Kayaking Booties and Other Water Shoes

Kayaking booties and other protective gear (layers, dry suit, personal floatation device, etc.) are must-have items to stay warm and comfortable.

Kayaking Booties

A preferred pair of water shoes must protect the toes and give a secure and tight fit.

Which type of water shoes to wear for kayaking?

The style of water shoes used while kayaking relates to several different factors, including:

  • Temperature of the water
  • Type of kayaking
  • Weather
  • Whether shore-based excursions are planned

Top four water shoes


A regular pair of sneakers can provide an acceptable alternative when paddling down a river, lake, or open waters. But the comfort level soon starts to decline when water seeps in. Certain brands of sneakers are more appropriate for use in water sports activities, including those that are water-based. The preferred sneakers for kayaking have a mesh lining to help with keeping dirt and sand out, while also letting the water drain. Plus, this helps with circulating air which is needed to keep the feet fresh and avoid fungus build-up. Other water sport specific features include toe protection, warmth, shock absorbing sole and concealed laces or straps. Avoid using the sneakers in muddy conditions because this can easily suck the shoe from the foot.

Sport Sandal

A pair of sport sandals has an appearance that closely resembles the regular sneaker but with side cut outs to make it possible for water to drain. Sport sandals are designed with a non-slip bottom surface, extra top protection, and no straps or laces that could get caught in the kayak. While this type of water shoe is great for kayaking, it isn’t so effective if planning shore-based activities because the foot is not given full protection.

Water Booties

Water booties are preferred when whitewater kayaking or kayaking in cold weather. This type of water shoe keeps the feet warm thanks to the extra lining and padding. Water booties are designed to make it easy to slip on and off. Plus, some of the latest lines include a hook-and-loop fastener or zippers to make it possible to achieve a tight fit. Use fleece (dries quickly) or wool socks (great warmth) under the booties to provide greater protection and warmth

Wet Boots

Wet boots are effective at keeping the feet dry and warm even when paddling in an open kayak. Use the wet boots to get great protection for the toes, sides, and heels while walking through mud or water while also giving protection up to knee height. Avoid using the wet boots in any conditions other than water because the tread will soon wear down when walking on hard surfaces.

What qualities to expect from water shoes

  • Water shoes should not easily slip off
  • Proper tread pattern on the soles to avoid slipping on muddy surfaces
  • Lightweight construction to avoid issues with being weighed down after capsizing
  • Should let air circulate and feet breathe
  • Slim-line design is preferred to give more movement inside the kayak