Why You Need Water Shoes

Find out why water shoes are essential for boating, paddle sports, and other outdoor and aquatic activities.

August 31, 2016
Group of people running into water

The right footwear is a must for any sport or activity as it helps you perform at your peak while providing the appropriate level of protection. Think any shoe will be just fine in the water? Think again. If you’ve ever stepped on a sharp rock with bare feet or slipped on a dock wearing flip flops, then you’re already aware of two key reasons why water shoes matter: safety and traction. Their lightweight designs, flexible material and rugged outsoles are an ideal balance of protection and comfort. Plus, if you’re big into boating, you’ll be happy to hear that most water shoes have non-marking soles.




Most water shoes cover the entire foot and have thick soles. These features are essential for protecting your feet from hot surfaces and sharp objects, such as rocks and shells. Look for a style that has built-in toe shields to help prevent stubbed toes. This is especially important when wading through water with unpredictable and rocky terrain, such as riverbeds and ocean floors.


Getting ready for a day at the beach? Full-coverage, slip-on styles help guard your skin from the sun while keeping sand off your feet.




Water shoes feature specially designed tread for optimal traction on slippery surfaces, including boat docks, decks and water equipment. Their rubber outsoles also offer a better grip on these wet surfaces.


While slip-on styles are great for beach wear and underwater use, they don’t offer the same ankle support as their lace-up counterparts, which are more suitable for trekking through trails, streams and creek beds.




You shouldn’t feel as if you have two anchors on your feet. Non-water shoes often get heavy when waterlogged, which disrupts the smooth, fluid movements you’re looking for in underwater footwear and makes for added weight when you aren’t submerged. Water shoes, on the other hand, are designed to be worn on both underwater and dry surfaces. Sipped outsoles help move water to the side when you make contact with the ground — much like a tire — making them great for traction, too.


Regular shoes also absorb and retain water because they aren’t made to drain the same, so you’ll experience plenty of squishiness and discomfort once you do get out of the water. This is a recipe for blisters and potential unwanted odor and mold growth in your shoes. A good pair of water shoes will be made of well-ventilated fabrics and have multiple drainage points and perforations to help water drain from the shoe and prevent these nuisances.




Water shoes are flexible and made with mesh material for enhanced breathability, which helps keep feet cool. This also allows for improved water flow when submerged and better drainage when out of the water.


They also provide insulation, keeping feet warm in cold water. Regulating your body temperature underwater is important as poor circulation and coldness could affect performance and safety.


If you don’t plan on having your feet submerged for a long time, consider a shoe with increased heel cushioning. This is great for boating, sailing and other activities that may have you on your feet a lot.




While a pair of water-resistant slides may be good enough for poolside protection, water shoes deliver the added benefits you need if you’re upping your activity level. They also come in a variety of styles. Slip-on water shoes are perfect for a day at the beach and ocean swimming, while lace-up styles are better for hiking and more intense outdoor activities. Another variation includes an adjustable bungee-cord lace for the ease of a slip-on and security of a lace-up.



Water shoes are perfect for these activities:

  • Water Sports
  • Kayaking & Other Paddle Sports
  • Tubing
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking on Wet Terrain
  • Swimming: Out-of-Pool Protection
  • Swimming: Rivers & Oceans
  • Aquatic Fitness




From water parks to pool days, some of the most popular summer-time activities for kids involve being near the water. Water shoes can help keep their feet safe and comfortable so they can focus on having fun.


Even if your child isn’t getting in a pool, water shoes are still helpful to wear around wet areas. The rubber bottoms can help prevent your child from slipping on pool decks or changing areas.


Many daycares and camps may also require attendees to bring water shoes. This helps to avoid barefoot kiddos or soggy sneakers around splash pads or during outdoor activities.


Whether you’re enjoying the beach with your family, paddling down a river or trekking through mountain creeks, be sure to wear your water shoes. They will help keep your feet protected, drier and more comfortable, so you can enjoy every moment of your outdoor adventures.


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