Footwear for dry suit

I bought my first dry suit last fall and have been improvising foot wear out of the water shoes I have on hand. Looking for some advice on something to slip over my feet that aren’t going to just pop off.

NRS Nomad

I am not in areas so cold that I need the shoes to keep my feet warm (the socks I wear under dry suit socks are enough), so I want shoes that are for protection of the dry suit booty.

My current go to are NRS Men's Arroyo Wetshoe

I have used inexpensive water socks a lot, but these can get sucked off my feet if I swim in areas with significant water movement (like surf zones).

I used to use Five10 Water Tennies as a lace up option, but I don’t think they are available any more. There is potential with laced shoes that the laces can get caught on something and entrap you, but I’ve never seen ever signs of the laces catching anything.

Often you will want to get shoes that are half to 1 size up from what you normally wear to allow space for the dry suit booty and any socks you wear under.

I use neoprene dive/sailing/paddling booties over my drysuit. Helps a bit if they are a little oversized.


I agree with Brodie that buying them a bit oversized helps and what Peter-CA said about the shoe being protection for the drysuit bootie is right on. However, neoprene booties or slip-ons are not my go-to’s. I prefer something snug enough that it won’t get sucked off slogging through ankle (or worse) deep mud and I look for something with a significant midsole. A solid midsole makes it much easier walking on sharp rocks and barnacle covered beaches. Also, if you drive your torso rotation with your legs a more robust shoe will help spread the pressure you get between the ball of your feet and the footpegs. It really makes a difference for me.

I know that many paddlers like open heel sandals (Teva, Chaco, etc) but they offer little protection for your drysuit socks. Something to think about. I wear out the the fabric on the outside of the heel cups of paddling shoes driving my legs so I would go right through my drysuit socks. I make wear pads out of old Glacier Gloves and glue them to heel cups. They work great.

Agreed, but also something I can kick off quickly if necessitated by an unexpected swim.

What do you suggest?

Thanks for the quick feedback!

I’ve ordered a pair of NRS ATB Wetshoes in an oversize and we will see if that fits the bill. I’m willing to experiment. I’ll post my experience back here when I get them next week.

I also don’t like paddling in closed cockpit kayaks in shoes with laces, having seen someone get stuck once. That said, I have the same need for arch support, especially on longer paddles and have not been able to find a shoe that checks all of the boxes. For me, wearing a drysuit is a 4-5 times a year occurrence so it isn’t a huge deal but if I needed to wear it all the time it would be.

Someone needs to make a Velcro fastened water/paddling shoe!

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I lean toward shoes with a barrel or similar closure. Easy to tighten for a slog and easy to loosen once in the boat. You can probably tie traditional lace-ups more securely, but I’ve been happy with this style. Note: the shoes in the picture are not mine, but it’s this sort of closure I’m talking about.


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Just curious…why do you need to kick off water boots for an unexpected swim?

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My Teva Churns have that closure. I like it, too. The reason I replaced them is that the sole material is made of something weird that hardens with age and gets slippery. Otherwise they were great paddling shoes.

I’ll third the “don’t like shoe laces”. Just seems like a risk to me although I paddle with plenty of folks who wear lace ups year round and have had no problems.

My go to is the NRS Boundary Boot and luckily I bought an extra pair before they changed design. The updated ones now have a tennis shoe sole and lace up instep. I think maybe they are designed for portages rather than kayaking. The old ones had a simple double thickness tread sole and a Velcro strap across the arch to sung them up.

As long as you don’t overtop the boots, there’s no water between the boot and the dry suit. Helps to keep your feet warmer.

I use oversized house slippers.

Just an unproven notion that swimming without them would be easier.

Paddling/dive booties that cover your ankle. I have two pair that are precursors to this - NRS Men's Paddle Wetshoe

This protects the d/s foot, stays on when in muddy bottoms, and the ankle covering being a little higher, it minimizes sand getting between the lowtop and into the foot area.

Avoid the calf length boots. My d/s foot/leg bulk material will not fit into calf length boots.


OK, fair enough.

Neoprene boots are okay. An old favorite is Taylor Converse high tops with fleece socks. They never come off.

Same here, when its warmer I wear Chuckie Ts and when colder NRS paddle shoes. The canvas shoes dry out in a day. The water shoes I’ve tried have big toe bumpers and sometimes even heel bumpers that make my feet too big to fit under the kayak deck.

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Oversized 7mm ankle Neosport neoprene dive booties in my sea kayaks. Side zipper makes them relatively easy to put on, they stay put and don’t get waterlogged much when entering/exiting.

I wear lightweight smartwool sox under my drysuit feet and a pair of Xero shoes over my drysuit feet. You could probably glue pieces of neoprene on the heels. I wear these shoes year-round as they have a good tread. Have had these shoes for about 6 years.