Water Sandals vs Water Shoes – The Ultimate Guide

Nowadays, outdoor pursuits and sports are more popular than ever before. This is why, in today’s handy guide, we’re going to be looking at the fundamental differences between water sandals and water shoes. If you enjoy outdoor sports, one thing that must be taken into consideration is your surroundings. If you take part in water-based sports and activities for example, you’ll need to ensure that you choose the appropriate clothing and gear to ensure that you protect yourself from the water. This is where it pays to know the key differences between water sandals and water shoes, so that you can make an informed choice about which happens to be the better choice for you. They both offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages, but, choosing the right one will not only help keep you comfortable, but more importantly, it will help to keep you safe. Here’s the ultimate guide to water sandals vs water shoes.

About water footwear

We won’t go into too much detail right now, because, as the name implies, you can probably guess what water footwear is. Basically, as you know, many popular outdoor sports, pursuits, and activities in general are either performed in water or around water and involve getting wet. Water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and Whitewater rafting, all take place in the water. Other activities, however, take place around the water and there is therefore a very good chance that your feet could get wet, which is why traction and comfort is so important. Whilst there are a number of different types of water footwear, the two most popular examples are: Water sandals, and water shoes.

Why use water footwear?

We’ll be elaborating on the key benefits of wearing water sandals or water shoes a little later on in this guide, but for now, we’ll quickly cover the basics and will take a quick look at why good quality water footwear is considered to be of such importance. Key reasons to purchase good quality water shoes, water sandals, or water footwear in general include:


Safety is paramount when it comes to outdoor pursuits, or physical exertion of any kind for that matter. When you’re around water and slippery surfaces however, safety is essential. Water footwear is designed to provide superb traction and grip on all surfaces, helping to reduce your risk of slipping on wet surfaces.


When you’re taking part in your sport or activity of choice, it’s absolutely essential that you’re comfortable at all times. Let’s face it, if you wore regular training shoes whilst, say, kayaking, as soon as they got wet, you’d be walking around with soaking wet feet for the rest of the day. Not only that, but the material would also likely rub and cause blisters. Water sandals as well as water shoes, however, do not become waterlogged once they come into contact with water, or even once submerged. They’re designed to dry quickly and to be as comfortable on your feet as possible.

What are water sandals?

What are water sandals

Now it’s time for us to take a look at what water sandals are. Contrary to popular belief, water sandals are NOT the same as water shoes. In fact, other than the fact that they’re both designed to be worn in and around water, the differences between the two are like night and day. Generally, in terms of popularity, water sandals are considered to be the more popular choice, though this is largely due to the fact that they’re more versatile and can be worn during more pastimes and activities involving water.

If anybody tries to tell you that water sandals are basically just fancy flipflops, resist the urge to slap them around the face with the sandal, and instead calmly and politely inform them that they are talking complete nonsense. Okay, at first glance they may look like fancy flipflops, but trust us, that’s where the similarities end. It may look like a typical sandal, but a true water sandal is a highly sophisticated and specialist piece of footwear that offers the wearer numerous benefits when used in and around water. As you know, water is wet, and wet things tend to be slippery. If you were to wear regular sandals in the water, and then attempt to walk on a slippery surface, I.E rocks found around beaches, lakes, and rivers, you’d almost certainly slip over and would likely suffer a nasty injury in the process. Water sandals wick water away quickly and offer superior grip and traction on all surfaces, including those which would ordinarily be slippery, especially when wet.

Basically, they’re similar to hiking shoes, except for the fact that they’re sandals and are designed to be used in and around water. Some people incorrectly refer to water sandals as water shoes, and while similar in terms of safety, the difference is mainly in the design. Water shoes offer a closed toe design, whereas water sandals offer an open toe design.

Best uses for water sandals

So, we’ve established that water sandals are not just fancy flipflops, and we’ve also established that they aren’t water shoes. Now that you know what they are, it’s now time for us to take a look at some of the best uses for good quality water sandals. Whilst you could technically wear them in and out of the bath or shower, we recommend you expand your horizons and set your sights that little bit higher. Here are a few ideas of ideal uses for water sandals:

Wade fishing

Wade fishing

Wade fishing is an incredibly popular pastime, particularly during the warmer months of the year. There’s nothing better than grabbing your fishing gear, packing a few cold brewskis and delicious sandwiches and heading to your nearest beach, river, or lake and taking part in a spot of wade fishing. Wade fishing involves stealthily sneaking up on larger fish – like a fishing ninja, which means that it requires you to be in the water as you fish. Most forms of wade fishing require you to be at least waist-deep in the water.

In water however, you’ll often find super-slippery rocks and surfaces. Slipping over in the water could, best case scenario, involve you getting soaked from head to toe. More seriously however, it could literally put your life at risk. Water sandals offer superior traction and grip whilst in the water, and around the water’s edge, so you needn’t worry about slipping over. Not worrying about slipping over means that you can focus your attention on those pesky fish hiding in the water.


Many people choose to purchase water sandals for swimming. If swimming in lakes, the sea, and rivers, they often keep them on. If swimming in a pool however, they usually keep them next to the pool and throw them on their feet when they get out of the water. The flooring around the edges of swimming pools can get slippery when wet, so water sandals offer an element of protection and can help to avoid slippages.

Hiking and commuting

If you’re just walking around town between trips to the beach or river, you’ll find that water sandals work very well. They’re extremely comfortable, many of them look very stylish, plus, you know, you’ll be less likely to slip over. If it ever rains whilst you’re out walking, you’ll certainly be glad you’re wearing them.


When water sandals are not so ideal

As awesome as water sandals are, you unfortunately can’t wear them at all times. For example, even though they’re extremely comfortable, we don’t recommend sleeping in them and wearing them in bed. You could, but you probably wouldn’t sleep very well. Here are a few examples of when water sandals are not so ideal.

For hiking

Even though water sandals provide a grip which is just as good, if not better, than most hiking shoes, the one fundamental flaw in their design for hiking is the fact that they have an open-toe design and leave much of your foot exposed. When hiking, this could not only result in you getting cold, but more importantly, you’d be more likely to scratch your foot, cut it, or even have rocks and other heavy items fall on your feet when hiking. As they’re an open-toe design, they’d offer no protection at all.

For rock climbing