SHOES & BOOTS

Best Water Shoes for Men: Finding Comfort with Wet Feet

No slip with water shoes
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Whether you’re kayaking, hiking, or relaxing on the beach, everyone knows that the comfort of your feet can dictate the quality of your adventure. Bad shoes that lead to soggy, blistered, and uncomfortable feet can turn a beautiful day into a nightmare. The following guide to the best water shoes for men will help you choose the right shoe for your adventure.

Mesh water shoes

Be it hiking up a creek full of slippery boulders, catching a monster wave, or exploring a little seaside town on vacation, there’s a water shoe to fit your specific needs. There are a lot of options out there, so we’ve created this guide to help narrow down your choices a bit.

Features to Consider

Whether you’re a seasoned water sport enthusiast or a first time water shoe buyer, there are important features to consider when searching for the best water shoes for hiking. Keep in mind what kind of terrain you’ll be covering as well as what types of activities you’ll be taking part in, as these factors can greatly affect the quality of your experience and what shoe is best for you.

Grip

Where will your shoes take you? Maybe you plan on hiking up creeks and rivers. You will almost definitely encounter algae and moss-covered rocks, which can be extremely treacherous if you don’t have a shoe with a good grip.

Maybe you’re out kayaking and decide to get out and explore the rock formations along the coastline. Maybe you’re trying to stay on your surfboard and catch that next wave.If this is the case, you are going to want an outsole that can keep you grounded.

These shoes grip well

If you’re using your shoes simply for added cleanliness in the public shower, to protect your feet from hot pavement, or on a relaxing beachside vacation, grip might not be the most important feature for you to consider.

Flexibility

The flexibility of a shoe can contribute greatly to its overall comfort. Stiff shoes can leave your feet sore and blistered for days. A flexible shoe will allow your feet to truly comprehend complex natural surfaces and to stay grounded and secure. Flexibility can be important no matter what activity you choose; however, those who plan to hike long distances in their shoes may wish to trade flexibility for added support and protection.

Drainage

No one likes a soggy shoe. No matter the activity, soggy, cold, wet feet can lead to more than simple discomfort. Blisters, mold, and, at worst, even trench foot can really put a damper on your adventure. Choosing a water shoe with excellent drainage and breathability can greatly reduce the risk of discomfort and leave you free to enjoy the great, wet outdoors.

Support and Durability

Depending on what you plan on doing in your water shoes, support and durability could be key. If you plan on hiking in your shoes, you most likely want a durable, supportive shoe.

Without proper support, you could run into sore feet, plantar fasciitis, or even arch or back problems. Some water shoes provide excellent support for more active water-related sports, while others have less support and provide little more than a flexible, second “skin” for your feet.

Walking on log

In order to choose the correct water shoes, you should have a good idea of what kinds of activities you plan on participating in. Someone wanting shoes for a beach vacation, for example, would require a very different level of support than a hiker wanting a comfortable shoe with which to ford a river or hike up a stream.

Material

You want to look for shoes that are going to allow the water to drain away, which means you should focus on shoes that are made of mostly mesh. Avoid any shoes made with leather, as this material is known to absorb water and making your shoes extremely heavy. Leather also breaks down when wet, meaning that your shoes will fall apart much sooner than they should.

Toe Guard

In order to keep your feet protected, having a reinforced toe guard at the front of the shoe will ensure that any underwater obstacles aren’t going to cause serious injury.

The Line Up: Best Water Shoes for Men

The variety and sheer number of shoes out there can be overwhelming sometimes. Here, we’ve tried to simplify it for you. No matter your sport, your level of expertise, or your budget, the following list has a little something for everyone.

Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0

Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0Weight: 10.0 oz.

Features: S- Trac TPR Outsole, Synthetic Mesh Upper, bungee toggle closure

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Description: These shoes are an economical decision for someone looking for a solid pair of water shoes. They offer protection for your feet, while still being flexible and comfortable in and out of the water. The synthetic mesh upper allows for quick drying and maximum airflow.

The bungee toggle closure makes taking off and putting on a quick and easy process. Speedo’s original S-Trac TPR outsole allows optimal water management and flow around the Speedo Seaside Lace 4.0 while in the water. At 10.0 oz, these shoes are more heavy duty than some water shoes out there, making them a great choice for water sports that take place on rocky beaches.

They are equipped with thin, flexible soles and removable insoles. They are perfect for a spur of the moment hike or a relaxing day at the lake.

Related: The Upswell is another, slightly lighter water-sport focused athletic shoe by Speedo.

Teva Evo

Teva Mens EvoDimensions: 12.2 x 8 x 4.8 inches

Features: EVA midsole, ShocPad Technology, Spider Original rubber sole

Description: The Teva Evo Outdoor Water Shoe is unique in that it looks just like a stylish, everyday sneaker at first. Upon further examination, however, it is also a highly functional water and adventure shoe. It is the perfect shoe for a day in which you’re not exactly sure what you’ll encounter, but you know it’ll be wet!

Maybe a hike? A creek? A quick stop at a rocky beach? A night on the town after an oceanside adventure? Maybe it’s just a rainy day and you want a pair of quick-drying, inconspicuous shoes to wear to work. Whatever the day entails, this is your shoe.

With a synthetic mesh upper, the Evo is a quick-drying, highly ventilated shoe. Additionally, the molded sock-liner eliminates the need to wear soggy, smelly socks. Teva’s EVA midsole, patented ShocPad technology and nylon shank combine to create a shoe with maximum stability, comfort, and support.

The Evo is also equipped with a Spider Original rubber sole which provides superior grip for scrambling up all those luxuriously mossy rocks. Its price is a little more of an investment than other water shoes, but the Evo could easily double as a great all around summertime shoe.

Related: The Teva Churn is an even heftier athletic shoe made for in and around the water.

Vibram Men’s Signa Athletic Boating Shoe

Vibram Mens Signa Athletic ShoeWeight: 3.88 oz

Dimensions: N/A

Description: Stretch polyester mesh, Wave Grip rubber outsole, Drainage holes

Description: The Vibram Signa Athletic Boating Shoe is more expensive than some, but it makes up for the price in its completely unique design and function. At 3.88 oz, this ultra-flexible, ultra-lightweight shoe is incredibly easy to pack and take virtually anywhere.

The unique FiveFingers toe design isn’t for everyone, however. While some people may find the FiveFingers completely natural and the most comfortable shoe they have tried, others might have difficulty getting used to the lack of support and unique feeling of having all five toes separated from each other.

The stretch-polyester mesh allows for quick drying, while the Vibram Wave Grip rubber outsole provides excellent grip for surfing, wakeboarding, boating and other watersports. Drainage holes in the soles keep the wearer from getting soggy and bogged down. Vibram takes pride in making shoes from entirely vegan materials to keep our furry friends happy.

Related: If you like the minimalist feel, The Vibram EL-X cross training shoe is the thinnest of Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes and can very well be used as a water shoe.

Aleader Mesh Slip On

Aleader Mesh Slip OnWeight: N/A

Dimensions: 13.4 x 13.8 x 4.7 inches

Features: Solyte midsole, Water Grip outsole, ComforDry sockliner, drainage holes

Description: The Aleader is a versatile shoe, great for a beach vacation, as drainage holes in the soles allow for maximum water and even sand drainage. Additionally, Aleader’s Solyte midsole makes this a lightweight but durable water shoe with great cushion and arch support: an unexpected but feasible choice for those who want to get off the beaten path or go for a short hike.

The Watergrip outsole is excellent for traction and the ComforDry sock liner keeps feet dry and comfortable and does away with the need for bulky socks.  Its breathable air mesh upper allows for quick drying and, as the name suggests, contributes to the shoe’s simple, slip-on comfort.

In conclusion, this lightweight, comfortable water shoe is a great choice for nearly any water activity and would be a great choice for someone who wants to take part in a variety of different water-related activities.

Related: If you like the features found in the Aleader Slip-on, but aren’t too keen on its style, the Quick Drying Aqua offers a more sneaker-like look with similar features and functions.

Northside Brille II

Northside Brille IIWeight: 3 oz.

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Features: Elastic drawstring and heel pull loop, Neoprene mesh upper, thermoplastic rubber sole, EVA footbed

Description: The Northside Brille II is an affordable water shoe, great for a family vacation, camping, or a beach getaway. The Neoprene mesh upper allows for quick drying and breathability. The tongue and collar padded for extra comfort and the thermoplastic rubber sole provides protection with little added weight.

At just 3 ounces, the Brille is the lightest shoe on our list. Wearing the Brille is almost as comfortable as going barefoot. However, being less supportive and durable than your sneakers or hiking shoes, it probably wouldn’t be the shoe of choice for anyone considering an extended hike through rugged terrain.

The Brille II’s elastic drawstring lacing and heel pull loop make for a quick and easy on-off transition, and let you get out there and enjoy your day without wasting time putting on your shoes. The Northside Brille II is an ideal water shoe for someone looking for low-key comfort and protection.

Dreamcity Men’s Water Shoes

Weight: N/A

Dimensions: N/A

Features: Air mesh upper, Solyte midsole, Water Grip outsole, ComforDry sockliner, drainage holes

Description: These uniquely fashionable water shoes are great for a myriad of water activities. At first glance, they look just like a light sneaker or gym shoe, however, the durable air mesh upper was born for water, allowing the foot to breathe while still offering the protection needed for those of you planning a trip that might involve sharp rocks, fishing hooks, and slippery algae.

A Solyte midsole provides bounce-back and durability without adding any extra weight. The Water Grip outsole provides exceptional traction in slippery conditions while holes in the rubber soles of the shoe and the patented ComforDry sockliner combine to create a shoe that is quick drying and that won’t get bogged down or soggy.  Soft, comfortable, and supportive insoles make this shoe incredibly comfortable for walking.

Related: Try Dreamcity’s Summer Mesh sneakers if you like the feel of their watershoes and want a pair for dry land as well.

Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe

Merrell Mens All Out BlazeWeight: 22 oz.

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Features: Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing system, Vibram® TC5+ outsole, Molded TPU heel counter, ventilated mesh upper

Description: By far the most rugged of the shoes on this list, the Merrell All Out Blaze is a hiking shoe that does extremely well in water, rather than a water shoe that also works for hiking. They are built for extended hikes through rugged, wet terrain.

A ventilated mesh upper makes hot temperatures bearable and fording streams an anxiety-free adventure. The shoes are equipped with Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing system that provides a snug (in the best way), comfortable fit. A Molded TPU heel counter and Vibram® TC5+ outsole make this shoe stable and supportive.

Unlike many of the shoes on this list, the Merrell All Out Blaze are not second-skin, light-as-a-feather, vacation shoes. At 22 ounces, these shoes are durable and offer the highest quality of protection for your feet. The most expensive shoes on our list, these durable shoes are a worthwhile investment for the most rugged adventures.

Related: If you like Merrell’s design and ruggedness, but don’t plan on hiking quite so much, try the All Out Blaze Sieve or Capra Rapid for a shoe more specifically geared toward water activities.

Wave Men’s Waterproof Water Shoes

Wave Mens Waterproof Water ShoesWeight: 8.7 oz.

Features: Slip-on style, rubber and neoprene sole, nylon mesh upper

Description: Compared with the All Out Blaze, the Wave Men’s Water Shoes fall at the opposite end of the durability spectrum. The nylon mesh upper allows for quick drying and the rubber sole offers protection from rocks or hot pavement.

Flexible and comfortable the Wave water shoes come in many different colors and styles. You get what you pay for, however, and they might not last you more than a few outings. These flexible and comfortable water shoes are great for use on a camping trip or vacation, though probably wouldn’t provide enough support our protection for hiking or any sort of treacherous terrain.

They’re a great pair of shoes to toss in your pack just in case, and cheap enough not to worry if they get misplaced or left behind on a family vacation.

Related: For cheap, comfy water shoes for the whole family, check out the Women’s Wave or the Kids Wave.

Getting some ideas?

By now you’ve surely realized that there is an incredible amount of variety out there when it comes to a good pair of water shoes. Before you make your decision, however, you should make sure you carefully consider what activities you plan on doing in your shoes.

Like walking on water

By buying the right pair of shoes and considering your main activities, you can save yourself discomfort and even money. For example, there’s no need to dish out sixty or one hundred dollars on hiking shoes when you plan on lounging on a clean, sandy beach for most of your day.

On the other hand, if you plan on trekking through the wilderness, skimping on your shoes could lead to short term discomfort or, worse, long term foot problems. Buying the right shoe can benefit you and your adventures for years to come.

Hopefully this guide was a helpful resource for anyone looking to buy a new pair of water shoes. Good luck in your search, and let us know how it goes! Feel free to leave comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Samantha Brown

    Some of these water shoes look just like regular shoes and are so cute and stylish. Did have a question about the toe ones? Is there a specific function that wearing toe shoes help with? Are they just for looks? Asking because I think they’re pretty cool but want them to be functional, too.

  • John Jacobs

    These don’t even look like water shoes! That’s so awesome. I’ve been using those cheap super store brand water shoes and they are definitely not holding up. Thanks for the article on how to find a better pair and what to look for! That’s great. I am all about everything outdoors so anytime I can find some practical advice from someone who knows something I get pretty excited.

  • Mark Foster

    One American podiatrist mentioned about “proprioception”, which according to the expert means the “ability to sense the surface when you’re either barefoot or have a minimal surface between your foot and the ground.” This changes how your muscles work. So, when runners train barefoot in an open field, some muscles are strengthened in the process.
    The toe shoes mimic the minimalist feel of being barefoot and are thus, beneficial to the wearer.

  • Mark Foster

    Hi John! Good to have you around. Yes, these water shoes are awesome, aren’t they? I got the Merrel as a gift from my girlfriend and boy are they sturdy! I think strong brands are doing something right so we should invest in their products. Try to find water shoes that have tremendous grip and can do well in long treks by water or by land. 🙂

  • Manas

    Hi Mark, thank you for the review of these shoes. Very helpful. Could use your help in clearing my uncertainty. I’m going for a hike to Havasu falls and am looking for good water shoes which I can use while getting in and out of water and also double as a light weight hiking shoes while moving around to get to other water falls. I have bought the Speedo Seaside lace 4.0 and wondering if this would serve the purpose or should I buy something else. I might not use it a lot after this trip so wondering what I should do. But I need my feet to be protected when I’m playing in the waterfalls and need some grip while hiking the waterfalls. Your advice here would be greatly appreciated .. Thank you !

  • Mark Foster

    Hello there Manas and thanks for dropping by. Now regarding the Speedo Seaside – these are great water shoes but have thin soles. They’re great to use in and out of the water although they don’t offer traction for rocky terrain. If you have to go through rocks using these shoes, your feet will still be protected but due to the thin soles, you’ll most likely feel those pointed things.
    If you need to climb around waterfalls, then I would recommend the Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe or the Teva Evo.

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