Quick-dry mesh upper drains quickly and dries fast. Thin but very durable fabric allows for multipurpose use, including hiking, kayaking, and walking over rocks. Sock liner for custom fit. Better traction on wet surfaces than some models. Available in 15 different attractive styles and colors. Dries in mere hours.
Can be narrow in the toe box for some users. Some people don’t like the plastic-type feel of the shoe. Limited in arch support.
Multisport shoes ideal for swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, surfing, poolside, sailing, and other activities. Simple and clean ergonomic design, more of a sock with a sturdier sole than a shoe feel. These have some of the widest varieties of sizes, styles, and colors of all models we reviewed.
Ideal for water-based activity – may not be sturdy enough for major activities like hiking or long walks. Can run small. Insole can bunch up inside the shoe.
Quick-drying openwork mesh upper and hole in the sole for water drainage. Lightweight and springy. Super lightweight and very comfortable with a good fit for any foot, including some arch support – missing from many water shoes. Great for multi-use such as kayaking/canoeing. Stylish enough to wear while out and about. Available in 13 different colors/styles.
They run a bit large. Soft sole can wear quickly on pavement/sidewalks. Not a ton of arch support. Rocks can lodge in the openwork pattern in the sole.
Great protection from sand/rocks/shells. Simple and clean look for all types of water-based activity and water sports. Great for pools, water parks, and even as a shower shoe at the gym. Snug fit – won’t slip off during activity and snugger sock-type fit helps repel sand.
Shoes can run long in the toes. Construction isn’t as durable as other water shoes. Little arch support.
Leather and fabric upper provides well-made durability and an attractive design. Vents for quick water drainage and delivers excellent traction on many surfaces. Whether you’re walking in cities, kayaking, hiking in the jungle or hitting several surfaces in one day, this is an ideal multipurpose shoe. Very sturdy all-purpose shoe designed for flexibility and grip across many surfaces.
Can run small and narrow, and the fit can cause blisters for some people. Stitching may come loose after only a few months. Sole can be too slippery for some surfaces/users.
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If you spend a lot of time at the beach, pool, or lake, then water shoes are a good investment. They protect your feet from sharp objects and make it easier to walk around wet, slippery areas. Water shoes for men are slip-on style, though some have laces with a plastic lock to adjust the shoe fit. Materials are flexible, breathable, and lightweight for comfort not only when walking but also when doing water sports. Vents or holes and quick-drying materials ensure you can use the shoes every day, and even keep wearing them after you get out of the water. Some water shoes for men don’t have much or any arch support while others run narrow, wide, large, or small. Also, not all styles are durable enough for rougher sports like kayaking and windsurfing.
What activities do you want to use your water shoes for? Will you wear them on a mountaintop, on a beach, or at the pool? Finding the right water shoe for you means answering these questions and examining the various qualities of different water shoes.
Most water shoes have a flexible rubber or foam sole that provides some traction. A shoe designed for beach strolls, swimming, or surfing has a thin, flat sole that doesn’t slip on wet surfaces, but it could struggle with more challenging terrain. Shoes meant for hiking have rubber lugs that dig into dirt and rocks. While some water shoes are so light on your feet that it feels like you’re barefoot, tougher shoes designed for activities like hiking are somewhat heavier. However, many of these shoes have a sturdy rubber toe box to protect your toes, which other water shoes do not.
Many men’s water shoes provide no support beyond a thin layer of rubber and virtually no insulation. This is intentional because a water shoe is meant to be light on your foot and worn in warm weather. If you want a water shoe that you can use for activities like hiking or running, look for one with arch support and a moderately insulated upper. This could mean the shoes will drain less easily and take longer to dry, but you’re also less likely to submerge your feet frequently when hiking or running.
How efficiently a water shoe drains is crucial because slopping around in waterlogged shoes is uncomfortable and can result in smelly feet – or worse. If you plan to spend most of your time in the water, you need shoes that allow water to quickly pass through so the shoes stay relatively dry. Most water shoes have a water-resistant mesh made of synthetic materials like nylon and polyester that is highly breathable and drainable. A good water shoe should dry in 24 hours or less. If a shoe holds on to moisture for too long, it could mildew, resulting in an unpleasant smell and increasing the risk of a fungal infection.
If you plan to take your water shoes to the beach or the pool, look for shoes with foam soles, which enable the shoes to float. You don’t want your brand-new water shoes sinking to the bottom of the ocean when you go out for a swim.
When it comes to water shoes, lighter is better for most activities. But a lighter shoe often means thinner materials, so shoes meant for hiking are an exception. The thicker soles of these water shoes can increase their weight significantly, but a hiking water shoe is still lighter than most regular hiking shoes.
Some activities that water shoes go well with include paddle boarding, kayaking, skimboarding, and snorkeling.
Many water shoes have different lacing systems, which are often suited to specific activities. In addition, there’s no limit to the colors and styles available for water shoes.
How a water shoe goes on and fastens affects not only how quickly you can slip in and out of it but also how snugly the shoe fits.
Pull-on: These water shoes have a pull tab on the heel so you can easily pull them on your feet. The fit should be snug but not tight. These shoes are best suited to swimming, surfing, and other water sports. The pull tabs are also useful for hanging your shoes up to dry.
Laces: Water shoes that lace up can have either traditional laces or a quick-lacing system that tightens with a single tug.
Hook-and-loop straps: Shoes with hook-and-loop fasteners are easy to adjust, though they might loosen over time. The straps can also be prone to catching pebbles and sand.
Water shoes come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Some are sleek and black, molding to the contours of your feet, while others are vibrant and eye-catching. Your water shoes should fit your tastes and perhaps complement the rest of your gear. Consider finding a pair of water shoes that match your surfboard or swim trunks.
Water shoes may fasten with laces or hook-and-loop straps or slip on with pull tabs.
Inexpensive: Basic water shoes that cost $5 to $15 are usually slip-on shoes with thin rubber soles that provide little support or traction. While they work well for beach strolls and swimming, these shoes aren’t durable enough for sports or hiking. Some water shoes in this range have foam soles that enable the shoes to float.
Mid-range: Water shoes that cost $15 to $30 have more durable construction, and many have thicker soles for activities like hiking or running. Water shoes in this price range are made of synthetic materials that easily repel water and drain quickly.
Expensive: High-end water shoes that cost $30 to $80 are generally suited for hiking and have mesh to allow water to pass through the shoe. Many shoes in this range have superior arch support and toe protection.
Caring for your water shoes isn’t quite as simple as throwing them in the dryer. Follow these steps to prevent mold and mildew in your water shoes.
The ventilation in water shoes not only allows water to flow through the shoes but also allows air into the shoes to keep your feet cool.
While we stand by our top recommendations, there are a few water shoes that didn’t make the list but are worth calling out. For a barefoot-style shoe, there are the WHITIN Men’s Athletic Wear Shoes, which feature a quick-lace system and a thin, comfortable rubber outsole that offers flexibility and grip. While these aren’t the most durable option, they’re affordable and work well at the beach. Some popular shoes with a sleek, form-fitting design are the Mishansha Water Shoes. Available in a wide range of colors, these flexible shoes have comfortable spandex uppers and are accurately sized. If you’re looking for water shoes that fall somewhere between casual shoes and hikers, the Troadlop Men’s Quick Drying Trail Running Shoes are flexible and comfortable while providing the grip and support necessary for light hikes. The design simulates the experience of walking or hiking barefoot.
Q. Can I wear socks with water shoes?
A. You can, but it isn’t recommended because most socks are made of cotton and will therefore retain moisture.
Q. Do all water shoes float?
A. No. Many water shoes with heavy rubber soles will sink. It’s unlikely that your shoes will slip off your feet, but when you’re swimming, you probably want something as light as possible anyway. Look for water shoes with foam soles if you want a pair that floats.
Q. Do water shoes keep out sand and rocks?
A. That depends on the size of the holes in the mesh. Look for shoes with a fine mesh if you need to keep small pebbles out. Or opt for a shoe with large holes in the upper that allow debris to pass in and out of the shoes freely as you swim or wade.
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