From giving you grip on slippery surfaces to protecting your feet on rough ground, water shoes perform many different functions.
While we’d typically go for cold water swimming socks for proper swim training in chilly waters, water shoes are handy bits of kit to have with you if you’re wild swimming, taking part in other watersports or enjoying a more leisurely dip.
Made from soft neoprene and moulded plastic, many water shoes are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and should help add some warmth in cooler water, though how much will depend on the design.
Here are some of the best water shoes you can buy online, with picks based on in-depth research, industry knowledge and analysis of user reviews.
The best water shoes to buy
Helly Hansen Crest Watermoc
For fuss-free design and smart aesthetics, you can’t go wrong with Helly Hansen’s Crest Watermoc shoes.
The tread on the outsoles is designed to provide extra grip on slippery surfaces, while there’s also a carefully engineered upper with a low-cut ankle that’s said to optimise comfort.
These shoes are designed to be simple to slip on, thanks to the convenient pull tab at the heel. They’re also lightweight for ease of movement, and Helly Hansen says they’re breathable, too – perfect for warmer weather lengthy swim sessions.
Vivobarefoot Ultra III Bloom
Created with sustainability in mind, these water shoes are vegan-friendly and are made with algae in the form of BLOOM® foam, which eliminates harmful algae blooms from waterways.
As for the design, you’ll get an open-honeycomb-style upper to let water pass through, making it easier to wade and swim. There’s also a wide footprint to help your feet spread out for extra balance.
Also, the shoes’ flexibility is said to give you the feeling of swimming barefoot, so can expect to have good manoeuvrability in the water.
Launched back in 1928 with the creation of the world’s first non-wool swimsuit, Speedo has more than 90 years of expertise behind it. These are the brand’s Zanpa water shoes.
Standout features include the textile lining, which is built for comfort, and subtle vanilla fragrance – an unusual but welcome addition.
The plastic used for these water shoes is completely free from PVC and is recyclable, so they’re a sustainable choice too.
Again, you’ll get an integrated pull-tab at the back for slipping these shoes on and off.
Tropic Feel Jungle Night
- Buy now from Tropic Feel (£99.00)
Featuring a thicker sole and more substantial build than the other water shoes on our list, Tropicfeel’s Jungle Night trainers are designed to work well on a wide range of terrain.
They come with quick-dry technology and you can wear them without socks, making it easy to transition between swimming and exploring by foot.
This model is also said to be lightweight, breathable and machine washable, so it’s a practical option, too.
As an added bonus, one fifth of the upper and outsole is made from recycled materials and seven recycled plastic bottles make their way into every pair.
Choose from a range of different colours, including sand, grey and black.
Lakeland Active Eden Aquasport
If you’re after simple, classic construction, try these water shoes from Lakeland Active. Designed to sit closely to your feet, they’re made from soft neoprene with four-way stretch.
While plastic aqua shoes have holes for water flow, this pair comes with mesh panels, which should allow for efficient drainage when you step onto dry land.
The grippy sole and adjustable ankle toggle complete the package.
Nevisport Gill Aquatech
An adjustable ankle strap and grippy wraparound rubber sole set this pair of shoes apart from others on this list.
They’re made with 3mm-thick, double-lined neoprene for comfort, and have blindstitched seams to keep your feet dry if you’re in shallow water.
Plus, the toe, heel and bridge are all reinforced to support your feet as you move.
They’re a versatile pick, but are perhaps not the best choice for actual swim training due to the high ankle.
Subea Elasticated Aqua Shoes
With a price tag under £15, Subea’s aqua shoes are a fantastic budget-friendly option. They come with studded soles, which are designed to help keep you stable on slippery ground, while a 3mm EVA insole is included for extra comfort.
These water shoes are also made using eco-friendly practices, according to the brand. Instead of dying textiles, which uses lots of water and creates waste, the manufacturers create coloured components by adding pigments directly into the yarn. Plus, 12% of the soles are made from recycled polystyrene.
Subea Aqua Shoes 100
Coming in at less than £10, Subea’s Aquashoes 100 are yet another affordable option for anyone on a budget or looking for their first pair of swim shoes.
The fuss-free design includes a mesh upper, studded soles for grip and a handy pull-tab at the back. Subea has made an attempt to introduce some eco-friendly practices into its manufacturing process, with 12% of these shoes’ soles made with recycled materials.