Footwear FAQ: Can I Wear Flipflops?

 In Gear & Equipment, Rafting Safety

Trust us, you’re not the first to ask this question – it can be tricky figuring out what to wear if you are not used to fast flowing rivers. Here are all the secrets to keeping your feet happy while whitewater rafting.

The first step is to leave your flipflops home. If you really can’t let go, leave them in the car at least so you have something easy to wear after your trip. Now, let’s meet our options:


Imagine a thick, mid-calf height neoprene sock with a zipper or some Velcro straps to fasten it on and a seriously grippy sole. These things are called booties and are the most popular footwear option among our guests. Booties trap water inside allowing your body heat to warm it up and keep your feet cozy all day. Most of our guests rent a pair of booties directly from us, we have the option to rent them separately or as a part of our “Be Warm!” package.

Secure Sandals (AKA Chacos/Tevas)

These sandals are a staple of any river rat’s wardrobe. Within this world, the most popular brands are Chacos and Tevas. To an untrained eye, there’s not much of a difference but there are a few subtle differences. Chacos use a loop system where you adjust the strap length to tighten or loosen the sandal. In my experience, the sole is beefier and it takes a few days for your foot to feel comfortable. Tevas are secured with Velcro straps and have a squishier sole. Chacos tend to be more popular on the river since they are a little more rugged.

Old Sneakers

If you have a beater pair of running shoes you don’t care about, these make a great option for rafting. Old sneakers work well because they have a nice thick sole and the laces fasten tightly to your feet preventing them from getting lost to the water’s currents. Before you don your old shoes, remember these will definitely have some sort of smell from the river water so make sure you’re fully willing to sacrifice them.

Bonus: What about socks???

Slap on a pair of wool or neoprene socks and you will be set. Cotton socks are a terrible idea because they will get wet and stay wet throughout the trip keeping your feet cold. Socks are typically a good idea when wearing river sandals or old sneakers. When worn with booties, they do not offer much additional benefit so I suggest skipping them. Definitely stash a pair of cozy socks in your car for afterwards – your toes will thank you!

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