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What are the Best Shoes for Kayaking?

Kayaking and other water sports require specific shoes that provide protection from the cold, the rocks, animals stings and other items but still remain flexible to allow maneuvering when needed. With the right shoes, you can enjoy your kayaking without a worry in the world.

For the best kayaking shoes, you need a pair that fits well, is made of the right material, height, weight, and size. You also need to put in mind the season and the terrain you’re kayaking in. We put these aspects into consideration then came up with a list of the best shoes for kayaking for you to choose from.

1. Neo Sport Premium Neoprene Men & Women Wetsuit Boots

The Neo Sport Wetsuit Boots come in thicknesses of 3mm, 5mm and 7mm and cover all the way to the ankles and part of the shin. It’s made of synthetic neoprene with durable glued and sewn construction. It comes with a puncture resistant sole to protect your feet from all sharp objects such as rocks and coral.

Neo Sport Premium Neoprene kayak shoes
Neosport bootie

This pair of kayaking shoes has a #10 heavy duty zipper enabling you to easily put them on and take them off. There is a WEB (Water Entry Barrier) behind the zipper to prevent the entry of excessive water. The sole has a rugged traction to prevent slipping on slippery surfaces.

Pros

  • Made of high-quality synthetic neoprene.
  • Available in 3mm, 5mm and 7mm thicknesses.
  • #10 heavy duty zipper that’s durable and easy to use.
  • Puncture resistant sole.
  • Durable sewn and glued construction.
  • Water entry barrier under zipper keeps off excess water.
  • Available from sizes 4 to 16 for both men and women.

Cons

  • Some customers recommend you get a size larger for the best fitting.

These are the best shoes for kayaking and most other water sports.

2. Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandal

Chaco Men’s Classic sandals are one of the few sandals we can recommend for your activities in and out of the water. They’re made of 100% textile material with a synthetic sole. There are polyester jacguard webbings on the upper wraps which surround the foot for comfort and durability.

Chaco Men's water sandals
Chaco Men’s Z2 Sandals

You also get a toe loop for a secure and customized fit. They also come with a durable and adjustable high-tensile webbing heel riser and a LUVSEAT PU midsole which keeps the feet comfortable in and out of the water. The antimicrobial application on the sandals controls the odor keeping them fresh and pleasant.

Pros

  • Sandals keep the feet free.
  • Made of 100% textile material with a synthetic sole for durability.
  • Durable and adjustable high-tensile webbing heel risers.
  • Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber outsole with a 3.5mm deep lug.
  • Toe loop for customizable and secure fit.
  • Polyester jacguard webbing on the upper wraps keep the foot secure in the sandal.
  • LUVSEAT PU midsole for comfort.
  • Antimicrobial application for odor control.

Cons

  • Offer less protection than shoes.

If you kayak in warm waters and a gentle terrain, these are the best shoes for your sport. They offer lots of freedom and protection for the sole of your feet.

3. Merrell All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe

If you want a shoe that’s made for all types of sports, then look no further than the Merrell All Out Blaze. You can use it for kayaking, hiking, running and many other activities and it’ll feel at home no matter the task you sue them for.

Merrell hiking and water shoes-multipurpose
Merrell Shoes

For their design, they dry very fast leaving you to carry out other tasks out of the water. We love the fact that they don’t soak up water and even when underwater, they still feel light and comfortable. They’re also made of the most durable materials ensuring you use them for ages.

Pros

  • Quick-drying design.
  • Can be used for multiple purposes.
  • Durable materials.
  • Great traction.
  • Offer great protection from hard and sharp surfaces.
  • Very comfortable.

Cons

  • Can get heavy immediately out of the water.

If you need a single shoe for your activities both in the water and on land, the Merrell All Out Blaze are the best option you have.

4. Womens Men’s Water Shoes Barefoot Quick Dry Shoes

These shoes from Kararao are among the lightest thanks to being made of Lycra material and a light rubber sole. The Lycra is vented and thus soft and breathable and dry very quickly once you come out of the water.

Barefoot women and men's water shoes

The shoes, being light and flexible, can be easily folded into a small size for which you can easily put in a corner of your bag. The elastic drawstring makes adjusting the shoe to the perfect fit an easy task. Inside the shoe there’s a skin-friendly lining which offer comfort whether on land or in the water. The sole has 7 drainage holes to allow fast drying once out of the water.

Pros

  • Made of light yet durable Lycra material.
  • Rubber sole to provide protection and traction.
  • The Lycra is vented to be breathable, light and to dry quickly.
  • Can be folded for ease of transport.
  • Elastic drawstring makes it easy to get the perfect fit.
  • Skin-friendly lining inside the shoe.
  • Drainage holes make it quick-drying once out of the water.
  • Available in more than 30 colors.

Cons

  • Find the right fit for your shoes or else it’ll be too loose.

These are very light shoes which makes them feel like a second, more durable skin when in use. we highly recommend this pair.

5. NRS Desperado Wetshoes

Another kayaking shoe looking like a boot, the NRS Desperado Wetshoe has a 3mm high-traction sole with a 2mm plastic shim for protecting the feet from roots, rocks and other objects that might hurt you. The highly stretchy 3mm Terreprene neoprene provides both comfort and protection from harm and the cold.

NRS Desparado shoes for water activities
NRS

On the inside of the shoes is a layer of VaporLoft material which has a soft and fleece-like feeling. It not only feels great on the feet, it also repels water and dries up very fast once you’re out of the water. The toe box has a natural shape making you comfortable even if you wear them for hours on end. On the sides are stretchy rubber bands which improve the comfort and fitting of the shoe. They add lateral stability to the shoe at all levels.

Pros

  • 3mm thickness provides protection from harm and the cold.
  • 3mm high traction sole with 2mm plastic shim offer stability and protection.
  • VaporLoft lining adds comfort and dries fast.
  • Naturally shaped toe box makes the shoes comfortable.
  • Rubber bands on the sides provide lateral stability.

Cons

  • Some customers recommend you get a size larger for the best fitting.

Besides the slightly smaller sizes, the shows are perfect and offer great protection no matter the weather and terrain you decide to tackle.

6. Wave Runner Water Shoes for Women

Coming in luminous red and green colors, the Wave Runner Water Shoes come with a soft nonslip sole that keeps you stable in and out of the water. The design of the shoes also prevents the buildup of blisters from interacting with water and sand with a soft inside layer.

Wave Runner waters shoes
Wave runner

The material used to craft the shoes is breathable and stretchy providing a tight yet comfortable fit. It also means that the shoes dry fast once you get out of the water. We love the minimalist nature of the shoes and the luminous colors make them a joy to wear on your next kayaking trip.

Pros

  • Anti-slip sole keeps you steady both in and out of the water.
  • Can be used for many different sports.
  • Prevents the formation of blisters on the feet.
  • Breathable materials for comfort and quick drying.
  • Vibrant colors give them a great look. 
  • Drainage holes eliminate excessive water for comfort and quick drying.

Cons

  • The sizes are bigger hence the need to get a smaller size.

Apart from the sizing, the shoes are perfect for your water activities.

7. Aleader Men’s Mesh Slip on Water Shoes

Another water shoe that could easily pass for a sneaker on the streets, the Aleader Mesh Slip Water Shoe has a great rubber sole that prevents slipping whether on dry land or under water and can thus be used for many activities.

Aleader Mesh Slip On water shoes
ALeader Footwear

The upper part is made of breathable materials which make it easy to dry while providing lots of comfort on your end. There is a ComforDry sockliner which provides cushioning in high performance cases.

Pros

  • Breathable upper side provides quick drying and comfort when in use.
  • Water Grip outsole provides great traction in both wet and dry conditions.
  • Solyte midsole provides great durability and bounce-back for faster movement.
  • ComforDry sockliner provides more comfort, dries fast and is healthier on the foot.
  • Has drain holes for faster drying when out of the water.

Cons

  • The soles might collect small pebbles.

At the right size, these shoes are a marvel to the feet for kayaking.

Any of these shoes will keep your feet comfortable and safe when out kayaking. Always make sure you get the right size since some pairs come at a smaller or larger size than they’re stated.

Kayaking with Dog
A man enjoying a kayaking session with a dog

Buy guide: what to look for when buying kayaking shoes

To get the right shoes for kayaking or other water sports, consider the following aspects:

Material

The material used to make your kayaking shoes needs to be comfortable, flexible and highly durable against the salty water, chlorine and the abrasion from the rocks and sand. Most shoes are made with neoprene since it has the right qualities. Other materials such as titanium can be added to add to the strength of the shoe but may increase the price of the pie significantly.

The soles of the shoes should be made with durable yet highly flexible rubber to keep the shoe comfortable in the water. The rubber should also have anti-slip properties to keep you from slipping in the water and on the land.

Both materials should also have the properties to dry fast when you come out of the water. They should also be inert in that they don’t react with the skin.

The season

The weather will dictate whether your go for a thin shoe or even sandals when hitting the water or thick ankle-length boots. If you’re in the winter, you’re better off going for thick protective shoes rather than sandals or thin ones. In the heat of the summer, you’ll need something light and breathable for comfort.

The terrain

When it comes to kayaking, you could be dealing with some rocky terrain which requires that you get shoes with the right sole to protect you from the knocks and cuts of the rocks. Unlike diving in the sea where chances are low that you’ll meet rocks and twigs, kayaking requires strong soles that offer good protection.

The fit

Kayaking is a high adrenaline sport which requires good response times to stay in the kayak and deal with other tricky situations. For this reason, your shoes should fit tightly enough to allow for quick responses in such situations. Always find the right fit for the best use case scenarios with your shoes.

Height and weight

For the height of the shoes, higher shoes offer more protection be it from the cold or rocks and twigs compared to shorter ones. For this reason, get higher shoes such as boots for tougher and colder conditions compared to shorter ones.

The weight of the shoe should as low as possible for the best user experience. If they’re too heavy, it’ll be a bother and a distraction in a sport requiring very fast responses when dealing with rapid downstream.

Size of the shoe

Sizing and fitting go hand in hand as they determine how comfortable you will be with your shoes. As stated before, the shoe should be as tight and comfortably possible for the best response times. Any size larger or smaller won’t be a good fit for your shoes.

With these aspects in mind, you should be able to select the right shoes for your kayaking expeditions.