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The Best Water Shoes for Women of 2024

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Searching for the best water shoes can feel like navigating a sea of endless options and variations. But fear not—our comprehensive buyer’s guide to the best water shoes for women will steer you in the right direction. Whether floating down a river, hiking through a canyon, or on a paddleboarding adventure, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find the perfect pair of water shoes that best fit your budget and adventure of choice.

Over a few months, gear tester Emma Renly tested eight different water shoes. Each shoe offered a different type of wearability. But overall, she noticed these options are best for summer wear since they offer minimal insulation.

Emma tested in the gloomy Pacific Northwest and the hot desert Southwest, across rocky trails and muddy paths and on the river. As a river runner, she’s spent years putting various types of water shoes through the wringer. For this guide, she paid particular attention to each shoe’s quick-drying abilities, versatility, insulation, and style.

Learn what differentiates water shoes in our comprehensive buyer’s guide and FAQ at the bottom of the article. Our comparison chart can help you make a decision. Otherwise, read our complete gear guide below.

The Best Water Shoes for Women

Best Overall Women’s Water Shoe

  • Weight (per pair)
    1.18 lbs.
  • Adjustment zones
    Two
  • Closure
    Quick Lace
  • Upper Material
    Unknown
  • Outsoles
    Rubber
  • Best for
    Hiking, river running, strolling around town

  • Collapsible heel

  • Lightweight

  • Easy to adjust the fit

Best Budget Water Shoes for Women

  • Weight (per pair)
    0.66 lbs.
  • Adjustment zones
    One
  • Closure
    Quick Lace
  • Upper Material
    Unknown
  • Outsoles
    Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
  • Best for
    Small, short walks

  • Machine washable

  • Lightweight (lightest on the list!)

  • Many drainage holes


  • Slow to dry

  • Minimal foot support

Most Versatile Water Shoes for Women

  • Weight (per pair)
    1 lb.
  • Adjustment zones
    One
  • Closure
    Lace-up
  • Material
    Quick dry canvas with 3D airmesh
  • Outsole
    G.15 Rubber™ + Flex Grip™ outsoles
  • Best for
    River sports – kayaking, rafting, canoeing

  • Wide Toe Box

  • Durable

  • Versatile

Most Comfortable Water Shoes for Women

  • Weight (per pair)
    0.8 lbs.
  • Adjustment zones
    None
  • Closure
    None
  • Material
    BLOOM Performance Foam and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam
  • Best for
    Short walks, lounging

  • So ugly, they’re cute

  • Easy to drain

  • Ultra-lightweight

  • Squishy foam


  • No half sizes

  • Debris gets through holes

  • Not for long distances

Best of the Rest

  • Weight (per pair)
    0.78 lbs.
  • Adjustment zones
    One
  • Closure
    Quick Lace
  • Upper Material
    Unknown
  • Outsoles
    5.5mm FeelTrue® sole
  • Best for
    Hiking, walking, jogging

  • Lightweight

  • Low Profile

  • Quick Lace system


  • Narrow Toe Box

  • Minimal foot protection

  • Weight (per pair)
    1 lb.
  • Adjustment zones
    One
  • Closure
    Velcro
  • Upper Material
    Neoprene
  • Outsoles
    3mm rubber
  • Best for
    Rafting, kayaking, and canoe trips on the river

  • Stretchy fabric

  • Insulated

  • Quick Dry


  • No half sizes

  • Minimal foot support

  • Heavy

  • Weight (per pair)
    0.8 lbs
  • Adjustment zones
    One
  • Closure
    Lace-up
  • Material
    Quick dry canvas with 3D airmesh
  • Outsole
    G.15 Rubber™ + Flex Grip™ outsoles
  • Best for
    Travel, short hikes

  • Low profile, sleek design

  • Lightweight

  • Fun color options

  • No socks needed


  • No half sizes

  • Lacks foot support

  • Weight (per pair)
    1.48 lbs.
  • Adjustment zones
    Three
  • Closure
    Velcro
  • Material
    Quick dry mesh and polyester microfiber lining
  • Outsole
    Recycled spider rubber
  • Best for
    Short day hikes

  • Kind of cute

  • Nice color options


  • Slow to dry

  • Velcro doesn’t adjust enough

  • Heavyweight

  • No flexibility in the construction

Water Shoes for Women Comparison Table

How We Tested Water Shoes for Women

Lead tester, Emma Renly wears water shoes most days of her life. Whether she’s on the river, hiking through creeks, or around town running errands in the rain, she’s generally looking for footwear that is long-lasting, quick-drying, and good-looking.

Emma, a guide and outdoor lover, has been putting gear, especially water shoes, through the wringer for over a decade. She’s glued together Chacos so they’d last a full season of raft guiding, worn out Xtratufs so long that they’ve got holes, and gotten mold on Birkenstocks from constant use in water. She’s also lost plenty of pairs to the river gods when they accidentally float downstream by themselves.

For this review, she tested 8 different water shoes. Some were better for rafting, others for hiking through canyons, and one for lounging. Despite this, there were two common denominators found in every pair:

  1. Each claimed to have quick-drying material, regardless of the brand.
  2. Every pair had rubber soles for a better grip on the rock.

For this round of testing, we focused on two locations: muddy trails in the Pacific Northwest and desert creeks in Moab, Utah. We also ran errands, walked along sandy beaches, and went on river trips. Late winter and early spring conditions varied significantly. Some days were wet and raining, while others were dry and sunny.

To test the claims of the quick-drying material, we submerged the shoes in water and left them out in direct sunlight to dry. There was minimal wind on this particular day, and the experiment gave us great insight into which materials actually dry the fastest.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Water Shoes for Women

Wading through (pun intended), the vast array of water shoes to find your perfect one may seem difficult, especially if you’re trying to tackle it all online. That’s why we’re simplifying the selection by offering tips to help you discover the ideal water shoe to meet your specific requirements.

Water shoes for women are designed for aquatic adventures, where you will certainly get your feet wet. They’re created for versatility in activity, from walking around town to crossing creeks on a hike. Water shoes are made of quick-drying materials and have more durable soles than regular shoes. They’re an essential gear element for those who do water-related activities and can provide more protection than going barefoot.

Water shoes are not necessarily waterproof by design. But, they contain quick-drying and water-resistant materials, meaning they will not keep your feet dry if submerged in water but shed water quickly. This guide focuses solely on water shoes, which we differentiated from sandals (read more below). If you’re looking for a sandal, check out our Best Hiking Sandals or Best Sandals for Women guides. If you’re looking for a shoe, check out our Best Trail Running Shoes for Women or Best Hiking Shoes for Women.

Versatility

Ensure your preference matches the activities or environments where you’ll wear the water shoe. We prefer water shoes versatile enough to handle various situations and climates. Shoes like this minimize how many pairs we need to purchase. We found the Astral Brewess 2.0 to be the most versatile due to its casual sneaker-like design and ability to perform well on hikes, during water sports, and around town. You can bet they’ll be our tester’s go-to shoes if she’s on the river in the Pacific Northwest. Its sister shoe, the Astral Loyak, is similar in versatility but with a bit less foot support.

Grip

Each sole material used in water shoes offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, particularly concerning grip. While some shoes give exact details on the material used in construction, many of the brands left it as an open-ended guessing game.

The Hydro Moc and DLGJPA Shoes have a foam-like bottom created by Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), which is less grippy and durable than the rubber counterparts of the other shoes. EVA is a crack-resilient material but is also a plastic 7 material, which makes it difficult to recycle.

While we can’t speak to the recyclability of the rubber from the other water shoes, a few companies use their proprietary rubber material in shoe construction. Astral uses G.15 Rubber™ in its Brewess 2.0 and Loyak W’s, which is abrasion-resistant and excellent for grip on wet or dry surfaces. Teva uses recycled spider rubber for its shoes, including the Women’s Outflow Universal Sandal, though we couldn’t find much more information about that specific rubber.

If you plan to hike a lot during your aquatic adventures,  you definitely want to choose lightweight shoes that provide solid traction and support the foot well. Durign our testing, two options took the cake for hike-ability: the Salomon Techamphibian 5 and Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport.

Water Shoes vs. Water Sandals

The category of water shoes is widespread. However, one way to differentiate the category is by separating it from water sandals. The water shoes featured in this list have a closed-toe construction (Salomon Techamphibian 5 even has a reinforced toe cap), quick-drying materials, and a drainage system to allow water to escape.

For example, the DLGJPA Shoes completely drained within seconds. Water sandals have an open-toe design with multiple or singular straps across the foot. Sandals have minimal cushioning and foot support compared to water shoes meaning debris can get trapped between the sandal and the foot. Whether you choose a water shoe or sandal depends on your specific needs and activities.

Quick Lace System vs Velcro System vs Lace-up System

Alright, it’s time to discuss shoe adjustment. Your ideal pick will depend on your desired level of adjustability and convenience.

The quick lace system is featured in three water shoes on this list: Salomon Techamphibian 5, DLGJPA Shoes, and Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport. It’s convenient and provides a customizable adjustment to your foot size for a secure fit.

Velco systems, as we see on the Teva Women’s Outflow Universal Sandal, aren’t our favorite, but they are also convenient. The NRS Women’s Kicker Wetshoe also uses Velcro, and just like in the Teva, we had trouble cinching it down enough to get a snug fit. Another tidbit to consider: the Velcro may wear out over time. 

Lastly, nothing is more classic than a good ole’ lace-up system in a shoe. The Astral Loyak and Astral Brewess 2.0 are the only two options on the list that utilize it, and because of that, they have a more sneaker-ish style than any of the other water shoes. The lace-up system has the same adjustment as the quick lace system, but often takes more time to tie up.

How Quick is Quick-drying?

When buying a water shoe, nearly all of the options claim to be ‘quick-drying.’ However, it can be tough to know which ones will dry quickly without a deep knowledge of materials used in construction. So, instead of taking each brand’s word for it, we did a mini-experiment with each shoe by testing drying capabilities in direct sunlight.

Neoprene, seen only on the NRS Women’s Kicker Wetshoe, dried the fastest. It’s a synthetic rubber that maintains flexibility over various temperatures (which is why it’s so prevalent in wetsuits). Within an hour, the shoes’ interior and exterior were dry, which impressed us and made us wish more companies explored the possibility of incorporating neoprene in the design.

Other than Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc (which uses a performance foam that doesn’t absorb water), we had trouble deciphering the specific materials used in each pair of water shoes. This means we couldn’t correctly correlate how quick-drying a water shoe was to the material comprising it. But, sometimes, just looking at the shoe gave us a hint into drying times. For example, the Salomon Techamphibian 5 Women’s Water Shoe and Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport — which ranked next in drying time- use lightweight, mesh material to create a winning quick-drying combo.

Getting the Right Fit

Achieving the proper fit is essential for overall performance, injury prevention, and long-term comfort. Adjustable straps and laces make it easy to customize the fit.

Look, we absolutely love the Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc. But, realistically, there’s no adjustment to get a snug fit. If we were to try to swim in them, they’d fall right off, and if we were to wear them on long hikes, they’d begin to get quite uncomfortable. Other water shoes, such as the  Salomon Techamphibian 5 and Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport, are much more snug and better for long-term comfort.

Another consideration is whether the shoes come in half sizes or offer wide/narrow width options to ensure the best fit possible. If they don’t seem like they’d fit, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Weight

Weight can have a significant impact when it comes to water shoes. 

Travel: Are you backpacking with extra water shoes? Are you bringing them on an airplane? Are they a last-minute addition to the shoe quiver? These questions are important to ask when packing a pair of water shoes. The Astral Loyak is a great choice for travel due to its versatility, flexibility, and lightweight construction (only 0.8 pounds!).

Performance: Considering shoe weight on a hike is essential for less joint strain and increased agility. Shoes like Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport (0.78 pounds) don’t absorb much water and will remain lightweight when crossing creeks. However, shoes like Teva Women’s Outflow Universal Sandal(1.48 pounds) and Astral Brewess 2.0 (one pound) have materials that both absorb a lot of water and will add to the overall weight. Not ideal.

Using Socks with Water Shoes

Not a single water shoe on this list requires socks! And we wouldn’t necessarily recommend wearing socks with shoes for water activities, as it often leads to discomfort if/when they become wet. Most of them are compatible with socks or dry suits; the Astral Brewess 2.0 is especially great for that purpose.

FAQ

Water shoes are designed for aquatic adventures, where you will certainly get your feet wet. They’re created for versatility in activity, from walking around town to crossing creeks on a hike.

Water shoes are made of quick-drying materials and have more durable soles than regular shoes. They’re an essential gear element for those who do water-related activities and can provide extra protection than going barefoot.

Yes! Nearly all these shoes in this review perform well as regular day-to-day shoes, except the NRS Women’s Kicker Wetshoe, specifically designed for wet environments and constructed from neoprene.

In fact, we wore both the Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc and Astral Loyak in non-adventurous settings! Water shoes are versatile enough to serve as comfortable and functional footwear options for casual outings, errands, or light activities.

Water shoes are not necessarily waterproof by design but are constructed from quick-drying and water-resistant materials. This means they will not keep your feet dry if submerged in water but are designed to shed water quickly.

The Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc is a unique option. It’s made completely of water-resistant foam, but your feet will become wet if you wear it in water.

Yes, swimming comfortably in water shoes is possible, depending on design and construction. Among the water shoes listed, those with lighter weights and more streamlined designs tend to be more suitable for swimming. With this in mind, the Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport, Salomon Techamphibian 5, and DLGJPA Shoes are the easiest to swim in due to their construction and lightweight.

We hit the trail and traveled over everything from ice to sand to find the best hiking shoes for women. Whether you’re looking to go on short treks or weekend-long adventures, we’ve got you covered with women’s hiking shoes for every budget.

We tested the best rain boots for women with options for every budget. Top picks include Grundéns, XTRATUF, and more!



Read the full article here

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