9 Best Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) for Men

9 Best Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) for Men

25
Hours
Researched
100
Products
Evaluated

After 25 hours of research evaluating 100 products, we picked ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes as our top choice.

If you need some ideas on what to pack for your next adventure, author Alastair Humphreys shares what equipment he brings for his outdoor expeditions. But whether you’re headed out the Caribbean or a nearby beach or pool, a pair of the best water shoes for men will bring you happiness.

Water shoes, including aqua socks, are wonderfully useful. They protect your feet from broken glass, sharp rocks, hot surfaces, fish hooks (yikes), coral reefs, and even parasites. Also known as beach shoes or water socks, they can literally save your entire vacation from a foot tragedy.

Water shoes are also important for the non-slip factor on boats and wet rocks. Aqua shoes are similar to aqua socks, but you can use them for hiking through the streams dotting your favorite mountain pass. (To understand the in-depth differences between water shoes, water socks and aqua socks, check out our tips section below).

Because we at Faveable believe that your safety is paramount, we’ve spent hours testing and researching hundreds of water shoe styles for you rugged men. As a result, we picked the best water shoes for men on the market.

Note: Water socks, also known as aqua socks, are socks intended to be worn in shoes that will get wet/waterlogged. Water shoes are shoes that can be worn (barefoot or with socks) in wet conditions: beach, river hiking, rafting, sailing, etc.

Here's a list of the best water-friendly footwear that will protect your feet without looking like a dork.

Why trust us: Faveable has spent thousands of hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing products to come up with carefully selected lists trusted by millions of consumers since 2013.

Best Water Shoes

  • 9. CIOR Unisex Barefoot Skin Water Socks
  • 8. Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 Water Shoe
  • 7. Keen Men's Newport H2 Water Sandal
  • 6. Vibram FiveFingers Water Shoe
  • 5. Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe
  • 4. Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
  • 3. ALEADER Men’s Slip-On Athletic Water Shoes
  • 2. Mohem Men’s Poseidon Mesh Water Shoes
  • 1. ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Best Water Socks for Men

#9

CIOR Unisex Barefoot Skin Water Socks

Best Water Socks for Men: CIOR Unisex Barefoot Skin Water Socks
Quality
7.5
Fit
7.5
Features
6.0
Value
8.5
Overall
74%
74 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
7,605 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Stretchy material makes it easy to put them on and take off
  • Great thin water sock for around the pool and beach
  • Simple and affordable

These water socks are perfect for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, walking, or any other leisurely pool or beach activity. As an added bonus, the thin material makes them ideal for wearing under fins. They're lightweight, super comfortable, and great for all water sports!

Sizes tend to run small, removable insoles may shift/slip around.

Expert Ratings

Quality

7.5 / 10

The polyester-spandex blend fits and feels exactly like Neoprene. And, these water socks are much thicker than others on the market. So, you can expect them to last the whole summer, depending on how often you are on the beach or in the water. Although these water socks do not have rubber soles, they do have grips on the bottom which make them great for slick surfaces, such as around the pool.

Fit

7.5 / 10

When wearing these water socks, it feels as if you're barefoot. However, the sizes on these shoes tend to run a bit small. At the same time, that means the material around the ankle is nice and tight, ensuring that no tiny rocks or pebbles get inside.

Features

6.0 / 10

For an inexpensive water shoe, you can't really expect all of the bells and whistles. In fact, these babies are about as simple as water shoes get. However, they are made in three unisex colors (black, blue, and pink) and come with a transparent zipper bag for easy storage.

Value

8.5 / 10

At rougly $10, these are one of the cheapest water shoes around. They are useful for those who spend a lot of time in the water, but who want a little protection from sand or slick surfaces. Don't expect years of wear; these are a simple, practical budget option.

Overall Editor Score

7.4 / 10

Best Water Shoes for Beaches and Pools

#8

Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 Water Shoe

Best Water Shoes for Beaches and Pools: Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 Water Shoe
Quality
8.0
Fit
7.0
Features
7.0
Value
7.5
Overall
74%
74 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
6,019 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Lightweight, comfortable, and breathable design
  • Solid sole with good traction and cushioning
  • Comfortable for walking around the pool or beach

Low profile and sleek design, solid sole, lightweight upper, breathable, quick-drying, active design, good traction, internal cushioning, compact enough to fit in any luggage, durable, high-quality product, and great price.

May be difficult pull on over big, wide feet; additionally, the sizes run small.

Expert Ratings

Quality

8.0 / 10

Though these shoes look lightweight at first, you'll find they are surprisingly comfortable and durable when you put them on. The quick-drying mesh upper offers breathability and will help to keep your feet comfy as you walk around poolside or stroll on the beach. However, the thick sole provides good cushioning and arch support, with surprisingly good traction for scrambling over rocks or walking on wet tile/concrete floors.

Fit

7.0 / 10

The shoes are intended to be easy to slip on, though men with larger, wider feet may have a hard time pulling them on. The shoes also tend to be a bit snug, so you should buy at least one size larger than you're used to wearing.

Features

7.0 / 10

The shoes have a loop on the ankle to help you tug them on with ease. The thick bands running across the forefoot of the shoes' upper gives you better durability than you'd get with pure mesh, but more breathability than pure neoprene. There's even a bit of a toe cap to protect your toes as you walk.

Value

7.5 / 10

These are a fairly well-priced pair of shoes, and they're lightweight and compact enough you can bring them with you on any beach vacation. They're the perfect shoes for hanging around the pool or strolling on the beach.

Overall Editor Score

7.4 / 10

Best Mens Water Sandals

#7

Keen Men's Newport H2 Water Sandal

Best Mens Water Sandals: Keen Men's Newport H2 Water Sandal
Quality
8.0
Fit
7.5
Features
8.0
Value
7.5
Overall
78%
78 % Editor Score
84 % User Score
4,118 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Excellent protection for your feet, but without sacrificing comfort
  • Aggressive sole designed for hiking, walking, and beach sports
  • Will never slip off, no matter what you do

Amazing traction, excellent for hiking, built for active wear, comfortable, won't slip off, and doesn't hold water. The Keen H2 water sandal has a multi directional pattern on the sole for improved traction on wet surfaces. As an added bonus, they keep your feet smelling nice and fresh wear after wear.

Difficult to put on.

Expert Ratings

Quality

8.0 / 10

For those who intend to explore tropical islands, play beach volleyball, or do some hiking, these are the sandals you want. They're built to be aggressive, with a sturdy sole that offers excellent traction and support without sacrificing comfort or flexibility.

Fit

7.5 / 10

The leather upper will protect your feet, but will allow water to drain out. They're a bit heavier than your average sandal, but they're capable of handling heavier wear as well.

Features

8.0 / 10

The bomber lacing system (tightened via bungee cord) will keep the sandals firmly on your feet, no matter how much you run, jump, and play. They can be a bit of pain to slip on, but once they're on, they're never coming off. You won't have to worry too much about offensive odors coming from these shoes either thanks to it's Aegis Microbe Shield. The Keen H2 water sandals also feature no mark rubber outsoles that dry fast.

Value

7.5 / 10

 At $80, these are a pricey pair of sandals. However, with these bad boys, you won't need to bring hiking or walking shoes when going to the beach town or a tropical island. They're the all-terrain sandals you need for any vacation.

Overall Editor Score

7.8 / 10

Best Minimalist Water Shoes

#6

Vibram FiveFingers Water Shoe

Best Minimalist Water Shoes: Vibram FiveFingers Water Shoe
Quality
8.0
Fit
8.5
Features
8.5
Value
7.5
Overall
81%
81 % Editor Score
87 % User Score
12,259 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Light and flexible, almost like walking barefoot
  • Built to drain out water so your feet won't get soggy
  • Fit like a glove

The FiveFingers water shoe is super thin, flexible, and lightweight. An ideal shoe for rowers, surfers, kayakers and SUP fanatics. It provides grip and comfort out on the water and packs easily into a dry bag at the end of the day.

These shoes fit great, however they can be a little hard to put on at first because your toes are not used to being seperated. Also, they run small so buy one size larger.

Expert Ratings

Quality

8.0 / 10

Vibram is a trusted brand among the outdoor community and you can expect superior quality. These shoes are constructed with a stretch polyester mesh upper that drains out air and water, allowing your foot to breath easily. Vibram® WAVEGRIP is a durable rubber coating on the bottom of the shoe that gives you the best grip on wet surfaces. WAVEGRIP is a non-marking rubber compound which means you can also wear them inside without ruining your floors.  

Fit

8.5 / 10

These water shoes fit better than a glove. Your toes will fit perfectly in the sockets and when on, they feel like you're not wearing any shoes. Not only do these water shoes come in half sizes, but they also come in two different colors: black and black/yellow. However, they do run a bit small so be sure to order a half size bigger. 

Features

8.5 / 10

These Vibram FiveFingers water shoes can be used for paddle boarding, surfing or walking along the shore. The split toe design can even help you with swimming, and the vibram rubber outsole will give the best grip imaginable. 

These aren't your typical dorky-looking water shoes. The bold, dark industrial design will have you looking and feeling like the rugged man that you are. Another thing guys love about these water shoes is that they drain water quickly. Also, they provide decent protection from hard rocks. However, the middle isn't as protected so don't get too wild in these shoes. These water shoes also feature adjustable velco straps allowing you slip in seamlessly. 

Value

7.5 / 10

The price is somewhat on the expensive side, of course, but these lightweight shoes are definitely worth it. Vibram is best known in the outdoor community for being extremely dependable and made with quality.

Overall Editor Score

8.1 / 10

Best Men's Water Shoes for Hiking

#5

Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe

Best Men's Water Shoes for Hiking: Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe
Quality
9.0
Fit
8.0
Features
8.0
Value
8.0
Overall
83%
83 % Editor Score
89 % User Score
10,458 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Comfortable straight out of the box
  • Fit true to size
  • Vibram soles are waterproof and dry out very fast

A lightweight, waterproof hiking shoe with breathable ventilation that keeps you stable through all terrain.

We honestly could not find any reason not to buy these shoes. 

Expert Ratings

Quality

9.0 / 10

It's hard not to like a shoe that is built for muddy roads, rocky roads, boulder climbing and hiking - we think this is pretty genius and all around pretty awesome. What we really love about these are that they're extremely lightweight for those long hikes, but don't give up on the comfortability. Its not only great for the adventurous man who wants to hike in and out of rivers, but for kayakers as well. Can it get any better?

Fit

8.0 / 10

These waterproof hiking shoes fit true to size, which makes it easy when ordering them. The Omni Fit lacing ensures a glove-like fit. 

Features

8.0 / 10

Because these water shoes were made to accommodate men who like the outdoors, they were designed to get wet. Which is why Merrell included breathable mesh in the upper part of the shoe and Vibram soles underneath. The mesh allows your feet to air out to prevent irritation and blistering. The ventilation feels like air conditioners in your shoes - we're not even kidding. The best part about these shoes though is the Vibram soles. If you haven't heard of them, they're pretty much the greatest feature ever.

Value

8.0 / 10

Normally these shoes are $110, but you can frequently find them on sale. The price is a little on the high side for some, but these can handle any terrain. 

Overall Editor Score

8.3 / 10

Best Budget Men's Water Shoes

#4

Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Best Budget Men's Water Shoes: Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Quality
8.0
Fit
7.5
Features
8.5
Value
8.5
Overall
81%
81 % Editor Score
92 % User Score
1,316 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Resilient

Comfort Dry sockliner cushions your feet as you hike, swim, or boat. Convenient lace lock feature helps you loosen or tighten these shoes quickly.

The liners often fall out when you remove the shoes from your feet. The mesh holes on the upper parts of the shoes don’t always block sand and small rocks very well.

Expert Ratings

Quality

8.0 / 10

Pretty darn good for a pair of cheap water shoes. These Zhuanglin shoes have their flaws, but you can probably expect them to last all summer. Well, unless you take long hikes or swim multiple times a day on a regular basis.

Fit

7.5 / 10

Men complain it’s difficult to find the right fit if you wear a size 9. Amazon never carries a 9, so you have to cram your feet into an 8.5 or wear a loose-fitting pair of size 9.5 shoes.

Aside from that, these shoes generally fit true to size. If you’re torn on which size to buy, choose the smaller one or wear thick socks with the bigger one. Otherwise you may end up with blisters from the material rubbing against your heels.

Features

8.5 / 10

These Zhuanglin have a surprising number of features for a pair of budget water shoes. For starters, they’ve got Comfort Dry sockliners. These provide light cushioning for your arches while also promoting a breathable environment for your feet.

Solyte midsoles are lightweight yet durable. The outsoles are made from rubber, a slip-reducing material commonly used for water shoes.

Holes on the soles and mesh uppers help water drain quickly. However, they also make it easy for sand and rocks to get into your shoes. You may find yourself frequently emptying out your shoes if you swim somewhere without clear water.

Value

8.5 / 10

Just $20 to $30, which is a great price for water shoes that aren’t slip-ons or aqua socks.

Overall Editor Score

8.1 / 10

Best Slip-On Men’s Water Shoes

#3

ALEADER Men’s Slip-On Athletic Water Shoes

Best Slip-On Men’s Water Shoes: ALEADER Men’s Slip-On Athletic Water Shoes
Quality
8.5
Fit
8.5
Features
8.5
Value
8.5
Overall
85%
85 % Editor Score
94 % User Score
1,461 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Dries quickly
  • Comfortable fit
  • Easy to get on and off

Cushioned insoles provide comfortable support for your arches. Contemporary style transitions easily from the pool to lunch with friends or a busy day of errands.

These slip-on water shoes run a bit wide, which is a drawback if you have narrow feet.

Expert Ratings

Quality

8.5 / 10

ALEADER is a trusted brand known for creating durable water shoes, and these slip-ons are no exception. They effectively withstand frequent use, so you can wear them during all your favorite outdoor water activities. Several guys confess they like these fashionable slip-ons enough to rock them after they finish hanging out at the beach or pool.

Fit

8.5 / 10

True to size, unless you’ve got narrow feet. Reviewers say these slip-ons run a bit wide compared to the snug-fitting water shoes from other brands. If you prefer a tight fit, you may prefer aqua socks to these slip-ons.

Features

8.5 / 10

Many guys choose these slip-ons because of their quick-drying material. They’re made from hydrophobic engineered mesh on the top, with rubber outsoles and cushioned EVA insoles.

ALEADER slip-ons get their quick-drying capabilities from FluidFlow technology. This innovative feature promotes fast drainage from the mesh uppers to the rubber insoles, so you don’t have to walk around in soaked shoes if you hit the beach twice in one day.

Rubber pods on the bottom of each slip-on shoe keep you from falling as you climb slippery rocks or head from your chair to the poolside bar.

Value

8.5 / 10

Somewhere between $30 to $35 depending on your preferred color and size.

Overall Editor Score

8.5 / 10

Most Fashionable Men’s Water Shoes

#2

Mohem Men’s Poseidon Mesh Water Shoes

Most Fashionable Men’s Water Shoes: Mohem Men’s Poseidon Mesh Water Shoes
Quality
9.0
Fit
9.0
Features
9.0
Value
9.5
Overall
91%
91 % Editor Score
96 % User Score
871 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Lacefront
  • Comfortable fit
  • Keeps feet cool

Pairs well with beachwear or casual attire, like shorts and a tee. Not as lightweight as aqua socks, but still fairly comfortable.

Pairs well with beachwear or casual attire, like shorts and a tee. Not as lightweight as aqua socks, but still fairly comfortable.

Expert Ratings

Quality

9.0 / 10

These water shoes are made well, but they could use more cushioning in their insoles. With that being said, if you’re already used to wearing minimalist footwear, the lack of support isn’t noticeable.

These mesh Mohem shoes fulfill their purpose, which is to protect your feet during outdoor activities. They lack the traction support ALEADER shoes have, but they still offer more protection against slips than aqua socks.

Fit

9.0 / 10

Mohem water shoes generally fit true to size, but you may want to go up half a size or so if you have wide feet. These water shoes hug your ankles snugly yet comfortably, so you don’t have to worry about large rocks or excessive amounts of sand spoiling your outdoor fun.

Features

9.0 / 10

Slip-resistant outsoles crafted from resilient rubber provide traction on wet surfaces, so you can safely navigate your surroundings. The Lycra uppers are lightweight, breathable, and flexible. Guys loves the lace-up fronts because it makes these shoes look more fashionable than slip-on water shoes.

Each shoe is made by hand, and there are numerous colors available. We’ve found many men prefer the black, brown, and gray options.

Value

9.5 / 10

A pair of Mohem mesh water shoes costs around $30, which is a reasonable price for what you get.

Overall Editor Score

9.1 / 10

Best Men’s Water Shoes Overall

#1

ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Best Men’s Water Shoes Overall: ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Quality
9.5
Fit
9.5
Features
9.5
Value
9.5
Overall
95%
95 % Editor Score
98 % User Score
4,839 Bought

Why People Love it

  • Fashionable
  • Affordable
  • All-purpose design

FluidFlow technology speeds up water drainage so water doesn’t slosh around in your shoes. Rubber pods in high-wear sections improve traction as you walk on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of falls.

No major cons, though some wearers complain the shoes run big to begin with and then get all stretched out after frequent use.

Expert Ratings

Quality

9.5 / 10

Surprisingly great, even when compared to pricier water shoes for men. These shoes are built to last no matter what water activities you enjoy, whether you work up a sweat during beachfront hikes or battle rapids while river rafting.

The upper parts are made from breathable hydrophobic engineered mesh, and then you’ve got Solyte midsoles and water-draining outsoles. And yet, these shoes somehow manage to look cool. Several guys say they look like they’re wearing real tennis shoes when they explore the outdoors in their ALEADER water shoes.

Fit

9.5 / 10

Lightweight and comfortable; you won’t feel like you’re bringing half the beach home with you. The mesh uppers encourage air flow so your feet don’t feel cramped or overly hot, and the outsoles are durable yet light. A Comfort Dry sockliner cushions your arches as you walk, so you don’t feel like you’re rubbing your feet against rocks and branches.

It’s worth noting that these shoes run big, so you may want to order a smaller size than you usually get.

Features

9.5 / 10

ALEADER water shoes are packed with features, including some that we’ve already mentioned. They’ve got Comfort Dry sockliners to protect your arches, water-draining, traction-supporting outsoles that reduce slippage, and FluidFlow technology from the mesh uppers to the outsoles.

The FluidFlow technology is what keeps your feet from sitting in puddles of water when you wear these quick-drying shoes. Water rolls right off these all-purpose bad boys instead of saturating them.  

Value

9.5 / 10

Around $30 for shoes that look just as good during a rainy-day jog around the block as they do at the beach.

Overall Editor Score

9.5 / 10

Faveable Ratings: 9 Best Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) for Men

9 Best Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) for MenQualityFitFeaturesValueOverall
ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes Thumbnail
Best Men’s Water Shoes Overall
#1ALEADER Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.5
95
Mohem Men’s Poseidon Mesh Water Shoes Thumbnail
Most Fashionable Men’s Water Shoes
#2Mohem Men’s Poseidon Mesh Water Shoes
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.5
91
ALEADER Men’s Slip-On Athletic Water Shoes Thumbnail
Best Slip-On Men’s Water Shoes
#3ALEADER Men’s Slip-On Athletic Water Shoes
8.5
8.5
8.5
8.5
85
Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes Thumbnail
Best Budget Men's Water Shoes
#4Zhuanglin Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
8.0
7.5
8.5
8.5
81
Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe Thumbnail
Best Men's Water Shoes for Hiking
#5Merrell Men's All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
83
Vibram FiveFingers Water Shoe Thumbnail
Best Minimalist Water Shoes
#6Vibram FiveFingers Water Shoe
8.0
8.5
8.5
7.5
81
Keen Men's Newport H2 Water Sandal Thumbnail
Best Mens Water Sandals
#7Keen Men's Newport H2 Water Sandal
8.0
7.5
8.0
7.5
78
Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 Water Shoe Thumbnail
Best Water Shoes for Beaches and Pools
#8Speedo Surfwalker 3.0 Water Shoe
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.5
74
CIOR Unisex Barefoot Skin Water Socks Thumbnail
Best Water Socks for Men
#9CIOR Unisex Barefoot Skin Water Socks
7.5
7.5
6.0
8.5
74

Faveable Expert Tips

When to Use Water Shoes

Water shoes are intended for use with water-related activities. They are intended to both keep your feet safe and provide comfort while walking, hiking, or running around water (lakes, ocean, rivers, streams, etc.).

However, they are NOT intended to keep your feet dry. They are not waterproof shoes (like hiking boots). Instead, they are made with quick-drying synthetic materials that offer ventilation and drainage. They can be worn with or without socks, and are useful for a broad range of outdoor recreational activities:

  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Boating/sailing/fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Rafting/whitewater rafting
  • Trail running

Seeing as the shoes can get wet without being damaged, they are great for use in wet conditions. Their thick rubber outsole will protect the bottom of your feet, while the sandal or shoe-style shell will prevent toe, heel, and forefoot injuries.

When to Use Aqua Socks

Aqua socks are usually made of latex, and they differ from water shoes in that they don't have a thick sole or sturdy upper. They are designed to be worn in low-impact, low-intensity situations, such as:

  • Water aerobics
  • Swimming pools
  • Saunas
  • Showers/baths
  • Spas

They can be worn on the beach, but their lightweight sole won't provide cushioning or protection against rocks. They are mainly intended to prevent bacterial foot infections rather than serve as a durable pair of shoes to use in wet environments.

Water Shoes Features

Planning on buying water shoes? Here are the most important features to consider:

  • Material – Natural fabrics and cloths retain moisture, while synthetic materials are lightweight and dry more quickly. Real leather gets very heavy when wet and breaks down more quickly. Synthetic leather is almost as sturdy as real leather, but isn't as easily damaged by water and weighs far less.
  • Sole – A thick sole may be better for hiking and walking, as it offers protection, traction, and longer durability. A thin sole is better for use on the beach, in the pool, and in the water. The type of sole you purchase will depend on the use of the water shoe.
  • Toe Guard – A toe guard will protect your toes from rolling or falling objects (such as rocks), and can prevent injuries from underwater obstructions.
  • Ventilation – Ventilation serves two purposes: to help your shoes, socks, and feet dry more quickly, and to prevent mold. There should always be a breathable mesh to allow for good ventilation.
  • Drainage – This works hand in hand with ventilation! You will be using the shoes in the water (hence the name "water shoes") and getting them wet, but you don't want the water to remain trapped in the shoes. Proper water shoes include holes and vents to allow the water to drain from the shoe.
  • Lacing – If you're going to use the water shoes for hiking, trail running, or climbing, you need a lacing system that grips your feet firmly. For more casual use, you may prefer something that is easier to slip on, such as a sandal strap design.
  • Heel reinforcement – The reinforcement isn't in the heel itself, but in the collar. The reinforcement and padding can reduce chafing on your bare feet (a common problem with water shoes), reducing hot spots and blisters. Neoprene is an excellent material for heel reinforcement, as it's soft, flexible, and offers good insulation.
  • Support and cushioning – Some water shoes are intended for more active use, so they offer good cushioning and support for your heels, midfoot, and forefoot. If you're going to run, walk, or hike long distances, you'll want shoes with this added cushioning. It will reduce the impact on your joints and keep your feet comfortable over long distances.
  • Stability – The shoes should provide a stable platform, especially if you're using them to hike, climb, or run.

Types of Water Shoes

Water shoes come in a few different styles. Each style offers a benefit for different purposes and activities.

Sandal-Type Water Shoes – These shoes tend to come with a thick sole, open toe, and strap lacing system. They may have a mesh lining around the shoe or simply feature a sturdy sandal. They're almost considered sandals thanks to their open-toe design. However, they wrap around the heels and offer better cushioning and support than regular sandals. These offer superior ventilation and breathability, but they're not the most protective for use while hiking or trekking.

Closed-Toe Water Shoes – Think of a shoe that's a cross between a sandal and a pair of running shoes. They feature the sandal design (sturdy straps crossing over and around the foot), but with a proper lacing system, padded collar, and mesh lining. They offer good ventilation, comfort, and drainage, and tend to be more supportive and protective than sandal-type water shoes.

Hiking/Active Water Shoes – These are water shoes intended for runners, hikers, backpackers, or trekkers. They're built with the same durability, cushioning, and stability as running or hiking shoes, but they feature drainage holes around the sole to allow water to run out of the shoe. They're heavier than other water shoes, making them ideal for anyone who wants a sturdy pair of shoes that perform as well in the water as they do on dry land. 

Barefoot Water Shoes – Brands like Vibram and Vivobarefoot have designed minimalist running shoes specifically for use in water. They're made of durable rubber, have no outsole, but are lightweight and offer excellent drainage and ventilation. They're good for barefoot runners, beach sports, and water sports. The fact that they're flexible means they can be used by surfers who need a good pair of water shoes.

Aqua Socks – Aqua socks aren't always technically socks. While many are designed as socks with a bit of traction on the sole, some use thick rubber to provide cushioning and support. Think of them as half-socks, half-flip flops. They're ideal for use by the pool, on the beach, or in calm waters.

Water Shoes Buying Guide

When buying water shoes, here are the three most important elements to consider:

  • Use – The style of water shoes you buy will depend on the activity. If you're hiking, running, kayaking, or climbing, you want a pair of shoes with a sturdy sole and good cushioning and support. If you're lounging poolside or at the beach, you want something lightweight and easy to slip on. Buy a water shoe according to its intended use.
  • Lacing – The lacing system affects the uses of the shoes. Proper shoelaces are ideal for active shoes, but they're less convenient for lounging. Slip-on aqua socks or strap-on sandal-style water shoes are great for use at the beach or poolside, but they won't stay in place if you're doing hardcore running, hiking, or climbing.
  • Traction/Outsole – A thicker sole can handle more heavy-duty use and action, while a thin sole is more flexible for use in the pool, for aquaerobics, or for water sports.

These three features are the most important! Everything else—style, comfort, colors, etc.—are of secondary concern.

Benefits of Water Shoes

Why use water shoes?

  1. Better traction. Whether you're hiking, strolling around town, or walking by the pool, the rubber outsole of your water shoes will give you better grip and reduce the chance of slipping.
  2. Good protection. Water shoes will protect your feet from sharp rocks, stop you from stubbing your toe on poolside furniture, and prevent sunburns. They will prevent injuries as you walk, hike, climb, swim, or explore.
  3. Versatile. A good pair of water shoes can be used for trekking, hiking, rock climbing, or running. You can bring just one pair of shoes on your beach or island vacation no matter how many activities you're planning.
  4. Multi-terrain. These shoes are intended for use in and out of the water. You don't have to worry about getting them wet as you're crossing a mountain stream, walking along the beach, or running in the rain.

If you're going to be spending time around water—at the beach, riverside, lake, resort, or water park—you'd do well to consider water shoes.

Drawbacks of Water Shoes

Water shoes aren't perfect. There are a few limitations and drawbacks to these shoes:

  1. Not proper active shoes. If you're looking into hardcore hiking, distance walking, running, or water sports, these shoes may not be the perfect solution. They don't have the same arch support, stability, or durability of running shoes or hiking boots.
  2. Pricey. You'll spend more on a pair of water shoes than you would on other beach footwear, including sport sandals.
  3. Limited options. Water shoes aren't as popular as other types of shoes, so there is less variety on the market than with running shoes, sports shoes, or trekking shoes.

 They're not perfect, but they serve a very specific purpose. If you need shoes that can handle wet and dry terrain, they may be just what you need.

 

 

 

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Article Staff

Marina is a California girl and former Idaho resident who is currently living her best life in the Seattle area with her husband and newborn baby. She has a BA in Journalism from Boise State University, as well as a M.Ed from Western Washington University.

Marina has a passion for running, hiking, brunching and, of course, all things home decor. When she isn’t writing, Marina loves to be with family and friends, preferably in the outdoors.

Marina covers everything from health and beauty to babies and women. If the product is in one of these categories, she's likely tried it. For all beauty + mom advice, she's your go-to girl. Want to be friends? Follow her on Instagram: @mrswiersma

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9 Best Water Shoes (Aqua Socks) for Men

Thanks for reading my article. I value your feedback and invite you to join the conversation:

  • Share your opinion on the list
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  • Review items you've tried
— Marina Marina Wiersma
  • Hiker53
    Hiker53Mr. Fish, you should look at the Merrell's if you're into bouldering. Mine have never failed me.
  • Mr. Fish
    Mr. FishCan you recommend a water shoe for bouldering?
  • Hello, I love working out in the pool at my gym and I do sprints in the pool 4'ft. is the tallest, my problem is I'm wearing holes in my aqua shoes, can you recommend a good workout shoe that will last? Thanks in advance!
  • Please help me understand. Is there different between Aqua socks, Water shoes, and water socks. I read somewhere about water socks and now am reading Aqua socks in this blog as same as water shoes. I thought socks and shoes are different things. Make me understand.
  • Marina Wiersma
    Marina WiersmaThe water shoes that are swim-able are numbers 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13.
  • Good question about which are swim-able. I have my research team looking into this.
  • Can a person swim wearing these? Some are swim able others not
  • Sir Awesomelot
    Sir AwesomelotNice, I like #4
  • BigEasy
    BigEasyWow, couple of them are really cheap! Even if they last a few uses, it's still worth it.

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