10 best water hiking shoes

Based on reviews from 12 experts and 240 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to water hiking shoes. Updated Jun 2020.

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          Versatility is the prime benefit of water hiking shoes. These pair of hikers will be able to keep you comfortable from stream crossings to backcountry wanderings. Numerous brands have developed and created this shoe breed to broaden their audience. If your next outdoor adventure involves land and water activities, maybe you will enjoy a pair of water hiking shoes. 

          Things to look for in the best water hiking shoes

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          Best water hiking shoes - May 2020

          Water hiking shoes are not like your regular trail shoes that have thick leather uppers and waterproof linings. A good pair of water hiking shoes should be able to carry you on slippery grounds and dry surfaces safely. Here are some of the things you need to look for in the best water hiking shoes.

          Materials

          The type of materials used in your water hiking shoes will determine how comfortable and secure you will be in your adventures. Carefully inspect the specifications of your ideal shoe and compare them with other options in the market. 

          Usually, these type of hiking shoes have light materials which allow them to dry quickly. A common element used in their upper is neoprene which is a sturdy fabric. It can also protect your foot against abrasion without adding too much weight. There are also amphibious shoes that use nylon, polyester or any hydrophobic material. 

          The shoe’s midsole or footbed should not soak up water and should be able to keep you comfy as you move from water to land. On the other hand, some rubber outsoles are razor-siped which allows it to bite excellently on wet, slick surfaces. 

          Built

          You may notice that a bunch of water hiking shoes come with drainage. This style of construction prevents your shoe from getting waterlogged, enabling you to perform at your best.

          Protection

          When on the hunt for a pair of water hiking shoes, choose the one that offers protection, especially at the toe area. You want to protect your feet against bruises and scrapes and not expose them. 

          Aside from protecting yourself against external factors, it is also important that your water hiking shoes are able to ward off the development of bacteria which eventually leads to odor. A wet or moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for germs; hence, choosing a pair of shoes with antimicrobials can keep your feet healthy and fresh.

          Usage

          Keep in mind that not all water shoes can be good for hiking, especially if you are to tackle challenging trails and extended treks. Before getting one, make sure that you really need a pair of water shoes. 

          Design and maintenance

          Water shoes for hiking come in different styles and the materials used to create them greatly affects how the shoes look. This type of shoes does not require too much maintenance like what you do on your rugged leather boot. However, it is recommended that after every use, make sure that you remove accumulated debris. Here are some maintenance tips that can help you:

          • As soon as your done with your activity, remove your water hiking shoes from your feet. especially when they are still damp. This prevents the development of fungus and bacteria.
          • Clean the shoes after every use. If they have removable insoles, take them out and clean separately.
          • Once done with the cleaning, let them dry naturally.
          • In case an unwanted odor is present, you can sprinkle a layer of baking soda and let it sit for some time. 

          Cost

          The price of water hiking shoes mainly depends on the brand and the materials used. There is no harm in expanding your options; check out not-so-popular-but-trusted brands. You will notice that a lot of various manufacturers use almost the same materials. They differ in their manner of construction and applied technologies.

          Pros and cons of wearing water hiking shoes

          You may notice that a lot of water hiking shoes look similar to your ordinary trail shoes. However, if you take a closer look at each of their specifications, you will know that they differ a lot. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of water hiking shoes.

          Benefits

          • Excellent traction. Water shoes for hiking may have the same lugged design of a trail shoe’s outsole. However, their soles are razor-siped, meaning there are numerous thin slits on its surface. These slices open up as the foot flex when walking. It is designed to provide superb traction on wet surfaces, making them compatible for use on slippery boat decks. 
          • Works well in and out of the water. The best water hiking shoes will allow you to use them in the water and during light hikes comfortably. Their ability to drain water will allow you to perform confidently. Non-water shoes tend to get heavy when wet, thus impeding your performance. 
          • Quick-drying. Thanks to the materials used in creating the best water shoes for hiking, they are able to dry quickly even after getting submerged in deep water. Also, they do not soak up water. 
          • Protection. Numerous water hiking shoes grant foot protection, especially in the toe area. If you are trekking through water, you cannot see what is on the bottom. This is the reason why outdoor brands offer amphibious shoes that have ample protection against jagged rocks and other debris. 

          Drawbacks

          • Not cushioned enough for you. Since water hiking shoes are made to dry quickly and drain water, their cushioning may be lacking for some hikers. If you are accustomed to wearing well-padded quality trail shoes, you may find water shoes not comfy enough for use on long hikes. 
          • An extra pair of shoes. It is known that water hiking shoes are versatile footwear, however, they may not be the best for some situations. They may not be able to keep you warm in cold weather or they may not be supportive enough on extended treks. Getting an extra pair of shoes also means an added expense for you. 

          Remarkable brands that offer the best men's and women's water hiking shoes

          Merrell

          Merrell’s wide selection of hiking shoes made them one of the leading outdoor footwear brands. A remarkable feature of their water shoes is its anti-friction lining so your feet are less likely to develop blisters. The stretchable materials used in their upper hugs your foot comfortably and allow a quick on and off. 

          Keen

          If you want sandal-looking water hiking shoes, Keen may be the best brand for you. Their amphibious shoes offer excellent drainage and protection. Most Keen products employ their very own Keen.Protect, which is a toe covering made of sturdy rubber. It shields the foot against knocks and bumps. The synthetic materials used in some of their select styles makes them lightweight and quick-drying.

          Chaco

          Chaco combines versatility and style in their water shoes for hiking. Select styles have an easy lacing system for fit management and easy donning and doffing. Some of the best women’s water hiking shoes from Chaco are collapsible and very lightweight. You will have the option to choose whether you prefer a trail-tailored silhouette or a more sleek design.

          Salomon

          A number of Salomon men’s and women’s hiking shoes are good for use in the water. The brand’s latest offering includes a collapsible heel and their very own Quicklace system. This configuration will allow you to easily transition from wearing an outdoor shoe to a slip-on gear. It uses an extra breathable mesh which drains water but stops loose debris from getting in.

          Astral

          Astral is known for its self-draining and quick-drying footwear. The brand’s foundation lies in extreme whitewater which led them to develop water hiking shoes that will keep users safe, especially in wet environments. Most Astral products use a ripstop mesh with TPU overlays which balances comfort and durability. Their trademarked rubber compound is formulated to provide premium grip and abrasion resistance. Some of their models have a Polygiene-treated insole which helps keep a fresh interior. These features enable Astral to create some of the best men’s water hiking shoes.

          Frequently asked questions

          What is the best water hiking shoes for me?

          The answer to this question depends on your preference. Different brands offer varying amounts of comfort and protection. You should go for a brand that won’t break the bank but will still be able to let you enjoy your outdoor experience.

          Will my feet stay dry if I wear water hiking shoes?

          Wearing amphibious hiking shoes do not keep your feet from getting soaked during water activities. However, with the materials and construction technique used in creating them, they will be able to dry quicker than your regular trail shoes. Keep in mind that this type of shoes is not waterproof. 

          Can I wear socks with my water hiking shoes?

          Whether you wear socks with your water hiking shoes or not, what matters is how comfortable you are. These shoes have vents which drain water. These holes can also be the entry point of sand and gravel which can rub your foot, causing irritation. Neoprene socks are the preferable partner for water shoes as they do not absorb water—like what cotton does—and can keep your feet warm.

          Are water shoes for hiking slip-resistant?

          The primary goal of water hiking shoes is to keep you safe when moving in or around water. Their siped soles do not retain water, making them slip-resistant.

          6 best water hiking shoes

          1. Astral TR1 Junction
          2. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve
          3. Merrell Choprock
          4. Adidas Terrex Voyager
          5. Salomon Amphib Bold
          6. Salomon Techamphibian 4
          Author
          Paul Ronto
          Paul Ronto

          Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

          paul@runrepeat.com