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Imagine exploring places you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access by land. Imagine enjoying the sights and sounds of the tranquil waters in secluded lakes and streams. Imagine reveling in the quiet companionship of paddling alongside family, friends, or new acquaintances.
Kayaking makes it all possible. If you’re not on that bandwagon, let’s just say you’re missing out on a thrilling adventure.
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind before hitting the water is having the right shoes for the sport. Not only will they keep your feet nice and warm when you’re out on the water, but they’ll also give you a better grip on wet surfaces. They are extremely tough, durable, and provide a remarkable amount of protection against creek rocks and other rough terrains.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about choosing the best shoes for kayaking, as well as top 8 options for both men and women. Let’s begin, shall we?
First up, we have the SIMARI quick-dry water shoes. These beauties are made of 92 percent polyester with a thick abrasion-resistant rubber sole. The upper part of the shoe is made of breathable mesh material that’s super stretchy and fits snugly on your feet without feeling constrictive.
One of the best things about this particular fabric is how fast it dries. If your feet come into contact with water while you’re out kayaking, the wicking material drains quickly through the eight holes in each sole, drying up the water within a few short minutes.
The unique ergonomic design of this shoe allows you to wear it for extended periods without fatigue. The elastic shoelaces they come with have an innovative locking mechanism that allows you to put on and take off the shoes conveniently without much hassle.
All in all, if you’re looking for the best kayaking shoes for your on-water adventures, these are as close to perfect as you can get.
Aleader is a household name in the world of amphibious shoes. Their wealth of experience and unmatched expertise shines through their range of mesh slip-on shoes for women. They embody functionality and style all in one sleek and versatile package.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the strategically-placed rubber pods in the shoe’s high-wear areas. These work well to provide additional traction, especially in slippery environments.
The shoe is designed using FluidFlow technology to provide outstanding drainage capability from the upper mesh to the shoe’s exterior end. The mesh is engineered using innovative hydrophobic technology, making it one of the most breathable, fast-drying water shoes on the market right now.
These slip-on shoes are available in a wide range of colors to suit your individual preferences.
Quick-drying breathable mesh material
Lightweight and comfortable
Rubber pods in high-wear areas
Provides excellent balance and support
Durable and rugged
Some users report that the shoe sizes run small, so you may have to get a size up
The DLGJPA Men’s lightweight shoes are arguably one of the most versatile ones we’ve come across. They are made with a superior, quick-drying, breathable material and a high-quality, puncture-resistant, non-slip rubber sole.
The best thing about these particular wet shoes is that you can use them for a wide range of sporting activities, both in and out of the water. They’re suitable for kayaking, surfing, boating, cycling, running, swimming, and virtually any kind of sport you can think of.
If you’re on the hunt for quick-drying, lightweight footwear that meshes with your skin seamlessly, the low-cut VIFUUR water sports shoes for men and women are worth checking out. They are so flexible that you can fold them into a small lump for convenient packing.
They’re made with breathable, quick-drying fabric and a non-slip rubber sole that’s strong enough to protect your feet from sharp stones, gravel, and rough terrain. Their smooth neck design prevents chafing and makes it easy and convenient to wear and take off. Their affordable price-point is a definite plus too.
You don’t have to break the bank to get a pair of durable, high-quality kayaking shoes. The YALOX water shoes are a great option if you’re on a tight budget. They are extremely lightweight, fit snugly against your skin, and have a non-slip outer sole for maximum traction on slippery surfaces.
They also have inner sole inserts made of thick foam for adequate arch support. These beauties are made of quick-drying, breathable material with drainage holes to keep your feet dry and comfortable during your kayaking adventure. They certainly deliver outstanding value for the money.
Lightweight and comfortable
Non-slip sole for maximum traction
Quick-drying and breathable material
Versatile and multipurpose for a wide range of water sports
Top on our list of best kayaking shoes is the NeoSport premium puncture-resistant booties. These hi-top zipper shoes are made from highly durable neoprene and rubber composite. They’re meticulously crafted using advanced technology to not only keep your feet dry but warm as well.
We especially like the fact that they come with a heavy-duty zipper to provide a snug fit and prevent water from seeping into the shoes. They are surprisingly lightweight and available in 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm variants.
They are moderately layered to keep your feet safe from abrasions, thanks in large part to the high-traction sole inserts, which also work to help you maintain your balance.
If you’re looking for a durable, high-performance pair of boots for kayaking, the NeoSport Explorer is a great option to consider. They are made of neoprene, making them 100 percent waterproof. The fact that they are also knee-high means that they’ll keep your feet dry and toasty regardless of the weather conditions outside.
These heavy-duty, abrasion-resistant kayaking shoes have a hardened sole insert that’s puncture-resistant to keep your feet safe when walking on rough terrain. The top lycra-trimmed edge comes with an adjustable D-ring calf and Velcro strap with skin-seal to give you a superior customized fit.
All in all, if you want a kayaking shoe to keep you warm in icy-cold weather conditions, the Explorer would make a great addition to your outdoor gear.
Body Glove is well-known for its range of minimalist, low-profile, barefoot-feel, outdoor shoes. Although these particular ones don’t offer any heel lift, the ultra-grip from the outer sole more than makes up for it giving you a comfortable experience overall.
They offer maximum traction when walking on slippery surfaces near the river or beach, so you don’t have to worry about slipping and falling as you get to and from your kayak. They come with an adjustable, stretch-fit shoelace system that makes it super easy to slip them on while maintaining a snug fit.
To keep your feet dry, these low-profile beauties have an Integrated Drainage System (IDS) and quick-dry mesh material to keep air flowing inside the shoes.
Thick puncture-resistant rubber sole
Quick-drying material with IDS
Easy to wear and take off
Lightweight, breathable, and flexible
Their arch support may not be adequate for heavier individuals
What You Should Consider When Buying Kayaking Shoes
Before you go off and buy the next pair of kayaking shoes you come across; there are several factors you need to keep in mind when weighing your options. Here’s what you need to think about.
Few things in this world are more unpleasant than an ill-fitting shoe. The kayaking footwear you pick needs to fit properly. They need to feel comfortable.
You’ll want to pick a shoe that fits like a glove without feeling too tight or constricting. It shouldn’t have any gaps on top or the sides since this will interfere with its ability to keep your feet dry when water seeps into the boat. Nothing ruins a kayaking trip faster than having wet feet all day.
You also need to consider the size of your kayak’s casing when picking a shoe. It needs to be well-matched and complement the foot section of the specific kayak you plan to use. Ideally, the best kayaking shoes should feel like a second skin allowing you to bend your toes and flex your feet easily without any restriction.
Next, you need to get a shoe that’s built for water sports. It should be flexible, lightweight, and non-slip. Those are three must-have qualities in all kayaking shoes. The most common material you’ll come across is neoprene. However, several manufacturers often combine it with other materials to improve its durability and on-water performance.
Regardless of what the external weather conditions are like, neoprene has the uncanny ability to remain remarkably warm, which is why it’s a top choice for pro and novice kayakers alike. You might find some models with shoelaces and others without. Each has its own unique set of pros and cons.
Shoes with straps allow you to adjust the fit to ensure they’re tight and comfortable. This prevents water from getting into the shoe. On the other hand, the same straps could accidentally latch on to a rock, causing you to fall and sustain serious injuries. You, therefore, need to be careful when wearing shoes with laces.
You also want to get footwear with a sole that’s made of sturdy material. This keeps your feet from getting injured on rough terrain while you’re walking to and from the kayak.
Weight and Height
To reiterate, the best shoes for kayaking should feel like a second skin. This means that they need to be so lightweight that you forget you even have them on. This is especially important if you intend to wear them for long periods.
As far as height considerations go, several options are available, namely, ankle-height, low-cut, and knee-high kayaking shoes. Each of these brings something a little different to the table.
Ankle-height shoes – These are the most popular versions among kayaking lovers. They offer just the right amount of sole protection, warmth, and breathability. They usually have thick soles.
Low-cut shoes – These are usually quite thin, very breathable, and extremely lightweight. They’re ideal for warm weather.
Knee-high shoes – These are ideal for cold weather conditions since they offer a higher level of protection against the effects of wading in cold, choppy water compared to their ankle-height and low-cut counterparts.
The main thing you need to consider when getting knee-high shoes is – they should maintain a tight fit with no gaps through which water could potentially seep in. They can get quite uncomfortable when wet.
Equally as important when making your decision is the type of weather you’ll kayak in. If, for instance, you plan to go kayaking in icy-cold water, you’ll want to pick something that offers the right degree of insulation while still being lightweight. That way, your feet stay warm and comfortable for the entire duration you’re out on the water.
Most manufacturers typically make kayaking shoes insulated with up to four layers of thick neoprene. The shape of the ankle boot for these shoes is designed to completely cover the feet to keep them nice and toasty regardless of the conditions outside.
If, on the other hand, you plan to kayak in warm summer temperatures, you’ll want to go for something lightweight and breathable. Manufacturers design these shoes with a thin, single layer of neoprene and a low cut just below the ankle.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you need to pick a shoe that fits. Even in the case of everyday footwear, a wrong-sized shoe can be quite uncomfortable to deal with. Now, add wet conditions to the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for unimaginable discomfort.
The best shoes for kayaking should feel natural. They should fit like a glove without feeling constrictive. They shouldn’t feel like they’re cutting off blood circulation in your feet.
To know whether or not the shoe fits properly, try walking around in them. They’re supposed to remain firmly adhered to your feet with no gaps whatsoever. You should also be able to wiggle your toes without restriction. That’s how you know you got the right size.
Last but certainly not least, you need to consider the terrain you’ll navigate through to get to the kayaking destination. It is entirely unlikely that you’ll drive your car right up to the shoreline. You might have to carry your kayak through an area with splinters or sharp rocks that could potentially pierce the soles of your feet.
While kayaking shoes might look the same from the surface, they’re not all created equal. Some have thicker soles than others to provide maximum protection when walking on rough, rocky terrain.
If you intend to traverse smoother waters, a breathable tread shoe will suffice. If, on the other hand, you’ll need to wade through pebble-filled waters, you’ll want to get bootie-style shoes with a thick sole.
Nonetheless, regardless of the nature of the surface you’ll walk through, the shoes you get should be comfortable, sturdy, and well suited to the specific type of environment you’ll be kayaking in.
You just never know where you might end up on a boating adventure. Either way, it’s always a good idea to be prepared, and getting the best shoes for kayaking is one way to do that. Any of the shoes we’ve reviewed in this guide would make an excellent choice for your on-water excursions.
Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.