Canoe footwear suggestions?

I am currently wearing Croc’s for casual lake and river canoeing. And while they are comfortable and dry quickly, I was looking for something with a little more support, but still quick drying and comfortable. Croc’s don’t work that great on rocky\steep banks with slippery footing.

Any suggestions?


I like these…

They aren’t “quick-drying” but otherwise fit your requirements and are nice, IMHO. Unlike our kayaking friends, sunburned insteps can be a problem. (Don’t ask how I know.) Never been a problem since I switched to these. They offer enough protection so wading on sharp rocks is doable, they grip well enough for most portage trails, the instep straps keep them on your feet even when swimming hard, and are warm enough for me right into the late fall. I switch to Chota mukluks when it gets colder.

How about river shoes?
There are a zillion different kinds, but unlike Crocs they are true “shoes” that fully enclose the foot and lace up in some way (usually a pull tab tightens standard zig-zag lacing), and they have a stiff sole with traction cleats so walking on sharp, jagged boulders is easy. I’ve used two different kinds so far, and they are just about as good for walking as lightweight hiking shoes (as long as you also wear socks), but unlike regular shoes, they are free-draining. Unfortunately, they don’t completely keep out sand and fine gravel (even if the drain holes have screens, stuff still comes in around the ankle), so in some situations you might sometimes need to remove them and slosh the gritty matter out of there.

OTB (New Balance) Abyss II
My son and I wear these boots. We bought the 6" model. These boots have drainage holes, decent ankle support and lugged soles. They are sold online by military/police supply companies.

Ankle protection
I prefer something with ankle protection. Nrs has several offerings.

New Balance 921
I have a pair of these - kind of a weird lime green color, but the shoes are great. They Drain easy, and you don’t end up with a lot of sand and rocks in the shoes.

What about wading shoes?
Dear Timothy,

If you need ankle support and are looking for a shoe that is designed to get wet look no farther than wading shoes.

They are made to be worn over waders while fishing or working in the water. They come in a variety of styles, prices, and materials. Current trends find the shoes made with Vibram soles are very popular. They offer good traction on mud, rock, dry land, and while in the water wading.

Take a look at the Cabela’s catalog on-line to get an idea of the brands, models, and prices. I’m sure you can find something that will work.


Tim Murphy AKA Goobs

Keen McKenzie
Check out the Keen McKenzie. Light weight but great traction and support. Dries fast for a sneaker-like shoe, but not as fast as a croc. It seems to run a little wide in the forefoot with bare feet, but that makes for nice room for water socks in cooler weather. I recently bought a pair and really like them.

I wear these:

L.L. Bean’s “vacationland” sneakers. The link is for the gal’s version, but the men’s ones are basically identical except for color. They’re super-light, they dry quickly, but they fit like sneakers. Not as much support as a hiking boot or a high-top sneaker, but some. And they’re cheaper than a lot of water shoes.

I also recommend Keen’s

– Last Updated: Jul-13-12 12:26 PM EST –

There are many different styles - but the waterproof sandals (Kanyon) I just got are great. Extremely durable and I like that my toes are covered.

Toe protection
I think shoes, just like boats, have to be tailored to the location. Based on my experience, though . . .

Closed toed is a must. The original Teva sandals were made for rafters in canyons and such - no twigs and branches to jab in the toes.

Keen’s treated me poorly when their product, the H2 I think it was called, pretty much disolved when I got them wet a couple of times. They were comfortable and worked well for a month or so, then completely broke down (stitching came out, glue in sole failed). As I had bought them at an end-of-season sale Keen told me they were more than a year old and thus had no warranty at all.

I use old athletic shoes. These break down eventually too, but not as fast as my new Keens did, and they are basically free as I buy new runners from time to time anyway.

No shoe dries fast enough to be comfortable wet/dry. I bring a pair of old sneakers for wet shoes, and something like crocs or moccasins for dry shoes around camp. If I’m in really rough country, I will replace the wet shoes with full hiking boots.

NEW BALANCE Men’s 921 Water Shoes
After trying out several brands over the past 4 years, these really work. Very little gravel, drain quickly, and dry fast. They fit true to my size and have yet to “draw up” or get stiff like my Keens did. An overall great shoe for the price.


Teva sandals
Relatively inexpensive, drain and dry easily, straps can be quickly tightened up to minimize foot slippage for uneven terrain, add socks for additional protection/warmth, soles give good traction. Disadvantages: no protection for toes, pebbles & twigs can get caught between your foot and sandal, feet still susceptible to sunburn and bug bites (@$#&% deer flies!). I’ve worn them for portages (some lengthy) and have been surprised at how well they have worked.

I upgraded from my teva sandals because I wanted ‘toe protection’ as well. I have a pair of NRS short boots that are great - only they are a little too hot in the summer. Scratch that - WAY too hot.

I just picked up some Keen sandals for June, July & August paddling and they’ve been great. Here’s hoping they’ve upgraded their product (a friend of mine has used hers for years now without problem) so I don’t have the same experience as you did.

Thanks for all the replies!

I think I will give the Keen Newport H2 a try. For years I have been getting all my shoes…dress, casual, hiking, etc through They have GREAT customer service and a 1 year guarantee so I will see if the quality of the Keen line is up to par.

That’s the NRS I have
But I find them too hot in the summer months. If my feet are wet then sitting in the boat (in those wetboots) - my feet feel like they are cooking.

LOVE them for non-summer months though. I’ve had mine for 3 seasons and they’ve held up very well.

This is old school
but I still wear hightop Chuck Taylor Allstars - basketball shoes - on warm to cool days. They are great for walking around in the water/shoreline.

Canvas uppers and a very flexible sole so kneeling becomes easy. Hightops provide great support for scounting, lining, etc. and keeps out loose gravel.

Hope they still make them.

Second vote for Chuck’s
Or Converse High top sneakers or what ever you want to call them. I did modify mine by taking out the laces and putting in those bungee laces they sell for children.

They protect your feet. They are not hot. they support your ankle but are flexible enough to let you kneel or hike on rocks. They are durable and great oyster protection. If you find something that works better for the summer or works as well but dries faster I want to know about it. So far everything else has either torn up or let my feet get torn up, so then I have to break out the Chuck’s again.

Croc are great for camp, no so great grip for hiking and not good for oysters.

Yes Converse
Converse is the sneaker company that makes CT Allstars. After my post I searched - still made today.

NRS Kicker
I like these. Feet don’t get hot like the ankle high ones.