We’ve read through 1000s of reviews from verified owners and taken a look at some of the best shoes for white water rafting and found the Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 to be the overall best, while Merrell Waterpro Maipo to be the most comfortable.
While packing a suitcase, shoes might not be at the forefront of your mind but they are certainly important since one will need just the right footwear for their white water rafting trip.
Recently, a friend of ours named Johnny wore some beat-up sneakers on a white water rafting trip – but it sure didn’t take long for her to lose them! Kind of like how the tide takes things with it when the waves come in.
That’s why we recommend wearing shoes specifically made for that type of activity because they will keep your feet secure and you won’t fall victim to all the nicks and cuts that you might experience otherwise.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when shopping for these:
Is it adjustable around your ankle?
Does the traction feel stable?
They say that if it feels perfect in the store, then lose the dog at home – whatever fits well is likely what will be right for you out on the river!
Best Shoes for White Water Rafting
- Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 – Best Overall
- KEEN Newport H2 Sandal – Best Value
- Chaco Torrent Sport Sandal – Best for Women
- Northside Brille II – Best Unisex
- Merrell Waterpro Maipo – Most Comfortable
- Easy USA Slip Ons – Best Budget
6 Best Shoes for White Water Rafting Reviewed
When shopping for the best water shoes for white water rafting, it is important to consider the brands that make the best whitewater rafting shoes because this will guarantee you a thrilling outdoor trip to take in your newfound footwear!
Check out our list of the best shoes for white water rafting you can choose from for a memorable time on the water:
Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 – Best Overall
The textile material and mesh panels in Speedo’s Surfwalker Pro 3.0 water shoe help to keep the foot cool, dry, and comfortable by promoting stellar ventilation as well as more importantly, a speedier drying time.
This shoe is ideal for water sports enthusiasts like surfers and kayakers who need to switch between wetsuits quickly after spending an extended period of time in or on the water. We could say that the Surfwalker Pro 3.0 make for the best river shoes as well.
And to back that up…
The Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 also comes with a four-way stretch design for superior grip on wet surfaces. And those aren’t the only features the Surfwalker Pro 3.0 has that make it one of the best shoes for white water rafting trips.
One thing that buyers have repeatedly commented on is how well the shoe stays secure to the foot throughout this type of white-water rafting activity due to its S-trac outsole – because when you’re hurtling down rapids at high velocity, you don’t want your feet to slip off or get ripped off accidentally by rocks!
If you’re planning on owning just one pair of lightweight water shoes and using them for similar activities like above mentioned, you’ll be pleased to hear that these are highly durable according to reviewers, and last quite a while.
A lot of people like to consider foot size and price comparison in order to make a purchase. But there are so many other factors they should be aware of too before pushing the button and buying the first thing that looks suitable.
Users online claim that these Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 Shoes are first-choice picks thanks to their maximum drain ability. What that does is allow them to transition easily from land to water and vice versa perfectly without any issues or hassles connected with doing so.
Online reviewers indicate that fit is a common problem for many online buyers, so take the time to check the size chart available on the product page before making any purchases.
One of the best ways to ensure maximum comfort is by walking around your home in new shoes for a few minutes prior to leaving the house rather than wearing them straight out of the box while doing tasks of vigorous intensity.
For women who are looking for the same comfort as men but don’t want to compromise on their femininity, Speedo has created a version of this shoe just for you.
KEEN Newport H2 Sandal – Best Value
If you’re looking for a great pair of sandals to take with you on your next whitewater rafting trip, you don’t have to look any further than the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal.
Not really the best water shoes for rafting but rather the best sandals, it comes with an excellent high-quality design on the bottom which you can expect will offer fantastic traction and grip during your rafting maneuver.
It has a fluid design that makes it specially made for use while participating in water sports such as whitewater activities.
A great thing to like about it is how secure the lace capture system is, so you won’t have to worry about them coming undone if you take a stroll along the sand or go running.
If you’re getting them in a half size larger than normal, this should work perfectly.
Beware: If you’re a have flat-footed person, you may find the design of KEEN’s Newport H2 Sandal a bit uncomfortable for you.
The water shoe has a secure design that in many ways makes it safer than many other brands. But as with many products out there, you may find that after some decent amount of time, the threading deteriorates as people have mentioned.
It does come with an effective odor repellent feature, however, and its subtle design for overall comfort doesn’t lack elegance either.
Many people have appreciated the KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal throughout whitewater rafting as they’ve found it to be one of their mainstays when it comes to their everyday water safety gear.
Overall, a pair of these KEEN rafting shoes will prove to be one of the best investments you can make if you’re hoping something will help make your fun outdoorsy activities much more enjoyable.
Ladies, did you know that KEEN also made a version of Newport H2 for you? You can find it here.
Chaco Torrent Sport Sandal – Best for Women
Ladies – If you are still wondering what shoes to wear, white water rafting will be so much fun with the best Chacos for rafting and kayaking!
These Chaco Torrent Sport Sandals are 100% Polyester. These are imported footwear and they come with a rubber sole. They sport knitted polyester uppers with synthetic overlays for extra structure/toe protection.
How do these shoes rank as the best women’s white water rafting shoes and one of the best shoes for white water rafting trips?
Well, these Chaco Torrent Sport Sandals come with women-specific LUVSEAT EVR midsoles and non-marking ChacoGrip Plus rubber combine to make for a 2.5mm lug depth rubber compound which is vital to women during their outdoor adventures.
BUT there’s a catch…
These shoes can be uncomfortable and unsuitable for kayaking, biking, SUP, etc. BECAUSE your heel might rub against the back of your ankle and send “shooting pains” right up into your calf (and that’s NOT kidding!)
Depending on the shape of your ankle or even ankles in general, this could be a really great shoe but ONLY if you put a piece of felt where your heel hits the back of the shoe to angle better with your foot!
So IF you add some padding to the heel, then these will be fantastic rafting shoes you can wear for white water rafting, SUP, kayaking, hiking, and biking in wetlands.
They’re one of the best river sneakers to wear when going for some fun white water rafting in our opinion. BUT if you don’t sew felt or put some padding on your shoes, then you probably shouldn’t buy these.
Northside Brille II – Best Unisex
Our ultimate pick for the best shoes to wear for white water rafting wearable by both men and women will not let you down during your outdoor activities.
A lot is going on with the Northside Brille II that makes it one of the best shoes for white water rafting you can find on the market today.
First. it will consistently provide exceptional grip on just about any terrain – both dry and underwater. How so?
The rubber outsole is made using multi-directional tread and it has a synthetic sole. So it’s also perfect for rugged, rough terrains that require superior traction.
The bungee lacing system makes it easy to get in and out of these shoes, so you can go on hikes all day long with these if necessary!
Additionally, the reinforced toe and heel overlays keep the shoe durable while the breathable upper allows for better ventilation whenever your feet might feel hot or sweaty during a particularly strenuous workout.
And if it’s fantastic river shoes you want out of Northside Brille II water rafting shoes, you’re going to find them quality products made from durable materials. It also has vents, which work to allow cool air inside the shoe. This keeps your feet from getting too hot.
A few consumers have complained about them already falling apart quickly. Some say as soon as a few weeks after purchase! Most likely due to not being used for their intended purpose like rock climbing, white water rafting, or going over rocky terrain.
But that’s nothing compared to a LOT of users that have been satisfied with the wide range of features that accompany Northside’s Unisex Brille II Athletic Water Shoes when you decide to go rock climbing or white water rafting or find your way through steep and rocky hills.
Merrell Waterpro Maipo – Most Comfortable
Be a safer paddler with Merrell’s Waterpro Maipo. It comes with WetGRIP siping that helps you keep your footing. This helps you every step of the way when you are either out on a walk or hiking across slippery rocks and tides for example.
Another awesome feature of this shoe is that it boasts very decent arch support, which makes sure you have more stability and support!
For extra comfort, this shoe can be worn by people with wide feet or those who usually find it difficult to wear shoes while paddling.
We’re not going to deny the Merrell Waterpro Maipo of its right to be one of the best shoes for white water rafting at a fair price. You’re going to love the performance of the Merrell Waterpro Maipo when it comes to comfort!
If you’re concerned about getting injured from slipping during your next outdoor activity, then this footwear should be of interest to you because of its slip-resistant components.
And just so you’d know, those who wore these shoes loved them so much for managing dirt and sand very well when walking along a shoreline.
They also appreciate just how much wear they can get out of them even after having owned other versions of shoes made by this same brand over the years.
While some people did note that the laces on the shoe do not last very long, others do praise it for being lightweight. There are few complaints to be shared about the overall design and fit of this product.
In general, we’ve heard a lot of users say that this pair of shoes is perfect for paddling and white water rafting throughout an entire day (because they can go from wet to dry conditions that easily).
Ladies, here’s the link to the upgraded version of this shoe for women.
Easy USA Slip-on – Best Budget
The Easy USA Slip Ons are the best shoes and socks for white water rafting and for people who want to wear comfortable, supportive footwear by the water that won’t break the bank.
Although not your first choice for challenging hikes and water rafting trips in harsh weather conditions or prolonged periods, the shoe’s quick-drying synthetic upper offers enough support and a bit of grip on myriad surfaces to hold up as a dependable shoe in emergencies if called upon or if you simply want something stylish for lounging by the pool or taking morning blends at the local coffee shop.
The mesh upper and neoprene throughout much of the design offer great protection from water and make the shoe sturdy enough for taking on some of those trickier surfaces.
The sole is sturdy enough to help you while staying light and maneuverable enough with its TPR design.
A few buyers of this product noticed it is not the best when it comes to traction and grip. Some even found blisters popping around their heels after wearing these shoes for extended periods during a trip.
But all in all, if you are on a budget and will only be using these shoes occasionally, or even irregularly at that, they are a decent option to consider.
Ladies, the women’s version of this shoe can be purchased here.
Does White Water Rafting Really Require Special Shoes?
So lots of people out there ask if the kind of shoes they wear impact their adventure rafting experience in any way.
Believe it or not, this is an important question to which people either don’t know the answer or think doesn’t really matter!
There’s nothing wrong with asking about the particulars on this trip as there’s a whole spectrum of insights and factors to consider.
We happen to be one of those who like to get tips that can make my trip go smoothly!
That being said, one really has no choice but to take along certain types of footwear when they’re embarking on adventure tours like these.
You need great quality water shoes that are waterproof and quick drying so your feet stay safe from potential blisters!
If you are considering wearing your regular house flip-flops or sandals they will not provide enough support while you’re rafting and especially not while rock hopping.
These perfect images of different spots where people perform different forms of river rafting reminded us that we had to warn you to wear the right type of footwear for the occasion – whether it’s a sunny, beachy-beach outing or if there’ll be rocks to jump from and clamber over along the way.
Although, you can take your flip-flops or sandals along with you if you intend to leave them in the car and wait for their next use which will be when you wear them.
Best Shoes for White Water Rafting Buying Guide
Most whitewater rafting companies recommend wearing shoes that are waterproof, breathable, and comfortable while standing in water.
Now, if you can’t make up your mind about what shoes to wear white water rafting and hiking with whoever is coming with you, we have outlined some of the most important qualities to look for when shopping for the best shoes for white water rafting to help you decide.
Drying your feet after water sports is important. Dry mesh water shoes make for the best shoes for white water rafting adventures.
Having some meshes that channel water throughout the shoe helps it to dry faster and keeps your feet comfortable in addition to keeping your feet warm and infection-free when you get out of the water.
Has Excellent Grip
Shoes are important for many reasons, especially if you’re planning a trip to the river. This is why we recommend going with shoes that keep your feet comfortable and secure while treading through rivers.
When selecting the best shoes for white water rafting trips, you must keep in mind that they will need to offer you the right amount of grip and traction.
Therefore, opt for a pair of shoes for whitewater rafting that offers a safe and comfortable fit, especially if you intend to be on slippery grounds or immerse your feet in water regularly.
The non-marking rubber outsole offers reliable support while the precise grooves on the sole ensure stability and maximum resistance.
Gives Arch Support
When you’re searching for some comfortable water shoes for whitewater rafting, make sure to select a pair with good arch support. It will significantly reduce blisters and the chance of having any foot pain!
Promotes Foot Balance
Getting a steady footing on your raft is crucial when traveling through whitewater rapids.
The nature of the riverbed environment means you must wear shoes that will ensure both foot support and stability to avoid arch strain or unwanted ankle damage.
Another important thing you need to look for when buying a pair of the best shoes for rafting and hiking is that they should not be too loose and they should fit properly.
You don’t want to end up getting shoes that are too big or small. Your shoes should fit securely and not come off when you go inside the raft or slip into the river during a misadventure.
This is why we ask that you use our review to evaluate different sizes and brands of shoes besides Nike which we have found as one of the best out there at this point.
When picking out the best river-rafting shoes, make sure to get shoes with a breathable material.
The best shoes for white water rafting should allow breathability throughout the day.
When you’re out in the river, your footwear is one of your biggest concerns this way because it makes sure that your feet are neither too cold nor hot.
And also remember that without enough ventilation, shoes can also cause fungus and other unpleasant or painful body ailments like smelly feet.
While rafting down a river, you need to make sure that your foot is well secured in the shoe by keeping it properly locked into place.
The shoe should provide a secure fitment that prevents your foot from sliding around and becoming unsteady.
Still can’t make up your mind about what to wear white water rafting with your friends and/or family? Have a look at our list of the best shoes for kayaking then. Who knows? You might find one of them the best shoes for Grand Canyon rafting and hiking.
The list of brands and water shoes is infinite, but there you go on some of the best available options for a thrilling white-water rafting adventure.
After considering all this, it seems that Merrell and New Balance are among the more popular choices when it comes to selecting a shoe for whitewater rafting.
Based on customer feedback, the Men’s Merrell Waterpro Maipo — in particular — seems to be praised on account of its excellent arch support, with very few users reporting issues concerning the overall comfort.
Having said that, it does seem as though this entry is also prone to run large (with buyers suggesting you order half a size smaller than usual), so make sure to consider your options carefully before making a final decision.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly shoe, the Easy USA Slip Ons are worth considering. They have an array of colors to choose from and offer a cool style for water sports.
If you’re looking for a new pair of best value athletic shoes, then you may want to consider the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal.
The shoe offers the best in quality and craftsmanship while the extra length helps prevent dead space when your feet swell from long hours being active.
Size discrepancies are quite common when online shoe shopping, so we recommend going a half size larger for the best fit.
If you’re thinking about heading outdoors for a rugged adventure in running water or beach waters, then the Newport H2 is probably the ideal shoe to bring along.
While the Newport H2 will get you through a day of whitewater rafting, to have even more freedom and versatility during your next outdoor adventure, we suggest the Northside Brille II as another great pick.
While it may not come at a bargain price, it has been seen to deliver supreme performance when used on land or water too so we believe that if you think you could put this versatile product to good use, then choosing it is worth every penny.
And Speedo Surfwalker Pro 3.0 Water Shoes may not be the cheapest, but for people who are willing to spend a little more money it often ends up providing great value.
There are different types of shoes available designed for water sports, so although the Surfwalker Pro 3.0 might have a higher price point than others in its class, it could still be considered a bargain because of how effectively it can work for you.
Whatever option you decide to go with, remember that buying from legit brand stores or sellers ensures you’re better protected against fraud and scams.
It might be worthwhile getting advice from a friend or family member who has some expertise in spotting top quality footwear before purchasing because even experts can agree that picking the right pair of athletic shoes can sometimes prove quite tricky as one could hardly tell which shoe is perfect to suit their needs without trying them out first hand and knowing what works best for an individual’s physical fitness activity level and outdoor environment.
We hope you found this article on the best shoes for white water rafting helpful. If your favorite pair of footwear didn’t make the list, please let us know in the comments.