Best Whitewater Rafting Shoes: Ideal Shoes for Your Feet

Choosing the right pair of white water rafting shoes can be a challenging task, as they come in a variety of styles and designs.

Rafting shoes are designed to protect your feet from the rocky river scenery, constant lapping, and anything else that might threaten your footing on the water.

best for Rafting with these river shoes

Astral Hiyak Minimalist Boots

the best premium with a custom fit

Chaco Men’s Z1 Classic

Best water shoes for men and women

SIMARI Water Shoes

best budget-friendly rafting shoe for women

KEEN Closed-Toe Sport Sandals

best budget-friendly rafting shoe for men

Body Glove Dynamo Water Shoes

Whitewater’s best rafting shoes come in all styles and designs, so choosing the right pair can be a daunting task for your whitewater adventure.

To narrow down your choices, keep an eye out for the below-given list of the best whitewater rafting shoes that you can buy in 2021.

Best Whitewater Rafting Shoes

Best Whitewater Rafting Shoes

KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

The KEEN Newport H2 Sandal is a classic water shoe that’s designed to be your ultimate companion when it comes to active water sports adventures such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, fishing, and so much more.

This shoe is a versatile water sandal that combines comfort, durability, and toe protection in a sporty and fashionable huarache style.

Made from durable polyester and an abrasion-resistant toe bumper, these rafting shoes have all the protection and stability of a shoe with the convenience and comfort of a sandal.

The sporty webbing upper is as durable as quick-drying for the water-friendly activities you enjoy.

Moreover, it features a bungee lacing system to give you a secure, custom fit. This classic sports sandal also comes with a rear pull-on loop for easy on and off.

The arch contour of the footbed allows your toes to spread wide for a natural foot position, while the metatarsal ridge cradles your foot to provide support in every step.

Great for river rafting, slippery rocks, and canoeing, the razor-sipped sole provides excellent traction on wet surfaces.

Although a good shoe for most activity levels, the upper holes may allow sand and other small objects and particles to enter and be challenging to remove, which may be uncomfortable.

Astral Loyak Barefoot Shoes

Designed for water sports activities, including boating and other water travels, the Astral Loyak Barefoot Shoes boast a minimalist design that you’ll find so versatile.

This unique barefoot-style sneaker is made for wet conditions with its hydrophobic upper and quick-drying footbed.

The Loyak shoe is made using hydrophobic canvas for durability, with the addition of a stretchy Airmesh at the vamp and tongue for a secure fit and added ventilation.

These water shoes are built with a flat design so that you can walk on the bottom of any body of water and expel water out of the sides for maximum drainage while preventing silt and other small objects from entering your shoe.

The midsole is 7mm thick, has 45C closed-cell EVA foam, and provides medium arch support. The instep and heel area are slightly tapered for better foothold and control. At the same time, the wide forefoot allows your feet and toes to spread for stability.

True to its name, the result is a balanced foot positioning that feels similar to when you’re barefoot.

The outsole features unique 3mm lugs for excellent traction in the water; they are made with G.15, the stickiest, high-abrasion compound Astral offers.

In addition to incredible traction, the outsole also utilizes Astral’s patented Flex-Grip which is non-marking, draining, super flexible and razor-siped.

However, because the Astral Loyak Barefoot Shoes feature a sneaker style, these shoes dry slightly slower than other shoes or sandals.

Chaco ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal

The Chaco ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal is the perfect choice for rafters who prefer lightweight and breathable sandals rather than bulky and heavy shoes. 

The minimal design provides a direct connection to your bare feet, resulting in more stability, balance, and agility on land or water.

Highlighted by a double-strapped polyester jacquard webbing upper that wraps around the foot and through the midsole, this wedge features a custom fit and premium performance that outperforms your expectations in a regular sandal.

This sandal is designed with two adjustable and durable high-tensile webbing heel risers that fit between the back of your heel and the upper.

These leave your feet free to flex naturally without putting added pressure.

With injection-molded ladder lock buckles, this sandal also wraps around your instep for a personalized fit. An extra toe loop is also there, which offers added security to the unique toe strap.

Chaco’s patented and podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT PU footbed cushions cradle your foot all day to keep you comfortable all day.

Like most of Chaco’s footwear, this athletic sandal also boasts its patented ChacoGrip rubber compound, designed to provide ultimate grip and traction in all conditions.

The only thing is that the Chaco ZX2 Classic Athletic Sandal doesn’t have any toe protection since it is an open-toed sandal.

Teva Forebay Sandal

Whether you’re trekking from one river town to another or crossing entire countries, the Teva Forebay Sandal is the perfect riverside companion.

It snaps easily through the water and makes you feel like you’re walking on air. This allows you to spend all your energy on the rapids rather than focusing on your feet slipping out of your shoe.

This sandal features a water-ready synthetic upper and quick-drying construction. The soft textile lining cushions the foot and dries quickly.

Each element of the Teva Forebay sandal is designed to provide comfort and support. Their patented Shoc Pad is placed on the heel to absorb impact where you need it most, while a deep heel cup provides extra cushioning under your foot.

And thanks to the Microban treatment that will keep smells at bay, it will not only dress up your feet but also help you keep them fresh.

The solid rubber outsole makes this sandal durable enough to withstand long treks along the river or dusty trails in the backcountry. 

It also delivers lasting performance with a grippy outsole for excellent traction on wet surfaces and slippery rocks.

The adjustable hook-and-loop instep strap mechanism keeps this sandal secure, allows for an easy on and off, and provides a custom fit.

However, some customers indicated that the heel area rubs against the skin, causing chafing and blisters.

UBFEN Water Shoes

The UBFEN whitewater shoes are a great value. This shoe can offer you great comfort and performance on the water with all the necessary features. Plus, they are a budget-friendly option.

These water shoes are high-quality material with ultra-lightweight but soft and quick-dry features. 

It is an excellent choice for rafters who prefer lightweight water shoes with good grip and high performance.

The lightweight and smooth materials with fine stretch make them easy to put on and take off. 

In addition, the fabric debris net in the shoes can effectively protect your feet from foreign matter.

The bottom of the shoes is perforated, allowing water to flow out easily while keeping the shoes firmly on your feet. 

The holes are also not big enough to allow sand or rocks to enter inside the shoe.

The new and redesigned sole allows for excellent durability and long-lasting wear.

Besides that, the spiked outsole gives extra traction on slippery surfaces when walking by enhancing traction against the ground.

However, due to the lack of adequate padding and foot support, others pointed out that these UBFEN Water Shoes can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

Things to Consider When Choosing Whitewater Rafting Shoes


Protection is the number one concern when you’re in the water; that’s why when you’re thinking about selecting the right pair of whitewater rafting shoes, make sure you look for shoes that provide maximum protection for your feet as you jump in and out of the boat.

When choosing your whitewater rafting shoes, you’ll want to consider the sole.

If you’re engaging in many movements, which is always the case when rafting, having a stiff sole will help you move and brace more efficiently and effectively.

Rigid shoe soles are ideal for this since they help you transfer power from your feet to the raft.

On the other hand, soft soles prevent you from engaging your whole foot when moving. 

Shoe flexibility prevents the maximum transfer of power since it molds to the soft surface of the boat and the thwart, and that’s what happens if you wear shoes with soft and flexible soles.

Another thing is that rafting shoes with rugged soles protect the feet from outside elements. 

This is crucial because you might not be able to see where you are stepping under the glare of the bright sun, above the gushing water, or past other rafters.

For example, rocks and wood in the water can hide broken glass, sharp metal, or debris that can cut your feet even if you wear flip-flops or sandals with soft soles.

However, shoes with rugged soles prevent them from penetrating and injuring your feet.

The next thing you have to consider is the toe protection the shoe offers.

Rafting or river shoes with a closed-toe design are preferred since they deliver maximum protection by preventing your feet from sliding and squashing forward.

Due to the nature of whitewater rafting, expect that you will spend most of your time climbing in and out of your boat. 

This causes constant downward pressure on the front of your toes, and this unrelenting pressure can badly hurt your toes.

Things to Consider When Choosing Whitewater Rafting Shoes


You’re going to be spending the entire day in your whitewater rafting shoes, so you don’t want to get blisters on your feet, and the last thing you want is an uncomfortable, awkward shoe that doesn’t feel right.

What you need is a pair of shoes that will be comfortable in any situation; however, just make sure to get the right size for your feet.

A tight fit constricts the blood vessels in your feet, so the less comfortable your shoes are, the likelier it is that you’re going to feel foot pain.

On the other hand, a pair too loose will allow water, sand, rocks, and other elements to seep in, causing discomfort. 

Not to mention, people who wear shoes that fit them properly have a less severe flare-up of blisters in the river.

You should also keep in mind the varying terrains and conditions you encounter during your rafting adventure.

You don’t simply walk or jump up and down when rafting; it also involves paddling and maneuvering through turbulent water. 

Imagine the possibility of ending up with sprained joints if you wear shoes that have minimal ankle support.

Keep your feet and ankles safe by choosing a shoe that provides support around the ankle and avoiding sandals with an open-backed design.

This keeps your foot from moving inside the shoe as you ride over the water, protecting you in case of a fall or slip, and keeps the pressure and stress away from your ankles.

Also, get a pair of shoes that stop your foot from sliding forward in the heels, which can indeed get highly uncomfortable.

You can’t also forget that your rafting shoes will get drenched in water, and it is not a very comfortable experience for your feet.

Opt for something lightweight and something that dries quickly; you don’t want your shoes to get in the way and delay your group from hitting downstream rapids just because of your heavy, soaked, and uncomfortable shoes.

Note: It is always advisable to consult with a professional or seek the advice of an expert before making a purchase to ensure that you find the best whitewater rafting shoes for your needs.

Final Words

Rafting is an active and dynamic activity, so your shoes should be designed with your feet in mind so that you can get more enjoyment out of your trips while still protecting them.

The water can be unforgiving, so make sure you are ready for anything by wearing the right rafting gear.

When choosing the best shoes for whitewater rafting for your feet, there are numerous factors to consider.

But once you get the hang of it, your feet will thank you for investing in a pair of shoes that both look and feel great.

I hope this article has helped you make an informed decision to keep your feet happy and safe for your next whitewater rafting adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions on Best Whitewater Rafting Shoes:

Q-1 What are the best shoes for whitewater rafting?

The best whitewater rafting shoes are those that are specifically designed for rafting and provide good traction, support, and protection for the feet. Some popular options include the NRS Crush Water Shoe, Astral Brewer Water Shoe, and Chacos Z/1 Classic Sandal.

Q-2 What should I look for when choosing whitewater rafting shoes?

When choosing whitewater rafting shoes, consider the fit, durability, traction, and protection they provide. Look for shoes with a non-slip sole, good ankle support, and quick-drying materials.

Q-3 Are sandals suitable for whitewater rafting?

Yes, sandals can be suitable for whitewater rafting as long as they provide good traction and support for the feet. Look for sandals with adjustable straps, a non-slip sole, and good arch support.

Q-4 Can I use my regular sneakers for whitewater rafting?

No, regular sneakers are not ideal for whitewater rafting as they do not provide enough protection and support for the feet. It’s important to use shoes specifically designed for rafting to ensure the safety and comfort of your feet.

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Tessa Reynolds
Tessa is a Denver-based writer who likes to share her knowledge and personal experience in the form of articles. When she is not writing, you can probably find her skiing with her friends in the mountains of Colorado.

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