Shoe advice?

What are y’all wearing for shoes when paddling? I’m looking for something breathable and lightweight, but some padding around the heels, and side of heels, would be nice. I have come cheap water shoes now which work OK, but there’s not much padding, so my heel and side of foot area tend to get sore from resting on the hard boat bottom. Advice appreciated!

Astral water shoes.
Water Shoes – Astral


I have an old Adidas-branded pair that I think is no longer available and a pair of NRS Kinetics. It may be complete rubbish, but I want shoes I can easily kick off in the event of an extended swim!

Bass pro. All you need. I bought them at $24 before the covids global adjustment initiative. They break in and are loose enough if youwamt to kick them off.


I like these:

Men’s Aqua Socks | West Marine

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I have a pair of these and like them.

You can also look at water shoes at any big discount shoe store; most are super light with a thin sole.

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A couple of thoughts, more so than suggestions:

Don’t forget to consider tread pattern. I have a pair of water socks/ slip on wet shoes with very minimal tread and they are the Devil when climbing out onto slippery stones.

Highly ventilated and mesh shoes will also allow a lot of sand and mud into the shoe. I have the Astrals mentioned above. They have nice tread but consume sand when launching and landing. You can move them around underwater to get some of that out, but you’ll always have some sand in there.

I have NRS neoprene booties for colder temps. They’re hot in the summer but, in my experience, they don’t let all that sand and mud in.


A lot of it will depend on if you are a wet entrance/exit guy or a dry entrance/exit guy.

For wet feet I use Body Glove water shoes. Good traction, but not the greatest for walking around.

For dry feet I use last years sneakers.

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Anyone try Crocs? Some people over on reddit said they are excellent for yakking.

I would find crocs too stiff and big. I can wear my Astral Loyaks in my sea kayak, but for the Tahe they won’t fit comfortably, so I wear NRS wetshoes in that. I like both; the NRS allows more freedom of foot movement, but the tread is less good and you can’t really wear them around the way I can with the Loyaks.


Crosskix 2.0

Definitely, although I use much cheaper imitation Crocs. For kayak camping I wear crocs in the kayak and bring Teva Omniums for on land. Crocs have a small lip at the heel that provide cushioning.

I’m using my Scubapro booties but I do not like wet clammy feet or treading water with them.
I’m wanting something I can kick off easily.

I have some Keen water shoes but the rocks get inside :slightly_frowning_face:

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Speedos, they have a little bungee cord on the back makes it easy to tug them off. Very little sand gets in and they drain right out. I find them comfortable. Not good for on shore hiking around. Ebay has a few sellers who price them inexpensively.


For me, my foot slides too much inside Crocs when wet.

I prefer sandals with straps. I like Bedrock sandals because they’re light, no drop and minimalist.

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I think I finally found an ideal pair 2 years ago. Made by sports shoe company Jambu in their JBU line, the model is Tahoe (they have another model called Topsail with similar features). And I see they are still around and reasonably priced at $20 to $50, some colors seem to be on sale on various sites which seems to indicate they are approaching model closeout. Zulily has the women’s sizes in brown and green for $19.99 at the moment (when I saw that I just ordered a pair for back up). No similar deals on the mens sizes but the women’s go up to 11 (equal to men’s 9.5) and they are wide enough guys with small to medium feet could try them.

I’ve probably gone through over a dozen kinds of footwear in my search for the ideal pair, from cheapo drug store water shoes and fake crocs to Kokatat high top Goretex Nomads (still my choice when I know the launch site will be deep muck) through flyfishing shorties with synthetic felt soles, Deep See 5mm dive boots and a range of low cut mesh enclosed sandal sneaker types from Keen, Merrell, NRS and Columbia. All have had plusses and minuses. The biggest challenge is finding a shoe that is easy to slip on and off, has a good sole for walking on land and wading in slime or gravel, is low profile enough to fit under low Greenland style decks, has sturdy removable insoles, dries quickly and also drains well while still keeping gravel and grit out of the shoe.

These Tahoes are low profile, made of stretchy but well reinforced neoprene around the ankle, with flush webbing straps to grab to pull on and off, also add friction points so you can use opposite foot to scrape them off easily even under water. The lower part of the shoes is a very dense mesh that acts as the best filter I have yet experienced in a shoe for allowing drainage but nothing but fine sand in. Nice wide toe box with a sturdy wrapover bumper (like Keens but not as bulky). They work well over drysuit socks too and I wore them every day at both skills camps last year. Only water shoes I have ever had that will dry overnight.

The removable insole is dense closed cell foam, unlike the absorbent open cell in most water shoes, so it does not absorb water and can be wiped dry when you get ashore to walk around camp. Great sole tread for wet rocks, sand or muck and it is stitched to the upper with sturdy thread, not glued. Also notice that the insoles have a deep swirly texture so even if there is some sand in the shoe, most gets trapped in those grooves and doesn’t grind on your skin if you are wearing them barefoot. Texture also keeps the insoles from sticking to your skin when wet.

Overall just a super well-designed and functional shoe that must have had paddler input. Also looks respectable if you want to walk around town with them and sneaker-like enough to offer support for general walking even on pavement and comfortable for driving, I may have to buy another pair because I use them so much even beyond paddling. Definitely will go with me on any vacation as they are super light and so versatile. Also the first paddling footwear I am not dying to peel off when I get to the take out, unless they have picked up some sand, and then I just take them off, pull out the insoles and swish the shoes in the water, wipe off the insoles and slip them back on.


Astral great sole I don’t want soft soles. I have wide feet EEE EEEE bought two sizes bigger than normal. Not kicking the curb either actually they are short compared to other sneakers, shoes, or Chota boots I have. Drain well, dry fast, comfortable, and durable. Probably not best choice for walking on slippery rocks, I think. Got them from River Connection Marshal. Post picture later.

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There is a whole category of water shoes now. I first bought a pair for the side canyons of GC. They work great. I have used a pair for backpacking up a creek. They are comfortable. They have good traction and stay on the feet. They protect the toes with a toe box. I wear em for all boat adventures.

super light.


I wear NRS knee high Boundary boots in cool or cold weather. In warmer times I wear neoprene scuba booties. Both have drawbacks. The NRS boots can be hot in warmer weather and you can flood them if you step into water that is to deep. The scuba booties hold water.

The overriding concern for me is that where I paddle it’s mostly sand and gravel at the take outs and I hate sand and gravel in a shoe.