The best shoes for kayaking

Water Sports

Opt for a thicker shoe if you’re frequently in cold water. Thinner shoes with better airflow are best for warmer climates.

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Which kayaking shoes are best?

Kayaking is a wondrous outdoor activity that may be physically invigorating or mentally calming. It can be done in isolation on a quiet morning, or in tandem with others for a social outing.

Regardless of the atmosphere and location, you need the proper pair of shoes to help you feel comfortable and safe.

Kayaking shoes are designed to offer traction and support for your feet, but also breathability and comfort, especially when they get wet. Our top pick, Mishansha Water Shoes, checks all those boxes, but there are still a lot of factors to weigh. Keep reading our guide to learn more about how to choose the right pair of kayaking shoes for your needs.

What to know before you buy kayaking shoes

Size

A comfortable and secure fit is of the utmost importance. Just like any other footwear, you want kayaking shoes that fit snugly but not too tight, and every manufacturer is likely to have their own sizing chart. If possible, try on the shoes before purchase. Keep in mind you won’t be wearing any socks with the shoes, which may slightly affect how they fit.

Durability

Kayaking shoes have to withstand not just water, but likely rough terrain that may be traversed near rivers and lakes. They should be ready to protect you from rocks, stones, sticks, and other obstacles you may encounter in the water and along the shore. Thicker soles offer this protection, though some may want to look for further protection on the upper portion of the shoe, particularly near the ankles.

Comfort

For those kayaking or navigating for hours on end, the shoes should be comfortable and breathable. Because you won’t be wearing socks, the interior of the shoes needs to feel cozy and not cause chafing.

Dry time

Kayaking shoes are designed to dry relatively quickly, though that time can vary between models. Those with air holes or slight gaps are likely to dry a bit quicker, and drying time can be quickened by leaving them in the sun to air out.

Weight

Those shoes that offer more durability and protection, especially around the soles, may be heavier. This could be an issue if you’re wearing the shoes at length, with the weight tiring you out over time. Lighter shoes may feel more effortless over time, though they’re likely to lack extra protection.

What to look for in quality kayaking shoes

Style

Just like any other footwear, kayak shoes can be designed for both functionality and fashion. They’re made in a range of colors and styles, so you can take time to find a pair that matches your look and personality.

Insole

Some kayaking shoes may include a removable insole for added support. The insoles can help the shoes dry more quickly and provide some extra support. However, they also may be bothersome for some users as they can slip out too easily and be hard to put back in, especially when damp.

Laces and straps

Some kayaking shoes may feature laces or straps to provide extra security — this may also make it easier putting them on and taking them off. However, laces and straps are likely to add weight to the shoe. Be sure the laces and straps are never loose or dangling, as they can get caught up easily and prove dangerous.

What you can expect to spend on kayaking shoes

Most quality kayaking shoes cost around $20-$30, offering a balance of comfort and durability in various colors and styles.

Kayaking shoes FAQ

How do I best maintain my kayaking shoes?

A. After use, immediately rinse your shoes with clean water to remove any sand, dirt, or debris. Warm water and mild soap may also help alleviate odors or tougher spots. Some kayaking shoes may also be washed in a machine.

What’s the preferred material for kayaking shoes?

A. Neoprene, a rubber synthetic frequently found in wetsuits, is an ideal blend of both comfort and support. Upper portions of the shoe may also feature polyester or spandex and should be breathable and smooth to avoid irritation.

What are the best kayaking shoes to buy?

Top kayaking shoes

Mishansha Water Shoes

Mishansha Water Shoes

Our take: Balanced water shoes for men and women with durable support and comfortable breathability.

What we like: Made in different colors and styles. Flexible yet rugged. Drainage holes help to dry quickly. Easy to slip on and off.

What we dislike: Some concerns about gripping slippery surfaces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top kayaking shoes for the money

Barerun Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Shoes

Barerun Barefoot Quick-Dry Water Sports Shoes

Our take: Stylish and budget-friendly kayak shoes with an impressive grip.

What we like: Made of flexible, lightweight polyester. Dries quickly; breathes well. Options for color and designs.

What we dislike: Lacks long-term durability. Removable soles can be annoying.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Simari Water Shoes

Simari Water Shoes

Our take: Popular kayaking shoes that provide extra security and comfort on longer excursions.

What we like: Features locking mechanism for snug, secure fit. Rubber soles are textured for grip; air holes allow for quick drying.

What we dislike: Insoles come out easily.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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