Long before the creation of water shoes, people would save their worn-out, falling-apart sneakers to wear while paddling a kayak or wet-wading for trout. Of course, it was always a crap shoot whether or not the duct taped footwear would hold together until the end of a trip, but there were few alternatives available. That’s changed, and today’s water shoes are designed and specialized for specific water activities and constructed with materials that might just outlast your best pair of sneakers. Here are three things to think about before you spring for your next pair.
This pair features a lace-up system for extra security and a snug fit. Mishansha
Water shoes are built for water wear, which means they should stay on your feet and provide traction whether you’re swimming, paddling, or wading. Make sure your pair has a snug fit that’s comfortable but tight because it helps keep out sand and other debris. What might be too tight and blister-prone for hiking shoes is probably just right for water shoes.
This pair is built with a lightweight, synthetic upper that stretches to fit over your feet. SIMARI
Water shoes should be made out of lightweight, breathable, non-absorbing, water-resistant materials. They should dry easily and quickly, and as a result, be less prone to odors. If you plan to wear a pair in especially abrasive conditions, like around rocks or other debris that might injure your feet, also make sure the shoe material is durable and resists abrasions as well as punctures. That said, a pair with additional toe protection is never a bad idea either.
The soles of this pair are engineered for traction and drainage. DOUSSPRT
Water shoes should be constructed to protect the bottom of your feet, but also the top and sides, and they should have treads suitable for the terrain where you plan to wear them. Wade-fishing on oyster beds or lava rocks requires a different sole design and material than what you want for your paddle board.