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OregonPaul
Guest Paddler
 
01/24/2022 11:18PM  
I am a newbie, never having done the BW, and have a question about shoes. Wondering what is the most common practice regarding footwear for canoeing and footwear for portaging…do people wear different shoes for each activity and actually change shoes at each portage?
 
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Gaidin53
distinguished member (292)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 01:06AM  
You’ll get some varying answers. In general though you have wet clothes, socks and I strongly recommend wet ankle high boots. You wear those when traveling during the day. Northern Tier has a good older video on how to wet foot portage on YouTube.

When you get to camp you change into a pair of dry camp shoes and clothes. Basically once you are done being wet for the day.

Ryan
 
tbro16
member (20)member
 
01/25/2022 04:13AM  
IMO it depends on water and air temp, number of portages, and the length of those portages. What works for others might not work for you and what you're doing.

I go long distances with several portages on my first and last days of the trip. I always roll with old tennis shoes, no socks, and sweatpants I can roll up easily. Feel thats best for the long distances that I'm doing. I'm one that will have wet feet at the beginning and end of every portage. The cooler water in late May doesnt bother me at all. The things I'm looking for are: lightweight, either breathable or completely water proof, good ankle stability, and good traction. I get 3/4 with a cheap pair of old tennies. Ankle protection, for stability as well as sharp rocks you dont see in the water, would be awfully nice though.

I'll be curious to see how many folks wear muck boots. I've considered them, just not sure how they would be walking down the trails. I'd hate carrying them if I'm not using them.
 
Whichwaysnorth
senior member (54)senior membersenior member
 
01/25/2022 04:41AM  
I'm a big fan of simply using an old pair of tennis shoes and hiking weight wool socks for portaging. Then in camp I'm guilty of burning a few extra pounds of weight on my hiking boots. I just love having them, and a dry pair of socks, to change into at camp. Yes it sucks putting on wet socks and shoes in the morning. But the discomfort only lasts until the first step into the lake, then it's all the same.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/25/2022 05:30AM  
I wet foot in Chota Caneyforks and Smart Wool socks, May to October. Ditto on changing to dry when we make camp. I have light weight sneakers. Unless it's raining, I put up a cloths line first and hang wet things, and set Caneyforks in a sunny place, and then set up the rest of camp.
 
01/25/2022 06:02AM  
Common practice runs the gamut. I wear the same footwear all day, no changing. For wet footing I prefer an ankle high portage boot and good wool socks. Good grip on wet rock is important. When the water is colder I wear NRS Boundary Boots.
 
01/25/2022 09:59AM  
On my first BWCA. canoe trip, I started out changing shoes/boots at the portages. I realized pretty quickly that I was wasting a lot of time doing that, so I just embraced the wet foot concept and wore the canoeing shoes while portaging.

I will say that the type of sole is important: a soft rubber sole provides a better grip on wet rocks and sloping granite slabs than does a hard rubber sole.
 
Kendis
senior member (96)senior membersenior member
 
01/25/2022 10:39AM  
OregonPaul: "I am a newbie, never having done the BW, and have a question about shoes. Wondering what is the most common practice regarding footwear for canoeing and footwear for portaging…do people wear different shoes for each activity and actually change shoes at each portage?"

For warmer weather I wear the Merrel Moab boots, hiking boots with drains made with wet footing in mind. They provide good ankle support and allow water to drain out of your boot. If you decide to wetfoot I recommend wool socks as they are kind on your feet, keep most of their insulating ability when wet, and are usually tough enough to keep bugs from biting your ankles. I bring other shoes and socks to wear at camp.

For colder weather I wear waterproof boots that come up to my upper calf and thick wool socks to stay warm. You have to be more careful with water depths when you get in and out of the canoe, but it prevents you from getting wet feet in cold conditions and risking hypothermia. I bring other shoes and socks to wear at camp.
 
01/25/2022 10:46AM  
I bring old hiking/running shoes for camp and three pair socks - travel, camp, sleep.
 
01/25/2022 11:07AM  
Do not attempt to change shoes at each portage. You will very quickly get sick of doing this, it will add significantly to your travel time, and you will end up blocking the portage for others.

As you can already see, there is a very wide range of opinions about shoe preference - with time everyone finds what works for them. Nearly everyone brings two pairs though - one to canoe and portage in, and another for camp. For paddling and portaging, it is nearly certain you will have to step into water (or mud!) that’s somewhere around 5-15 inches deep - once in a while deeper.

In spring or fall, I usually use a tall rubber boot or tall LL Bean boot. In June-August I’m more likely to use Merrill Moab mid-height boots (non-goretex ones dry faster), and in camp I like a goretex hiking shoe.
 
fishonfishoff
distinguished member(661)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:12AM  
tbro16:


I'll be curious to see how many folks wear muck boots. I've considered them, just not sure how they would be walking down the trails. I'd hate carrying them if I'm not using them."


I tried the muck boots on my last solo. They were used the first day, then I carried them the rest of the trip. Trying to keep water out of them wet footing was too much of a PITA! Old tennis shoes or cheap water shoes work great for me.

FISHONFISHOFF
 
OMGitsKa
distinguished member (217)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:20AM  
I just use tall boots like Mucks. Ez-pz
 
bombinbrian
distinguished member (328)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:21AM  
Everyone in my group wears Nike Army boots when paddling and portaging . They are light, have great support and dry fairly quickly. We also take a pair of tennis shoes or crocs for camp.
 
01/25/2022 11:25AM  
tbro16: "I'll be curious to see how many folks wear muck boots. I've considered them, just not sure how they would be walking down the trails. I'd hate carrying them if I'm not using them."
I have not used Muck brand, but have many trips in a cheaper tall rubber boot. I still use in May or September-October. Definitely a pain to pack, and once in a while it’s trickier to land at a portage but usually can be done. For walking, I’d say it depends on your fit and feet. Having a good insole helps - something with some “cup” for the back of your foot. This helps keep your foot from sliding forward when going down hill. I usually also have a wool felt sole added in for warmth and additional comfort.
 
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(781)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:38AM  
On my last trip I used a pair of low-top shoes that drained well. I did not like that muck and grit and such filled them up and then was there when I would portage. Sure, I could stop, take them off, empty them, put them back on and then portage, but it was a pain. Some people use low-tops all the time and do well. I don't know what I'm going to do differently next time, but chances are it will be one of the alternatives that will be offered up on this thread.
 
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(781)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:42AM  
tbro16: "I'll be curious to see how many folks wear muck boots. I've considered them, just not sure how they would be walking down the trails. I'd hate carrying them if I'm not using them."

That is exactly the reason I was avoiding the muck boots, but a person in our group wore them. There were a few times where I was over knee-deep, and once where I was over my waist so they would have filled up. I'm sure that would be a "Can't have everything!" situation.

Would something like the NRS Boundary Boot solve the problem?

NRS Boundary Boot
 
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(781)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:48AM  
boonie: "Common practice runs the gamut. I wear the same footwear all day, no changing. For wet footing I prefer an ankle high portage boot and good wool socks. Good grip on wet rock is important. When the water is colder I wear NRS Boundary Boots. "

I was just looking at the NRS boots. Based on my last trip and watching others wear normal lace-up boots, I'm probably going to go that way. My low-top shoes allowed too much "stuff" in them and made a portage uncomfortable or slower due to having to clean it all out.
 
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(781)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:50AM  
boonie: "I bring old hiking/running shoes for camp and three pair socks - travel, camp, sleep. "

This is my strategy as well. It's amazing how good it feels to put on a pair of dry socks, then a different thicker pair to sleep in. It can change your whole perspective of the day.
 
naturboy12
distinguished member (370)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 11:51AM  
I portage in keen sandals (with the closed toe cup) and lightweight wool socks. It’s quite the fashion statement, but it works for me. Many people swear by taller boots for ankle support, but my ankles don’t need that and the extra weight for me isn’t worth it. I bring a pair of old tennis shoes for dry feet once in camp.
 
01/25/2022 12:37PM  
Just to give you another option to ponder; I wet foot in old Colombia hikers with a very thin liner sox in neoprene sox topped off with just under the knee gaiters. I go mid May and the water is very cold and this combo keeps me fairly comfortable. The gaiters protect my wet lower legs from the wind and keep mud and rocks out of my boots on portages. In camp it is wool sox and slip on water shoes. I use the water shoes because they are light, dry quickly and are easy to slip on when I need to get up at night. Designated wool sox for sleeping.
Whatever way you choose to go, make sure you have something with a good grip for portaging.
 
papalambeau
distinguished member (182)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 01:00PM  
18" rubber boots (Muck or Lacrosse) for traveling and portaging days. Wear Crocs in camp and when we go out fishing (which is most of the time). We always trip the end of May and the first couple of weeks of June.
 
01/25/2022 01:16PM  
WonderMonkey: "That is exactly the reason I was avoiding the muck boots, but a person in our group wore them. There were a few times where I was over knee-deep, and once where I was over my waist so they would have filled up. I'm sure that would be a "Can't have everything!" situation.


Would something like the NRS Boundary Boot solve the problem?


NRS Boundary Boot "


While I haven't used the NRS Boundary Boot, I've had several years of good service from the NRS Workboot Wetshoes . Two cautions--first, the Workboot size runs very small--I usually wear 11.5, ordered 12, should probably have ordered size 13. As the boots look very similar, I'd inquire about sizing when ordering. Secondly, the neoprene 'sock' portion of the boot never really dries out on a trip, and after day five or so really reeks. I rinse mine with baking soda/water before the two-day drive home.

TZ
 
EddyTurn
distinguished member (198)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 01:21PM  
I'm not sure if ankle-high shoes provide much defense from ankle sprain, in my lay opinion - exercising is definitely a better option. But ankle high shoes make big difference when stepping out of the boat in shallow muddy waters, which happens all the time. Good portage shoe will drain fast while keeping the dirt outside. Portaging while sand and pebbles are rubbing against one's feet could really hurt.
 
BearBurrito
distinguished member(971)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 01:47PM  
I only trip in shoulder season, so I wear NRS Boundary Boots with wool socks all day long. When I reach camp I change into my sleeping wool socks and camp shoes.
 
01/25/2022 02:01PM  
WonderMonkey: "boonie: "Common practice runs the gamut. I wear the same footwear all day, no changing. For wet footing I prefer an ankle high portage boot and good wool socks. Good grip on wet rock is important. When the water is colder I wear NRS Boundary Boots. "


I was just looking at the NRS boots. Based on my last trip and watching others wear normal lace-up boots, I'm probably going to go that way. My low-top shoes allowed too much "stuff" in them and made a portage uncomfortable or slower due to having to clean it all out."


I bought the old model on closeout a couple of years ago. The new ones look nicer. They are waterproof and warm. I wear an insole in them for extra support on the bottom. I was between sizes and went up - glad I did.
 
WonderMonkey
distinguished member(781)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/25/2022 05:00PM  
boonie: "WonderMonkey: "boonie: "Common practice runs the gamut. I wear the same footwear all day, no changing. For wet footing I prefer an ankle high portage boot and good wool socks. Good grip on wet rock is important. When the water is colder I wear NRS Boundary Boots. "



I was just looking at the NRS boots. Based on my last trip and watching others wear normal lace-up boots, I'm probably going to go that way. My low-top shoes allowed too much "stuff" in them and made a portage uncomfortable or slower due to having to clean it all out."



I bought the old model on closeout a couple of years ago. The new ones look nicer. They are waterproof and warm. I wear an insole in them for extra support on the bottom. I was between sizes and went up - glad I did. "


Good advice on sizing up and adding an insole. I'm going to try and find them local, but who knows if that is possible.
 
theshrewdloon
member (19)member
 
01/28/2022 12:03PM  
Unless you're tripping in the late season, my belief is that it's best to embrace the wet foot and change into something like crocs or even flip flops when you're done for the day.

I've searched far and wide for the best wet shoes. One thing I can say for certain is that Astrals are not it.
 
01/28/2022 01:31PM  
I will be the odd duck out on this one. I wear Teva sandles when canoeing or portaging and I bring a pair of Merrell hiking shoes for in camp. I have been doing this for 16-years at this point. I make sure I have the Teva's are very tight when on a portage, and usually I am barefoot in the canoe. I know; I'm weird. My tripping partners let me know... every time.
 
hairtux
member (7)member
 
01/28/2022 04:37PM  
boonie: "I bought the old model on closeout a couple of years ago. The new ones look nicer. They are waterproof and warm. I wear an insole in them for extra support on the bottom. I was between sizes and went up - glad I did. "

I also have the old model and love them. Haven't used an insole though so I may have to give that a try this spring. I like how much support the new ones appear to have but perhaps a good insole will suppress the temptation to upgrade.
 
kenpark23
member (14)member
 
01/28/2022 08:57PM  
I've given up on trying to keep my feet dry when portaging. I wear quick drying sneakers and wool socks during the day. I've learned to embrace the wet and muck. At camp is a pair of dry sneakers and dry wool socks. Finally, one more pair of loose fitting wool socks that never ever leave the tent. I sleep in those.
 
doubledown
distinguished member (111)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/29/2022 12:06AM  
Has anyone used wading boots? Like something that simms makes?
 
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