Last updated: 17/10/2022

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The right footwear is also a must in the water. If you have ever stepped barefoot on a sharp stone or slipped, you already know the most important reasons for water shoes. To protect your feet during beach holidays or water sports activities, the right water shoes are essential.

They offer comfort and protection. With our big water shoes test 2022 we want to help you find the most suitable water shoes for you. We have compared different water shoes with each other. The list of advantages and disadvantages should make it easier for you to decide between the large selection of water, bathing and swimming shoes.




Summary

  • Water shoes can protect your feet from injury. At the seaside, they can protect you from sea urchins, sea monkeys, sharp stones and broken glass.
  • Water shoes are also suitable for water sports such as surfing, SUP or sailing, or to avoid slipping in the swimming pool.
  • Depending on the purpose, a different type of water shoe is suitable. We show you which shoe is suitable for beach holidays, water sports activities or in the swimming pool.

The Best Water Shoes: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for water shoes

In the following, we will explain the most important criteria that you can use to find out which water shoes best suit your needs. The criteria you can use to compare water shoes include:

In the following paragraphs, we will show you what you should look for in the individual criteria.

Purpose

Before buying, you should know what you want to use the water shoes for. Depending on the purpose, a different water shoe is suitable.

Depending on the purpose, a different water shoe is suitable.

Water shoes can be used to protect yourself from animals such as sea urchins and sea monkeys. But you can also wear them for water sports. Water socks are suitable for various water sports. They give you good support and protect your feet. If you also want to go on short hikes, it is more comfortable to wear active water shoes. These have a thicker sole. Barefoot water shoes are another alternative.

Type intended use
Water socks swimming, snorkelling, surfing, sailing, diving, SUP, canoeing and kayaking, canyoning and rafting, water gymnastics
Active or barefoot water shoes walks on the beach, hikes through cliffs, climbing tours through water

The right choice therefore depends on the intended use.

Material

The material of the water shoes should be light and quick-drying. Water shoes are made of the following materials:

  • Neoprene is light and dries quickly. It insulates well and keeps your feet warm. Neoprene is especially suitable for water sports.
  • Mesh dries quickly and is breathable.
  • Synthetic is similar to mesh, but stronger. This makes the shoe more robust.
  • Rubber is non-slip. Often the sole is made of rubber.

Depending on the intended use, a different material is suitable. Neoprene is suitable for water sports because it insulates. For beach walks we recommend a more robust shoe. There is no one material that is generally recommended. It depends much more on what you are using the shoes for.

Closure

Water shoes have different closures. There are water shoes:

  • without fastener
  • with Velcro fastener
  • with laces

Water shoes without fasteners fit tightly so you don’t lose them. They are called water socks. The elastic material means that they fit the foot snugly. There are also water shoes with Velcro fasteners and water shoes with laces. A Velcro fastener is especially suitable for children.

Sole

Usually, the sole of water shoes is made of rubber so that it is slip-resistant. Depending on the intended use, a different hardness and thickness of the sole is suitable.

If you want to protect yourself from sea urchins or petrels, or if you want to hike through cliffs, you need a firm sole. This will also protect you from broken glass or sharp stones on the beach. You are safe from injuries.

If you are using the water shoes for water sports activities such as surfing or SUP, a flexible material is better suited. This gives you a good grip and allows you to balance yourself better on the board.

Weight

If you want to take your water shoes with you on holiday, they should not be too heavy. Water socks are lighter than water shoes with a thick sole. Water socks can be easily rolled up and transported. Most water shoe models are not heavy and can fit in any suitcase.

Decision: What types of water shoes are there and which is the right one for me?

If you want to buy water shoes, there are three types of products you can choose from:

Type description
Water socks flexible like socks, without closure
Active water shoes also suitable for hiking, firm sole
Barefoot water shoes separate toes and firm sole

You can find out more about the different types of water shoes in the following sections.

Water socks

Water socks fit snugly around the foot. They are light and flexible. Water socks are especially suitable for water sports. They give you support and protect your feet. However, they are not suitable for hiking because the sole is not thick enough.

Advantages
  • Non-slip
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for hiking

Active water shoes

Active water shoes are similar to normal shoes. However, the material is much lighter and dries faster. They have a firm sole. This makes them suitable for water sports, but also for running, hiking or trekking. This means they can be used in a variety of ways. Active water shoes offer protection and stability. Make sure they fit well to avoid blisters.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • Protection
  • Stability
Disadvantages
  • Blisters can occur

Barefoot water shoes

Barefoot water shoes are also called five-finger water shoes because the toes are separated. This gives you a special feeling when wearing them. They can be used in many ways. They are suitable for water sports as well as for short hikes. The firm sole protects your feet optimally.

Advantages
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Stable
Disadvantages
  • Expensive
  • Blisters can occur
  • Fit

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Guide: Frequently asked questions about water shoes answered in detail

In this guide we answer the most important questions about water shoes.

What are water shoes?

Water shoes are specially made for use in or around water. They protect your feet from injury and prevent you from slipping. You can wear them on the beach, at the lake or in the swimming pool.

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Water shoes can be worn on the beach to protect your feet.
(Image source: Willfried Wende / Pixabay)

A distinction is made between water socks, active water shoes and barefoot water shoes. Depending on the purpose, a different type is suitable. You can read more about the different types in this article. We will help you find the right shoes for you.

What do I need water shoes for?

Water shoes are worn in or near water. At sea, they protect you from animals such as sea urchins or petrels. On rocky beaches, they also protect you from sharp stones and broken glass. When you’re doing water sports, they give you a better grip.

You won’t slip in the swimming pool. Depending on what you want to use the water shoes for, a different model is suitable. You can find more information about this in the buying and evaluation criteria.

How much do water shoes cost?

Water shoes are inexpensive. They usually cost between 8 and 25 euros.

For a beach holiday, inexpensive water shoes costing 10 euros are sufficient. They offer your feet enough protection.

Depending on the brand and material, there are also much more expensive models. In specialist shops you can buy models for up to 100 euros. These are of higher quality. Especially barefoot water shoes with separate toes often have a higher price.

What size water shoes should I buy?

Water shoes come in all sizes. Before buying, make sure you try on the water shoes. Choose your normal shoe size and see if it fits.

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Water shoes are a must for your beach holiday. They protect your feet.
(Photo source: Hans Braxmeier / Paxabay)

The shoes should neither pinch nor slip. They should fit tightly enough so that you don’t lose them.

Do water shoes help against sea urchins, stonefish and petrels?

Yes, water shoes with a firm sole protect you very well against these animals. To protect yourself from injuries, active water shoes or barefoot water shoes are suitable. These have a firm sole. Besides animals, they also protect you from other inconveniences such as broken glass or sharp stones. They will definitely protect you from such injuries.

Which holiday areas do I need water shoes for?

You need water shoes especially on rocky beaches. You should also wear water shoes in areas with animals that can injure your feet. Be sure to find out about your holiday destination.

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Water shoes are suitable for water sports activities such as windsurfing or stand-up paddling (SUP). They give you a better grip.
(Image source: ivabalk / Pixabay)

If a beach is not easily accessible or you want to walk through cliffs, water shoes are also very useful. For this, they should have a firm sole. Read this article to find out about the different types of water shoes.

Are water shoes allowed in swimming pools?

That depends on the rules of the particular swimming pool. In most pools, water shoes are allowed. The non-slip rubber sole prevents you from slipping. They also protect you from athlete’s foot.

Can I also wear water shoes on land?

Yes, you can also wear them on land. For longer walks or hikes, the shoes should have a firm sole. Active water shoes or barefoot water shoes are suitable for this. You can find more information about the different types above.

Can I use the same water shoes for the sea, river, lake and pool?

Yes, the material of the water shoes is suitable for both fresh and salt water. However, some models have a thicker sole than others and are therefore better suited for walking over stones.

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You can also wear water shoes in the swimming pool to avoid slipping.
(Image source: Henning Westerkamp / Pixabay)

You can find out which model is suitable for which purpose further on in this article.

What are the alternatives to water shoes?

You can also wear flip-flops or open sandals on the beach. These will also protect your feet. However, flip-flops get lost quickly in the water. They are therefore not suitable for water sports. In addition, street shoes are not allowed in swimming pools. That’s why we recommend water shoes for the beach and swimming pool. In this article you will learn more about the different types of water shoes.

Are water shoes suitable for children and babies?

Yes, water shoes are suitable for both children and babies. They protect their feet from injury. There are many different models, especially for children and babies. You will find a recommendation in this article under the favourites of the reaction.

How do I clean water shoes?

We recommend cleaning them after every wear to remove sand, salt and dirt.

Water shoes can easily be washed by hand.

Sometimes it is enough to rinse the shoes with warm water. If they are very dirty, you can soak them in warm water with soap. It is important that you let them dry well before putting them back on or storing them. Air them out well and use a disinfectant spray to prevent unpleasant odours.

Can I wash water shoes in the washing machine?

There are models that can be washed in the washing machine. If this is the case, it is stated directly on the water shoes or on the packaging.

However, you should not put the water shoes in the dryer, as this will damage the rubber!

All models can also be easily cleaned by hand. Rinse them with water and, if necessary, soak them in warm water with soap. Let them dry well afterwards.

Photo source: Garmash/ 123rf.com

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