Cold weather foot gear for staying dry?

I live in Louisiana and have a SOT kayak. I usually only kayak in the warmer months and getting into and out of my kayak, sometimes getting wet up to my knees, is no big deal in shorts and my Keen sandals.

I would like to do some kayaking right now and the weather is cold enough for long pants and a jacket. I know I will have to get my feet wet where I will be kayaking this weekend. Opinions on my options for staying as dry as possible…short of waders.


launch socks
Kokatat makes a waterproof sock that is worn over your pants they call launch socks. It comes up to your knees, and closes with elastic cord and a toggle. I recently got a pair myself and like being able to wade into 55 degree water with dry feet. I wear a light wool sock inside, and then use neoprene booties.


Cold weather
One option would be to purchase neoprene socks…There are several variations of them out there(NRS would be a good start). This would be a more frugal option,compared to drywear,which can get very expensive. You should be able to wear your sandals over them,depending on the thickness of the sock

I prefer boots

– Last Updated: Jan-11-14 2:07 PM EST –

I like the way lace-up Chota boots cinch up around the ankles. Some people like the NRS boots that have a single ankle strap too, though it seems to me that fitting the whole ankle area is preferable to a single strap. I find Chotas with with laces to be as comfortable for walking as shoes (never heard anything good about no-lace or no-strap boots when it comes to walking comfort, but it seems most kayakers don't walk much so they like them anyway). For your kind of weather, I wish I could recommend Chota's boot with the Gore-Tex uppers, but they no longer make them.

Since you are looking for something this weekend and that's awfully short notice, I'd get a pair of the tallest model of Tingley slip-on utility boots. They are very light, cheap, surprisingly tough, and can be bought at almost any store that sells work clothes. Just wear them over your outdoor shoes.

Oh, yeah, a pair of rain pants might be nice if you want your legs to stay dry in spite of the paddle drips.

More sockage
Paul beat me to one of my suggestions.

The other would be a pair of SealSkinz Launch or Submerge Socks. Breathable, dry and doesn’t add a ton of bulk. Have a number of local paddlers that use them for mtn. biking in wet and love them.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

For short notice
Wool hiking socks and your regular water shoes. I went the weekend before Christmas and had an extra pair in a drybag and another in the truck for afterwards but they actually dried pretty quick and my feet stayed warm so I never needed to switch to a dry pair.

A comment about wet wool
I don’t think anything beats the insulation of wool when comparing wet materials. Everyone has heard this of course, but I remember a day that really illustrated it to me. On a very cold, rainy spring day I tried paddling with neoprene gloves of a type that usually gets great reviews for being warm, but my fingers became painfully numb in a very short time in those gloves, and just kept getting colder. I switched to cheap, thin, knitted-wool gloves and a non-waterproof wind-shell mitten, and in spite of my hands being constantly soaked, they were toasty warm for the rest of the day. I think if you are going to wet-foot your outings in cold weather, wool is your best bet (maybe with some kind of synthetic covering if you’ll be in dirty conditions).

What is your experience or what do you recommend regarding wool vs Polartec/fleece for these situations?

Polartec versus wool
Science says Polartec has a slight edge. The test I saw data on involved insulating a small container of hot water with wet wool and wet Polartec and the water cooled slightly faster with the wool. But both are good and way better than wet cotton or nothing.

As for the OP’s question, oyster boots or muck boots work pretty well. I wear polyester running pants under rain pants so I have an insulating layer that would still provide warmth if wet but I try to keep it dry. Carry a dry bag with a change of clothes also.

For all the suggestions and tips. I appreciate it.

I actually haven’t made that exact comparison so I can’t say. I was just thinking about how amazingly well that wool works, and the fact that it seems better than the really common synthetics. Also, I was thinking about the fact that for a long time people have been trying to make materials that can match the properties of certain natural materials (wool for effective insulation when wet and goose down for lightweight insulation when dry are two examples that come to mind. Oh, and I don’t think they’ve done all that well in eliminating the need for leather either). For all I know, Optimystic may correct that Polartech provides slightly better insulation than wool when wet. Wool seems to remain most popular for socks though. Maybe that’s because it’s dense and doesn’t compress much beneath the foot (losing loft), or because it wears pretty well.

compression and wear resustance
Makes sense and that may be why so many people like wool better. In the experiment, they use a non moving container and it was purely the insulation properties when it was used optimally. Also, you have to worry about sparks if you huddle around a camp fire in synthetics (not an unlikely thing to be doing not long after getting dunked in cold water). Also, most synthetics tend to get smelly. Synthetics are cheaper, lighter and can provide roughly equivalent performance but that doesn’t mean they are better. No slam dunk either way IMO.

Another option for socks
Reed Chillcheater Aquatherm wading socks. I just bought a pair so havent yet tested them BUT have a Aquatherm sprayskirt for several years and I love it. Its a much thuinner material than neoprene. its breathable and completley water proof . Plus its cheaper than the other suggestions. Not popular in the USA but I ordered mine from England took about a week to get them. Got mine from this place

Click at top of page for USA currency and you will see there $34.56 and shipping wasnt bad I think it was about 45 bucks total.

Boundary Socks from NRS
I wear Keen shoes for paddling. When the weather is cold, I add Boundary Socks from NRS. The Keens are adjustable enough to loosen up for the addition of the boundary socks, which I wear with wool socks, such as Hikers or Smart Wool on the inside. These are knee high and really waterproof. I pull them over the bottom of my pants legs, so my pants stay dry, too. I tried many options, including chotas, mukluks, neoprene boots, sealskinz, etc., but these have been the best choice for me.

Old Diving Drysuits…
…make great cold water boots.

A friend who worked as a diving gear technician got me a pair of legs from an old diver’s drysuit - cut just below the knee, they fit well, are warm and waterproof. They also have a rubber sole - I wouldn’t want to walk a mile in 'em, but they are fine for launching and going ashore. Heavy merino wool socks under the boots, and spare socks in the drybag - solid comfort, and dirt cheap.

If you don’t a dive techie friend, try asking dive shops to have an eye out for a suit for you - they usually don’t want old suits, but may remove valves, etc. - if so, fine - the legs make your boots, and the rest of the heavy material has a thousand uses around a kayak.

I have Boundary Boots from NRS
vice Boundary Socks. They work well in terms of maintaing warmth and they’re tall enough to enable dry shore-entries. There’s thick enough rubber (?) that walking around is fine, and that rubber wraps around the front and edges well, so I don’t think they will rip open or wear out quickly.

They seem fine without socks at freezing, and with wool ankle socks (to meet up with the wetsuit pants)at 0’F.

However, I wish I’d held out for the Kokatats as they look like they perform a little better as boots. The Boundary Boots cinch to the ankle to reduce flopping around, but they have no support and the Kokatatas look better suited to moving around on land.

I paddle a SOT and live in the south.
My Chota Mukluks and wool socks keep me toasty. The Mukluks are loose fitting and a little hard to walk in.

I like how the boundary shoe(boots) do.add the boundary socks and it seems to do alright.if its 50 or less I would add wool socks. The quick lace mukluks are pretty good to.for kayaking I wouldn’t suggest the muck boots. I prefer the. Myself but I canoe and don’t have to kneel.