Water Shoes

Going into only my 2nd season of paddling, I’m now ready to move beyond the big box stores cheap water shoes.

Looking for easy draining, good grip and ones that look like sneakers. I have been looking toward Teva, Merrell, Keen, etc.

What brand/model do you wear or recommend?

Merrell makes nice ones
alternatively, I like kevlar-reinforced socks - work great for low-volume kayaks in summer.

I have some from Bass Pro shop
that I like.

Jack L

Two to consider

– Last Updated: Apr-14-13 11:47 AM EST –

I bought the Merrell Current Glove from LLBean over the winter. They're very low profile, feel a lot like Vibram Five Fingers without the toe dividers. I like them quite a bit but haven't been in the water yet. It depends how you feel about a zero-drop sole, too.


These new ones from Astral look more like sneakers, I haven't tried them, but Astral makes good gear.


Get high tos

– Last Updated: Apr-14-13 1:09 PM EST –

You will be much happier with high top water shoes, because little rocks aren't as likely to get into them. Also, if you happen to step into some knee deep gumbo mud, there's little chance you will lose a shoe; with the low cut shoes you might.

I have an NRs high top and they've been great. I would also suggest that you get an inexpensive boot dryer and use it. Otherwise your shoes are going to get pretty ripe.

Watch for sales at NRS and REI, etc. You shouldn't have to pay over about $40.

Way too early to recommend anything

Do you kneel or sit…Kayak, canoe?

Your paddling locale…gravel, mud, Canadian Shield with slippery lichen, clam or oyster beds?

Cold water, warm water


Do you need Vibram?

There is a reason why there are so many watershoes. I have some dozen pairs all for different environments

In the higher price range…
…it really comes down to personal preference. Sometimes I wear Keen sandals with toe protection and other times I wear Salomon (current model for aquatic use is called “Gecko”). They both work fine and are suitable for land use as well.

Just find something that feels right for your feet, spend the $, and get wet.

Go simple .
NRS Kickers, work well on rocks and coral and stay put.

It’s true that neoprene shouldn’t cost too much, and magooch has good advice about getting a boot drier. However, the OP wanted shoes that drain - all those neo boots keep the water and funk in, yech. I don’t like 'em and the wife can’t abide 'em, even when kept in the garage.

keen newport
Also I want a pair of astral’s new shoe.

Ryan L.

Lets see…

– Last Updated: Apr-14-13 5:53 PM EST –

Two pairs o' cold wadda Chota Mukluks (one size fer no drysuit an' one size up fer drysuit); a pair o' NRS Workboots; a pair o' OTB boots fer warm wadda an' good drainage (jus' dun't step in any dawg poop wit dem); an' me newest... a set o' Keen Gorge shoes. Hi-top canvas sneakers fer goofin' off.

Anybody recolleck dem ol' L.L. Bean canvas "Canoe Shoes"? Ah' truly wish dem varmints up thaar in Freeport would make dem agin'.


I have had a pair of Solomons for a couple years. They are nearing the end of their life, I’ll have to replace them soon. Things I like about them: comfortable enough for long walks, the lace system tucks away nicely, they drain well, the mesh fabric drys quickly and the soles have good traction. Things I don’t like: there’s an opening between the front upper and the heel counter. There’s a strap between the heel counter and the front upper. It tends to come loose. And the open spaces below these straps allow pebbles to get under your foot, and those pebbles just don’t come out.

I would not buy any shoe that doesn’t have a full enclosure all the way around it, because those pebbles between the sole of your foot and the sole of the shoe are so annoying. Preferably, the body of the shoe will be some kind of mesh, so the pebbles stay out and the water can drain out.

Hope that helps.


I avoid sandals with neoprene
Example: the Teva Omnium. According to the Teva website, the Omnium has “quick-drying materials to keep you comfortable. This shoe is great for water activities such as canoeing, and amphibious hiking.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It can take up to 48 hours to dry these indoors.

Here are my paddling shoes:

Cold water: Chota Mukluks

NRS water shoes

Croc knockoffs

I wear the $10 Crocs in warm weather. They provide a nice cushion for your heels. I rarely wear the short NRS water shoes because the transition from cold to warm weather (mukluks to crocs) happens so quickly, but they’re necessary for sea kayaking.

Astral Brewers
5-10 Stealth (I didn’t make up this name) rubber sole allows me to just about run on slimy rocks. Wicked light so you actually feel them dry as you paddle.

Stylish and comfy enough to use terrestrially.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Paek, NY


Thanks everybody… I’ll have to shop around and try on some of the suggestions. BTW, I’m new to paddling and mostly do calm lakes and rivers with my Tarpon 100.

I find the Teva Omnium great for general
use with occasional wading. You’re right about drying time, though mine dry enough in the first hour that I’m not squidging water over restaurant floors.

One thing that makes Teva Omnium, and most other Teva sandals, NOT good for serious canoeing is that Tevas typically have cocked-up front ends. This does NOT go with serious kneelers like myself who kneel on the tops of our feet, Indian style. I wrote Teva about this, but I don’t know if they took notice.

I’ve had some pretty good whitewater kneeling shoes from Teva, in their Proton/Neutron series. One pair lasted more than a dozen years, and is only coming apart now.

Added advice. Whatever you buy, after
using it a while, start inspecting all the seams and straps, and use appropriate products like SeamGrip or marine Shoe Goo to repair spots that are coming apart. All of them are made on machines, and there will be cases where seams or bonds are not all they should be. A few spot repairs can forestall failure in the bush.

Calm lakes and rivers?
Sandals if it’s warm. Kick them off in the boat and wear them on shore.

If it’s cold, neoprene booties of some type.

I will have to say the Astral Brewer is my favorite water shoe on the market now.

I was looking for fully mesh-enclosed, sturdy, comfortable water shoes with arch support to not aggravate my plantar fasciitis. The shoes needed to be mesh-enclosed to exclude rocks and shells, strong-soled to allow walking on some oyster bars, some pinnacle rock, and a lot of coral rock, comfortable to wear for extended 4-to-12-hour periods, sturdy enough to last several years, and have arch support.

I was actually interested in the ones Jack had from Bass Pro (the Finley Rivers, I believe), but they had none in my size in any of our 3 local bass pro Shops, so I tried on, and liked the Riverside IIs, and went with them.

They seem to fit the bill -I’ve worn them as non-paddling shoes all day twice, and also two half days, and they’ve been comfortable and not aggravated my plantar fachiaiitis. They have a well-cushioned but strong and moderately flexible soles, with a nice roomy toebox with a rubber-like bumper on the outside to protect the shoe.

The shoe was significantly larger than the dive booties I’ve been wearing while paddling, and had to move the footpegs down and bit and lengthen my legs in the cockpit to allow that big toebox to fit.

It has 3 drawbacks:

  1. The bungie laces are too long -I need to double loop them before clipping them to prevent the extra length from potentially snagging on footpegs, etc.

  2. I think they should incorporate drain holes in the soles -in heel, arch, and especially ball of foot areas.

  3. I had one lace holder come loose -I glued the inner cloth-like strap with epoxy, and then resewed it with carpet threads, and then glued the outer, (faux?) leather with nylon thread, to fix. It’s been fine, since. Some would consider this perhaps up to a major flaw, but I certainly don’t, and feel the shoe worked “OK” without one lace-up, but decided to fix it anyway.

    Otherwise, they look to be decent quality, and at $30 I think they’re a good value.

    So far, so good, but time will tell as far as how long they’ll last as I walk around in them, and, of course, use them while I


    Frank in Miami