When you go kayaking, you’re almost always guaranteed to get your feet wet. In some cases, they may even be sat in a pool of water for a long period of time when you have no drainage holes. It’s just part of the sport.
I don’t think there is anything grosser than spending hours in your kayak and coming out with feet like prunes.
Kayak shoes can do more than just keep your feet dry. The best kayaking shoes will also protect your feet from sharp rocks as you cast off, keep you upright on slippery surfaces, and keep your feet warm in cold weather.
Kayaking footwear comes in so many different styles. A lot of them are multi-purpose and can be used for long hikes, as running shoes, and for diving. One good pair of kayak shoes could work for a wide range of activities.
- Material: Spandex Fabric
- Color: Carbon Black
NRS Kicker Remix
- Material: 3 mm neoprene
- Color: Black/Red
Merrell Men’s All Out
- Material: Nylon
- Color: Red, Dark Slate
Comfort is King
- Material: Polyester
- Color: Black, Slate Gray
Body Glove Men’s
- Material: Synthetic
- Color: Black/indigo
- Material: mesh & synthetic
- Color: Black, Lux
Value for Money
- Material: Rubber
- Color: Gray (Stylish)
WateLves Quick Dry
- Material: polyester + spandex
- Color: J-dark Blue
Hiitave Water Shoes
- Material: Breathable Textile Fabric
- Color: Fuchia, ab Black
9 Best Kayaking Shoes
Whenever I go kayaking, I’ll always wear a good pair of gloves. I like the fact they keep my grip nice and tight, stop my hands from getting burnt, and regulate my temperature.
I always will often wear a second skin under my life jacket for added protection. Why would I not choose to wear kayak shoes too?
Choosing your next pair of kayaking shoes can be a lot of effort. I know how many different makes, models, and uses there are out there.
Luckily for you, I have boiled down the lists to what I think are some of the best kayaking shoes on the market. I have something for everyone and every budget on here, so take a look and find your next water shoes for kayaking.
These unisex Mishansha water shoes tick so many boxes for what you want from a great pair of kayak shoes. They are accustomed to many different water sports, won’t leave your feet feeling uncomfortable, and really don’t cost all that much.
Comfort is king with kayaking shoes, and these are definitely comfortable shoes. They are super easy slip-on shoes with a handy tag at the back to save your thumbs. The elastic straps ensure a perfect fit on whatever width feet are in the shoes.
The comfort goes beyond the snug fit. The ultra-light, super-flexible materials are also very breathable. When you’re really working hard, you can ensure that your feet stay cool. I think breathability in sports shoes is essential, nobody wants sweaty feet.
The shoes are not waterproof, so they will let water into the shoes. They are able to drain away the water inside the shoe with drainage holes along the bottom of the kayak shoes’ rubber soles.
The Mishansha kayak shoes are a fantastic pair of kayaking shoes for a cheap price. They come in a range of very attractive colorways, and you wouldn’t be out of place wearing them on the beach or in a park.
I love their drainage systems and breathability. The elastic laces will keep them comfortable no matter what your feet size.
Mishansha Quick Drying
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If you are looking for that extra foot protection when you’re kayaking or paddle boarding, these are a great choice. These lightweight water shoes provide grip, warmth, and a close-to-the-skin feel. They come in a wide variety of sizes and can be adjusted for every foot.
I love neoprene. It is some of the best materials for working in and around water. Some of the best wetsuits are made of it, and for good reason. NRS has made their neoprene water shoes from a thick neoprene upper and a neoprene insole. This provides a warm and protected shell for your feet.
The feet are further protected by armor patches across the neoprene upper and titanium thread. I often rub my feet on the inside of my kayak when I am climbing in and out and paddling. Having some extra protection will stop my feet from getting damaged.
Elastic bands run laterally through the shoe to keep a secure fit. A drawcord around the ankle creates a water-tight lock around the cuff. Your kayaking shoes should remain water-free and dry.
If you are planning on using these for kayaking, or even as wetsuit boots, they will be perfect. They will keep you warm and dry, and the surfaces of your feet graze-free.
Where they do start to stumble is the soles. On sand and soft surfaces, the rubber sole will be great, but on rough terrain, the soft base will not offer much protection.
NRS Kicker Remix
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Hardcore shoes for hardcore activities. That’s what the Merrel shoes have gone for. These are a pair of hiking shoes that can traverse terrain like a mountain goat, tackling wet and slippery surfaces with ease. These kayak shoes are slightly on the bulkier side for kayaking shoes but are able to provide excellent traction.
When I go out on paddling trips, I sometimes like to shore up and go for a hike. Paddling to a remote island and climbing its peak is a great way to spend a day. In this case, I need shoes I can wear inside my kayak, but are also have thick soles that can tackle rugged terrain. Merrel provides the ability to do both.
A lot of light water shoes tend to break easily on rougher terrain. The waterproof waxed leather upper combined with the rubber Vibram thick sole won’t give up on you. They can handle any environment. Maximum stability is provided by the solid design and materials used.
A neoprene upper cuff locks your ankles into the kayak shoe, whilst elastic laces really pull your foot down into the shoes firmly. When tacking wet surfaces, you’ll appreciate that secure fit.
Not the most lightweight shoe we will look at today, but the thick sole and hardcore upper will provide a lot of protection from the elements both in and out of the kayak.
If you like to trek to or from your kayak and need excellent traction, these might be the paddling shoes for you.
Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoes
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Love them or hate them, Crocs are here to stay. Whatever your opinion on their fashion impact may be, you just need to try them once to realize they are the most comfortable shoes you have put on for a while. They are versatile kayaking shoes that wouldn’t be out of place while doing your weekly shopping.
A lovely, breathable mesh material adorns the top of the Swiftwater Crocs. The mesh design adds a nice breathable element to the top of the foot. Heat retention can be a real issue in kayak shoes, so having vents helps the comfort of your trip. The mesh upper also adds a bit of extra stretch for maximum comfort.
A velcro strap across the top of the foot ensures your feet fit snugly into the rubber sole. They are incredibly light and won’t feel out of place in the water or on the land. These could even be worn whilst wearing socks if you’re that way inclined.
These are suited to water sports due to their drainage holes along the sides. Kayaking shoes need to be able to drain the water from inside your shoes, otherwise, there is no point in them. The rubber construction will quickly shed any water, and help you avoid blisters.
Non-slip rubber, plenty of drainage holes, and a stretchy synthetic mesh upper make these a pair of kayaking shoes that can do a lot more.
They would be great for walks on the beach, going out and about, and, of course, recreational kayaking. They might not fit with your kayaking style, but you will be paddling in comfort.
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Toe shoes are an interesting style choice. They go between each of your toes and don’t really look like you’re wearing shoes. I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them in public, but each to their own.
When buying kayaking shoes, you need to choose what works best for you, and if having full movement in your toes is something you feel is necessary, then these may be the right choice for you.
These offer more protection than wearing flip-flops but still give the barefoot feel that you would expect. A super light upper keeps your feet cool when going jogging or on paddling trips. They are perfect for warm weather paddling when you want to avoid overheating.
They advertise themselves as providing maximum traction over slippery terrain due to their rubber outsole and lack of heel lift. Extra stability is offered by toe dexterity. Due to their thin design, I think these wouldn’t offer the best protection against harsh terrain. On a paddle board or inside a kayak, they are a good pair of kayak shoes.
I like the drainage holes in the base of the kayak shoes. They don’t compromise the rubber sole which can be one of the drainage cons in some kayaking shoes. The holes and thin materials used ensures the shoe dries faster.
If you want that toe-free feel and don’t intend to be on harsh terrain, these are a fine choice. They will provide some cushioning and protect from blisters.
Their stretch will fit all shapes of feet, and the drainage holes will keep your feet dry. The rubber sole isn’t too thick though, and won’t protect you as well as more hardcore shoes.
Body Glove Men’s 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe
TBody Glove Men’s 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe” varies, so check the latest price at
When buying kayak shoes, you want something that has versatility and is still a good pair out of the kayak. The Columbia Drainmakers let you enjoy the benefits of sneakers, whilst still having a pair of kayak water shoes. They could easily be used as running shoes on the tarmac or tucked inside the hull of your kayak.
In cold weather, you need that extra protection you only get from thick kayaking shoes. I really like the synthetic material used on the body of these shoes. It will be suitable for all weather conditions due to its lightweight yet still protective design.
The mesh material offers quick-drying properties and moisture-wicking to keep you warm and dry.
They have excellent traction and cushioning throughout the rubber soles. The materials give back the energy you put into them as you move. The sole has drainage holes to help keep your feet moisture free, whilst also providing airflow for those days when you’re using your water shoes to the max.
I like the elastic laces on these kayak shoes. Traditional laces will not cope well with the water and often lose grip or become water locked and impossible to remove. The nature of the bungee lacing allows you to wear socks on colder days with room to accommodate.
The stability and versatility of these water shoes make them a favorite for me. They’re some of the best kayak shoes due to their water resistance, intuitive rubber sole, and breathable synthetic mesh upper.
Many a kayaking destination can be conquered with these on your feet.
Columbia Men’s Drainmaker Iv Water Shoe
The Price of “Columbia Men’s Drainmaker Iv Water Shoe” varies, so check the latest price at
I expect you will have seen these being worn before. They are very popular, and for good reason. You can get a great pair of all-around kayaking shoes for a very reasonable price. They offer great water protection, use good materials, and will offer stability in the water. A versatile shoe for everyone.
ALEADER keep the price down by using simple materials that do the job they need to do well. A simple mesh material is used on the upper to keep your feet breathing yet protected.
It can stretch to fit most feet and won’t rub. A simple rubber sole has water resistance and offers stability on difficult terrain. Drainage holes keep your kayak shoes free of water.
I like the simple bungee lacing system that features a quick lock system to keep your kayak water shoes nice and snug on your feet.
For a great price, you can get yourself a versatile pair of water shoes that you have probably seen on other people’s feet before.
Kayak in comfort whether you’re using whitewater kayak or just out for a recreational paddle. They will stop you from getting sunburnt and keep you dry.
ALEADER Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
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If stability is one of the important factors for you, then grab yourself a pair of the WateLves water shoe. They are the best kayak shoes for the paddler who wants that skin feel whilst still having a lot of grip and protection from the elements and ground.
For starters, these are some cool-looking kayak shoes. They come in some really great colors that will be sure to stand out and go with whatever you’re wearing. The design of the sleek mesh upper creates a sleek look around the foot. They have form and function.
Whilst being fantastically lightweight, they still have the protection you would want from kayak shoes. The rubber outsole protects your feet from the rocks and stones that will often line the shore as you push your craft into the water.
The rubber outsole isn’t compromised by the drainage holes that keep the kayak shoes water free.
Rather than straps, these have used elastic laces to hold the foot into the shoe comfortably. A quick adjustment on a clip will tighten and loosen the water shoe to your desired size. I hate having to fumble with a strap or tied laces when my shoes get wet and need adjusting. It is convenient to have an alternative.
Very cool-looking kayak shoes that will provide grip, comfort, and water protection whether you’re kayaking, rock climbing, or just out on the coast.
The water shoe factors in the need for lightweight construction whilst not sacrificing the protection that is required when actually in the water.
WateLves Quick Dry
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If you’re looking for the best kayaking shoes for women, these may be the one for you. They have a few features I would have liked to see on some of the other similar lightweight kayak shoes we have reviewed. They’re very eye-catching designs and good value for money.
I would like to point out the elements of these shoes that make them stand out from the crowd first. A solid toe box on the front of the shoes keeps your delicate toes protected from the hidden rocks and boulders under the water.
The number of times I’ve been pushing my kayak out in the water and blasting my feet into a rock is beyond count. Avoiding this is a huge benefit.
Another plus point is the added innersole padding throughout the base of the water shoe. Kayak shoes will often be required to walk over sharp stones and rocks.
When you jump from your kayak, you will also put quite a lot of force through the soles of your feet. The extra padding in these will leave your feet feeling a lot more cared for.
Like most other kayaking shoes we have looked at today, these feature rubber soles and a breathable upper that has enough stretch to accommodate most feet. An elastic lace system makes adjusting the size a breeze too. No more fiddly laces or wet straps.
These shoes designed specifically for women are great all-rounders. They actually provide a lot of extra protection and comfort in the water that you don’t always see.
This just shows that the company actually understands what its customers want from the best kayaking shoes. You can get yourself a good-looking pair of water shoes that won’t let you down for a very reasonable price.
Hiitave Water Shoes
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A Kayak Shoes Buying guide
When you start shopping, you want to ensure you get the best kayaking shoes for you. Knowing what you should be looking for before you start is half the battle. I can break down the individual requirement you should be looking for.
Weather & Temperature
The conditions you’re going to be out in will determine what it is you will be wanting to wear on your feet. You don’t want something overly bulky on your feet if the weather is going to be roasting hot, and likewise, if it is a cold day out, you need extra protection.
We have looked at a lot of very light shoes in this list. The lightweight and protective materials are perfect for keeping your feet cool and helping them breathe then you work up a sweat. It can get hot inside a kayak.
Some of the more heavy-duty shoes, such as the Columbia drainmakers, are ideal for colder weather conditions. They are a pair of kayak shoes that lock the body heat in and will help expel any cold water.
Kayak shoes come in a whole range of designs, from the sandal style of the Crocs we have seen before to the toe shoes made by Body Glove. The style you want comes down to personal preference and water temperature. The best kayaking shoes will suit the weather you are paddling in.
If you need something that keeps the water out completely, you will want a material like neoprene, this will keep your feet dry and lock out the water. For a cold weather day, you may want to look for a bulkier shoe that you can put warm socks underneath.
If the weather is warm, a sandal style over neoprene will work as it lets water in but then drains it out and stays waterproof due to the rubber construction.
The materials used vary from the more expensive neoprene to much cheaper rubber. You must make sure you get something that is both comfortable and durable.
Neoprene is an expensive material but for good reason. The best kayak shoes are made of this forgiving and waterproof textile. It keeps out the water and still lets the body breathe beneath. It is often used in high-quality diving suits.
Rubber and mesh are cheaper but are still worth considering. With a good design and construction, you can get a very good pair of kayak shoes made from relatively cheap materials.
Shoes are still a fashion statement. There a many designs, colors, and styles that you would be pleased to be seen wearing out and about. Just because kayak shoes are functional doesn’t mean that can’t also be cool. If you take the time to shop around, you can find something that works with your look.
We have looked at some running shoe style shoes, perfect for exercise on the street or even in the gym. The toe shoes we have seen are close to flip-flops and would probably be best suited to the beach.
There are even some kayak shoes that are closer to kayaking boots, made for heavy-duty wear in harsh conditions. Decide what you will be wearing your footwear for and choose the best kayak shoes for the occasion.
Lighter shoes are perfect for when you plan to be in your boat or on the sand for most of the day, but if you plan to get out and do some trekking, you need to keep your feet protected.
I like to kayak out to remote hiking spots, so I usually need something a bit more hardcore than flip-flops. I like a kayaking shoe that can, first of all, get wet and dry off nice and quickly, but also has a rubber sole to tackle rugged terrain.
If you are planning on paddling your kayak out into the sea and using it as a base for snorkeling, then buying yourself a pair of neoprene kayak shoes is a great idea. They are similar to wetsuits and will serve you well for long periods under the water.
Just because kayak shoes need to have drainage holes doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their grip. We have seen a lot of shoes that have adequate drainage along the base of the shoe. You need to make sure that they still provide the grip you require.
If you only intend to use your shoes on the shore, and around the soft ground, you should be absolutely fine with minimal tread, and you may find it more convenient to have softer shoes. For hiking shoes you plan to use out and about, make sure you get a pair that can support you.
You don’t need to spend the world to get your hands on a pair of great kayak shoes. We have seen a number of very proficient and stylish shoes that should cost you no more than $30.
Of course, if you want a pair of shoes that can do it all, you may have to spend a little more, but for some simple, yet effective water shoes, you can keep the cost down.
The best thing I think you can do is buy yourself a cheap pair first, and then decide if you feel any benefit.
A Number of Frequently Asked Questions
There’s no such thing as a stupid question, especially if I have already answered them all.
What Are Kayak Shoes Used For?
Primarily keeping your feet comfortable and protected when kayaking. As a secondary use, they are great at stopping your feet from becoming damaged by rocks and other dangerous objects that may be lurking in the murky depths.
Kayak shoes are supposed to be quick-drying and supportive when you need them most.
What Shoes Should I Wear For A Sit-On-Top Kayak
When you ride a sit-on-top kayak you will find your feet are much more exposed to the sun, so make sure you have a pair of shoes that cover your skin. You don’t want burnt feet, trust me, it’s the worst.
Can You Wear Sneakers For Kayaking?
You can wear sneakers as long as they have decent water drainage, are quick drying, and are suitable in the water. Having wet shoes all day is very unpleasant and can lead to bad foot problems.
Should I Wash My Kayak Shoes?
If you leave your shoes to dry in the sun, they should be fine. It isn’t necessary to wash them unless you find that they start to smell. Always check the label to see appropriate washing instructions.
My Final Thoughts on Footwear
It is always a good idea to wear footwear when you kayak. I have jumped out of mine a number of times into churned-up and murky water to find that what lies beneath my boat is sharp and dangerous to my feet. If it wasn’t for my shoes, I would have cut my feet up.
Beyond that though, I believe that the best shoes for kayaking will keep you in more comfort and warmth than barefoot or just sneakers. You should get yourself a pair and experience the benefits.