You’re getting ready to head out on your own whitewater river adventure, when all of the sudden you pause, look down and ask yourself…what kind of shoes should I wear? While we take care of all your necessary safety gear, being comfortable is a close second. Your feet, like the rest of you, will definitely get wet. And you’ll be in and out of the raft, walking on different surfaces such as pavement, sand, gravel, and rocks. You’ll face the elements, hot, cold, and of course, wet. When it comes to what shoes to wear white water rating, depending on the season, there are a variety of options for you to consider. And after you’ve made your way downriver as well, some foot care will also go a long way!

What Kind Of Footwear To Use During The Trip

As for what are the best shoes for white water rafting, there are a few options that will serve you well. During our trips, we recommend sports sandals or old sneakers, something that you won’t mind if it gets wet (because that is definitely going to happen) and something that is both comfortable and well secured. It’s best to skip the flip flops, unless you want to potentially watch them float downriver too. If you have them, water shoes (or wetsuit books) are another great option. It’s important to remember that if you are not using closed shoes, whether that means sandals or shoes with air holes, to be generous and diligent with your sunscreen application, because there’s few things worse than sunburnt feet.

What’s On The Inside Counts Too

And by inside we mean what’s inside your rafting shoes (not just your feet)…socks! Sock choice is another way to keep your feet happy during and post-trip. Additionally, during the cooler months, socks are a much-needed insulating layer. As a general rule, in particular for longer trips or cooler days, it’s recommended to avoid cotton as they neither insulate nor dry quickly, but rather absorb moisture which could then lead to blisters or other foot-related problems at the end of the day. Wool is great because it helps retain warmth even when wet, and synthetic materials such as neoprene or lycra, or bamboo socks are all good options for both insulation and quick drying. Just remember to pack an extra pair for afterwards!

Back On Dry Land

When you get back to shore, first things first is to have a change of shoes. Your feet have likely just spent hours wet, and so it’s crucial to get them out of the dampness and to breathe, or have a fresh dry pair of socks and shoes. If you’re heading out on your own longer adventure, we recommend some extra planning to ensure you’ll have dry footwear for your additional days, a dry bag for your spare pair is your best bet. Depending on if you decide on sneakers or sandals, make sure you are able to dry your shoes overnight, or have a second pair plus a wet bag to store your wet ones.

After Care

With your feet having been regularly drenched for many hours (or even days), it’s possible that they have suffered a bit of wear and tear. Although your feet may have been wet all day, post-paddle proper hydration is what counts. So, before going to bed slather on your favorite moisturizer, foot cream, salve, or balm. If you have any cracks, cuts, or blisters, be sure to treat them as soon as possible. Again, once you’re out of the water make sure you allow your feet to dry and free of anything damp whether that’s shoes or socks, and bring a change of socks and shoes.


Like anything else, some planning and preparation before you head out for your rafting adventure goes a long way, so picking the right white water rafting shoes will mean happy feet at the end of it all! If you’d like more information or recommendations when it comes to what to expect and how to best prepare for either your half-day or full-day rafting trip with us, check out our FAQs, or get in touch with us today!