The Best Water Shoes for Men of 2022

The Keen Drift Creek Sandal is our top pick.

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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 alsofrustrate, 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.

Here are the best water shoes for men.

T+L's Top Picks

Best Overall: Keen Drift Creek H2 Sandal

Water Shoes
Courtesy of Amazon

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 find confident purchase 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 midfoot 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.

Sizes: Full and half sizes from 7 to 12, as well as full sizes for 13, 14, and 15 | Materials: Polyester, TPR, and EVA.

Best Budget: NRS Arroyo Wetshoes

Water Shoes
Courtesy of REI

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.

Sizes: Full sizes from 7 to 13 | Materials: Neoprene, rubber, and a plastic shim

Best for Hiking: Columbia Okolona Water Shoe

Water Shoes
Courtesy of Columbia

Why We Love It: The sneaker-like shoe offers a one-quiver solution to handle the elements, grip on wet rock, and deal with stream crossings with confidence.

What to Consider: Though they breathe well, odors may build up over time.

When a hike comes with several stream crossings and other water features, go with the Okolona Water Shoes from Columbia. You get the superior cushioning you want from the Techlite feature to absorb impact and provide high energy return, and the confident traction you need on any type of terrain from the brand's Omni Grip outsoles. Breathable mesh panels in the uppers let your feet breathe and dry quickly, while the vent ports in the midsoles serve to drain water. Speed lacing makes them easy to get on and off, and the bootie construction provides a secure, sock-like fit.

Sizes: Full and half sizes from 7 to 12, and full sizes up to 15 | Materials: Synthetic mesh, EVA, and rubber

Related: The Best Travel Umbrellas

Best Sock-Style: Seavenger SeaSnug Ankle Beach Socks

Water Shoes
Courtesy of 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.

Sizes: 4XS to 3XL | Materials: Neoprene

Best Sneaker-Style: Olukai Moku Pae

Water Shoes
Courtesy of 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.

Sizes: Half and full sizes from 8 to 12, along with full sizes in 7, 13, 14, and 15 | Materials: Mesh, polyurethane, EVA, and rubber

Best for the Beach: Chaco Z/Cloud 2

Water Shoes
Courtesy of 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 beach-side 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.

Sizes: Full sizes from 7 to 15 | Materials: Polyester, polyurethane, and rubber

Related: The Most Comfortable Dress Shoes for Men

Best for Whitewater Rafting: Body Glove Flux Water Shoes

Water Shoes
Courtesy of 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; 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 gripy, aggressive lugs will help you navigate your way down to the water before hopping the raft.

Sizes: Full sizes from 7 to 13 | Materials: Mesh, rubber

Best Quick-Drying: Teva Hurricane XLT2

Water Shoes
Courtesy of 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.

Sizes: Full sizes from 5 to 12 | Materials: Recycled polyester, EVA foam, and rubber

Best for Zero-drop: Vibram Five Fingers V-Aqua

Water Shoes
Courtesy of Amazon

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.

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

Related: The Most Comfortable Travel Shoes for Men

Best to Combat Odors: The North Face Skagit Water Shoe

Water Shoes
Courtesy of The North Face

Why We Love It: It both fights odor and also features a removable footbed to make sure everything dries quickly.

What to Consider: Casual beachgoers may find the grip and sneaker-style design to be overkill.

Alas, it's not uncommon to have to retire a pair of sneaker-style water shoes well before need to be simply because they stink — an unfortunate consequence of all that water in close proximity to your feet. But The North Face combats this in their Skagit Water Shoes by using antimicrobial mesh uppers to fight odors, along with a perforated footbed insert that you can remove to assure it dries quickly. The quick-drying fabric is also lightweight and pairs with an EVA midsole drainage system to channel water away from your feet. Hiking-friendly mono-mesh screens block debris from entering the shoe, and a thermoplastic polyurethane film overlays the toe cap for added protection. Though the outsole doesn't have really rugged lugs, the sipe design uses the brand's proprietary EXTS system to amp the grip on all surfaces.

Sizing: Full sizes from 7to 14 | Materials: Mesh, EVA, rubber

Tips for Buying Water Shoes

Prioritize fit

Water shoes should fit snugly, with nominal movement between your feet and the inside of the shoe to prevent any chaffing or blistering. Most 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.

Look for drainage

By their very definition, water shoes are meant to get wet, whether you're canyoneering, hiking a water-logged trail, stepping in the ocean. But these 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.

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 come with lugs or grooves that will provide grip in wet, unpredictable terrain.

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. 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.

Up Next: The Most Comfortable Men's Sandals

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