When the sun is shining bright, and the temperature is high enough, wet wading becomes an angler’s favorite pastime. The river twinkles with sunlight, and a summery breeze flow in your hair. You put on your best wet wading shoes and take a dip. Those thick woolen socks will now rest in the closet, while a loose tank top and camo shorts become your staples for fly fishing.
You skip from one rock to another, maintaining your balance as you do so. And before you know it, you are already wading in waist-deep water. You swing your fishing rod and watch as your bait dives in the water, hoping to lure the biggest fish of the river for you. The warm water around you helps you relax. You are living the summer of every angler’s dreams.
I painted quite a picture there, didn’t I? But let’s quickly rewind to the part where you were maintaining your balance while skipping wet stones. You know how to do that, right? By having the best wet wading shoes! Precisely what we are reviewing today.
12 Best Wet Wading Shoes
The best wet wading shoes will help you keep a steady foot while you wade through slippery wet rocks or fast water currents. They are adaptable to water and provide traction in slick conditions.
But with so many products available in the market, how will you know which one is good for you? Well, our best fishing shoe reviews will help you decide.
So keep reading!
- Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe – Premium Choice
- SOBASO Water Shoes – Best Value
- SIMARI Water Shoes – Best in Budget
- Simms Tributary Felt Sole Wading Boots – Best for Traction
- Hodgman Neoprene Wade Shoe – Best For wet Wading and Surf Fishing
- Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc Water Shoe – Best Arch Support
1. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Aero Sport Hiking Water Shoe – Premium Choice
These wet wading shoes by Merrel are phenomenal water shoes. I love the fact that they are all mesh, allowing breathability and constant drain of water. They are considerably lightweight too. The high-quality Vibram rubber outsole means they will always have your back while you wade through slick rocks.
Then they are pretty durable. My pair has been going strong for almost three years now. Also, the flexible body of the shoe allows easy movement of your feet as you twist and turn while climbing rocks. The sizing is perfect and true to what they mention in the charts.
Overall, an excellent shoe for hiking and wet wading. But the same cannot be said for dry terrain hiking. The mesh on these shoes is not fine enough to let dry sand out. I had to stop several times in between my hike in Utah. So it is better to keep them just for WET wading.
- Breathable and lightweight
- Drain water swiftly
- Vibram rubber soles for traction
- Allow flexibility of the feet
- Mesh does not keep sand grains out
2. SOBASO Water Shoes – Best Value
These next water wading shoes in our list by Sobaso have a special place in my heart. They have always been very supportive whenever I took them on a fly fishing trip with me. The ventilation in these shoes is very impressive. The upper part has an open mesh that traps no sweat or odor and keeps your feet fresh.
What I love the most about them is that they have just the right amount of water drainage channels. A common trend in water shoes is that the manufacturers give several openings in the top and bottom of the shoe for draining water fast. What happens is that the water drains out, and the sand gets trapped within the footwear. The shoes start to feel like you are walking on a sandy beach barefoot, forcing you to stop every few miles and clean the footwear again and again.
The Sobaso wet wading shoes are the best fly fishing shoes because they do not have a hole in their bottom, keeping the sand out and the sole clean from the inside while walking. Also, their material is quick-drying and lightweight. The rubber outsole provides a solid grip in almost every slippery condition I have tested these in.
As far as sizing is concerned, I’d suggest you go half a size down since these are a bit wider than the standard shoe size.
- The right amount of water drainage channels
- Quick-drying and lightweight
- Rubber soles give superb traction
- Order half size down
3. SIMARI Water Shoes – Best in Budget
I wore these shoes on my trip to Hawaii. Not technically wet wading, but they were exceptional on the beach. I wore them specifically to test if they could keep the beach sand out that the Merrell shoe couldn’t. And to my relief, they did!
Outstanding grip while walking too. I haven’t yet tried these wet wading shoes on slippery rocks, but from my experience with them, I can guarantee that they will give excellent traction. They are lightweight, comfortable, and are incredible saltwater wading shoes. And on top, they come with a minimal price. They are the best fishing shoes on a budget, undoubtedly!
The sole is quite stretchable but thinner than I would have liked. The sole won’t be good enough to give the necessary support for walking very long distances.
- Mesh suitable to keep sand out
- Give good grip on slippery surfaces
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Affordable price
- Sole is too thin
4. Simms Tributary Felt Sole Wading Boots – Best for Traction
If you want heavy-duty traction, I suggest you go for proper wading boots, that too with felt soles. The Simms tributary boots are ideal for wet wading because of the extreme grip they provide. The felt sole is thick and holds sandy shores very well.
Apart from the traction, a proper wet wading boot like Simms is very good at protecting your feet from injuries. There are rigid upper and reinforced toes and heels caps that won’t let your feet stomp on a rough-edged rock. Furthermore, the neoprene inner enables you to slide your feet in and out of them very smoothly.
The Simms wet wading boots are the best for anyone who takes traction very seriously. But they may not be an ideal pick for someone who doesn’t want a considerable weight on their feet. These fly fishing wet wading boots look bulky and weigh quite a lot compared to other low-key water shoes.
- Heavy-duty traction
- Thick felt soles grip sand very efficiently
- Rugged upper for protection against injuries
- Neoprene lining for easy on and off
- Bulky and heavy
5. KEEN Men’s Voyageur – For Leather Fans
This leather wet wading shoe by Keen is also a terrific choice for anglers. They have a rubber sole with all those grooves and shafts necessary for giving you a good grip on water.
My favorite feature is the flexibility of the sole that lets you hop around on stones with ease. The ventilation in the upper of these river wading shoes traps no water and odor. The leather material is also water repellant and hence, fast-drying. Insoles are EVA that takes the shape of your foot, providing the comfiest fit.
There is, however, an issue with its durability. I have seen this wet wading shoe separating at the sole due to faulty glue placement—such a disappointment for an otherwise great shoe.
- Rubber soles for traction
- Breathable upper body
- Traps no odor or water
- Comfortable insoles
- Not very durable
6. DOUSSPRT Men’s Water Shoes – Light as a Feather
If you want the best fly fishing sandal that is lightest in weight and on your pocket, let me introduce you to the Doussprt men’s water shoes. With minimal weight, they are the most comfortable shoes to wear while wading.
The entire shoe has numerous holes and openings for ventilation and drainage. The upper mesh allows air to pass through and keep your feet odor-free. The hole in the sole gets rid of water as soon as it gets in. The sole’s design also grips well on slippery rocks. The elastic laces are easy to use and can customise your shoe size according to your preference.
The only problem I had with these water-wading shoes is with their liners. They wear out very fast.
- Very lightweight
- Ventilates air and water
- Gives good traction
- Liners wear out quick
7. 8 Fans Men’s Fishing Hunting Wading Boots – Best Boot-Sandal Crossover
A common proverb for hiking; “an ounce on the feet, is a pound on the back.”
If you are a fan of the extreme safety a wading boot brings and want to save yourself from the potential backache, you are sure to like the 8 Fans fishing boots. You get the lightweight of a water sandal with the protection of a wading boot.
The oxford upper and reinforced heel and toe caps are tough enough to withstand rugged and sharp-edged objects underwater. The boot has interior cushioning. It gives excellent ankle support, a feature you won’t find in any wet wading sandals. The rubber soles are also very good at providing a good grip on the slippery wet rocks.
The only downside is that the drying time is prolonged because of all the cushioning for comfort. You’ll have to wait at least 48 hours before they are entirely dried so that you can take them for another wet wading trip in another river.
- Lightweight yet protective
- Ankle support
- Interior cushioning
- Rubber soles for good grip
- It takes a long time to dry completely
8. Zhuanglin Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes – Most Breathable
Whether hiking around a water body, fly fishing, or wet wading, a comfy and lightweight water shoe is essential for having a good experience, precisely what the Zhuanglin water shoes do.
These wet wading shoes have very little weight and are very comfortable to wear. Plus, they are incredibly breathable. The upper body is all-mesh, while the bottom also has openings for easy water drainage. This feature also makes them super-fast drying. The soles are rubber and give lovely traction on rocky slopes. The shoes also have interior lining and cushioning to keep your feet relaxed.
But mesh means little barrier against sand getting into the shoes. These shoes are not suitable for a beach or a river shore that has sand or fine pebbles.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Extremely breathable all-mesh upper
- Drain holes in the bottom
- Rubber soles for traction
- Sand gets in them
9. Water Shoes Mens Womens Quick Dry Barefoot Swim Diving Shoes – Comfortable Surf Shoes
The molded “toes” look on the outsole of these wet wading shoes gives it a stylish look. Sure to steal many compliments for you, this cute pair of shoes not only looks great but also performs well.
The rubber sole grips the rocks beautifully. They are great for muddy areas too. The sole is tough enough to protect from any sharp objects you may step on underwater. Plus, the shoelaces adjust to the width of your foot very efficiently. The upper is breathable and flexible. It gives you the necessary elasticity for enjoying any kind of water activity.
The upper body of the shoe has a soft fabric that is very breathable. These fly fishing wet wading shoes also take little time to dry, and you can easily dump them in your car trunk or put them in your backpack to have an outdoor shoe readily available at all times. Additionally, they are durable and come in many attractive colours.
The arch support, however, is a letdown for me. After a day of wet wading and walking long distances in them, my feet were hurting pretty bad.
- Stylish design
- Good grip on rocks and in mud
- Protection against sharp objects
- Very comfy
- Run a little large
10. Hodgman Neoprene Wade Shoe – Best Flats Wading Shoes
Hodgman is a trusted name when it comes to wet wading gear. Their flats neoprene wading shoes are suitable for cooler temperatures. They provide the necessary traction due to their rubber outsole and are much more insulated than a wet wading shoe because of the neoprene lining.
Also, they are considerably lightweight. The zipper on the top is more straightforward to operate than the conventional laces. You can easily slide your feet in and out of them because of neoprene. And despite being quite minimalistic, they still offer subtle toe protection.
The cuff around the ankle helps customize the fit of the ankle collar. You can tighten or loosen it until it fits you perfectly. Moreover, this flat wading shoe is quite durable and lasts you many years of wet wading.
But, these flats wading shoes run a little large, so order accordingly. However, sizing is a bit dodgy. You’ll have to keep in consideration whether you plan on wearing these flat shoes barefoot or with socks.
- Good traction
- Insulation for use in cooler temperatures
- Good toe and ankle protection
- Adjustable ankle cuff
- Best for surf fishing and wet wading
- Size runs large
11. Merrell Women’s Hydro Moc Water Shoe – Best Arch Support
I have a flat foot and rarely find a comfortable shoe to take a long walk. With half of my life spent trying on shoes that would soothe my painful arches, I can vouch for these best fly fishing sandals by Merrell.
Their arch support is beyond amazing. Buying the right size may be a little tricky with these, but the comfort these fly fishing wet wading sandals bring to anyone with problematic feet is unimaginable. The EVA insoles are thin and flexible and have the proper contours to support your arch. The heel is articulated and has a strap at the back to ensure a good fit.
There are huge holes in the upper cover of the shoe, so no water gets trapped in them. Also, the rubber material is hydrophobic and very fast-drying. I have worn these shoes for wet wading and when I’m home, running small errands, or sometimes for casual days at work. They are super lightweight and easy to carry around with you.
- Very comfortable
- Good arch support with EVA insole
- Rubber outsole
- Retain no water and fast-drying
- Sizing is tricky
12. AFT AFFINEST Mens Womens Water Shoes – For Short Hikes
Our last entry in the list of wet wading shoes is the Aft Affinest water shoes. They are breathable, quick-drying, and give a good grip. The fabric mesh upper retains no water while keeping the sand out. At the same time, the rubber outsole is good enough to stand steady on wet and slippery stones.
There is ample toe protection due to the thickened rubber at the toe region. The sole is also shock-absorbent. While the arch support is not their strongest suit, these wet wading shoes are still comfortable if you wear them for shorter intervals. The elastic laces are also easy to operate.
- Mesh upper retains no water or sand
- Good traction
- Ample toe protection
- Ergonomic elastic laces
- Quick to dry
- Not comfortable enough for longer intervals
You need to keep in mind a few essential features while shopping for the best wet wading shoes.
You cannot just dive in the water while wearing your sneakers and then complain about them getting ruined. The best wet wading boots are capable of surviving the wear and tear caused by water. They are abrasion-resistant, anti-corrosive, hydrophobic, and thus fast-drying, to name a few.
If you want to spend considerable time with your feet underwater, you should prepare for it beforehand. Because water flow is pretty ruthless to wet wading gear, but a durable wading boot won’t just fall apart after a few hours in water.
Water Drainage Ports
No one wants to walk around with a bucket full of water dragging down their feet. An excellent wet wading shoe has channels in the sole area to let out the accumulated water. These channels allow instant water drainage as soon as you step out of the river. Plus, they also help in getting rid of the sand and gravel that goes in.
Traction Under Water
Traction is one of the most important considerations while shopping for boots for wading in water. You don’t want to slip and end up lying flat on slippery rocks in gushing water. Evaluate the conditions where you plan on fishing and choose your wet wading boot carefully.
Q. How cold is too cold for wet wading?
With a water temperature ranging from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it is better to wet wade while wearing neoprene socks or flats wade shoes like the Hodgman wade shoe.
Q. What are the best wet wading sandals?
Q. What are wet wading essentials?
The most essential wet wading gear includes:
- Wet wading Shoes
- Neoprene wading socks
- Comfortable shirts, pants, and undergarments
- Polarized sunglasses
- Sunscreen with high enough SPF
- Waterproof storage bag
- Lots of excitement!
You can ditch the heavy and insulated waders during summers, but what you cannot wade without is a pair of your best wet wading shoes for fishing. They will be the solid ground beneath your feet and give a better wading experience.
The market is full of products, each claiming to be better than the other. After loads of testing and trying out, I think the Simms Tributary Felt Sole Wading Boots are the best shoes for wade fishing. They give superior traction, are tough as hell, and will last you decades without losing their integrity. My favorite feature is their ability to keep the sand out.
So go out and buy your pair and live this summer wading through the mightiest rivers.
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