Sooner or later, almost every PWC enthusiast buys a pair of jet ski shoes. Although riding barefoot is fun, no one likes losing their grip and jamming their toes.
There are so many different water shoes online that it can be hard to tell which ones are the best for personal watercraft. This list contains the best jet ski shoe options for men, women, and even kids.
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Related: The Ultimate Jet Ski Wetsuit Guide
What Not to Wear
Before getting into what you should wear, there are a couple of things to note that you might want to stay away from. There’s a long list of options that don’t work very well, but these are a few of the more common ones to avoid:
- Flip Flops– It makes sense why people like flip-flops. You’re on out in nice weather, and you want comfortable footwear. The problem with flip-flops is they offer minimal protection, and they aren’t very practical. Flip flops don’t provide grip, they don’t protect your feet from the sun, and they don’t cover your toes. If you want to keep a pair in the glove box for walking on the beach then go for it, but stick to actual jet ski shoes while riding.
- Sneakers– Unlike some of the other not-so-good options, sneakers can actually be somewhat functional as jet ski shoes. The major downfall of sneakers is that they tend to be made of suede and canvas. Since those materials aren’t made for the water, they get waterlogged easily and riding with them on will wear them out quickly. Unless you want to replace your shoes every month or two, leave your sneakers at home.
- Barefoot– For some people, it may be common sense not to ride barefoot, but it’s easy to see why it’s so appealing. It’s nice to have your feet in the water, and wearing shoes takes away from that. Unfortunately, it only takes jamming your toes once or twice to realize how important shoes are. Aside from jamming your toes, walking in murky water or on a rocky shore might not be so fun without some type of footwear.
Related: Must Have Boating Accessories
Best Jet Ski Shoes
Now that we’ve covered a few of the alternatives to stay away from, here are some great options that are functional and practical.
Vifuur Barefoot Water Shoes
For those who really hate the idea of riding with shoes on, the Vifuur barefoot water shoes are the best option. They’re thin enough to provide a “barefoot” feel, while still protecting your feet from the sun and any rocky beaches you encounter. They also havean impressive grip, especially considering how thin they are compared to other jet ski shoes.
Having a barefoot feel is what really make these shoes so appealing to most, but it’s also one of their major drawbacks.
Although they provide protection and grip, they aren’t thick enough to hand larger rocks and stones. These shoes are ideal for sandy beaches or beaches with smaller stones and rocks. People who ride in rivers rather than lakes and beaches may want to look for a thicker option.
O’Neill Reactor Reef Boot
For years O’Neill has made top of the line water sports apparel, and some of the best jet ski shoes available are made by O’Neill.
The Reactor reef boot is made of rubber, fluid foam, and neoprene mesh. Rubber runs from the back of the ankle, all the way to the toe cap. Its design is perfect for gripping the footwells on a jet ski. The foam provides decent padding, and the neoprene helps insulate the shoe. These boots are completely watertight, so if you use them in salt water they should always be rinsed out afterwards. If not, salt residue can build up on the inside of the boot.
Although it’s labeled as a “boot”, it’s more like a shoe. It has the normal feel of a water shoe, and it hugs feet pretty tightly to help keep in warmth.
The one drawback of these is the lack of half sizes available. People who wear half sizes are forced to go a size up or down, which can sometimes be a problem. Keep in mind that because they’re made with neoprene, regardless of the size you get, they should fit snug. A tight fit allows them to trap in a thin layer of water that will help retain body heat.
Aleader Quick Drying Water Shoe
People who favor traditional sneakers tend to really like the Aleader quick drying water shoes. The majority of the shoe is mesh, but it also has laces and a thick rubber sole. It’s the perfect blend between a water shoe and a normal sneaker.
The material is durable and flexible, but it’s very breathable and dries quickly. This is a great option for those who don’t like their feet feeling suffocated by traditional water boots. They even make women’s jet ski shoes that are essentially the same, but with different colors.
The only problem with these is the possibility of getting sand or rocks in the shoe. Because they’re so breathable, there’s plenty of room for sand to make its way in. A quick dip in the water can solve that problem, but it’s still worth taking into consideration.
Promate Beach Dog Water Boots
The Beach Dog water boots are some of the best jet ski shoes for anyone who finds themselves near a rocky shore often. They have sewn-in insoles (try saying that 5 times fast) that hold up well against sea shells and sharp rocks.
Extra padding in the sole makes these feel a little more like a normal shoe, but without the bulkiness. On the bottom are rubber treads that provide plenty of traction, so losing grip is never a problem.
The only draw back of these is that they only come in a low cut design. Anyone looking for a taller jet ski shoe may want to go with a different option.
Aleader Mesh Slip On Water Shoe
The Aleader mesh slip on is a lot like their quick drying water shoe, but without the laces. Again, this type of shoe really appeals to those who enjoy the feel of a traditional sneaker.
These mesh slip ons feel a little more like water shoes, but they still have normal sneaker-like qualities. The padding and grip on them are excellent, and there’s even a strip of suede around the toe cap for added protection.
Being able to slip these shoes on and off easily is a great benefit, but make sure you get the size right. Since there aren’t any laces or velcro, the sizing isn’t very adjustable.
Just like with their quick-drying water shoes, there is an Aleader women’s mesh slip on available as well. They have all the same features but come in different color options.
NeoSport Paddle Low Top Boots
For someone primarily focused on protecting their feet, the NeoSport Paddle boots are a great option to go with. They come in 4 different styles ranging from ankle high to knee high, and they offer a ton of protective features.
All models are made with quality neoprene to help provide insulation. Seams are stitched with abrasion resistant thread, and then glued together to ensure no water gets through. They have puncture resistant soles, and do an excellent job protecting your feet from debris in the water.
All in all, this is a pretty basic option, but it can function as a great jet ski shoe. They’re versatile enough to handle just about any beach, assuming you take a break from riding long enough to walk around.
No one likes jammed toes, sun-burnt feet, and getting cut by rocks. Flip flops or sandals may be comfortable and convenient, but they offer very little protection. Stay away from cheap water shoes and definitely avoid anything with open toes. It’s well worth the investment to buy a good pair of jet ski shoes that will last.