Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 16, 2021

Choosing the right pair of shoes for the right terrain can make the difference between a good and bad day. Many factors go into selecting a shoe, or in this case, a water shoe

Choosing the right water shoe is vital, especially if you take part in water sports like boating, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and fishing. You need water shoes that provide the most safety, comfort, and performance.

Difference Between Water Shoes and Regular Shoes

Unlike your regular shoes, water shoes are made for use in water or wet places. They're specifically built to drain water fast after walking in water. They're made with material that doesn't absorb water. Most pairs are made of mesh with rubber parts or outsoles.

Tips on How to Choose Water Shoes

There are a few factors you might want to consider in buying a good pair of water shoes. Some of them include:

  1. Draining water. When choosing a water shoe, you want a shoe that drains water fast and has high breathability. You don't want a shoe that retains water for long after you leave the water. A shoe with good breathability may offer efficient air circulation to your feet, helping them dry faster. Wearing shoes that don't dry fast may expose you to the risk of developing trench foot. This condition typically occurs when your feet stay wet for too long. It may cause pain, blistering, an awful smell, numbing, and skin damage.‌
  2. Traction. Walking in wet areas may involve contact with slippery surfaces, rocks, or even really sandy beaches. This means that you might have to choose a water shoe with a good grip and strong traction. A water shoe with a good grip may serve you well, especially when hiking. Good traction means you won't have any trouble walking on rocks or shells.‌
  3. Terrain. While choosing a water shoe, you may first have to consider the type of environment you will use the shoe in — the landscape matters. A beach terrain is different from a stream or a river. If you intend to hike in rocky terrain, choose a water shoe with excellent traction. Other areas may have wet, loose terrains that call for a pair of water shoes with a solid outer sole that can help you avoid injuring your feet. ‌
  4. Foot Protection and Support. Keeping your feet healthy should be one of your top priorities when choosing a water shoe. It's especially vital when there are long walks involved. You might need a water shoe with adequate foot protection. A shoe with great arch support may go a long way if you have flat feet or plantar fasciitis, a foot inflammation condition that causes heel pain. Protection also involves keeping your feet safe from sharp objects on some terrains. A water shoe with a thick outsole may go a long way to shield you from thorns, sharp stones, or lose ground while hiking.‌
  5. Durability. If you frequent wet areas or participate in water sports, shoe durability is a factor to consider. Try choosing a shoe that will serve you for the long term, or at least for the job you need them to do. When going hiking, you might need a shoe with an outsole that won't wear out quickly. A worn-out sole will lose its grip and that may not work out well for you.
  6. Bulk. Depending on what you need, you might have to select a light or heavy water shoe. A light shoe might be comfortable on your feet but may not be ideal for some terrains. The weight of a water shoe might be a vital aspect to consider according to your functionality preferences.
  7. Price. You must find a water shoe that fits your budget. There are shoes for every terrain or function at every price bracket. You might not need to break the bank to get a shoe that will serve the purpose you have in mind.
  8. Size. Choosing the right size is vital when you're looking for a good pair of water shoes. Some shoes will feel like the perfect size until you get some water in them — they might become a bit loose after that. If the shoes are too big, they might slip off your foot after they get wet. Choose a shoe with a snug fit to prevent uncomfortable experiences. It may also prevent feet irritation or chafing (soreness from friction).‌
  9. Material. The material the water shoe is made from also makes a considerable difference, depending on the activities you wear them for. Water shoes made of mesh, for example, are efficient in draining water and offer proper ventilation. This means mesh water shoes are suitable for activities like kayaking, swimming, and boating.

Water shoes are great for protection and support, where regular shoes might not be as helpful. Wearing sneakers and going for a swim would be a disaster. You'd end up with soggy shoes and blistered feet. Water shoes may also help prevent conditions caused by soil helminths (roundworms found in soil).

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Trench Foot or Immersion.”

Shoe Guide: “Water Shoes - The Best New Options for Every Activity.”

World Health Organization: “Water, sanitation, hygiene and health.”

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