water shoes


Anyone hopping in and out of the water along Australia’s coast and rivers will know the importance of protecting their feet. With a multitude of critters that can give a nasty bite or sting and jagged rocks that can jerk a tear from even the most stoic Aussie, investing in a good pair of water shoes is a very smart idea.

Water shoes differ from alternatives as they include a closed toe and cover most of the foot to protect your feet from unwanted collisions. In this respect, they differ from sandals as the shoes completely enclose your foot. They are ideal for energetic water sports or kayaking which involve getting in and out of the water because they are more like a pair of trainers which give good grip on land when hiking while still being well suited for the water.

I personally prefer using water shoes over sandals because I find sandals don’t excel in any conditions. They are adequate for hiking and perfectly capable of providing protection in the water, but they don’t actually excel in either environment. The open toe design of sandals leave your toes open to scrapes and after losing a toe-nail in the sea last summer, I vowed to find a better alternative to give more protection.


I have been using my water shoes for the last six months for my hiking and kayak fishing trips and have found some weaknesses. They do require more effort to put on. With sandals and flip flops putting them on was straightforward but water shoes are really more like a pair of trainers for getting on. As a result, they have not been ideal for lounging around a campsite and I have often had to use them in combination with a pair of flip flops when relaxing at the campsite.

Comfort when hiking has also been an issue. While the traction provides great footing on the trails, they lack the padding to provide a comfortable experience. They are great for shorter hikes but if you are planning a full day of walking you may want to be aware that your water shoes don’t have the comfort to keep your feet happy.

They are not as common as sandals. This means that designs are quite basic as there is not a wide variety of brands and designs to choose from. Most come in a standard colour and the designs don’t vary much.


I have found the shoes to work well for kayak fishing, particularly when the terrain has been rocky and difficult and I have had to get out of the kayak several times on rocky ground. Where mates have been walking gingerly in water sandals over jagged rocks, I have been sturdy and confident.

They have also served me well on smaller hikes with the potential for water crossings. Taking the water shoes on long hikes and on steep inclines isn’t the best idea as the lack of padding leaves your soles throbbing and aching for days. But for fair-weather hikers who enjoy a summer saunter by the lake or the river, water shoes could be a good versatile option.


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Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.