What Shoes to Wear White Water Rafting Best and Worst


White water rafting is an exciting and thrilling sport that allows participants to navigate through raging rapids and churning water. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it is important to be prepared with the right clothing, equipment, and footwear.

While many opt for traditional sports sandals or swimming shoes while white water rafting, having specially designed white water shoes can provide superior grip and support.

White water shoes are designed to keep your feet secure on the raft, especially during times of turbulence or high waves. They are different from regular sport sandals because they feature sticky rubber soles made for traction on slippery surfaces. Additionally, most feature flexible webbing for breathability as well as adjustable straps that help keep your feet secure in them even when wet.

While choosing appropriate footwear will depend on the activity of white water rafting you plan to do as well as personal preference, there are some appropriate options available for everyone. In this article, we will discuss what types of shoes are best suited for white river rafting activities while also listing some of the worst options you must avoid to stay safe and comfortable during your adventure!

Types of Shoes

When it comes to white water rafting, it is important to wear the right type of shoes. The wrong type of shoe can compromise your safety and make it difficult to enjoy your experience. There are many different types of shoes that can be worn for white water rafting, but some are better than others. In this section, we will be looking at the best and worst shoes to wear for white water rafting.

Water Shoes

Choosing the right shoes for white water rafting is essential. From open-toed shoes to heavy duty boots, a good pair of footwear can make or break your adventure. One of the best types of shoes to wear while white water rafting is a pair of highly specialized water shoes, designed to keep your feet dry and give you better traction on wet surfaces.

Water shoes are usually lightweight and flexible, but some brands have features such as reinforced toe protection and extra gripping surfaces to give you even more stability during your rafting trips. Many also include ventilation systems that instantly drain away any moisture that accumulates inside the shoe so your feet stays cool and comfortable in any water conditions. Whether you’re seeking protection from sharp rocks or just seeking an all-purpose shoe for white water fun, a quality pair of water shoes is an ideal choice.

To get more grip in the rapids, some people prefer neoprene socks with their water shoes; these also help keep sand and silt out of your socks. The extra coverage provided by neoprene socks can add cushioning as well as additional abrasion protection for your feet when trekking through shallow pools or crossing rocky river bottoms.

When it comes to choosing wear for white water rafting, it’s important to choose items that protect against occasional bumps and scrapes yet provide comfort from cold temperatures and fast currents in the river environment – quality waterproof white water rafting shoes are a great way to do just that!

Hiking Shoes

When white water rafting, it’s important to wear a type of shoe that not only provides adequate grip on slippery surfaces but also offers protection to your feet in the event of small rocks and other debris being caught up in the current. Hiking shoes are the ideal choice because they offer superior stability and are designed to handle a wide range of terrain.

Many types of hiking shoes will feature a waterproof construction, which is ideal for hiking or wading through rough waters, as well as traction soles for added grip when walking on wet rocks or uneven ground.

Hiking shoes usually have thicker soles than regular shoes for additional cushioning when walking over sharp stones and rocky terrain. Most models are constructed with an adjustable lacing system that ensures a snug fit, keeping feet secure and prevent them from slipping inside them during your journey.

As white water rafting usually involves both land-based activities and time spent in rough waters, it would be wise to invest in good quality hiking shoes that can protect you from both the sun’s UV rays and potential foot injury from sharp rocks found at the bottom of the river bed.


Sandals are a viable option for white water rafting, provided the sandal has a good grip and adjustable straps so that it does not fly off your foot if the boat takes an unexpected dip. Look for sandals with toe straps and solid footbeds that provide arch and heel support. Sandals made specifically for water activities will be constructed with quick-dry material, drainage ports, angles soles, and reinforced toe bumpers to protect your feet while allowing them to get wet.

When you’re shopping around for sandals designed specifically for white water rafting, look for features such as:

  • Cushioned EVA foam midsoles
  • Adjustable Velcro straps
  • Durable rubber soles with an aggressive tread pattern
  • Fast dry mesh knit uppers
  • Rivet reinforcements at stress points
  • Protective toe bumpers

Flip Flops

Flip flops are a popular form of casual footwear, typically worn in hot weather. They typically consist of a flat sole attached to two straps that go between the toes and then around both sides of the foot. This type of open-style shoe is commonly referred to as a thong sandal, as the strap presses against the sole between the big toe and second toe. Flip flops can be made from plastic, rubber, foam or fabric and come in many styles and colors for both men and women to suit any taste.

Flip flops are ideal for walking on beaches, pools and other outdoor environments where there is a chance for sand to get into closed-toe shoes or boots. Because flip flops are light weight and easy to slip on, they are also popular when travelling or when performing activities such as gardening where more durable protection may not be necessary.

Most flip flop soles have non-slip grips along the bottom allowing users to maintain good traction while walking across wet surfaces like a shower bottom or around pools. Flip flops should not be used lightly though; because they are not designed with additional support like that provided by sneakers or other closed-toe shoes, these open types of shoes can cause ankle rolls if subjected prolonged use over uneven surfaces for activities such as golfing or running around town.

Best Shoes for White Water Rafting

White water rafting involves a lot of activity and can be a bit tricky when it comes to picking the right footwear. You need shoes that provide enough grip, that are comfortable to wear and that keep your feet dry during the experience. In addition, the shoes should be lightweight and breathable, so your feet don’t feel overburdened and uncomfortable.

Let us take a closer look at the best shoes for this activity:

Water Shoes

For white water rafting, you want to make sure your feet are well-protected and don’t add extra weight so that you can move around easily. Water shoes are an ideal choice for travelers looking to explore rivers and waterways while white water rafting, as they provide the necessary grip and safety you need in the water.

Water shoes are designed with flexible, lightweight materials and typically feature drainage holes to help keep your feet cool, as well as some sort of quick-drying feature for when you’re done in the river or stream. They often come with a sole that is both slip resistant and offers superior grip on slippery rocks or mossy surfaces. It’s important to find a pair of shoes that fits snugly so there is zero chance of them slipping off in the rapids!

When researching what type of water shoe is best for white water rafting expeditions, consider features like

  • flexibility
  • breathability
  • good arch support
  • anti-slip traction lugs for safety
  • fit in addition to navigating rocks and other debris safely

Many kayakers prefer styles that also come with padded insulation help to keep them comfortable in cold weather conditions. Whether on shore or out on the river paddling your boat, finding the right pair of shoes can make all the difference!

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a great choice for white water rafting, as they give you plenty of ankle support and traction on wet and slippery surfaces. Choose a pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes that provide plenty of cushioning to protect your feet. Look for materials that will help keep your feet cool and dry in the river water by utilizing features such as breathable upper mesh fabric and fast dry linings.

Additionally, make sure that the sole is non-marking or plastic material to reduce any slips or falls. Finally, choose shoes with straps or laces that allow you to secure your feet firmly inside the shoe to prevent them from sliding off during turbulent waves in the river.


When white water rafting, your choice of footwear is essential for maximum safety and comfort. Sandals are an ideal option for anyone who wants to step into the boat wearing lightweight and breathable shoes that also provide good traction when needed.

Sandals designed specifically for white water rafting are usually equipped with features like adjustable straps, non-slip soles, heel straps and reinforced toe guards so they can securely attach to your feet while in the rapids. Choose sandals desgined with thicker rubber soles made to last; since they will be exposed to a wet environment, quality construction is key. These shoes should fit snugly but comfortably on your feet as loose sandals can be easily lost in the current of fierce rapids. Popular brands offering white water sandals include Astral, Columbia, Keen and Teva.

When it comes to color choices, conventional wisdom suggests darker colors will conceal dirt and grime better than lighter ones; however, this may not always result in the safest rafting experience as some darker colors do not show up well at night or when splashing around in shallow waters. Ultimately, you should opt for what suits you best – just remember that whatever shoe you choose should be comfortable enough for long periods of time in water conditions that may range from mild to rough.

Worst Shoes for White Water Rafting

White water rafting is an exciting and thrilling experience, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not wearing the right kind of shoes. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes can cause you to slip on wet river rocks and can even put you in danger of foot entrapment in the water. To make sure you’re safe and comfortable on your rafting trip, it’s important to select the right type of shoes.

Let’s explore the worst shoes to wear white water rafting:

Flip Flops

Flip flops should be avoided when white water rafting. Although they provide good airflow, they lack the grip and support that your feet need while in the water. Flip flops can slip off the feet easily or even get sucked up by the current of a river, making them unsuitable for white water rafting. They can also lead to foot and toe injuries from toe stubbing, slips, falls and other impacts associated with outdoor activities.

Flip flops are useful for beachwear, but not for rock scrambling or any other form of white water rafting. A better choice of footwear is a pair of closed-toe sandals or shoes with good grip and traction that can provide good ankle support. Look for water sport shoes that have features such as:

  • All-terrain soles for increased gripping power and wet traction;
  • Fully adjustable straps;
  • Sturdy thread on key stress points which will hold up against wear;
  • Lightweight material designed to dry quickly;
  • Extra arch support which helps to reduce fatigue during long days of hiking or paddling.


Regardless of the type of white water rafting you are doing, wearing the right footwear is an important factor to consider. Avoid wearing anything with open toes, such as sandals, as these types of shoes will not provide adequate protection for your feet. Instead, opt for a good quality pair of sturdy shoes that are waterproof and made from breathable materials and will grip securely to different surfaces. In addition, it’s always a good idea to wear socks that can help keep your feet dry and offer protection from blisters.

By keeping all these factors in mind when choosing your whitewater rafting shoes and apparel, you’ll be sure to enjoy a safe, comfortable and memorable experience!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What type of shoes should I wear for white water rafting?

A1: You should wear shoes that have good grip, are waterproof and provide ankle support. Shoes such as water shoes, neoprene booties, or trail running shoes are good options. You should avoid flip-flops or sandals.

Q2: What are the worst shoes to wear while white water rafting?

A2: The worst shoes to wear while white water rafting are sandals or flip-flops. These types of shoes offer no support or grip and will likely come off in the water.

Q3: Are there any other safety tips to keep in mind while white water rafting?

A3: Yes, it is important to always wear a life jacket and follow all safety instructions given by your guide. Make sure to stay with the raft, avoid standing or leaning over the sides, and avoid any obstacles in the water.