Water sports can be a fun and healthy way to spend a summer afternoon, whether kayaking, tubing, or spending the day at the beach. The problem is that it can be a bit dangerous walking around on the slippery, sharp rocks and gravel beneath the waves, not to mention any rough surfaces you may need to walk on to get down to the water.
That’s why it’s important to find the best water shoes for women available, to ensure you have the traction and protection needed to keep you having fun all day long.
What Are Water Shoes?
Though made of lightweight material, water shoes are extremely durable footwear designed to give you the traction and protection you need when walking through the water. Some of the features of the best women’s water shoes include:
- Extra Protection: Water shoes come with full coverage over the feet that can prevent abrasions or cuts from sharp rocks. They also have a closed toe to keep you safe from hard objects you may not see beneath the water.
Many of these shoes are also made of mesh material that prevents debris from entering the shoe and getting trapped beneath your foot. These shoes can be used on hiking trails on your way to your watery destination point, though not all are designed for daily use out of the water.
- Traction: Because you are going to be mainly using these shoes on wet, slippery rocks and gravel, water shoes have the traction necessary to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
This is also true for slick docks or boat surfaces, as well as any loose gravel you may encounter on a hiking trail or road leading down to the water.
- Drainage: The last thing you want when out on the water is a shoe that is heavy and uncomfortable because it holds the water instead of allowing it to drain. The material of a water shoe gives you that drainage, either through the mesh or through perforations in the soles that allow the water to flow smoothly out.
This also helps the water shoes to dry faster than other outdoor shoes, even while you are still wearing them. This ventilation and drainage also keeps the shoes from growing mold and developing a nasty odor nobody wants to deal with.
- Comfort: You may worry about wearing water shoes all day, especially if you have foot issues that require extra support for happy feet. Water shoes are not only lightweight and flexible, but they have excellent midsoles that give you the necessary support you may need, so you don’t suffer any foot pain even if walking for miles upstream.
These shoes are also breathable to keep your feet at the right temperature, but keep in mind that the colder the water, the cooler your feet will be.
Water shoes are not insulated for colder temperatures, but some are warmer than others.
- Variety: There are as many colors and styles of water shoes as there are running or hiking shoes, so you should have no trouble finding a pair to suit your particular style and needs.
When to Wear Water Shoes
You can wear water shoes during any type of water sport or adventure.
You may not think you need them, but you never know when you’ll encounter a slippery or rough surface that the water shoes can protect you from. Such water activities include:
- Kayaking, canoeing, and other types of boating
- Water sports
- Swimming, both in a pool or at a beach
- Water Fitness
- Hiking on wetter terrains
Now that you know what to look for in your next pair of water shoes, it’s time to start shopping. With so many brands to choose from, you may not know where to begin, so here’s a list of highly rated women’s water shoes to help you decide which ones may be best for you.
Top Products on The Market
Ahnu Women’s Tilden V
Weight: 7.4 oz
Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches
Specific Features: Dual density EVA midsole and footbed, integrated adjustable webbing, adjustable heel straps, ESS plate on the outsole, Nunentum Traverse technology heel clip
Best Use: Backpacking, hiking (in water or on dry land), water aerobics, walking, boating, good on all types of terrain
Description: These lightweight water Ahnu Women’s Tilden V Shoe have a dual purpose, giving you the protection you would get from a normal shoe combined with the breathability and comfort of a sandal.
The dual density EVA midsole and footbed provide you with excellent shock absorption, so your feet stay relaxed and pain-free after hours of hiking.
The webbing is adjustable, so you always have the perfect fit no matter what size your feet are. The heel straps are also adjustable, so your heel stays secure in the shoes, keeping the risk of injury to a minimum. The outsole contains an ESS Plate, which helps to protect your feet from sharp rocks or other harmful debris.
The material is made of quick drying mesh, which will keep your feet comfortable all day. The water will not damage this material and if they happen to get a bit muddy, they are easy to clean using just a bit of soap and water.
These shoes have the traction you need on multiple surfaces, including slippery rocks, gravelly stream beds, or dusty trails.
The only issue some have had with these water shoes is that there have been times when small rocks get trapped in the shoes beneath the feet, but the rocks are easy to remove with a little shake. There are three colors to choose from, including Dahlia (purple), Colony Blue, or Black.
Related: Though they have a wide variety of shoes, boots, and sandals, this is the only pair of water shoes made by Ahnu. There are a few new colors available, though, including two new blues and a different style of black.
NRS Women’s Kicker Remix
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 5 inches
Specific Features: 3mm Terraprene neoprene with titanium upper and insole, shoe-top draw cord, patterned rubber sole with 2mm plastic shim, armor patches
Best Use: Kayaking, surfboarding, swimming, boating, rafting
Description: These compact NRS Women’s Kicker Remix are easy to slip on, with no laces to fuss with and only a simple drawstring to tighten them around your ankles. This can be secured tightly and won’t wiggle free during your water adventures.
The upper material and the insole are made of 3mm Terraprene neoprene that offer your feet the insulation needed when in colder water to stay warm and comfortable. They also have titanium armored patches that resist any damage from abrasions or scratches.
There are integrated rubber bands in these shoes that help to improve your lateral stability when rocking your foot from side to side on a surfboard. The patterned rubber sole gives you the traction you need on all types of surfaces you may encounter, and are non-marking, which is great if you happen to wear them when crossing your kitchen floor.
This sole is raised over the toes and up the sides of the shoes, giving you a bit more protection if your feet happen to slip when walking. With a 2mm plastic shim in the sole, you don’t need to worry about hurting your feet when walking on sharp rocks.
These water shoes are made a bit small, so be sure to order a size larger than normal to ensure a proper fit.
Related: NRS has numerous water shoes available, including the Astral Brewess, the Astral Loyak, and the Crush water shoe. All of these models are great for water use, but can also be used for daily wear.
They also have laces, which is a bit more of a hassle than the slip-on feature with the drawstring on the Kicker Remix. For multi-purpose use, any of the alternate shoes would be great, but if you need a shoe strictly for water use, the Remix is the best choice.
NRS Women’s Paddle
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 6 inches
Specific Features: Gusset-backed YKK entry zipper, 3 mm Terraprene neoprene with heat-reflecting titanium, VaporLoft lining, 3 mm high-traction sole, 5 mm neoprene insole
Best Use: Rowing, kayaking, boating, water sports
Description: The NRS Paddle Wet shoes have a high-top design that keep your feet warm and dry, no matter the conditions or the temperature of the water.
They have a wide-opening zipper that makes these shoes easy to slip on and off without worrying about them coming loose when in the water or on the boat. The Terraprene neoprene contains heat-reflecting titanium, so your feet will be insulated even in chilly water.
The lining is made of soft, fleece-like VaporLoft, which not only keeps the water out but also dries quickly. Together, the high-traction sole and the neoprene insole give you the protection you will need when walking over rugged terrain and sharp stones.
The sole is also raised, wrapping around both the toe and the heel to keep your foot protected from harm. The outside ankle of the boots also have extra padding to protect those areas as well. There are stretchy rubber support bands throughout these wetshoes that help to improve your foot’s lateral stability without adding a great deal of weight.
All these features keep your feet safe from any scrapes, bumps and twists that you may suffer without them. These boots are made smaller than other brands, so be sure to order a size larger than you normally would.
Related: Though there are a wide variety of these high-topped, low-profile wetshoes for men, these are the only ones that NRS has produced so far designed for women.
Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties
Weight: 9.3 oz
Dimensions: Shoe dimensions unavailable
Specific Features: 3 mm neoprene upper, rubber laminated sole, Y-pull Velcro strap
Best Use: Kayaking, surfing, wind surfing, stand up paddling, rafting, kite boarding, sailing, swimming
Description: These updated Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties are based on the original Sea to Summit low profile Flex Bootie. Such updates include the fit and the shape, as well as the new secure Y-pull Velcro closure system, which is adjustable to your specific foot size.
There is also an adjustable shock cord to tighten the bootie around your ankle to keep a minimum of water from seeping in. This cord isn’t airtight, though, and you may have to drain your shoes now and then to keep your feet from shriveling in the excess water trapped in the booties.
The stitching has been done in the best possible way to reduce any rubbing on your skin, keeping your foot comfortable during your trip. The rubber sole is flexible and offers the sensitivity of a barefoot shoe. This means that though you may still feel the gravel and rocks beneath your feet, you are still protected from cuts or injuries.
There is not a ton of traction on these shoes, though, so you’ll need to be careful when walking on slippery areas. The neoprene upper material has a synthetic lining which keeps your feet warm, but won’t be able to handle colder temperatures. These booties are not just for ladies, either, they are actually a unisex bootie, with a gray and yellow color that is a favorite of both genders.
Related: The only other water shoes Sea to Summit has available is the Blitz Booties, which have a high cuff for overlapping a wetsuit and a thicker sole for protection against sharp rocks and other debris when walking longer distances.
They also have more traction for slippery, wet areas. For more heavy duty water sports, these may be a better option, but for regular day trips where you spend most of your time in the water instead of on land, the Ultra Flex booties are a lighter and better choice.
Keen Sage Slip On
Weight: 5.6 oz
Specific Features: Hydrophobic synthetic rubber mesh lining, Ariaprene and synthetic upper material, compression molded EVA midsole, non-marking rubber outsole
Best Use: Kayaking, boating, beachwear, water sports
Description: These stylish women’s Keen Sage Slip On Water Shoes are made of lightweight upper material that has a synthetic rubber lining, which is a great hypoallergenic alternative to the usual neoprene found in most other water shoe brands.
The midsole is compression molded EVA for maximum comfort, with a metatarsal ridge to give you the most natural support for your feet. The razor siping on the rubber outsole gives you the traction needed on slippery surfaces and won’t mark up your boat or anything else you walk on.
The metatomical EVA molded footbed is removable, so you can slip in an insole if you need to. These shoes slip on and off easily, with a secure fit lace system that holds the lace tight throughout the day.
And at the end of the day when it’s time to take them off, you won’t need to worry about stinky shoes, thanks to the Cleansport NXT system. Many of those who have purchased these shoes found them to be a bit big, so it may be necessary to order ½ to a whole size smaller for the proper fit.
Related: Though they have a wide variety of boots, hiking shoes and other assorted footwear, these are the only water shoes available from Keen.
They do have a few pairs of water sandals, including the Newport H2, the Whisper and the Clearwater CNX, all of which can be used for various water sports, but the Sage Slips are the only ones with the full coverage and insulation preferred by many boaters.
Chaco Women’s Outcross Evo 1
Weight: Weight not available
Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches
Specific Features: Combined mesh, webbing and synthetic leather upper material, LUVSEAT PU midsole, Nylon shank, non-marking Eco-Tread rubber compound with 3mm lug depth, speed lacing system
Best Use: Kayaking, cave tubing, hiking, water sports
Description: Not only are these Chaco Women’s Outcross Evo 1 Water Shoes great for all kinds of water activities, they are also the perfect shoes for hiking or even all-day wear during your other regular activities.
The upper material is a combination of mesh, polyester jacquard webbing, and synthetic leather, which creates a breathable yet durable water shoe.
The sidewalls are open, giving you great ventilation to keep your feet comfortable, and there is an Aegis odor shield and an antimicrobial application to keep your shoes smelling like they are supposed to. The laces are simple to tighten with only one pull, and then lock them and the tongue into place.
The LUVSEAT PU midsole is designed specifically for women, and these shoes also have a nylon shank that gives you the stability you need on all surfaces. The non-marking EcoTread outsole is made of 25% recycled rubber, with a 3mm lug depth and molded siping that gives you the necessary traction in the water and on dry land.
There are opposing thoughts on shoe size from previous customers, some claiming they needed a half size smaller, while others requiring a larger shoe than usual. It’s probably best to just order your regular size and try them out for yourself. There are seven different color combinations to choose from, so you should be able to find the right ones to meet your style.
Related: There are numerous Outcross water shoes available from Chaco. The models that are closest to the Outcross 1 are the Outcross Free and the Outcross Pro Lace. The Free shoes are lightweight, minimalist water shoes that are perfect for those who like to travel light.
The Pro Lace model are better suited for hard-core water athletes or river guides, both of whom need the traction and durability a workhorse like these can offer. Though both great shoes, for regular daily wear or weekend water sports, the Outcross 1 would be your best choice.
Salomon Techamphibian 3
Weight: 9.17 oz
Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 5 inches
Specific Features: Molded EVA midsole, open air mesh combined with nylon upper material, anti-debris mesh sides, non-marking water Contragrip outsoles, Quicklace system with lace pocket
Best Use: Rafting, hiking, canoeing, swimming
Description: Not only were these Salomon Techamphibian 3 Women’s Water Shoes are designed specifically for women, they were tested by them as well to ensure perfection. The upper material is a single layer of open air mesh that has been combined with a thin nylon layer to give you the ventilation needed while still remaining resistant to abrasions.
The side mesh keeps rocks and other debris from slipping in under your feet. The molded EVA midsole is light, yet stable. They are cushioned to keep your feet pain-free and even have drainage holes to let the water out, reducing drying time. The adjustable heel straps can be released to create a slip on shoe when needed.
The Quicklace system allows you to tighten your laces with only one pull, and the handy lace pocket means your laces won’t come loose while out on the water. Some have expressed concerns over the thinness of the laces, thinking they may break when wearing these shoes, but that is part of the design.
These laces have a breakaway system, so you can easily remove yourself from any tangles or snags from underwater debris. The non-marking Water Contragrip gives you the necessary traction in slippery and wet conditions.
Those who have bought these have said they needed a smaller size, but keep in mind that if you are wearing them with socks, your normal size is best. And when they get dirty, you can throw them into the washing machine and air dry them overnight.
Related: As well as a pair designed for women, there are also Men’s Techamphibian 3 water shoes available from Salomon, so there is no need for your male companions to steal yours.
When out on the water, there is nothing worse than slipping or stubbing your toe on a large piece of unseen underwater debris. Though not necessarily life-threatening, such injuries can keep you from enjoying your time in the water, and could even end in a visit to the emergency room.
Safety is always the best choice, and having a pair of water shoes on can keep your feet protected and firmly beneath you. If you have found some water shoes that you feel are as good as the ones we’ve reviewed today, please feel free to leave a comment below.