Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun and exciting water activity that requires proper gear to enjoy it safely and comfortably. One of the essential pieces of gear for SUP is a good pair of shoes. SUP shoes not only protect your feet from hazards in the water but also provide support, comfort, and traction on the board. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SUP shoes, including the top brands, types, care and maintenance tips, alternatives, and benefits. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, this guide will help you find your perfect pair of SUP shoes for a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.
SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) shoes, also known as water shoes or aqua shoes, are essential for paddlers as they provide grip, protection, and support while navigating on slippery or rocky surfaces. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best SUP shoes:
- Material: Look for shoes made of quick-drying and breathable materials like mesh or neoprene. Avoid shoes made of cotton or other absorbent materials as they will take a long time to dry.
- Sole: A rubber sole with good traction is crucial for SUP shoes. A shoe with a thick sole will provide extra cushioning and support, especially when paddling on rough terrain.
- Fit: Choose shoes that fit snugly but not too tight. Look for shoes with adjustable straps or laces to ensure a secure fit.
- Drainage: Shoes with a drainage system will prevent water from accumulating inside the shoe, which can cause discomfort and make the shoe heavy.
- Style: SUP shoes come in different styles, including slip-on, lace-up, and booties. Choose a style that suits your paddling needs and personal preferences.
Ultimately, the best SUP shoes for you will depend on your personal needs and preferences. Consider the factors above and try on different styles to find the perfect pair for your paddling adventures.
Types of SUP Shoes
Here are some of the most common types of SUP shoes:
- Slip-On Shoes: These shoes are easy to put on and take off and are great for paddlers who want a quick and simple shoe option. Slip-on shoes are typically made of stretchy materials like neoprene and have a low profile for maximum mobility.
- Lace-Up Shoes: These shoes have a traditional lace-up design, which allows for a more customized and secure fit. Lace-up shoes are typically made of materials like mesh and neoprene and have a rubber sole for traction and support.
- Booties: Booties are a type of shoe that covers the entire foot and provides maximum protection and support. They are typically made of neoprene and have a thick rubber sole for excellent grip on slippery surfaces. Booties are great for cold water paddling or paddling in rough terrain.
- Sandals: Sandals are a popular option for paddlers who want a more casual and breathable shoe option. They typically have a rubber sole and a lightweight design for maximum comfort and mobility.
- Barefoot Shoes: Barefoot shoes, also known as minimalist shoes, provide a barefoot-like feel while still providing protection and support. They are typically made of lightweight and flexible materials and have a thin sole for maximum sensitivity and connection to the water.
Ultimately, the type of SUP shoe you choose will depend on your personal needs and preferences. Consider factors like the water temperature, terrain, and your level of paddling experience when selecting the right SUP shoes for your needs.
Top Picks for Best SUP Shoes
Unisex Quick-Dry SUP Water Shoes
This is for those paddlers who want a shoe that's lightweight, quick to dry, and suited for water activities. That's why these are designed with specific drainage holes to keep your feet dry without needing to take them off which is a massive selling factor as the holes are perfect for drainage. Lastly, they also come in both men's and women's sizes so you can find the right pair for you.
- Easy to slip on
- Shoes fit a little smaller than expected
- Stitching could use improvement
- Fast drainage holes
- Heavy sole
Men's & Women's Aqua Socks Water Shoes
These SUP socks are so lightweight and comfortable, you'll forget they're on your feet. They have a smooth upper that stretches with every movement for a perfect-fitting grip in any water activity. There are many colors you can choose from to make it easier for you! All sorts of outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy these hybrid SUP shoes because they feature stretchy, breathable, and comfortable fabric that makes all the difference when you're on the water.
- Thin design
- Great price to quality ratio
- Must be cautious or they can rip at the seams
- Non slip sole
Unisex SUP Aqua Shoes
All the benefits of SUP shoes with a lightweight, slim sole and stylish design. When you are not on your paddleboard, these versatile water shoes help you explore barefoot! With quick-dry drainage holes, elastic straps, and easy on-and-off pull tabs at the heel, these are great for any outdoor activity. They're easy to slip on and kick off at any time. Available in a unisex design for easy picking.
- Easy on and off design
- Extremely cushioned
- Sole isn't as strong as you'd like it to be
- Quick drain
NRS Kicker Remix Women's Water Shoes
The NRS Kicker Remix Water Shoe is so much more than just a water shoe. These lightweight, low-profile shoes offer unparalleled comfort while providing top-notch traction on all surfaces whether you're hiking or paddling across the lake. You'll be captivated by how much traction these SUP shoes provide on slippery surfaces. Lastly, the quality is felt throughout this entire water shoe, and minor details added like armor patches for weak spots, make all the difference.
- Stretchy upper allows easy on and off
- Tough shoe that will last a long time
- Run smaller than usual
- Toe box takes some time to wear in
- Women's water shoe
- Made from 3mm of neoprene
Body Glove 3T BAREFOOT MAX SUP Water Shoe
Want a SUP shoe that is versatile enough to do other things? Give legendary company Body Glove a shot. Designed with an imported synthetic sole, it features an ergonomic heel shape that helps reduce fatigue. Furthermore, the low-profile outsole provides the needed grip while you explore anywhere from the river to the beach. Lastly, the adjustable hook and loop strap makes them extremely easy to take on and off!
- Mold to your feet
- Upsize to avoid blistering
- Extreme grip bottom
- Shock lace tightening
- Easy drain
Featuring high-quality materials throughout and a long-lasting rubber sole that will keep your feet safe from sharp objects and provide lasting comfort. The sleek design is perfect for both men and women and the various size options make it easy to find the perfect fit. Plus, the convenient foldable design makes it easy to take these shoes with you wherever you go. Whether you're hitting the beach or swimming in the pool, these water shoes are a must-have for any aqua lover.
- Easy to clean
- Small enough to put in backpack
- Could use more arch support
- True to size
- Multi use water shoe
CIOR Boys & Girls Fast Dry SUP Shoes
CIOR's water shoes are perfect for any activity on the water for your kids, whether it's swimming, paddle boarding, or just playing in the sand! The breathable uppers keep feet cool and dry, while the cushioned insoles provide shock absorption and reduce muscle fatigue. Secondly, durable EVA soles with rubber pods prevent slips and falls. While the comfortable feel and lightweight design make these shoe ideal for any kid's adventure!
- Cushioned inner
- Tough rubber sole
- Good for wide feet
- Let the water shoe dry completely before removing any sand
- Fast dry
- Anti slip bottom
There are several top brands that specialize in SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) shoes and offer high-quality products that provide excellent grip, protection, and support while navigating on slippery or rocky surfaces. Here are some of the top SUP shoe brands:
- NRS: NRS is a well-known brand in the paddling community and offers a wide range of SUP shoes, including slip-on shoes, lace-up shoes, and booties. Their shoes are made of high-quality materials like neoprene and have a rubber sole with excellent traction.
- Vibram: Vibram is a leading brand in the outdoor industry and is known for their durable and high-performance shoes. Their SUP shoes, such as the Vibram FiveFingers Signa, are lightweight and flexible, providing a barefoot-like feel.
- Columbia: Columbia is a popular brand for outdoor gear and apparel, including SUP shoes. Their SUP shoes, such as the Drainmaker IV, have a quick-drying mesh upper and a rubber sole with excellent traction.
- Aleader: Aleader is a relatively new brand in the SUP shoe market but has quickly gained popularity for their affordable and high-quality products. Their SUP shoes, such as the Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes, are made of breathable mesh and have a rubber sole with excellent grip.
- Speedo: Speedo is a well-known brand in the swimwear industry and also offers a range of SUP shoes. Their shoes, such as the Seaside Lace 5.0 Athletic Water Shoe, have a mesh upper for breathability and a thick rubber sole for support and traction.
Ultimately, when selecting a SUP shoe, it’s important to consider the factors that matter most to you, such as material, sole, fit, drainage, and style. Be sure to try on different brands and styles to find the best fit and performance for your paddling adventures.
Cheap vs Expensive
When it comes to Stand-Up Paddleboarding shoes, there are differences between cheaper and more expensive options. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between cheap and expensive SUP shoes:
- Materials: Cheaper SUP shoes are often made with lower-quality materials, such as thinner neoprene or less durable mesh, which may not hold up well over time or provide the same level of protection and support as more expensive shoes. More expensive shoes may be made with higher-quality materials like thicker neoprene or reinforced mesh, which can improve their durability and performance.
- Sole: The sole of a SUP shoe is important for providing traction and support on slippery surfaces. Cheaper shoes may have a simpler or less grippy sole, which could impact your stability and increase the risk of slipping. More expensive shoes often have a more advanced sole design with better traction and grip, which can help you maintain balance and prevent falls.
- Drainage: Drainage is an important consideration for SUP shoes, as they will likely get wet while paddling. Cheaper shoes may not have as effective drainage, which can lead to water buildup and discomfort. More expensive shoes often have better drainage systems that allow water to quickly and efficiently flow out of the shoe.
- Fit: A good fit is essential for comfort and performance when paddling. Cheaper shoes may have a looser or less adjustable fit, which can impact your ability to control the board and your overall comfort level. More expensive shoes may have more advanced fit features, such as adjustable straps or a custom moldable footbed, which can provide a more precise and comfortable fit.
Ultimately, the decision to invest in more expensive SUP shoes depends on your personal needs and preferences. If you plan to paddle frequently and in a variety of conditions, or if you value maximum performance and comfort, investing in higher-quality, more expensive shoes may be worth it. However, if you are a casual paddler or are on a budget, cheaper options can still provide adequate protection and support for your needs.
Care and Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance of your SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) shoes can help extend their lifespan and performance. Here are some tips for caring for and maintaining your SUP shoes:
- Rinse after each use: After using your SUP shoes, rinse them with fresh water to remove any salt, sand, or debris. This will help prevent buildup and prolong the life of the materials.
- Air dry: Allow your SUP shoes to air dry completely before storing them. Do not use a dryer, as the heat can damage the materials.
- Store properly: Store your SUP shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Do not store them in a damp or humid environment, as this can lead to mold and mildew.
- Clean as needed: If your SUP shoes become particularly dirty or smelly, you can clean them using a mild soap and water solution. Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers, as these can damage the materials.
- Use proper footwear for the environment: When paddling in rocky or rough terrain, wear shoes with thicker soles and protective features to prevent injury. When paddling in colder water, wear booties or thicker neoprene shoes to keep your feet warm.
- Check for wear and tear: Regularly inspect your SUP shoes for signs of wear and tear, such as holes, fraying, or peeling. Replace them as needed to maintain performance and protection.
By following these care and maintenance tips, you can help ensure that your SUP shoes remain in good condition and provide optimal performance and protection while paddling.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your SUP shoes:
- Get the right fit: It’s important to choose SUP shoes that fit well to prevent discomfort and improve performance. Look for shoes with a snug but comfortable fit and adjustable features like straps or laces to customize the fit.
- Break them in: Before hitting the water, spend some time breaking in your new SUP shoes. Wear them around the house or on a short walk to help them conform to your feet and reduce the risk of blisters.
- Choose the right sole: The sole of your SUP shoes is important for providing traction and stability on slippery surfaces. Look for shoes with a grippy, non-slip sole that will give you confidence on the board.
- Consider the water temperature: If you’ll be paddling in cold water, choose shoes with thicker neoprene or wear booties to keep your feet warm. In warmer water, opt for shoes with breathable mesh or other materials that will keep your feet cool and dry.
- Practice good hygiene: To prevent odor and bacteria buildup, rinse your SUP shoes after each use and allow them to air dry completely. You can also sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes or use a shoe deodorizer to keep them fresh.
- Don’t forget sunscreen: If your SUP shoes have an open design or expose your feet to the sun, be sure to apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn.
- Consider a backup pair: If you plan to paddle frequently or in challenging conditions, it may be worth investing in a backup pair of SUP shoes. This will ensure that you always have a reliable and comfortable option on hand.
By following these tips and tricks, you can maximize the performance and protection of your SUP shoes and enjoy a more comfortable and confident paddling experience.
Alternatives to SUP Shoes
While SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) shoes are designed to provide protection and support for your feet while paddling, there are some alternatives that you can consider if you prefer not to wear them or want to try something different. Here are some alternatives to SUP shoes:
- Water shoes: Water shoes are a popular alternative to SUP shoes and are designed specifically for water activities. They are lightweight, quick-drying, and provide good traction on slippery surfaces. Some water shoes also have a thin sole that allows you to feel the board underneath your feet.
- Barefoot: Some paddlers prefer to go barefoot when SUPing, especially in warmer weather or in calm water conditions. Going barefoot allows you to feel the board and the water more directly, but it does not provide any protection from rocks or other hazards.
- Sandals: If you prefer to have some coverage on your feet, you can opt for sandals with a sturdy sole and straps that secure them to your feet. Sandals are lightweight and allow your feet to breathe, but they may not provide as much support or traction as dedicated water shoes or SUP shoes.
- Neoprene socks: Neoprene socks are another option if you want to keep your feet warm in cold water or if you have sensitive skin. They are thin and flexible and can be worn under water shoes or sandals for added protection and warmth.
Ultimately, the choice of footwear for SUPing depends on your personal preference and the conditions in which you’ll be paddling. Whatever you choose, be sure to prioritize comfort, protection, and traction to maximize your enjoyment and safety on the water.
Benefits of SUP Shoes
Stand-Up Paddleboarding shoes are designed to provide a range of benefits for paddlers. Here are some of the benefits of wearing SUP shoes:
- Protection: SUP shoes are designed to protect your feet from rocks, debris, and other hazards that may be present in the water. They provide a barrier between your feet and the bottom of the water, reducing the risk of cuts, abrasions, or other injuries.
- Traction: The sole of SUP shoes is designed to provide traction on slippery surfaces, which can help you maintain your balance on the board and prevent slips and falls. The sole is often made of a grippy rubber or other non-slip materials.
- Comfort: SUP shoes are designed with comfort in mind, providing a snug but comfortable fit that allows you to move freely and flex your toes. Some models also have adjustable features like straps or laces that allow you to customize the fit for maximum comfort.
- Warmth: If you’re paddling in cold water, SUP shoes with thicker neoprene can help keep your feet warm and protect them from hypothermia.
- Support: SUP shoes provide support for your feet and ankles, which can help reduce fatigue and prevent strain or injury. Some models have features like arch support or cushioning to enhance support and comfort.
- Hygiene: Wearing SUP shoes can help prevent the buildup of bacteria and odors on your feet, which can be a concern when paddling in warm, humid environments.
By providing protection, traction, comfort, warmth, support, and hygiene benefits, SUP shoes can enhance your paddling experience and help you stay safe and comfortable on the water.