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Footwear is vital - you should have a decent sole on your paddling footwear to protect yourself from sharp objects in the marine environment - rocks, barnacles, oyster shells, broken glass and all manner of other nasties hiding in the mud. Paddling socks - whether neoprene or thermal are also necessities - they will keep your wet feet warm and cover the gap between booties and long pants that gets munched by insects when you are off the water!

Booties and Watershoes

 The sole of your booties should still be flexible enough so that you can maintain good feeling of your foot pegs, and if your feet are larger, not be too cramped in the end of the cockpit. Your paddling shoes should also be well attached to your feet so they don't float away if you take a swim or get sucked off in the mud in those low-tide landings - a velcro strap to tighten or an above the ankle opening help keep them on.

We have found a good lightweight minimalist runner to be good for kayaking, and there are a variety of water shoes on the market - choose something sturdy! Of the many neoprene paddling booties we have seen two that combine these features: NRS Remix Kicker booties or for a higher cut wetshoe - NRS Freestyle Wetshoe.

We have also just introduced the Astral Designs Loyak and Astral Designs Hiyak. These are a quick drying and hard wearing fabric, not neoprene, with a great grippy sole, suitable for sea and river kayaking. See our East Coast Kayaking Blog for more info.


Astral Designs Hiyak


An important part of your base layer is keeping your feet warm - unless you are wearing a drysuit/drypants or some sort of high waterproof boot (mukluks), inevitably you will get wet feet, so you need to be able to keep them warm when wet. Wearing socks also protects that gap between long pants and booties from biting insects that seem to sneak up on you when you are busy at lunchtime and when setting up camp.

The choice comes down to thermal/fleece socks or neoprene socks. The 3mm neoprene socks is possibly a bit warmer but it is a personal choice and what you find most comfortable.

With fleecy / Polytherm socks, obviously the thicker the material is the warmer the socks - Sharkskin Chillproof socks are the winners here.