The 11 Best Water Shoes for Men of 2023

The Keen Drift Creek Sandal is our top pick.

In This Article

Jump to a Section

In This Article

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Water Shoes tout
Courtesy of Amazon, The North Face

From roiling whitewater to azure alpine lakes, the world's waterscapes both invigorate and calm. But if you're wearing the wrong kind of footwear, they can also frustrate, which is why the right water shoes are essential. They provide ample protection from sharp rocks and toe-stubbing logs, deliver traction to help you navigate slick surfaces, and perform admirably on dry land just as much as in the wet.

In considering the best men's water shoes, we looked at both traditional closed-top models as well as the sub-category of sport sandals, which still provide a sure fit with secure ankles straps and plenty of protection under foot. Our favorite overall is the Keen Drift Creek H2 Sandal, but this round-up covers the gamut of warmer-weather activities, from hanging on the beach to whitewater rafting and trail running. If you're looking for a pair of water shoes for cooler conditions, consider adding neoprene-style socks to any of these selections, but be sure that you take that extra bulk into account when considering sizing

Best Overall

KEEN Men's Drift Creek H2 Water Sandals

KEEN Men's Drift Creek H2 Water Sandals

REI

Why We Love It: They perform well in just about any activity, including hiking, biking, stand-up paddleboarding, and urban exploration in hot climates.

What to Consider: The sport sandal has a pretty distinct aesthetic, which may not be preferred for more fashion-forward travelers who spend more time in urban areas than out in the wild.

Travelers who prize versatility in their footwear will find a lot to love about the Drift Creek H2 Sandal from Keen. The low-profile sport sandal boasts a non-marking, higher-tracking TPU outsole that'll keep you confident on all terrain, from sand to pavement to a rocky dirt trail. Meanwhile, an integrated heel support structure and lateral supports stabilize your feet. A 10-point fit works with the quick cord-cinch system to provide the perfect feel, with a contoured arch for mid-foot support. The washable polyester uppers dry quickly, as does the EVA insole, and an anti-odor treatment helps fend off foul smells after a long day wandering in the sun. And Keen's trademark toe cap will protect your feet from any unplanned bumps in the road or trail, too.

Price at time of publish: $110

Sizes: Full and half sizes from 7 to 12, and full sizes for 13 to 15 | Materials: Polyester, TPR, and EVA | Colors: 4 options

Best Budget

NRS Men's Arroyo Wetshoes

NRS Men's Arroyo Wetshoes

L.L.Bean

Why We Love It: They offer good protection, especially for the price.

What to Consider: They're mostly suitable for boating and the beach and wouldn't work as well for hiking or other outdoor activities.

With a 3-millimeter neoprene footbed, a 2-millimeter PE shank combined with a 1.8-millimeter outsole, and 1.5-millimeter neoprene on the uppers, the NRS Arroyo Wetshoes provides a sure grip, a bit of extra warmth, and a flexible design at a lower price point than most water shoes. The stretchy material makes it easy to pull them on and off, and the two pull handles work well even when the shoes are saturated. A wider toe box keeps your toes free to help with balance and control, and the rubber outsole also wraps around the toes, adding a touch of extra protection.

Price at time of publish: $38

Sizes: 7 to 13 | Materials: Neoprene, rubber, and a plastic shim | Colors: Black

Best for Hiking

Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes.

Amazon

Why We Love It: The sneaker-like shoe is made from breathable and durable air mesh that allows the foot to breathe.

What to Consider: They may stretch over time.

When a hike comes with several stream crossings and other water features, go with these lightweight and breathable sneaker-style water shoes. Breathable mesh panels in the uppers let your feet breathe and dry quickly, while the vent ports in the midsoles serve to drain water. The Solyte midsole provides good bounce-back and durability while the water grip outsole gives traction in slippery conditions.

Price at time of publish: $30

Sizes: 7 to 14 | Materials: Fabric and mesh | Colors: 23 options

Best Sock-Style

Seavenger SeaSnug Ankle Beach Socks

Seavenger SeaSnug Ankle Beach Socks

Amazon

Why We Love It: Simplicity personified, it's a great option for beach-goers looking for a bit of extra protection while beach-combing, paddling, or snorkeling.

What to Consider: Neoprene does take a while to dry, but the shoes perform well even when saturated.

Unlike bulkier sport sandals and sneaker-style water shoes, water socks provide a much more streamlined, simplified option that's often more affordable. The Seavenger SeaSnug Ankle Beach Socks exemplifies those features, with a stretchy spandex material that's easy to slip on and off, and smooth seams to fend off chafing. The durable sole is heat-resistant, which is great if you have to navigate sun-baked asphalt or sand, and you also get a modest degree of protection from sharp rocks. And unlike some other sock-style solutions, the material stretches over the Achillis, which means you can wear them while using snorkeling/diving fins without worrying about the strap rubbing your skin raw.

Price at time of publish: $17

Sizes: 4XS to 3XL | Materials: Neoprene | Colors: 9 options

Best Sneaker-Style

OLUKAI Men's Moku Pae Shoes

OLUKAI Men's Moku Pae Shoes

Amazon

Why We Love It: The shoe is both stylish and performative, providing full-foot protection, solid grip on wet surfaces, and the versatility of a drop heel.

What to Consider: If you're looking to take on water-logged trails, you may want a more grippy, aggressive outsole.

When situations require the better foot protection and refined aesthetic of a sneaker-style water shoe, consider the OluKai Moku Pae, a no-tie boat shoe that's equally at home on the trail, in the streets, or on the beach. A minimally lined, breathable mesh upper comes with a stretch "air mesh" tongue to provide a comfortable, seamless fit. The materials breathe well and dry quickly, while the drop-in heel design lets you wear them as sneakers or as sliders. The soft, quick-drying, removable footbed comes with a gel insert and a dual-density anatomical polyurethane construction, which works with the high-rebound EVA midsole for solid comfort. Added traction from the Wet Grip Rubber outsoles provides purchase on slick, wet surfaces, with slight lugs under foot for added grip.

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: Half and full sizes from 8 to 12, and full sizes in 7, 13 to 15 | Materials: Mesh, polyurethane, EVA, and rubber | Colors: 6 options

Best for the Beach

Chaco Men's Z/Cloud 2 Sandals

Chaco Men's Zcloud 2 Sandal

Amazon

Why We Love It: In situations where flip-flops don't provide enough security, these work great to let your feet breathe, keep things secure, and provide ample protection under foot.

What to Consider: If you're looking for something to wear in the ocean, rather than on the sand or elsewhere in the resort, go with something more streamlined.

Chaco puts the fun in function with their Z/Cloud 2 sport sandals, featuring a streamlined design and a variety of different color options. They're great for relaxing at the beach, lounging by the pool, or tossing back refreshments at a beachside bar. Polyester webbing in the uppers wrap around the foot (including a toe loop) and through the midsole for a secure, custom fit, and the injection-molded lock buckle is easy to cinch tight or loosen. But you'll likely appreciate the feel of these sandals even more, thanks to a top layer of ultra-soft polyurethane, which sits on the brand's podiatrist-certified footbed for all-day comfort. A 3.5-millimeter lug depth in the rubber outsole delivers the right degree of assured grip on most beach-centric surfaces and provides ample protection from sharp rocks.

Price at time of publish: $100

Sizes: 7 to 15 | Materials: Polyester, polyurethane, and rubber | Colors: 6 options

Best for Whitewater Rafting

Body Glove Men's Flux Water Shoes

Body Glove Men's Flux Water Shoes

Body Glove

Why We Love It: The full-foot protection adds assurance, while a more aggressive lug pattern on the outsole can handle the variable conditions you'll face when heading down to the river.

What to Consider: They're only available in full sizes.

Braving whitewater often requires you to anchor yourself to the raft by wedging your toe under the vessel's sidewalls, which is why it's best to go with a closed-toe water shoe like the Body Glove Flux. It'll protect your toes from getting mangled and help fend off injuries from unexpected debris should you get tossed into the river. The performance mesh uppers breathe well, shed water via an integrated draining system, and dry quickly; and an easy-to-use pull strap lacing system keeps things secure. The aggressive outsole also stretches over the tip of the toe and parts of the mid foot to provide that much-needed added protection, while the grippy, aggressive lugs will help you navigate your way down to the water before hopping on the raft.

Price at time of publish: $50

Sizes: 7 to 13 | Materials: Mesh, rubber | Colors: 2 options

Best Quick-Drying

TEVA Men's Hurricane XLT2 Sandals With EVA Foam

TEVA Men's Hurricane Xlt2 Sandals with EVA Foam

Amazon

Why We Love It: Teva gave this classic sandal an upgrade to improve the comfort levels without sacrificing any of its performance.

What to Consider: The size range is limited.

In addition to boasting a refreshing eco-friendly story, the webbing in the Teva Hurricane XT2 — made from recycled plastic that saves five plastic bottles from ending up in landfills — also dries really quickly, as do the lightweight EVA-foam midsole and rugged rubber outsole. The vegan sandals employ an easy hook-and-loop closure to make the fit quick to adjust and simple to get on and off. They're also ideal for hiking, with a nylon shank for added stability in uneven terrain and a rugged outsole for assured grip.

Price at time of publish: $75

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Materials: Recycled polyester, EVA foam, and rubber | Colors: 15 options

Best for Zero-drop

Vibram Men's Five Fingers V-Aqua Water Shoe

Vibram Men's Five Fingers V Aqua Water Shoes

Zappos

Why We Love It: It's like playing in the water barefoot but with full protection from the elements, and the two straps really help dial the fit.

What to Consider: People either hate or love the five-finger design, so they are definitely not for everyone.

Vibram has extended its popular Five Finger line to a water-ready model with the V-Aqua. It comes with the same grippy outsole found in the popular V-Alpha shoes, with key perforations in the Megagrip Sole to move water quickly, along with an added silicon print in the lining to prevent internal slippage. A 2-millimeter EVA insole provides a bit of comfort, and the zero-drop configuration (indicating that the heel and toe are the same height off the ground) will resonate with travelers who have gravitated toward barefoot-style running and hiking. Note that you might want to size up.

Price at time of publish: $95

Sizes: EU 39 to 49 | Materials: Rubber, EVA with silicon | Colors: 4 options

Best to Combat Odors

Speedo Men's Water Shoe Surfwalker Pro 3.0

Speedo Men's Water Shoe Surfwalker
Speedo Men's Water Shoe Surfwalker .

Amazon

Why We Love It: They're made from 100 percent quick-dry neoprene, which helps prevent odors.

What to Consider: Because of the thin sole, you may not want to walk on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

Leave it to Speedo to provide a comfortable, quick-drying shoe that is both comfortable and functional. Thanks to the neoprene material — think wetsuit — water should run right off of these shoes, preventing any moisture build-up that would cause bad odors over time. These easy slip-on shoes are the perfect water shoe for those wanting to protect their feet while swimming or walking through water.

Price at time of publish: $60

Sizing: 7 to 14 | Materials: Neoprene | Colors: Black

Best Lace-up

Astral Men's Loyak

Astral Men's Loyak
Astral Men's Loyak.

Amazon

Why We Love It: They can be used for water, but are stylish enough that you may want to wear them as an every-day shoe.

What to Consider: These shoes don't provide a lot of arch support.

For a versatile shoe that you can wear kayaking, sailing, hiking near water, or just walking around town, consider this stylish shoe from Astral. The shoe features holes in the front and back for extra drainage and includes a flex-grip outsole made from rubber that conforms to the ground to prevent slipping. Not to mention these shoes are completely vegan, so you can feel great about this purchase.

Price at time of publish: $95

Sizing: 8 to 14 | Materials: Canvas, mesh, and rubber | Colors: 4 options

Tips for Buying Water Shoes

Look for drainage

By their very definition, water shoes are meant to get wet, whether you're canyoneering, hiking a water-logged trail, or stepping into the ocean. But these types of shoes won't become water-logged thanks to integrated drainage systems that help funnel the water out of the shoe interior, typically shedding the liquid in ports that line the upper sections of the outsole. Some also use materials like mesh in the uppers to help quickly drain off any moisture. With sport sandal-style water shoes, which typically expose the upper parts of your feet and toes to the open air, drainage is almost instantaneous. Be sure your water shoes include optimal drainage features before purchasing.

Consider drying time

All water shoes are designed to perform when dry or wet, which is key to their versatility. But dry time does matter, as it influences the shelf life of the product. Faster-drying shoes won't retain odors nearly as much as those that take longer to dry. Look for breathable fabrics and materials, especially in the uppers, which will air-dry faster. And if the shoe has an insole, be sure you can remove it so it can be dried separately, which reduces the overall dry time.

Know your protection needs

Even with the simplest water shoes, you get some added coverage and protection for the bottom of your feet, which is a great way to safely navigate the rocks and roots that might lie below the water's surface. You also get protection from hot sand or chilly air. More robust water shoes tailored for hiking or rafting improve the cushioning considerably, employing soft and comfortable mid-soles as well as burlier outsoles. True water shoes also layer protection around your entire foot, which helps in activities like hiking and paddling. Sport sandals, meanwhile, provide solid protection under foot but leave the uppers exposed, which improves dry time and drainage but are best for activities with less risk. Some hybrid sport sandals split the difference, providing a protective toe cap and more synthetic fabric in the uppers, while still allowing the uppers to breathe more than a fully-enclosed model.

Prioritize traction

Wet surfaces are naturally slicker than dry ones, and most water shoes employ a variety of tech and design features to deliver as sure a grip as possible on wet rock, wood, and sand. Minimalist sock-style shoes work pretty well, but if traction is important (read: while hiking, navigating wet rocks to reach a raft, etc.), go with ones that come with burlier outsoles and lugs or grooves that will provide grip in wet, unpredictable terrain.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How should water shoes fit?

    Water shoes should fit snugly, with nominal movement between your feet and the inside of the shoe to prevent any chafing or blistering. Most also come with a seamless design to further remove the chance of developing hot spots.
    If you're looking for a more open-upper-style sport sandal, you have a bit more flexibility (which is why some only come in full sizes), but just be sure that your toes don't extend beyond the sandal's platform, the straps lie flat against your skin, and the heel straps are secure. Most in this style come with easy-to-adjust straps or cinch points that allow for easy on-and-off.

  • What can you do in water shoes?

    Water shoes are great for water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, diving, and more, but can also be used for hiking, fishing, and simply walking near water. Water shoes are meant to be worn when you know, or think, that your feet may get wet and you want a quick-dry shoe that will also protect.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Nathan Borchelt has been testing, rating, and reviewing outdoor and travel products for decade, and has spent many trips plying the rivers, oceans, lakes, and sodden hiking trails throughout the world. Taylor Fox is a travel writer at T+L and uses research and her real-world experience to recommend best products. In reviewing each selection, key considerations like price, longevity, specific sport applications, protection, and grip were also considered. The overall aesthetic of the product was also taken into account, a key element that should resonate with travelers who lean toward the more civilized aspects of water exploration.

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we'll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles