A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: April 04, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Doing any type of sport with the right gear will make it a lot more enjoyable. Getting the best shoes for kayaking is no different. It makes it easier than going barefoot or traveling in regular sneakers. Not only will they be more durable, but they will also offer you more protection and prevent your legs from slipping. Great kayaking shoes will be able to give you an immense amount of grip and quickly dry once you’re out of the kayak, whilst giving you the same support of a regular shoe.
In our extensive reviews, we have delved deeper into the key areas to give you all the information you need to make a reasonable decision. The materials of both the soles and uppers are crucial to the performance. Getting the right size is also vital and there is another the key aspect of whether the shoes have been designed to keep your feet dry while in the water or not.
In finding the best kayak shoes, we have spent over 60 hours checking out the quality of the best options on the market using a wide range of different sources. To make your life as easy as possible, we have created a comparison table, detailed reviews of each product and an in-depth buying guide with FAQs. Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly what you need. Let’s get started!
These wet shoes from NRS have a supreme level of quality, which is going to make you enjoy the kayaking with comfort and ease. These high-quality shoes are made of neoprene, which helps to make the shoe extremely light while also giving you a nice feet protection.
The kayaking shoes for women and men are unisex, but you’ll need to focus on the sizing to get the right fit for you. Once you have checked it, the shoes should slip on and off easily while still feeling safe and secure. The lateral bands give you an impressive level of support, though the shoe is quite flexible.
That support is provided by the thin plastic shim and the rubber sole. That sole will give you great grip when your feet are in the water. Although, the soles are designed for walking over the sharp rocks, you might still want to find something thicker.
Aleader has been able to make the shoes, which are very highly rated, and it is rather easy to understand why. They are made of durable materials that are quite common to see but the manufacturer was able to create a product which ticks all the boxes on what makes the best shoe for kayaking.
One of the greatest features of those shoes, when compared to its competitors, is the brilliant range of colors available. It allows you to get something that suits your style. Along with that, there is impressive drainage, which allows the shoe to dry quicker.
That drainage also helps to make it a perfect choice for hot conditions. The fabrics have immense breathability to minimize sweating. They feel very comfortable on the feet and give you the grip that you need in any type of conditions.
Not all shoes will give you a lot of cushioning underfoot because manufacturers tend to cut down on weight, but these shoes give you plenty of padding in that area. They are cushioned on the heel, which gives them more versatility when it comes to using the shoes for other activities.
For those who enjoy traveling over the rough terrain, these could well be the ideal shoes. They have the high abrasion resistance and will give you reliable traction even if you’re walking over wet rocks. They don’t have have the extensive durability of hiking shoes, but they still have the impressive quality at a low price.
What you do get with these shoes is a very secure fit. That comes from their ergonomic shape, EVA insole and the bungee lacing on the upper. They are very easy to put on and take off while having a secure feel to give you confidence that you’re not going to be losing a shoe in the water.
If you’re looking for the lightest shoes, then this could be the perfect option for you. They are made of neoprene, which helps to reduce that weight while also giving you plenty of comfort and protection.
Some users have noted that there can be a few sizing issues and therefore you’ll want to double-check that you are getting the shoes that will give you a snug fit. Once you have the right size, you’ll then be able to enjoy the comfort they give and the immense amount of grip.
Made with high-quality materials, they are going to be able to dry quickly and prevent your feet from blisters. Despite being lightweight, they will offer a great sole. That will give you necessary heel protection and prevent any sharp rocks from causing pain to the bottom of your feet. This is why they are in our list of the best water shoes for kayaking.
With laces and a cinch, these wet shoes for kayaking give you an incredible amount of feet security. For those who like to kayak in more challenging environments, these shoes are going to give you a high level of confidence that they will protect your feet.
The thin sole might be ideal for some, but others won’t like that you can feel everything beneath your feet. That being said, they do have a good level of puncture resistance so you won’t have to worry about anything coming through the shoes.
You can immediately tell that these shoes are very well made. The seams and thread are built to last too. Despite being thin, the shoes are going to help to keep you warm on those colder days.
Speedo has been able to make this versatile water shoes which could be used for a lot more than just kayaking. They are still brilliantly designed and would be great for any type of kayaking adventure where you need a wet shoe.
They are exceptionally easy to pull on and take off, which gives them a fantastic level of usability. They look a lot more stylish than other options out there. A good range of colors is available to get something based on your preferences.
Their low cut design makes them highly breathable, but it means that some debris can ingress into the shoe. However, that shouldn’t be a problem while kayaking. The outsole had great grip while also being durable and very well made.
A lot of the shoes that we have examined have been made from 2mm of neoprene but Stohlquist has used 3mm for this shoe. It not only makes it more durable but more importantly, it helps to give it more warmth. It makes it an ideal shoe for multiple seasons.
One problem with the shoe is that the water doesn’t drain well and therefore you physically have to take it off in order to clear it. That’s only a minor issue, and it’s due to the fact that the shoe has a much higher level of durability than other options.
You get protection at both the toe and heel as well as having a thicker sole to protect the underside of your foot. The hook and loop strap will make it easy to secure, and this shoe is going to provide you with all-day comfort.
RAX has been able to make great kayaking shoes for men, which look like regular sneakers. It makes them highly versatile while still having all of the features which you’d want. They are very light and are able to dry quickly.
That quick-drying is provided by the drainage that the shoes have. While they do have a stylish design, you’d expect there to be a lot of color options, but there are only a few limited options available. For those who don’t care a lot about color, it is a great choice.
These shoes are going to suit anyone looking for a highly versatile shoe. It’s a great option for kayaking but also for other activities such as hiking. They have impressive level of protection to keep you comfortable and pain-free at all times.
Most of the shoes that we have looked at thus far are created to keep your feet wet. This pair of shoes for kayaking is a lot different and has great waterproofing to help to keep you dry and comfortable when in your kayak.
The downside to that is the performance in warm conditions. The low breathability will make your feet sweat when the temperatures increase. On the other side, they help to keep you nice and warm whenever the temperature drops.
Despite having a knee-high design, the shoes have a great fit. With the help of two straps, one over the ankle and one at the cuff, you can secure your leg in them. The high-quality materials will give you a high level of protection, and that makes them ideal for anyone looking for a brilliant dry shoe.
Kokatat has been able to mix premium quality materials together to make outstanding kayaking shoes. The great thing here is that the shoes have been specifically made to keep your foot dry while kayaking and are therefore a more specialized item than other models on the market.
Lace tabs sit on the ankle and the cuff of the shoe. They allow you to get a secure fit, but they can occasionally catch on the things, and that can be a little annoying. What isn’t frustrating is the amount of warmth that you get with these shoes.
They are great for all types of seasons and will help to keep you comfortable at all times. The thick neoprene helps with that but keeps the shoe light and durable. It’s another great option for those looking for a dry shoe.
What we liked:
Great comfort levels
Specific for kayaking
Keeps you warm and dry
Easy to adjust
What could be better:
The laces can catch on the things
Things to Consider
There are many different aspects to consider when it comes to getting the best kayaking footwear. There are shoes for different seasons, various different materials and other factors such as the lacing, breathability and comfort to think about. In this section, we will go through all those various aspects to ensure that you have an in-depth knowledge of exactly what you need. After reading this, you’ll be an expert on how to get the right kayaking shoes.
How to pick the best shoes for kayaking
Getting the best shoes for kayaking isn’t about simply looking at the shoes that have the highest quality or that you like the style of. If you get the wrong type of shoes, then it could end up being very uncomfortable and not suitable for your needs.
As we go through this guide, it’s a good idea to note down in each section which type is going to be best for your needs and what are the most important factors for you. Once you’ve done that, you’ll end up with a crystal clear idea of which kayaking shoes are going to make your next adventure as easy as possible.
If you’re lucky to live in the place with constant temperatures all-year-around, then you won’t have to worry much about seasons. For most other users, they are going to have to take the temperature factor into account when buying their kayaking shoes.
If you’re kayaking in high temperatures, then warmth won’t be an issue, and you’d want to have low-cut shoes which height is limited with the ankle. This will allow for faster drying and will reduce any sweating.
Large shoes in this scenario would be uncomfortable.
On the other hand, for lower temperatures, you’d want to look at shoes that had high cuffs and offered you more warmth. Moreover, you could consider dry shoes, which are waterproof and will protect you from cold water.
There are many different types of materials used for making water shoes, but if you want the highest quality upper, then you need to be looking for neoprene. The reason for that is the high breathability and durability whilst they are extremely light.
They are comfortable, and it is possible to stretch them a little. It is not possible with materials such as nylon. Other materials can be effective, but for when it comes to the water, there isn’t anything that beats neoprene.
As for the sole, you need to be looking for high-quality rubber. It must be light and flexible while still giving you a lot of grip.
Some shoes have a much thinner sole than others, and a lot of this can come down to personal preference and whether you want to use your kayaking shoes for other activities or not.
Your kayaking shoes don’t need the protection of a hiking shoe or extra thick rubber soles, and therefore they can be made extremely lightweight. The best kayaking shoes should almost feel like an over-developed sock, as they should be that comfortable and soft.
However, this doesn’t apply to you if you want a pair of dry shoes to give you waterproof protection or perhaps you want versatile shoes which will allow you to take part at a wider range of activities. In that case, there will be a bit more weight added to the shoe while still being great for kayaking.
Size is obviously an important feature for any type of shoes, but with kayaking it is vital. Any sizing issues can be dangerous in terms of slipping or could lead to blisters and other foot damages.
It’s important to double-check any product description and specification to see if there is more information given. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a look at what users have been saying about it. If a shoe runs small or large, then it most likely you may have these issues.
Kayaking shoes have a variety of options here. Most don’t use traditional lacing as it makes it a lot harder to give sufficient water protection.
Having cinch straps is very effective as it will not only be able to secure the shoes, but they are great for ensuring that you have a tight fit.
Slip-on shoes are also available, but these don’t tend to have the same security. Zips are a great way to secure kayaking shoes, but this adds weight and reduces flexibility. It’s good to have a choice and think which one would suit your needs.
The shape of these kayaking shoes is vital, as they don’t have the tightest of fasteners to reduce weight. Your shoe should be as secure, light and comfortable as a sock.
As we mentioned, it’s vital to get the sizing correct to help with that fit. Many of these shoes are designed to the specific contours of a foot to give you the highest levels of comfort and grip.
Comfort and support
Knowing how much support you need underfoot is vastly important to figure out which type of shoe you want. Some have minimal sole protection, whereas others will be thicker and heavier.
The best one for you is the most optimal for your environment and your personal preference. Some shoes have comfortable insoles, and others tend to have super thin. Again, you need to know which is right for you.
Breathability is how air is getting through the shoe. In order to dry quickly, you want a better level of circulation. Neoprene is a great material for that, but mesh will give you the highest comfort.
With dry shoes, breathability is more difficult to achieve. They need to be waterproof, and therefore it’s hard for air to pass through them. If you are going to be in a hot climate, it might be better looking for a smaller shoe.
Having wet feet all day is a fairly unpleasant experience. If you are buying wet shoes, then you want them to be able to dry rapidly, and there are a few ways this can be done.
You want the materials to be light and moisture resistant such as neoprene. Other shoes will have holes in the soles to drain away water.
Benefits over sneakers and hiking boots
It can always be tempting to use the same footwear for multiple different activities. The problem is that not every pair of shoes suits your needs. There are a number of key features of kayaking shoes that have nothing in common with sneakers or hiking boots.
One of the biggest differences is how long it takes for other shoes are to dry. While kayaking, you’re certainly going to get wet and having that soaked-shoes feeling all-day is unpleasant. Kayaking shoes are designed to get dry quickly.
Your kayaking shoes will be lighter when sneakers or hiking boots. They will fit like a glove and allow you to kayak with comfort and freedom. These are benefits you simply don’t get with other shoes.
As well as the quality of the shoes, you want to think about the price. You generally get what you pay for, but there are brilliant budget options out there such as the Northside Brille II Athletic Water Shoes. At around $20, there some good options out there.
Dry shoes are generally a little more expensive due to the extra protection and materials they have, and there are premium quality wet shoes available. If you want the highest quality, then you would be looking at products that cost around $50 for wet shoes and around $100 for great dry shoes.
With high-quality kayaking shoes, you are going to get the same amount of comfort for your feet. Even though they are not designed to make you walk long distances, they give you enough support and grip. In a wide range of kayaking shoes, some are great options for walking if you want something quite versatile. Kayaking shoes should have a tight and secure fit, and this can be achieved by getting the right size and checking how it fastens. A lot of kayaking shoes have a cinch, which improves the convenience.
As with any type of shoe, the answer to how long they’ll last hugely depends on how often you use them. Cheap kayaking shoes aren’t going to last for a very long time. Nevertheless, all the models that we have looked at here have a very high level of quality. With premium materials, they should be able to last for a number of years and possibly a lifetime. If you are a professional kayaker, then they won’t last forever, but you should be able to get at least a few years out of them. Cheap kayaking shoes won’t give you the same level of comfort or quality.
Pedaling a kayak is great fun, and you might be wondering what type of shoes is perfect for that. The fact is that many people pedal their kayaks with bare feet, which shows that it’s an activity that isn’t strenuous for your feet.
In warm conditions, it is good to have a pair of breathable wet shoes which are going to dry quickly. If you think you could be walking over rough terrain, then you’ll ideally want some sole protection.
In colder climates, you will want more warmth and protection from the cold water. For pedaling kayaks in these conditions, it’s a wonderful idea to get a dry shoe. This will give you more comfort and help you to enjoy your time on the water.
Hopefully, by now you’ve got all the information that you need in order to get the best kayaking shoes for your need. For astonishing performance, it’s hard to look past the NRS Desperado Wetshoes as they are made from premium quality materials with great grip and comfort.
If you were looking for a higher level of protection at lower prices than Northside Brille II Athletic Water Shoes will help you with that. These are the most magnificent options out there. All of them have the highest quality and will allow you to enjoy your next kayaking adventure.