Water Shoes vs Barefoot Shoes?

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Which one is better?


A new battle popping up in recent times is water shoes vs barefoot shoes. Both of these shoes are unique concepts that are built to do what regular shoes can’t. But which one of these is the better shoe? That is exactly what we are going to find out in today’s article!

What are water shoes?

Before we get into comparing them, let’s look at them individually and understand what they are and what they’re made for.


Water shoes are shoes that are made for times when your feet can possibly get wet. They’re designed to protect your feet from sharp objects, insulate them from cold waters, add extra traction to your steps and give you the feeling of being barefoot in the water, without the risks that come with being barefoot. Water shoes usually come in three variants. Water socks, water shoes, and water sandals.

Water shoes are made of a meshy material attached to a tough sole at the bottom. The mesh allows for water to drain out of the shoes easily instead of being pooled up there and eventually smelling really bad. The tough sole is there to add durability to the shoe and protect your foot in case you step on anything prickly. These shoes often have a herringbone pattern on the bottom of their sole to add extra traction.

What are barefoot shoes?

Barefoot shoes are shoes that try to mimic being barefoot as closely as possible while providing necessary protection to the wearer’s feet. They aim to let the foot operate as it was meant to, without restricting its movement by thick, rigid, and oddly shaped soles. The toe box in these shoes is nice and wide to give your toes some room to breathe and exist. In barefoot shoes, there is no arch support, heel drop, nor any cushioning for the heel throughout the sole. The sole itself is known for being thin, with a thickness of about 3 to 10 mm. All of this combined lets your feet be free and flexible.

Are barefoot shoes better for you?

Barefoot shoes claim to make your feet stronger and provide a whole load of benefits. It is said that they can make your ankles more stable, reduce lower back pain, and take a load off your hips and knees, therefore preventing any future injuries! The free range of motion your feet get with these is also a major plus. This can help your feet develop better, ultimately allowing you to perform better!

Water shoes vs barefoot shoes

Now that we know what both of these are and what they do, let’s compare them in a few special situations to see which one wins, water shoes vs barefoot shoes!


You can run in water shoes, but that’s not what they’re really for. Running too much in them may cause issues for you and your water shoes! Barefoot shoes are designed to lessen injuries and help strengthen your feet. With these, you’re basically running how nature designed you to run! Barefoot shoes win here, unless you are flat footed.


We’re gonna call it a tie in this category, because both of these fare pretty well on hikes and treks. Barefoot shoes allow your feet to flex naturally, giving you more freedom with using your feet and enhancing your skills. On the other hand, water shoes provide that much-needed traction on slippery surfaces, while protecting your feet from sharp rocks.

At the beach

It’s pretty obvious that water shoes win here by a landslide (or a sandslide!). Water shoes are specially designed to be used in water and on sand. However, some waterproof barefoot shoes could serve you well at the beach as well! You can also use water shoes as boat shoes on wooden decks!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, both water shoes and barefoot shoes have situations where they shine. The winner in water shoes vs barefoot shoes depends on the situation they will be used in. If you’re an avid runner with an interest in hiking, go for barefoot shoes. On the other hand, if you have sea legs and love going to the beach, water shoes are the ones for you! Thanks for reading!

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Jenny Schmidt

Jenny Schmidt

As an avid swimmer and kayak lover for decades, I know how important it is to get the right shoes to keep your feet healthy.
I'll let you in on some secrets only a few know...

About Me

As an avid swimmer and kayak lover for decades, I know how important it is to get the right shoes to keep your feet healthy.
I’ll let you in on some secrets only a few know…

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