What to wear on your feet while you’re kayaking? That’s a thought that we’re sure many of you have had right before you were about to set out and go on your kayaking adventure. Do you just wear your sandals? Do you say screw it and wear your tennis shoes?

Here’s the deal, no one can tell you the shoes you should wear. However, there certainly are certain footwear that work better for the activity than others. It’s not as if kayaking is like climbing or hiking in that it requires a high-performance shoe.

With that said, it’s still ideal to wear specific footwear that’s more or less optimized for the activity. So, with all that out of the way, let’s dive into the best shoes for kayaking that exist on the market today.

1. Mishansha Water Shoes

Most people will envision the best shoes for kayaking being water shoes, and they’re more or less correct. That said, not all water shoes are the same and we, in specific, really like this pair from Mishansha. On top of the fact that the price is right, the performance is pretty darn good too.

In spite of the cheaper price tag, the quality of the craftsmanship here is admirable. The upper has been made with a breathable, salt-resistant, and wear-resistant Lycra material. Meanwhile, the anti-slip rubber sole sports multiple drainage holes when water inevitably gets inside.

Speaking of that rubber sole, it’s not as anti-slip as it should be. When the sole gets wets, it can get slippery on different types of surfaces. When getting in and out of your kayak with these, just be careful is all.

Two other features we also love with these water shoes are the easy on and off thanks to the pull tab at the heel, and also the elastic straps for quick and easy adjustments. These would be even better with a better sole, but we still feel they’re strong enough to top this list.

✅ Pros

  • Loads of color options are available
  • The quality is terrific
  • Water drains out rather quickly

❌ Cons

  • Can be slippery when wet
  • Not the best grip on certain surfaces
  • Interior material can feel a little rough

2. Merrell Blaze Sieve Water Shoes

In the world of footwear, Merrell is a well-known and very good brand. It just so happens that the company makes a terrific water shoe, and it’s certainly one of the best shoes for kayaking. The price is a little steeper but trust us when we say that the price is worth it.

For starters, if you’re looking for water shoes that grip, you want these. Thanks to the Vibram TC5+ outsole, you don’t have to worry about getting ideal traction. In fact, rougher terrain shouldn’t even phase you thanks to this sole.

Past that, these sport 100 percent waterproof leather, though some may not like the fit and feel of these water shoes. It really just depends on how much you like leather footwear, we guess. Also, for easier on and off, these shoes feature a Lycra neoprene stretch collar.

A nice bonus is that these truly are good-looking water shoes. Not as if that’s more important than performance and function, but these are actually stylish, and there are different style options available too. Just terrific overall.

✅ Pros

  • Comfortable with and without socks
  • Offer tons of traction
  • Very stylish

❌ Cons

  • The upper takes a long time to dry
  • Some may not care for the fit and feel
  • Pricy

3. Neo Sport Wetsuit Boots

Unlike the other two best shoes for kayaking on this list, these are actually neoprene boots. They’re sort of similar but as you can see when you look at them, they sit much higher on your legs. Not just for kayaking as they’re great for a number of different water activities.

So, what makes these so great? Well, for one, they actually provide foot support and thermal protection for your feet while kayaking. However, they may not be the best for super-hot days out there on your kayak, unless the water you’re on is really cold.

Designed with a WEB water-entry-barrier, these allow water in a little bit too easily for most people’s liking. Still, the barrier works decently. The high-traction sole, while not incredibly thick, provides good tread for solid durability and ideal traction.

Lastly, there’s a zipper that runs nearly the entire length of the boot that can be used for easy on and off. It can also make it easier to remove excess water that gets inside if it starts to bother you. Perhaps you might think it’d be silly to wear a pair of boots while kayaking, but these can be terrific for colder kayaking adventures and for more protection.

✅ Pros

  • Designed with good tread
  • Hold up well in rough terrain
  • Very comfortable to wear

❌ Cons

  • Allow water in a bit too easily
  • Sole could be thicker
  • The zippers could stay closed better

4. Chaco Zcloud Sandal

Perhaps you have no interest in wearing a pair of water shoes or boots while kayaking. That’s okay as one of the best shoes for kayaking happens to be a pair of sandals. Sandals have an advantage over shoes for kayaking as they, naturally, allow your feet to breathe more.

What’s truly great about these sandals is they’re simple in their design. They’ve been designed with a toe-loop for forefoot control, adjustable straps for a custom fit, and also a podiatrist-certified footbed for ideal support and comfort. Plus, they feature slip-resistant footing which can come in handy for kayaking and walking, in general.

The general consensus from the consumer base is that these can take some time to break in. Some just can’t get used to the feeling of them, but it might be wise to wear them and break them in a little bit before you go kayaking with them.

The biocentric footbed helps a lot with comfort, as well as the adjustable straps to allow for a custom fit. As far as the quality goes, that’s pretty good too. Expect these to hold up for a long time granted you aren’t too rough on them.

✅ Pros

  • They look very nice
  • They adjust very well
  • Designed with slip-resistant footing

❌ Cons

  • Takes time to break-in
  • Some can’t get used to the feeling
  • A little pricy

5. Mares Neoprene Boots

An extremely popular option, these ankle boots from Mares are nice if you do want a pair of neoprene boots to kayak with but also don’t want them to sit near your calves. Very lightweight and easy to pack, these also aren’t going to break the bank for anyone.

Past the neoprene construction which is great for kayaking, the heels are rubberized, and this allows the straps to stay in place consistently. The soles of the boots have been textured for a better grip, but they’re not very thick. If there are rocks on the ground underneath the water, for example, you’re probably going to feel them a little bit.

And while other options may drain a little more quickly, these do a fine job of keeping water out and draining excess water that gets inside. Overall, they’re also quite comfortable to wear even after a couple of hours in the kayak.

Regarding sizing, these seem to run large. If you’re worried about that, it might be wise to order a size down from what you would normally order. Not a surprise, really, as it can be very tough to order shoes and boots online (for anything).

✅ Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to take off and put on
  • Designed with rubberized heels

❌ Cons

  • Could drain more quickly
  • Tend to run large
  • The soles could be thicker

Frequently asked questions

Will sand get inside the water shoes?

When you shop for the best shoes for kayaking, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to be walking on sand with them. The question is, though, do water shoes and boots keep sand out? Here’s the deal, with drainage holes and probably mesh throughout, keeping sand out will be close to impossible.

The same goes with sandals, clearly, as sandals aren’t going to enclose your feet. The good news is most of the best shoes for kayaking will be easy to take off and put on. So, you can easily dump out excess sand in your shoes even while in your kayak.

How do you care for your kayaking shoes?

Well, you certainly don’t have to worry about ruining your shoes by soaking them in water as the best shoes for kayaking will be designed to handle water. That said, it’s best to avoid machine washing and to just hand-wash your shoes with a mild detergent and cold water.

When drying, just allow them to air dry. Avoid placing them in the dryer as it could cause damage to the shoes. Just let Mother Nature do her thing.

Can you wear water shoes all day?

A better way to say this question would be do you have to wear the best shoes for kayaking only for that activity? Absolutely not, as these shoes are often great for other water activities and possibly even light and easy hikes.

Regarding whether or not you can wear them all day, that’d be up to you. However, just know that for intensive activities such as running, hiking, climbing, etc., kayaking shoes aren’t going to be the best. You’ll more than likely want superior shoes for stuff of that nature.

What do you wear underneath water shoes?

Most people will probably just wear the best shoes for kayaking without socks. It’s not to say that it’s wrong to do so, but blisters and general irritation can persist if water, sand, and dirt are rubbing between your wet feet and shoes.

So, the only logical thing to do would be to wear socks underneath them. Instead of just slapping on a pair of your everyday socks that will more than likely work terribly, invest in a high-quality pair of neoprene socks. Made from thin wetsuit material, these will be optimized for water and will add a layer of protection for your feet.