What to Wear Series: Footwear
We are going to do a little series of articles for our blog to help customers select gear for river adventures. We will start at the bottom and work our way up the body, covering everything from your feet to your head. So it is natural that our first installment will cover what goes on your feet for a day on the water.
Let’s start with the bad ideas. Going barefoot is a crap idea. Rivers are full of sticks and rocks and other things that can cut your feet. We have a very clean river, but a bottle cap in the gravel on a beach can ruin your day of you are barefoot. So put something on.
Flipflops are slightly better than nothing. They do afford your foot some protection against the sharp stick or rock, but a bit of old, rusty metal will cut right through cheap flip flops. The other issue with flip flops is that they do not secure well to your feet. They fall off and float away, or else you slip and slide in them when you are trying to walk.
Leather Sandals, or Jerusalem Cruisers, make an appearance here every once in a while. They are a definite step up from the previous 2 choices, but they will get wet and stay that way all day. You are better of with something made from rubber and nylon that will dry out.
Swim Shoes, Aquasocks… those cheap Wal-Mart water shoes. Heck man, 7 bucks is a deal. If you are not going to use them that often, they are not a bad choice. They offer some protection and will stay on your feet. They will not last long term, but if you paddle twice a summer, go for it.
Old gym shoes are the traditional choice in river footwear. If you come from a time of cut of jean shorts and mullets, this is what you probably paddled in. Guess what? They still work fine. The only drawback is that they will be wet all day.
Waterproof Boots… they are great until the water comes over the top and fills up the boot. If you have waterproof hiking boots on, just make sure you stay in a few inches of water. Knee or hip boots can be very dangerous if they fill with water and pull you down.
Dedicated River Sandals or shoes are they way to go if you make the river a part of your regular summer activities. Merrell, Teva, Keen, Astral, and Chaco all make great shoes that stay on you feet, dry quickly, drain water, and provide protection. I have personally found Chaco Sandals hard to beat. I love in mine all summer. Second place goes to Astral. If you want a shoe rather than a sandal, Astral makes some great choices… and they carry a lifetime guarantee.
The bottom line is that if you plan to paddle often, get something designed for the water. If you paddle occasionally, some old gym shoes are the way to go.