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Water Shoes for Hiking or Snorkeling: Your Complete Guide

If you’ve ever gone hiking, snorkeling, diving, or kayaking, you’ll understand the importance and benefits of wearing quality water shoes. In fact, any outdoor activity that requires water or wet conditions necessitates the need for water shoes.

In case you are not familiar with them, water shoes are a type of footwear specifically designed to provide safety and traction for your feet during water sports, but also when hiking in wet conditions, or in river beds. You’ll be safe when walking in a rocky or slippery environment, which is common to all water bodies.

They are lightweight, comfortable, keep your feet warm in the water, and dry faster than other footwear. No matter the type of water sport you enjoy, there’ll always be a water shoe that’s right for you.

There are tons of water shoes available in the market as you’d expect. And finding the best ones can be a very confusing and difficult task. But don’t panic, we’ll provide you with an extensive guide. You need to know the features to look out for in water shoes so you’ll be able to choose one that fits your activities, right? We thought so.

So what makes a water shoe great? What are the things you should watch out for? We’ll answer those questions and many more below.

Types of Water Shoes

Well, you need to understand the types of water shoes if you are to correctly choose one that will be appropriate for your outdoor activities. Sometimes the classification of water shoes can be a bit confusing as people classify them differently.

However, a general way of classifying water shoes is based on the activities they’ll be used for. Under this classification, we have aqua shoes, wet shoes, water sandals, boat shoes, five-finger shoes, and beach shoes. Note that some water shoes are very versatile and can be used for more than one activity.

Aqua shoes are designed to function well both in and out of water. They are also durable enough to withstand hiking or walking.

Wet shoes on the other hand are primarily designed to be used in water. They are very lightweight and are usually made with neoprene, the same type of material used to manufacture swimsuits. If you are to use them on land, then it must be for short distances.

Water Sandals aren’t really sandals as the name suggests. No, they are also shoes but provide you with the same benefits you’d get from a sandal. They are very comfortable to wear and drain water extremely fast.

Boat shoes are meant to be used on boats as the name suggests. They are also used on decks which are often very slippery. And they are usually made with anti-slip materials. Five-finger shoes are the latest innovation in the water shoe niche and have pockets that your toes will fit into. They protect your toes and can be used for a number of activities

Once again, remember a single shoe can be very versatile and therefore suitable for a number of activities.

Water Shoes Vs. Aqua Socks

Well, we’ll forgive you if you think water shoes and aqua socks are the same. It’s kind of a general misconception. But we are telling you now that water shoes and aqua socks serve different purposes and are therefore not the same.

As you already know, water shoes provide comfort, safety, and traction during swimming, hiking in wet and rocky environments, or strolling along the beach. Water socks, on the other hand, are designed specifically for snorkeling. Why? This is to protect you from being stung by jellyfish or other hazardous creatures in the ocean.

The materials of water shoes and aqua socks are also different. Water shoes are usually made of a sole (usually made of rubber) and an upper part that is mostly made of mesh or leather. But aqua socks are usually made of neoprene or lycra material.

Can You Swim In Water Shoes?

The answer is yes. There are models of water shoes that are designed to be used in water. These types of water shoes usually have thin soles and are lightweight. They are also breathable with a good drainage system.

Water Shoes

How to Choose the Best Water Shoes for Hiking or Other Activities

Type of Activity

Like we said earlier, the type of activity you are engaging in will determine your choice of water shoe. If you are going hiking, then you need water shoes that are sturdy with solid construction. These confer durability and allow you to cover long distances without damage to your feet or the shoe.

If you’ll be swimming or doing any other water sports, you’ll need shoes that are lighter and have thin soles.


The type of material used is very important. Usually, you’ll see water shoes made of rubber, mesh, and leather. And always check if the upper part of the shoe is breathable and quick drying.

If you want less water in your shoes, then you should consider water shoes made from neoprene. This is because neoprene provides more protection and keeps your feet drier.


It’s important you choose a water shoe that drains water quickly. This is usually achieved by the mesh, which is also breathable, and drainage holes on the sole. If your water shoe doesn’t eject water quickly, the shoe will get heavy and slow you down. It’s also possible for the shoe to pull off your feet.

The upper material, which is usually mesh, provides cross ventilation and prevents foul odor.


This should be among the first features you look out for in any water shoe. And this is because only a show with good traction will prevent you from falling on slippery surfaces.

Now, consider the fact that the banks of lakes and rivers are usually slippery. Or that rocks are usually present on beaches and some terrains. So you can see how important traction is. For your own safety, get a water shoe with good traction.

Grip/Outsole Quality

The grip is important when it comes to any footwear. And it becomes even more important when water shoes are involved. The type of material used to manufacture the outsole will have an effect on the grip of the water shoe.

A thicker sole will provide more grip and will be suitable for hiking in wet and harsh conditions. A thinner outsole will make more sense if you’ll be spending more time in the water. But whether you’ll be hiking or spending time in the water, make sure to always go for water shoes that have quality outsoles and consequently good grip.


Always go for lightweight water shoes. Even these lightweight shoes gain weight once wet. So imagine you are already using a heavy shoe. It’ll become a burden when it becomes wet. The lightweight design also makes them portable and easy to transport.


What’s the use of wearing a water shoe that causes blisters and discomfort? The comfort of your water shoe is important and you should keep an eye out for the design and cushioning of the shoe before making a purchase.

There are also different kinds of fitting mechanisms to make sure the shoes are secured tightly to your feet and will not pull off at any time.


We all want a product that is durable and long-lasting so we can get value for our money. The same applies to water shoes. Shoes with thicker soles are generally more durable. But they won’t be ideal for swimming.

So you should really pay attention to the types of materials used to manufacture the water shoe as well as the durability in the review.

Final Thoughts

Water shoes have evolved over the years to become what they are today. Our top picks and buying guide will help you choose the best water shoes, or rather choose a water shoe that’s right for you.

There are many available models of different styles and different shapes, but I hope that this selection will help you make your decision. Put your water shoes on and make everlasting memories in water or on the trails!

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