Which water shoes for kids are best?

You already go through enough clothes with your children growing out of something new almost every day. The last thing you want is to have to throw out a pair of stinky, muddy and soaked sneakers after a day outside. For those family outings full of adventure on the water, water shoes will provide the protection, grip and comfort your child needs. 

With so many kinds of water shoes out there, which you choose will depend on your little one’s age and where they will be wearing them. But for most aquatic activities, the best water shoe for kids is Kubua Boys and Girls Sneaker-Style Water Shoes

What to know before you buy water shoes for kids

What water shoes are

Water shoes are designed for all sorts of outdoor fun where you might get a little wet. These comfortable shoes are designed to drain moisture from their waterproof materials, while providing grip with tough rubber soles. 

Benefit of water shoes

Regular shoes just don’t stand up to water. They get uncomfortable and smelly, and eventually they fall apart. Water shoes offer a durable alternative so your child can play outdoors safely without worrying about destroying their shoes. The closed-shoe design is superior to just giving them flip-flops so that their feet are protected. And the grippy sole gives them some traction on slippery and rough surfaces alike. 

Best places to wear water shoes

Whether you’re planning an afternoon at the beach or a water-park daytrip, water shoes are essential. They dry quickly, so you can wear them indoors and out, and with fun designs, your kid will love to keep them on. You also can’t go wrong bringing these comfortable, protective shoes on kayak or canoe trips, or even hikes in the woods where you might cross streams or creeks. 

Types of water shoes

There are three main kinds of water shoes: 

  • Sandal: With an open-top design and Velcro fasteners, water sandals are a cool option for hot days at the beach. Their rugged design also means they hold up well for some scrambling and hikes.
  • Sneaker: A full water shoe designed to look like a sneaker, these offer a little more protection than slip-ons and can traverse rocky ground with ease.
  • Slip-on: This is the classic water shoe, made so your little one can put it on and take it off with little fuss. They’re usually composed of a mesh upper portion and a rubber sole, making them perfect for locations where you won’t encounter tough terrain. 

What to look for in quality water shoes for kids

Material

Whatever the design, water shoes have a rubber sole for traction and grip. The top part can be made from a few materials, and your choice will affect your child’s comfort and protection during playtime. 

  • Mesh: Lightweight and breathable, mesh dries quickly and is perfect for swimming and playing by the water. Mesh is very thin and doesn’t offer any protection up top, however, so pick something bulkier if you’ll be hiking.
  • Neoprene: Like mesh, this thin waterproof material is light and great for swimming. Neoprene wicks away water and is often combined with mesh for slip-ons. 
  • Foam and soft resin: These cushy materials offer a little more protection and comfort. They stand up to water well and make good beach shoes. 
  • Plastic and foam: Hardy, waterproof and structurally rigid, plastics and foam are common components of sneaker-style water shoes. These are great materials for all types of outdoor activity, but can get a little hot, so look out for good ventilation. 
  • Leather: Rugged and comfortable, leather makes a great sandal or sneaker material for water-resistant shoes. These don’t take a good soaking well, so look for leather only if you’re looking for a shoe geared for the trails but might encounter a little water. 

Fastener

You’ll want a shoe that won’t trouble little fingers. Slip-ons are the easiest water shoes to take on and off, but can get tight when wet. Another common and easy method of fastening is Velcro. These allow for a snug fit without the fuss of laces. Older kids should be fine with sneaker-style water shoes that use a combination of laces and Velcro. 

Design

sneaker-style water shoes

Water shoes come in all sorts of cool colors and designs that will get your kid excited to wear them. Younger children will love the cute graphics and fun palettes decorating their favorite slip-ons. And older kids will feel cool when they show off the flashy colors and futuristic styling of sneaker-style water shoes

How much you can expect to spend on water shoes for kids

A good pair of youth and kids’ water shoes typically costs $10-$30. 

Water shoes for kids FAQ

Can you put water shoes in the washing machine?

A. Synthetic materials are machine safe, but don’t put leather in the wash. If you want to wash off any bacteria, use warm water and soap, and hand-wash any materials derived from animals. 

How do I keep my water shoes from smelling?

A. Because neoprene and other synthetics are prone to bacterial growth, water shoes can get pretty rancid. While washing is a good way to remove dirt, to fight bacteria you’ll need to make sure the shoes dry fully (don’t stuff them in a bag) and that you deodorize them after use. Baking soda is an important middle step in the cleaning process to absorb bacteria. 

What are the best water shoes for kids to buy?

Top water shoes for kids

Kubua Boys and Girls Sneaker-Style Water Shoes

Kubua Boys and Girls Sneaker-Style Water Shoes

What you need to know: Take these cool sneakers from the soccer field to the pool for waterproof fun and dry-land protection.

What you’ll love: With thick-tread rubber sole and a rugged mesh upper portion, these sneaker-style water shoes are great for active kids. They come in a number of cool color combinations and the super-flexible design eliminates the frustration of donning wet sneakers. 

What you should consider: These run small, so users recommend sizing up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top water shoes for kids for the money

Sunnywoo Water Shoes For Kids

Sunnywoo Water Shoes For Kids

What you need to know: Sunnywoo’s adorable little slip-ons feature fun designs that will delight your toddler. 

What you’ll love: Best for infants and toddlers, these slip-ons feel just like socks. They’re comfortable, soft and feature a pull tab to facilitate putting them on and taking them off. The rubber sole is treaded for grip and the upper is made from breathable, waterproof fabric. 

What you should consider: While these are great for the beach or pool, they won’t last long with heavy use on land.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Barerun Kids Water Shoes

Barerun Kids Water Shoes

What you need to know: These tough leather water sandals do it all, meaning you don’t have to pack an extra pair of shoes for your little one. 

What you’ll love: Designed for play, these sandals are all-terrain conquerors. They stand up to months of heavy use outdoors. The upper design is breathable and the reinforced toe offers unmatched protection. The sole has intense ergonomic treading to prevent slipping. Kids get to choose from a range of cool colors.  

What you should consider: Some users only got a season out of these shoes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Karl Daum writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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