7 Best Water Shoes for Hiking


Whether you’re hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park or just crossing a stream on a random hike near your campsite, don’t miss out on the chance to see what’s just across the bend by equipping yourself with some water shoes suitable for hiking.

Neither water shoes nor hiking boots, hiking water shoes and sandals offer the best of both worlds for outdoor enthusiasts who don’t want water bodies to put a stopper in their fun. Prepare to conquer water crossings in comfort and style with our top picks for water shoes for hiking.

Learn about key features that matter when buying the best water shoes for hiking, and get your questions answered. Our top pick for best overall hybrid hiking/water shoe is the KEEN Newport H2. It’s a solid option for most people and most use cases.


For regular hiking shoes, check out our picks for the Best Hiking Shoes for Women.


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Our Top Hiking Water Shoe Picks in 7 Categories

Best Overall – KEEN Newport H2 (Men’s and Women’s)

Image by Keen

These hybrid hiking and water shoes are a classic. KEEN calls them “the original hybrid sandal,” and they have everything you need for both trails and water crossings.

The Newport H2 sandals have a shock-absorbing foam midsole with arch support, a rubber outsole with excellent traction, a wide toe box for a comfortable fit, a quick-cinch bungee lacing system, and toe protection. They offer quick-drying lining and KEEN’s Eco Anti-Odor system.

They won’t smell even after long hikes, but they will get dirty. Thankfully, they are machine washable. I’ve owned two pairs of Newport H2s, and they stand the test of time. After losing a shoe from my first pair at some point after a particularly muddy hike in Kauai, I bought a second pair that I swear by.

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Runner up

For a similar option, check out the KEEN Drift Creek hybrid sandals. Compared to the Newport H2s, which offer slightly less protection across the top of your foot, the KEEN Drift Creek sandals have a mesh upper layer across the top of the sandal and have a lower profile.

If you’re doing a water activity like SUP, where you’d like to be able to feel the board, the Drift Creek sandals may be your best bet. For hiking, when you don’t necessarily want thin soles, we like the Newport H2s.

Best Lightweight – XERO Shoes Z-Trek (Men’s and Women’s)

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Image by Xero Shoes

For that lightweight, barefoot feel, go for XERO Shoes’ Z-Treks hiking sandals. At just 5.6 ounces for a woman’s size seven and 7.2 ounces for a man’s size nine, the Z-Treks are the perfect packable sport sandals for a day hike or a backpacking trip and make a great lightweight camp shoe.

The Z-Treks have smooth nylon straps made from rPET recycled materials. The fully adjustable straps ensure you get the perfect fit, and the 6-mm FeelTrue sole protects your feet while also allowing for some ground feel. Dual-direction chevron tread provides good traction on the trail and/or in the water.

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Runner up

There’s no toe protection on the Z-Treks, so we’re providing a runner up in this category, also from XERO Shoes: the Aqua X Sport (men’s and women’s), which offers more coverage. Rather than being a sandal, these are a quick-drying closed-toe shoe with open mesh uppers with a non-absorbent tongue.

At just 5.9 ounces for a woman’s size seven and 7.5 ounces for a man’s size nine, these are just a hair heavier than the Z-Treks. Choose the lightweight option that works best for your use case.

Best Open-Toe Sandal – TEVA Terra Fi 5 Universal (Men’s and Women’s)

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Image by Teva

You could say the TEVA Terra Fi 5 Universal hybrid hiking/water sandals are the all-terrain vehicles of the shoe world. You’ll recognize the classic TEVA silhouette from the hiking trails. The Terra Fi 5s have a molded PU midsole, a grippy rubber outsole, and quick-dry webbing made from recycled materials.

Known for their durability, you’ll keep reaching for your TEVAs hike after hike, year after year, and they’ll likely perform well the whole time. If you don’t need toe protection and are looking for traction, comfort, and support, you can’t go wrong with a pair of TEVAs.

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Most Versatile – Crosskix Tetra Dri-Fit Water Shoes (Men’s and Women’s)

best-water-shoes-for-hiking
Image by Crosskix

If you like to do a little bit of everything (including water sports) in your athletic shoes, the Crosskix Tetra Dri-Fit Water Shoes are a good choice for you, as they’re incredibly versatile. The Crosskix Tetras transition seamlessly from trail running to boating—and you can wear them as a casual shoe as well.

The slip-on and closed-toe Crosskix Tetras are lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and supportive. Features include a quick-dry lining, supportive webbing, and a foam-composite footbed. Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or walking the dog, these versatile shoes are up for whatever adventure you’re up for.

Buy Men’s

Buy Women’s

Most Sneaker-Like Sandal – Hoka Hopara Sandals (Men’s and Women’s)

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Image by Hoka

The Hoka Hopara Sandals may be called “sandals,” but they look like sneakers (except for all the side drainage). The sandal-like openings offer superb airflow, while the overall sneaker design protects while you hike, wade, and more.

The shoes have a stretchy neoprene upper that dries quickly and a drawcord lacing system that’ll have you laced up and ready to go in no time. They’re not too cushy like sneakers. They have a rubberized, sturdy midsole that won’t soak up a lot of water and a rubberized toe cap to protect your toes and toenails.

Buy Men’s

Buy Women’s

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Image by Hobibear

Kids grow like weeds, and it’s a drag to replace their shoes every few months as they grow. A good fit is essential, though, for kids and adults alike, so you might as well choose a high-performance option that won’t break the bank.

Hobibear aquatic sports sandals offer a closed-toe design, an easy hook-and-loop closure, and a sturdy outsole with excellent traction. Use these sandals as your kids’ go-to camp shoe, since they’re easy to put on and take off, or reserve them for hiking and for rock hopping in the stream.

I’ve outfitted my kids with more expensive brands in the past, but this adds up fast. Hobibear shoes hold up well and offer a nice balance between performance and budget.

Best Toe Shoes – Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua (Men’s and Women’s)

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Image by Vibram

They may look a little strange, but fans of “toe shoes” are fans for life, so don’t knock it until you try it.

Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua shoes are a great option for a hybrid hiking/water shoe. FiveFingers features a minimalist design with individual toe slots that allow wearers to feel the ground underneath, while also providing some protection.

The V-Aquas are lightweight, with small perforations along the Megagrip Sole that provide an escape for the water, making them quick-drying and comfortable even after you transition from water to land. Vibram offers a unique silicone internal lining that keeps your foot from slipping around inside the shoe.

Buy Men’s

Buy Women’s

Runner up

For cold water situations, check out Vibram’s neoprene water shoe options, like the V-NEOP. The V-NEOP water shoe offers a neoprene upper and a grippy Vibram outsole.

Points to Consider When Buying Water Shoes for Hiking

When shopping for hiking sandals or hiking shoes that’ll stand up to wet conditions and submersion in water, consider comfort and fit, support, drainage, toe protection, breathability, weight, and price.

Comfort and Fit

Like a regular shoe, a hiking water shoe must fit well. If it doesn’t, you won’t enjoy your hike. Similar to buying hiking boots, when buying a hiking shoe that’ll make the transition from dry land to wet terrain, you should go with a snug fit without pressure points that could rub your skin and cause blisters.

Look for water shoes that are designed to be comfortable for hiking—not your standard water shoes. Comfort is subjective, so take a look at reviews online that mention comfort, if possible, or find a store where you can try shoes on to help you decide.

Support

Any shoe used for hiking should offer some support for your feet as you cross uneven terrain. Choose shoes that offer arch support, if you want or need it.

Traction

Traction is what’s going to keep you on your feet as you attempt river crossings, especially when those underwater rocks are slippery with algae. To avoid slipping on wet surfaces, you want shoes with a grippy outsole that provides traction on various surfaces, including muddy trails and slippery rocks.

Drainage

Water shoes for hiking should provide better traction than your other hiking shoes. But you’ll also want them to provide water drainage.

Most hybrid hiking and water shoes are not completely waterproof or designed to prevent wet feet, they should be made from water-resistant materials and offer drainage holes to help your feet dry out quickly after becoming wet.

Toe Protection

Consider the terrain you generally hike through, and choose your shoes accordingly. If you hike in places with rough rocks, uneven surfaces, and/or water crossings with sharp objects like roots and rocks, choose a shoe with toe protection, like a rubber toe cap.

Breathability

If you’re hiking, it’s best to wear shoes that have a lightweight and breathable design. Shoes with mesh uppers, mesh panels, or open areas for ventilation are ideal for keeping your feet cool as you hike. When shoes feature breathable materials, they are also more likely to dry quickly after stream crossings.

Weight

Shoes with lightweight construction for hiking that also offer foot protection from sharp rocks while in the water are ideal. When selecting a hybrid hiking/water shoe, consider how lightweight or heavy the shoe is and whether it suits your needs and preferences.

Price

Water shoes you can use for hiking are an investment in outdoor adventures. More versatile options will serve multiple functions—from water sneakers to camp shoes—and perform well for multiple activities, like paddle boarding and fishing. Thankfully, there are versatile options at affordable price points.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wear regular water shoes for hiking?

Most traditional water shoes are not designed to provide enough support and traction for hikers on the trails. However, combination hiking and water shoes will enable you to transition from trails to wet, slippery surfaces with ease.

How quickly do hiking water shoes dry after getting wet?

One of the key features of a hybrid hiking shoe designed for water is its quick-drying capabilities that can help prevent blisters and lingering sogginess. Each shoe will differ in its drying time. Look for features like drainage when selecting any type of water shoe.

Do hiking water shoes fit like regular hiking shoes?

For the most part, you should be able to wear your regular street shoe size when buying hybrid water shoes. However, it’s worth reading user reviews online before purchasing to see if other people recommend sizing up or down.

Many designs have a heel strap or other strap system that will rub your feet in a different way than traditional hiking shoes, so it’s important to ensure a proper fit.

Should I wear socks with my hiking water shoes?

Water shoes are not designed to be worn with socks. However, if you’re in cold water and want to keep your feet warmer and drier, you could always wear them with neoprene socks.

Wearing socks while hiking away from water is always an option, but, depending on the shoe, it might be less comfortable to wear socks than it would be to not wear socks.

Ready to Find the Best Pair of Water Shoes for Hiking?

When you add water, you add adventure. Don’t cut that adventure short by heading out for the trail without the proper footwear.

You can keep your feet safe and tackle stream crossings with some hiking water shoes, which combine the benefits of water shoes with the structure, support, and good traction of hiking shoes.

Next time you want to wade in a creek, ditch the flip flops and reach for some water shoes instead—ones that can handle all those slippery rocks and then transition to the trails effortlessly.

There are seemingly endless options for hiking footwear, but if you’re in the market for something that’ll take you from trail to stream and back again, the KEEN Newport H2 sandals won’t let you down.


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