Recommended Footwear for Kayaking
There are lots of differing views on the best kayaking shoes, slippers, sandals and boots and we will go through a few of your main options below so you can make an educated choice on which one is right for you!
Specific Water Shoes
Water shoes are specifically designed for being in and around the water. Breathable and durable air mesh upper allows the foot to breathe. A rubber outsole provides exceptional traction in wet and slippery conditions. Open mesh on the upper and hole on the sole provides for superior breathability and quick drying. There are a wide range of options out there nowadays – just search ‘water shoe’ into Google and you will find a lot of good quality, relatively low-priced options.
Sandals are a good option for warm weather kayaking. They can come in a range of different materials, including neoprene. Things to look out for in a good pair of sandals would be a grippy sole for those slippery rocks, a snug fit which will not slip off, and a design which will drain the water rapidly through the shoe so that your feet can stay as dry as possible (no wrinkly feet!).
Skin shoes are new to the market and provide an option for those who want a close to bear-foot feeling. They can be slipped on and off easily and are lightweight if you fall into the water in the event of a capsize.
This is your option for colder weather. They will act like a wetsuit, protecting your feet and ankles from cold water and wind for a number of hours and as a result are a good option for kayak fishing.
If you are just starting out and you are looking for minimal spend on new equipment for your family, then an old pair of trainers will suffice for many. As long as the laces are done up securely and they are not too bulky, then they will provide a reasonable amount of protection. The things to bear in mind with trainers are that they are not as warm as neoprene, so when your feet get wet, your feet are likely to get cold relatively fast. They are also fairly heavy, so can make swimming in the event of a capsize, a little tougher.
Options to avoid at all costs!
Why not? Let’s imagine for a moment that the weather turns and you need to land your kayak at the nearest point. There are no sandy beaches nearby, only rocky coves. The rocks are slippery and covered in sharp shells. Now imagine carrying or dragging your kayak and equipment over these rocks and you can see the benefits of some shoes!
Secondly, your feet are not protected by the sun or the cold. Extremities are extremely susceptible to feeling the cold, and numb feet are unpleasant at the best of times! Sunburnt feet are also not ideal….
Why not? Although you can scramble over rocks with your kayak to your hearts content in walking boots, they are not at all suitable for being on the water with. This is because during a capsize event they become very heavy and can significantly restrict someones ability to swim.
Plastic Sandals (such as Crocs) or Flip Flops
Why not? Any type of sandal that will easily slip off your feet if you swim is a no-go. Wading back to shore and then navigating those rocks will be a real challenge, and that’s if they haven’t already floated away!
We hope that this has given you enough information so that you can choose the best kayaking shoes for yourself.
The Fatyak Team