Cold Water (maybe) boots

Planning a trip up nort in August. Air temps in the mid 30s (F) are not uncommon. This is a river trip, so portaging won’t be a major consideration. What footwear would you take? I usually wet foot in lake country, but maybe that ain’t such a good idea. I’m taking a spray deck, doesn’t seem smart to have wet feet when I’m trying to fend off cold wind. :#

Boots are good only when taller than water is deep. When I wore such, I liked the NRS Boundary Boots of early 2000’s design.

If you are paddling in weather in the mid 30s, you ought to be wearing a full drysuit with dry socks. You can layer up enough clothing under the drysuit to stay warm and comfortable even in cold, windy, rainy, and snowy weather, and your clothing will stay reliably 100 percent dry, so you can wear the same clothing on and off the water. Furthermore, you can keep your feet warm and toasty even if your feet are in and out of the water all day by wearing several pairs of thick fuzzy socks under the drysuit’s dry socks. I do a lot of multi-day whitewater kayak trips in cold and inclement weather, and a dry suit is the way to go.

If you don’t buy a full drysuit, you can at least buy a pair of dry pants with dry socks, which will keep your feet, legs, and butt dry even in a driving rain or when wading in the water. The Kokatat Hydrus 3L Tempest dry pants are excellent and reasonably priced. I use them when kayak fishing from a sit-on-top kayak in warm weather and not-too-cold water temperatures, when my feet are frequently in and out of the water and are wet almost all of the time. However, if you end up in the water in weather in the 30s, dry pants won’t be enough.

The footgear you wear over a drysuit or drypants needs to protect the drysocks from the ground and brush, and be comfortable enough to walk around in on shore. And it needs to be loose enough so it won’t constrict your feet and make them cold, even if you have two or three pairs of insulating socks underneath your dry socks. The footgear I wear over my drysuits and dry pants is two and a half sizes larger than my street shoe size. One option for footgear is wet suit booties with a zipper on the side. If you expect to spend much time walking around in them, get wet suit booties with a substantial sole; most wet suit booties have pretty thin soles, and you can bruise your feet walking around on rocks. Because the wetsuit booties will be cold and clammy and will contain water, they aren’t going to keep your feet warm. The warmth will come from the socks you are wearing under your dry socks.

But let me say it again: If you are paddling in weather in the mid 30s, you ought to be wearing a full drysuit. The “Cold Water Boot Camp” video shown below explains why. Watch it! It will be 10 minutes well spent.

Well, regarding temperatures, I suspect that the O.P. is referring to overnight lows being in the mid 30s now and then, which would be a far cry from paddling in such weather all day, or in water that had been affected by such temperatures for long periods of time (though I bet the water is still fairly cold, simply because of the up-north location). It would help if we knew the location, and especially to hear from people who’ve been there in August, but my guess is that a location where summertime overnight lows can get that cold once in a while would usually have daytime temperatures in the 60s or low 70s. The O.P. can correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, the O.P. is talking about rivers, and I’ve seen a whole bunch of capsizes on rivers in the fall when the daytime air temperatures are in the 50s or 60s (and overnight lows can get into the 30s), and have never seen a non-drysuit-equipped person have any trouble. Of course this all depends on the river, and paddling a long rapid, perhaps even within rocky canyon walls, or far from shore on a very large river would present a greater need for a drysuit than paddling mild water on a river with normal river banks always being nearby.

All that said, you can wet-foot your launchings and landings and stay dry with any tall boot, and I’d go with one having a sturdy sole (for walking on the rocks and gravel) and that cinches down at the ankle. If my guess is correct about the local climate, they need not even be all that well insulated. If Chota still offered their tall Quick-Lace boot with rubber lowers and breathable uppers, that would be my pick. Kokatat makes such a boot, but it is rather flimsy compared to the old Chota model and it has a really outlandish sole-tread design with useless traction lugs sticking out to the side in all directions, but being the only boot remaining in that class now, it might be worth a try. All-neoprene boots would be warmer than you need, but they would be okay. In the all-neoprene category, Chota Quick-Lace boots would be a choice that is very similar to the Boundary Boots recommended above.

He’s going to a Yukon River… It can be hot air temp… the water is coldish… I haven’t seen anyone on the Yukon river in the summer in a drysuit. We didn’t use one. We used Chota Mukluks and the most unpleasant thing about them was donning them in the AM.
Most everyone up there uses regular Wellie type boots but I prefer the Chotas as they are warmer and not quite so easy to pull off in some mud…( there is some mud)

the biggest footwear problem is that the bottom of the boat is cold. And as you are going to cover some 50 miles a day getting out around logjams or negotiating them as you get to shore can e an issue… No real rapids.

We did the Yukon River a couple of years ago in late July… It wasn’t mid thirties during the day… It was actually kind of hot. Nighttime was refreshing but I do not remember a frost.

Staying near shore on that river is a must. There are frequent stops to see historic places on the Teslin, Big Salmon and the Yukon… So you have to be able to walk a bit in your footwear and bushwhack too as some of the sites are overgrown. As the current is about 8 mph, paddling in the middle of the river and saying “O Look at that wreck up there on the right” is not going to work. You have to pick a shore, keep track of where you are and be ready to eddy out quick.

Loon_Watcher said “Planning a trip up north in August. Air temps in the mid 30s (F) are not uncommon.” If Loon_Watcher is going to run a river which runs north into the Arctic Ocean, he could encounter some pretty wintery conditions in August. Which is why I suggested that he bring a drysuit.

I have tried some soft sided chota mukluks, but they didn’t offer any support at all, and fell down around my ankles regularly on portages. I felt every rock through the soles.

I was actually considering an uninsulated rubber hunting boot but fear they would be downright hot in warm weather and cumbersome if not on my feet.

@pmmpete said:
Loon_Watcher said “Planning a trip up north in August. Air temps in the mid 30s (F) are not uncommon.” If Loon_Watcher is going to run a river which runs north into the Arctic Ocean, he could encounter some pretty wintery conditions in August. Which is why I suggested that he bring a drysuit.

It does two thousand miles further ,into the Bering Sea. but its not north of the Arctic Circle. Days can be downright hot…

Now if he were like Peter Marshall and gang lining UP Big Salmon and immersed to the waist for hours, yes a drysuit is a must… But one of the other cold water approaches will do like staying close to shore… I don’t think even the outfitters who send out the Germans ( direct flight to Whitehorse) supply drysuits.

Really? Those are the breathable ones I mentioned, and I can literally walk on any hard, rocky surface with them. In fact, I’ve done so much off-river hiking on rocky trails (or no trails) over the last 8 or 10 years that the soles are completely worn-out and much thinner than they used to be. I can “feel” the rocks, but it’s never been uncomfortable. Even with all my weight on the ball of one foot with a pointed rock underneath, I’m perfectly fine. Oh, I’ll add that my girlfriend wears the same boots and she goes on all the same off-river hikes as I, with no discomfort issues.

So… It just occurs to me that this might be similar to the problems that show up when people give advice on paddling gloves - that not everyone is the same. For example, my hands won’t stay warm in a lot of the gloves that some people think are wonderful, because for my entire life my hands (and feet) have had poor circulation in cool or cold weather. When it comes to boots, my feet are the polar opposite of big and durable (they look dainty - not like Fred Flintstone’s feet at all), but I do weigh 155, which is about 70 to 90 pounds less than a great many of the average American males who are the same age as I. Maybe my feet just don’t have to work very hard.

As to the sides falling down, I find I need to pay a small bit of attention to that, but not enough to bother me. I’ve never had them fall more than a couple inches as long as I don’t ignore them for a couple hours at a time. I cinch the tops tight. People with big calves have no such issues. Again, I guess not everyone is the same.

If you find the soles on those boots to be too skimpy, I think you might choose that one option mentioned by Kim and wear rubber boots over shoes of your liking. I used to do that and it worked okay. Or, if you are a sitter and not a kneeler (this is canoeing, right?), perhaps just get a dedicated rubber boot that’s made to wear over stocking feet, and get a style that fits nice and snugly. I’ve noticed that stores that carry hunting clothes now have much better boots of that style than ever used to be the case. They are bulky, and they are hot, so maybe the lightweight over-shoe option is better for you. Good luck.

Extratuffs Legacy 15 inch boots with a felt insert, and thick wool socks. You can “roll” the tops down around the ankles in camp so they’re cooler and easier to get on and off. Works great for thrashing around in wet conditions. As long as you don’t top them getting in and out of the boat they’re dry and warm. Kayak toured with them in Alaska for three seasons and worked great.

Regarding boot height, it’s a basic truth that all boots should be one inch taller. That’s all it usually would take to prevent wet feet. This applies whether they are hip boots or just ankle-high. You will need one inch more height, at some point.

I can relate. Always good to have plenty of dry socks.

Check out nessmuks post on ccr… Dry socks wont be a big issue… Footwear seems to be very personal…