This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

The Best Shoes For Whitewater Rafting A Helpful Guide

The Best Shoes for Whitewater Rafting: A Helpful Guide

Have you ever been rafting barefoot, fallen out, and cut your feet so bad that you couldn’t walk for days?! Ok, us either because we’ve always worn proper shoes for whitewater rafting. They can make a huge difference in your overall rafting experience and safety. 

Plus, no one wants to look like a “goober” and not be prepared with the right equipment right? 

When choosing shoes for whitewater rafting, you’ll want options that are made to get wet, durable, and will stay on your feet. Whitewater rafting is a thrilling sport, and with a little preparation and the right footwear, you’ll undoubtedly have an unforgettable adventure.

Our Favorite Shoes for Rafting

Name Picture Price Best Feature Our rating Best Price
Astral Loyak Water Shoes $$ Best Overall Water Shoe for Rafting 9.9/10 See Current Price
KEEN Newport H2 Water Sandal $$ Best Closed Toe Rafting Sandal 9.7/10 See Current Price
Chaco Z1 Classic Sandal $$ Best Rafting Sandal 9.5/10 See Current Price
HOBIBEAR Boys Girls Water Shoes $ Best Rafting Shoes for Kids 9.5/10 See Current Price
DOUSSPRT Quick Drying Water Shoes $$ Least Expensive Rafting Shoe 9.1/10 See Current Price

Shoes to Wear Whitewater Rafting

The Best Shoes For Whitewater Rafting A Helpful GuideWhen choosing shoes for whitewater rafting you will want to consider a few important factors.

The most important thing is to wear shoes that can get wet. You don’t want to wear anything that will be ruined in the water, and shoes with leather can be heavy and uncomfortable. 

Choose shoes that have a good grip on the bottom so that they aren’t slippery on the wet boat or the mossy rocks around the shore.

Finally, make sure that they are sturdy enough to protect your feet from rocks.

Can you Go Rafting Barefoot?

Paddlesports like whitewater rafting require that you wear some type of protective footwear.

Whitewater rafting barefoot is strongly discouraged, because unseen rocks, sticks, and potentially even broken glass under the water can pose a serious hazard.

The last thing you want is for your raft trip to end early due to a painful cut. 

Can you Wear Tennis Shoes Rafting?

If you aren’t looking to purchase new shoes for your whitewater rafting expedition, then an old pair of tennis shoes is a fine choice. You’ll want them to be the lightweight type, as they will become heavier once waterlogged.

Of course, don’t wear a pair that you would prefer to stay dry. It’s impossible to keep your feet dry whitewater rafting.

rafting with shoes on

Besides being slightly less comfortable than our other choices, old tennis shoes provide the protection you need and are a great choice for budget-conscious rafters. 

Tips for Picking Shoes to Wear for Rafting

  1. Choose shoes that can get wet
  2. Bring another pair of shoes to wear onshore or at camp. Especially if you’re rafting in an old pair of tennis shoes. 
  3. Avoid loose-fitting shoes, especially if they’re open-toed. 
  4. Avoid shoes that will be heavy and waterlogged. 

Shoes to Wear Rafting in Cold Temperatures

When it is chilly out, you’ll want your feet to stay as warm as possible, but they’re still bound to get wet.

The best option is to pair your water shoes with super warm wool, fleece, or neoprene socks that will keep your feet warm even when they’re wet. 

Another option would be to find a wetsuit that has boots with it and then put water shoes over that.

You will still want to have the protection of a shoe.

Also, when it is cold out, make sure to bring a change of dry shoes and socks for when you get off the water.

Whitewater Rafting Shoes: 5 Great Options

Best Overall Water Shoe

Astral Loyak Barefoot Shoes for Water

Summary: Our top choice for whitewater rafting is the Astral Loyak Barefoot Shoe. This sneaker-like hybrid looks stylish while also having the benefits of being lightweight, flexible, and designed especially for water sports.

It has breathable holes that drain water and a canvas-like upper that dries quickly. The outsole is made with extra-grippy rubber to avoid slips and slides. These are the perfect choice for travel, whitewater sports, and can still be worn every day. 


  • Lightweight
  • Anti-slip
  • Protective 


  • Need breaking in
  • Expensive
  • Run a little small


Astral Loyak Whitewater Rafting Shoes

Click on the image for more information

Best Closed Toe Rafting Sandal

KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

Summary: If you’re looking for a sandal that protects your toes from painful stubs, look no further than the Keen Newport Sandal. This is a classic choice for whitewater rafting and other water sports, and it is also comfy for hiking. Quick-drying, anti-slip, and super comfy, Keen’s make an awesome water shoe! 


  • Comfortable
  • Multi-purpose
  • Breathable 


  • Slightly bulky
  • Not the most stylish 
  • Pricey

Keen Newport Sandal Water Shoes

Click on the image for more information

Best Rafting Sandal

Chaco Men's Z1 Classic Sandal

Summary: The classic Chaco is an all-time favorite of paddlesport enthusiasts. These fun sandals come in a variety of styles, prints, and colors so that there is an option for everyone. They are comfortable, made for the water, and have a grippy Vibram sole perfect for walking on rocks. The straps are adjustable for a perfect fit, and they have an excellent warranty. 


  • Cool prints
  • Comfortable
  • Extremely breathable 
  • Dry very fast


  • Expensive 
  • No Toe Protection

Chaco z71 rafting shoes

Click on the image for more information

Best Rafting Shoe for Kids

HOBIBEAR Boys Girls Water Shoes

Summary: For your little whitewater boaters, we suggest the Hobibear Closed Toe Aquatic Sports Sandal. This lightweight and quick-drying shoe protects your child’s toes from bumps on rocks. They’re flexible and grippy and come in a variety of styles. Plus they’re super cute! 


  • Great price
  • Cute styles
  • Foot protection 


  • Still a little slippery 
  • Don’t dry as quickly

Hobibear Kids Water Shoes

Click on the image for more information

Least Expensive River Shoe for Rafting

DOUSSPRT Water Shoes Quick Drying

Summary: For a budget-friendly option check out Doussprt Water shoes. These have a tennis shoe-like style, and like our other choices, they are quick-drying and have anti-slip soles. 

They’re breathable and have great reviews on Amazon. Best of all you can purchase them for around $25! The low price point makes these shoes a perfect option if you don’t think you’ll wear them all the time. 


  • Less expensive
  • Effective


  • Won’t last as long
  • Lower quality

Doussort quick drying rafting shoes

Click on the image for more information

Key Takeaways

Rafting is one of the ultimate water sports but it can quickly turn south if you don’t have the proper footwear. 

From our helpful list you’ll be able to enjoy the river each and every time that you go out.

Other Great Outdoor Related Articles

One Day Itinerary at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison: Unmissable Sights and Experiences

One Day Itinerary at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison: Unmissable Sights and Experiences

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, located in Montrose, Colorado, offers breathtaking views and unique geographical features that attract visitors worldwide. This awe-inspiring ...
Read More →
Best Camping Options Near the Black Canyon

Best Camping Options near Black Canyon National Park: A Guide to the Top Campsites and RV Parks

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a beautiful and rugged destination that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. The park is ...
Read More →
The 5 Closest National Parks to Montrose, Colorado
Winter Sports

The 5 Closest National Parks to Montrose, Colorado: Adventure Awaits!

Nestled in the southwest of Colorado, Montrose is a picturesque gateway to some of the state’s most awe-inspiring national parks. This charming town offers easy ...
Read More →

The 5 Closest National Parks to Grand Junction Colorado: Adventure Awaits!

Grand Junction, Colorado, nestled in the western part of the state, serves as a gateway to an astounding array of national parks that showcase the ...
Read More →
Top Camping Great Sand Dunes National Park

Top Camping Experiences Around Great Sand Dunes National Park

Many people think to see breathtaking wonders they must travel abroad when all they really need to do is explore the land in front of ...
Read More →
Epic Summer Activities To Do In Pagosa Springs

Epic Summer Activities To Do In Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Summertime is fast approaching, and you want to find a vacation location that has something for everyone. With over 2.5 million acres of protected forest ...
Read More →