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The Best Sandals For Kayaking Of 2021 Helpful Guide

best sandals for kayaking

Kayaking is a great watersport for exploring new places or a relaxing float down a stream. It is fun and great exercise. Sandals make great water shoes to wear kayaking. They dry quick. They don’t keep your feet soggy. It is easy to get mud out of them. Your feet stay cool and dry off quick. They are super comfortable. Many are good for hiking and walking down streams as well. Choosing the correct sandals can make your day kayaking more comfortable and fun. If that sounds good then here are the best sandals for kayaking available now along with a buying guide.

Editor’s Choice

KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal

Best Women’s Sandals

Teva Women’s Hurricane XLT Sandal

Best Men’s Sandals

Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandal

The top 5 best sandals for kayaking

We examined several of the most popular sandals for kayaking.  Here are our reviews of the 5 best options available now.  We considered price, style, durability, materials, and customer reviews in our selections of the best sandals for kayaking.

Editor’s Choice

KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal

  • WATER-RESISTANT UPPER: Washable polyester webbing featuring quick-dry lining for active use in water
  • TRACTION & PROTECTION: Multi-directional lugs with razor siping help provide superior grip on slippery wet terrain
  • SUPPORT & COMFORT: Lace-lock bungee capture system provides a secure fit while offering quick and easy on/off

Summary

The KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandals offer great comfort and fit with a thick sole. I personally have been wearing Keen sandals for years and love them. They are very comfortable once you get the correct size. The bungee lacing makes them very secure on your feet. The thick rubber sole gives great traction on wet surfaces. The closed toe design is great for protecting your toes. The sandals are 100% polyester construction which is quick drying and breathable. The design has plenty of ventilation between straps. Some users find that the stitching is not durable which is a concern given the cost of these sandals. These are also available in a women’s version here.

What We Liked
✔️ Bungee quick lace closure
✔️ Thick rubber sole with water sipping tread
✔️ Closed toe design
What We Didn’t Like
Stitching is not durable for some wearers
Small sizing. Order at least a 1/2 size larger than you normally would

Best Women’s Sandals

Teva Women’s Hurricane XLT Sandal

  • Mesh Upper, Rubber Sole
  • Universal Strapping System With Two Hook And Loop Closures
  • Cushioned EVA Footbed

Summary

The Teva Women’s Hurricane XLT Sandal are designed for river and water use. They have 3 adjustable straps for a secure fit with most foot shapes. They tend to run large and wide sizewise. The straps use velcro for adjustability and mesh material for breathability. There are hard plastic rings in the straps that can rub and cause chafing on some foot shapes.

Traction is very good for these sandals except for very smooth wet surfaces. They are great on anything with some roughness like rock or cement surfaces. They are durable with few complaints about the straps or sticking falling apart. These sandals are also available in a men’s version here.

What We Liked
✔️ 3 adjustable straps
✔️ Breathable mesh strap materials
✔️ Supportive comfortable fit
What We Didn’t Like
Sizing runs large and wide
Plastic loop on straps can rub on some foot shapes causing chafing

Best Men’s Sandals

Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandal

  • Double polyester jacquard webbing straps wrap around the foot
  • Toe loop for added security.
  • Injection-molded ladder lock buckle at ankle.

Summary

The Chaco Men’s Z2 Classic Sport Sandals were designed for Class 5 white water kayaking. Their strap design, featuring a toe loop, is designed to stay on your feet. They have a rubber sole that gets excellent traction on wet rocks and other surfaces. The high arch support makes them comfortable even for long walks on rough terrain.

The strap design takes a bit too get used to and some brake in is needed before they are comfortable. The toe loop does a great job keeping these sandals secured to your feet. It is also tight feeling and uncomfortable for some foot shapes. The toes are open and offer no protection from stubbing against objects in your kayak or rocks. A women’s version is also available here.

What We Liked
✔️ Good traction on rocks and wet surfaces
✔️ Very secure adjustable straps
✔️ High arch support for comfort walking and hiking
What We Didn’t Like
Open toe design
Small sizing. Order at least a 1/2 size larger than you normally would

Best Sandals For Walking

Skechers Women’s On The Go 600 Sport Sandal

  • Keep on rambling in style and comfort with the SKECHERS® On the GO 600 – Brilliancy sandal!
  • Soft smooth pique textured mesh fabric upper.
  • Fabric straps with subtle perforation stripe pattern.

Summary

e Skechers Women’s On The Go 600 Sport Sandal are a stylish and functional kayaking sandal. They have an adjustable ankle strap for a secure fit. The toe strap is not adjustable. It fits some feet sizes better than others. They have a thick sole for good support with a “Goga Max” high rebound insole. They are very comfortable for long walks. These run on the narrow to medium size width. They do not fit wide foot shapes well. The hard rubber tread surface does not have good traction on smooth or wet slippery surfaces. These work well for kayaking if you don’t plan on walking in the water a lot. There is a similar men’s version available here.

What We Liked
✔️ Thick supportive sole
✔️ Stylish appearance
✔️ High rebound insole for comfort on long walks
What We Didn’t Like
Toe strap is not adjustable
Bottom tread is slippery on wet and smooth surfaces

Best Sandals For Underwater Use

Crocs Men’s Swiftwater River Sandal

  • Croslite foam
  • Iconic crocs comfort
  • Hook and loop closure

Summary

The Crocs Men’s Swiftwater River Sandal are great for paddling and light walking. Their anti-absorbent material makes them dry very quickly so they never feel soggy. They have 2 velcro adjustable straps for a secure fit. The rubber portions of the straps can cause chafing and blistering if they are too loose or too tight.

These sandals have a “relaxed fit” which is a little looser fit than normal. Some people may find this makes them feel like their feet slide around too much. The soles have enough arch support to feel comfortable on long walks. Just make sure the straps are not too loose or too tight. These are excellent for someone who wants a quick drying set of sandals for kayaking and walking.

What We Liked
✔️ Adjustable toe and ankle strap
✔️ Good traction on most surfaces
✔️ Non-absorbent materials dry very quickly
What We Didn’t Like
Open toe design
Rubber straps can cause chafing and blistering

2 kayakers on a river

How To Choose The Best Sandals For Kayaking – Buying Guide

Kayaks are a great way to enjoy being on the water.  They are great for exploring new places, whitewater rafting, or drifting along a stream somewhere. Choosing the correct footwear can make your day much more enjoyable. A pair of sandals can be great for kayaking. They dry quick. You can get the mud out easily. Your feet won’t be soggy all day. Your feet won’t get too hot. They are comfortable. There are so many things to love about wearing sandals while kayaking. What pair should you pick? The below guide will help answer all your questions about the type, fit, and use to find the best sandals for kayaking for you.

Why do we need to wear sandals while kayaking?

Why do we need to wear anything on our feet while kayaking? Water shoes are footwear designed for use in water. Sandals are a great option among all the water shoes out there. They offer the bottom of your foot protection from rocks and sharp objects. They use materials that aren’t damaged by getting wet. They should be quick drying. This short video shows why water shoes make your day in the water better.

All water shoes are not the same. They are all not suited for every water activity. For kayaking, we want water shoes that will protect the bottom of our feet. We want shoes that will be comfortable pushing against foot braces in the kayak. You should also consider how far you will walk before and after kayaking. Will you need to carry your kayak across any shallow areas.

Some water shoes have soles with good traction on wet slippery surfaces. Other water shoes have soles like hiking boots that grip well on dry, and loose terrain. The soles on water shoes may be thick with high arches that are good for hiking long distances. Others have very thin soles with no arch support that gives you good feel through your feet. Foot feel can be very important for surfing or standup paddleboarding.

Types of water shoes

Sandals

Water sandals are sandals made with water safe materials. They are an open shoe design that may have open or closed toes. They are great for kayaking in warm weather with warm water when you don’t need any extra insulation. They can double as beach or pool sandals as well. Sandals can have a variety of soles that vary from very thin to thick like hiking boots. Construction can very light to heavy duty.

Shoes

Water shoes look like traditional shoes. They are made with quick drying materials and mesh so that water can drain. They offer more support to your feet than water sandals. They are great for days when you will be walking a lot before or after kayaking. Some water shoes are more like hiking shoes with thick soles and lots of support.

Aqua socks are a version of a water shoe that covers your whole foot like a shoe but is very thin. These use lycra spandex and mesh for the shoe and have very thin rubber soles. The soles have non-slip tread patterns. They are comfortable for walking short distances in the water and swimming. They do not offer any support for long distance walking on hard surfaces.

Booties

Water booties or wetsuit booties are neoprene boots. They provide insulation the same way as a wetsuit. They trap a layer of water next to your feet which combined with the neoprene acts as insulation. They have thin rubber soles without much arch support. They are meant to keep your feet warm submerged in water and not for long hikes. The soles have a tread pattern that works well on slippery smooth wet surfaces.

Water booties are good for kayaking on cool days with cold water temperatures. They work especially well for sit on kayaks where your feet may be in some amount of water most of the time.

Sandal Features

Comfort

Comfort is important for sandals worn while kayaking. If your feet are cold, feel soggy, or rubbing against something in the sandal you won’t be comfortable. Your sandals need to be comfortable while you’re sitting in your kayak. Make sure you are comfortable with your feet against the foot braces. You need to consider walking comfort as well if you’ll be walking a lot before, after, or during kayaking.

Fit

Fit is important for kayaking sandals. If the sandals are too big they will likely fall off in the water or will rub giving you blisters. The last thing you want to worry about if your capsize your kayak is where your sandals went. If your sandals are too small your toes will be cramped and they won’t be comfortable.

Durability

We don’t like to buy things that fall apart or break right away. When we invest in outdoor gear we want good equipment that lasts a long time. Sandals are no different. Sandals with thin rubber soles may last a long time if used only in the water. They may wear out fast if you walk in them a lot. If you want good durability consider where you will be using your sandals. Pick sandals made for that purpose.

Proper care and cleaning goes a long way towards making sandals last longer. Always rinse them with freshwater after they are used in saltwater or dirty water. Regular cleaning will keep them from developing odors. Always let them dry out before stuffing them away somewhere.

Materials

Look for sandals made from waterproof materials. Materials that won’t be damaged by continued exposure to waters. Synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, lycra/spandex, and neoprene work well. Leather treated with waterproofing can work as well.

Style

Sandals are available in many different styles. Choose a style that is suitable for what you are doing. For kayaking, we want foot protection and comfort sitting in a kayak. We may want walking comfort as well. No one wants ugly sandals, so pick a pair that looks attractive to you as well. Don’t choose your kayaking sandals solely based on how they look. Your feet may feel miserable at the end of the day if you do.

When and where will you wear your kayaking sandals?

Warmth

How hot or cold will it be on the day your kayaking? If it is warm out then a sandal will be perfect. If it’s cooler out and your wearing a wetsuit and spray top to kayak, than sandals may not be so appropriate. In that case, pair of booties may be more appropriate.

Terrain

Where will you be kayaking? Do you have a lot of walking to do before or after you kayak? Do you have somewhere you can keep a regular pair of shoes to walk in? Will you need to carry your kayak across shallow water for any distance. Sandals have different tread patterns. Some are meant for dry loose packed terrain. Others are made for wet, smooth slippery surfaces. If you know you’ll be walking down a rocky stream you will want something that works well on wet smooth rock surfaces.

Sit On Top vs Sit In Kayak

If you are using a sit in kayak with a thin set of foot braces, you may not want to wear a really wide set of sandals. If you can’t push on the braces because your sandals are too wide you won’t be comfortable. You have less room for your feet on a sit in kayak because you are squeezed inside of it.

On a sit on top kayak you tend to have water coming in and out of the drain holes all the time. Your feet will keep getting wet. Here something that drains well and dries quick is important. Sandals are a great option here.

kayak paddling towards sailboat

Kayaking Sandals FAQ

Q: Can I use sandals for walking and hiking?

Some sandals are good for long distance walks and hiking. They have thick soles with good arch support. These are suitable for hiking. Sandals with thin rubber soles and no arch support are not suitable for hiking. They will be uncomfortable. They will wear out quickly. If you plan on hiking a lot look for a tread pattern that is good for general surfaces, not just smooth wet surfaces.

Q: Are sandals washable?

Yes, they are washable. Some sandals can be tossed in a washer. Any sandal designed for water use can be rinsed with freshwater and hand washed with soap. Read the care instructions that came with your sandals. Proper care and cleaning will make them smell good and last longer.

Q: Can I wear sandals swimming?

Yes, you can wear sandals meant for water use swimming. Make sure they fit good so they don’t fall off in the water. All sandals will affect how you can kick through the water. Don’t expect them to feel natural like swimming with bare feet.

Q: Can I wear kayaking sandals in the shower?

Yes, you can wear sandals in the shower. Water sandals are made with waterproof materials that are not damaged by water. You can wear them anywhere your feet get wet or go underwater. Cleaning your sandals is a great way to keep them from smelling so they last longer.

Q: Do water sandals float?

Some water sandals do float. Some do not. If you are concerned you can always do a test float to find out so that you don’t have to worry later on.

Q: How tight should kayaking sandals be?

Kayaking sandals should be snug and tight enough that they stay on your feet. You don’t want them to be washed off if you fall in the water. You do not want them to be too tight so your feet hurt. Try to find sandals with a nice snug fit with a little room for your toes. Comfort is important for anything that you will be wearing for at least a few hours. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not having fun.

Q: Are sandals comfortable?

Kayaking sandals can and should be as comfortable as any other pair of shoes. There is no reason they shouldn’t be. Find the proper fit so they aren’t cramping your toes or rubbing anywhere. Your feet will be nice and happy.

Q: Can I wear water sandals in the ocean?

Yes, you can wear your water sandals in the ocean or anywhere else with saltwater. You should rinse them off with fresh water when you’re done and clean them regularly with soap. Please do not throw them away or lose them in the ocean. There is enough plastic floating around out there. We don’t need to add more while kayaking.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water.  I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions.  I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.

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