, giving them excellent traction. These lightweight and airy amphibious hiking shoes cover hot, dry ground just as well as wet river beds. The mesh upper helps drain and dry, but the midsole features drain ports. A TPU weld over the toe gives you rock kicking and toe-dragging protection.

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Adidas: Men’s | Women’s | Kids

Amazon: Men’s


11. L.L.Bean Rocky Coast Multisport Shoes

This best water shoe photo shows the L.L.Bean Men's Rocky Coast Multisport Shoes.
Why buy them? The lightweight, classic look blends functionality with style.

The L.L.Bean Rocky Coast Multisport Shoes use a durable mesh upper that dries quickly. For fast draining, L.L.Bean added holes in the midsole. The classic lacing system lets you dial in the fit. L.L.Bean also added in an eco friendly anti-odor tech to help prevent bacterial growth.

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L.L.Bean: Men’s | Women’s

12. Under Armour Kilchis Water Shoes

Lots of color options

This photo shows the Under Armour Men's Kilchis Sneaker water shoe.
Why buy them? You get a solid all-around water shoe with many color options.

The Under Armour Kilchis water shoes feature a non-slip Michelin rubber outsole for excellent traction on slick surfaces. You also get midsole drainage holes and a highly breathable quick-dry upper. A TPU overlay helps protect the toes from scuffs. The fixed bungie lacing system makes on/off a breeze.

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Amazon: Men’s | Women’s

13. Speedo Surfwalker Pro Mesh

Best water sock shoe

This photo shoes the Speedo Men's Water Shoe Surfwalker Pro Mesh.
Why buy them? They’re simple, effective and readily available with many sizes.

Speedo has been producing slim and trim sock-like water shoes for years, most notably the popular Surfwalker Pro 3.0. The new Speedo Sulfwalker Pro Mesh Water Shoes keep a sock-like upper but beef up the sole just a bit. The result is all the goodness of Speedo’s trim water shoes, which are fantastic for water park and beach play, but you get a better sole for walking to your destination.

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Amazon: Men’s | Women’s | Kids

14. Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoe

Coolest water shoe made from sustainable materials

This photo shows the Salomon Men's Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoes .
Why buy them? The Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoe blends a cushy runner with fast-drying mesh and barefoot-ready fit.

The Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 Water Shoe has an interesting hybrid sort of design: It has a pull-on style with a stretchy mesh upper that seals out most sand and debris while the bottom is more like a running shoe sole. You can even step into it and collapse the heel for quick trips, yet it’s also great for scrambling in and out of the water. You get great overall foot and toe protection. If you’ve been looking for lightweight slip-on simplicity that also has laces for lock-down control . . . with full-coverage mesh and a real sole, the Crossamphibian Swift 2 should be on your shortlist.

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Moosejaw: Men’s | Women’s

15. Adidas Terrex SUMMER.RDY Boat Water Shoe

This photo shows the adidas outdoor Men's Terrex Summer.rdy Boat Water Shoe.
Why buy them? The Adidas Terrex Summer.rdy Boat Water Shoe blends sneaker style with a dock and deck-ready design.

The Adidas Terrex Summer.rdy Boat Water Shoe is a pretty straightforward sneaker-like boat shoe: The sole is relatively flat to help it grip slippery flat surfaces. Drain holes in the sole let you squish out water fast while the Climacool mesh upper dries quickly. They’re best used for boating, walking, and more casual water play.

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Men’s | Women’s | Kids

Bonus: Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe

Best rugged water shoe

This photo shows the Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe.
Why buy them? Get the Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe for its rugged durability and outstanding grip.

Simms is best known for its outstanding fishing waders and wading boots, but the company’s new Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe is the most rugged water shoe we’ve seen in a long time. They are basically the bottom half of the Flyweight Wading Boots, which are in our guide to the best wading boots. If you want a stable wading platform that can eat up miles of rocky river banks, the Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoes are for you.

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Simms: Men’s

Best ‘River Sandal’ Water Shoes

This photos shows the men's Chaco Z/Cloud 2 sandal.
Why buy river sandals? If you’re really looking for a rugged, water-ready sandal, look for strong, adjustable strap systems — like those used in the Chaco Z/Cloud 2.

Some people prefer an open sandal over the full foot protection of a water shoe. Here are three of our favorite ‘river sandal’ style water shoes:

Best Water Shoe for Wide Feet

Unfortunately, there are very few shoe manufacturers that make water shoes made specifically for wide feet; however, the Land’s End Men’s Wide Water Shoes are built for wider feet.

Shop the Merrell Hydro Moc!

This photo shows the women's Merrell Hydro Moc water shoe.
Why buy them? The Merrell Hydro Moc is super cushy and dries insanely fast!

Shop the Merrell Hydro Moc for men, women, and kids at Merrell and get FREE shipping!

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