Best Shoes for Kayaking In Cold and Warm Weather: Buyer’s Guide and Highest Ranked Models

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Wearing the right type of gear, whether you’re diving, fishing, or paddling around in your kayak will be crucial. This is especially true when it comes to footwear. The best shoes for kayaking will make it more comfortable and easier to handle wet conditions, and will not leave your feet constantly soaked like traditional footwear will. Additionally, these shoes are more durable, not prone to mold growth, and highly breathable. If you’re like me and you only wear the latest in kayaking gear, then you’ll love the buyer’s guide that I’ve created. This guide will go over all the information you need to know to choose a pair of shoes that are perfect for your style of kayaking.

I’ve also reviewed many of the best-selling pairs on the market, narrowing it down to just five pairs that are designed to take a beating, handle both fresh and saltwater, and provide the type of breathability you need in shoes that are designed to get wet. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart, which lists each of the pairs that made it to my best-of list.

Shoes for Kayaking Comparison Chart

ProductSize OptionsMaterialHeightRating
Cressi Tall Neoprene Boots
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10NeopreneAnkle
WateLves Water Shoes
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14NeopreneLow-Cut
SIMARI Mens Water Shoes
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14Lycra/PolyesterAnkle
Mishansha Mens Shoes
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14LycraLow-Cut
Kona Premium Boots
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7NeopreneAnkle

Cressi Tall Neoprene Boots


Our Rating: (5/5)

These shoes by Cressi feature a durable five millimeter or seven-millimeter thick neoprene insole and a three millimeter upper. They’re available in whole sizes only and are designed to provide max comfort and warmth. Additionally, the high-traction, durable rubber sole provides plenty of support. The shoes come equipped with a gusset-backed YKK zipper that makes the shoes easy to take off and on. This neoprene booty style shoe is perfect for a wide range of water conditions but may be too hot to wear in the summer months, due to the higher cut that reaches a few inches above the ankle. The thick soles of the shoes are perfect for challenging terrain and can protect the feet from cuts and abrasions.

Pros

  • Made out of neoprene
  • Perfect for cold conditions
  • Durable
  • Equipped with a gusset-backed YKK zipper
  • Thick soles provide maximum protection

Cons

  • Can cause the feet to sweat in warmer weather

Conclusion

These neoprene kayak shoes are a great buy if you’re looking for shoes that are durable, designed to last, and can keep your feet warm and dry in colder temperatures. They’re not a great choice for hot weather since the high cut, combined with the thicker neoprene material can cause the feet to sweat excessively.

WateLves Water Shoes for Men and Women


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These low-cut kayak shoes feature an anti-slip rubber outsole, complete with a unique pattern that’s designed to increase the traction and friction and prevent you from slipping on challenging terrain in the water. The soles also come with a total of seven holes located on the bottom that will promote proper water flow in order to keep your feet nice and cool. The rubber soles and thick foam arch design will allow you to wear these shoes for a longer period of time, in total comfort. The neoprene material is fast-drying, so your feet will not remain wet for long. The thicker toe cap design provides more cushioning and protection in challenging terrain. The fabric is highly breathable so the shoes can be worn in warm weather conditions. I would not recommend these shoes for freezing temperatures since the holes in the insole allow water to rush in and out of the shoes.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • Can be used for a wide range of watersports
  • High traction soles

Cons

  • Not Recommended for cold water temperatures

Conclusion

These versatile shoes are perfect for a wide range of watersports and will be a great choice for the kayaker in search of durable shoes that are breathable and perfect for hot weather use. The thick sole and tread will give you the type of traction and protection you need when you’re kayaking on a fast-moving river, or in an environment filled with uneven terrain and sharp rocks.

SIMARI Mens Womens Water Shoes Sports


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These shoes are made out of a lycra and polyester blend for shoes that are highly breathable, lightweight, and flexible. The material is also fast-drying, so your feet will not remain wet when you’re out on the water. The soles of the shoes feature an ergonomic design that promotes user comfort, while the drawstring shoelace allows you to quickly loosen or tighten the lacing system. The eight holes located in the sole ensure that water easily flows in and out of the shoe, to keep your feet cool in hot weather conditions. The non-slip thick rubber soles will keep the feet well-protected when you’re paddling around on a fast-moving river with sharp rocks and debris.

Pros

  • Thick rubber soles
  • Excellent traction
  • Highly breathable
  • Flexible
  • Fast-drying material

Cons

  • Not designed for cold weather use

Conclusion

These shoes are flexible, durable, offer a thicker than average rubber sole that makes them a great option for challenging waters, and a breathable design that will keep your feet nice and cool in hot weather. These shoes are not designed for cold weather use but will be a lifesaver when you’re dealing with intense heat and looking for shoes with a breathable design and durable construction.

Mishansha Men’s and Women’s Water Shoes


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These unisex kayak shoes have a thick rubber sole and a spandex fabric upper. The upper is made out of salt-resistant material, so it’s perfect for both saltwater and freshwater conditions. The lycra material is flexible and ultra-light, with a cross ventilation design that also makes them highly breathable. The rubber soles feature an anti-slip design, complete with holes on the bottom that promote water flow out of the shoes to create a healthier shoe environment. Taking the shoes on and off is fast and easy, simply pull the tab on the heel. The shoes have elastic straps that will allow you to quickly adjust the tension in the lacing system, for a more comfortable fit.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Drainage holes
  • Anti-slip soles
  • Adjustable

Cons

  • Low cut makes them a poor choice for cold weather

Conclusion

These versatile shoes are perfect for kayaking, boating, sailing, and swimming. The anti-slip soles will give you more traction and protection from slick surfaces, sharp rocks, and debris. The breathable material combined with the holes in the sole is designed to keep you nice and cool when you’re spending a day on the water in high temperatures.

Kona Premium Double-Lined Boots


Our Rating: (4/5)

These ankle height boots feature rubber vulcanized grip technology and three-millimeter thick neoprene with a double-lined design for improved protection. The heels are incredibly durable and feature a reinforced design. These boots will fit like a glove, preventing water from entering the interior, which makes them perfect for kayaking in colder weather. These boots are abrasion resistant and will not chafe or cause irritation, despite the tight fit. They can be used for kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, waterskiing, canoeing, and more.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to take off

Cons

  • Can cause excessive sweating if worn in warm weather
  • Only available in seven sizes

Conclusion

These multi-sport water boots will fit like a glove and are designed with comfort and durability in mind. The thicker neoprene and sole design also make them perfect for environments with rough and challenging terrain such as sharp rocks or water that’s choked with debris. Since they feature a design that prevents water from entering the shoe, I would not recommend them for use in high temperatures, which can lead to excessive sweating and general discomfort.

Shoes for Kayaking Buyer’s Guide

You should have no trouble finding a pair of shoes specifically designed for kayaking that can provide the type of protection you need, whether you’re outdoors and out on the water during the winter or fall, or you’re hitting the river in high temperatures during the summer. Essentially, if you know what features to look for, you can find a pair that will offer the type of breathability and protection from the elements and the environment that you need.

Good kayaking shoes will provide plenty of grip support and are made out of fast-drying material that’s highly breathable and designed to keep your feet nice and dry. In most cases, the most important aspect of the shoes is going to involve the type of material the shoes and soles are made out of since both parts of the shoe are crucial to how it performs out on the water. Choosing the right pair of shoes for your next kayaking adventure is important since many low-quality shoes simply don’t last and aren’t durable enough to handle heavy-duty use.

The Right Fit

Most types of kayaking shoes are designed with comfort in mind, which is why most are designed to fit like a glove, however, they shouldn’t be so tight that they restrict your movement or leave your toes feeling cramped. With kayak shoes, there should be no gaps on the top or sides, since this will allow water to get inside. As you probably already know, wearing wet shoes can be incredibly uncomfortable. You should also ensure that the shoes feature a sleek design and will work well for the type of space you have available in your kayak’s foot section.

Materials

Neoprene is the most common type of material used for this type of water shoe. This is because it possesses all the qualities you need for a shoe that can handle wet conditions. Neoprene is a type of non-slip, lightweight, flexible material. Some manufacturers will also combine this material with other types, such as polyester, in order to improve durability and overall performance. You will also find shoes that are made out of Lycra, which is a type of stretchy, flexible material that’s designed to fit your skin like a glove. It’s another type of popular fast-drying material, although neoprene is more durable by far. However, shoes that are made out of Lycra tend to be more affordable. But the serious kayaker will want a pair of shoes that are designed with durability in mind, especially if they often find themselves on the water year-round.

Strap or Strapless Design

Shoes

The downside to neoprene is the fact that it can cause your feet to sweat, regardless of weather conditions. Some models will come with straps made out of neoprene, while others will not. Neoprene straps will add to the support and security of the shoe, so you won’t have to worry about it coming off should you fall off your kayak. However, some kayak enthusiasts will consider straps on these shoes as a drawback, since the straps can easily get caught on rock or debris, or cause excessive sweating.

Soles

One of the best kayaking fishing tips you’ll ever hear is choosing the right shoes that offer plenty of traction, which will make it easier for you to reel in your catch. The soles are often made out of a durable, thick, rubber material that’s designed to improve your traction in the water and can also help to protect your feet when you’re walking around in water, or in the event of an accident. Make sure you avoid models that feature an open toe design, which will leave your toes partially vulnerable to rocks, debris, water, and cold water temperatures. Shoes that feature holes in the bottom of the soles are designed to help the water in the interior drain out and are an excellent choice for kayaking in warmer conditions. In most cases, you will not find that type of sole design on shoes that are intended for cold weather use.

Weight

In terms of weight, most pairs will be very light and should fit like a second skin. This will make it much easier to wear them for a long period of time while providing your feet with comfortable protection even when you’re paddling around in challenging waters.

Height

You can choose several different heights including knee-high, low-cut, and ankle-height. Obviously, knee-high shoes will provide the most protection, but if you’re kayaking during the summer months, then they can also cause your legs and feet to sweat excessively. These shoes should only be worn in cold weather conditions when you need protection from freezing water. These shoes are more insulated and much thicker, so they’re designed to protect your feet from the effects of wading in rough water conditions, or if you’re at sea at handling serious waves in your kayak.

Low-cut shoes are a great choice for hot weather since they’re very breathable and lightweight.

Ankle-high shoes can provide moderate protection and offer a decent combination of breathability and warmth. They also come with thicker soles compared to low-cut styles. These shoes are the most popular option since they can provide the perfect level of protection from the elements and the environment.

Weather Options

Choosing the right shoes for kayaking can also heavily depend on when you normally hit the water. It’s actually one of the most important things you should consider when you’re shopping around. If you don’t plan wisely, you may end up in freezing water wearing shoes that are designed for summer use. In cold weather, you’ll want shoes that are made out of neoprene and at least five millimeters thick. This will help to keep your feet nice and warm, while the design of winter kayaking shoes can help to prevent water from entering the interior. Warmth can be a serious issue during the winter months, especially if you often struggle to keep water out of your kayak.

If it’s hot outside, then you’ll want shoes that are designed to allow your feet to breathe, to prevent excessive sweating. In this type of situation, shallow shoes that are made out of thinner material will be a better option.

As you can see, it’s important that you choose your next pair of kayaking shoes based on the time of year you usually find yourself out on the water. Most manufacturers offer an extensive line of shoes that are designed for use in specific seasons. Models designed for winter use will feature a thicker neoprene design, while shoes that are worn during the spring and summer months will be made out of thinner material.

​Terrain Type

While most shoes designed for kayak use share a similar appearance, they’re actually designed to handle different types of applications and terrains. As an example, you might find yourself paddling around in an environment with sharp rocks and difficult terrain, so a pair of thick-soled shoes will be the best option since they’re specifically designed to protect your feet from these types of difficult terrain conditions. Breathable, lighter, and thinner shoes are best suited for gentle, smooth water and sandy terrain.

Final Thoughts

The best shoes for kayaking will fit like a second skin, and come equipped with the type of breathability and protection you need based on the time of year you normally find yourself in your kayak, and the type of environment you prefer to paddle around in, whether it’s the ocean, a calm lake, or a fast-moving river. This guide is designed to help you choose your next pair of shoes based on all of these factors, your personal preferences, and your budget. I hope you find the perfect pair of shoes in my top five lineup especially now that you know exactly what types of features to look for.