The 10 Best Men's Water Sandals
So What If A River Runs Through It
In the town where I grew up, a small river running the long length of our park system ended in a pair of waterfalls before passing out of town and continuing its flow underground. At the point of the drop, the park's designer had built an island of sorts that caused the river to split, creating two separate falls from one source.
As a kid, reaching the island was a kind of dream, as the water was knee-high to anyone under 10-years-old, and it was–according to our parents and a few of the bigger kids–populated with vicious snapping turtles. The turtle story turned out to be a lie, for the most part, but the water was high and there was no bridge to cross.
One summer's day during a long spell between rains, the water level had dropped enough to reveal the tops of a pattern of stones running from the banks of the river straight out to the island. Without hesitating, we all made our way across on the stones. They were slippery, though, and none of us had the time or the inclination to research better footwear options than whatever we all happened to be wearing. I wasn't the first one to fall into the water, but I also wasn't the last.
We had on a combination of Converse All-stars, Keds, and Airwalk sneakers, none of which had any decent kind of grip to their bottoms, and all of which, once soaked with river water, were more or less ruined. If we'd had any of the water sandals on our top ten list with us, we might not have even fallen to begin with. If we had fallen, anyway, the sandals would have been fine and our legs would have dried out in just a few short minutes.
That's because these men's water sandals all share a porousness: holes either small or large in stature that allows them to drain water and dry out with incredible effectiveness. When moisture of any kind is trapped in a shoe, there is limited airflow, which inhibits evaporation. But within a porous show structure, airflow is maximized, and, therefore, so is evaporation.
That means that these shoes can stand up to anything from a sweaty foot to full submersion underwater and last longer–while getting your feet drier sooner–than anything else on the market.
On Even Ground
The water sandals on our top ten list all work at keeping your feet dry, but they each have their ideal terrain, regardless of the water issue. It's rather like your collection of sweaters: they all keep you nice and warm, but you really only wear the hideous one with the reindeer and the snowflakes on it around Christmas.
If you're on the beach, whether its a lush, sandy loam or a nasty, rocky shore, you'd do well in either the water sandals on our list that look a bit like they're made of wet suit material, or the sandals that look the most like sandals. The latter have the most generous openings of anything on our list, which means you'll get far less sand trapped among your feet. The former looks the part of the beach-goer more than having any special attribute conducive to a better beach experience.
The sandals on our list with more coverage are a better fit for the rugged among you, those who hit the trails on a regular basis and who don't want to worry about any water fouling things up along the way. Some of these water sandals are ideal for hiking tough terrain, as they have better arch support and even Vibram soles, which are synonymous with comfort and durability.
Once you've decided on your intended terrain, you can evaluate the remaining sandals on our list with an eye for apparent comfort, but also with an eye for style. Nowadays, workout clothes, as well as hiking apparel, have become completely legitimate tools of an individual's fashion statement. If your choice comes down to a pair of sandals that checks off every technical box but leaves you feeling stylistically underwhelmed against a pair that almost gets there technically, but that gets you excited to wear them and be seen in them; my advice says go with the pair that'll make you the happiest.
An Irish Origin
Before the sandal was the sandal, mankind had a number of foot coverings intended to bring protection to one of the most valuable assets of his body. Early on, ancient civilizations the world over strapped tough leaves or leather to their feet with bits of bark, or with more leather.
In ancient Greece and Rome, sandals began with a leather base and wrapped up the ankle in a crosshatching of leather straps. Higher ankle straps usually denoted a higher standing in society, though many lower individuals would surely have used a higher boot to garner undue respect in the streets.
While these Mediterranean sandals made for fine fashion and a comfortable way to get around, they couldn't really be said to have been water sandals. Nowhere in their design was a thought given to draining water or evaporating moisture more effectively.
Not until peasants in the Irish bogs took a hole punch to their leather foot coverings did we see a shoe of any kind specifically designed to drain water. These punched leather foot coverings developed into the shoe we now call the brogue, or the wingtip in America. Their modern design is miserable for walking in water, but historically, they set the precedent for all the water sandals on our list.