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Water Shoes

Going into only my 2nd season of paddling, I'm now ready to move beyond the big box stores cheap water shoes.

Looking for easy draining, good grip and ones that look like sneakers. I have been looking toward Teva, Merrell, Keen, etc.

What brand/model do you wear or recommend?


  • Options
    Merrell makes nice ones
    alternatively, I like kevlar-reinforced socks - work great for low-volume kayaks in summer.
  • I have some from Bass Pro shop
    that I like.

    Jack L
  • Two to consider
    -- Last Updated: Apr-14-13 11:47 AM EST --

    I bought the Merrell Current Glove from LLBean over the winter. They're very low profile, feel a lot like Vibram Five Fingers without the toe dividers. I like them quite a bit but haven't been in the water yet. It depends how you feel about a zero-drop sole, too.


    These new ones from Astral look more like sneakers, I haven't tried them, but Astral makes good gear.


  • Get high tos
    -- Last Updated: Apr-14-13 1:09 PM EST --

    You will be much happier with high top water shoes, because little rocks aren't as likely to get into them. Also, if you happen to step into some knee deep gumbo mud, there's little chance you will lose a shoe; with the low cut shoes you might.

    I have an NRs high top and they've been great. I would also suggest that you get an inexpensive boot dryer and use it. Otherwise your shoes are going to get pretty ripe.

    Watch for sales at NRS and REI, etc. You shouldn't have to pay over about $40.

  • Way too early to recommend anything

    Do you kneel or sit..Kayak, canoe?
    Your paddling locale..gravel, mud, Canadian Shield with slippery lichen, clam or oyster beds?

    Cold water, warm water

    Do you need Vibram?

    There is a reason why there are so many watershoes. I have some dozen pairs all for different environments
  • In the higher price range...
    ...it really comes down to personal preference. Sometimes I wear Keen sandals with toe protection and other times I wear Salomon (current model for aquatic use is called "Gecko"). They both work fine and are suitable for land use as well.

    Just find something that feels right for your feet, spend the $, and get wet.
  • Go simple .
    NRS Kickers, work well on rocks and coral and stay put.

  • Neoprene
    It's true that neoprene shouldn't cost too much, and magooch has good advice about getting a boot drier. However, the OP wanted shoes that drain - all those neo boots keep the water and funk in, yech. I don't like 'em and the wife can't abide 'em, even when kept in the garage.
  • keen newport
    Also I want a pair of astral's new shoe.

    Ryan L.
  • Lets see...
    -- Last Updated: Apr-14-13 5:53 PM EST --

    Two pairs o' cold wadda Chota Mukluks (one size fer no drysuit an' one size up fer drysuit); a pair o' NRS Workboots; a pair o' OTB boots fer warm wadda an' good drainage (jus' dun't step in any dawg poop wit dem); an' me newest... a set o' Keen Gorge shoes. Hi-top canvas sneakers fer goofin' off.

    Anybody recolleck dem ol' L.L. Bean canvas "Canoe Shoes"? Ah' truly wish dem varmints up thaar in Freeport would make dem agin'.


  • Salomon
    I have had a pair of Solomons for a couple years. They are nearing the end of their life, I'll have to replace them soon. Things I like about them: comfortable enough for long walks, the lace system tucks away nicely, they drain well, the mesh fabric drys quickly and the soles have good traction. Things I don't like: there's an opening between the front upper and the heel counter. There's a strap between the heel counter and the front upper. It tends to come loose. And the open spaces below these straps allow pebbles to get under your foot, and those pebbles just don't come out.

    I would not buy any shoe that doesn't have a full enclosure all the way around it, because those pebbles between the sole of your foot and the sole of the shoe are so annoying. Preferably, the body of the shoe will be some kind of mesh, so the pebbles stay out and the water can drain out.

    Hope that helps.

  • I avoid sandals with neoprene
    Example: the Teva Omnium. According to the Teva website, the Omnium has "quick-drying materials to keep you comfortable. This shoe is great for water activities such as canoeing, and amphibious hiking." Nothing could be further from the truth. It can take up to 48 hours to dry these indoors.

    Here are my paddling shoes:
    Cold water: Chota Mukluks
    NRS water shoes
    Croc knockoffs

    I wear the $10 Crocs in warm weather. They provide a nice cushion for your heels. I rarely wear the short NRS water shoes because the transition from cold to warm weather (mukluks to crocs) happens so quickly, but they're necessary for sea kayaking.
  • Astral Brewers
    5-10 Stealth (I didn't make up this name) rubber sole allows me to just about run on slimy rocks. Wicked light so you actually feel them dry as you paddle.

    Stylish and comfy enough to use terrestrially.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Paek, NY
  • Thanks..
    Thanks everybody... I'll have to shop around and try on some of the suggestions. BTW, I'm new to paddling and mostly do calm lakes and rivers with my Tarpon 100.
  • I find the Teva Omnium great for general
    use with occasional wading. You're right about drying time, though mine dry enough in the first hour that I'm not squidging water over restaurant floors.

    One thing that makes Teva Omnium, and most other Teva sandals, NOT good for serious canoeing is that Tevas typically have cocked-up front ends. This does NOT go with serious kneelers like myself who kneel on the tops of our feet, Indian style. I wrote Teva about this, but I don't know if they took notice.

    I've had some pretty good whitewater kneeling shoes from Teva, in their Proton/Neutron series. One pair lasted more than a dozen years, and is only coming apart now.
  • Added advice. Whatever you buy, after
    using it a while, start inspecting all the seams and straps, and use appropriate products like SeamGrip or marine Shoe Goo to repair spots that are coming apart. All of them are made on machines, and there will be cases where seams or bonds are not all they should be. A few spot repairs can forestall failure in the bush.
  • Options
    Calm lakes and rivers?
    Sandals if it's warm. Kick them off in the boat and wear them on shore.

    If it's cold, neoprene booties of some type.
  • Astral
    I will have to say the Astral Brewer is my favorite water shoe on the market now.
    I was looking for fully mesh-enclosed, sturdy, comfortable water shoes with arch support to not aggravate my plantar fasciitis. The shoes needed to be mesh-enclosed to exclude rocks and shells, strong-soled to allow walking on some oyster bars, some pinnacle rock, and a lot of coral rock, comfortable to wear for extended 4-to-12-hour periods, sturdy enough to last several years, and have arch support.

    I was actually interested in the ones Jack had from Bass Pro (the Finley Rivers, I believe), but they had none in my size in any of our 3 local bass pro Shops, so I tried on, and liked the Riverside IIs, and went with them.

    They seem to fit the bill -I've worn them as non-paddling shoes all day twice, and also two half days, and they've been comfortable and not aggravated my plantar fachiaiitis. They have a well-cushioned but strong and moderately flexible soles, with a nice roomy toebox with a rubber-like bumper on the outside to protect the shoe.

    The shoe was significantly larger than the dive booties I've been wearing while paddling, and had to move the footpegs down and bit and lengthen my legs in the cockpit to allow that big toebox to fit.

    It has 3 drawbacks:

    1) The bungie laces are too long -I need to double loop them before clipping them to prevent the extra length from potentially snagging on footpegs, etc.

    2) I think they should incorporate drain holes in the soles -in heel, arch, and especially ball of foot areas.

    3) I had one lace holder come loose -I glued the inner cloth-like strap with epoxy, and then resewed it with carpet threads, and then glued the outer, (faux?) leather with nylon thread, to fix. It's been fine, since. Some would consider this perhaps up to a major flaw, but I certainly don't, and feel the shoe worked "OK" without one lace-up, but decided to fix it anyway.

    Otherwise, they look to be decent quality, and at $30 I think they're a good value.

    So far, so good, but time will tell as far as how long they'll last as I walk around in them, and, of course, use them while I


    Frank in Miami
  • The never-ending search...
    The perfect water shoe for my purposes does not exist, but I could design it. It has to be very quick-drying. It has to have a good neoprene type stretch seal at the top to keep out gravel. It has to be high-topped, for the reasons somebody else gave above. It has to have good drainage, sandal-type drainage, BUT the drainage has to be covered with fine mesh to keep out fine gravel. It has to have a sticky rubber sole for clambering on slick rocks.

    The ideal water shoe, therefore, would have uppers made of the same kind of plastic as Crocs, so that it would not soak up water at all, with drain holes similar to Crocs as well, but the holes would be covered with fine mesh. It would have some kind of quick lacing system that would enable you to draw it up tightly around your feet. Around the top would be a strip of neoprene that fits snugly but softly around the ankles. The soles would be sticky rubber with good traction.

    Nothing even comes close that I've found recently.
  • Thanks!!
    This topic and types/makes of paddles are a main focus for this 1st time Kayak buyer. You all have given me much food for thought.
    I will be checking the Rei site for sales.
  • Omnium dry time; soles
    My concern about drying time would be for touring---your shoes would literally never dry.

    The Omniums had a serious problem with the sole delaminating but apparently they've fixed that. They replaced mine for free when the soles fell off.

    I wear my Omniums virtually every day of the year. I take them on tour but only for wearing around camp, not in the kayak. They're great for biking too. They're suprisingly warm with heavy socks.

  • actually got some cheapo water shoes
    at wally world this Spring that I like- ozark trail brand- low cut mesh tennis shoe style- worn them two times- so far so good, sole has good grip, shoes really comfortable, they probably won't last long and for wally world they were expensive, $20.00
  • Options
    keen newport h2
    -- Last Updated: Apr-22-13 10:58 PM EST --

    Started with some salomon amphibious shoes, then keen taos, and now on the new ports, they are the best of the three.

  • kick boat Chotas
    I've been surprised how comfortable Croc knock-offs can be. Bought a pair (trim profile closed back clog style) from a Walgreens for $14.99 on a trip when I realized my regular paddle shoes were not in the car. Ended liking them so much for warm water paddling that I choose them over the fancy sneaker types more often than not.

    For chillier water and muddier take outs I used to use over the ankle Deep See 5mm neoprene dive booties for their protection and sure footedness, but they are a problem because they don't drain and you end up sloshing. Solved that by getting a pair of Chota Kick Boat Booties which look just like dive booties but have patches of synthetic felt in the soles for more grip on rocks and the uppers are a perforated neoprene with a fine mesh sandwiched between. Good barefoot in moderate weather or with thin neoprene socks or drysuit socks inside in colder weather. Water drains out but sand and gravel can't get inside. Only problem is that Chota seems to have discontinued that exact style (with the instep strap). There are still assorted sizes for sale at various outlets.
  • shoes
    I bought some Asolos for a Grand Cyn trip with side hikes. They are great and way ahead of canvas high top sneakers or the best sandals.
  • Options
    Check out Water Spiders
    You have lots of options for sit-on-top paddling.

    I have wide, flat feet and finding anything with real support that fits is very difficult. Haven't tried these in the water but I just bought a pair of "Water Spiders" by Under Armour. I wore them around the store about 15 minutes and they were awesome: wide enough especially in the toe box, supportive, very light. Look great, very light. They're expensive but if they drain and dry well I have hit the motherlode for me. I'll post an update in mid-May after wearing them.

  • Options
    Water Shoes
    Keen Newport H2's are hard to beat. They are comfortable, rugged, adjustable...and last forever.
  • 5 dollar shoes in a 4k boat
    The van dusen ski has waterline width of about 15 inches and the foot area is very tight for my size 11 feet so I use small cheap shoes with heavy magic feet insoles. Then use very long laces that tie up around the ankle. These work good for eft and glider. regular shoes will do except all 3 boats have a toe strap for racing so I can pull and push, like a bike. Adjusting the toe strap is a hassle.

    In the 90 miler it is sad to have shoes sucked off in the mud with so much congestion and someone pawing in 3 ft of water while run over by by boats in and out of water. PLEASE USE HIGH TOPS SUCH AS MY OLD CONVERSE OR LONG LACES TIED UP AROUND THE ANKLE. If one shoe comes off during wet exit, you could be walking with one shoe off.
  • Options
    Wrestling shoes!
    I'd go the cheap route: wrestling shoes! I bought some Asics off Zappos a while back for $35. I punched a couple holes in the soles for water drainage. They are comfortable and last FOREVER. The soles are no-slip and have some great grip.They're high top for added protection. I used to jet-ski all the time, and bought water sock after water sock after water sock. The all fall apart fast and they are all pretty pricey.
  • Options
    depends on the season, and the trip
    my nrs neoprene booties have taken a beating and keep on going, as long as I'm not doing a lot of walking. But, I paddle all winter long and I like my knee high LaGrande rubber boots for that...and they walk better.
  • I got mine at Bass Pro shops, and
    after trying on all the high end brand name ones, found that Bass Pro shops own were the most comfortable for me.
    I am in my second year with them and am still happy with them.
    Check them out. You just might like them
    jack L
  • ditto
    They used to make the black model out of some man-made smooth material instead of cloth for the uppers. Wish I could find another pair.

    But I feel like I've done the entire circuit and the Newport works best for me, I throw on a neo sock if it's cold. Mine sit behind the seat when I'm paddling, I either go barefoot or with socks.
  • Shoes chosen
    I ended up going with Adidas Climacool Boat Lace Shoes. Used them on three paddling trips so far and found them to be comfortable and drain quickly. Got them at Eastern Mountain Sports.
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