Kayakers have the luxury of choosing from a multitude of worthy footwear options. But that copious variety poses a challenge as well. When shopping, how can you be sure that you are choosing the best kayaking shoes to wear while paddling?
Kayak shoes are different from hiking shoes or those you would use for a leisurely boating trip. Water sports shoes must be tougher and better suited to withstand high volumes of water.
Several factors influence the quality of kayaking shoes. In this article, we will explain a few of the essential qualities to look out for. Then we will show you five of the best kayaking shoes on the market.
What to Look for In Kayaking Shoes
Before we cover some of the best kayaking shoes to wear while paddling, let’s look at some of the common features that make for a great kayaking shoe. Regardless of the shoe, you end up choosing, make sure that it ranks well in the following categories.
Traction is an essential aspect of any form of footwear. However, it is even more critical for those doing a water sport like kayaking.
Naturally, the environment in which people kayak is very wet. This not only includes whatever body of water you are visiting but also the surfaces on which you will walk to get there.
Wet surfaces are far more slippery than those that are dry. That slipperiness poses a significant threat of falling to anyone walking upon it. To combat this threat, the best kayaking shoes included plenty of traction.
Many of the kayaking shoes on this list have specialty soles. These include highly durable materials. Often, a carefully designed pattern reduces the odds that your foot will slip as you walk. So, as you shop for kayaking shoes, make sure that you know what kind of sole the shoe has before you buy it.
Breathability plays a significant role in the comfort you will experience as you wear a certain shoe. Without proper ventilation, it is easy for moisture to build upon the inside of your shoe. When it comes to water sports, this problem is even more prevalent.
A breathable kayaking shoe will release moisture from your shoe as you wear it. Whether this moisture comes from the river or from your sweat glands, proper airflow is important. After all, one of the main goals of a kayaking shoe is to keep your foot relatively dry. If you have blisters, breathability is even more important so that you don’t make them worse than they already are.
By allowing moisture to release from your shoe, your feet will feel more comfortable and dry. And when you are engaged in an intense activity like kayaking, you want all the comfort you can get. Along with this, breathability will also diminish some of the foul smells that can come from a wet pair of shoes. Some kayak shoes even have drainage holes to help reduce moisture.
When kayaking, there are countless opportunities to injure your foot. For example, imagine you are kayaking in a river, and you cannot see the bottom. This scenario makes it very easy to stub your toe on a rock. Likewise, when facing a strong current, you can also twist your ankle as you enter and exit your kayak.
Nobody wants their hobby to lead to an injury. So, when you are looking for the best kayaking shoes, make sure to prioritize foot protection.
Even within the few items on our list, you will find varying levels of foot protection. Some shoes have rigid material to shield your foot from any outside objects. Others focus on mobility at the expense of protection. Both options have their benefits. So, the one you choose will depend on your individual needs. Just make sure you are aware of the level of foot protection you are buying.
Temperature is not a factor that everyone considers when buying kayaking shoes. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Your shoe’s ability to keep your foot warm can make the difference between a fun outing and a miserable one.
As you read on, you’ll see that some shoes are great for cold water while others are better in warmer settings. Those meant for cold water often have a thicker material. Sometimes they include unique insulation technology as well. These cold-ready shoes tend to weigh more as well. Conversely, the warm water shoes are thinner and have a lighter overall weight.
Consider where you like to do your kayaking. Are you someone who spends a lot of time in frigid whitewater rapids? Or are you more likely to kayak in the summer on a warm lake? Your answers to those questions will determine how warm of a kayaking shoe you need.
NeoSport Premium Neoprene Wetsuit Boots
The NeoSport Premium Neoprene Wetsuit Boots consist of flexible neoprene material. This material is a lot like that which you would find in a typical wetsuit. This makes for a comfortable fit, whether you are paddling or walking.
While these shoes have a soft but thick neoprene upper portion, they are also durable where they need to be. The sole of this shoe is made of a strong material that has plenty of traction. This means you won’t need to worry about slipping as you exit the water.
You can purchase the NeoSport Premium Neoprene Wetsuit Boots in one of three thicknesses. These thicknesses are meant for different water temperatures. Regardless of which you choose, you can rest assured that water will not enter your shoe. That is because the NeoSport Premium Neoprene Wetsuit Boots have a water entry barrier behind their zippers. This barrier effectively seals your foot from the water surrounding it.
- Excellent traction
- Strong zipper prevents leaks
- Puncture resistant
- Varying thicknesses for different temperatures
- Sizing does not match standard shoe sizing
- Rubber sole can separate from rest of shoe
SIMARI Quick-Dry Aqua Socks
These kayaking shoes are more than a functional article of clothing. They also happen to be one of the most stylish kayaking shoes on the market. With a sleek exterior appearance that incorporates no lacing, the SIMARI Quick-Dry Aqua Socks come in a wide range of color options.
From a functional perspective, these water shoes are highly flexible. Flexibility, paired with a carefully crafted ergonomic low-cut design, make these shoes incredibly comfortable. The 92% polyester material makes them lightweight, as well.
Where this shoe could improve is in the protection it offers for your foot. The same material that makes this kayaking shoe so comfortable is what also limits its protective capabilities. Still, the SIMARI Quick-Dry Aqua Socks do come with a built-in toe protector to prevent you from stubbing your toes as you enter or exit your kayak.
- Stylish exterior
- Flexible material for enhanced comfort
- Lightweight design
- Toe protection
- Limited durability
- Could offer more foot protection
Teva Voya Infinity Flip-Flop
If breathability is your main focus, then the best kayaking shoes to wear while paddling are sandals. In this category, the Teva Voya Infinity Flip-Flop proves to be one of the best options. Rather than covering your foot entirely, this product uses straps to give you a secure fit.
This limited material leaves your foot open to the air. It also makes for an incredibly lightweight piece of footwear. On the other hand, you will need to remember that this leads to limited protection for your foot.
To its benefit, the Teva Voya Infinity Flip-Flop has a quick-drying material. With this material, you won’t need to wait for hours for your shoes to dry. This shoe is also very comfortable. The interior portion of the sole has a foam cushion. The exterior has a harder material with treads for traction.
- Great breathability
- Lightweight design
- Quick-drying material
- Foam insole cushioning
- Straps can be too stretchy
- Limited arch support
NRS Hydroskin 0.5 Socks
The NRS Hydroskin 0.5 Socks prioritize comfort and mobility for wearers. These two qualities arise from the .5 millimeter neoprene material. This material lets your foot bend in any direction with little to no resistance.
This pair of shoes’ softness pushes us to describe them as water socks rather than a wet shoe. But despite having the look and feel of socks, the NRS Hydroskin 0.5 Socks have a unique design to ensure a good fit. This includes left foot and right foot socks that curve to conform to each respective foot.
The NRS Hydroskin 0.5 Socks are also surprisingly warm. They have insulated lining that helps maintain warmth in your foot even on the coldest days. This footwear also has a high-tech surface material that helps water bead and roll off your foot. This reduces the potential heat loss that comes via evaporation.
- Very warm
- Material conforms to your foot
- Great mobility
- Exterior material wicks water
- Waterproofing could improve
- Sizing can be off
Cressi Neoprene Diving Boots
Although these shoes are technically intended for divers, they remain a versatile option for any water sport, whether you are diving, kayaking, or canoeing. The Cressi Neoprene Diving Boots are tough water shoes that can survive in the most rugged conditions. If you want a show that you can rely on to remain intact, this may be the option for you.
The most notable feature of this shoe is its sole. This sole consists of a substantial molding that is slip-resistant. The grooves on the sole make it easy for your foot to get a grip on even the wettest surfaces. This sole’s tough material also contributes to the durability of this shoe.
Along with durability, this shoe is also easy to clean. All you need to do is rinse it with clean water, then let it dry. One of the few drawbacks of this shoe is that it can let in small particles like sand and pebbles. However, the Cressi Neoprene Diving Boots is still waterproof and remain as one of the best kayaking shoes due to their traction and durability. Even if you are not into scuba, don’t neglect these shoes as a fantastic choice for kayaking.
- Great traction
- Easy cleaning
- Very durable rubber outsole
- Highly comfortable
- Small stones can enter the shoe
- Thick sole can be bulky
Kayaking shoes come in many shapes and styles. These included differing materials and levels of coverage for your foot. The only way you can successfully select the best kayaking shoes for paddling is to become familiar with the features that make for a great shoe. This article should get you started on the path towards finding the best kayaking shoe for you. You will then be ready to hit the water, knowing that your feet will be comfortable, dry, and safe from injury.