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So if you are here, You’re looking for a shoe to fit a job. Different river environments require different shoe designs and soles for grip. Before we begin remember what is on your feet may be THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT when it comes to getting out of a tricky location, running up the shoreline in an emergency or safely traversing rock to rock during a portage.
First: Identify what type of rivers/conditions you most often experience below and then scroll down to the shoes that fit that bill.
- River with lots of cobble bottom and cobble bars… Think thicker sole with some tread.
- River Feature for Park and Play, no travel down river intended… Here is where you can get away with a super small profile bootie it is still still recommended to have a shoe that has some traction as emergency situations can happen anywhere. If you really only wear neoprene socks you might consider bringing better shoes/sandals in your boat or putting them on shore with your water bottle as a back up plan.
- Rivers with lots of Granite, Basalt Boulders, Cliffs, Domes? Extreemly tacky sticky rubber.. The best is Five Ten stealth rubber originally designed for rock climbing, this is a softer rubber so it may not be the best to use your river shoes on the street as well because it will wear down the tread.
- Rivers with Mostly Moss or Slime Covered Rocks & Boulders? Consider felt soled booties or shoes, used originally for fishing, there is nothing better for gripping mossy/slimy river bottom & rocks. Note: felt is terrible grip on dry non mossy rocks, and there is a risk of contaminating rivers with invasive species like the New Zealand mud Snail. If you do choose felt, research your local rivers for invasive species that might get transfered via your shoe soles & then know how to kill them (freezing your shoes or completely drying them out are two methods)
Some rivers have all of the above in conditions in which case you may need to define what situations you might need shoes for what and make a compromise. For example The South Fork American has slimy rocks in the water, Cobble bars on the shore & in the Gorge & Chilibar stretch there are big Granite boulders. I chose a shoe that would work as best possible for most of the conditions, thick sole, five ten rubber in case I need to get out on the boulders mid current… Five Ten rubber is not the best when dealing with slime, but felt soles which are the best for slime arn’t durable enough to run well on cobble and are useless climbing dry granite boulders. When I paddled on mostly class II & III whitewater in the winter in the Pacific Northwest, all the rocks were mossy, warmth was important, I ended up with Felt soled neoprene booties and was highly satisfied.
A couple other notes:
Are there Long possible Portages or hikes in or Out?? If so think about the thickness of the sole, you will want something with enough durability to do whatever the longest hike out of the run might be. Ultra small low profile booties may not be the ticket, if you have several miles of hiking to do.
Are you looking for a Shoe/Bootie that will be your primary insulation on your feet? Neoprene is the best for this… however if you have a Drysuit with Booties & dry socks Neoprene isn’t nessessary. You can also add Neoprene socks to your feet if the Shoe you need doesn’t have a neoprene lining.
So now you have picked what conditions your shoes should function in here are some recommendations:
River with lots of Cobble bottom, & Cobble Bars, some boulders that can be attained with medium grip of shoes.
Super well draining shoe, with comfortable foam insides and good traction on the sole.
Cherry Bomb II by Teva:
We brought in a Spider Rubber + JStep outsole that has grip that will boggle your mind, and we streamlined the entire boot so that nothing will stick in the tight spaces of a raft or kayak.
Gorge Boot by Keen:
The Gorge Boot is for anyone looking to keep cold out and comfort in. The 3mm neoprene keeps feet warm in the river (or any soggy place), the two strap system is easy to adjust even with frigid fingers, and the high traction outsole grips the most slippery surfaces. Fairly sticky grip above average, ok on granite.
Neoprene bootie for warmth. Available with in either high neoprene bootie style or low kicker with extra strap for retention. Great all around bootie.
Paddle Wetshoe by NRS
Neoprene bootie for warmth with a zip up the side, aditional structure and support around the ankle with molded flexible rubber. Low profile, with medium traction, high ankle to keep out sand.
River Feature for Park and Play, no travel down river intended…
Freestyle Wetshoe by NRS
Low profile bootie with minimal lug on the sole, some traction. Designed for tight fitting playboats that don’t have muc room for feet. Neoprene for warmth, high ankle keeps out the sand.
Rivers with lots of Granite, Basalt Boulders, Cliffs, Domes?
Designed as a approach shoe that we put to use on the river. Super sticky high traction stealth rubber, Solid built this we feel is a good replacement for the savant that has been discontinued.
Designed as a Heavy Duty Canyoneering boot or paddling shoe. Comfortable for walking long distances on rugged terrain. Super sticky Stealth rubber for granite and slippery rocks. $
Water Tennie by Five Ten
Designed as a light weight bootie with incredible traction on rocks neoprene lined for warmth. This is the stickiest rubber that Five Ten makes, fantastic traction, high ankle keeps some sand out. In-stock $119.99
Brewer & Brewess by Astral
Light weight paddling shoe, with sticky rubber on the sole, these comfy shoes are awesome for hard water paddling.
Designed especially for our true love…. Hiking in deep to run the gnar. The Rassler provides enhanced foot support, reinforced wear zones, and draining uppers. We stiffened our midsole a bit to control foot fatigue and power through Cali granite fields. Incredibly light and with STEALTH® outsoles. This one is a welcome relief from the current trend of moon boots on offer to real kayakers.
Rivers with Mostly Moss or Slime Covered Rocks & Boulders?
Felt Soled Kickers by NRS
Neoprene for warmth with, low ankle design and tightening over the arch. Felt sole for great grip on slimy rocks.
Felt Sole Kit : Add a Felt sole to another pair of shoes contact us for details, firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck finding the right shoe, feel free to give us a ring if you have questions. If we don’t have it in stock we can special order you what you need.