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What Shoes To Wear Kayaking

It’s important that you’re wearing the right equipment when you go kayaking to ensure that you’re prepared, and this includes your footwear!

What shoes to wear kayaking

Seasoned kayakers have a preference for what shoes they like to wear, but if you’re a beginner, you might not know what shoes to wear when kayaking.

In this article, I will cover some key information about what shoes to wear when kayaking, as well as some options to avoid. So, next time you head out on a kayaking trip, you’re as prepared as you can be.

Let’s get into it.

What Shoes To Wear Kayaking 

There are a variety of different shoes that are suitable to wear when kayaking. These options include but are not limited to:


Sandals are an excellent footwear choice when it comes to kayaking throughout the summer season. This comes down to the fact that they drain more easily and are very breathable, making them more comfortable on your feet when it’s hot.

Sandals come in a variety of different materials, such as neoprene, but you will want to try on a few pairs before you make your decision. 

Water Specific Shoes 

Water specific shoes can be ideal to wear kayaking when you know that you have to cover more rugged terrain in between paddling.

A great thing about water specific shoes is that the fabric is designed to be quick drying, meaning that your feet aren’t soaking wet for long periods of time.


Another popular footwear option is booties. Booties, also known as wetsuit boots are popular amongst surfers, and are great to wear when it comes to kayaking in colder weather.

Booties tend to be made out of neoprene, and come in varying degrees of thickness depending on the level of warmth and protection that you’re looking for.

Although they fit like a sock, they tend to have rubber soles to provide you with grip and protect your feet from sharp rocks. 

Whichever shoes you choose to wear when you head out kayaking, you should always make sure that you consider the following factors:


An important factor you will need to consider when choosing shoes for kayaking is the grip. When it comes to getting in and out of the water, it’s important to opt for a shoe that has a grippy sole as you will likely encounter slippery rocks.

Ensuring that your shoes are grippy enough to deal with a variety of terrains will minimize the risk of you slipping over.


Another factor you will need to consider is your comfort. You don’t want to spend the day kayaking in uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes, as this will increase your risk of developing blisters.

When your shoes don’t fit you properly, the fabric can easily rub against your feet, causing blisters and cuts. Bearing this in mind, you should always make sure that you try on your shoes before purchasing them to ensure that they are a comfortable fit.


Another factor you will want to consider is versatility. Many people want to invest in a pair of shoes that can be used interchangeably for a variety of different activities.

Although how versatile your shoes are might not be the first thing that comes to mind, you can save a lot of money if you consider it.

For instance, if you have more than one water hobby, such as surfing, then you might decide you want to invest in a high quality pair of booties that you can wear for both kayaking and surfing.

What shoes to wear kayaking

This way, you can save the money you’d otherwise spend and put it to better use towards your hobbies.

What You Shouldn’t Wear Kayaking 

Walking Boots

While you might think this is a convenient and safe option for you to navigate rocky terrains and beaches, you should never wear walking boots while kayaking.

There are many situations where walking boots are a great investment, yet kayaking is not one of them. Not only are walking boots not suitable to submerge in water, but they will also weigh you down in the water and make it harder for you to swim should you capsize the boat. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry. When you consider how easy this could escalate to a critical situation when you’re in freezing cold water and can’t get back into your kayak, it’s best to avoid heavy shoes that will prohibit your ability in the water.

This provides you with the best chance of getting out of the situation, and back into your kayak.

Flip Flops 

Flip flops aren’t a good option because they can easily slip off your feet, and don’t provide you with the grip that you need, either.

Walking over rocky or uneven terrain in wet flip flops is a recipe for slipping over, and you could seriously injure yourself if you’re not careful.

When it comes to capsizing in the water, the last thing on your mind is going to be the location of your shoes.

As a result, you want shoes that can hold onto your feet with ease, as flip flops will likely be carried away by the tide. After all, you don’t want your investment to be carried away by the water!


Although this isn’t actually a footwear option, it’s crucial that you are aware that you should never go kayaking barefoot. While you might think this is the simplest option, your feet aren’t protected from the variety of conditions and terrains that you will encounter when you are kayaking.

From sand to sharp rocks, you need to be wearing footwear to ensure that you don’t injure yourself when landing your kayak or when you capsize. 

In addition to this, without the extra protection, your feet have the potential to become very cold very quickly when it comes to kayaking in cold weather.

When this could make the difference in you getting the most out of your kayaking trip, or heading home early because you’re freezing cold, you will have wished that you wore suitable shoes!

In Summary

There are a variety of different shoes that are suitable for kayaking, such as water specific shoes and booties. 

That being said, you want to be as prepared as possible, and there are also options you should avoid wearing, so you should remain mindful when looking for a pair of shoes for kayaking.

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of what shoes to wear when kayaking.

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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