Well, I got a job with a local Livery this summer. I just about killed my trust water sandals on my last BWCA trip, so I will need to get a new pair of footgear for work and my own paddling this summer.

I have always bought river sandals with 3 velcro straps one across the toes, one one the arch and one in back. I can really crank them down tight for rough walking. Now I have been looking at water shoes and Keens. I know plenty of folks have experience with different types of water shoes. Point me in the right direction. I am going to spend all summer in these things, so I need quality. I do not want to spend more that 100 bucks on them.

Man, it has been a long time since I posted here.

love my keens
though I find in fast moving water that my old tevas really tightened down stayed on better. Just for walking rough ground though the keens are superior. I know people that hike in keens.

Reality you can’t go wrong either way.

sand in open shoes
Pros/cons to the open shoes such as Keen/Teva and other sandals.

Hard to keep out the sand and it is quite abrasive when it gets under the straps. Pros are that they allow your feet to dry out a bit which is a big plus when you are working on the water all the time. When I wear sandals - after getting in the boat, I hang my feet and swish them to rinse out the sand. If you are doing quiet water all the time, probably no problem. But in surf, you launch with all the sand in - put the skirt on and then get out where it is calm and then rinse the feet off. Holds up the group and a real PITA.

I usually use a closed neoprene shoe for the above reason but your feet remain wet all day which encourages trench foot.


Take a look at these…
Vibram Fivefingers. I have a pair, and plan on getting more. They are absolutely awesome.


Walmart - 10 bucks
I gave up on the high buck water shoes.

At Wally world, I think they are called walkers. They have two velcro straps, are light, breatable, and have a good firm bottom for walking, and they are not slippery on rocks.

One pair will get you probably two years of constant water use.

Check them out, you might be surprised, even though they are not “water shoes”



Chaco Z-2 or ZX-2 w/Stealth rubber soles
stick to wet rock like snot on a finger, climb dry rock like a monkey, and can be tightened or loosened through their continous length of webbing. Resolable, rewebable and machine washable also. Keens don’t stick anywhere near as well and fit wider feet, but have a more protected toe box. I think the Fivefingers feel really wierd as they don’t fit my long toes well, and the very thin soles offer little support if you have to do much hiking or rock jumping. And forget about anything velcro around H2o.

Anyone remember Alps sandals? They were the bomb till Teva bought 'em out and promptly killed the line. Teva claimed that they (Teva) were the original H2o sandal, but I remeber seeing Alps ads in the 60’s as a kid in I think Boys Life magazine. I guess when you claim to be the original, you fear the actual original and buy them out and make 'em go away! The Chaco Z-1/Zx-1’s (without toe loop) are also nice but nowhere near as secure as the Z-2/Zx-2’s for hiking, swimming or climbing.

Having operated an outdoor shop since '81, I’ve bought, seen and have been given, a lot of sandals from just about every maker, and I’ve never seen a sandal that performed as well as the Chacos except for Alps, and Teva bought and killed that line. I’ve spent a lot of time in and around Moab, Utah and nearly every boater or raft guide worth their salt wears Chacos out there.

The Chacos.

What’s worse than sand
with keens is small pebbles. Once they are under your foot you cannot shake them out without taking them off.

Other than that I like them. Good toe protection.

Still working on my second pair…they must be 20 years old.

I also love my Keens.

For big feet
You don’t mention your shoe size, but I am an 11 4E with a high instep and have a hell of a time finding any shoes that fit. For sandals I stick with Chacos. For water shoes the only thing I found that fits well and works well are made by Mion. Martin Keen (Keen sandals) is the founder of Mion. I like their Flood Tide Shoe which has a removable liner that keeps out the small rocks that get between my feet and sandals when I wear Chacos. Here is a link to the Mion Flood Tide Shoe

went looking
One of the problems I have is that my right foot is a half size larger than my left. I tried ob a few pairs of keens and Teva with the toe box. I either slid in them or they rubbed my toe. I think I will have to go with sandals again. I will check out the chaco brand. What about the Mion brand; specifically the Flood Tide shoe. A store in Greensboro has them on sale but it is a bit of a drive from here.

Big Foot sandal
Mion sandals are really made for wide feet. Not so good for average or narrow feet though. I have a pair and they tend to slide around on my foot when wet. Just can’t seem to keep that cord tight enough to hold them steady while walking in the river. They dry quickly and that’s a big plus, just wish they were a better fit.

I dig my keens
I have the Taoses, which, on the sturdy-hiking-shoe/water-sandal balance, more heavily favor the hiking shoe aspect, with closed heel as well as toe, but if you want a more open design, the Newport H2s can’t be beat.

Stay away from the Salomon Amphibians, quite inferior to the keens.

If you like Mion sandals…
buy a pair soon. Read in a trade mag yesterday that that brand is ‘going away’ also, or shall we say… ‘put to sleep’

LL Bean Summer Sneaker

Or Soloman Tech Amphibians

Sandals for paddling in
I prefer strapless shoes for paddling so usually wear kayak-specific footgear (Teva Proton 3 mesh slippers for summer, ankle-high NRS no-zipper neoprene booties for spring/fall, and Chota Mukluks for winter).

Sandals have advantages, though. They dry very quickly. They are better for walking in than paddleshoes. If I can’t wear my usual booties, Keen sandals are my next choice. Make sure you get the waterproof ones–not all of their models are meant for water use. Their sticky soles make walking on wet sandstone a cakewalk. And I like being able to wear them either with or without socks. The one time I wore them in a kayak, they worked fine. I was worried that the larger heel might feel uncomfortable but it did not.

my choices
I’ve used these a few times now as a low profile shoe in my SOF - they’re pretty damn comfortable, look like gorilla feet to me:

I still use my Salomon TechAmphibians which are nice - I don’t think they’re inferior to Keens.

I own both Mions and Keens
The Mions (Current Sandal) are much more comfortable than the Keens (Newport H2O). They dry much quicker. They are easier to clear debris from. When you get them snugged down right, they are very sure footed.

However, the Mions are harder to crank down tight, and keep em tight (they do tend to loosen). And the Mions aren’t as hardy as the Keens, the Mions have seemed to wear quickly. And some ppl think the Mions are fugly. Also the Mions are bulkier.

So there are pros and cons. But given your use, I’d say go Keens. The Mions won’t stand up to more than 1 or 2 seasons hard use, IMHO. But they really are a lot more comfortable. And they don’t stink as bad as the Keens. lol