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. Plus, the best water shoes tend to provide decent support, traction on slick surfaces and excellent drainage. For our purposes, think outdoor rugged adventure water shoes more than old-school traditional boat shoes.
Of course, the best water shoe for everyone will depend on their own level of activity and what they’re really looking for. Our top 15 water shoes are great for snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), rafting as well as hiking wet trails, rivers and rocky beaches. Most of our recommendations include water shoe options for men, women, and kids.
However, what you won’t see in this guide are cheap knockoffs. If you want something that’s going to unravel or come unglued when you’re finally outside and having fun, by all means, go with a cheap shoe with fake user ratings. And if you want a world full of bad gear, buy more bad gear. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something durable and well designed, you’re in the right place. We only recommend high quality gear designed by companies we trust.
These best water shoes will handle everything from water parks to creek crossings, sail boating, jet skiing, rafting, fishing, 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.
Best all-purpose water shoe: Columbia Drainmaker IV
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. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s | Big Kids | Little Kids
Best water shoe for rocky beaches:Adidas Terrex CC Voyager Aqua Water Shoes
The Adidas Terrex CC Voyager Aqua 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. Note: Adidas doesn’t make a women’s version of the Voyager Aqua — try the Voyager Sleek instead. Learn more:Men’s
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. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s | Kids (sandal version only)
Best street-ready water shoe with serious outdoor cred:NRS Crush
The NRS Crush water shoe blends an urban style sensibility with more outdoor-ready features than looks would imply. The NRS Crush features a sticky rubber sole that’s been siped for extra traction on slick rocks, and get this: Its flat but aggressive tread design features the shape of the state of Idaho, which is where NRS is headquartered. The NRS Crush has a quick-drying DWR-coated 1000 denier nylon upper that sheds water. In addition, the canvas-like nylon upper does a good job of keeping out debris and avoiding snags from small twigs. It has sidewall drain ports. While it’s not the fastest draining water shoe out there, it’s versatile. Case in point? One nifty feature is the namesake heel, which you can “crush” down to create a slip-in camp shoe. Pretty handy if you like to run around barefoot but need to step into protection here and there around camp or the banks of rivers that have sandy beaches as well as rocky shores. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s
The Quiksilver Amphibian Plus Water Shoe’s casual good looks hide its true nature as an adventurous water shoe: The soles have mesh-protected bottom drainage ports that drain water but keep debris out. The mesh upper lets water escape and dries fast. Quiksilver also added a welded heel support for comfort on the go and cinch lock stretch laces that stay tied. Better yet, the Quicksilver Amphibian Plus comes in a wide variety of color options. Learn more:Men’s
Best water shoe for whitewater parks:Chaco Torrent Pro
The Chaco Torrent Pro was designed for 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 grippy sole and a fast-draining shoe with closed-toe protection and nimble design. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s
Best water shoe for snorkeling: Adidas Terrex Climacool JawPaw Slip On
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 snorkeling, we appreciate a trim and slim overall construction most. Learn more:Men’s | Kids
Teva started out making white water river sandals, but over the years the company has branched out into a wide variety of footwear. The Teva Terra-Float Churn water shoe is lightweight and breathable with a mesh upper and midsole drainage holes. The elastic lacing makes entry and exit fast and easy. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s
You might recognize Sperry as the maker of a wildly large lineup of traditional boat shoes, but the Sperry H20 Waterlust Sneaker blends a sneaker-style design with deck-ready construction. Sperry says each pair is made from recycled yarn, which helps protect our oceans from about 24 plastic bottles. The outsoles are non-marking rubber that won’t scuff floors or boats, but they have Razor Wave-Siping for grip on wet surfaces. The sizing is unisex — for women’s, size down 1.5 from men’s. Learn more:Unisex Sizing
Best water shoe for kayaking and rafting: NRS Kicker Remix
More durable 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. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s
The Speedo The Wake is a very affordable water shoe that’s part training shoe, part water shoe, aimed at those who want to exercise around the beach or pool. It has a lot of lightweight mesh, but the mid-foot lacing system lets you snug it down for a tighter fit during high intensity activity. The sole has half a dozen drain holes for fast water drainage. Speedo has two grippy rubber sections built into the heel and toe area, and the drain holes are covered with a fine mesh to keep rocks and debris from getting in. We appreciate the Speedo The Wake most for the lightweight, low-profile athletic style. Plus, it’s hard not to like the bold red and black version. Learn more: Men’s | Women’s
The Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 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. It’s great for scrambling in and out of the water, protecting your feet while also drying fast. 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 should be on your shortlist. Incidentally, you could also nab the Salomon Crossamphibian Swift 2 version, which offers new color choices. Learn more:Men’s (or the men’s Swift 2) | Women’s (or the women’s Swift 2)
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. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s
The Adidas Terrex Climacool 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 fast. They’re best used for boating or more casual water play. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s | Kids
We think the OluKai ‘Eleu Trainer water shoes are a bit of an anomaly — on the one hand, they’re a cool, meshy, good-looking lightweight training shoe with decent arch support, and on the other hand, they’re designed to shed water, dry fast, and fit like a water shoe. If you aren’t sold on the rugged water shoe look, the OluKai ‘Eleu Trainers strike a fine balance for most everything. Learn more:Men’s | Women’s