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03/05/2003 06:27PM
want advice on the best footwear while conoeing and portaging. Leather boots, bean rubber bottom boots, fly fishing wading shoes, etc.?
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Guest Paddler
03/06/2003 03:46PM
This is all opinion (my two cents)

Waterproof shoes are useless, they will get wet, they don't dry very fast. They hold a lot of water and get heavy.

(In especially cold situations use wool socks with neoprene socks over them in your shoes)

Shoes that drain (don't hold much water) are the way to go. Then you don't worry about getting wet, just get it over with it's going to happen.

I use a pair of chota's for travel and a pair of sandles and socks or something dry for camp.

Chotas are nice, but this isn't a sales pitch. Many shoes drain very well (canvas) and have decent traction.
Lot's of paddling shoe brands out there... if they're not what you want, they will probably give you an idea of what to look for.
Guest Paddler
03/06/2003 04:59PM
I am intrigued by some of the boot that Schnees makes. They have a web site at They advertise in the BWJ magazine. Anyone have pair and use them for the BWCA? I know some hunters in Montana that swear by their hunting boots.
Guest Paddler
03/07/2003 06:33AM
I prefer Chota Quetico Trekkers with a good pair of hiking socks, they drain well and dry out pretty quick. The neopreme Brookies are nice to have, there is a removable pad in the sole of the trekkers to allow more room for the neopreme. Got mine at Piragis. Jeff
Max L.
Guest Paddler
05/02/2003 04:41PM
I have a firm belif that most accidents happen when people are attempting to load or unload boats while attempting to keep their feet dry. They balance on rocks and try to hoist heavy packs, and fall flat on their butt if lucky, on their face if not. Just accept that your feet are going to be wet and wade right in. I tried to use my gor-tex boots, but they don't come up high enough and they get swamped. For a safe trip, I use canvas shoes (chuck taylors) they have decent ankle support but the soles can be slick. Be sure to use poly or wool socs with this method. After a few minutes of wear your "wet shoes" will be warm like a wet suit.

Better safe than dry.
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
12/09/2004 04:43PM
The old school converse high top sneakers made out of canvas offer good ankle support, great traction on rocks, and they dry fast.
senior member (71)senior membersenior member
12/09/2004 04:50PM
There is much discussion on footwear in the Listening Post in a string started by smegz around 9/7/04.
"New Guy"
Guest Paddler
02/12/2005 07:04PM
Well here is what I do (if anyone cares)

I where a pair of aqua shoes when in the canoe and change to my boots for the portage. this way my boots have a much better chance of staying dry, unless it is raining they you just have to deal with it.

Good luck!
Guest Paddler
02/21/2005 01:38PM
I'm in agreement with a lot of what's posted except that I do go with the waterproof boots for portaging with rainpants for the cherry on top. I agree that there are situations than force you to just wade it out but I'm stubborn. Portaging with dry feet seems to give me an extra jolt. If traveling in a small creek/river with many small portages and dragovers: admit defeat, take off the boots and wade it out. However, I must admit that some of the portages have very difficult terrain with stumps, vines, and rocks. It's not easy packing a lot of weight in this terrain with tennis shoes, wet or not. That's the effectiveness of proper boots. Ankle support is essential for me. You definitely don't want to roll your ankle carrying a canoe or much heavier pack. Spending your vacation with sprained ankle in this terrain is no way to go.

That's just what works for me. Good luck to all! Spring is around the corner!
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
02/22/2005 12:28PM
I always wear Tevas when i'm canoeing and pack some cross trainers or other sturdy shoes with aggressive treads for portaging. Make sure to keep your shoes dry. I've started wearing thick wool socks with the sandals, it helps keep the ankle biters at bay.
distinguished member(2679)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/23/2005 06:06PM
My trips are usually spring or fall, so sandels are out. I wear 10" Bean Boots, two pair wool sox, one light, one medium. I lace the boots tight for support and anti-flooding. My feet often get damp but rarely very wet, and the wool sox are warm even when wet.
member (32)member
02/24/2005 06:30PM
I wear mocassins made by steger in Ely. They are absolutely the best all around. They are warm when wet and you can feel absolutely everything you step on, good grip too. That's all i wore on a week trip last summer, and will continue to do forever. They are just as good wet as dry. Add a par of neoprene socks if you like for colder stuff and your set. Very light is also a bonus. With one pair neoprene socks and the mocassins, your set. They stick to your feet like glue if you get in muck, and you can get the higher cut ones for ankle biting flys. Hope you consider it.
member (32)member
02/24/2005 06:37PM
P.S. i also wear these everywhere i go, and get quite funny looks sometimes from people.
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
02/25/2005 10:11PM
how long does it take the moccasins to dry out?
Guest Paddler
02/06/2006 12:45PM

Looking to buy trashed out Steger Ojibwa, HidesinHand, or possibly other brand moosehide or deerskin mukluks or moccasins from which to get leather patterns or display decor at lodge. Have or know of any?

Guest Paddler
02/06/2006 12:45PM

Looking to buy trashed out Steger Ojibwa mukluks or moccasins from which to get leather patterns or display decor at lodge. Have or know of any?

02/06/2006 02:06PM
Chota Quetico Trekkers + Smartwool socks = quick drying footgear with ample ankle support for portaging, plenty of underwater traction for when I get out of the canoe in waist deep water to avoid the rocks.

Mud puddles on the portage are simply charged through.

Changing shoes at the portage? Geeeez.
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/06/2006 03:42PM
I have found the best footwear for the portages unloading/loading is the old Vietnam style jungle boots, they have drain holes out the side, provide fair ankle support, good mud traction, and you can buy about 3 pairs for what the "portage boots" cost. If you were to write Boundary water canoe boot across the top they would sell for 3x as much! They are readily availble at most surplus stores, be careful and ensure you are getting a govt spec boot not a knock off that could fail you. I have been using the same pair of Vietnam style boots for about 10 yrs, they look like hell but fit well, kinda like the worn out sneeker.

Arkansas Man
02/06/2006 05:05PM
Keen Sandals for paddling and short portages and Merrell Stretch Chameleons or hikers for long portages... smartwool socks to cushion and protect from ankle nibblers...

02/06/2006 09:07PM
Purchased a pair of Russell Moccasin [Berlin Wisconsin] boots about 8 years ago. Love em, light weight, airbob soles, dryest boot I've ever had/used. Dumped last year in Seagull around noon, they were dry that nite. Cost a bit [custom made] but I am sure they will last me the rest of my traveling days, many more years by my planning!
As a second pair, I tried Keen H2O's last Sept. on a trip to Insula.
Lots of traction, good support [far better than I anticipated], and I found my feet didn't get as cold as I thought they they would.

distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/07/2006 12:16PM
I use Chota Mukluks,they work good but my feet always sweat in them,in the boat I'll roll the tops down but always seem to forget to roll them back up when I step out.They make a newer breathable model but have never tried them.
My partner uses 15" Gortek snakeboots that work great,when my chotas wear out thats the way I'll go.
distinguished member(1501)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/07/2006 06:51PM
Tevas for travelling and a lightweight pair of boots for around camp, but then I really hate scraping my canoe on rocks so I tend to wade out a bit at portages. I used to wear boots while paddling and portaging, and always dreaded putting them on in the morning. Tevas have great traction, drain fast when getting back in the canoe, and don't slide around on your feet. You can wear them with wool socks if the weather is colder.
distinguished member(590)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/07/2006 10:10PM
I wear Hodgman wading boots for loading and unloading canoes in the water as well as portaging. They are made of canvas and have a rubber lugged sole. Good traction, super quick drainage, good ankle support and are lightweight. Wool socks and a non-absorbent insole are a must for comfort and warmth. I change into dry hiking boots first thing when getting back to camp.

02/08/2006 08:43AM
Spring-Fall Chota Muckluks with Keen sandals in camp

Warm summer-Hiking boot with ankle protection for paddling prtaging and keen sandals in camp. On days where we have few portgaes or really easy portages I just where the Keens during the day as well.
distinguished member(7400)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
02/12/2006 09:35PM
I wear a pair of LaCrosse Goretex snake boots. They're 15 inches tall, Goretex and have great ankle support.I can get out of the canoe in over a foot of water and stay high and dry. For general paddling and around the camp I wear Minnetonka driving mocassins.
member (5)member
02/20/2006 01:46PM
I don't consider it feasible to keep your feet dry, no matter what you buy. Short of hip waders or high rubber boots which are heavy, you're going to get wet feet.
What works for me is a pair of Teva sandals, worn with or without a pair of old socks. Looks horrible, but the socks keep out most of the mud and I rinse and wring them out at the end of each portage. Take off the socks to dry and your sandals and feet are dry in 2 minutes. I wear a pair of boots in the evening when fishing and around camp when I'm less apt to get muddy or wet.
Keep in mind that you must have strong ankles, but cinch them on tight and they have good grip and support for all but the ankles. Even on the Bottle portage I have yet to slip or stumble (knock on wood)...
02/20/2006 02:50PM
Hate to beat this up..... but hope is definitely not a strategy when it comes to Footgear. Jamming a toe, losing a toenail, twisting an ankle, or getting a pebble wedged under the sandal forcing you to take off your pack to remove it... is just not a great idea. Worse, if you slip off a wet muddy rock and injure yourself in the Q many miles from help it'll be a very long, very painful trip back.

And you will be greatly imposing on your fellow travelers as they carry your share of the load.

Voice of experience - there are two kinds of portagers, those who have fallen hard with a load.... and those that are going to.

For heavens sake wear boots on the portage and sandals and the like in camp.
distinguished member (271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/20/2006 03:52PM

How do you like the traction of the Quetico Trekkers boots on large, wet slabs of smooth rock encountered on the portage trail? Also, would you be able to wet foot in mid May or late September using smart wool and/or brookies knee high neoprene socks? I was thinking of trying something like this.

I have used a pair of $35 knee high rubber boots from Bass Pro for our last 2 trips (mid may and mid September) and found them to be very useful. On cold, wet, rainy days they are great to wear around even in camp to help stay warm and dry. The flip side is you may occasionally step in water over the top of boot if you are not careful, and on warmer days you will have to wear the boots or carry them on portages.

My main concern is that I will not be warm enough wet footing with the Trekkers on colder days. The water is always cold in mid may, but the first 2 days of our trip last year it snowed a little in the morning (may 14-15). Also, a day or 2 of cold and rain came later, we were living in our rain gear. I was very toasty in those rubber boots and was glad to have them along, but they were perhaps not needed towards the end of trip.

Any thoughts on this? I have never wet footed in colder weather (except for fishing with waders) and am not sure how warm or comfortable using something similar to neoprene socks will be. Also, how bad is it wearing the Chota Muckluks when the temps start rising and the sun comes out?

Thanks, BrownTrout01

Chota Quetico Trekkers + Smartwool socks = quick drying footgear with ample ankle support for portaging, plenty of underwater traction for when I get out of the canoe in waist deep water to avoid the rocks.

Mud puddles on the portage are simply charged through.
02/20/2006 08:01PM
Traction - especially on the wet, mossy slanted slabs with a pack and canoe is always a problem - and I like these less even than mud puddles. Having said that the Quetico Trekkers seem to work as well as any other footgear I used - and in the interest of full disclosure I've used heavy Swiss Hiking boots (Good except that once wet they stay wet... and these really weren't designed to be constantly wet for ten days), Tevas with Smartwool socks and athletic shoes. The last two offer decent traction, but the former offers no toe protection and the latter offers toe protection.. but neither offers ankle support.

For cold weather Chota sells the knee high neoprene bootie liners which are to be worn inside the Trekker replacing the insole. I'm trying them for the first time in May so I'll post my experience afterwards.
distinguished member(653)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/20/2006 08:35PM
Brown Trout,
I have worn my Chota Mukluks in May and Sept. When it gets up into the 70's they get hot. (my feet are always hot though) One thing that helps is to roll the tops down when paddling and let your feet breath a little. I would not even think of wearing them in the summer but they are great for early/late season. If I were buying them now I would get the breathable ones. Even if they can be hot in the afternoons it's worth it to me to have warm dry boots on a cold morning.
Guest Paddler
02/20/2006 11:15PM
I just saw a type of swim sock/shoe/with traction on sale at Fleet Farm for $20. I might have to check it out. Looks like it has a nylon upper, very porous, but a molded traction type sole that laces up like a tennis shoe.
Guest Paddler
02/21/2006 10:21AM
Beavers, Beemer01,

Hi guys, very nice site you folks have here. Lots of good ideas and information.

member (5)member
02/23/2006 11:09AM
I don't mean to advertise but Adidas Mali's are great. They have drainage holes in the soles, dry quickly, and grip well even on the slipperiest of rocks. The inner sole is removable and made of a sandal like material. The outer sole also has a plastic plate in it to keep things from puncturing through. And they are comfortable with or without socks
distinguished member (460)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/12/2006 10:36PM
I have used just plain old flip flops (mostly on portages 25-35 rods) but they have worked well. Dry real well, easy to take on and off. I always pack a pair of tennies but have more than once ended up not using them at all.
Arkansas Man
03/13/2006 07:31AM
Teva has just came out with a toe protections sandal alot like the Keen's with the exception of being about $30.00 cheaper... I may get a pair and try them out....

03/13/2006 09:04AM
"I have used just plain old flip flops (mostly on portages 25-35 rods) but they have worked well."

Stubs - going barefoot might actually be better. Don't portage in Quetico much eh?

senior member (79)senior membersenior member
03/13/2006 09:51AM
My father and I wear mid-calf, integral tongue, waterproof leather work boots. They get a waterproof treatment just before the trip. We don't worry about stepping in the water, and they haven't failed us yet. Our annual trip is in early May, so letting our socks get wet just isn't an option.
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
03/13/2006 01:21PM
I've used flip flops before, and as long as you're going on shorter, well traveled portages, they work great. I wouldn't try them on anything long, or with any major elevation change. I got a good deal on Teva's at the end of last year, that I'll be taking this year. I also take a pair of casual shoes (actually indoor soccer shoes) for wearing around camp at night.
distinguished member (460)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/14/2006 05:01PM
Glitch, Beemer.
You are right. If i were going on any longer portages flipflops would be dangerous. But the past couple years I have just gone to lakes two and three then. I went to Insula once, can't remember what I wore for that portage.
PS. Are the Quetico portages a lot worse than the BW? Never been there, would love to make my way up there some year.
03/14/2006 07:29PM
Sure.. on the numbered lakes over to Insula the portages are very well travelled and short. I don't doubt that flip flops could work here. (Geez, I'm going to be known as the "boot nazi")

More difficult portages - and there are plenty on both sides of the US/Canadian border - would make boots, or at least sneakers a better choice.

The worst portages in Quetico can be pretty interesting. In the Hunter's Island area there is one where you disembark onto a steep rock, you shoulder your gear and canoe and immediately start going up a 30 degree slope of wet granite for 30-50 yards. Then you reach the steep muddy trail which continues upward - you actually start to feel like you might be in Colorado.

The eventual downward slope is nothing but a boulder field that goes on and on for perhaps 200 yards. Each and every step is chosen carefully... because if you slip you're going to get hurt ... badly.

No pictures were taken - mostly because I was too tired to get the camera out.

And I understand that the alternate route - the Yum-Yum Portage is worse.

Sig Heel!
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
03/14/2006 09:10PM
My personal footwear of choice for this coming season are lightweight hikers in camp and sandals that I discovered myself this year in a Cabela's catalog. These look really comfortable and look like they will be easy on the toes for portaging. They have covered toes but are built like regular higher-end sandals. I am basically lazy and hate changing footwear all the time. I wear sandals on portages (in summer) and go barefoot in the canoe. Spring and fall I wear my hikers all the time except for mocs in camp.

We can all give advice but you will have to ultimately come up with what works for you... Good luck!

member (38)member
03/14/2006 09:37PM
My choices mimic many of the other posts.

for the past 3 years I have used a boot from NRS. The NRS Workboot is a great paddle/portage boot. It has strength of sole, support and water/land ability. The negative. It is a neoprene liner which makes it a bit difficult to put on and take off.

I have just made a new purchase however. The year I bought the Workboot I was debating on another boot. The Quetico Trekker. I chose the Workboot at the time only because they were cheaper. Now I have purchased the trekkers. I also purchased the Brookies neoprene sock for cooler water trips. I can't wait for their inaugeral trip.

distinguished member(522)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/19/2006 08:41AM
I’m with Jay.

Since a motorcycle accident six years ago, I have worn the Vietnam jungle style boots. They give good ankle support, which I need, and dry quick. Coupled with some smart wool socks and I wonder why I wore Tevas up until this. Actually I know the answer, I was younger then.

Buy the good ones. ("Made in America")
distinguished member (271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/30/2006 12:13PM

Thanks for the good advice. I didn't really want to spend the money, but did purchase the Chota Trekkers and Brookies to upgrade from my rubber knee boots. I had used the rubber boots for a mid May and mid September canoe trip. Yesterday used the Trekkers for a float on the Des Plaines and they seemed to work fine, even kneeling in my Outrage with foot pegs. They are lightweight and fairly small, I believe that you would not have trouble sliding them in or out under your seat. Maybe also safer then the rubber boots if ever swimming in deep water? My hope was that they would be useful in a variety of temperatures. Look forward to trying them out again!

Thanks, BT
04/30/2006 10:11PM
I am an Anti-Boot person!
There is nothing worse than being stuck with wet boots day after day on a long trip. And paddling with a Kevlar means you will get wet, no matter what. I used to wear tennis shoes, but have switched to "Salomon Tech Amphibian Water Shoes ". They are great...the water drains out instantly. All the hype about "Ankle Support" has no meaning for me, I have never spained an ankle on a canoe trip. The worst ankle sprain I ever had was while wearing High top football
Check them out!
senior member (93)senior membersenior member
05/03/2006 11:57AM
Ark Man: I just got a pair of Teva Dozers that have really good toe protection and cushioning for running the trails. My little piggies will be oh so glad to have the extra protection. They were $60 at REI.
Guest Paddler
05/26/2006 07:04PM
Last year I wore a pair of Keen H2 sandals, and cocky enough to portage with them, canoe and a pack, well, rolled my ankle and the canoe went flying. This year I bought a pair of Chota Nunavet Mukluk II's. My dad and I both bought a pair. They were great and I had the best time portaging I have ever had. They do have some shortcomings though. They have a stretch lace taht I replaced right off the bat with real laces. My dad didn't and his broke right before the trip. Also even with the laces, for me anyways, they didn't provide enough ankle support. So i wore a thin ankle brace under the boot. i wore knee high soccer socks and had my pants tucked into the boots. I have large calfs as well, and they fit tight enough there at the top that even when i went in too far they didn't swamp. They were great!
distinguished member(599)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/26/2006 10:44PM
Like Fishguts, I also like the Salomon Tech Amphibians. If you are prone to ankle sprains, get something with more support. In all my 50 years I don't remember ever having an ankle sprain that slowed me down, so personally I don't feel like I'm taking much risk.
distinguished member (271)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/30/2006 05:20PM

Just got back yesterday from a 16 day trip that included a couple of tough portages. Some trails were little more then ankle busting boulder gardens that were under water or mud and required you to 'feel' your way. Others trails went along river banks or up waterfalls, having to sometimes walk in the river.
Not to sound like a commercial, but those Chota Trekkers were way sticky and didn't slide around on the rocks. When the 40 degree air temps went up into the the 80's and around 90, I substituted wool socks for the brookies. If anything, the brookies are a bit on the warm side, I turned them inside out overnight to dry.

Anyway's thanks again, these worked even better then I had hoped.

05/30/2006 07:24PM
Ditto Browntrouts opinion on the Trekkers with Brookies for cold water.
03/14/2017 12:31PM
Just to chum the (shallow) water...

US Army coming out with new Jungle Boot....
distinguished member (466)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/14/2017 12:39PM
I am amazed no one mentioned Muck Boots. We take groups of 8-18 every year. The guys area in Keens, Teva's, and a wide variety of boots. One guy bought a pair of Muck Wetlands five years ago. Last year we had 15 men in 2 camps. .. all but the kids were in Muck boots.

I bring Muck boots (Wetlands), and a pair of Keen Newport Sandals. Never take the Muck's off. They are that comfortable. Good grip and I have yet to get water in them on landings.

We go in mid September so if is often cool and rainy. Count our group as dry feet guys wearing Mucks.
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