7 Best Water Shoes for Hiking in 2021

Best Water Shoes for Hiking
Image by Canva Photos

Most water shoes are great for kayaking or spending the day at the water park, but when it comes to hiking— they aren’t supportive. For long days on the trail, you definitely want shoes specifically made for hiking. But, if you’re going to encounter some streams, waterfalls, or plain old puddles, then you want a hiking shoe that can handle getting wet without leaving your feet water-logged. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the best water shoes for hiking, bringing you the best of both worlds so you can brave the great (wet) unknown with confidence.

Our Top Picks

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick overview:

Merrell All Out Blaze Best Overall: Merrell All Out Blaze.
With waxy, waterproof uppers and 3mm hollow lugs that offer traction without the extra weight, these water shoes bring home first prize.
Chaco Outcross Evo 2 Best on a Budget: Chaco Outcross Evo 2.
If money is on your mind, check out these relatively inexpensive shoes that combine mesh, webbing, and synthetic leather for the ultimate balance of water resistance, quick-drying, and breathability.
Vivobarefoot Primus Swimrun The “Green” Pick: Vivobarefoot Primus Swimrun.
These 100% vegan shoes are partially made of recycled plastic bottles, so you can enjoy the outdoors and protect them at the same time!
Teva Terra-Float Churn It Up Best for Waterfalls: Teva Terra-Float Churn It Up.
For those planning on spending some time around the falls, check out these shoes with grips and supports specifically designed to push water out from under your feet for optimal traction no matter the terrain.
Keen Terradora Ethos Best Women’s: Keen Terradora Ethos.
These Keens are designed specifically for women, with fashionably fun color options and contours that cradle your feet.
Merrell Choprock Shandal Best Men’s: Merrell Choprock Shandal.
This combination shoe and sandal brings the best of both worlds into high-traction, quick-drying, breathable footwear designed for men.
Salomon Crossamphibian Swift Best for Trail Running: Salomon Crossamphibian Swift.
Trail running requires lightweight yet supportive shoes. Trail running with water on the schedule requires lightweight, supportive, and quick-drying shoes that won’t slip on the rocks no matter the speed you pick up.
 

Best Water Shoes for Hiking: A Closer Look

1. Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoe

The best water shoes for hiking overall

Merrell All Out Blaze

Brand: Merrell | Weight: 1lb and 5oz | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Waterproof Leather | Price: 💰💰 – 💰💰💰💰

Merrell is a long-standing and highly respected outdoor brand, and it’s no surprise that their water shoes take first place on our list. The All Out Blaze Sieve Water Shoes have waxy, waterproof leather uppers that repel water and feature cutouts designed for easy drainage. All of the 3mm-deep lugs are hollow to keep things lightweight, while the durable Vibram sole makes it feel like you’re walking on a cloud. The simple bungee-lace quick release system and neoprene stretch collar make it easy to slip these shoes on and off with no fear that they’ll slip while you’re wearing them.

  • Dry quickly to prevent blisters and uncomfortable soggy feet
  • Durable materials are designed for rough use out in the wilderness
  • Excellent traction across slippery rocks, wet terrain, and dirt paths alike
  • Depending on the color shoe you choose, you can expect to see some fading over time
  • Reviewers note that sizing runs a little large, and some recommend ordering a half-size down 

2. Chaco Outcross Evo 2 Hiking Shoe

The best budget water shoes for hiking

Chaco Outcross Evo 2

Brand: Chaco | Weight: N/A | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Mesh/Polyester Webbing | Price: 💰 – 💰💰💰

If you’re looking for some great water shoes for hiking at a bargain of a price, check out Chacos’ Outcross Evo 2. Chaco isn’t usually a brand we associate with being on the lower end of the pricing scale, so we were pleasantly surprised with these. The combination of mesh, polyester webbing, synthetic leather uppers, and a stretch collar around the ankle cradle your foot and keep everything light and breathable. The non-marking, synthetic sole features a semi- collapsible heel, 3mm outer lugs, and compound sipped center lugs for additional grip on wet surfaces.

  • Great traction over wet, slippery surfaces
  • All-around elastic laces make getting a custom fit quick and easy
  • Mesh protection at the front maintains drainage while protecting the toes
  • Some reviewers found them lacking in arch support
  • Reviewers with wider feet noted that the shape appears to favor a narrower arch

3. Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Swimrun

The best eco-friendly water shoes for hiking

Vivobarefoot Primus Swimrun

Brand: Vivobarefoot | Weight: N/A | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Neoprene Mesh | Price: 💰💰💰

For the environmentally-minded hiker, check out Vivobarefoot’s Primus Trail Swimruns. These lightweight water shoes are 100% vegan-friendly and made partially from recycled plastic bottles, ensuring relief for your aching heels and your conscience! The all-around mesh exterior offers excellent drainage. You can easily switch from water to dry land and back again since the 3mm lugs ensure traction no matter the terrain. 

  • Flexible, foldable construction gives more mobility and traction across a range of terrains
  • The outsole is patented Firm Ground TPU material that is ultra-thin but puncture-resistant 
  • Hydrophobic mesh lining is “temperature regulating” to keep things cool and dry (and smell free!)
  • A few reviewers complained about the ankle band being too tight and causing blisters
  • Some reviewers had issues getting the sizing correct (sizing may be inconsistent) but were completely satisfied once they did get the right size

4. Teva Terra-Float Churn It Up

The best waterfall water shoes for hiking

Teva Terra-Float Churn It Up

Brand: Teva | Weight: 1lb and 9.3oz | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Synthetic | Price: 💰 – 💰💰💰💰

If you’re looking at this list and still wondering what are the best water shoes for hiking in water? Then take a look at the Teva terra-Float Churn It Up water shoes. Though they might look like simple tennis shoes, these are some of the best shoes for hiking in water, thanks to their specially-designed rubber outsole. While the lugs on other shoes do create traction, these shoes feature grips and supports that push water out from under your foot for enhanced traction so you can keep your footing in the water. The FloatLite midsole is extra-cushiony to keep your feet supported and reduce aches after a long day navigating rocks and slopes. Once you’re back on land, the insole lets water escape to the midsole, offering excellent draining to help dry your feet after getting soaked. Meanwhile, the mesh uppers dry quickly to keep everything cool and comfortable.

  • Elastic lacing for all-around snug fit with quick-release tab for easy on and off
  • Specially-designed outsoles that push water out from under your foot for ultimate traction
  • FloatLite midsole offers superior cushioning and acts as an escape route for water from the insole to help dry your feet
  • A few reviewers noted a distinct rubbery smell out of the box and recommend airing the shoes out before use
  • Some reviewers found the fit a little too snug and noted that the design is too narrow for those with wider feet

5. Keen Terradora Ethos Water Shoes

The best women’s water shoes for hiking

Keen Terradora Ethos

Brand: KEEN | Weight: 13.2oz | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Leather | Price: 💰💰 – 💰💰💰💰

It’s time to talk to the ladies. While almost all of the shoes on our list here come in both Men’s and Women’s sizes. However, size is not the only consideration for the difference between men’s feet and women’s feet. That’s why finding a shoe specifically designed for women is always a good idea. KEEN’s Terradora ETHOS shoes bring all the quality you expect from the well-known brand in a design for you. The non-marking rubber outsole won’t scuff floors and offers reliable traction against both wet and dry terrains. The anatomical EVA footbed follows the contours of your foot for added comfort. At the same time, the breathable inner liner keeps your foot cool and dry. 

  • Three stylish color options to keep things fun
  • Small-sized cutouts to reduce the introduction of debris while allowing for drainage
  • Quick-release elastic lacing system for easy on and off that secures snugly to your foot
  • The sizing appears to run small, and reviewers recommend ordering a half-size up
  • A few reviewers have experienced some quality discrepancies that led to the shoes breaking early

6. Merrell Choprock Shandal Water Shoes

The best men’s water shoes for hiking

Merrell Choprock Shandal

Brand: Merrell | Weight: 14oz | Closure: Quick Release | Uppers: Synthetic | Price: 💰💰 – 💰💰💰

Men, now it’s your turn. Merrell is at it again with their Choprock Shandals (get it? They’re a hybrid of shoes and sandals?). With integrated webbing loops designed for a customizable fit, a rubber toe bumper, and a trademarked molded TPU heel counter, your feet are cradled and protected from every angle. The removable EVA insole is contoured for comfort and features a water-friendly top cover. The EVA midsole uses Hydramorph technology to drain water and maintain airflow, keeping your feet cool and dry. The midsole is also compression molded for added stability. 

  • Vibram Megagrip outsole with 5mm lugs for optimal traction
  • Uppers made with small cutouts combined with mesh for added drainage that reduces debris
  • Bungee lacing system with quick-release button for custom fit that’s still easy to get on and off
  • Some reviewers with “flatter” feet disliked the subtle curve of the shoe
  • Reviewers note that the shoes appear to run a half-size to a whole size up

7. Salomon Crossamphibian Swift Trail Running Shoe

The best trail running water shoes for hiking

Salomon Crossamphibian Swift

Brand: Salomon | Weight: 1lb | Closure: Laces | Uppers: Breathable Mesh | Price: 💰💰

For all the trail runners out there, consider the Salomon Crossamphibian Swift Trail Running Shoe. As the name suggests, these lightweight shoes are designed with all the support and features of a trail running shoe, with the added benefit of Contagrip rubber outsoles with sipping to maintain glue-like traction to any surface, wet or dry. The fast-drying, breathable mesh material has no cutouts to keep out debris. It maintains the lighter weight needed for running shoes. With the simple elastic lacing system, it’s easy to slip these shoes on and off while getting a snug fit every time.

  • Quick-drying mesh material is lightweight and keeps your feet cool and dry
  • TPU toe cap and no cutouts to protect feet from debris and bumps on the trail
  • Contagrip outsoles are rubber with sipping and lugs to offer traction across wet and dry terrains
  • Some reviewers reported that the sizing runs narrow and recommend getting a half-size up
  • Reviewers who wore these shoes to the beach noted that the mesh isn’t dense enough to prevent sand from getting inside the shoe

What to Look For in the Best Water Shoes for Hiking

Using a pair of the Best Water Shoes for Hiking
Image by Canva Photos

Protection.

Depending on how you’re divvying up time in or out of the water, you’ll want to consider what protection a shoe offers. Vents and cutouts are great for airflow, and help water drain quickly and easily from your shoe. However, they simultaneously leave your toes exposed to pebbles, dirt, and other trail debris that can be a nuisance at best and a fall hazard at worst.

Support.

Water shoes are similar to running shoes in style, so they offer a decent ankle and arch support. But when it comes to hiking, you usually want something with a little more cushion. Be sure to consider the terrain you’re expecting to encounter, so you can judge how much support you’ll need.

Water Resistance. 

This might go without saying, but if you’re planning on encountering water with these shoes, you want to look for the words “hydrophobic” or “water-resistance” to ensure the materials can handle getting wet. 

Drainage.

This is another vital part of being water-resistant. If you’re expecting your shoes to get soaked, having good drainage will help them dry faster and keep you from walking in your own personal puddle all day.

Comfort.

No matter how supportive or protective, or water-resistant your hiking shoes are, they won’t do you any good if they aren’t comfortable to wear! 

Traction.

The soles of any good shoe will create enough friction between the shoe and the surface of whatever you’re walking to give you a firm grip. This is especially important if your shoes get wet or if you’re walking over wet terrain. River and creek beds tend to be slimy and slippery, so be sure to find a shoe with some solid traction.

Season.

Not all shoes are for all seasons. For example, a shoe with cutouts probably isn’t suited for the cold winter months (you don’t want to end up with frostbite!). Most outdoor gear brands will label their products with what seasons they’re for, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check.

Shoe Vocabulary 101

Just in case you aren’t already familiar with all the different parts of a shoe, here are some definitions for you:

  • Outsole. The outside layer on the bottom of your shoe (the part that touches the ground).
  • Midsole. A layer between the insole and outsole that cushions and absorbs shock.
  • Insole. The part of your shoe that touches the bottom of your foot (these are often removable and/or replaceable).
  • Uppers. The part of the shoe that covers over the top of your foot.
  • Quick-Release Closure. This lacing system usually uses elastic material with a clip of some kind that can easily be tightened and loosened without any knots.

Our Process

For this guide on Water Shoes for Hiking, our team spent 2.5 hours researching the most popular options from over 8 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about sixty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each water shoes for hiking. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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Further Reading

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