If you often enjoy rockpooling or wading in shallow and rocky waters, then you know the importance of protecting your feet. There are a number of cheap rubber aqua socks that you can buy but these can be uncomfortable.
However, a number of brands produce excellent water shoes and footwear that provide you protection and shock absorption for both land and sea. Quick drying and well-made, they’re ideal for outdoor use. In this guide, we explore the Best Waters Shoes For Men:
- Most Versatile: Adidas Outdoor CLIMACOOL Jawpaw
- Water Sneaker: OluKai ‘Eleu Trainer
- Mesh Textile: Speedo Surf Knit
- For Balance: O’Neill Superfreak Tropical ST Boot
- Water Sandal: Keen Arroyo III
- Affordable: O’Neill Reactor Reef Boot
You can use the links above to jump ahead. We’ll also take a look at what are water shoes and aqua socks later in this guide.
Quick Buyer’s Guide
Just want to buy a good pair of water shoes? Use the Quick Buy options below to head straight to the retailers. Otherwise, scroll down to read our thoughts on each pair.
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What Are The Best Water Shoes & Aqua Socks For Men?
Offering the best balance between a lightweight aqua sock and the protection of a sneaker, Adidas offers the most versatile water shoe that you can buy.
Made from a tight synthetic mesh, there are just enough perforations to allow drainage without too much exposure. Furthermore, a proprietary drainage system features mid-foot ports for maximum drainage.
These are only available in black with white Adidas-style stripes across the upper.
If you’re looking for a water shoe that has a sneaker configuration, you can’t do better than OluKai’s stylish ‘Eleu trainer. These have all the comfort and support that you need on land while offering the best hydrophobic and drainage technology available.
The tight hydrophobic mesh is interlaced with a synthetic webbing, which provides support while allowing for drainage. Meanwhile, a dual-density EVA footbed provides shock absorption and cushion. Finally, a sticky rubber outsole ensures excellent traction even underwater.
We love the black sneakers with yellow accents and a camouflage outsole. However, you could opt for charcoal and trench blue or even a light grey with red accents.
A more affordable alternative to the Adidas shoes above, these are somewhat closer to the aqua sock in design. Speedo’s aqua socks are more lightweight yet still offer excellent traction and support.
With a mesh textile upper, these provide excellent drainage. Meanwhile, the S-TRAC outsole offers excellent traction while still allowing for the necessary drainage.
A number of colour options are available. There are two black and dark grey options with different patterns on the uppers. Otherwise, there’s black and navy as well as navy with white soles and red accents.
For those requiring superior protection as well as a better ergonomic fit, O’Neill offer excellent boots. These are best suited for surfing sports for extra grip on the board thanks to the closure system and ergonomic design.
An adjustable strap provides an excellent fit, which is complemented by a drawstring closure. Meanwhile, the fluid foam, mesh and rubber uppers provide insulation, drainage and excellent protection.
These are only sold in black so not much choice is available in that regard.
If you’re looking to walk some distance both on land and in water, these are probably your best bet. They’re a more balanced option for those who aren’t intending to undertake intense sport in the water.
Offering excellent support, the Nubuck leather and textile uppers are washable with a quick-dry lining. There’s more heel support here than the other options while the ESS shank and dual-density EVA footbed both provide lightweight support and stability.
You can grab these in either grey and black with blue accents or brown and black with pebble accents. We prefer the blue accents but both are solid choices.
A much more basic and affordable aqua sock, these are great for the occasional dip in rocky waters. You’ll get enough protection and insulation from these for leisure but they may not be sufficient for intense sports.
A neoprene upper provides both insulation while side mesh panels offer solid drainage. Meanwhile, the synthetic outsole provides traction and just enough protection from the elements.
We like the black with blue accents. Otherwise, you can get these in black and charcoal.
What Are Water Shoes?
If you’re here, the chances are high that you already know about water shoes and aqua socks. Nevertheless, let’s take a brief look at what they are and the difference between the two.
Firstly, both are footwear specifically designed for activities near or in water when there’s a strong chance of getting wet. This can be anything from a walk on the beach and wading in rocky waters to windsurfing and kayaking.
As such, their construction is often made to ensure some protection from the environment without being too cumbersome. For instance, their soles will be hard enough to prevent cuts and abrasions against wet and sharp rocky surfaces as well as any critters lurking in the water.
Similarly, they’re often made using hydrophobic materials that either don’t get too wet or quickly dry. Furthermore, they’ll both likely feature some sort of drainage system to prevent a build-up of water inside.
This drainage is assured by designing ports into the shoe base as well as making the uppers from porous or mesh materials.
What Is The Difference Between Water Shoes & Aqua Socks
Aqua socks and water shoes used to be quite different in appearance. However, as footwear technology becomes more elaborate, the distinction between the two has steadily blurred.
It used to be that aqua socks were simply a mesh or neoprene sock that would provide the most elementary protection for the feet as well as some insulation like a wet suit.
Meanwhile, water shoes were somewhat reminiscent of sneakers with quick-drying properties. Instead, they offered better protection, support, cushion and traction as well as a versatile use both on land and in water. However, they would sacrifice the lightweight and freedom of aqua socks by being quite clumsy.
Yet the progress of engineering in footwear technology has given birth to strong yet very lightweight materials that offer the best of both worlds.
Nowadays, many water shoes have the streamlined, lightweight characteristics of aqua socks. However, they are equipped with the cushioning, stability and protection of water shoes.
Nevertheless, there is still something of a difference between the two as you may have noticed in the selection above. As these types of footwear may cater to different needs, you can still find a variety of shoe configurations.
Now that you have the best water shoes for men, why don’t you check out some of our related shoe guides?
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- Best Winter Boots For Men
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"So glad to have found this guide! This guide goes into much more detail than the others I've seen online."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★