Aqua Socks. Those hideously tacky things you would wear while walking along the beach wearing your Rude Dog tee-shirt and listening to Ice, Ice Baby on your Walkman. Well, get ready to crank the wayback machine up to 88 miles per hour, because water shoes of various kinds are making a comeback. Increasingly beaches are becoming polluted and littered with dangerous items such as syringes that can not only injure you, but carry unholy diseases that you do not want anywhere near your bloodstream.
The water shoes of old were hideous neon affairs that were great for helping you keep your vows of celibacy whether you wanted to or not. These days they are much more tasteful and designed to meet the needs of any beachcomber or river rat who wants to protect themselves from injury or bacterial infestation. Now there are those that look stylish enough to be worn anywhere, there are some dedicated to surfing and water sports, and those that are meant to help you climb the highest hill while also drying quickly when splashing through the lowest valley. To help you make the right selection here’s our 6 best water shoes.
Speedo Men’s Surfwalker Pro 2
What’s to Love: Very lightweight.
What’s to Hate: Wears out quickly.
Hang Ten: These are intended for jogging along the beach, catching some waves, or even doing some swimming. If you start taking them on hiking trips or using them on pavement, expect them to die sooner rather than later. The soles are synthetic and when combined with the knit upper are extremely lightweight and won’t wear you down when you’re treading water. They are highly breathable and the mesh inserts can be removed quickly for fast drying. They’ll give you great traction on boats or wet rocks. They’re not bad looking, but don’t expect to attract too many smoldering looks from the ladies. [Purchase: $26]
Teva Men’s Churn
What’s to Love: Very comfortable.
What’s to Hate: Big and bulky.
Comfort and Protection: These are great shoes that just happen to also perform amazingly well when wet. You can use them for camping, for rafting, for boating, and for just basic running. They have a breathable mesh upper that is quick-drying and keeps your foot cool without looking like you’re wearing a water shoe. It has a fold-down heel shock pad that turns it into a simple slip-on in a hot second. The rugged rubber sole can stand up to rocks and rough trails. If there is a downside it is that this is clearly meant for hardier tasks than a moonlit walk on the beach. They’re damn heavy. [Purchase: $45]
Adidas Climacool Boat Breeze Shoes
What’s to Love: Fast drying.
What’s to Hate: Ugly. As. Hell.
Ahoy Matey: Even if you just use these as gym shoes or backup shoes for camping you’ll be pleased with their lightness, portability, and air flow. It is when you take them out on a boat that they will really blow your mind. The sole is very sturdy and made in the classic boat style. You’ll have excellent traction whether standing on a gunwale, battening down hatches, or trying to keep your martini steady. The air mesh upper dries faster than almost anything else out there while the breathable midsole keeps your foot comfortable. Sadly, Adidas decided to package its wonders in designs that are almost all truly hideous. They’ll make you seasick long before you ever leave shore. [Purchase: $71]
Columbia Men’s Bahama Vent PFG
What’s to Love: Fast water drain.
What’s to Hate: Body requires 12 hours to dry.
Laid Back: Sports don’t always need to take place when you’re standing up. Lounging is an underrated exertion that many try but few can do well. The Bahama Vent is not for running or hiking, they are just incredibly comfortable slip-on shoes that aren’t afraid to get a little wet and wild. Though they look like standard canvas models, inside they carry a porous midsole and three draining ports that shed water like a champ. Though the bottom drains quickly to keep your foot comfortable, the upper body is canvas and leather which will need time to dry out or they will bring in the funk. Truth be told, they are very comfortable, useful boat shoes who can impress when put to the test. [Purchase: $70]
Adidas Outdoor Climacool Daroga Two
What’s to Love: Incredible traction.
What’s to Hate: Thin soles.
Mountain Climber: The big, heavy tread on these bad boys put some trail running shoes and even a few hiking boots to shame. The mesh Climacool upper gives you advanced aeration and prevents them from soaking up or retaining water. The toe is reinforced, which is a nice change from most water shoes which assume you’ll never stub your toe on a rock. Despite the heavy sole and the stiff body they are very light for easy packing and even jogging or wind sprints. They have models that look like every other Adidas and won’t garner a second glance and a few that are eyesores. We had trouble finding many faults, though it must be said that the sole isn’t as thick and heavy as a lot of hiking shoes. You’ll get more of a minimalist feel that can be hard for those not used to it. [Purchase: $72]
Sperry Top-Sider Ricochet Bungee
What’s to Love: Extremely versatile.
What’s to Hate: Cannot be worn with a sock.
Multi-Sport: You’ve got kayaking on Monday, beach yoga on Tuesday, and a four day trek through the Amazon jungle, yet you can only pack one pair of shoes. What do you take? Well, you take the Ricochet Bungee. It has a reinforced sole and cushioned forefoot that make longer walks or hikes a breeze. The siped rubber (grooved for better grip) holds on to slick rocks or boat decks with ease while not adding extra weight or girth to the shoes. The nylon mesh upper dries out as fast as a tent in the sunshine and resists becoming saturated. They do lack a tongue and the opening can feel a little unnatural. You can’t wear them with a sock, which can annoy. [Purchase: $80]
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