Last few years I've had nice pair of low cut Keens for portaging as my wet shoe. This has worked OK. Reading BWJ, Stu advocates for a Schnee 9" uninsulated boot...
Given that I'll be out with the Wabakimi Project in a few weeks, and WCPP in August, I've been thinking about bringing my Keen hiking boots which are more substantial than my other Keens. (they have great sticky soles and I don't slip much--unlike my old Asolo boots with worn down Vibran soles),
My concern is (besides the weight of a hiking boot), is if one dumps and has to go for a swim. Some of the big lake crossings can get a bit hairy, and it's possible (shit does happen--see Tragedy on Alton Lake--BWJ Fall 2013). News Story I've been thinking about taking my PFD and boots for a swim, to see how functional I'd be, swimming along with my overturned canoe.
I've never dumped on open water, and when on big lakes carefully stick close enough to shore that I can visualize making my way there, swimming if I have to. I have overturned in streams a couple times, enough to make me wary of eddies & obstructions you can ride up on.
When i was a kid the red cross use to make you wear your clothes for one swimming class so you could feel what it was like to swim in pants, shoes and sweaters. I wish theys still did this. Anyway, it isn't to hard to swim with these things once you learn how. And with a pdf you should be fine
I was a camper and counselor at YMCA Camp Menogyn. Everything we did from practice canoe swamp/rescue to swimming off our campsites had us doing it wearing our hiking boots. We always wore lifejackets as well. I have swum raging rapids, windy lakes, and everything in between with boots on. Side stroke or breast stroke is my favorite method of swimming when wearing boots. Just practice ahead of an emergency.
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