Kayaking shoes are a must-have for every excursion, whether you’re a novice paddler or a whitewater expert. The best shoes for kayaking are made from waterproof materials and have secure straps and treaded rubber soles to protect your feet.
There are two types of shoes you can wear kayaking: open sandals and water shoes. Open sandals are a great pick for warmer weather, and because they’re more casual, they can be worn to other activities like post-kayak meals and going for a swim. However, if you’re a kayaker who spends time on rocky terrain, water shoes may be a better choice because they cover your whole foot, which adds protection and stability. Some water shoes have open strap designs with toe protection, while others fit more like a boot.
Both sandals and water shoes usually have a durable rubber or rubber-like outsole with tread that adds a layer of protection from rocks and sharp objects that can be hidden underwater. Some water shoes combine the rubber sole with an EVA midsole, which is a light and flexible material that offers excellent shock absorption. If you’re planning to kayak in colder climates, you’ll want a water shoe made from solid neoprene, an insulating material that can keep your feet warm even when submerged in cold water.
Since kayakers often encounter slippery surfaces, you’ll also want a shoe with tread. If you’re a casual kayaker who pushes off from sandy beaches, a simple sandal with classic shallower tread will do the trick. However, if you spend a lot of time on rocky jetties, slippery docks, or slick boat ramps, look for a shoe with a grippier outsole that has deeper treads, which will provide additional support on unstable surfaces.
Ready to get out on the water? These are the seven best shoes to wear kayaking, and they’re all available on Amazon.
1. A Fully Waterproof Teva Sandal
Teva is a well-loved brand known for their simple strappy sandals, but they also make this colorful shoe that’s specially for water activities. It’s made with injection-molded EVA, so it’s both supportive and lightweight enough to float in water. Thanks to the hook-and-loop closures and easy-to-adjust straps, this shoe stays on tight, so you won’t lose it even if you roll your kayak. The outsole has a good amount of tread, and this sandal comes in 10 trendy solid colors that pair well with any style.
One fan raved: “Love these! Wore them while hiking, kayaking and biking. I wore them on a 18 mile bike ride to the beach & back with no problem. [They] are comfortable and super light [...] Very happy with these. They were great from protecting my feet from the rocky bottom of the bay when I loading the kayak.”
- Available colors: 10
- Available sizes: 5 — 13
2. A Sporty Water Shoe With Thousands Of Fans On Amazon
This open water shoe from KEEN has a strappy, open design that gives you the breathability of sandals, but it also has the protection and stability of classic water shoes thanks to the guarded toe and secure bungee lace closure. The outsole is made of non-scuffing rubber, while the midsole is made of compression molded EVA with a cushioned footbed, so your feet will feel comfortable even on rocky beaches. Landing on muddy shores is not a problem for these shoes either because they’re machine-washable.
One fan raved: “These sandals are amazing. I bought these to replace my old ones that survived over 10 years. They are made exceptionally well, provide good support for lots of walking, are water friendly for kayaking trips, and have great toe protection so you don't stub your toes on rocks or tree roots.”
- Available colors: 47
- Available sizes: 5 — 12
3. A Full Coverage Water Shoe For Under $20
This sneaker-like water shoe gives your feet great protection while kayaking, and it’s under $20. It has a bungee lace closure that makes its easy to secure your foot, as well a treaded rubber sole that extends to the toe and heel to give you better traction on both wet and dry surfaces. This shoe also has an EVA insole, which makes it more lightweight and provides extra cushioning. Even though this shoe has a more sneaker-like design, it’s still breathable thanks to the quick-drying mesh neoprene top, which keeps your feet comfortable during all-day trips, even if they get wet.
One fan raved: “These fit well, are comfortable and are perfect for me for kayak fishing. Grip well and protect my feet from sharp rocks, hot pavement and the sun”
- Available colors: 24
- Available sizes: 6 — 13
4. This Insulated Water Boot For Cold Weather Kayaking
If you wouldn’t pass up a beautiful kayak ride even if it means stepping through icy waters, then this insulated kayak boot is the shoe for you. It’s made with 3-millimeter thick Terraprene neoprene with a heat-reflecting titanium layer, which is to say this boot is designed to keep your feet warm in cold waters. Because the warmest feet are dry feet, this boot also has a fleece-like VaporLoft lining, which repels water and dries quickly. The rubber sole has high-traction tread with heel and toe protection for slippery surfaces, and the gusset-backed YKK zipper keeps the shoe securely on your foot. Made specifically for kayakers, this boot even has added ankle protection to keep your feet more comfortable inside the boat when you’re going through rough waters.
One fan raved: “I just got back from paddle boarding in Alaska. I went to two glacier fed lakes wearing these and boy am I glad I had them along. They saved my feet (and my body temp) several times when I had to get my legs fully submerged in ice cold water. I loved the rubber bottoms for walking on rocks and dirt paths to get to the water. When I walked into the water and the level was below the top of the shoes, my feet didn't get wet. When the water did get into the boots, it quickly heated up and kept my feet warm the entire paddle trip for several miles until I took them off. They fit snuggly when not filled with water, but I feel [run] true to size as they should fit snug like other neoprene/wetsuit material. Very comfortable to stand in while SUPing.”
- Available sizes: 6 — 11
5. This Vegan-Friendly Sandal That Comes In A Rainbow Of Colors
Another pick from a well-loved brand, this water sandal from Chaco has a classic sport design with non-marking rubber soles that offer excellent tread. The polyester straps are secured with a ladder-lock buckle and wrap around the front of your foot and your ankle, but if you want the extra security, you can also check out the Chaco sandals with toe straps. Many reviewers mentioned the great support these sandals provide, so if you have arch support issues, this may be a good shoe to try.
One fan raved: “I have arthritis in my poor old feet - if I know I have a long walk ahead of me - I go for the Chacos! These go everywhere - in the water, the beach, shopping, kayaking - whatever. They fit great and offer a ton of arch support and padding. This is my 3rd pair in probably 20 years - they wear like iron. In the long run, a quality sandal like this is cheaper over the dozen or so years that they last, than the cheap stuff.”
- Available colors: 19
- Available sizes: 5 — 12, some wide sizes available
6. A Slipper-Like Water Shoe That Amazon Shoppers Are Obsessed With
These cheap water shoes are a real fan favorite, with over 18,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Made from polyester and spandex, these booties fit more like socks, so they stay snug on your feet even in wavy waters. Like the other picks on this list, these shoes also have rubber soles with tread to give you protection when walking on slippery docks and rocky beaches. To help you show off your style at the beach, these shoes come in a variety of color options, including a solid light gray color, a blue fish-scale pattern, and an undersea shark graphic.
One fan raved: “These shoes are perfect for kayaking. I usually launch my kayak by walking into the water either on sand or at a boat launch. These protect me for whatever ick is in there. They are very comfortable and dry quickly!”
- Available colors: 44
- Available sizes: 3.5-4 — 14.5-15 Women/13-13.5 Men
7. This Breathable Water Shoe With Secure Bungee Laces
Great for anyone who likes to go straight from kayaking to other land activities, these breathable water shoes have a classic sneaker-like design and a rubber sole that provides protection in water and on land. To keep your feet dry and comfortable, the sole has small holes, which drain any excess water that may get in. This shoe also has a bungee lace system that keeps it securely on your foot and a convenient pull tab to help you get it on and off. The top of this shoe is made from salt- and wear-resistant Lycra material, which is breathable and comes in a range of colors and patterns.
One fan raved: “I purchased these for kayak fishing and they work perfectly. They dry quickly and stay tight on my feet without fear of blisters. The water drains quickly and doesn’t cause unnecessary rubbing. Perfect for what I ordered them for and the sizing is on point.”
- Available colors: 42
- Available sizes: 4.5 Women/3 Men — 15 Women/13.5 Men