Paddling footwear - what do you wear?

-- Last Updated: Nov-24-04 8:53 AM EST --

Ok, I know it may matter if you are starting from a dock vs a beach,
surf vs flat water,
warm vs cold,
recreation vs expedition...

But what do you wear when? I hate cold or wet feet.

Lately I have just worn athletic shoes and warm socks but I see folks wearing rubber boots, SCUBA booties, sandals and everything in between.

NRS Rodeo Socks
If I’m paddling in cold water I wear my dry bibs with Goretex booties with wool socks underneath and the rodeo socks over it all.

Teva Neutrons
Waters mostly warm here - often quite warm. These are comfortable (but NOT dry). Time to replace them though. They do get sand and gravel in pretty easily - so may look at others like NRS Attack Shoe too - but twice the price and would prefer to try on first. Do have some Boater’s Bucks to burn though…

Also NRS Rodeo Sock
As you mentioned, it depends on what you plan on doing, but 75% of the time I wear my NRS Rodeo Socks. Sometimes I wear regular shoes, and sometimes Nike ACG sandals.

Teva Neutrons for summer WW canoeing
and felt-bottomed Chota wet suit boots for winter paddling. Because my feet are very big, when I paddle my C-1s or kayaks, I often wear neoprene wetsuit socks from NRS or Chota.

I have heard complaints that the Teva Neutron soles are not sticky enough. They seem OK to me, but I find that they actually shield my feet from sharp rocks less effectively than my Chota wet suit boots.

Felt soles are the best solution to walking on slippery rocks underwater, but they do not stick as well when you step on sloping dry rocks above water.

Someone weigh in on Mukluks
I have heard Mukluks are less than safe if immersed, heavy cold etc. Anyone have that experience or are there ones that are OK, safe, etc.

I switch to mukluks this time of year
I use Teva Protons (mesh and neoprene slippers) for most of the year, but in early spring and late fall/winter I use Chota Quicklace Mukluks. The latter are waterproof and warm, especially when worn with a pair of wool socks.

shipped the kokatat back and had booties installed, now use it with the chotas…use the chotas year around and like everything about them except the dry time…dreaming of their gortex model…

I wear my Chota Mukluks
whenever I think I’m going to be getting wet. Always in the winter and if we are doing rescue practice any time of year, I’m wearing them.

They are not a problem when you are swimming. The model I wear is the least expensive Mukluck Light. For colder waters, I would go with Quiklace Mukluk.

I can’t recommend these enough. They’re great and safe.

Most often …
Most often wearing Nike Toketee Mid

When it cools off; I wear NRS Boundary Shoe

Happy with both.



– Last Updated: Nov-24-04 5:51 AM EST –

In warm weather I realy like barefoot. Some sandals to and from the put in. Cool weather, just some wool socks and old running shoes to and from the put in. Cold weather, Chota Mukluk Lights. Just got 'em and they are nice.

Cold Water…

– Last Updated: Nov-24-04 5:27 AM EST –

nothing beats drysuit with booties. Layer on the socks and wear over it whatever light or heavy footwear you want.

I have Chotas that I used to wear a lot before drysuit booties. Can't beat them if they fit in the boat and you take care to not get water over the top. But my drysuit booties have rendered them unnecessary and too bulky for my needs. I guess if I camp and walk around a lot, I would drag them along for walking around on rocks and such. But my paddling is usually the "low drag" type.


I’ve taken a few winter swims in my CHOTA Mukluks. No problem. Yeah, they had water in them but so did the rest of me. COLD WATER.

The one problem I had was sliding my feet out from under the seat as I went over. The feet are bigger and require more room so PLEASE CHECK before you paddle. I’ve since raised the seat as it was a problem in warm weather with river shoes too.

During the cold weather…
NRS boundary boots.

During the summer either NRS kickers, or Tevas.

I like the NRS boundary boots with a pair of “smart wool” socks on.

We wore them during all our Alaska paddling and our feet never got cold.



I have wore Mukluk lights with smartwool socks under for two seasons now and they are great. After a paddle, I find myself sitting around and forgetting to take them off. They are that comfortable.


Big foot
My feet are 4E so my choices are limited:

Warm water, few rocks = Chota wide sandals

Warm water, many rocks = New Balance extra wide water shoes.

Cold water = Hydroskin socks and New Balance extra wide water shoes. I’ve tried fleece and neoprene but then I can’t get my foot into the shoe.

Nielpride water socks
Warm water and sandy (even mucky) bottoms requires something that won’t get sucked off in the muck. These things are a hassle to put on and take off but quite secure.

I put doctor scholl’s gel filled heel cushions inside. That really helps reduce stress on the heel.

Water and feet
In the summer I wear Teva’s beefier sandals or the Nuetron. During spring and fall it’s NRS neoprene booties. During the winter I use L.L. Bean boots with neoprene socks or LaCrosse Alpha Burly rubber boots with wool socks. Both keep me warm and dry.

comfort the bestest in the westest
Chota Nunavut Mukluks are awesome!

The kept my feet dry and warm during an entire

6-month solo paddle trip.They fit like a glove and dry easily if you do get them wet.