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Best footwear for sea kayaking and canoeing in Scotland

Posted on Jul 17, 2012 by Tim Willis

Footwear for Sea Kayaking & Canoeing

There are so many footwear choices for sea kayaking and canoeing. Much depends on whether your feet get cold quickly when wet or whether you were born with webbed feet that keep the same temperature as the sun!  So if you’ve been wondering what options really are the best footwear for sea kayaking and canoeing in Scotland, read on…

Best footwear for sea kayaking and canoeing in Scotland


I get chilly feet and like my feet to be dry, so I wear snugly fitting welly boots with a pair of woollen socks underneath and my waterproof trousers over the top of the boots, so the water just pours straight off. I am careful when getting in and out of my kayak / canoe so that I do not go over the top of my wellies. I have used wellies for many years, as do most of our guides and they are excellent. I should also point out that I have often gone swimming (okay, I really mean fallen in) with my wellies on both in the sea and on lochs and contrary to what many people think, I didn’t sink to the bottom in a matter of seconds! Very little water gets into my wellies and so they make very little difference to my buoyancy. Choose a pair of snug fitting ones and you should be fine too.

Old Trainers/Sneakers

For those with warmer, amphibious type feet, you can wear old trainers / sneakers with woollen socks. The woollen socks will still provide some warmth for your feet even when wet. Sports sandals are another choice for those hot blooded clients, and on some of our warmer weather days, these can be fine.

Specialised Kit

Sandals designed for water sports are a great choice. I’d recommend Teva’s which are designed for white water rafting. There are lots more options here from waterproof socks that can be used with any footwear to neoprene booties that are designed to keep your feet warm when wet.

But if  you are really getting in to your paddling sports or recently won the lottery, then a set of dry pants with built in waterproof socks, are a superb choice and many of our guides use these. The dry pants will keep your legs nice and dry as the socks are a part of the trousers, your feet will also benefit from being kept dry and warm. The socks part of the trousers are pretty fragile so you need to keep your shoes or sports sandals on at all times to stop sharp wee stones puncturing the socks.

Don’t try…

  • Walking boots: these will not allow the water to escape, provide no warmth and a dunking won’t be be great for your boots either.
  • Bare feet: this would see you win our silly footwear choice of the year award – you need something sturdy and with grips to help you get out of the boat.
  • Crocs: you’ll likely slip when trying to get ashore as they don’t have good grips.


Below you will see some of our inspiring canoeing and sea kayaking adventure holidays that take place in our beautiful Scottish landscape:

About the author

Tim Willis

Having travelled and enjoyed adventures in much of the world, for Tim there is nowhere more beautiful, dramatic and captivating than home in Scotland. Travel has made Tim realise just how lucky he is to live in a country with so much history, tradition, scenic beauty and incredible accessibility. In his words "It is a total pleasure and a great privilege to host and guide visitors to Scotland each year."

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