What footware for kayak in the summer?

What’s everyone wearing in their kayaks for the summer? I’d prefer to use sandals but my Chaco’s are too big and I end up taking them off and going barefoot. This works OK but can be funky when landing on rocky shores. The various shoes look interesting but I’d rather my feet not sit in water for hours at a time. Ideally I’d like something protective but pretty open.

I like Astral shoes because they drain water, dry quickly, provide great footing, and protect my feet but don’t look dorky doing so. Last summer I wore Astral Loyaks. This spring I tried the Astral Brewess because I needed a larger size to accommodate more than just my regular socks.

The Brewess has turned out to be the perfect shoe for me because the thicker sole provides excellent support against the foot brace, allowing me to get better hip rotation. Crazy how a shoe can make a difference, but it does.


I like my Tevas, but …
the minute I am in the canoe or the kayak I shed them.

I like to go barefoot.

If there are portages involved or if I am racing, I were my $13 Wally world running shoes that I have punched three quarter inch holes in the back just above the heels for drainage.

They have two Velcro straps and are as good or better as any of the high end water shoes, and keep the sand and pebbles out.

Jack L

if you paddle a Brit boat

– Last Updated: May-25-16 5:46 PM EST –

...then I believe these are standard footwear:


Seriously though, I also shed footwear as soon as I'm aboard. Sometimes it's my Keen sandals and sometimes it's neoprene aqua socks.

I’ve Given Up Testing and Wearing Shoes
Because I can’t swim with them on and remounting my surfski with them on is impossible. Unable to kick and thrust myself back into the cockpit.

I have Merrell barefoot water glove, or current glove, or whatever they’re called. They’re low profile and drain well, good inside the boat, not too bulky. Looks like they don’t have quite as much support as Astral shoes, which I haven’t tried.

I hate sandals or crocs, they let in pebbles and grit which makes me crazy.

Paddle Barefoot
Slip on the Chacos before exiting.

water shoes work fine
I had a pair from Lands End that worked fine for about 3 years. Now I have a better constructed pair from Teva and they work and look great! They handle water fine, because that’s what they’re designed to do, but they give sufficient support to work for walking a distance on shore, including on rocks.

Lands End water shoes
I have a paid of water shoes from Lands End I’ve had about 6 years - they’re similar to Keens and such. They are like a sandal in that they are made of straps, but like an enclosed shoe in that you put your foot in them & tighten the elastic to keep the show from sliding off. They also have rubber toe protection & great traction. I like these shoes but have one complaint - the spaces between the straps allow for rocks and pebbles to get in. I usually can shake out the rocks by wiggling my foot around in the water, but it sucks walking in fine pebbles. When these wear out, I will probably get something a little more enclosed.

For the sure footedness the Astrals are great. I prefer the Brewers or Rasslers.

Another factor around here are the Eurasian Water Chestnuts


One or two steps in the grass, barefoot, below storm surge high tide line and you appreciate good protective soles and closed toe water shoes.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



water socks
If I am paddling in a place where I don’t need thermal protection, I wear water socks. I prefer to have something on my feet for protection. In a kayak, your heel is down, so I specifically want something that has heel protection (so Tevas aren’t something i would wear).

Over the years I have had cheapy ones and brand name ones. The brand name ones haven’t seemed to have lasted much more than the cheapy, so I buy on price now.

Simply the best water footwear I have worn over the last 16 years, which includes Teva, Keen, NRS, Five-Ten, New Balance, North Face and sneakers.

NRS Wetshoe
I tried sandles, flip flops and nothing works as well as a good pair of wetshoes. If you’re slick, it is possible to get in and out of your yak without getting water into your shoes, but I don’t worry about it, because you can let most of the water out if you like. It only takes a few seconds for the water to reach body (foot) temperature and then you don’t even notice your feet are wet. I strongly suggest the models that have the side zippers.

The best part is that you won’t be getting sand and pebbles in to walk on when you go to shore. One caveat is, don’t buy wetshoes unless you also buy a Peets boot dryer and use it after each wetting.

Neoprene booties

– Last Updated: May-26-16 3:29 PM EST –

I have a pair of Keens, which are good but as stated you tend to get sand and stones in them. They are extremely sure footed though and excellent if you have to walk any distance.

I also occasionally wear Crocs. In warm weather they work well enough and are the easiest to kick off your feet once you're in your boat. They're also the easiest to get lost back there in the far recesses of your cockpit.

Most of the time though I wear a pair of low cut neoprene booties that I originally bought for warm water scuba diving. Even if they get wet they stay warm on your feet, the soles are rigid enough to provide decent support for walking and once they're on you hardly notice them.

Keen or booties
Warm water= Keens

Cold water+ neoprene booties.

Columbia Power drains
I wear a pair of Columbia Powerdrains. They are just like wearing normal sneakers but have drainage holes throughout them to get rid of the water. I’ve had my current pair for a couple years and they are holding up pretty well.

Vibram five fingers
I love my vibram five fingers. The only complaint I have is that sand will get in. They are easy to rinse off and put back on. Thin enough to feel like bare feet but thick enough to protect from rocks and other foot hazards

NRS Kickers
For smooth sandy areas. In rocky areas I use the NRS wetshoe.

Do you need soles?

– Last Updated: Jun-11-16 8:06 AM EST –

That is, are you bracing against foot pegs or is instead a bulkhead of any sort? Given your boats, it is possible that you could get shaped minicell in there and be bracing against that rather than foot pegs. That would leave you not needing a shoe with a sole inside the boat.

Personally I recommend it. I have one boat that has foot pegs I have used more the last summer, but I really notice the diff when I go back to my boat where I have padded it out. Much nicer.

Most paddling socks are neoprene, so would leave you with wet feet if that is the biggest problem. If you have foot pegs, you are likely best off with the fancier shoes that have regular hard soles but mesh sides.


– Last Updated: Jun-12-16 10:09 PM EST –

Hmmm, guess your shoe size and kayak deck size would determine which shoes did or did not work. Maybe even how long your legs were would differ as to how far up under the deck your feet were. Never thought about that but now I have...

My Chacos work great for the kayaks we use. Nothing fancy. Old Town Dirigos and sit on tops. An Old Town Rush.

I was going to say the five fingers if cramped for foot space but looks like Daffyduc beat me to it ;).