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The 7 Best Water Shoes for Rivers, Lakes & Pools


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Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. 

Every beach bum, lake rat, or water sports enthusiast needs a pair of the best water shoes. Seriously, a pair of good water shoes will protect your feet at the water park and give you security and extra traction when walking through the rough bottoms of  streams, rivers, and lakes. There are various types of water shoes, ranging from slip-on shoes, water socks, sandals, and even sneakers that allow water to drain easily and dry quickly. Slip-on shoes are great for pools and water park days, while sandals are great for short hikes, leisurewear, and river days. However, a water sneaker is great for fishing or days spent in areas where you're around rocky terrain.

These shoes are comfortable, quick-drying, and durable. They'll also give you peace of mind when navigating rivers, swimming holes, and more: Trekking down to the water can be risky if not in the right shoe. The best water shoes will be non-slip and have some protection for your toes, too. We even made sure to include eco-friendly shoes that are free of materials and chemicals that could harm marine life. We picked out some of the best water shoes for adults that will keep you drier and safer all summer long.

1. Best Swim Socks for Everyone

VIFUUR Water Socks - Amazon, $8.68+

Synthetic water socks can be worn with water shoes or as a single layer of protection. They're easy to take on and off, they're super affordable, and convenient to pack in your suitcase, making them our pick for water parks and beach vacations. The socks are flexible, comfy, and breathable: Your feet won't get hot and sweaty in these. They're also protective against heat and sharp objects because of their rubber bottoms, so if you want to enjoy a nice walk (or run) on the beach, consider water socks.  Overall, they beat being barefoot when you need to protect your feet from hot sand or swimming pool concrete.

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2. Best Slip-on for Women

Teva Walhalla - Teva, $75

A slip-on shoe is great for light hikes and water days. They provide the traction of a sneaker, but have the breathability and drainage of a sandal. If you're torn between sandals and water sneakers, consider Teva's Walahalla water shoes. Personally, I'm going with a shoe like this if I know I'll be around lots of rocks that could potentially hurt my toes: I've witnessed lots of stubbed/jammed toes at my local watering hole that ended up in people sitting out the rest of the afternoon. Besides adding extra protection to your toes, these shoes are popular for being comfortable and quick-drying. The lightweight cushion keeps them comfortable and the mesh means they'll dry quickly. The rubber outsole provides great traction to keep you safe on light hikes or walking around rivers, lakes, and swimming holes where slippery surfaces are present. Lastly, we love that the vegan shoes are made from recycled plastic and plant-based materials.

3. Best Water Sandals for Women

Chaco BANDED Z/CLOUD - Chaco, $79.99 

Chaco's Banded Z/Cloud sandal is the perfect water sandal for light hikes, lake days, and river days. I have a pair of Chaco's and they're my go-to shoe for river days. As someone who is terrified to slip on wet rocks, I feel confident in Chaco's and swear by them. These newer sandals are made of vegan-friendly materials and have a non-marking rubber outsole that provides superior traction on wet and dry land. If you're someone who likes to adjust straps for a snug fit, you'll enjoy the wraps throughout the foot and midsole. The midsole is comfortable enough for outside work as well -- they're great for gardening or weeding, and they're cute enough to use when running errands (especially if it's raining!).

4. Best Water Sneaker for Women

Women's Drainmaker™ IV Water Shoe - Columbia, $49.99 

For the most secure foot protection, consider a sneaker. A water sneaker is best for rainy walks and days on the boat: they can be fully submerged in water and will dry quickly. These sneakers have enhanced airflow and water drainage in case you walk through a stream or puddle, and the outsole has a terrific grip on wet and dry terrains -- so even if you're not planning for a wet hike, feel free to hit the trail in these shoes. A customer wrote: "Good for hiking dry or wet. A trouble-saver in theme parks with water activities--so that you don't have to carry your sandals around and check them in from time to time for other rides." Waterparks and amusement parks are places you wouldn't want to walk around barefoot in, so have your water sneakers ready.

5. Best Slip-on for Men

Teva FOREBAY - Teva, $65

Teva's Forebay shoe is the ideal water shoe for light hikes and days on the water. The shoe has quick-drying synthetic upper, a must-have in the best water shoes. Wear them to the lake, waterpark, or to your favorite river for a float trip. I love that that these provide toe coverage -- great for rocky areas and swimming holes. For those shopping with eco-friendly materials in mind, the shoe is made from synthetic and plant-based materials. Overall, it's a top-quality shoe that isn't too pricey for its amazing quality.

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6. Best Water Sandal for Men

TERRA FI 5 UNIVERSAL - Teva, $100

These Tevas are a great lightweight sandal for men. The sandal is best for multi-day hikes and can easily take on wet terrain. The rubber outsole is designed to work in wet conditions and provide superior traction, and it's easy to take on and off. The comfortable, vegan quick-drying shoe isn't just for hiking, but it's a great shoe for vacations as well. Whether you're exploring a swimming hole, a great city view, or even exploring a small town, you can't go wrong with Teva's.

7. Best Water Sneakers for Men

MEN'S CANYONLAND - Chaco, $110

We love both Teva and Chaco, but we're big fans of Chaco's water sneaker. The Canyonland is the best shoe for overall foot protection, whether you're in the water or on the land. The shoe is lightweight, breathable, and comfy. The arch support is unmatched! These shoe will keep you safe on many terrains -- the two types of grips for land and water are terrific. Once you head back to land, you'll be surprised by how quickly these shoes dry. You're definitely paying for quality here. Consider these shoes for hiking, fishing, or lake and river days. Also consider these shoes if you work in water: Many people who rally up tubes and float devices at rivers, beaches, and lakes invest in a great water shoe that's comfortable to work in.

Whether these shoes are for work or play, there's still plenty of warm days ahead of us, so grab the best water shoes for your needs and have fun.

NEXT: TEVA VS. CHACO: IS THERE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN THESE SPORT SANDALS

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