The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (2024)

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (1)

Whether you like open water swimming, SUPing, coastal hiking or simply dipping your feet in, being in or around water is a boon for body and mind.

But let's be honest: getting into frigid water takes some getting used to. And whether or not you're wearing a wetsuit, or kitted out with a fluffy dry robe to throw on post-swim, your feet can become painfully cold. Luckily, there is a solution. Swim in warm water! No, you're braver than that. Swim in cold water – but wear a pair of swim socks. Or, if you’re after a more durable pair of kicks for coasteering, kayaking or paddle boarding, water shoes are also a solid investment.

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Want to cut to the chase? These are our top picks, at a glance. Keep scrolling to read our full reviews.

What are water shoes?

Water shoes are exactly as the name suggests – shoes that you can wear in the water. There are several different types, from swim socks that keep your feet and tootsies warm in cold temperatures, to grippy sandals designed for coastal hiking or SUPing.

Water shoes are designed for use in water or wet places. It might seem odd to say, but a lot of water shoes aren’t actually waterproof – instead, they’re designed to drain water quickly. They tend to have good grip and strong traction, in case you’re on coastal paths, slippy surfaces, or simply want more grip on your paddleboard. A good pair of water shoes should be comfortable and fast-drying too.

Swim socks are made from the same neoprene material as wetsuits, and come in a variety of thicknesses. The best swim socks will have grippy soles, to make it easy to walk over rocks or pebbles to get to your chosen swim spot.

Wetsuit boots (or 'booties') are slightly different from swim socks in that they're used to clamber over rocks, like during coasteering, or for water sports like SUPing or surfing. They're heavier than swim socks too.

The best swim socks and water shoes for 2023

Without further ado, here are our top picks for all year round...

1

Zone3 Neoprene Swimming Socks

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (12)

Zone3 has gained a fine reputation for its wetsuits, and these swimming socks are of a similarly high quality. With a tight-fitting design, secure fit and high stretch 2mm neoprene, they are built for racing as well as casual paddling.

If you're swimming on pebbly beaches, stoney lakes or rivers, it's worth protecting your feet as well as insulating them. These Huub neoprene swim socks have a protective reinforced sole, which provides non-slip protection and abrasion resistance, while a split-toe design helps to avoid "rolling" on the foot.

3

Subea Rip Tab Aquashoes

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (14)

3

Subea Rip Tab Aquashoes

These water shoes are perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding or any other water sport, with a 7mm studded outsole giving them great traction. You can get a really secure fit with these thanks to the elastic upper and adjustable strap, plus there's EVA injected into the insole at the toe and heel for added comfort.

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4

Pawhits Wetsuit Socks

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (15)

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Pawhits Wetsuit Socks

These neoprene swim socks have been praised for their comfort, fit and ability to keep feet toasty, even in the chilliest of waters. You can rely on the 3mm of premium composite material to prevent your toes going numb and the glued and blind stitches will help to keep water out. Plus, for just over £12, they're a bargain!

5

Merrell Merrell Hydro Moc

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (16)

5

Merrell Merrell Hydro Moc

Right, we know these are an acquired taste, but we reckon they're pretty cool. They're also functional, with an articulated heel and strap for a secure fit. They offer excellent traction on wet and dry surfaces, they're lightweight, and they're easy to slip on and off. Overall? Thumbs up from us.

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6

Rtdep Wetsuit Socks

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (17)

6

Rtdep Wetsuit Socks

The standout feature of these high-quality neoprene swim socks is an adjustable velcro strap around the ankle to help you adjust them and prevent them from falling. The 3mm of neoprene will keep your feet insulated and there's a non-slip design on the instep and sole, to prevent you from sipping on wet rocks as you enter the water.

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7

Vivobarefoot Ultra III Bloom

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (18)

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Vivobarefoot Ultra III Bloom

Perfect for exploring shore lines, the Ultra III Bloom is built for minimal-shoe lovers who want plenty of flexibility, with just an outsole between you and the ground An open-honeycomb design allows water to drain out the shoes easily, and they've got cable-tie style laces to ensure they don't slip off in the water.

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8

Nabaiji Neoprene Swimming Socks

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (19)

8

Nabaiji Neoprene Swimming Socks

These 2.5mm swim socks from Decathlon should keep your extremities warm throughout all seasons, with an anatomic design that hugs your feet to create a tight water seal. There's several different sizes available, so you can get an exact fit.

9

Salomon Techamphibian 5

The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (20)

9

Salomon Techamphibian 5

Geared towards wet and wild exploits, Salomon's Techamphibians have a sticky outsole to ensure grip on slippery terrains, and a reinforced toe cap and stitched construction to keep your feet protected.

The mesh upper dries quickly, and it's developed with anti-debris protection to keep unwanted grit and dirt out. If scrambling around rocky pools is your thing, these are sure to fit the bill.

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The best swim socks and water shoes for open water swimming & coastal adventures (2024)

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