As someone who kayaks regularly, I’ve learned the hard way that regular outdoor shoes just won’t do. They don’t offer enough traction on slippery surfaces, have little to no waterproofing, and lack breathability—features that actual kayaking shoes excel at.
Kayak shoes provide increased stability, protection, and warmth while kayaking, making the experience safer and more comfortable.
To help you find the best shoes for kayaking, I’ve reviewed some of the most noteworthy kayaking shoes to wear on your next paddle trip. Spoiler alert: they’re all under $100! I’ve also included a buyer’s guide to help you with your purchase.
Let’s dive right in!
Top 7 Shoes for Kayaking
|Best Overall: Merrell All-Out Blaze Aero Sport Shoes|
|Runner Up: Simari Water Shoes|
|Best Value: Mishansha Water Shoes|
|Speedo Men’s Water Shoe Surfwalker Pro|
|L-RUN Athletic Water Shoes|
|Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe|
|HIITAVE Womens’ Water Shoes|
Chosen for their quality, breathability, and waterproof capabilities, here are the best shoes for kayaking:
1. Best Overall: Merrell All-Out Blaze Aero Sport Shoes
Made with breathable mesh lining, a cushioned UniFly midsole, and a Vibram TC5+ outsole, the Merrell Aero Sport Shoes are as durable as they’re comfortable.
They’re true-to-size and fit securely around the foot, making them suitable for activities such as kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, snorkeling, and other intense outdoor excursions.
Thanks to their mesh paneling and synthetic soles, the Merrell Aero Sport is breathable and quick to dry. Plus, they accommodate feet of all kinds, making them surprisingly well-rounded.
- Great traction on loose terrain
- Water-resistant design
- Comfortable due to cushioned EVA foam midsole
- Doesn’t feature a specialty arch support
2. Simari Water Shoes – Runner Up
Available in laced and non-laced variants, the Simari Water Shoes come with everything you need in kayaking shoes: breathable material? Check. Drainage design? Of course. Protective outsole with increased traction? Absolutely.
Simari Water Shoes are specifically designed for outdoor activities with a lot of water, including kayaking, swimming, sailing, and scuba diving.
Featuring an eight-hole drainage design, these shoes keep your feet well-drained and cool even in water. The soles are made with high-quality rubber materials with a textured design to improve balance and traction in slippery places.
- Easy to put on and off
- Breathable fabric with a fast-draining design
- Soft cushioning for increased comfort
- No ankle support
3. Mishansha Water Shoes – Best Value
Available in up to 40 different colors and designs, the Mishansha Water Shoes perfectly balance quality and functionality.
These shoes are lightweight, breathable, and wear-resistant and are suitable for water-related activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, and scuba diving. It’s made with Lycra material for cross-ventilation and fast drying, which helps with odor prevention.
It also features an anti-slip camo rubber sole for better traction, elastic straps for quick adjustment, and a pull tap at the heel for quick entry.
- Lightweight at only 9.5 ounces
- Drainage holes on the soles to assist with fast drying
- Elastic straps for secure adjustment
- Unsuitable for people with wide feet
4. Speedo Men’s Water Shoe Surfwalker Pro
The Surfwalker Pro is a speedo water shoe that excels in comfort and breathability. Its cushioned insole provides impact protection from hard surfaces, while its propriety S-Trac outsole seeps water away from the shoe for increased traction and slip resistance.
Featuring a tight-fitting neoprene design, the Surfwater Pro allows for a full range of motion. It likewise offers great insulation from cold temperatures, making it suitable for kayaking in colder climates.
- Quick-drying material
- Snug but comfortable fit
- Doesn’t absorb water
- Effective traction for slippery surfaces like kayaks, boats, or rocks
- Has a narrow design, so they’re not the best for people with wide feet
- Don’t provide arch support for people with high arches
5. L-RUN Athletic Water Shoes
They feature a honeycomb insole structure, multiple drainage holes for quick drying, sweat-absorbing fabric, and a durable TPR sole for maximum traction. In addition, they’re flexible, lightweight, and easy to put on and take off thanks to the elastic draw-string band.
- Sweat-absorbent material
- Grippy TPR sole lets you run on slippery and wet terrains
- Suitable for both narrow and wide feet
- Not the most durable
6. Body Glove 3T Barefoot Cinch Water Shoe
The Body Glove 3T Water Shoes may look goofy, but no one can argue their effectiveness.
Lightweight and flexible, the three-toe design makes them feel like you’re wearing no shoes. The shoes’ streamlined design wrap around the feet ergonomically, offering the highest level of mobility you can imagine.
Made with an Integrated Drainage System (IDS) and quick-dry materials, these shoes keep your feet warm and dry while kayaking.
Moreover, they offer ample padding and insulation for increased comfort during colder climates. The adjustable drawstring laces make tightening and syncing easy, resulting in a snug fit with zero lift.
- Embedded with a mesh drainage system to continuously drain water when wet
- Ergonomic, comfortable design
- Soles lined with rubber grip for increased traction on the kayak
- Design might be off-putting to some
- Can cause friction in the middle toe slot
7. HIITAVE Womens’ Water Shoes
These water shoes by HIITAVE boast an impressive degree of stretch. With this in mind, it isn’t easy to ascertain whether it fits a wide foot, given that it yields more pliability once moistened. Ultimately, this model proved very comfy!
- Breathable and ultra-light material
- Easy to put on and take off
- Dries quickly
- No half sizes so it may not be an exact fit
Factors to Consider When Buying Kayaking Shoes
When buying kayaking shoes, consider these factors:
- Material: When buying kayaking shoes, look for footwear made of waterproof materials like neoprene or rubber. Shoes made of non-waterproof materials deteriorate faster, making them uncomfortable or even downright dangerous when wet.
- Fit and Closure: Kayaking shoes need to fit your feet snuggly. They should be tight enough to minimize movement when walking, even when they’re wet. If the shoes are too big or loose, rocks and debris can get inside them, leading to cuts and blisters.
- Durability: Kayaking can do a number on even the toughest of shoes, which is why durability is of utmost importance when picking footwear for kayaking shoes. Search for a pair that can withstand various terrains like sand, rocks, and gravel. The shoes need to be stitched well and offer all-around protection, regardless of the location or activity.
- Breathability: Buy kayaking shoes with breathable fabric, like mesh to prevent odors. This allows good airflow and keeps your feet cool, even during summer.
- Traction: To maintain stability and protect your feet from slipping, search for shoes with thick rubber outsoles.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of shoes do you wear for kayaking?
The ideal footwear for kayaking is water shoes or water booties. These shoes are lightweight, warm, and water-ready.
How do I keep my feet dry when kayaking?
Wear thick, waterproof socks inside your waterproof paddling booties to keep your feet dry while kayaking. These socks keep you warm and protect your feet from the liquid.
What are the best waterproof shoes for kayaking?
The best waterproof shoes for kayaking are comfortable, protective, and waterproof. They should have enough support and traction for wet and slippery surfaces and rocky surfaces for hiking during portaging.
The kayaking shoes above feature these characteristics, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. However, if I had to pick, I’d say my favorite is the Merrell All-Out Blaze Aero Sport Shoes because of the shoes’ versatility, quality, and overall performance.