Water shoes are designed to keep you stable on wet surfaces and to protect your feet from pebbles and other hazards when walking on the beach. Of course, you will be able to practice many water activities, but do you think you’ll be able to walk long distances on trails or walk through rivers with your water shoes? The answer is no for the simple reason that they don’t provide enough support and traction on most surfaces.
To cross waterfalls, streams, or walk on uneven terrains, you need footwear that enables you to do so – meaning, water shoes that give you excellent traction, protection, and comfort so you can have the most pleasant hiking adventure. In this article, you will find the best water shoes for hiking and a buying guide to help you make the right choice!
1. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve is the type of shoe that will make you feel invincible no matter where you go. Whether it is for boating, camping, hiking, climbing, or walking across rivers, they check all the boxes! Thanks to its Waxy Waterproof Leather Fabric Lycra, they are super water resistant, souple, and durable.
Getting foot blisters after a long walk is quite common, especially when the shoes are still brand new. The Merrel All Out Blaze has a soft heel neoprene stretch collar that grabs your foot nicely and prevents blister problems. It also enables you to slip them on and off easily and to walk comfortably.
The sandals fit perfectly to the feet – they neither run too big nor too small. Although they aren’t much fashionable, they are functional, comfortable and they give you an outdoorsy look! The Vibram sole offers excellent traction both on wet and dry surfaces.
For such a rugged and durable pair of shoes, they weigh almost nothing (1lb), making your hiking excursion much lighter. The closed toes protect your feet from hazards on the trails, and the openings on the side help drain water out quickly.
Sand or pebbles may get inside, but that’s something you can’t avoid with an open shoe design. If you are looking for breathable and lightweight summer footwear that supports your feet like a sneaker, then you can be sure that the Merrell will meet all your expectations!
Average Rank: 4.6 out of 5
- Easy to slip on and off
- Poor traction on slippery terrains
- Almost no arch support
Sole Vibram: Synthetic
2. The KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal
The KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal is an exceptional pair of water shoes. They are comfortable, very supportive, and fit like a glove. The Metatomical EVA footbed adopts the shape of your feet and keeps them in place without irritating the bottoms while walking.
One of the best features of the Keen sandals is its non-marking rubber outsole, they don’t leave any trace on boat decks, and they grip well on both wet and dry surfaces. The closed-toe area is more spacious than the Merrell sandals, making them very comfortable especially for those who have wide feet. It also adds plenty of protection and blocks any hits on your toes when crossing streams or hiking on gravel paths.
The Newport feel great on the feet on the first try, and they require no break-in period. These sandals are made of polyester and padded with a squishy neoprene, which adds softness, and comfort to your feet. The leather version of Newport is much rugged and durable than the synthetic model, but they dry much slower.
You will hardly or never find an open shoe design that doesn’t allow sand and pebbles to get inside. It will happen, occasionally and you should be aware of this. Since they run a bit small, it would be best to go in half size up. These water shoes not only provide excellent arch support, but also fantastic drainage, and they are durable. In other words, the perfect shoes for your outdoor adventure!
Average Rank: 4.4 out of 5
- Dry fast
- Grip well
- Collect gravel and sand-like any open design shoes
- The seams tend to detach from the heel strap
Weight: 0.88 lb
Outsole: Non-marking rubber
3. KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal
Keen has made these fantastic sandals with women in mind. From hiking, sailing, swimming, camping you name it, the Keen Whisper will do the trick! The Whisper and the Newport look very much alike, but if you pay close attention, you will notice some differences.
For example, the Whisper’s toe guard is shorter and wider, offering more space. The sole is a bit thinner, so you are more likely to feel the ground. The webbings are slimmer, too, which renders them a lot cooler. That being said; the Whisper turns out to be less rugged but more flexible and versatile since they are less bulky, which allows you to move more freely!
Many people fall in love with Keen Sandals due to its Metatomical EVA footbed. It provides excellent arch support as well as embrace the shape of your feet, making them remarkably comfortable to walk in. Since these are made of polyester material, they are super lightweight, and they dry very quickly. Thanks to its Cleansport NXT ™, they emit no odor, even if your feet sweat into the shoes or they get wet.
Average Rank: 4.6 out of 5
- Super lightweight
- Don’t release bad odors
- Dry fast
- Not as rugged as the other brands listed in the article
Weight: 0.54 lb
4. Teva Men’s Omnium Closed-Toe Sandal
In terms of performance for crossing streams rivers, mud, and hiking on trails, the Teva water shoes are one of the best you can find on the market. They are smartly designed, lightweight, and comfortable. The shoes are made of leather and synthetic material, making them easy to dry. What sets them apart from other water shoes is that they feature an upper buckle for quick release and adjustable heel straps that enable you to slip them on and off with ease.
The Teva sandals fit right out of the box and hold well the ankle, keeping your feet stable in the sandals even in wet condition. The Teva suits various types of conditions, whether you go hiking on slippery rocks or wet trails, or on dry paths, the grip of these sandals is exceptional and will surely meet your expectations. On the first try, they are a bit tough, so yes, these require a short break-in period.
Since the straps are adjustable, they can easily be adapted to each foot with individual requirements. The opening on the sides helps drain water out quickly and keep your feet aerated all day in the summer. The rubber toe guard provides excellent protection against hazards on trails. Also, they offer more arch support than many other sandals, which happen to be too flat for longer walks. That being said, These are the perfect sandals for just about any activity to do on land as well as offshore.
Average Rank: 4.3 out of 5
- Easy to put on and off
- Fit well
- Provide great traction
- Pricey, but worth every penny!
- The shoes are a bit tough when new, require a break-in period
Weight: 1.58 lb
Material: Leather/ Textile
5. Northside Women’s Burke II Sandal
The Northside Women’s Burke is a great pair of water shoes at a reasonable price. Its low cost may make you skeptical about its quality, but so far they have surprised thousands of
customers on Amazon. The sole provides excellent traction; they grip fantastically on rough terrains and sharp rocks.
The footbed is cushioned, which adds softness and flexibility, but if you have high arches or flat feet, you may find them less comfortable as they lack arch support. But like many other people, you may want to insert an insole to make them more supportive. If you have narrow feet, you should look for a smaller size as they run a bit large. They hold up very well while walking on trails and in rivers, and they dry relatively fast compared to other water shoes.
The only disadvantage of these sandals is that they come only in full sizes, which can make it harder to find the right fit. They are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable.
Overall, the quality is good, yet they feel cheaper than the other water shoes. However, for the price, they are worth it!
- Grip well
- Soft on the feet
- Lack of arch support
- Don’t come in half sizes
Weight: 0.60 lb
6. Clarks Women’s Tuvia Melon Fisherman Sandal
The Clarks Women’s Tuvia water shoes are padded with neoprene fabric, making them soft to the touch and comfortable to wear, but like the one above” the Northside Burke,” they lack arch support. However, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, many people have found a solution to this by simply adding orthotic insoles to add more comfort. These features a neoprene lining that embraces the shape of your feet and prevents rubbing issues.
The Clark Women Teva has an adjustable velcro heel strap that enables you to secure the sandals easily. When they get wet, the inside dries very quickly whereas the upper part dries slower. There are small bumps on the footbed that massages your feet, which feels very pleasant when walking and they have openings on the side that keep your feet aerate and also drain the water out.
The toes box is roomy and provides exceptional comfort, especially for those who have wide feet. Even though they don’t have a lot of arch support, they are still very comfortable to wear all day. They fit great and don’t require any break-in period. To sum up, these sandals are great for light hiking and water sport but don’t expect them to be as rugged and durable as the other brands!
Average Rank: 4.5 out of 5
- Very comfortable
- Slip-on and off easily
- Lack of arch support
- The upper part of the shoes dry slower
Weight: 0.56 lb
The quality of your water shoes will without a doubt have a big impact on your hiking excursion. With so many options on the market, it can be a tricky task to find the right pair that suits your activity. The water shoes that are listed in the article are the best rated and will help you make the right choice! If you want more tips on how to buy the proper water shoes for hiking, see the buying advice below.
Table of Content
- 1. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe
- 2. The KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal
- 3. KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal
- 4. Teva Men’s Omnium Closed-Toe Sandal
- 5. Northside Women’s Burke II Sandal
- 6. Clarks Women’s Tuvia Melon Fisherman Sandal
- In Conclusion
- Guide to Buying Water Shoes For Hiking
- Straps and Closures
- How Water Shoes Fit Your Feet
- What Do Water Shoes for Hiking Offer You?
- Water Shoes Construction
- Arch Support and Cushioning
- Type of Hiking
- How to Fit Your Water Shoes for Hiking
- Open vs. Closed Toe Shoe
- When to Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
- Where to Use Water Shoes for Hiking
- Why Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
- Who Should Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
Guide to Buying Water Shoes For Hiking
Water Sandals are usually made either of synthetic or leather. Both fabrics are excellent, but they are often used for different purposes.
For instance, synthetic water shoes adapt well to wet conditions as synthetic fabric tends to dry out much quicker than leather material. Although they are specially designed to wear in good weather, if you happen to walk through muddy trails or cross-stream rivers, you’ll be able to clean them easily and dry them fast. Also, the synthetic fabric withstands humidity and can remove moisture such as sweat, preventing chaffing. That’s the reason why most sandals comprise a liner made of blended synthetic materials to keep your feet cool and dry when walking all day.
- Lighter than leather
- Dry faster than leather
- Easier to wash
- More breathable
- Less durable
- Don’t fit all weather conditions
The most common leather fabrics used in water shoes for hiking are brushed leather, pigskin, and nubuck leather. Those built with leather outers or with leather webbing resist small levels of moisture and help minimize sweat. The leather material provides an excellent level of comfort as well as fit many conditions, but when getting wet, they dry quite slowly. Many leather shoes are made with anti-bacterial treatments to protect your feet against bacteria and also to prevent bad odors.
- More durable than synthetic
- Fit all weather conditions
- Dry slower
- Less breathable
- Heavier than Synthetic
Straps and Closures
Typically, water shoes for hiking feature a strapping system to help slip them on and off comfortably. This also provides more security on flat terrains while walking since the strap holds well the feet.
How Water Shoes Fit Your Feet
Most water shoes have a padded heel strap to protect the back of your foot. Some of them come with hook and loop closures systems while others with elastic heel straps.
Closure systems are usually placed whether at the back of the foot, at the instep, or at the forefoot. Water shoes that feature several closures will provide more support and will hold your feet firmly in place. Some of them are made with removable straps, allowing you to convert them into flip-flops, which comes in handy if you stroll on the beach.
What Do Water Shoes for Hiking Offer You?
Since these water shoes are made of lightweight material and are often combined with other features, you can use them in many conditions.
As I mentioned above, the fabric used in water shoes is lightweight, making them very light on the feet and easy to pack.
Most water shoes are open design – meaning they have openings on the sides and at the back of the feet. They are extremely pleasant to wear in hot weather as they keep your feet cool, which is a big plus.
Water Shoes Construction
Compare to hiking footwear; water shoes lack arch support because the ankle is less protected. That’s why it’s essential to choose shoes that provide a high level of padding so your feet can be comfortable and also well secured.
The shoes should fit well to the feet – not too big or too small. Some people like to order a half size larger so they can wear socks with it, which is very convenient in cold weather. The footbed must be supportive so you can walk comfortably, and the closure system needs to be used for tightening your feet.
Arch Support and Cushioning
Footbed and Midsole
It is crucial to choose a contoured footbed that embraces the shape of your feet to keep them stable, and well secured so you can walk without worrying about slipping. This is something you should consider, especially if you plan to walk a long distance, or over rocky trails.
It is also important to look for padded or cushioned footbed such as Vibram or Compression-molded Eva. These absorb shock and provides excellent stability on the ground.
Some footbeds are designed deep and padded with a soft and wicking material that absorbs moisture. This provides excellent comfort and it allows you to sink your feet in easily, too.
Water shoes have a thin and lightweight sole, which enables you to walk comfortably on trails, but they are not enough rigid to let you carry a heavy load or to climb on mountains.
Water shoes that provide excellent traction are usually designed with either carbon rubber or with hardwearing lightweight rubber. Some soles can feature a fluid drainage system that helps flow the water out and keep your feet dry all day.
Type of Hiking
As I mentioned above, water shoes sole is usually thinner than hiking footwear, and that’s the reason why they cannot be worn with a heavy carry-on bag. There is not enough thickness in the sole to cushion the shocks. The weight will put pressure on your feet, and this can hurt them and make your excursion less pleasant. So water shoes are ideal to hike on easy trails, to cross streams, walk around town, to name a few. For serious hiking and climbing mountains, you would want a real pair of hiking boots.
How to Fit Your Water Shoes for Hiking
To protect your feet from knocks and debris, it is crucial that you have enough rim at the front of the shoes. The space between your toes and the front edge of the shoes should be the width of a thumb.
Since water shoes are open design, they are breathable, thus can be worn without socks, but also with socks in the wintertime. However, if you plan to wear socks, you should consider trying them on first or pick a larger size.
Open vs. Closed Toe Shoe
There are two styles of water shoes, open-toe, and closed-toe. The one that offers more protection is, of course, the closed-toes as it prevents debris from getting inside and hurting your feet against rocks. The open shoes don’t provide any protection on trails, they are mainly used for walking on beaches, and on smooth terrains, but not on uneven paths.
When to Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
Unlike hiking boots, water shoes are lightweight, breathable, and dry quickly; thus, they are perfect to wear in good weather. These also can be worn with socks for better protection against blisters and cold. So, spring, summer, and fall are the best time to enjoy your water shoes for hiking!
Where to Use Water Shoes for Hiking
You can wear them almost everywhere, meaning around town, on trails, rocks, beaches, in the water, to name a few. But I wouldn’t recommend wearing them on rocky mountains, or off trails, as they don’t provide as much protection and support as hiking boots. Some terrains are wilder than others, making hiking more challenging. Thus, require more protection. Just be aware of this!
Why Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
Well, there are many reasons for this. Let’s see what they are.
- They offer excellent support which allows you to walk long distances comfortably.
- They are aerated, and this will keep your feet cool on a hot summer day.
- They are extra lightweight, making your hiking excursion more pleasant.
- They provide excellent traction, keeping you stable on slippery surfaces.
- They dry fast!
Who Should Wear Water Shoes for Hiking
Anyone who plans to practice water activity or to hike through rivers and on trails. Women, men, children, everyone can wear them to have a comfortable hiking experience. So, if you want to preserve your feet and keep them cool while walking, then you should consider wearing water shoes for hiking.
What about you? Is there a pair of water shoes for hiking you want to add to this list? If so, you are welcome to share it in the comments below.
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