You’ve already bought your kayak, your paddle, your anchor, and probably a few other accessories, so you might roll your eyes at the idea that you need special shoes, as well. However, there are plenty of benefits to having a pair of shoes designed to be worn in the water.
Can You Wear Any Old Sneakers?
Even beginner kayakers may tell you that you can’t wear any old sneakers for three primary reasons: comfort, warmth, and traction. However, a lot of people do wear regular sports shoes for kayaking, and in many cases, they get the job done, but only if there is no water accumulation in the kayak’s bilge or around the feet.
Most sports sneakers, even high-quality ones, aren’t designed to come into contact with water, and they don’t have the features that work well during kayaking. Sneakers don’t drain well, they don’t have sufficient grip, and they may have cotton laces that are difficult to tie and untie when wet.
On the other hand, water shoes, for the most part, have all the features you need for comfortable kayaking. These features include things like rubber protection around the toes, grippy soles, and sufficient water drainage.
Another benefit of water shoes is that they are easy to get on and take off, even in the cramped cockpit of your kayak. Kayaking shoes sometimes come with collapsible heel caps or speed lace systems that you can easily tighten or loosen in a limited space.
Let’s take an extensive look at some of the buying considerations of kayaking shoes and, afterward, reviews of some of the most popular paddling shoes that are available online.
The choice between different paddling shoes is a subjective one, and you have to consider a wide range of factors to ensure that you choose a pair that will meet your specific needs. To help you choose a pair that is right for you, we will be considering fit, insulation, and durability.
If the shoes you are considering are made from neoprene, you need them to have a tighter fit than your regular shoes, as neoprene tend to become more flexible in water. Your shoes should not be too tight, however, as you may start getting foot cramps.
If your shoes fit too loosely, your feet will move around within them, which can lead to painful blisters. Openings between your ankles and your shoes can also allow water to accumulate, which can be cold and uncomfortable. When trying on your shoe, you should be able to move your foot and toes comfortably, but there should be no loose material.
First off, it is important to note that, in this context, insulation does not refer to waterproofing, but rather heat retention. Isolating materials like synthetic rubbers protect your feet from the cold of the water and ensure that they’re comfortable while you’re paddling.
A key requirement of kayak shoes is that they should be durable. During your kayaking adventures, you may come across rough terrain. If your feet have insufficient protection, you may find yourself paddling back home in pain.
Another benefit of durability is that your kayaking shoes have a longer lifespan. To ensure that you won’t have to replace your shoes every six months, opt for the best in durability when you buy your kayaking shoes.
Here’s our evaluation of the best shoes for kayaking.
ALEADER Mesh Slip-on
These water shoes from ALEADER offer the ultimate in comfort, durability, and breathability. They feature lightweight rubber soles with ample bounce-back. The compact design of these slip-ons means that you can move your feet comfortably inside the small kayak cockpit.
An additional feature of the ALEADER slip-on is the ComforDry sock liner that keeps your feet dry, and alleviates pressure points. If you are an avid kayaker that is looking for a shoe upgrade, look no further than the ALEADER Mesh Slip-on
Pros & Cons
- checkComforDry sock liners
- Water drain outsole improves traction in wet conditions
- Lightweight midsole provides bounce-back
- Mesh upper enhances breathability
- Narrow design for movement in small space
Merrel All Out Blaze Sieve
The best thing about this shoe is its versatility. You can wear this shoe during for all your outdoor activities. This footwear ticks all the boxes, including durability, breathability, and comfort.
The sole is completely puncture-proof, and it has a neoprene upper to increase flexibility. In addition, the Merrel All Out Blaze Sieve feature odor-eating technology to eliminate any unpleasant smells due to regular contact with water.
Pros & Cons
- checkUnifly midsole protects the foot from beneath
- Anti-microbial treatment eliminates odors
- Leather and neoprene upper allow for flexibility
- Features a protective toe bumper
- Shoes tend to get heavy when wet
Cior Barefoot Quick-dry
There are three outstanding features of this shoe: stylish design, light weight, and durability. The Ciro comes with a number of technologies to allow for kayaking in ultimate comfort. Another unique feature of this shoe is its unique design to keep your feet dry when coming into contact with water. It is also one of the most flexible shoes on this list.
Pros & Cons
- checkQuick dry holes to get rid of excess water
- Thick rubber outsole for added protection
- Arch support to keep your feet relaxed
- Optimal traction during kayaking
- Added flexibility to ensure complete comfort
- Drainage holes tend to clog
Viakix Water Shoes
Viakix water shoes have mesh uppers that are breathable and that drain water incredibly well. Since these shoes dry so quickly, you never have to deal with wet soles or cold feet while kayaking. The Viakix kayaking shoes also offer full grip and are suitable for all outdoor activities.
Pros & Cons
- checkBreathable and quick-drying mesh
- Versatile outdoor shoes
- Lightweight insole
- Extra foam layer to the outsole
- Narrow size range to choose from
Cudas Shasta/Flatwater Water Shoe
The Cudas Shasta water shoes have all the features to make them suitable for kayaking. These features include ample grip, all-around foot protection, and breathability to allow for quick drying. These shoes also come with a speed lace at the heel, which makes it easy to take them off.
Pros & Cons
- checkAdded heel and toe protection
- Back pull tab
- Rubber sole for additional foot protection and grip
- X-band security
- Tends to fit looser at the heel
These are some of the best shoes for kayaking that we’ve found. Keep fit, insulation, and durability in mind and you can’t make a wrong choice.