Got all the rest of your kayak gear and now looking for some shoes? Whether you are new to the sport or have been involved for years we have the best shoes for kayaking below. From high-fashion style to protection against slippery surfaces to a neoprene upper, we have put together 8 of the best shoes for kayakers out there, with sizes and models for both men and women included. Whether you are a novice or experienced paddler, with our tried and tested reviews we’re sure you can find the best shoes to fit you like a glove for your water sports needs. Happy kayaking!
1. Men's UNEEK
Editor’s Choice #1: If you have ever owned a pair of these then you will agree with us on this one. We found that the Men’s Uneek is a wonderful addition to our kayaking equipment. By not only making men look more fashion-forward but the functionality was unmatched. You don’t even need a kayak to appreciate these water shoes.
The Men’s Uneek is a two-cord system shoe that is setting the standard for men’s outdoor footwear. Not just for kayaking, these shoes can be worn in many situations to satisfy your fashionable side. Looking great is only part of it as this shoe provides top-quality comfort and mobility. We like everything about this overall water shoe.
Available in many different colors you can get a couple of different pairs to accompany many outfits. They have seamlessly paired functionality with great fashion as evidenced by the two-cord fastening system. Even with them looking this good they are made with Cleansport NXT which naturally blocks unwanted odor. Unlike so many others on the market, you will have people coming up to you asking where you got them.
A Second Skin
The form-fitting design hugs your feet in all the right places. It doesn’t feel like your wearing shoes at all yet provides excellent protection starting with the sole. Made from high-traction rubber, the sole is built to protect against any terrain you’re willing to walk on. On wet surfaces, it outshines a lot of its competitors by giving you surprising traction where you need it most.
2. Women's Newport H2
Editor’s Choice #2: Similar to the Men’s Uneek, we think these water shoes are perfect for women kayakers as they provide great protection around the toes to safeguard against injury or any recent pedicures. These water shoes can be worn anywhere that doesn’t have cold water. There are a few styles to choose from and we are confident you will love these.
For the active kayaker, we have selected this shoe for you. The Women’s Newport H2 is great for not only kayaking but many other outdoor activities as well. Use this shoe for anything from long hikes to everyday life because its amazing style will never leave you feeling out of place.
Durable To The Max
What separated this from the Venice H2 is its overall ruggedness. There are now more straps around your foot to maintain a tighter fit. The larger toe guard is also apparent and a very welcome feature when you find yourself “off-roading”. They also feature a non-marking rubber outer sole for extra protection to your feet and floors.
Getting The Right Size
We have discovered that this shoe tends to favor a smaller size than other footwear companies. If you normally wear a size 8, then consider ordering an 8.5. These shoes are very popular so chances are you already know someone with a pair who will let you try them on beforehand. They will not shrink when you wash them as they are machine washable and feature a quick-dry lining. This is a wonderful feature and ensures you can take this shoe anywhere.
3. Astral TR1 Merge Water Shoe - Men's
Designed as more of a hiking shoe, the Astral TR1 Merge Water Shoe – Men’s is perfect for you if you like kayaking in hard-to-reach parts of the world. It is very comfortable in the water due to its quick-drying mesh material. Because it is thin it also breathes very well keeping your feet cool on those long, hot days.
This kayak shoe can do more than just go kayaking. It is an ankle-high style of shoe so when it’s securely fastened it will give you more confidence when walking on uneven surfaces. This also keeps your feet dryer when in the kayak and keeps out unwanted debris. The sole itself is abrasion-resistant and will probably be one of the first things you notice when first getting them.
We found that this shoe will benefit you the most if you like exploring those trails and paths that are not on the beaten path. It has a super comfortable insole that not only provides arch support but works to balance your foot on uneven surfaces. It also reduces unwanted odors as the insole is treated with polygiene. This kayaking shoe was made for you to go anywhere you like while keeping your feet protected and supported.
4. NRS Kinetic Water Shoes 2020
For a dedicated kayaking shoe, the NRS Kinetic Water Shoes 2020 are top performers. Some kayaking shoes are larger and bulky to accommodate for hiking or everyday use. These are none of those things and are best suited for someone looking for comfort and mobility.
Keep Your Feet Warm And Protected
Given its design, we found it very surprising how well these keep your feet warm. The upper section of this water shoe is made from 3mm of terraprene neoprene and treated with titanium. That is science talk for warm and protective. Also equipped with stretchy rubber bands that conform to your foot to make it feel like you’re not even wearing them.
Spacious And Secure
Yes, there is a lot of science and research that went into making this shoe and you will notice all of that over time. But from the first time you take these shoes out of the box, you will be impressed by the draw cord right away. Located discreetly at the top this feature secures and comfortably keeps your shoe where you want it. An extra-large toe-box also gives you a little extra space to stretch out on those long rides.
5. NRS Boundary Shoe 2020
Acting as more of a kayaking boot than a kayaking shoe, the NRS Boundary Shoe 2020 is perfect for rugged terrain. The first thing you will notice is the extra protection above the ankle. While these may not be the most fashionable, if you are trekking through some thick brush then this pair of kayaking shoes will provide great protection.
The Perfect Second Pair
While maybe not for everyday use, there will be many days where you’ll be glad you have them. At 7mm thick, the neoprene insole is one of the thickest. Not only that, they have added another 2mm of plastic shim to the rubber outsole. This addition will not only keep your feet warm but also guard against sharp objects.
The Incredible Upper Part
The main feature of these kayaking shoes is the 5mm neoprene upper part. It’s blind-stitched and double-taped which means it keeps water and debris out. Although they are slightly more cumbersome to put on when compared to more traditional kayaking shoes, the quick lace cord lock makes this easier than you may think. Definitely one of the best kayaking shoes on this list.
6. NRS Paddle Water Shoe - Women's
Designed specifically for women, the NRS Paddle Water Shoe – Women’s is a breakthrough in kayaking shoes. Featuring a low profile design on a mid-ankle height boot, this kayaking shoe is extremely versatile. We love it because it combines protection, comfort, and a bit of styling as well. The styling is noticeable right off the bat with a little splash of color worked into the side.
Made With Your Feet In Mind
While the protection and performance are great, the comfort level is there as well. It is constructed with titanium which reflects heat onto your feet to keep them warm and dry. They have also added a vapor-loft lining which feels a bit like fleece but is very quick drying, repels water, and is super comfortable.
Convenient And Durable
With all that this kayaking shoe has to offer, we didn’t want to forget about these last few features. The overall strength of this shoe is amazing but we are very impressed by the thick rubber outsole. Measuring at 3mm thick makes this a very high-traction sole. And, with a zippered closure, this shoe comes on and off very fast. Just try to keep sand and other debris out of the zipper.
7. Astral Brewer 2.0 Men’s Water Shoes
You can wear this shoe anywhere, and we mean ANYWHERE. With a great look and capabilities to match, you may not need any other kayaking shoe again. We love the look of this shoe and wanted to confirm if it’s all for show or not. Thankfully it protects your feet just as well as it looks.
The Performance Side
Let’s talk business first, this is one of the great water shoes for kayaking. Drainage holes throughout ensure that water can escape quickly. Complementing the drainage holes is its quick-drying canvas material design to keep your feet as dry as possible. There is also mesh venting at the top to allow hot air to escape and also, the laces are water-resistant.
For The Fashion Icons
If you’re planning on having a great day of kayaking adventures then afterward, heading to a fun yacht party then these are the best kayaking shoes for you. These high surface contact rubber outsoles are also non-marking. We already mentioned the quick-drying features so no problems there but for an extra bit of attention, they also have a built-in sock liner. Keep your feet safe, comfortable, and looking good with these water shoes.
8. Astral Rassler 2.0 Water Shoe
With similar features to the Brewer 2.0 model, it is very common to compare these two kayaking shoes. The Rassler 2.0 is a little more rugged than its cocktail-party-inspired brother. Built to withstand some tough trails and get you deep into the woods and find that one spot no one else has found yet. The Rassler 2.0 Water Shoe can get you there and back in extreme comfort.
Prepared For Anything
Its high-friction rubber sole makes it one of the best water shoes for kayaking and to take off-roading. It provides a very sticky base that you will notice on all slippery surfaces including wet rocks. It is also non-marking just like the Brewer 2.0 and abrasion-resistant. Geometric balancing in this shoe means that it keeps your foot balanced from heel to the ball on uneven surfaces.
More Great Features
We’re not done yet! Drainage holes built into the side work to expel water immediately as they are located right at the midsole. To aid in the process, the upper part of this model is made with a mesh material that allows your feet to dry while you’re walking. If you are looking for those secret kayaking spots then this shoe will be able to get you there.
For kayakers, cold weather and everything that comes with it, we help you with what to search for when choosing from the menu of shoes out there.
What Are Water Shoes?
Water shoes are footwear made for people seeking protection when going kayaking or participating in various other water sports like canoeing or SUPing. Sometimes referred to as paddling shoes, they are designed to keep your feet dry, fit like a glove, and provide excellent traction. Different models are available for men and women.
Depending on what kind of water you will be spending the most time in there are kayaking shoes for everyone. Available in the different ankle lengths will be the first decision you will have to make. What kind of terrain will you be traversing? Will you be submerged in water or looking to stay in your kayak as much as possible? Water footwear has come a long way and really adds to the enjoyment of the sport.
Types Of Water Shoes
Different levels of kayakers may search for slightly different shoes; see below for the main options.
Water shoes provide a great amount of protection and comfort while still looking great. They are usually low-profile and don’t extend past the ankle. They are very popular as some of them look like casual sneakers.
Available for men and women, a water shoe is a great way to improve your kayaking and look great when at the supermarket afterward. Kayak water shoes can protect your feet against common debris and mostly dry. Should your feet get a little wet, some of them are constructed with quick-drying mesh and neoprene insoles.
Water sandals are a little different than kayaking shoes but still have a place in our hearts. Nothing beats the freedom that only a water sandal can provide. Even though it allows water in and may lack some of the protective features, there’s nothing like kayaking with a pair of water sandals.
Your focus here should be on the soles and to ensure that neoprene has been utilized in the upper part. Neoprene is a modern marvel that provides comfort and odor reduction properties. While sandals can’t protect your feet as well as some of the other options, they make up for it with comfort and versatility to wear anywhere.
By far the most rugged of the water footwear family. Water booties come with many options to choose from. Depending on how “off-road” you plan to go there is a boot for that. Starting with the ankle-height option, these are great for many different conditions from warm weather to cold water. The material used is still very breathable so your feet can vent hot air in warmer climates. Because of its quick-drying properties, even in cold water, these types of booties will still maintain the right kind of heat.
If you’re looking for more ruggedness then there are boots made to go all the way up to just below your knee. Take note of ones with laces because if you are going through some thick brush then you will want the seal to be tight to keep out water and debris.
Why Should You Wear Water Shoes?
Water shoes provide many advantages to you while out and about in nature. We never know what’s out there and that is part of the fun but being careful and preparing yourself will keep you having fun much longer.
Protection — We found that a formidable sole is a huge advantage among water shoes on the market today. With the technology incorporated, these won’t sacrifice weight or flexibility to give you overall protection.
Comfort — Nothing is worse than having to cut your day short because of sore feet or an injury. Water shoes provide comfort beyond the water and in some cases are better than street shoes.
Water-Resistant — If you are like us and love spending as much time on the water as possible then it’s important to try and get a pair of shoes that will either keep the water out or dry quickly. This prevents foul odors and from getting all pruney.
Choosing The Best Water Shoes For You
Determining your level of activity is an important aspect of choosing the right footwear. For warm weather and light use, choose a sandal style or definitely something that stays below your ankle.
Fit & Comfort
While others may focus on style, you will paddle right past them by seeking out a pair that fits perfectly. We found that a lot of water shoes measure slightly smaller than traditional street shoes. Keep this in mind if you plan on visiting cold water locations as you may want to add a layer of neoprene socks.
Speaking of neoprene, this is a great material to have in a water shoe. Neoprene acts like a wet suit for your feet by trapping water in a thin layer of material. Eventually, your body heat will dry it out and will keep your feet dry.
The weight of your water shoes is important if you plan on doing some long walks to hidden spots. Neoprene is a very common material used and it is very light. For the best kayaking experience stick with shoes that are also very light. This will make it easier to get in and out of the kayak. Only be concerned with weight if you are looking for a bootie-style water shoe and the weight in these can fluctuate somewhat drastically.
Frequently Asked Questions
The shoes you should wear when you go kayaking should have an excellent rubber outsole, contain neoprene and be able to fit in your kayak comfortably. Anything that does not surpass your ankle should suffice these few suggestions. Beyond that, to select which shoe you should wear will depend on where you will be with your kayak.
The best shoes for kayaking are the Men’s Uneek. This is due to the overall construction and comfort. Being a sandal it will provide you with the most breathability and it is very light. It has a unique two-cord lacing system that makes them easy to take on or off while still providing a secure fit. Not just for men, there is a version for women as well.
Yes, you can kayak barefoot but it adds a level of risk. More kayakers are switching to water shoes as they provide protection from rocks and other debris. Years ago some would even just wear an old pair of sneakers. Thankfully we don’t have to do that anymore as the invention of kayaking shoes or water shoes has given kayakers a reason to get out there even more.
The best kayak shoes will be the ones that fulfill your personal style, comfort and safety requirements. Take into account where you will be kayaking mostly and be realistic about your expectations. There is a long menu of kayak shoes to choose from and if you’re in doubt, regular kayakers may want to get a few different pairs for each separate occasion.