This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive commissions for purchases made through those links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info here.

10 Best Shoes For Kayaking (2021 Reviews and Guide)

In this article, we will take a look at the best shoes for kayaking. We will also discuss what you should look for before making your purchase. There are many different options to choose from, so we will break it all down for you.

Kayaking is a great outdoor activity that many people enjoy. You might not think about shoes when it comes to paddling your kayak, but there are some excellent benefits to wearing kayak shoes. Whether you are new to kayaking or have a lot of experience, the right shoes really help.

If you are using an inflatable kayak or a hardshell kayak, good kayak shoes can keep you from slipping and keep your feet dry.  With that said, let’s get right to it!

Best shoes for kayaking

If you are in a hurry, here’s a shortcut for the top picks!

Preview
Best for Women
SIMARI Water Shoes Mens Womens Sports Quick Dry Barefoot Diving Swim Surf Aqua Walking Beach Yoga 209 GrayPinPin
Best for Men
ALEADER Aqua Water Shoes for Men, Comfortable Tennis Walking Sneakers for Travel, Outdoor Black/Green 11 D(M) USPinPin
Best for Cold Conditions
CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Waterproof Socks, Beach Volleyball Sand Proof Socks, Wetsuit Snorkel Socks Keep Warm for Men WomenPinPin
Title
SIMARI Water Shoes Mens Womens Sports Quick Dry Barefoot Diving Swim Surf Aqua Walking Beach Yoga 209 Gray
ALEADER Aqua Water Shoes for Men, Comfortable Tennis Walking Sneakers for Travel, Outdoor Black/Green 11 D(M) US
CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Waterproof Socks, Beach Volleyball Sand Proof Socks, Wetsuit Snorkel Socks Keep Warm for Men Women
Customer Rating
Prime
-
Price
$28.99
Price not available
$19.99
Best for Women
Preview
SIMARI Water Shoes Mens Womens Sports Quick Dry Barefoot Diving Swim Surf Aqua Walking Beach Yoga 209 GrayPinPin
Title
SIMARI Water Shoes Mens Womens Sports Quick Dry Barefoot Diving Swim Surf Aqua Walking Beach Yoga 209 Gray
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$28.99
Details
Best for Men
Preview
ALEADER Aqua Water Shoes for Men, Comfortable Tennis Walking Sneakers for Travel, Outdoor Black/Green 11 D(M) USPinPin
Title
ALEADER Aqua Water Shoes for Men, Comfortable Tennis Walking Sneakers for Travel, Outdoor Black/Green 11 D(M) US
Customer Rating
Prime
-
Price
Price not available
Details
Best for Cold Conditions
Preview
CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Waterproof Socks, Beach Volleyball Sand Proof Socks, Wetsuit Snorkel Socks Keep Warm for Men WomenPinPin
Title
CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Waterproof Socks, Beach Volleyball Sand Proof Socks, Wetsuit Snorkel Socks Keep Warm for Men Women
Customer Rating
Prime
Price
$19.99
Details

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

#1 Mishansha Water Shoes Quick-Dry

Mishansha Mens Womens Water Shoes Quick Dry Barefoot for Swim Diving Surf Aqua Sports Pool Beach Walking Yoga Black 10
  • PERFECT MATERIAL:Upper with salt resistance wear resistance stretch breathable ultra light weight Lycra material for fast draining and cross ventilation, give excellent flexible and comfortable.
  • QUICK DRY WITH DRAINAGE HOLES:Unique and top-quality anti slip camo rubber sole, with several holes on each bottom to ensure proper water flow out of them which creates a cooler and healthier shoe environment
  • Easy On and Off:The pull tap at the heel allows for quick and easy entry, protecting your feet from dripping off.
  • ELASTIC STRAPS:According to the width of the foot quickly adjust the shoes elastic and avoid the annoyance of tying your shoes.
  • IDEAL FOR ANY ACTIVITY:Women and men perfect for beach, swimming, surf, pool, sailing, boating, kayaking, windsurfing, beach volleyball, long airline flight, yoga, performing pilates exercises aerobics etc. The shoe is necessary equipment for vacations.

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Lightweight lycra with rubber sole
For Men or Women:Both Men and Women
Cut:Low

This ultra-lightweight Lycra kayak shoe provides excellent flexibility and comfort. The elastic straps give you a snug, glove-like fit.

The rubber soles are flexible to move with you, but provide excellent protection from rocks, branches, and other obstacles in your way.

The Mishansha water shoe is quick-drying and includes seven drainage holes in the bottom of the shoe. This ensures water flows out of the shoe properly and helps your feet stay cool and dry.

This kayaking shoe comes in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes available for both men and women. With a reasonable price point, this is an excellent shoe for kayaking or other water sports like paddleboarding.

PROS

Lightweight
Flexible, anti-slip rubber sole
Elastic straps for a snug fit
Quick drainage holes for drying
Durable
Breathable

CONS

The grip is not great on wet rocks
Sizes run a bit big

Summary

If you are in the market for a lightweight shoe that drains well, take a look at this shoe. Some reviewers have said the grip is not great on wet rocks, so that is a bummer. This shoe will give you proper protection on the bottom of your feet and a comfortable tight feel.


#2 SIMARI Water Shoes

Sale
SIMARI Water Shoes Mens Womens Sports Quick Dry Barefoot Diving Swim Surf Aqua Walking Beach Yoga 209 Gray
  • BREATHABLE FABRIC: The upper is made of mesh material with stretch, like socks that snug your skin softly and guarantee the breathable and quick-dry experience.
  • UNIQUE DESIGN: The design for our product is based on ergonomic principal which has good performance in cushion. Each sole has 8 holes to ensure well in drainage that keep feet-feeling more cooler.
  • CONVENIENT WEARING: The elastic-shoelace with locking mechanisms can quickly adjust the loose, and elastic shoes neckline allows you easily put on and take off.
  • SAFETY: The soles is made of rubber materials and the unique bump texture design that easily keep balance in slip-place and protect your feet from hot beach or sharp rock.
  • Occasions: SIMARI water shoes perfectly suit for beach or water games like swimming, kite surfing, pool, sailing, kayaking, beach volleyball etc. Especially for family outings!

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Elastic Lycra, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Both Men and Women
Cut:Low

Here is a kayaking shoe with a sock-like upper that fits snug to your foot. The Lycra material is lightweight, breathable, and dries quickly.

The rubber sole is flexible, grips wet surfaces, and has eight drain holes to ensure water flows out. This unique drain system helps the shoe dry quickly and makes your feet feel cool. The bottom of the shoe is durable and is designed to protect your feet from sharp rocks and other obstacles.

Elastic shoelaces let you adjust the fit and help you get these kayak shoes on and off quickly. There are a lot of color choices and sizes to choose from for both men and women.

PROS

Lightweight
Durable
Quick-drying
Rubber sole protects your feet
Good grip on rocks

CONS

The biggest complaint is the sizes run big
The sole is thin, not ideal for rough water conditions

Summary

This highly-rated shoe will protect your feet with a rugged rubber sole. The shoe grips well to prevent slips. The drainage and breathability of the kayak shoe are excellent. If you are looking for comfortable and durable footwear for your next kayak adventure, this is a great option.


#3 KEEN Men’s Newport H2

KEEN mens Newport H2 Sandal , Navy/Medium Grey , 10 M US
  • Performance sport sandal featuring bungee lacing system and rear pull-on loop
  • Supportive contoured arch; Care: All KEEN water sandals are machine washable. Use a small amount of detergent, wash on gentle cycle and air dry. Fit Tip: This style is running a 1/2 size small. We suggest ordering a 1/2 size larger than your usual size
  • Metatarsal ridge support
  • Multi-directional flex grooves on outsole
  • Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Polyester webbing, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Men
Cut:Low

KEEN is a popular brand of outdoor footwear and for a good reason. I have owned several pair of KEEN sandals over the years. These shoes are durable, rugged, and very comfortable.

The H2’s have a waterproof upper, which sounds crazy for a sandal. The shoe obviously is not waterproof. This just means that the materials can handle the water.

The footbed on the H2’s is very comfortable to wear for long periods. The hard rubber soles are durable and take a beating. Your toes are well protected by the rubber covering.

The bungee lacing system is excellent and offers you just the right fit. The shoes stay secure on your feet. The only negative about these shoes and sandals, in general, is that sand and gravel can get stuck under your foot, which is kind of annoying. This is not a deal-breaker given all the other positives.

The KEEN H2’s are one of the best shoes for kayaking. They are designed to drain well and are extremely well ventilated. H2’s are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. This particular model is for men, KEEN’s are available for women also.

PROS

Durable
Bungee lacing
Rear pull-on loop
Waterproof upper
The footbed is very comfortable
Toes are well protected

CONS

They can be a bit clunky
Sand and smaller rocks can find there way in

Summary

KEEN H2’s are one of the best kayaking shoes. They are well ventilated, dry pretty quickly, and are very comfortable. One thing I love about these shoes is even when wet they are comfortable to walk around in.


#4 KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandal

Sale
KEEN Women's Whisper Sandal, Lavender/Dawn Pink, 5
  • WASHABLE POLYESTER WEBBING UPPER
  • SECURE-FIT LACE-CAPTURE SYSTEM
  • QUICK-DRY LINING FOR ACTIVE USE
  • METATOMICAL MOLDED EVA FOOTBED
  • COMPRESSION-MOLDED EVA MIDSOLE FOR CUSHIONING

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:100% polyester webbing upper
For Men or Women:Women
Cut:Low

KEEN water sandals are excellent kayak shoes. I own a pair, and so does my wife. This particular model is specially designed for women. The rubber sole is rugged, durable, and stands up to a lot of use.

The shoe is well ventilated and extremely comfortable to wear. Water drains very well from these shoes. One of the best aspects of these KEEN’s is that they are comfortable to wear even when wet. They also dry pretty quickly.

Your toes will be nicely protected, and the bungee laces are for a perfect fit. The Whisper sandal is machine washable too. The only negative I can think of, with sandals in general, small rocks and sand can get stuck in the footbed.

PROS

Comfortable
Rugged
Durable
Well ventilated
Easy to put on and take off
Your toes are well protected

CONS

Sand and gravel can get stuck in the footbed

Summary

I really like KEEN sandals, these make an excellent shoe for kayaking. KEEN’s are more expensive than other shoes on the list, but it’s worth it. These shoes are durable, comfortable, and will protect your feet well while kayaking.


#5 Aleader Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

ALEADER Women's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes Blue 6.5 D(M) US
  • Breathable and durable air mesh upper allow the foot to breathe
  • Solyte midsole provides an exceptionally lightweight midsole with excellent bounce-back and durability
  • Water Drain outsole provides exceptional traction in wet and slippery conditions
  • ComforDry sockliner provides the optimum cushioning performance that creates a cooler, drier and healthier shoe environment.
  • Open mesh on the upper and hole on the sole provides for superior breathability and quick drying

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Hydrophobic mesh upper, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Women
Cut:Low

Aleader makes lightweight and comfortable shoes for water sports. A breathable and durable mesh upper helps make this one of the best shoes for kayaking.

The shoe is easy to put on and take off with the help of a rear loop. The soft, breathable mesh material is comfortable and well ventilated. The sock liner gives you some cushion and helps to make the shoe cooler and drier.

The sole of the shoe has rubber pods in the high water areas, and this helps with how the shoe grips. This shoe offers excellent grip in wet conditions.

The design also helps to drain water, which allows the shoe to dry quickly. This is an excellent shoe for kayaking and is available in a wide range of sizes and colors.

PROS

Durable upper
Durable rubber sole
Extra rubber on the sole to ensure a good grip
Drains well
Quick-drying

CONS

The toebox runs a bit wide for some women

Summary

Aleader makes an excellent kayaking shoe for women. The mesh upper is comfortable, durable, and dries quickly. The reinforced rubber sole puts more grip in the high water areas where the shoe drains.


#6 NRS Women’s Paddle Wetshoe

NRS Paddle Wetshoe - Women's, Black/Gray, 9, 30040.02.103
  • Built on a naturally shaped women-specific last, the Women's Paddle Wetshoe provides outstanding fit and comfort.
  • High-top, low-profile design provides outstanding warmth and protection without bulk.
  • The gusset-backed YKK entry zipper opens wide, making the Paddle Wetshoe easy to put on and take off.
  • 3 mm Terraprene neoprene with a heat-reflecting titanium layer keeps feet toasty when the water's chilly.
  • Soft, fleece-like VaporLoft lining repels water and dries instantly for superior warmth and comfort. The sole wraps up around the heel and toe for extra protection. Extra padding over the outside ankle protects that pressure point inside your boat. Stretchy rubber support bands improve lateral stability without adding volume.

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Neoprene upper, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Women
Cut:High
Height:6 inches
Thickness:3mm

The NRS paddle shoe is an excellent kayaking shoe for women. This shoe gives you a great fit and all-day comfort. The high-top design keeps you warm but is not bulky.

The zipper makes it easy to put on and take off with 3mm Terraprene neoprene, and an added titanium layer helps keep you warm.

The wraparound sole provides extra protection for your heels and toes. The sole is 3mm thick and protects your feet from rocks and tree roots.

PROS

Tall shoe
Keeps you warm
Wraparound rubber sole
Durable
Flexible
Great kayak shoe for cold conditions

CONS

Runs a bit small
Gets pretty warm

Summary

If you are looking for a flexible kayak shoe that will keep you warm in chilly conditions, this wet shoe is worth a shot. The shoe is flexible, provides protection for your feet, and will keep you warm. This is an excellent option for all types of paddlers.


#7 Mares Neoprene 2mm Water Sports Booties

Sale
Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots, 8
  • 2mm nylon II neoprene
  • Vulcanized rubber sole
  • Glued and blind stitched
  • Protective tall heel
  • Color: Black

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Neoprene
For Men or Women:Men or Women
Cut:Low
Thickness:2mm

These shoes from Mares are very lightweight and have excellent grip. The neoprene upper is 2mm thick ideal for a thin kayaking shoe. These shoes are thin and flexible and keep your feet dry.

The rubber soles provide a solid grip for different surfaces you will come across. They will keep mud off your feet when you get in and out of your kayak. The soles are thin and flexible, which is a great feature for kayaking.

The only issue with the thin sole is these shoes may not be as protective as a shoe with a thicker sole. For many obstacles, you will encounter while kayaking, these will be great.

These booties are easy to put on and take off, making them excellent for outdoor watersports like kayaking. The shoes dry quickly and provide a snug fit.

These shoes are sized for men, but women can wear them also. For women, you would need to adjust the size accordingly.

PROS

Lightweight
Comfortable
Keep your feet dry
Excellent for kayaking

CONS

Soles are a little thin
Women need to adjust the size based on men’s shoe sizes

Summary

The Mares water booties are an excellent shoe for kayaking. These will help keep your feet warm and dry. The soles are a little thin compared to some of the other shoes on the list. Pay attention to what kind of terrain you will encounter when you are on the water. Overall, this is a highly-rated kayak shoe.


#8 CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Socks

CAPAS 2mm Neoprene Waterproof Socks, Beach Volleyball Sand Proof Socks, Wetsuit Snorkel Socks Keep Warm for Men Women
  • CAPAS Durable Neoprene Socks: With 2mm sole and toe area design, this pair of water socks is breathable and is mainly for protecting your feet against rocks without holes developed soon.
  • Comfortable Fit: Seamless glued inner socks layer never rubs against your toes or leads a blistered heel. Super soft, stretchy and breathable material for water and sand sports like: beach volleyball, beach soccer, diving, Rafting
  • Sand-proof: The top part of socks made of high quality material snugly seals your feet, Also Glued and Blindstitched seam glues the neoprene together prevent micro sand getting into the socks.
  • Anti-slip: Applied with SUVS tire pattern on the bottom sole, the water socks has silicone traction to grip the slippery surface like the boat deck, swimming pool, or shore. Just enjoying your trip without worrying about slipping down.
  • Fine Workmanship For Multi-purpose: This pair of neoprene water socks is perfect for various water sports like swimming, diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking and other sports like beach soccer, beach volleyball.

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Neoprene
For Men or Women:Men or Women
Cut:Just above the ankle
Thickness:2mm

This 2mm neoprene sock will keep your feet warm even in wet and cool conditions. There are a couple of features that make this sock unique and set it apart from other kayaking shoes.

First of all, the sock is seamless, so it will not rub against your toes or feet, causing blisters. The neoprene material is soft, stretchy, and breathable, which is great for kayaking.

Another feature is the silicone traction on the bottom of the sock. This helps you grip different surfaces you come across when you are kayaking. These socks will keep your feet out of the mud when you get in and out of your kayak.

These will also help protect your feet from hot sand when you are walking across the shore. You can even use them with sandals.

One downside is the sole is not rugged like some of the other shoes on this list. These are not the best option for sharp rocks and rough terrain. But they will keep your feet comfy and cozy while you are on the water.

PROS

Comfortable
Seamless design helps prevent blisters
Keep your feet warm
Protect your feet when you are launching your kayak
Keeps sand out

CONS

Sole is not thick for sharp rocks

Summary

This neoprene sock will keep your feet warm and dry while you are kayaking. You can wear them with sandals, or standalone. They are sized for men, but women can wear them too. The soles are not as rugged as other options, but these will keep your feet out of the mud.


#9 DOUSSPRT Men’s Water Shoes

Sale
DOUSSPRT Men's Water Shoes Quick Drying Sports Aqua Shoes
  • 1.Fabric
  • 2.Breathable and durable air mesh upper allow the foot to breathe.
  • 3.Open mesh on the upper and hole on the sole provides for superior breathability and quick drying.
  • 4.OCCASION - beach, swimming, pool, wake-boarding, sailing, boating, kayaking, windsurfing, cycling, jogging, walking, fishing, beach volleyball, gardening, lawn, car-washing and driving. Family outings!
  • 5.Feel free to contact us if any questions before ordering and after-sale issues!

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Polyester mesh upper, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Men
Cut:Low

A breathable upper mesh and a rubber sole make this one of the best shoes for kayaking. The open mesh helps to ventilate the shoe for excellent breathability and quick drying.

The sole of the shoe is designed to improve drainage and resist slipping. These shoes are great for walking in mud and on rocks. The slip-resistant bottom helps keep you upright.

These water shoes are easy to slip on and off, and the soles are flexible and comfortable. The bungee lacing helps you with a nice snug fit.

PROS

Comfortable
Drains well
Quick-drying
Durable rubber sole
Slip-resistant

CONS

Sizes run big

Summary

This lightweight, durable shoe is excellent for kayaking as well as other water sports. The comfortable mesh upper and slip-resistant sole drains well and drys fast. This highly-rated shoe comes at a reasonable price.


#10 ALEADER Men’s Outventure

ALEADER Aqua Water Shoes for Men, Comfortable Tennis Walking Sneakers for Travel, Outdoor Black/Green 11 D(M) US
  • Breathable and durable air mesh upper allow the foot to breathe
  • Solyte midsole provides an exceptionally lightweight midsole with excellent bounce-back and durability
  • Water Drain outsole provides exceptional traction in wet and slippery conditions
  • ComforDry sockliner provides the optimum cushioning performance that creates a cooler, drier and healthier shoe environment.
  • Open mesh on the upper and hole on the sole provides for superior breathability and quick drying

Last update on 2021-07-28 at 09:14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Material:Mesh upper, rubber sole
For Men or Women:Men
Cut:Low

The Outventure is one of the best shoes for kayaking for a couple of reasons. The mesh upper is well ventilated, drains well, and dries quickly. The shoe is designed to keep your feet cool and dry.

The shoes are easy to put on and take off, which is very convenient when you are kayaking. There is an easy pull loop on the back of the shoe, and the bungee lacing helps you get a comfortable, snug fit.

The sole is durable, rugged, flexible, and will protect your feet from rocks and other objects. These shoes are slip-resistant, which is great for kayaking. The sole of the shoe has extra rubber pods placed where you need them most to help with slipping.

PROS

Flexible
Designed to keep your feet cool
Durable, rugged sole
Bungee lacing
Easy to put on and take off

CONS

Runs a bit large
Can get sand stuck between the mesh

Summary

Overall, this is a great value for a kayaking shoe. The shoe is flexible, durable, and drains well.


Do you really need shoes for kayaking?

Think about this. Sometimes when you are kayaking, you may have to carry your boat over some rough terrain. You want to make sure your feet are protected in these situations. You may also have to get out of your kayak for many reasons.

Maybe you tipped over and find yourself trying to get your footing on a rocky creek bottom. Or perhaps you are kayak camping, and you need to walk through a wooded area. When you break it down like this, you want to make sure you have the best shoes for kayaking before your embark on your adventure.

Best kayak shoes – What to look for

There are a lot of things to consider when you think about footwear for kayaking. Let’s take a look at what to look for before spending your hard-earned money.

Size

This is pretty obvious, right? You need to have a pair of kayak shoes that are the right size. You don’t want to have your foot jammed into a pair of too-small shoes, making for a miserable day on the water. This can lead to blisters or cramps in your feet.

Shoes that are too big are no good either. Remember the scenarios I touched on earlier? Imagine walking on a slipper creek or river bottom in shoes that are too big. You will be sliding around in the shoes and on the ground. Again, you might be looking at blisters, etc. with shoes that are too big.

Wet conditions add an unpleasant element to wearing shoes, so it’s vital to have the right size. Mind you, shoes will feel different when they are wet. If possible, you will want to try them on before buying them.

Make sure the fit feels right, snug, but not too snug. Different brands run big or small compared to others, so you must find the right size.

What’s it made of?

Having a shoe made from the right materials is very important when you will be in and out of the water. Neoprene is one of the most commonly used materials in the best shoes for kayaking, for many reasons. One benefit of neoprene is that it maintains flexibility in a wide range of temperatures.

Neoprene is also used for kayak shoes because it is a lightweight material; it is pliable, has insulating properties, and certain forms are waterproof. Neoprene can be produced in open-cell or closed-cell forms.

Closed-cell is waterproof, and open-cell is breathable. Many of the properties necessary for a good kayaking shoe are covered by neoprene.

Many people wear sandals, but these are not as protective as a water shoe explicitly made for kayaking. Sandals can get rocks, mud, and other debris stuck in them, which is extremely uncomfortable.

Water sandals usually have a strap around the back, and that is a double edge sword. Although the strap can help keep sandals on your feet, it can also get caught on a rock or tree branch. If this happens, you can end up falling or tripping.

I do recommend avoiding shoes like flip-flops or slides that will slip off your feet easily. These are not made with materials specifically for kayaking, or water. Your feet will also be exposed since these are open-toed shoes.

Pay attention to the materials used in kayak shoes. Look for pliable materials, offer protection, and will not include a tripping hazard. It’s hard enough to walk in a creek or a lake with the right shoes.

Season and temperature

Temperatures in and out of the water play a significant role in which kayak shoes you should buy. I always forget how cold water is, even when it’s warm outside. If you are using your kayak during the winter or in cold weather, the best shoes for kayaking will be made from thicker neoprene. You want to keep your feet warm!

Additionally, if it’s cold, you might want to invest in socks (like wool socks) that you can wear under your kayaking shoes. You may want a higher shoe, like a boot. This will help keep your feet warm.

In warm weather, not only will the air be warmer, but so is the water. You want a kayaking shoe that will allow your feet to breathe. This will be a lightweight shoe made of thin neoprene, mesh, or maybe even sandals. Yes, I know I didn’t speak highly of sandals earlier, but there might be a time and place for them.

You don’t need bulky kayak shoes when you are trying to stay cool. A thin, lightweight shoe with a flexible sole will be comfortable for warm weather applications.

The best fit

The best shoes for kayaking should fit snug, like a glove. Since kayaking shoes are lightweight, sometimes you may not even realize you are wearing shoes.

Like we discussed earlier, you don’t want them to be too tight or too loose. Having shoes that are either too loose or too tight is no good, especially when they are wet. You don’t want blisters.

A secure fit is essential. If you plan to go swimming or have to drag your kayak through the water, you don’t want your shoes slipping off. You want to have confidence in your footing.

Terrain

You may not give much thought to terrain when you go kayaking, but there are some things to keep in mind. For instance, you might have to haul your kayak along a rocky shore to launch your boat. If you fall overboard or decide to go swimming, you might be dealing with muddy conditions. Walking along a creek or river bottom is challenging enough without maneuvering a kayak too.

In conditions like these, having the right footwear is important. Walking across rocks in flip-flops, while carrying a kayak is not a great idea, been there, done that. Wearing a kayaking shoe with a flexible yet rugged sole will help balance, grip, and protect your feet.

When you are out for a day on the water, you will find all sorts of conditions, moss-covered rocky areas, tree branches, sharp rocks, etc.

Having a breathable, durable shoe is essential to make sure you are prepared for whatever you encounter.

Here is a real-life example. My wife and I go kayaking at a lake in our area. We park pretty close to the lake but still have to walk from the parking lot. In that short walk, there are tree branches, rough rocks, slippery rocks, sand, and it’s downhill. I quickly learned that flip-flops are not a great option.

Comfort

Choosing a comfortable kayaking shoe is essential. We have touched on this before, the shoe needs to fit correctly to do its job. If the shoe is not comfortable, you will end up with blisters or other injuries to put a damper on your trip.

With all of the different terrain you might face, weather, and water conditions, you want to have a comfortable shoe. The shoe should fit like a glove, and you really shouldn’t have to think about your footwear.

Make sure you try on a few different kayaking shoes to find one that is comfortable for you.

Quick-drying

The best shoes for kayaking dry quickly. When your feet are wet all day, it’s no fun. Fortunately, most kayaking shoes are made of lightweight materials and will dry pretty quickly. This is something to keep in mind when you are shopping around.

Some shoes will dry fast by the nature of how they are made. Other kayaking shoes have drain holes in them to help them dry faster. A quick-drying kayak shoe is preferable to other shoes, like boots or athletic shoes.

The weather will make a difference in how quickly your kayak shoes will dry, so keep that in mind. Colder days will take longer to dry than warm days.

Breathable

The best kayak shoe will breathe. This is important to help the shoe dry out if it gets wet and let your feet breathe. Fortunately, many of the top kayaking shoes are made from breathable materials.

A kayak shoe should be made of lightweight, breathable material for the best experience. We have talked about how uncomfortable wet feet are. You can get blisters from your foot slopping around inside a wet shoe.

At the end of the day, you want your shoe to breathe so your feet can dry off quickly.

A Breathable shoe is excellent for warm weather, so you don’t get too hot, but they can still protect your feet.

Durability

A key ingredient to any shoe is durability. You want a kayaking shoe to hold up to jagged rocks, tree branches, and other obstacles you might come across, and you also want the shoe to last for a long time. You are spending your hard-earned money on a shoe, let’s make sure it’s durable.

A durable rubber sole can take a beating and provide you with an excellent grip on various terrain. If you step on jagged rocks, you don’t want your kayaking shoe to rip. Or if you happen to catch your foot on a tree branch, a durable shoe is essential.

Kayaking shoes need to be able to hold up in the elements, including hot or cold weather. That goes for water conditions too.

Just keep these things in mind, you might encounter rocks, branches, mud, etc., so a durable kayak shoe will serve you well.

Grip

The best kayak shoe will grip different surfaces well. Think about all the different elements your feet will contact when you are out for a kayak trip. My wife and I walk downhill with loose gravel and dirt to get to some of our launch points. Having the right shoes sure helps.

Wet, slippery rocks near the shore, moss-covered rocks, and slippery tree branches are all conditions you may encounter when you are kayaking. When you get out of your kayak, you are looking at muddy lake bottoms, or slippery creek bottoms, so having a solid grip is important.

Also, you can slip getting in and out of your kayak. If your kayak is hardshell, when the inside gets wet, it will be slippery. It is important to have a kayaking shoe with a good grip so you can confidently walk with your kayak over various surfaces.

Waterproof

Kayak shoes won’t be waterproof in the sense that your feet will not get wet. Although some of the materials will be waterproof. Certain parts of the shoe can be protected from water.

For instance, leather can have a waterproof coating, which protects the material from water damage. Basically, you are looking for materials that will stand up to water.

Price

Think about how much you want to spend on your kayak shoes. There is a wide range of price points to consider. Figure out what you need from your shoe and go from there. If you just need a shoe to get you from the parking lot to a dock and there are no obstacles in between, you can probably get away with an entry-level shoe.

If you are walking over rough terrain to get to the water, you might want to spend more money on a durable shoe. How much you pay will be determined by the terrain and conditions you encounter.

If you plan on camping or hiking in addition to your kayak trip, you might need to spend more money on a shoe that will accommodate your activities. Keep in mind the materials used will impact the price of the shoe. The right shoe is priceless, in my opinion.

Conclusion

Best kayaking shoes - Barefeet on a kayakPin

There are a lot of options when it comes to the best shoes for kayaking. Keep a few things in mind when you are looking at different shoes. Look for breathable, fast-drying materials, a comfortable and durable footbed, and a slip-resistant sole. The shoe should be easy to get on and off when it’s wet.

While there is no perfect shoe for everyone, keep these features in mind when you are looking for a kayaking shoe.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Steve Morrow Founder of Paddle About
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve is an avid kayaker and founder of Paddle About. When he is not on the water, Steve enjoys outdoor activities, including fishing, camping, and hiking with his family. Read more.