The Difference Between Hiking Shoes and Water Shoes

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As the name implies trekking, or trail running in diverse terrain conditions. They are very sturdy in nature, with excellent traction, comfort, and arch support to keep you going. 

If water seeps into your waterproof footwear, it can become a nightmare, making your feet soggy and heavier to lift. No feet like to experience that pool party either! This is where water shoes override waterproof footwear. You don’t have to worry about the depth of the water level because water can flow in and out easily -and dry fast. 

All-in-all, water shoes, depending on the type, can be used for water hiking, river walking, swimming, surfing, kayaking, beachcombing, and other types of water-related activities. So, yes, not every water shoe is necessarily a proper hiking shoe.

What Are the Different Types of Water Shoes?

If you are looking for a pair of water shoes that can be used for all purposes, it’s going to be tough. A quick search would tell you there’s an overwhelming amount of choices in the market. 

To pull out an example from my experience, I needed aqua shoes for Croatia because of its pebbly beaches; and for New Zealand -to get into lakes. But, surely, aqua shoes aren’t necessarily great for river crossing on hikes because of their thin soles. So I needed to look for different options…

And here’s where things got sticky! 

There are aqua shoes, water sandals, crocs, five-finger shoes, wet shoes, boat shoes, scuba shoes, kayak shoes, beach shoes…Each type is designed for a specific function or different outdoor conditions. 

But hey, don’t you worry, friend! The purpose of this guide on choosing the best water shoes is to help you select footwear that fits your feet and purpose. 

Hiking water shoes

These are specially designed shoes for hiking in water or wet weather with more attention to traction on slippery, rocky, and mossy surfaces. With holes underneath, they drain water faster, keeping your feet dry and protected. 

The closed-toe design guards your entire feet from sharp objects that can damage your skin underwater. This is fundamental as many times you are not able to see where you are stepping. The best water hiking shoes also work exceptionally well on dry terrain, so you don’t have to switch footwear in between.

Hiking water sandals 

Hiking water sandals offer the same amount of traction as shoes but with more breathability due to the open-toe design. And yet, some water hiking sandals cover your toes partially for protection.

Due to the quick-drying feature and increased comfort, sandals are a favorite among many hikers. They are also great for summer activities!


While they are not great for hiking or trekking purposes, crocs can function as great water shoes when you are exploring a shallow river or walking on the beach. The holes in them allow water to get in and out without burdening your feet too much. But, it sweats a lot, and if there isn’t a fastener at the back, you could lose them the minute you are in the water. I have suggested a great pair of crocs that overcomes these issues!

Five-finger shoes

Think of gloves on your feet. That’s exactly how these feel. These shoes are designed to fit your feet snugly, in their true shape. While you may look a bit silly wearing them, don’t underestimate this latest innovation. It provides the same comfort of walking barefoot while ensuring your feet remain protected -one of the best shoes for hiking in water.

Boat shoes 

For boating enthusiasts, these shoes provide extra traction on slippery surfaces. Their soles are made from rubber for this purpose. They are not waterproof and come in canvas or leather materials, so you can select one that you feel most comfortable in. Boat shoes are also great for casual wear and come in a variety of designs.

Neoprene Shoes – BECO EN

Wet shoes

From kayaking to snorkeling and scuba diving, wet shoes ensure you can indulge in your favorite water sports without irritating your feet. They are light in weight, with a neoprene membrane to trap water and provide warmth to your feet in cold weather. In addition, they provide grip on wet surfaces and do a decent job in protecting your feet from mild elements piercing your skin. But, their soles are extremely thin, and if you ever try to walk on rocky surfaces with them…just don’t. 

Aqua socks

Some aqua shoes are essentially socks that help your feet breathe and remain comfortable in the water. However, slip-on shoes with thin soles and materials also qualify as aqua socks. 

They can’t handle rocky terrains well but work great on beaches! They are also great for aquatic sports heroes who want a snugly covering for their feet when swimming or surfing. These are lightweight too and good for using even as slippers -something to consider when you are the sometimes they are not very breathable. Complete your beach gear with beach to get dressed/changed!

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