Another paddler shoe thread...

-- Last Updated: Feb-17-11 12:13 AM EST --

I am going on a 10 day trip in Algonquin. I have not been there before, but I have tripped in Temagami. I was wondering, in general of course, what the portages are like (I don't know the route yet).
Also, I was wondering about footwear. I have Chaco Sandles, Neo socks, Neo booties, MEC high waterproof booties, and hiking boots. Any suggestions on which to use or something I haven't mentioned.

Thanks everyone,

oh yeah…
I’m going in early August, probably paddling my Wenonah Solitude, and would like to portage one trip. But I’m going with a group, so I don’t have all the details yet.

thanks everyone

They are rocky and rooty

– Last Updated: Feb-18-11 6:22 PM EST –

I would not use neoprene. Nor sandals. Hiking boots would be best if you are single carrying. Portages often are rocky, rooty and "loon shit" holes. Plus many of them are quite long..over a mile.

The good news is that rocks in Algonquin are smoother than the sharp stuff you often find in Temagami.

Like the user below I have Techamphibians and they have very good skid control.. But for the long portages in Algonquin your feet can get tired with 80 lbs on your back. I use my Techs for Wabakimi where the portages are shorter and climbovers more prevalent. Unless you are doing the black portage trails in Algonquin you should not find blowdowns a menace. Corduroy perhaps.

I’ve had…
…good luck with Salomon TechAmphibian shoes, which can sometimes be found on sale for < $50.

I traveled the Tatshehini in the Yukon/Alaska with a pair of them. At first I used rubber boots but they were a pain, so I just stuck with the Salomons, cold water and all.

The proved their worth on a couple of climbs up some small mountains. They provide decent foot protection too.

Last summer I wore Keen sandles up in Georgian Bay. While they were fine in the water, their traction sucked on rocks and on one climb I had to chin myself with my finger tips as I couldn’t get any foot traction. I missed the Salomons.

Tevas. . . .
. . . Keens and such are too bulky plus anything with elastic is likely to be sucked off your foot in deep mud. Lost a nice pair of Keens in loonshit. Tevas have Velcro which keep the shoes on in deep mud.

foot wear
I would go with something more protective than sandles, like the hike boots that were recommended. Sandles are ok for camp. In addition to stability, if you hit one of those wet, windy, 55 degree days; or worse, three days in a row; your feet may get chilly with sandles. And the loon sh** mentioned, ya, forget the sandles.

Hope you don’t mind me soap boxing, but if you do single portage and decide to carry double packs, don’t put a pack in front off your chest. Last year we met a very experienced paddler (except for the pack in front thing) who had to be dragged out of Quetico with a shattered leg; cause by a pack in front. The ordeal he described should cure anyone of that practice.

Did about 15 portages . . .
in 15 days. Never found the need for more toe protection than was offered by Tevas. Got it down to a science. The most difficult leg is carrying the boat. Any shoe is gonna get filled with mud. Any shoe that can be sucked off will be.

No front pack!!!
I agree, I don’t like the idea of not seeing in front of you. Although I’d like to single pack portage, I still can hear Cliff Jacobson in my head telling me to double. We’ll see.

15 portages in 15 days???
In Algonquin you would do 15 portages in three days…sometimes two.

My usual Algonquin days consist of about 5000 meters of rocky boggy stuff. Don’t wear anything that can pull off, because it will, and you will be up to your shoulder fishing it out in cold mud. Rangers sometimes have to evac people with lacerated toes from sandals on ports. Sandals wonderful…in camp

I am not bluffing. I have some two dozen week long Algonquin trips under my belt.

I agree with those that warn of front packing…You lose sight of your feet and where there are bog bridges you need.

Great comments everyone…
Thanks everyone. I’m starting to lean toward a boot, and I’m thinking maybe taking a pair I have and making them more drainable. Maybe holes in the soles and some more suggestions or comments?

Chota Quetico Trekkers
Sort of a light hiking boot, light, drain well, and through adding or subtracting innersoles can accomodate drysuit booties, neoprene cock-foot mukluks, or wool socks. I give 'em two thimbs up.


Shoe and overboots
If it’s still cold like in spring or fall, consider tennis shoes with Tingley overboots. Your feet will stay dry and warm and the overboots have enough traction for slippery portages.

“In Algonquin you would do 15 portages
…in three days…sometimes two.”

Born in a small town in Kansas and relocated as a kid to Seattle I feel so incredibly grateful to be living where I live and never have experienced a single portage.

Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut.


Thanks everyone…
I found a pair of NRS Work Boots for a price I couldn’t pass up. I will report on how they perform as soon as I’m back from the big trip. Thanks for all your input.

Happy Paddling,


Just an update…
After a little difficulty (wrong size shipped, backorder) I recieved the NRS Workboot. It is a very nice boot, and everything that NRS says it is. I however had an extremely difficult time getting the shoe on and off. It is the type of boot you put on in the morning, and leave on until you absolutely have to take them off. This is not what I wanted. So I bit the bullet, and my credit card, and stepped up and bought the OTB Ohdin boot instead. I will report when I recieve them.

I will add this, as previously reported by many, NRS is an absolutely customer focused company. When they accidiently sent me the wrong size, they offered to overnight the right pair. Although this was not necessary and had them send it regular shipping, it was great service. When returning both boots, you just fill out a premade label, stick it on the box, and send it by mail. It was so simple. You may pay a bit more at NRS, but you will get very simply the best service in the business!