Best Water Shoes for Paddle Boarding | 2021 Buyers Guide

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Top Picks for Best Water Shoes Compared

When it comes to SUP accessories, water shoes are an often-overlooked item that we highly recommend. In this buyers’ guide, we’ll tell you exactly why they’re so important and list our top picks for paddlers this season…

While certainly not essential for SUP, water shoes are an affordable piece of gear that are extremely beneficial. Aside from providing cushioning, support, and increasing overall paddling comfort, water shoes also have several valuable safety benefits:

  • They protect your feet from getting bruised and cut by rocky beaches, rivers, and sharp objects.
  • Water shoes prevent your toes from getting caught in the D-rings on the deck of your SUP.
  • Wearing paddling shoes protects the tops of your feet from sunburn.
  • The added traction helps to prevent slips and falls.

Women's Water Shoes

There are a wide variety of water shoe styles on the market today for both men and women, and in this guide we’re going to focus specifically on the best options for stand up paddleboarding.

So without further ado, let’s get to the shoes…

Best Water Shoes for SUP — Comparison Chart

Body Glove Dynamo Ribcage
Body Glove Dynamo Ribcage
Molded TPU, hybrid design, integrated drainage systemBlack/agave, black/neon yellow$$$$$$$Check Price
NRS Kinetic
NRS Kinetic
3mm neoprene upper, textured rubber soleBlack/red$$$$Check Price
Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua
Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua
5-toe design, 2 mm EVA insole, drainage perforationsBlack, blue/black, grey$$$$$$$$$Check Price
Body Glove 3T Barefoot Hero
Body Glove 3T Barefoot Hero
Molded TPU upper, 3-toe designBlack/grey, black/neon yellow$$$$$$$Check Price
Merrell Hydro Glove
Merrell Hydro Glove
Mesh upper, Vibram Wavegrip soleBlue, black$$$$$$$$$$Check Price

Top 5 Paddleboarding Water Shoes

Body Glove Dynamo Ribcage

A hybrid water shoe design that can be worn on and off the water, the durable Body Glove Dynamo Ribcage offers a ton of protection and is perfect for those times when you’re paddling around extremely rough surroundings. This is the water shoe on our list that’s most similar to a traditional sneaker and it also offers the most versatility. The Dynamo Ribcage features a stretchy knit upper that’s extremely comfortable and there’s a molded TPU lace cradle for added durability and protection.

Body Glove Men's Dynamo Ribcage Water Shoes

While these shoes are slip-ons, they do feature laces that you can use to dial in the perfect fit. Also, the bottom of the shoes have excellent traction as well as Body Glove’s IDS (integrated drainage system) that increases airflow for cooling, draining, and faster drying.

If you’re into whitewater or river surfing, the Dynamo Ribcage water shoes are ideal and they’re available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge):

NRS Kinetic

Featuring a 3mm neoprene booty design, the NRS Kinetic will keep your feet comfortable and warm — making them an excellent choice for cold water paddling. These shoes have a convenient slip-on design with an ankle drawstring for a snug, secure fit.

NRS added plenty of toe reinforcement to these water shoes and there’s also durable rubber that runs along both sides for added durability and protection.

NRS Kinetic Water Shoes Black

We really like the soles that NRS used on these shoes and the traction is outstanding. Lastly, these are unisex water shoes so women simply need to go down one size.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge):

Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua​

Vibram’s FiveFingers are well-known for their unique separated toe construction and the company’s V-Aqua water shoe is a lightweight, fast-drying version that barefoot enthusiasts are sure to love. If you’ve never worn FiveFingers shoes before, they can be a little tricky to get on at first, but the extra effort is worth it as they’re pretty tough to beat in terms of overall comfort.

We absolutely love the Vibram Megagrip rubber sole on these — it offers top-shelf durability and the best grip around.

Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua Mesh Upper

The V-Aqua’s mesh upper offers outstanding breathability and dries quickly. Also, the perforations along the bottom of the shoes do a great job of allowing water to drain out. Last but not least, Vibram V-Aqua water shoes are available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge):

Body Glove 3T Barefoot Hero​

If you like the barefoot-esque experience offered by Vibram’s FiveFinger V-Aqua but aren’t ready to jump up to a 5-toe shoe yet, Body Glove’s 3T Barefoot Hero is a nice compromise. Body Glove grouped the three smallest toes together with the 3T Barefoot Hero, making it easier to slip these water shoes on.

The zero heel lift design gives you a great “connected” feel with the ground and deck of your SUP, and the durable rubber sole features draining slots for water drainage and increased airflow.

Body Glove 3T Barefoot Hero Water Shoes Black

These versatile shoes are definitely tough enough for daily use and the convenient lacing system really gives you the ability to customize the fit.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge):

Merrell Hydro Glove​

The most expensive water shoes on our list, the Merrell Hydro Glove is another outstanding option for stand up paddleboarding. These sock-like shoes slip on easily and the roomy toe box allows your feet to naturally flex and splay.

Merrell’s Hydro Glove features a premium Vibram Wavegrip sole which provides outstanding grip on wet surfaces.

Merrell Hydro Glove Water Shoes Blue

Lastly, the breathable mesh upper dries very quickly and the adjustable Velcro strap does a great job of fine-tuning the fit. The Hydro Glove is available in both men’s and women’s versions.

Additional Photos (click to enlarge):

More SUP Accessory Buying Guides

Read more of our recommendations for the best paddle board accessories in our buyers guides based on our in-depth hands-on reviews and reader feedback.

One comment

  1. I saw no mention of which shoe soles left marks on the boards. All of them? Non-marking soles are pretty important.

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