10 Best Water Hiking Sandals in 2021

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
10 Best Water Hiking Sandals in 2021

There are times when taking a plunge is far more rewarding than skipping the drench on our daily hikes. In such cases, you are far better off sporting a pair of water hiking sandals.

Having tested 50+ of these incredible water-ready hikers, we are proud to share with you our top picks. So, whether you need a well-rounded sandal or a barefoot kick to make your day around streams, you are in the right place.

How we review water hiking sandals

Unbiased reviews are getting harder and harder to come by these days. This is not the case on RunRepeat, where reviews are objective and professionally written. Here is our approach to reviews:

  • We buy water hiking sandals using our own money.
  • We test every pair for days, paying close attention to each sandal’s performance in and around water, as well as on regular trails.
  • Our honest reviews reflect opinions from hundreds of experts and regular trail-goers alike.

With all that factored in, we give every reviewed sandal a CoreScore. This proprietary scoring system plays a significant part in determining the best water hiking sandals in a handful of categories.

Best overall

After encountering streams, creeks, and rivers in over 50 pairs of water hiking sandals from KEEN, we’ve crowned the Newport H2 as the king of the wetlands!

This water-ready doozy refused to slip both on wet surfaces and dry terrain. It gave us cat-like traction on slick rock and pebbles. It also made our traversals on mossy logs quite reassuring.

On the comfort front, the Newport H2 was a giver from the get-go. We felt no rubbing (only plushness) around the heel, and its footbed was impressively cushy without giving off that irritating squeaky sound when wet!

The Newport H2 stunned us in the area of stability, as well. Not once did we lose footing on uneven terrain, where there was a combination of mulch, sharp rocks, and twigs. We weren’t let down by the sandal’s footbed, either, which gave us enough arch support on all our riverside hikes.

And while it can be likened to a hiking shoe weight-wise, the Newport H2 felt light though and through. We were especially floored by its weightlessness in the water. Awesome!

So grab one now. You won’t be disappointed with the Newport H2, considering that it’s just $110 (MSRP) a pop!

See our full review and facts

As an alternative to our overall top pick, the Hurricane XLT2 by Teva is a shining example of a product that exudes quality and value!

“Amazingly plush and comfy” is how we’d describe the Hurricane XLT2. Its in-built (non-removable) footbed served as a mighty foam for our wet-ready tootsies, cushioning and supporting our every step all day!

Nothing short of spectacular is its arch support. Some of us have flat feet, yet not one among us experienced tiredness underfoot or achy arches after our river-to-trail adventures were over.

Equally astonishing is the Teva Hurricane XLT2’s proprietary outsole. Its rubber lugs afforded us exceptional grip on different kinds of surfaces (from smooth slabs to mulchy bogs). Scrambling over boulders was also a cinch, thanks to the outsole’s ridged toe zone.

Despite its generously cushy sole unit, the Hurricane XLT2 allowed us to pull off some ninja-like leaps on rock thanks to its 310-gram weight. This Teva offering is actually lighter than the Newport H2 (obviously) by roughly 100 g per sandal.

The Hurricane XLT2 is also among the most affordable hiking sandals on the market, being that it has an MSRP of no more than $70 a pair! That said, if we are being too nitpicky, it could be a bit more size-accurate.

See our full review and facts

Best minimalist

Now this—the Z-Trek from Xero Shoes—is what we call the most incredible minimalist hiking sandal that definitely thrives in the water!

Extremely light at 187 g per sandal (wow!), the Z-Trek didn’t beat around the bush with its slipper-like comfort. Its straps, while not lined, didn’t rub against our feet. Also, its slip-free footbed felt dreamy straight from the box!

This barefoot experience proved to us its amphibious performance like a boss. We mounted on mini boulders in this one river, and we didn’t lose footing in the Z-Trek. The sandal also made our boggy traversals safe without getting its grippy outsole caked with muck. How awesome is that!?

Now, the Z-Trek is a mover. While you won’t get any arch support out of it, the sandal in question can up your technical prowess, giving you the freedom to get creative with your step. We highly appreciated its responsiveness, too, which allowed us to get familiar with the terrain faster than usual.

And have we mentioned that the Z-Trek is among the budget-friendliest out there yet? Yes, with an MSRP of $60, this minimalist water beast sealed the deal for us. Don’t miss out!

See our full review and facts

Weightier by a hair than the Z-Trek, the Xero Shoes Colorado is the most protective minimalist water sandal we’ve ever set our feet in. And we love it!

Speaking of adoration, we were floored by the Colorado’s resplendent comfort on day one. Indeed, the sandal felt instantly plush, not requiring us to go through a lengthy break-in phase. From its no-rub heel to its spacious enough toe box, everything inside the hiker felt spot-on!

On the protection front, we really liked the shoe-like construction of the Colorado. We used it for stream-crossing and creek-hopping, and the sandal staved off those pesky pebbles. But the star of the show for us in this regard was the sandal’s toe bumper, which made kicking (purposely) on boulders and rocks feel nice and safe.

But does it move in and around water convincingly? Yes, its grippy multi-directional lugs surmounted the slippery obstacles that we encountered without a hitch. That said, its stickiness worked like a charm on dry land, too!

We kinda struggled getting in the Colorado a few times, though, so if you have stout feet, patience is required with this hiker.

See our full review and facts

Best protection

Do you want a bombastic water hiker? Well, look no further than the hulking Hoka One One Hopara!

The name of the game in the Hopara is tank-like protection underfoot. Once you lay your eyes on and slip your feet in it, you’ll understand that it means serious business on trails and around rivers.

Despite its super-stout sole unit, the Hopara didn’t relent wherever it was slippery. Its lugs kept us surefooted on mud, pebbly tracks, and mossy steps. We give its treaded forefoot section extra credit for giving us additional control on light low-level climbs (where we had to scramble a bit).

Did we ever lose balance in the Hopara? That’s a big NO. Its cushy, stocky midsole did a mighty fine job keeping us stable on uneven terrain and twiggy bogs.

As for the sandal’s arch, we have no complaints. It gave us a combination of springiness and support, leaving our tootsies smiling (a.k.a. pain-free) long after our tests were over!

As for comfort, the Hoka One One Hopara was superb through and through. Its shielding upper didn’t give us hotspots, nor did it rub, while the sandal’s imposing sole unit mesmerized us with plushness with every step!

See our full review and facts
KEEN Arroyo III
KEEN Arroyo III KEEN Arroyo III
Men
Women

No offers available

Also great

If hiking haphazardly in wet environments is your thing, you got to try the amphibious gem that is the Arroyo III from KEEN.

Comfy from the box, the Arroyo III didn’t delay in pampering our wet-ready feet with plushness all over. We fell in love with its soft-yet-supportive footbed the most in this regard. Removable unlike in other sandals, this insole kept our feet miles away from aches and hotspots. Excellent!

We used this water hiker on a variety of surfaces, wet and dry. We came away with sweeping results! On rugged trails, the Arroyo III’s rubber lugs and grippy treads ensured our safety. Where water was involved, be it streams or murky puddles, the sandal got us across slip- and scot-free.

Where our top pick (the Hopara) stunned us with amazing support underfoot, the Arroyo III, on the other hand, inspired us with its fantastic flexibility. Yes, our half-day hike on level ground translated to quicker and more daring strides thanks to this KEEN sandal!

And last but definitely not least, the Arroyo III impressed us with its tough toe cap. Referred to by KEEN as KEEN.Protect, this rubber bumper cut through fist-size pebbles and rocks like butter!

See our full review and facts

Best budget sandal

Now, we need you to settle down because coming your way is the king of the budget-friendly hill—the Hurricane Drift by Teva!

It’s true. This water hiking sandal beats out 50+ other pairs price-wise with its MSRP of $40! And no, there’s no extra zero in there.

Equally adorable is the Hurricane Drift’s lightness. Yes, at around 185 g per kick, this water hiking sandal gives the term “featherweight” justice!

Slippery rocks? Mulchy slopes? Sandy banks? Don’t let these obstacles scare you away, as the Hurricane Drift means business on such terrain. We also tested the sandal on a lightly rugged trail, and it got us to the end without slipping once.

On pebbly water, the Hurricane Drift afforded us more than enough stability. Its protective sole unit adapted to whatever was underneath the sandal, making us avoid hitting the water butt-first completely!

The seamlessness of its construction made the Hurricane Drift feel quite solid around our feet. Because of this, we got a heightened sense of control throughout our water adventures.

And the Hurricane Drift wouldn’t be as stellar if it didn’t dry quickly. We got the sandal soaked as often as we could, and it dried almost instantly!

See our full review and facts

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The Xero Shoes Genesis is, by far, the most bare-minimum-underfoot water hiking sandal on the market. And it has the MSRP to match!

As affordable as our top pick for budget-friendliness, the Genesis leaves the door wide open for those who wish to try out barefoot hiking for the first time. Honestly, we were unsure about the thinness of its sole unit at first, but after giving the sandal its much-deserved whirl, we were impressed!

Clingy on both wet and dry terrain, the Xero Shoes Genesis never made us feel unsafe. Its chevron lugs anchored us in on mildly muddy bogs and wet grass, as well as over dusty tracks. The sandal also gave us surefootedness on docks and man-made steps.

And golly, the Genesis does not kid around with its barely-there lightness. We’re talking about a 130-gram weight. If you can find a water hiking sandal that’s lighter, dare give us a call!

In terms of fit, the Xero Shoes Genesis was quite spot-on for us. That said, we feel like those with wider feet might find the sandal a bit on the narrower side.

See our full review and facts

.

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.