Sore feet, paddling shoe solution?

The balls of my feet get sore, and sometimes my feet fall asleep when tour kayaking. Right now I have neoprene dive booties with very soft soles, from my diving days. I’m looking to upgrade to a bootie with a harder, thicker sole. Is that the best way to solve my problem?

I like everything about the dive bootie except the soft sole. I think I still want neoprene, high-cut cover the ankle, side zipper for easy on/off, no loops/straps/ties for no snag hazards during wet exit.

Reading archived threads here, not specific to sore feet, and browsing the web sites, I think I came across a good option.

MEC reef boots. Zipper, high-cut. Website says, “Hard vulcanized rubber soles with 3mm sole stiffeners reduce bruising against foot pedals or stones.” $24 US at Price is nice.

I haven’t noticed these exact shoes in a paddle shop, though maybe I’ll notice them now that I’ve seen them online.

Know of any other good options? Do you think I’m on the right track to solving my sore feet problem?


Paul S.

those sound like a deal
I have TUSA 5mm side zipper boots from, they have a pretty thick sole but cost about $35, I think.

I’m using Chotas with side zippers and
felt sole inserts. They are stiff enough that I am not troubled by pieces of gravel when I am carrying the boat up to the car, and they are flexible enough that when I kneel in the canoe, they allow a reasonable bend along the bottom of my foot. Chotas are very well made. The felt sole inserts are great for walking in water on slippery rocks. None of the available rubbers quite matches felt for traction on slippery rocks, although when walking on slanted DRY rocks, you have to be aware of the limitations of the felt. The Chotas have rubber surrounding the felt, so dry rock traction is pretty good also.

I urge you to check out the chota site before ordering anything. They do not sell direct, but will route you to a dealer. I got mine through NOC, and I have also gotten Chota gear through Piragis.

I’m going to hear about this one…
I often use my PFD to cushion my heels! I guess if all else fails you could try those yakpadz things that you attach to your foot pegs. I may get some for my kayaks just in case I feel like wearing my PFD for a change!

two things helped me
Gluing 2 neoprene pads below my footpegs…about five square inches each. They support my ankles and heels and also keeps me from grinding away under my feet because of residual sand after a beach stop. (I used the worn area to let me know exactly where to glue the 2 pads).

Also, I love the NRS booties (don’t know the model) but they have flexible soles that are tough enough that you can get out in an area with sharp stones and glass and not worry about your feet, and the sole curves up around the heels to support that area.


sore heels
I’ve taken several approaches to improve the foot comfort of my boats:

  1. I look for footwear with a rounded heel
  2. I glue a pad (1/4" thick minicel foam with ‘skin’ surface up) to the bottom of the boat in the area where my feet rest
  3. I “pad out” my footrests by gluing an oversized (by about 1" top to bottom and 1/2" to the inside) piece of minicel foam (about 1/4" thick with ‘skin’ surface up) to the footrest — I add a fillet of shoe-goo to the back side to strengthen the unsupported edges of the minicel foam

    I’ve since replaced the footrests with a sloping foam plug — this provides foot comfort in a wide range of foot positions but won’t work if you have/need a rudder.

We’re drifting a bit, gang. He didn’t
say he had a heel pain problem. He wanted something with more sole protection for walking on rough surfaces, which would also come out of the boat easily.

The Chotas provide plenty of padding for the side of the heel. However, with my size 14-15 feet, I do not use the felt sole Chotas in my kayaks. I use the lightest Chota neoprene slip-ons with the traction ribs on the soles.

Might be better to address the footpegs
What footpegs do you have in the boat?

Feet falling asleep while kayaking…
pstivers3 wrote:

“The balls of my feet get sore, and sometimes my feet fall asleep when tour kayaking…”

Sounds to me like his feet are uncomfortable while in the boat…not on shore. Paul, care to clarify?

PFD foot pads seem a little pricey :^).

Problem is ball of foot on the peg
I never really specified clearly. I said pain in balls of feet, and feet falling asleep, while tour kayaking. It’s while pressing on the pegs. Waliing is ok, though I could always use a little more sole for that too. I paddle skegged boats, so pegs are fixed, and I press on the pegs as part of the stroke. All rented boats so far. But looking to gear up for buying the Tempest 180.

If pressing on the heel contributes to feet falling asleep then that’s a consideration, but I don’t actually feel heel pain.

Thanks for all the advice and thoughts so far.

Paul S.

Good question.
I’m renting and demoing so all different so far. But they all bother my feet to one degree or another, hence the decission to get a shoe with more sole.

I rented an older eddyline with narrow metal pegs. That was definitely a problem. Then tried an eddyline and a Tempest 180 proto both with plastic pegs on the plastic push rod, larger flat surface area for the feet. They were better. Lastly I tried another Tempest 180 proto with plastic foot pegs with a concave out contact surface for the feet, giving more of a pressure point at the ball of the feet. Those weren’t good.

I could also be asking which foot pegs give least pressure on the ball of the feet, but still good contact for pressing during the stroke, and for rolling?

Paul S.

The problem may be farther up your leg.
Pressure on the outer aspect of the heel, where it rests on the bottom of the boat, is not going to cause numbness in the rest of the foot. The wiring and plumbing in the foot does not work that way.

Check to see that your footpegs are neither too close nor too far away. Either might contribute to the problem. Your lower leg musculature may be tensing in a way that causes ischemia in your feet.

I have a new WW kayak which is an outdated design, but destined to become my favorite because my feet splay sideways and rest comfortably along the hull, while my toes and the ball of my foot just nudge up against the bulkhead.

I like to wear to wear heavy hiking boots with neoprene or wool socks if I have a carry. Probobly work on a sot, I know it works in a canoe.

Neoprene socks…
with water sandals over top.

NRS ATB Wetshoe
My wife and I both have a pair of these. They have side zipper and thick shoe type soles. I sail my Hobie 17 with mine also, when trapezing off the wing my feet feel fine. When doing this your whole body weight is standing on a 2 inch diameter round surface.

That’s another lead
I almost mentioned Chotas but decided I didn’t want a knee-high. I have high big calves and am guessing they won’t fit right for me. Also I want one boot for year round, and am thinking they might be too hot in the summer, but maybe not. The dive style bootie I would ware with farmer john and paddle jacket + layers, in the winter. My feet don’t really get cold even if wet. I do like my ankles covered though.

I couldn’t remember where I saw Chotas. Found their site after a bit, . They also have river runner booties more like what I’m looking for, except they have the felt soles. I could have used those for abalone diving 10 yrs ago if the felt works good on slippery rocks. But not a concern usually where I kayak, at least so far, and I’ll take the solid sole for contact with the foot pegs.

BTW, I know a lot of people like Chotas, but another alternative in knee-highs is MEC Swellies, though I don’t think the MEC’s have side zippers, which would be nice. $29 US, so again, price is nice.

If I see Chotas in a brick & mortar store, I’ll have to try them out.

Thanks for the suggestions G2.

Paul S.

Actually this is worth mentioning
While I haven’t had a problem with sore heels with my ultra soft soles, when I go to harder soles I could have a problem if I don’t get wrap around heels. The MECs do have that.

Paul S.

Probably is a factor
I probably did experience some of that with the latest T180 proto where the pegs wouldn’t extend far enough for me. I’m sure it can be a factor. Maybe also seat angle is a factor.

Actually I find that having a hard
sole shoe works wonders for having my feet comfortable inside a kayak. Problem is in alot of boats with lower volume, i.e. betsie bay, and or ww playboats, the hardsoled rivershoes are just too big. I have a pair of teva avator’s, ( but they are dissolving literally into nothing. So buy something else, but a hard sole shoe could help.

I find for longer trips along rocky shores with surf landings that having something with a hard sole makes A LOT of sense. However some people seem to think that hobbling up a cobbled and stony landing sight with a fully loaded boat is “no problem”.