Tackling The Outdoors With Water Shoes

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I remember when I was little, going out & playing with friends, my feet were always bare & yet I don’t remember them getting injured too much, not like they did when I attempted an outdoors jaunt a few weeks ago.

Walking about on the lake shore getting stabbed by stones & pebbles, wondering where did my unflinching carefree childhood attitude towards pain go? It was suggested to me that I wear my regular sneakers in the water while attempting lake fishing. Being fond of those sneakers, the foolish decision to go bare foot was made with vacation ending results.

I swore to myself that the next time I would try a camping trip I will be much better prepared, and that is how my search for shoes to be worn in water began.


What are water shoes?

Without getting too technical about what these shoes are made of they mostly consist of quick drying mesh held together by a lightweight rubber sole.

With the manufacturers providing enough drainage from both the sole and the top mesh area which prevents the sloshyeffect that would happen if regular sneakers got soaked in water. Those that have laces are made of a synthetic material that makes it easier to tie/untie when the shoes are wet, unlike their cotton laced counter parts. In the past, water shoes would have just been used for activities such as kayaking or canoeing and the like, but nowadays their range & usefulness has extended greatly.

If it is something you want to do outdoors & don’t want wet feet (or poked by sharp rocks) then there is a water shoe style for you. The range is so vast, people have started wearing them for activities other than what would be considered “outdoor activities”.

More of those activities include:

  • Kayaking
  • Beach walking/running
  • Water Aerobics
  • Showering
  • Wake-boarding
  • Swimming Pool Fitness
  • Scuba Diving
  • Rock fishing & fly fishing
  • Water Running
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Sailing & Motor Boating
  • Kite Boarding

There seems to be a similarity to water shoes and barefoot shoes, which it could be argued, serve the same purpose in some situations. I will discuss barefoot shoes and the “barefoot movement” in another post.

With shoe brands like the Vibram Five Fingers, that are made to simulate barefoot running, styles in their range that suit activities like gym workouts are what actor Hugh Jackman has used while training for film.

Solutions for women

When they aren’t roughing it in the wilderness and would rather relax with a nice spa session, water shoes or spa shoes will prevent you from slipping on those tiles when walking from each treatment.

With women’s water shoes being not too dissimilar to men’s water shoes in appearance (except being slightly smaller and with a few color options) their effectiveness is certainly clear.

Solutions for men

Expanding on the already mentioned uses, men’s water shoes can also suit other outdoor activities such as gathering Mussels and other seafood from the sharp and slippery rocks by the ocean. They would also do well to protect against other sea creatures such as sea urchins and other dangers that live between the ocean rocks.

Solutions for kids

As I mentioned earlier, being a barefooted kid and traipsing through the wilderness with reckless abandon doesn’t have to be the kind of activity that a parent approaches with dread. The whole family can enjoy their time together with most of the big brands providing toddler water shoes in their ranges.

Different brands of shoes

Certainly spoilt for choice, a large array of both popular and emerging brands that have tackled the water shoe.

Brands such as:



Climacool Jawpaws outdoor slip-on shoe
adidas have their Climacool Jawpaws outdoor slip-on shoe which are made for water sports. Having a breathable, quick-drying open mesh nylon upper & their TRAXION™ outsole give the necessary drainage with added toe protection.


Keen’s amphibious Class 5 Tech shoes
Keen’s amphibious Class 5 Tech shoes have a metatomical foot bed design to give mid-foot support & is removable. Their Secure fit lace capture system will prevent laces getting caught on hidden objects in the water. Keen offers the Rockbrook CNX for children which has been developed to be incredibly lightweight, but still maintains the protection that the rest of their range provides.


The Columbia Drainmaker™ III’s best characteristic is both its Techlite™ midsole (a cushioned impact absorption system) & the Omni-Grip™ outsole designed to offer traction for every environment. Best of all the range extends across to children.


Merrell’s Waterpro Maipo
Having integrated drainage ports with the protective toe cap, Merrell’s Waterpro Maipo is a water shoe that is just as at home on the hiking trail as in amphibious ventures.


Speedo Women's Beach Runner 2.0 Amphibious Pull-On Water Shoe
Speedo seem to have the largest style & color range for all ages when it comes to their shoes. Whether it’s on the beach with their Beach Runner model, the versatile Surfwalker or the handy Hydraterra there are models that will suit everything you would want to do in the water, just be cautious when selecting your shoe size as this seems to be one of the biggest complaints with their range.

Vibram FiveFingers®

Vibram FiveFingers
The Vibram FiveFingers® are something else, no other water shoe looks & functions like their Signa style. With the independent toe traction, abrasion resistance fabric & Vibram performance rubber, these shoes are sure to improve performance with the sportier of outdoor activities.


This company has perfected the concept of the barefoot movement which enables a high level of protection while keeping that bare foot feel just as nature intended. For those who prefer shoes with a “zero-drop” sole, the VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra II is the solution. Improving on the Ultra I with the removal of the insole so it’s just the foot & the shoe. It is also wider to give the toes more room to maneuver.


Nike’s offering in this area appear to be a thing of the past. Nikes’ ACG (All Conditions Gear) range used to have various water shoe styles such as the Nike Air Moc & Nike Aqua Sock, but now it seems that they do not have anything similar in their 2015 range.

In conclusion

With the assorted range of shoes that are available, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the right pair for whichever activities suit your interests. Whether its rock hunting at the beach or just simply hanging around by the pool side, there are plenty of brands to choose from that will make sure your regular favorite sneakers won’t get ruined by the elements & your feet will stay injury free to enjoy your entire vacation.

Shoe covered in seaweed

Tackling The Outdoors With Water Shoes was last modified: August 13th, 2023 by Nicolas DK
Written by Nicolas DK
The admin here at Spiel Shoes, sharing my interest in shoes with all of you. Have any questions or tips? Feel free to contact me.