One of the biggest debates among paddlers is what to wear on your feet. Some prefer old sneakers; others strap on lightweight sandals. My choice has always been solid hiking boots.
Yes, they’re clunky, and some paddlers consider them somewhat disastrous if you flip over; like wearing a bag of cement on your feet. However, I'm more inclined to twist an ankle on the portage then to find myself being tossed out of the canoe on most of my remote wilderness trips. That’s just my opinion.
The Happy Camper
I prefer something solid, like an ankle-high hiker. I have two favourites. The first is Keen’s Targhee III. It’s super lightweight, waterproof, durable and grippy. It’s also comfortable right out of the box.
It’s a big step away from their classic Quicklace Mukluk that so many paddlers still wear on the portage. But that’s not a bad thing. They are far more versatile and breathable. It’s a wading boot, weighing in just under a pound, with a durable rubber sole and large micro screen drain panels on both sides.
What I wear around camp is totally different. That’s when I choose to wear old sneakers or closed-toed water sandals. I usually prefer sandals. They're lightweight in your pack and comfortable. Only problem is mosquitoes figure out how to bite you through the exposed skin areas. Of course, you can wear socks with your sandals but that’s not good fashion sense.
The Happy Camper
Whatever you choose, make sure you realize how important camp shoes are. So many paddlers spend the day trying to keep their feet dry, even spending a fortune on waterproof boots. You're wasting your time. I can guarantee your feet will get wet. The first few minutes of the trip, I'll walk straight into the water and just get it over with. Dealing with wet feet during the day is just a part of canoe tripping. But so is changing into a dry pair of camp shoes or sandals at the end of the day. It's a perfect system—until you have to put on your wet boots before leaving the campsite in the morning. That has to be one of the nastiest parts of the day.