In warm conditions, many paddlers like sandals because they're light and airy.
- For use in water, select polyurethane footbeds, not suede.
- If the sandals don't have loops over the big toes, you can wear them with neoprene socks in colder conditions.
Hard vs. Soft Soles
- Soft-soled footwear flexes easily, great for kneeling in a canoe.
- Hard soles protect the bottom of your feet better when portaging over rocks or when slamming against the footpedals after drops over waves or waterfalls.
- Many whitewater play boats are too small to comfortably accommodate hard-soled shoes. Soft-soled neoprene booties are a good option (available with Kevlar®-reinforced heels and soles for durability). Stow a pair of sandals in the back of the boat for walking over rocks.
- Stiffer uppers offer more ankle support when wading or portaging, but are not as comfortable when kneeling.
- Neoprene socks under a pair of old running shoes offer a bit more ankle support.
Cold Weather Footwear
- Many cold weather paddlers favour high-cut "semi-dry" neoprene boots, which are more flexible and comfortable than Wellingtons or yachting boots.
- Ankle seals on high-cut boots withstand wave splashes and quick dunks, allowing you to wade in several inches of water during launches or landings.
- Even if water does slop into the tops, the boots retain considerable warmth.
On longer paddling trips, when your feet are damp and enclosed all day, athlete's foot is a distinct possibility.
- Go barefoot as much as possible at lunch stops and at the end of the day.
- If going barefoot is impractical, change into dry socks and footwear once you're off the water.
- Be sure your feet are completely dry before going to bed.
- Some paddlers apply anti-athlete's foot powders or creams at the beginning of each paddling day.