If you’ve ever hiked more than even a half-mile in soaking-wet shoes or boots, then you know it’s a bad spot to be in. Soggy shoes equal soggy socks equal —you guessed it— soggy feet. And those combined factors are a recipe for disaster, ladies.
Chafing problem areas, hot spots and blisters are basically waiting at the gates of every wet hiking shoe. If left unattended, these seemingly small issues can lead to serious discomfort, or worse yet, infections. The solution? Water shoes! And not just any pair of water shoes, but water shoes that are built to handle miles-worth of hikes.
Not sure where to start? I’ve compiled the very best hiking water shoes for women out there, so you can pick a pair that’s best suited for your outdoor adventures.
My Review Process
Having been a passionate hiker for over two decades, it feels like I’ve experienced nearly every kind of trail in every type of weather. Very wet days and very wet terrain included. From sweaty jungle hikes in Asia to canyon trails in the American Southwest, I’ve never been deterred by countless water crossings or slippery terrain. Mainly because I’ve learned the value of having the proper outdoor gear.
So what did I look for when selecting the best women’s water shoes? Quick drainage and a quick drying time come hand-in-hand with the most basic styles of water shoes. But “basic” is the last thing you want if you want to keep your feet comfortable for miles on end.
That’s why, when choosing the very best of the litter, I prioritized water shoes that were suitable to hike in, above all. That means excellent traction, a supportive shoe that keeps you stable in various types of terrain, and breathability. Weight and comfort ranked equally high. Other key features are highlighted in the Buying Guide below, so be sure to have a peep.
From muddy trails to explorative beach days hopscotching wet rocks, the KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandals are the anything-goes, hiking-approved water shoes you’ve been waiting for.
Quick-dry webbing and a strappy, cut-out design make them an effortless choice for wet outdoor activities. And as with most KEEN footwear, they’re built to tackle a variety of surfaces, without compromising support. The cushioned EVA footbed provides stability and comfort for your entire foot. So much so, it often feels like you’re in traditional hiking shoes!
It doesn't stop there. A sturdy toe guard offers excellent protection against rough terrain, and the traction on rocks and slippery surfaces is truly solid. The anti-odor treatment is also a nice perk, helping maintain the sandals’ integrity for the long term.
As with most water shoes (or hiking sandals), they’re not my first choice for lengthy thru-hikes or steep, mountainous terrain. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate taking them on a multi-day trip or up your average challenging trail! I even pair them with socks if I need to keep my feet warm when the temps drop. Overall, a versatile, hard-hitting shoe that’s just as impressive in the water as out of it.
Are you a multi-sport-loving gal struggling to find comfortable shoes for flat feet or wider feet? Look no further. Featuring a level footbed and wider toe box, the Astral Women’s TR1 Mesh Shoes are an excellent choice for those craving more wiggle room in their adventure footwear.
Constructed with a ripstop, quick-drying mesh, these babies do their part in offering superb ventilation and water drainage. Whether you’re on a canoe adventure that requires a lengthy portage or mixing dirt trails with river rambles, they transition seamlessly between wet and dry terrain.
Their specialized outsoles are mainly to thank for that. High-performance G.15 rubber provides extra strong grip on slippery rocks and unpredictable sections of trail. The TR1 Mesh model is also as lightweight as it gets, clocking in at just around 9 ounces!
Now, for those not used to a zero-drop footbed, they’ll take some getting used to. Especially if you need extra arch support for foot issues or injuries. If your top priority is a versatile and roomy water shoe, though, these Astral Shoes won’t disappoint.
If the idea of a beach hike gets your heart stirring, the water-friendly shoes for you are the Chaco ZCloud 2 Sandals. Whether you’re tackling rocky shorelines or hot sand dunes, they’ll keep your feet supported and squelch-free for those active beach days in and out of the water.
The biggest draw is the sandal’s open design. Perfectly placed polyester jacquard straps keep your foot secure where you need it. But bits of sand, shells and small pebbles are still able to escape as water flows through them. The podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT footbed supports longer activity-filled days, too, ensuring foot fatigue stays on the back burner.
The toe strap may seem like a deal-breaker at first for some gals. As someone who wasn’t a toe-strap person either, though, I can attest that you get used to it pretty quickly. And that extra security with movement makes all the difference! Consensus is: if you want the freedom of being barefoot but the support of a hiking-style shoe, the Chaco ZCloud 2’s are the beach adventure companion you’ve been waiting for.
Plan on a kayak-camping down your favorite river or wading through slot canyons in the southwest? Merrell’s Women’s Wildwood Aerosport is the shoe you’ll want for the journey.
Slick river rocks and muddy trails won’t hold you back any more! A durable, grippy outsole keeps you secure when you need it, while a cushioned midsole and contoured insole add a perfect mix of stability and flexibility. A breathable design is the biggest draw, though. The open weave mesh moves water like a sandal, and allows the shoe to dry in record time. It also helps keep feet cool during warmer months.
As much as I love the material and construction, sand and small rocks can creep in if you’re really digging into a streambed. Rest assured, it’s a small price to pay for a shoe that checks so many other boxes. For this much support, comfort and reliability in wet conditions, I’d gladly pay twice as much for Merrell’s Women’s Wildwood Aerosport!
Hoka’s have proven that a shoe with cushioning will make all the difference when you're on your feet all day. But a shoe with both cushioning and strong arch support? You’ll feel like you’re walking on air, ladies! If an extra-supportive style of water shoe is what you’re after, the Hoka One One Hopara Sandals are it.
What’s their secret? For one, a rubberized EVA midsole provides the perfect balance of structure and flexibility. That means your foot gets the arch support it needs without sacrificing that responsive “pop” in your step. A mixed neoprene and synthetic construction ensures that they breathe well and have a fast drying time, too.
Another big selling point is the multi-directional lugs on the outsole, which provide stellar traction. The drawcord closure and rubberized toecap for extra protection only further seal the deal.
They’re not the lowest-priced sandals, sure. But the tradeoff for investing in the support and comfort of your feet is huge. The Hoka One One Hopara Sandals give you the confidence to follow wet trails wherever they may lead.
Want stylish footwear that looks and feels like your favorite pair of sneakers, but handles water like the best of them? Then you’ll love the Women’s Summertide Water Shoes from Columbia. These budget water shoes balance performance, price and style like no other.
The thing I like the most is how quickly they let water out after a soak and bounce back to a hike-ready shoe. A mesh bootie construction and neoprene collar are mainly to thank, but a specialized foam midsole with vents also aids in airflow and dry time. That’s a big perk, even if you simply find yourself on a dry dirt trail in hot weather.
Okay, but how versatile are they? Well, the Summertides aren’t the most technical water shoes on our list. The traction on rock is decent but could be improved. They’re also not quite supportive enough for multi-mile trails. But for casual adventures that wind through water and land, their value can’t be beaten.
Water Shoe Buying Guide
When it comes to river rock scrambles, waterfall hikes, or lengthy beach trails that skirt the water line, you need quality water shoes fit for the task. Not just ones that drain water, but ones that dry quickly and can handle slick rocks just as well as miles of dirt detours.
Let’s break down the most important features to look for when choosing your next pair of hiking-approved water shoes.
Water drainage: the backbone of any quality water shoe! As opposed to waterproof boots and regular hiking footwear, water shoes are built to perform when fully submerged for longer periods of time. Permeability is at the forefront of their design. That means water can move through the shoe and escape just as quickly when you’re back on dry land.
Styles for water shoes will differ, so drainage will look a bit different for each. Some are a straightforward open-toe and open-side sandal, while others are more of a sneaker-style shoe with breathable mesh uppers. Many styles mix the best of both worlds, too, with the cutouts of sandals but the durable soles and closed-toe design of a sneaker-like shoe.
Fast Dry Time
Having footwear that drains excess water well but whose material remains moisture-logged won’t do a hiker any good. A quick-drying water shoe is imperative. Especially since you won’t always be met with sun-soaked hiking days; or the time to remove your footwear and properly dry it.
Most quality water shoes will feature quick-drying mesh uppers, webbed straps, or open, breathable constructions that aid in air flow and dry time. Synthetic mesh fabrics are the most common choice for water shoes, but some styles will feature synthetic leather or webbing material.
Style & Intended Use
From chunky hiking sandals with velcro straps to stretchy sneaker-like shoes with quick-bungee lace closures, there is no singular style of water shoe for women. I recommend catering your choice to how you plan to use them!
Are you looking for a simple lightweight water shoe that can be strapped to your pack for the occasional stream crossing? Or a sneaker-style water shoe with a durable sole for hiking trips down canyons with rocky terrain? While there are plenty of versatile water shoes capable of handling both, you’ll maximize your purchase by focusing on what features are most important to you.
Just like regular hiking shoes, rubber soles with quality traction are a huge component of any hike-worthy water shoe. It makes all the difference between feeling sure-footed and confident on a trail, and trudging along snail-paced, questioning every move. Especially since slippery surfaces are synonymous with wet trails and water-centric outdoor activities.
And so, no matter what style you’re leaning toward, make sure your water shoes have sticky soles capable of gripping wet rocks and loose or uneven terrain alike.
There are essentially two types of water shoes out on the market. One: cheap, thin-soled slip-ons you buy to combat rocky shorelines on a one-off beach vacation. And two: durable water shoes with the proper structure to provide foot protection when logging trail miles.
If hiking is your intention, don’t skimp on foot support. Make sure the shoe has decent traction, and is thick enough to protect your feet against sharp rocks. Arch support and a shoe with cushioning will also make a difference. They’ll absorb shock and alleviate discomfort if you're on your feet without breaks for long periods of time.
Sure, you can probably find a pair of basic-but-comfortable water shoes for a pretty low cost. Whether you’ll be able to actually hike in them is a different story, though!
That’s why hiker-approved water shoes are a different realm altogether. There’s a wide range of styles and prices out there, but on average expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100. Higher-quality shoes with more technical features, superior traction and extra foot support might even reach upwards of $150.
If I had to choose one hiking-friendly water shoe to handle whatever conditions are thrown my way, I’d go with the KEEN Women’s Newport H2 Sandals. They’re supportive, comfortable, and can be trusted to have your back whether you’re on a muddy trail or a sandy seaside stroll.
For river and lake adventures or hikes with their fair share of stream crossing, the Merrell Women’s Wildwood Aerosport’s will impress with how well they balance ventilation with traction and stability.
If you’re after something more casual and less technical, I’d give the Columbia Women’s Summertide Water Shoe a shot. They’re comfortable, super stylish and drain water quickly, without breaking the bank.
Yes, water shoes can absolutely be used for hiking— if you choose the right ones! Some water shoes are designed with mellow water activities or specific water sports, like kayaking, in mind, and may not be as comfortable for hiking. Therefore, it’s important to select a style that’s built with the necessary support for walking longer distances.
Hiking and wet gear aren’t an ideal combination, but when hiking through water, it’s more or less inevitable. A pair of water shoes that drains water quickly, however, will ensure your feet stay comfortable and blister-free. Ensuring your clothing and footwear is quick to dry is another important feature to keep in mind.
Not all water shoes are conducive for everyday wear. There are, however, a variety of styles that can be worn as regular shoes on the day-to-day. Nearly all of the water shoes on my list are versatile enough to be worn as regular sneakers or sandals for a range of both indoor and outdoor activities.
Weather and trip conditions may not always allow the necessary time to remove your hiking shoes and completely dry them. Water socks —think neoprene socks!— will usually help some in keeping your feet dry, but they’re not ideal in warmer weather. If you expect lots of water encounters, hiking-specific water shoes —or a separate pair of them— are your best bet.
Wet feet can quickly become a hiker’s worst nightmare. When water and moisture gets trapped in your socks and shoes without a way to escape, the natural friction between your feet and their housing can lead to hot spots, blisters, and even infections. All things that can quickly become painful and end a hiking trip!
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.