Welcome to ThinkVail – shop our list of the best whitewater rafting shoes featuring performance footwear from NRS, Chacos, Sea To Summit, Teva, Keen, Astral, Aleader, Crocs and more.
When rafting, kayaking, tubing, fishing or for most any way that you enjoy the water, life is better with a good pair of water shoes.
They protect your feet from sharp objects like, rocks, sticks, and submerged metal in the water. They give you tons of traction whether you’re in a muddy put-in, a steep portage or a side hike in a slot canyon. In Vail, Colorado, when the rivers begin to run in the spring, they are made completely of snow melt, so the water is very cold and the right river shoes will keep your feet warm and dry.
First and foremost, you want a shoe that will not get pulled off of your feet if you fall out of the raft or take a swim in your kayak, all shoes must stay securely on your feet. If the water is cold look for booties or dry boots.
If your river trip also includes a side excursion such as hiking or zip lining you are going to want a shoe with a good, tough outsole that will protect your feet on the trail.
Look for a good lug for lots of traction on both dry land and wet, slippery surfaces.
Lastly, but most importantly, you want a comfortable shoe that you can wear all day long and not get sore or fatigued.
The following river shoes are the cream of the crop, so have fun finding the ones that are right for you and your adventure!
#1 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – NRS Boundary Dry Boots
NRS, or Northwest River Supplies has been making professional-grade river equipment since 1974. Their gear is rugged, reliable and built to the standards of professional river outfitters and guides. You will wonder how you lived without these dry boots.
Made of Neoprene, Titanium laminate and plastic
High traction, 6 mm rubber soles makes portages easier, no matter the terrain.
Adjustable ladder buckle, quick-lace boot and cord-lock keeps your boot on your foot.
15 inch, knee-high style boot is waterproof and warm. Ideal for wet, mucky put-ins.
Feature a 5mm neoprene upper that is glued, blind-stitched and double-taped to ensure your feet stay warm and dry.
Features a 7mm neoprene insole
2mm plastic shim offers protection against sharp objects or terrain.
Tall boot style allows for easy entry/exit from your boat while in 12-16 inches of water.
#2 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – Chaco Women’s ZX2 Sandal
Chaco has been making premium water sandals since 1989. Their products are versatile, super adjustable, durable and really comfortable. This is a shoe that can take on any river!
Classic sandal is made of 100% polyester jacquard webbing so you can customize the fit to your foot
Toe-loop for additional forefoot control
Rubber sole and durable high-tensile heel risers keep rocks, sticks and any other sharp object away from your feet.
Podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT footbed insures contoured arch support
Non-marking ChacoGrip rubber outsole with 3mm lug keeps you from slipping in the wet conditions.
Available in variety of colors
A variety of strap styles to suit your mood and your needs
Midsoles are made out of polyurethane compounds and do not break down or compress with wear, so it is durable and long-lasting.
All Chaco footwear features a biocentric footbed and has received the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance.
Like the Chaco women’s sandal, this Chaco men’s sandal is a boss both, on the river and off. Perfect for any river excursion.
Made of polyester jacquard webbing that can be adjusted for an ultimate customized fit.
Thick, synthetic sole and 1″ heel risers protects the bottom of your feet from rocks, sticks and sharp objects
Custom injection-molded ladder buckle lock at the ankle for a secure hold that keeps your shoe in place.
Podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT polyurethane footbed is slip resistant and offers arch support and all-day comfort. This biocentric footbed has received the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance.
Non-marking unaweep outsole with vibram tc-1 rubber and 45 millimeter lugs for incredible traction and durability on land and water.
Unaweep Vibram® TC-1 outsole boasts toothy lugs for exceptional footing.
Bigger, bulky style allows you to trek anywhere in these sandals
#4 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – Crocs Swiftwater Mesh Sandal
Crocs, need no introduction. In 2002, they took the country by storm and have been making great shoes ever since. These river sandals are no exception. With more than $1 billion annually in shoes sales and more that 600 million pairs of shoes sold, it’s safe to say that Crocs know a thing or two about shoes.
Stretchable mesh upper
Features the iconic Crocs comfort
Hook and loop (Velcro) closure keeps the shoe secure but is easy to put on and take off
Synthetic lining for all-day wear.
Footbed is made of Croslite,™ Crocs’ proprietary closed-cell resin, which produces a soft, comfortable, lightweight, superior-gripping, non-marking and odor-resistant shoe.
Perfect for professional and recreational uses such as boating, hiking, hospitality and gardening.
#5 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – Astral Men’s Filipe Outdoor Sandals
If you LOVE flip-flops this is the shoe for you. Flip flops are never recommended on a river trip but these flip-flops include a removable, securing strap around the foot and ankle so they are perfect for rafting, kayaking or boating of any kind.
The Ultimate Flip Flop, these shoes are super comfy and convert to an action sandal with the easy ankle strap attachment (included)
Made of recycled polyester these shoes feature a cushioned synthetic leather with a soft, wicking knit liner and soft nylon toe post
G.15 rubber outsole is flexible, extra grippy, super sticky, abrasion resistant and non-marking and will take you where you want to go without slipping!
FLIP Lug pattern sheds debris to keep it looking and feeling fresh
Level foot bed promotes balance and agility
Wide forefoot lets your feet and toes spread out for stability
Lightweight, at only 178g/shoe, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing shoes
Synthetic leather shoes are vegan
They instantly convert from a flip-flop into a “sandal” via a simple accessory strap.
#6 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – Astral Women’s Rosa Outdoor Sandals
The Astral Women’s Rose is perfect for the woman who loves flip-flops but also wants to be able to easily convert them to an athletic sandal.
Made of 15 mm polyester webbing with ladder buckle lock
Featuring a rubber sole
The uppers are made of vegan, cushioned synthetic leather with cute embroidery and emboss details.
Soft, wicking knit liner, reflective star at center
Soft nylon webbing toe post.
Midsole are made of dual density EVA with G.15 rubber pods at foot bed to make shoes more durable and long-lasting.
Super-grippy and non-marking on most surfaces.
Includes an easy to convert Ankle Strap
Available in Red, Grey Black and Turquoise
The removable heel strap turns this flip-flop into a regular sandal.
Ideal for the adventurous girl!
#7 Best Whitewater Rafting Shoe – Sea to Summit Ultra Flex Booties
Since 1983 Sea to Summit has embraced “Design Perfectionism” and creates ingenious, ally beautiful products with a “no worries” Australian attitude. They are always coming up with the next cool thing, these booties are no exception.
Made of 3mm neoprene
Rubber laminated, flexible, sensitive sole gives great feedback for technical pursuits while boating, however don’t rely on this boot to keep your feet protected if you have to portage.
Secure Y-pull Velcro strap system keeps shoes in place
Low profile style is lightweight and easy going but chances are they will take on water when you head into the big waves so you may have to drain them occasionally.
Stitching lines have been optimized to prevent chaffing from foot straps.
Keen is an American company based in Portland, Oregon that has been producing great footwear since 2003. Their shoes’ signature feature is the thick black toe bumper that makes these water shoes, durable, practical and able to hit the trails or the rapids just as easily.
Made of water-resistant leather
Made in the USA
Synthetic sole has great grip and the multi directional lug pattern offers traction even on wet surfaces
even on wet surfaces
Thick 1.25″ heel keeps your feet safe from rocks, sticks and sharp objects
Pull-on sport sandal style
Double-needle stitching and leather upper with Keen logo
AEGIS Microbe Shield-treated lining for natural odor control
Quick-draw bungee lacing system
Patented toe guard protects all your little piggies way better than any other sandal
Easy-on heel loop
Non-marking siped outsole.
Hydrophobic, breathable mesh lining sieves water
Removable polyurethane foot bed conforms to your specific foot shape
The secure fit strap design adjusts for a comfortable fit.
If you’re planning an awesome rafting or kayaking trip you are going to want the best whitewater rafting shoes. Please tell us YOUR favorite water shoes and why? Are your favorite river shoes on this list? If not please leave a comment and tell us the brand and why it should have a place on the list. Water adventures are so much better with a good pair of shoes, please let us know a favorite story where shoes saved the trip or where they were the bane of your existence, we would love to hear all about it!