Best Shoes and Sandals for River Rafting Trips

by Emily Singletary

I'm often asked by guests about what type of footwear they should bring on their rafting trip. It's a good idea to have river shoes that stay on your feet and separate camp shoes that are comfortable for hiking or wearing around camp.

While technically any shoe that will stay strapped to your foot will work, here are my top picks.

River Shoes: Astral Footwear

Astral Shoes are our guide's favorite do-it-all shoe. You can easily go from rafting to hiking with these river shoes. My favorite model, the Rassler, is great for scrambling over slippery rocks, walking up wet creek beds, and having good toe protection on and off the raft. They are also a guide favorite for just wearing around town.

Astral Rassler Shoes

Astral Rassler Shoes

PROS

  • Foot & toe protection
  • Doubles as a hiking shoe
  • Keeps rocks out
CONS

  • Takes longer to dry so your feet may feel soggy
  • Hiking long distances in wet shoes can cause blisters

River Shoes: Chaco Sandals

Another guide favorite are Chaco Sandals. These classic outdoor sandals have a sturdy footbed that is great for walking over rocky ground, getting your feet wet in the raft, and works well for short hikes from the raft. It's also my favorite shoe for summer dips in the river or for soaking in natural hot springs, when you don't want to wear a bulky shoe but you need to protect your bare feet from sharp rocks.

Chaco Sandals

Chaco Sandals

PROS

  • Feet dry quickly
  • Keeps feet cool on hot days
CONS

  • On long days outside, wet straps can cause blisters
  • Small rocks and sand can wash in under your foot
  • No toe protection

River Shoes: Keen Sandals

Keen Sandals are a guest favorite for their use both on a rafting trip and also as a comfortable, functional shoe for wearing after your trip. They are a good combination of sandal and shoe that provide great toe protection.

KEEN Sandals

KEEN Sandals

PROS

  • They have a comfortable footbed
  • Good toe protection
  • Great for summer walks
CONS

  • They take a long time to dry and since there is more fabric, your feet feel very wet the whole day
  • When sand or small rocks wash in while hiking around the river, it's hard to get out without taking off your shoe

River or Camp Shoes: Bedrock Sandals

Bedrock Sandals are new to our guides and so far we're enjoying their durability and lightweight footbed. They're a good shoe for the person who does everything in flip flops but wants a little bit of extra foot security and a non-slipping sole. These have become my everyday summer sandal around town or wearing while kayaking on hot days.

Bedrock Sandals

Bedrock Sandals

PROS

  • Lightweight compared to Chacos
  • Great for swimming holes, rafting, and hanging around the campfire
CONS

  • Not as great for hiking. Although the Vibram soles are fine on slippery rocks, the thinner sole has you feeling more rocks under your feet
  • Less protection for your toes

Camp Shoes: Bogs Boots

These are great boots for cold and wet weather camping. They keep your feet warm, dry, and sand free. They are especially great for when you don't want to get your feet wet but are near the water for a bathroom break, a short hike that might cross some water, or it is raining. They're also great for standing in the water while loading up a raft.

PROS

  • Nice and dry feet
  • Insulated boots are really warm
  • Comfortable to walk around in
CONS

  • Not the best for walking or hiking. Can get really warm.
  • If they do get wet on the inside they are hard to dry out

Camp Shoes: Blundstone Boots

Blundstones are our office staff’s favorite daily shoe. They are great for the cool and rainy spring, fall, and winters that we have here in the Pacific Northwest. They work as a great all-around shoe, from spontaneous hikes after work, to slipping on after a day of skiing, to wearing with nice pants and going to dinner. They’re also cozy and have a great, solid sole for wearing around rocky camps.

Blundstone Boots

Blundstone Boots

PROS

  • Warm and comfortable for chilly nights
  • Ankle support for walking over uneven terrain
  • Waterproof leather
CONS

  • Too warm for summer camping and not quite warm enough for winter camps
  • Bulky to keep in your dry bag

Camp Shoes: Crocs

These comfortable slip-on shoes are a guide favorite for hanging out around camp on a warm-weather trip.

Croc Sandals

Croc Sandals

PROS

  • Soft but durable foam makes a super comfy footbed
  • They slide on and off easily, which makes it easy to put your shoes on and off when you are getting in and out of your tent
  • Crocs are lightweight
  • More toe protection than sandals
CONS

  • When comparing them to a sneaker, you will get a lot more sand in your shoes because Crocs have holes in the top of them
  • Maybe not the most fashionable shoes ever

What are your favorite shoes for camping and rafting? Let me know in the comments below!


Originally Published: | Updated on

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Author

Emily Singletary

Emily grew up in South Carolina but the Appalachian mountains called her north, where she learned to kayak and fell in love with backpacking and all things outdoors. Now she is enjoying living and playing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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