Can You Wear Flip Flops While Kayaking?

Can you wear flip flops while kayaking - 1

Kayaking is one of the most fun and adrenaline-pumping activities out there. Whether you enjoy going out on a kayak on a summer day out on the lake or you are an experienced sharpening your kayaking skills on ocean water, wearing the appropriate footwear can not only make your experience more fun but also keep your feet safe and comfortable. Flip flops are a common type of footwear that are often worn by the pool side or to the beach, which means that most designs can hold up well in wet conditions. But can they be worn while kayaking?

Can you wear flip flops while kayaking? Flip flops are generally not recommended to wear when kayaking. Although one might reason that they will allow your feet to dry quickly and allow your feet to breathe, flip flops will not provide you with the support you will need when you have to travel across wet rocks. Additionally, since they often have slippery soles, you may slip and take a tumble especially if you will need to walk. They also tend to come off the feet quite easily, which means that you might lose them in water and end up stepping on potentially sharp rocks that could hurt you.

Since the construction of many flip flops is usually not as durable as what you will find in kayaking footwear, chances are that they will end up breaking them when you make a misjudged step in the water.

Flip flops may seem like the type of footwear to when you go kayaking as they will not only allow your feet to dry fast when they come in contact with water due to their open design, but they will also keep your feet from getting too sweaty. However, flip flops simply don’t possess the qualities of a good pair of kayaking footwear.

Why you want to avoid wearing flip flops while kayaking

  • The lack of support – Flip flops generally don’t provide your feet with a lot of support due to their often flimsy construction. After all, they typically comprise of straps and a sole, which means that your arch and heels will have little to no support. When you are out on a kayak, you want to be as comfortable as possible especially if you expect to spend most of your day on the water. Unsupportive flip flops will leave your feet strained and tired.
  • Lack of traction – If you are an avid kayaker, you may have noticed how tricky it can be to get in and out of a kayak especially if you fail to gain the traction you need with your feet. Additionally, you might need to get off the kayak at some point and walk for some distance, which makes footwear that provides traction even more crucial. Most flip flop designs generally don’t feature defined treads on their soles, which means that they won’t keep your feet in place when you need to walk on some surfaces. As a result, you may end up slipping, falling and potentially getting injured on your kayaking trip.
  • Lack of protection – Even your feet will spend most of the day simply resting in the kayak, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of protection. If you are wearing flip flops on a sunny day in the kayak, your feet will end up being exposed to the sun due to how open they are. If you forgot to slap on some sunscreen on your feet, you risk overexposing your skin to UV rays, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.

The exposure of your feet when wearing flip flops leaves them vulnerable to sharp objects such as rocks in water. A misstep could cause you to step on such surfaces and end up sustaining an injury. Cheap flip flops can also break down very quickly, and walking on rough terrain might cause them to fall apart, leaving your feet completely exposed and prone to injury.

  • They can cause blisters and soles – Flip flops are known for their thong strap design that goes between the first and second toes. In some types of flip flops, the part that goes between your toes tends to rub the skin whenever you make even the slightest movements, resulting in the development of painful blisters and sores in the area. If these blisters end up somehow popping while you are in the water, you could pick up infections from pathogens that may be lurking in murky waters.

Qualities to look for in kayaking footwear

There are several types of footwear that are more suitable to wear when kayaking than flip flops. Here are the factors you should keep in mind when shopping for kayaking footwear:

1. Material

The most common material used in the construction of kayaking footwear is neoprene. This is because the material is flexible, non-slip, and light-weight. Some manufacturers also incorporate titanium in the construction in addition to the neoprene to improve the performance and durability of the shoe. The interior of a neoprene shoe is typically no mattered the weather. The soles of most kayaking footwear are constructed from rubber which keeps the feet from getting injured when you come in contact with rocks. Additionally, treaded rubber provide grip on the ground to reduce the risk of tripping when you are walking.

2. Breathability

Breathability in your kayaking footwear is especially important if the environment you will be spending time is in is hot. The build of sweat in the feet as a result of wearing shoes that lack breathability provides a breeding ground for bacteria as well as cause odor to build up. Breathability in kayaking shoes is often represented in the form of mesh panels, but with this design, it is easy for water to penetrate through the mesh panel and consequently compromise the inner build. 

Gore-Tex is a breathable, waterproof fabric membrane that is usually incorporated in the design of some types of kayaking footwear to allow for breathability. This makes it the more ideal option when looking for kayaking footwear that will allow your feet to breath without compromising its quality.

3. Shoe design and height

Kayaking shoes typically come in three different heights

  • Low-cut – Low-cut kayaking shoes are typically made from light materials such as thin mesh or neoprene, making them ideal for wear when the weather is warm.
  • Ankle-cut – Ankle-cut kayaking shoes cover more of your feet, consequently offering additional protection. They are generally warmer, and they often feature thicker soles that make them more ideal to walk on rocks. The added height of the shoe also protects your ankle from turning.
  • Knee-high – You will want to go for knee-high kayaking shoes if you are looking for extra insulation as they are typically constructed with the thickest neoprene. They are great for kayaking in cold weather conditions and offer more protection than the other two types. The thick neoprene keeps your feet insulated and protected from the effects of walking in cold water.

One common design element that all these types of kayaking shoes share is the sole design. Whether it is thick or thin, the rubber used usually has well-defined traction marks and a good grip on surfaces. This is especially important on slippery surfaces such as moss-covered rocks that are commonly found in rivers and streams.

  • The fit – The fit of a kayaking shoe is one of the main factors that determine just how comfortable they will be on your feet. Your kayak shoes should never be too loose or too tight on your feet. If they turn out to be too tight, they will become especially uncomfortable when they get wet. Other than discomfort, tight shoes that are wet could also irritate your skin. If the shoes turn out to be too loose, they can easily get filled with water and consequently cause blisters to develop on your feet when you walk. Additionally, they will become very heavy to walk in and slow you down. If you intend to purchase kayaking shoes online, go through the reviews posted by other people to determine if a particular pair of shoes run small or large and how comfortable they are.
  • The weather – When you go kayaking, you should always consider the weather to help you determine the type of footwear to wear. If you plan to go kayaking during a cold period or in chilly water, you will want to wear kayaking shoes that are made from thick neoprene that will keep your feet insulated even if they end up getting wet you might also want to add a pair of wool socks for even more warmth.

On the other hand, if your kayaking trip is going to take place during the summer when the weather is warm, you will want shoes that are lightweight and breathable. In this case, go for shallow kayaking shoes that are made from thin mesh or neoprene.

Final thoughts

Although flip flops are breathable, lightweight, and fast drying, they lack most of the other important qualities that you need in a good pair of kayaking shoes such as support, traction, and comfort, to name a few. As a result, you will want to avoid wearing them on your kayaking trip as they could do more harm than good to your feet.

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