Best water shoes for kneeling in a canoe

I have been using Keen sandals, but with size 13 feet and 67 year old knees they are sometimes difficult to get under and out from under the seat. There is about 9 to 10 inch of clearance from the hull to the bottom of the seat frame on most of my canoes. Also the elastic tie stopper on the sandals digs into my feet. I paddle mostly lake and class 1 river paddling. What water shoes are you using?

Search Amazon and search for “water shoes.” You’ll find many options in the $25-30 range that look like they were all made in the same factory. I’ve only had mine for a year, but so far they’ve been great.

Body Glove makes some that fit like their name. Mine cost $20. You won’t hike very far with them but they are great for clearance.

Hi, cannonball,
I wear low cut sandal socks from NRS while paddling, sort of like what string suggested but without soles. I wear the socks under sandals for unloading and launching the canoe but once I’m in the boat I just slip the sandals off and clip them to a thwart. When I’m back at the takeout I slip the sandals back on before taking the boat out of the water. The socks are nice because they’re thin and don’t have soles to get hung up on the seat or bottom of the boat.


Like the other Tom I typically slip off my shoes to gain more space when kneeling in a canoe. If I’m paddling somewhere that may require pulling the canoe over obstacles then I wear water shoes like the ones string mentioned. My current ones are Ahnu but my best ever pair was from NRS with super flexible/thin soles. This new model from NRS looks pretty good.

I bought some water shoes for a Grand Canyon trip. They are very handy around all boats and can be hiked in. They have good traction and protect the toes. Good ones are around $100. I have actually backpacked in them on a trail that followed a creek and required climbing some water falls.

Thanks for the info. ppine, what brand and model?

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There are many good ones now. I have Salomon’s.
An old school solution is a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse all-star high tops with wool or fleece socks. That is what rafters used to wear. Good traction, warm and they don’t come off.

I’m pretty slow to come around on stuff but I’m definately a shoe convert. I’ve got a pair of the special made water/boating shoes made by astral (brewers). They look like sneakers. I bawked at the price even with the discount that I received. What sold me was the sticky soles (like climbing shoes). I figured if they saved me from one spill on slick wet rocks then they were worth the price. So I’ve evolved from wearing old tennis shoes/sneakers to the special made astrals.

I still wear neoprene booties in cold weather. Although most booties are terrrible for land walking- thin soles. I also struggle getting booties on and off but they are warm when you’ve got cold water sloshing around in your boat.

Sandals are a favorite of raft guides because they allow the feet to air out which is important for avoiding trenchfoot when your feet are wet day after day but the traction and support isn’t ideal for scrambling over wet rocks . I never liked sandals for kneeling, better off with something that has a toe when your foot is in that position.

The thing I look forward to the most when I get off the water is putting on dry shoes. It is more important than changing the rest of my clothes, a cold drink, or a snack. If you boat a lot of days in a row then having dry feet and avoiding foot issues becomes a priority otherwise they can morph into lobsters: redness, scaleyness, and cracking between the toes, athletes foot.

Whatever I wear on my feet, it is important that it stays on my feet during a swim. I’ll need them walking and climbing around on the river bank. They will do no good if they are in my boat and my boat is no longer with me.

As far as keeping my feet dry when boating- well that’s a bit like believing in fairy dust and unicorns. Tip to self, even if the booties reek, warm them up inside. Allow them to thaw before putting on frozen frosted booties for a six am upper gauley trip. That’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to post traumatic stress syndrome, I still relive that memory and it was 35 years ago.

Same applies to wet butt, but clothes dry much faster than shoes.

Never wear sandals on a river. Your feet can get mangled in the rocks. Velcro fails when sand and algae get in it. Strap sandals like Alps are okay if you only paddle sandy rivers.