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What Shoes to Wear Kayaking: A Guide to Footwear for Paddling

When preparing for a kayaking trip, it's easy to overlook the importance of proper footwear. While a boat and paddles are essential, having the right shoes can make a significant difference in your comfort and safety. This is especially true when kayaking near places, where the terrain can be rugged and unpredictable.

Kayaking shoes are designed to protect your feet from sharp rocks, debris, and other hazards when entering and exiting the water. They can also provide insulation to keep your feet warm and dry, even in chilly water. As you begin your search for the perfect pair of kayaking shoes, it's important to keep these factors in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Personal Style

Your personal style of kayaking is an important factor to consider when selecting your kayaking gear. Your kayaking style is determined by the type of kayaker you are and your lifestyle. Some kayakers prefer a more cautious approach, while others tend to be more adventurous and take on any challenge that comes their way. Regardless of your style, it is crucial to have safe and reliable footwear. While keeping your feet dry might seem like the best option, it is not always safe to do so. Dry feet can cause problems when launching or retrieving a boat, as it increases the risk of slipping on landings and trails. Therefore, it is important to choose footwear that provides good grip and support, even when wet. This will ensure that you are safe and comfortable while kayaking.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting footwear for kayaking:

  • Good grip and traction on wet surfaces
  • Comfortable and supportive fit
  • Quick-drying material
  • Protection from rocks and debris
  • Breathable material to prevent overheating

By considering your personal style and the factors above, you can select the best footwear for your kayaking adventures.

Waterproof Shoes

When it comes to kayaking, you may think that waterproof shoes are the way to go. However, this may not always be the case. While waterproof shoes are great at keeping water out, they can also trap moisture inside, leading to discomfort during long kayaking tours.

In fact, if you're planning on kayaking for hours on end during the summer, it may be best to avoid waterproof shoes altogether. Instead, opt for shoes that are breathable and quick-drying. This will not only keep your feet comfortable, but also prevent any potential foot odor.

Consider investing in shoes with mesh or perforations to allow for air flow, and materials such as neoprene or mesh that are quick-drying. By choosing the right footwear, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable kayaking experience.

Consider the Temperature

When planning a kayaking trip, it's important to consider the temperature. The temperature can vary throughout the year, with mornings and evenings being especially chilly in the Southwest. If you're kayaking in winter, it may be a good idea to wear waterproof footwear with natural insulation to keep your feet warm. On the other hand, in warmer weather, you may want to wear footwear that allows your feet to breathe, such as sandals. Water shoes are also a popular choice for kayakers, as they dry and drain water quickly, making them perfect for paddling in summer weather.


When going on kayak tours, proper traction is essential for your footwear choice, regardless of the distance. It is important to consider safety when choosing footwear with adequate traction. Regardless of the brand, you should opt for footwear with ample traction and primarily rubber. It is crucial to ensure that you are wearing footwear that won’t slip when putting the boat into the water or taking it out from the landing. Additionally, you will want some assurance that you won’t slip and fall if you have to navigate trails and rocks. No matter your skill level for kayaking, choosing footwear with proper traction is a must.


The terrain you will encounter during your kayaking expedition is an important consideration. If you plan to kayak in areas with well-maintained and easy-to-navigate trails, you can wear any type of footwear that you find comfortable. However, if you will be navigating tricky trails or getting out of the boat frequently to navigate troublesome areas, it's essential to have slip-resistant and rugged footwear. The more treacherous the terrain, the more durable your footwear should be.

If you plan to hike any distance during your kayaking trip in the winter, it's recommended to get waterproof footwear. This will help keep your feet dry and comfortable. It's important to choose the right footwear to ensure your safety and comfort during your kayaking expedition.


When it comes to kayaking, sandals are a popular choice for footwear. They are lightweight, versatile, and perfect for summer paddling. Sandals are easy to put on and take off, and they don't hold onto excess moisture. If you're looking for sandals to wear while kayaking, choose a pair with minimal material and avoid plastic buckles. This will keep your feet cool and comfortable while you're on the water. Remember to prioritize safety when choosing footwear, and always make sure your sandals have a good grip on wet surfaces.


Moccasins are a popular choice for kayakers who want to keep their feet warm and dry. They have been used by boaters since 1917 and are considered by some to be the most practical footwear for kayaking. Moccasins are insulative, which means they are great at keeping your feet warm. Contemporary moccasins even come with a removable rubber covering that helps to keep your feet dry. Overall, moccasins are a reliable and comfortable option for kayakers.


Wearing overshoes can provide extra protection and comfort. These rubber footwear can fit over sandals or sneakers, and they come in different heights, from ankle-high to higher. Choose the right height and size for your footwear to ensure a comfortable and safe kayaking experience.


No matter what kind of footwear you have, socks can make a significant difference in your comfort level. If you plan on kayaking, you need to make sure that your feet stay warm and comfortable regardless of the conditions.

Wool socks are an excellent option for kayaking. They are comfortable in most conditions and will keep your feet warm when the conditions are wet and cold or sunny, warm, and dry. Wool socks tend to dry quickly and are also odor-resistant, making them a good choice if you are planning a multi-day kayaking excursion and won’t have access to laundry facilities in the near future.

Another good option is socks with waterproof and wind-resistant materials such as Gore-Tex. These socks are especially suitable for those who want to keep their feet warm and comfortable. If you plan on kayaking in Nevada, regardless of the season, bring several pairs of socks with you to ensure your comfort.

Consider packing a combination of wool and Gore-Tex socks to ensure that you are prepared for any conditions you may encounter while kayaking.

Rubber Boots

When it comes to protecting your feet from the rain and wind, rubber boots are a reliable option. These boots are both waterproof and insulative, making them a great choice for wet weather. While they may not be the most comfortable option during the summer months, you'll appreciate their protection during the rainy season. Rubber boots can also provide stability when portaging or transporting your boat to and from the landing site. Consider investing in a pair of rubber boots for your next outdoor adventure.

Running and Hiking Shoes

If you're not ready to invest in kayaking shoes, running and hiking shoes can be a good starting point. They are lightweight and ideal for warmer weather. However, it's important to note that they are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to moisture, which can cause them to come apart.

Consider the following when choosing running or hiking shoes for kayaking:

  • Look for shoes with good grip and traction to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
  • Choose shoes with a secure fit to prevent them from slipping off your feet.
  • Avoid shoes with excessive padding, as they can become waterlogged and heavy.

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