I paddle an Impex Force 4 kayak with factory foot-pegs and have size 11 1/2 feet.I’ve always just worn the cheapest Teva sandals during the summer, and neoprene booties when it is colder. Lately I find that with the sandals, my heels start hurting after 3-4 hours. This never happens with the neoprene booties, I guess because of the cushioning. But they are very hot to wear in the summer. (Super dorky-looking too, when worn with shorts, but who cares about that). Anybody have suggestions for sandals that have cushioning on the back of the heel?
great but expensive sandals
Although they don’t have a cushioned heel end, Chaco makes a fantastic sandle (not talking about the flip-flops). The strap can be adjusted so that the heel does not lie completely unsupported in the sandle and thereby reduces the heel pressure. Have you considered glueing a piece of neoprene to the floor of your boat where your heel rests?
IMO, open heeled shoes are a pain when kayaking. I wouldn't look for sandles, but instead find a water shoe if you don't like booties. There are a number of sneaker-looking water shoes available. Look for something with a low-profile sole, if it's not a paddling-specific shoe.
(the dork in the shorty suit, and tall booties)
Chaco’s and Keane’s
I wear Chaco's a lot, the model that has a portion of the strap that goes around the big toe and also around the back of the heel -- very stable -- creates kind of a "Z" foot tan! You can hike pretty well in them too. If I plan to hike more as part of the trip, I'll wear my Keane's -- they have more support. For example, I'll paddle across Jenny Lake and trail hike back to the forks of Cascade Canyon (nothing too gnarly there). I'm sure some folks would do that in Chaco's. This way, I don't have to pack and extra pair of hiking shoes. (I also have been wearing my Keane's in my inflatable whitewater kayak since I broke a toenail last year in my Chaco's when I flipped a rental SOT -- the Keane's cover the toes. Protects them piggies! That works for me in the type of paddling I do.
Edit: I'm 11 or 11.5 and either one fits in my Eddyline Fathom -- not sure how that compares to your boat.
summer foot wear
If you’re open to buying something other than sandals try some Vibram Five Fingers. I saw some in stores, thought they were the ugliest things. Then several people wrote about them on here. I now have 2 pairs. They’re pricey but worth it. If you find some in a store & they don’t have the size or color you want, order them directly from Vibram.
If you’ve got the room for your feet, might try gluing in a piece of minicell foam under the foot braces to rest you heels upon. Then the footwear won’t matter. I too have foot problems and this helps.
Vibram Five Fingers
I have two pair and love them.
Quick fix is sponges
We use little round bilge sponges (rei sells) under our feet to cushion the heels. Works great although glued minicell would be easiest.
A neoprene bootie but slightly less dorky than most. They take up very little room and won’t let sand and small rocks in when walking on the beach - unlike sandals.
Although I’ve been a big fan of Chaco sandals for years, I never wear them paddling. Not only are they bulky, all the straps could make for an entrapment hazard.
Do the neoprene
booties get hot? Where I live the temps get up in the 90’s, so I was wondering about comfort level.
They have a “lip” on the heel about 3/4" high. Just right for cushioning the heel. $10 at CVS. Pretty decent for walking and swimming. Very fast drying. I have some Teva Omniums, but they take forever to dry and are no more comfortable than the cheap crocs knockoffs.
NRS Kicker Wetshoe
Just got a pair of these.
Used them for a week at Sawbill. Nice thick soles, good on rocks. OK for short portages, but not suitable for long ones.
Hot? Not really - they’re wet after launching anyway so maybe that helps. Pretty light weight but have held up well. I also use closed cell pads under my heels - the Padz brand at NRS has held up well for a long time for me.
a few suggestions here
I have tried several types of shoes and only some give me enough cushioning on the heel.
I am size 11.5 and fit nicely in a Force5 (but Force4 deck is too low for my thighs).
If your legs are not too long your feet will have more clearance against the sloping deck (further away=less vertical room).
I like sturdy shoes with ample support when pushing on the footpegs.
My choice of footware is Merrel, two different models: Waterpro and Robotic
Details and pix at: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2010/06/gear-paddling-shoes-review.html