For any avid kayaker, there’s nothing like being out on the water having a leisurely paddle, or training hard on choppy ocean water. However, having the right footwear when kayaking is extremely important as they not only provide comfort but also keep your feet dry. The best shoes for kayaking also come with durable soles that provide excellent traction while getting in and out of the water. Some of these shoes also double up as good hiking shoes so if you’re looking for the best waterproof hiking shoes, you may want to consider some of the shoes on our list.
How To Choose The Best Kayaking Shoes
One of the most important features of the best shoes for kayaking is the fit. If your shoes are made of neoprene make sure that they fit more snugly than your every day shoes. Neoprene tends to expand in water so you could end up with shoes that are a bit loose. However, you don’t want shoes that are too tight either or you’ll be battling cramps before you know it. Shoes that are too loose will give you blisters or worse still, will have water accumulating inside.
Kayaking shoes come in a variety of styles to suit various terrain and temperatures. There are different shoes for cold water and warmer water. It’s important to choose kayaking shoes that will suit the temperature that you’ll be paddling in.
Warm water shoes are a bit more versatile and made from different kinds of material such as mesh, thinner neoprene, or rubber. Coldwater kayaking shoes, on the other hand, are thicker and longer too.
Kayaking shoes are available in three different heights; low-cut, ankle and knee height. Depending on your requirements and personal style you can pick the best shoes for kayaking.
- Low Cut – These shoes among the most versatile of the three styles of kayaking shoes. They’re lightweight, breathable, and great for sunny weather. If you’re looking for kayaking shoes that provide minimal protection, these are your best bet.
- Ankle-high – Those in need of something that provides a bit more warmth should go for these shoes. Ankle-high kayaking shoes are more sought after as they come with thicker soles and are easy to pack, wear, or use.
- Knee-high – For those of you kayaking in cold weather conditions, knee-high shoes are the way to go. One thing you want to be sure of with knee-high shoes is the fit. They should fit very snug so that water does not get inside.
Featuring a proprietary Stohlquist tread pattern for outstanding traction, the Stohlquist Tideline boots definitely make one of the best shoes for kayaking. It stands out as one of the best shoes for kayaking in cold conditions. In addition to the excellent traction, the heavy-duty zipper and gusseted zipper opening help reduce water exchange. The ergonomic shape of these boots helps increase the warmth of the boot and also gives a good fit. By contouring the foot, water pockets are minimized.
- Vulcanized rubber outer
- YKK non-corrosive zipper
- Great traction
- Rubber toe and heel caps
- Feels a little tight around the lower shin
Promate 3mm Beach Dog Water Sports Boots Shoes
The Promate 3mm Beach Water Sports Shoe is another versatile piece of apparel that has multifunctions. Low cut and fully waterproof, the shoes sit snug around the ankles. This prevents sand particles from entering and also provides extra warmth. As such, they’re a good option for chilly weather. If you’re looking for something with good traction the rubber sole on these shoes provides just that. You can also be sure that these shoes will go the distance as the seams are sewn for strength and durability. Wearing these is a breeze with the elastic taped sewn top.
- Durable and designed to last
- Keeps sand out
- Versatile and warm
- Slow draining
Keen Newport H2 Sandal
With the airiness of a sandal and protection of a shoe, the Keen Newport H2 Sandal is perfect for warmer conditions. Though this may not seem like your regular kayak shoe, the versatility that this sandal offers, makes it stand out. The traction of the sole, plus the polyester webbing with hydrophobic mesh lining makes it ideal for hiking or kayaking. It’s super light too which is an added bonus.
Another great thing about these sandals is that you can pop them into the washing machine without a worry. The washable polyester webbing features the odor-reducing Aegis Microbe Shield. If you’re looking for comfort you’ll find it in the EVA foam of the midsole. The metatomical shape of the footbed makes these sandals great for a number of uses.
- Super light
- Versatile and multifunctional
- Machine washable
- Odor reducing Aegis Microbe Shield on the upper part
- Tends to come apart at the seams
Aleader Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
One of the best shoes for kayaking for women is the Aleader Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes. This lightweight shoe is big on functionality and style. Made from hydrophobic engineered mesh fabric combined with FluidFlow technology, you can be sure your feet will stay dry and comfortable. The ComforDry sock liner also provides great cushioning and creates a cooler and drier environment.
Another standout feature of these shoes is the rubber pods that are strategically placed on the soles for additional traction. Pair it with jeans and they stand out as casual wear too. You’re spoilt for choice with a wide range of colors to choose from.
- Excellent traction
- Stylish and functional
- Good support
- Small rocks tend to enter the shoe from the holes in the mesh
Aleader Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
With a wide range of colors to choose from the Aleader Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes is one of the best slip-on kayaking shoes. The breathable, lightweight shoe is great for all kinds of environments. However, they won’t work too well in extremely chilly conditions.
Made from hydrophobic engineered mesh with FluidFlow technology, water drains faster from these shoes. The water drain outsole also provides excellent traction in wet and slippery conditions. In addition to this, the lining inside the shoe prevents small rock and sand particles from entering.
- Excellent traction
- Lightweight and breathable
- Dries quickly
- Available in a wide range of colors
- FluidFlow Technology
- Cannot be dried in the drier as they could shrink
Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties
A versatile shoe suitable for all water sports is the Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties. These shoes are a good option for warm water kayakers on the lookout for flexibility and traction. Made from Neoprene they’re extremely lightweight and comfortable making you feel like you’ve got nothing on your feet. They’re quite flexible and have the additional security of the Velcro closure system. The optimized stitching lines also prevent chaffing from foot straps and the rubber laminated sole provides extra protection.
- Extremely flexible and lightweight
- Optimized stitching lines prevent chaffing
- Rubber laminated sole
- The sole is not the best for gravel or jagged rocks
Mishansha Men’s Women’s Water Shoes
One of the most highly rated kayaking shoes on Amazon is the Mishansha Men’s Women’s Water Shoes. The Lycra material from which the upper shoe is crafted is ultra-lightweight and fast draining. It provides excellent flexibility and comfort as well as breathability. The unique anti-slip camo rubber sole ensures proper drainage which creates a cooler and healthier shoe environment. Wearing these shoes is easy with the pull tap at the heel. Elastic straps help in quickly adjusting the shoes, avoiding the annoyance of tying the shoes.
- Soft insole for comfort
- Lycra material for fast draining and cross ventilation
- Elastic straps help in adjusting the shoes
- Lightweight and flexible
- Top-quality sole with drainage features
- Wide variety of color options
- May feel a little tight on people with broader feet
NeoSport Wetsuits Paddle Low Top Boots
The easy-on Paddle Low Top Boots from NeoSport are super streamlined to give you added comfort. With a wrap-around guard to reinforce the toe section and an extended heel, these boots are great for getting in and out of the kayak. The Water Entry Barrier on these neoprene shoes helps keep your feet dry and your toes warm. The hardened insert sole provides you with puncture-resistant protection to keep you steady on rocky rivers. Getting these shoes on or off is easy with pull tabs and durable YKK side zippers. It also has an adjustable hook and loop arch strap for a better fit.
- Comfortable neoprene material
- Easy to put on or take off
- Water Entry Barrier for added protection
- Puncture-resistant insole
- The soles are not thick enough for jagged rocks
- They tend to retain water
Made from durable neoprene and rubber material, the unisex Neo Sport Premium sits high in the rankings of best shoes for kayaking. The hi-top zipper boot uses advanced technology that helps keep the feet warm. In addition to this, the heavy-duty zipper ensures that water will stay out of the boot. A water entry barrier behind the zipper reinforces the waterproofing.
You can choose from three different levels of thickness depending on the weather conditions. The shoes begin at 3mm for warm water, 5mm for moderate water, and 7mm for cold water. What’s also great about these shoes is the rugged traction, puncture-resistant sole. The shoes will definitely stand up to the rigors of kayaking with the durable, glued, and sewn construction.
- Great for all weather conditions
- Rugged traction and puncture-resistant sole
- Water entry barrier behind zipper
- Heavy-duty zipper
- Not that great for rough terrain
- Sizing could be a problem
NRS Boundary Water
One of the best water shoes for kayaking is the mukluk style NRS Boundary Boots. These knee-high neoprene boots are incredibly versatile and waterproof. They’re ideal for cold conditions as they keep your feet warm and dry. The beefy 7mm rubber sole is great for rough terrain, providing an excellent grip on slick rocks or the bottom of your boat.
With the soft foam footbed, you can be sure your feet will be comfortable too. They’re easy to wear with a super reinforced hell loop to help out. A tightening strap at the top keeps water out.
- Waterproof and comfortable
- Sole provides good traction for rough terrain
- Easy to wear
- Sizing seems to be a problem
NRS ATB Neoprene Kayak Shoes
NRS are renowned for their outdoor shoes and the NRS ATB Neoprene Kayak Shoes live up to the hype. These boots come with a 5mm neoprene upper and a 7mm insole that provides cushioning and warmth. Perfect for cold conditions, the all-terrain traction, wet shoes are durable and multifunctional. They’re sturdy enough for rocky surfaces and though they appear heavy, they don’t feel bulky. The inner liner and Velcro at the top of the zipper provide extra protection, making these, one of the best shoes for kayaking.
- Comfortable and warm
- All-terrain traction make the shoes durable and multifunctional
- Ankle zippers make them easy to wear
- Secure instep strap for added security and a better fit
- Good sizing
- Water can collect inside
The lightweight, zipper-less Kokatat Scout Boot is ideal for those on the lookout for an ankle-length kayaking shoe. It’s a great choice for kayakers hopping in and out near slippery terrain as the soles provide good traction. The vulcanized rubber outsole combined with the toe cap and heel counter will keep you steady on slippery surfaces. Wearing these boots is easy with the hook and loop adjustment strap. The boots fit snug so if you plan to wear them with socks you’ll need to have a relook at the size.
- Comfortable and easy to wear
- Great grip for slippery surfaces
- Flexible double lined neoprene
- 3mm thickness
- Sizes tend to run small
NRS Paddle Wetshoe
For kayakers looking for an all-around kayaking shoe for cool water, the NRS Paddle Wetshoe is definitely one of the best shoes for kayaking. This high-top low profile design provides excellent warmth and protection without feeling bulky. The Paddle Wetshoe is easy to wear with the help of the gusset backed YKK entry zipper that opens wide.
You can be certain your feet will not freeze with the 3mm Terraprene neoprene heat-reflecting titanium layer. Additionally, the soft, fleece-like VaporLoft lining repels water and dries instantly. With the extra padding over the outside ankle and wraparound sole, your ankles and toes are well protected.
- Warm and durable
- 3mm Terraprene neoprene heat-reflecting titanium layer
- VaporLoft lining repels water and dries instantly
- Extra protection for toes and ankles
- Can feel a bit tight on the ankle