Top Pick

What are the best shoes for canoeing?

So what footwear should you wear on a canoe trip? We get this question alot – putting a canoe in and out of the water means your feet will get wet – the key, say our guides, is to have shoes that will either drain well or dry out. Here are a few of the Gear Guide’s top picks for canoeing shoes.

For Day Trips or Short Overnight Canoe Trips:

Sport Shoes and Sandals

Sandals with rugged Vibram® rubber soles and supportive footbeds drain quickly and handle a variety of terrain–they’re especially helpful when wading into rocky spots. Look for sandals with extra toe protection. Also check out shoes fabricated of webbing straps but more protective than sandals, they drain beautifully and are ultralight. Shop All Sport Sandals and Shoes for Canoeing >

Top Picks

Keen Newport Sport Sandals – quick draining and rugged soles.

Chaco Outcross Water Shoes

Wet Shoes

Kayak paddlers prefer neoprene shoes that are both stretchy and provide some insulation, and canoeists that enjoy solo paddling may prefer the extra flexibility. Not recommended for portaging or lining canoes in whitewater where more traction is required. Shop More Wet Shoes >

Top Picks

Sea to Summit Blitz Booties – a longtime kayakers favorite, known for a tough sole

Footwear for Multi-day Canoe Trips:

Portaging a canoe or carrying a pack may mean that you need extra ankle support (note: if you have any foot or ankle health issues at all, you need extra ankle support) but you don’t want your feet to be wet for a week. Tip: bring a pair of portaging shoes that can get wet during the day and a pair of comfy shoes for nights in camp.

Lightweight portage boots / hiking boots

Forget heavy hiking boots from lumberjack days, and don’t bother with the throw-away sneakers that your camp counselor told you to bring canoeing. You’ll appreciate the traction of a lightweight hiking boot, extra footbed or ankle support for carrying a heavy load, with ample ventilation. There are many great options and we strongly recommend trying them on in person, for a portage boot that will go down muddy slopes, launch a canoe, and drain water out at the end of a long paddle. Shop More Portage Boots >

Top Picks

Chota HYFT-800 Hybrid High-Top Rubber Soled Boot – large microscreen panels drain quick, superlight construction

Palm Gradient – bringing together neoprene and ankle support, with grippy rubber soles.


Hiking Socks – Start with the right socks (that means no cotton socks—ever). Either wool or wool-synthetic blend hiking socks will keep your feet insulated even when they are wet and should dry out by the campfire at night. Liner socks – optional but a traditional favorite. Way back when all wool socks were scratchy we wore thin liner socks to help wick moisture away from our skin. Now most wool hiking socks are merino and very comfy, but liners still come in handy to wear under neoprene, inside of sport sandals, or to add extra warmth. Shop More Socks for Canoeing >

Top Picks

Smartwool Hiking Socks – Tried and true, merino wool/synthetic blend with extra cushion

NRS Boundary Socks with HydroCuff – waterproof and warm

Neoprene high top boots:

Here may be the exception to the rule. Fans say neoprene boots actually keep their feet dry and can handle the weight of a canoe. Though not as flexible for solo paddlers, we love the extra layer of warmth, especially for those of us who like to paddle the Far North or paddle in spring and fall. Shop More Wet Shoes & Boots >

Top Picks

NRS Boundary Boot – neoprene adds extra warmth and gets great reviews for portaging.

Kokatat Nomad Paddling Boots – a favorite of our far north paddling expert.

Campsite Shoes

After a long day of traversing land and water, you’ll be ready for something comfy. Put your tent up and your feet up – our favorites range from a pair of smushy moccassins (they fit well in a pack) to a pair of Crocs that are easy to slip on and off.

So what are your favorite shoes for canoeing? Leave your comments below or on our facebook page

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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