As an active nature explorer who never misses a white rafting or swimming experience, I never go on a hiking trip without a pair of water shoes in my backpack. Since I’ve started carrying these accessories, I’ve never had a falling accident on slippery surfaces. And I used to have plenty before.
Luckily, numerous high-quality brands sell lightweight water shoes for hiking and river crossings, designed to shield your toes from bumps and keep you safe during your summer adventures.
I’ve tested quite a few over the years, so here is my list of the best water shoes for hiking. I hope it helps you find a model that will boost your confidence.
Our Top Recommended Water Shoes for Hiking
1) Salomon Tech Amphib 4
The collapsible hills and thicker midsole make these adult water shoes perfect for long hikes where quick drying is crucial.
The Salomon Tech Amphib 4 are among the most lightweight and breathable hiking water shoes out there. As a devoted fan of the brand, I was eager to test out the upgraded version, which boasts additional EVA on the midsole and enhanced grip on slippery surfaces. Needless to say, the shoes exceeded my expectations.
Since they come with a one-pull lace system, you’ll put on each water shoe in a moment. They fit like a glove with their airy mesh upper made from recycled materials and the Eva sock liner that cushions your foot perfectly.
As a plus, these hiking water shoes also come with perforated grooves on their rubber outsole, which makes them ideal for hiking longer distances.
Weight (pair): 1 lb. 3 oz. (women’s 7), 1 lb. 4.2 oz. (men’s 9)
Upper Material: 70% recycled PET – mesh + synthetic
2) Columbia Drainmaker Iv Water Shoe
These supportive water shoes for hiking have style and provide great arch support when you decide to cross some slippery rocks.
If you are looking for something between water sandals and waterproof hiking boots, you should stick with this model. The Drainmaker Iv are not your regular aqua shoes for hiking, for the simple reason that they have a thicker midsole and razor siping in their rubber sole.
From my perspective, they look and feel more like outdoor trail running shoes and are possibly the best water hiking shoes for muddy terrains. You’ll feel light and free with the adjustable bungee laces that keep your feet comfortable even when you are not wearing socks.
These comfortable hiking sandals also combine a breathable mesh with drainage ports for fast water drainage, so you won’t experience wet feet for long.
Weight (pair): 1 lb. 3.26 oz. (women’s 5), 1 lb. 7.5 oz. (men’s 9.5)
Upper Material: Mesh + synthetic fabric
3) Merrell Hydro Moc
You can say goodbye to uncomfortable shoes with this rubber model that offers excellent protection for outdoor activities and feels like you are walking bare feet.
Offering both men’s and women’s water shoes, Merrel is a popular brand when it comes to water footwear. This water hiking shoe model is made from vegan-friendly materials and comes with a quick dry feature, so you don’t need to feel your feet wet for long.
I wore them many times at the beach or on varied surfaces while outdoors, and I can only say that these are the best hiking water shoes if you don’t want to deal with laces.
The slip-on design with a toe box in the front is a dream for those with wider feet who drear when they need to wear water shoes.
What I noticed though is that they have a flat sole, which is durable but may not work well if you have high arches.
Weight (pair): 1 lb. 6.2 oz. (women’s 5), 1 lb. 10 oz. (men’s 9)
Upper Material: EVA foam
4) Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport
Some of the best water hiking shoes for scuba diving, the Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport are lightweight and stay true to size.
These Xero shoes are versatile and provide excellent grip, making them perfect for running on wet terrain or loose rocks. More than everything, when I tried my brand new pair, I loved the toe protection they offer. It’s reassuring to know that my toes are well-protected while navigating rugged terrain.
The snug fit, with mesh panels for breathability and quick-release laces, makes it easy to get a comfortable and secure fit. And even better, the upper materials are sturdy and durable, and the thick sole offers excellent arch support, making these shoes suitable for long hikes.
You can also use them as river shoes or hiking sandals for wet environments because they dry quickly.
Weight (pair): 0 lb. 11.56 oz. (women’s 7), 0 lb. 14.38 oz. (men’s 9)
Upper Material: Mesh
5) KEEN Drift Creek H2
A more stylish option, these Keen water shoes feature a toe cap and heel strap, providing excellent support and foot protection, even in slippery conditions.
I must admit that when I tried these shoes for the first time, the polyester straps felt a bit stiff, but once I took a few steps in them, they immediately turned into some of the best hiking shoes I have ever owned.
Not only are these shoes great for hiking, but they’re also great for everyday use. They’re top-notch in terms of comfort and style, and the upper part is designed to keep moisture and bad odor out while still allowing the feet to breathe.
I’ve worn the KEEN Drift Creek H2 in various settings, from hiking trails to running errands, and they’ve held up incredibly well.
Weight (pair): “1 lb. 0.04 oz. (women’s 5), 1 lb. 4.02 oz. (men’s 9)”
Upper Material: Polyester webbing
6) Nortiv 8 Barefoot Water Shoes
With a wide toe box and quick drying, these shoes have all the features you’ll need for boating, kayaking, and even trail running.
These shoes are specifically designed to withstand cold water and provide maximum grip, which is exactly what you should look for if you are adventuring into a water hiking experience.
Based on our team’s first-hand experience, they offer good drainage, and compared to other shoes for hiking we tried, they stay true both to men’s and women’s sizes.
Your feet feel cool and protected from small stones in the water. Plus, the secure fit, combined with good traction and quick drying, provides superior comfort and flexibility.
Weight (pair): 13.62 ounces
Upper Material: Synthetic fabric
7) SEEKWAY Water Shoes
These shoes have an ankle design that offers support and comfort, which is especially important when you’re carrying a heavy load or walking over uneven terrain.
If you’re planning a trip to a shallow creek or river, SEEKWAY Water Shoes could be an ideal choice for you.
While, according to our tests, this pair of shoes offers less protection than other models, it makes up for it in its great value. Compared to most water shoes available, SEEKWAY shoes are affordable and provide excellent value for their price.
They are suitable for both dry and wet conditions, making them versatile and convenient, and come with a sieve water feature, which means that water can easily drain out of the shoes, preventing them from becoming waterlogged and heavy.
Upper Material: Spandex
8) Astral TR1 Mesh
Water hiking in these shoes will make you feel light as a feather while enjoying excellent ankle stability and a very quick dry.
The Astral TR1 Mesh is the best water shoe model for men or women who want to forget about their footwear and focus on the activity at hand.
With a combination of air and covered areas, these shoes provide excellent support and stability on any surface, making them excellent for wading and getting wet.
We have found from using this product that its durability and impressive features ensure a secure fit, while the comfortable design makes the shoes easy to wear for extended periods. They are soft and flexible and a perfect fit for lake activities.
Weight (pair): 0 lb. 8.92 oz. (women’s 5), 0 lb. 10.62 oz. (men’s 9)
Upper Material: Ripstop 2D Mesh with TPU overlays at the toe and heel cap
9) SOBASO Water Shoes
This model made our list of best shoes for water hiking for its incredible grip and flexible outsole that make it great for adventuring in the outdoors.
The SOBASO Water Shoes have many features that make them some of the best water shoes on the market. The sole is made from high-quality materials that provide great traction and grip, making it easy to walk on slippery surfaces.
Additionally, the shoes are designed to be durable, so they will last you a long time, even if you use them frequently.
The toe sandal design is perfect for warm weather and ensures that your toes won’t get sweaty or uncomfortable. However, when we tried them in chillier weather, we noticed that the fabric tends to soak water, and it takes them more time to dry.
Weight (pair): 5.52 ounces
Upper Material: Knit mesh
Water Shoes for Hiking Buyer’s Guide
Selecting good water hiking shoes can be a struggle if you don’t know where to start. To help you, we decided to share the criteria we used when picking the models on our list:
1. Quick Drying
Choose a model that has a good draining system and quick-drying materials, like the Columbia Men’s Drainmaker IV Water Shoe.
This way, after crossing a river, you’ll be able to continue your hike without feeling your shoes heavy.
A synthetic leather upper may sound durable, but once you get it wet, it’s almost impossible to dry fast.
Look for shoes with mesh or synthetic uppers instead, as they let the air in. The Salomon Tech Amphib 4 scores the highest in this chapter.
You want a reliable companion for your adventures, so go for a model like the Salomon Tech Amphib 4, which offers great traction on any terrain.
When it comes to water shoes, comfort stands in breathability and cushioning. However, many models lack padding, as this slows down the drying process. If you prefer a model that can keep you going for miles, the Salomon Tech Amphib 4 has the most reliable soles on this top.
Make sure that your sandal set has a reliable sole that provides a good grip when you step on slippery terrains.
The Salomon Tech Amphib 4 has perforated groves and is simply unmatchable for difficult hikes.
Before selecting a model, take a look at its design and the sizes it offers.
Some shoes fit only narrow feet and may not work if yours are wider.
If this is the case, pick a model like Nortiv 8 Barefoot Water Shoes, which comes with elastic laces.
Look for lightweight shoes that won’t get in your way as you swim or cross a river. We recommend the Astral TR1 Mesh, which weighs under 1 pound.
Finally, you need to make sure that your feet don’t get hot when the sun is blazing. The KEEN Drift Creek H2 has straps that allow the air to circulate and reduce sweat and bad odors.
What Else Do We Consider When Choosing the Best Water Shoes for Hiking
During our testing process, we took into account the following factors, which helped us select and rank the products:
We always look at the feedback each product receives and try to be as concise as possible in our description, but there is always the possibility that other users feel different than us when testing the shoes.
Delivery time and cost can influence customers’ decisions in buying a product, so we selected only shoes that have realistic shipping costs.
Even the best brands put sometimes a flawed product on the market, so it is best to buy a product that comes with a warranty. Thus, we looked into hiking shoes that are covered against defects that may appear in the manufacturing process.
Our nr. #1 Pick
Although all the products we’ve included in this top are worth buying, my personal favorite remains the Salomon Tech Amphib 4. I wore them on a 9-mile hike right off the box, and I came back with no blisters or cuts.
The cushioned midsole is extremely comfortable, and the air just breezes through the mesh, drying everything out so you can keep going. Plus, unlike most models that are designed for the beach, these shoes come with real traction that will give you a boost of confidence when crossing wet or muddy areas.
These shoes are made from recycled materials and come with collapsible heels, which makes them the best water shoes for a wide range of activities.
Water shoes can work for hiking on dry land, but they cannot provide the comfort of regular hiking shoes. Since they need to drain water quickly and dry, they have thinner soles and almost no padding. This is why they don’t offer enough traction for rocky terrains.
Yes, you can swim in water shoes and use them for other water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. They can help protect your feet from sharp objects and provide better traction on wet and slippery surfaces.
Water shoes are comfortable to wear both on wet and dry surfaces as long as you don’t use them on rocky terrain. They come with quick dry lining and water drainage holes that allow them to dry faster, even after river crossings.
Yes, water shoes can be a good option for walking on the beach. They are designed to provide traction on wet surfaces, which can help prevent slips and falls. Plus, they offer toe protection from sand and debris.
Wearing water shoes for rock climbing is a bad idea. Their rubber sole is not thick enough, and they lack padding, so you will feel every single rock as you climb. Climbing shoes, on the other hand, offer protection for your ankles and better traction on rougher terrains.
A high-quality water shoe pair can last up to 1 year, especially if you take good care of it. But you may get up to 5 years of life from your river shoes if you don’t wear them frequently.
Yes, you can wear socks with your water hiking sandals and get extra protection against shells and stones. But you should take off your wet socks before putting on your dry sandals or shoes, as they can cause rubbing on your skin and blisters.