The Perfect Kayaking Shoe for Me

I use the men’s Brewers & I give them a Fair +. That’s mainly because I don’t think that the heel comes up quite far enough for my foot. That may also be due to a difference in craft as well. In my Arctic Tern & with a Kokat “paddling suit” they didn’t want to stay on my heel when paddling. This year I’ve spent much more time in a Delphin 150 & haven’t felt the problem. They are comfortable, drain well, and provide good protection. I used them for hiking in the Narrows at Zion.

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Good info. Thank you.

I will second the Brewers, never saw a shoe drain so well or dry so fast.

However, the drain holes do let some sand and grit in, so that might be a problem if you are in areas with gritty sandy areas, like mine. And, if you go barefoot, the inside of the sole does have little nubs that help with drainage, but you may find them a bit of a bother.

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Thanks GregofDelaware. I’m seeing a pattern emerging here. I like the fast drain and dry aspect. Sand and grit I can deal with.

I live in Fla, so sharp rocks aren’t an issue.

The Body Glove soles are soft and rather sticky, so they may not be great in your circumstance. The Keen Uneek has a sole almost like a regular shoe and might work well. Like all Keen shoes, they are a bit short in the toe. They also are tight at the top and stay on you feet well. There isn’t much stretch in that paracord macrame that they are made of.

I wasted money on a pair of Keen water shoes, only wore them once. The big holes allow gravel in, and once the gravel gets in it won’t come out until you remove the show. And something I didn’t think about, the bulbous toe and heel make my feet a lot longer and I have to point my toes way too much to fit them under the kayak deck.

… unless you need to cross oyster beds (as I do for my daily paddle)

But, sorry, I’m not going to give you an answer you are looking for, it (perfect) doesn’t exist (for me).
Though, what I do is use one pair of shoes for getting from land to sea (long walk to put in, crossing rocks, deep sand, etc). Then, once on the water (or just outside the surf zone), I’ll slip on some very comfortable sandals (with good heal), something I can slip on & off without having to get into the cockpit (leave sprayskirt on), and comfortably wear for many hours. (I’ve been using Mion Ebb Tide’s for many years; Mion - long since out of business).

I have tried scores of shoes and prefer the Brewers. I need a shoe that protects from hazards like oysters as well as resists being pulled off my feet in heavy muck, drains well, and has a reasonably stiff sole. As a negative, the mesh uppers let in enough sand, that for long events like the Everglades Challenge, my toes have been badly abraded and bleeding at the finish. For that reason I now wear thin lycra socks (like you wear under scuba fins) with the shoes to prevent that issue. Another option, if you need more support is to buy a size larger and add a thin superfeet carbon insole (on-top of the non-removable original insole). That works for me.

Greg Stamer


I know that I said that it should come below the ankle bones but are there any Rassler users who can make an argument for it over the Brewer?

Here is another vote for the Loyak and Loyak AC. Soles have good grip as these are made for paddlers. Note the name, “lo” “yak” as in low-rise kayak shoe. There is also a higher version, coincidentally called the Hiyak.

I have both versions of the Loyak and they are both great. The AC has a finer mesh upper, while the non-AC has a thicker mesh. Both versions have built in drains and the soles are thick enough to give decent protection. I use the non-AC version for paddling and the AC version for casual summer walking when I want more protection than a sandal.

No need to wear socks with these shoes. They fit like a slip-on, but have laces to tighten up if you want. I find the laces quick and easy to use.

Good luck.

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Though I have mostly been using high top Kokatat Nomad boots for years, I realized it would be nice to have something more adaptable for warm weather use (and potentially over the drysuit booties.) I have loved my Salomon hiking boots so much I sought out water shoes by them this Summer and found a pair of their Techamphibians work very well as kayak and canoe footwear. They are very sturdy, they have great foot protection and drainage and the sole material and pattern provides solid wet rock grip. Most of the men’s models would pass as sleek street shoes.

They often tweak and change the models so you will find a wider range of choices on Ebay or large on line vendors than at Salomon’s own site (which only shows the current season’s styles.) I used to sell high end outdoor footwear so I know every brand has slightly different lasts – Salomon fits me perfectly since they have snug heels and wider ball and toe boxes.

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I like my astral brewers but agree the heel doesn’t come up high enough. This is a problem because they are not very secure with dry suit footies. Brewers are a better warm weather shoe than cold water shoe.

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Thanks for your observation on the fit of the Brewer!s heel when used with a dry suit bootie. That is critical for me.

Also, thanks for the Salomon recommendation. I have to admit to being a bit confused over the different Techamphibians. There are quite a few. I’ll dig deeper into those.

Thanks for the tip on the heel fit. Any experience with the Rassler?

Don’t know if Salomon makes the Techamphibian model I have for men as well as women. This is the style I have, with the adjustable heel strap, which makes the shoes easy to put on and snug. I can wear them with bare feet or over dive socks. Very good sole design that does not hold mud or gravel.

(Yes, I have this same funky color combo, makes them easy to spot in the gear bag. They do come in neutral shades. But these contrast nicely with my teal blue hair…)

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Warning: those Salomons have features that make my size 11 feet no longer fit in my kayak. Heel extends well back of your heel, big bumper thingy on top of the toes. I got a pair of Keens cut like this and had to pointe my feet like a ballerina to get them to fit under the deck.

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My feet already are on the edge of not fitting comfortably and that’s one reason I like the Loyaks. Very little bulk added.

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Yeah, foot size is a non-negotiable factor in kayaking footwear choice. I wear a men’s size 7/women’s 8, so that’s rarely been something I have to consider. But it’s definitely a limiting constraint on those with larger dogs.

I’m convinced there’s no perfect paddling shoe for 100% of the time. Right off the bat, cold vs temperate weather changes the equation for me, not because of thermal considerations, but because I wear a drysuit, and I need to protect those fragile socks. So anything not knee-high is going to end up allowing sand to get between the socks and the shoes and then ground into the membrane. My Kokatat waterproof moccasins are perfect for preventing this, being knee-high, but…they’re baggy above the ankle, and if you do a wet exit, will fill with water like two garbage bags wrapped around your legs. So they’re the bee’s knees, until you wet exit.

I’ve been looking at the NRS Boundary boots as a result, because they’re tighter to your legs and would entrap less water.

In the temperate months…the Stohlquist Bodhi Water Shoe works well for me. It didn’t at first, tho…it, like any ankle-high shoe, allows sand to enter, and that’s a misery. And they started stinking to high heaven after awhile. But I followed the advice found here and started wearing lightweight synthetic socks which, amazingly, has solved BOTH problems perfectly! I don’t feel the sand that gets in AND the odor has completely disappeared. No idea why, but I’m not arguing with success. And they’re $30! I’m pretty sure they’re the cheapest piece of kit I own, and they work very well.

I absolutely love my Loyak’s. They are the regular non-AC model. I wear them with jeans and a button down all the time for business casual and date night with my wife. They are my most versatile shoe. I could even go running or light hiking in them and don’t recall ever slipping in them. That said, they don’t have the grip of metal spikes or felt soles found on fishing waders. Mine are grey with white soles.

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