You don't have to wear shoes when stand up paddleboarding or participating in other water sports, but I prefer to do so. Not only do they protect your feet from rocks, coral, and anything else sharp (or stingy!) beneath the water, but also mean you are instantly prepared to tack on some hiking, biking, or touring for a multi-sport adventure.
Over the past six months, I had the opportunity to put quite a few water shoes to the test. Here are five that stand out, along with a couple other watersport essentials tacked on.
KEEN Madison CNX ($110): Technically more of a multi-sport shoe than a dedicated water shoe, this low-profile trail cruiser won't bat and eye in the face of the occasional river crossing or paddle session. A lightweight PU midsole absorbs shock and provides cushion for trail pounding, while the synthetic mesh upper pushes out any water than may get inside.
Chaco Outcross Lace ($120): Take your beloved LUVSEAT footbead, add a rubber toe cap and heel along with a partial mesh upper, and now your favorite Chacos are ready to hit the trail. Plenty of side drainage ports and ventilation options mean your feet won't ever be left sloshing.
Columbia Drainmaker II ($85): Bigger and more numerous drainage ports in the heel and forefoot shed water faster than the original favorite. A siped lug outsole provides bomber traction on slick surfaces, while a new internal frame support means these water shoes will keep your feet happy even after miles on the trail.
ECCO Lagoon 360 ($120): Built for both fresh and salt water, a wire mesh drainage system integrated in the midsole and outsole immediately expels water while keeping debris from getting inside your shoe. The bungee lace system makes for easy on and off, while the full mesh upper is quick drying with hits of synthetic leather to protect your foot when hiking. The bright color options will make even the tropical fish envious.
Sperry H2O Escape Bungee Sneaker ($90): Super lightweight at only 5.6 oz., these water shoes are built for both on and off water performance. A perforated footbed works together with drainage channels in the midsole to dump water quickly. The Wave-Siping outsole keeps you from slipping over wet or mossy surfaces.
Maui Jim Ikaika On The Water Sunglasses ($249): PolarizedPlus2 lens technology reduces 99.9% of harmful glare from any flat, smooth, or shiny surface, while increasing definition and depth perception so you can see those creatures below the water. As a bonus, the sunglasses cut 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The bi-gradient mirror technology adds protection from light through the top and bottom of each lens, keeping you squint free all day.
OtterBox Armor Waterproof iPhone Case ($99.95): Rice should be for eating with your favorite Chicken Tikka Masala, not for rescuing your phone from its latest dunk in the ocean. Waterproof, drop proof, dust proof, and crush proof, this is the toughest iPhone case ever built. Paddle and take selfies with confidence.