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What Type of Shoes to Wear While Paddle Boarding? | 5 Key Attributes

For the best stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) experience, you have to wear a good pair of water shoes. Not only are they designed to protect your feet against injuries, but they also provide great comfort as well as improve the traction between your feet and your paddleboard. But what type of SUP shoes are best?

If you decide to wear shoes while paddleboarding, you will want to choose a pair that is lightweight, breathable, and with solves flexible enough to navigate easily. In cold water, boots made of neoprene called reef walkers will help you stay warm while still protecting your feet.

Please stick around, and I’ll go through the characteristics in detail and give you a recommendation on what shoes to choose.


What Characteristics Are Found in Good Sup Shoes?

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a really popular water sport that you can enjoy in any type of waters, anywhere on the globe. In fact, you can do it all year round, even during the coldest winter seasons, as long as you put on your appropriate winter gear.

First off, if you are wondering whether you need to wear shoes when you do SUP, the short answer is you don’t necessarily have to. Stand-up paddleboards are specifically designed and created to be used with only your bare feet.

Reasons you may want shoes:

  • Cold Conditions- If you are planning to do SUP in frigid waters where the temperature is cold enough to affect your body temperature.
  • Foot Protection- Another concern is if you expect to be in the water touching the bottom a lot. Shoes will also serve as an added protection for your feet against sharp rocks or shells.
  • You Feel Naked Without Shoes- Some folks just feel more comfortable having something on their feet while paddleboarding. There is nothing wrong with this, and you should definitely consider wearing some shoes.

Just keep in mind that you have to wear a type of shoes specially made to be used together with your paddleboard. In that regard, here are specific characteristics that you need to take note of to guide you in choosing your SUP shoes.

1. Lightweight

SUP and swimming pretty much go hand in hand. That’s why your shoes need to be light enough to swim comfortably while wearing it. A light pair of shoes will be a huge help as well with maintaining your balance on top of the paddleboard.

Related What to Look for in a Paddle Board Paddle | Read Before You Buy.

2. Soles Are Flexible Enough

Stand-up paddleboarding is all about balance, which is why most SUP athletes and yogis prefer to go barefoot while on their paddleboards. The greater the contact is between your feet and the board, the less likely you will fall off in the water. Hence, if you want to wear SUP shoes, the sole needs to be flexible enough to bend and maintain contact between your feet and the board.

3. Breathable and Drainable

You’re absolutely getting wet when you do SUP, especially your feet. That’s why you should only wear shoes that do not soak up water since it could make them more cumbersome and very uncomfortable.

The other quality you should look out for is if your feet can “breathe” through your shoes, which just means that air can freely circulate all over your feet so that they will dry quickly, leaving you feeling comfortable and refreshed at all times.

4. Antimicrobial Properties

Although not as important as the other four characteristics, a pair of shoes that has antimicrobial properties is definitely a big plus to avoid situations where your feet would spread an unholy smell once you take off your shoes due to certain types of microorganisms which like to make your shoes as their breeding grounds. Unfortunately, these microorganisms release stinky toxins that stick to your shoes and feet.

5. The Right Fit for You

This is the most crucial characteristic that you should consider when choosing what type of SUP shoes you want to wear. In fact, this should be your priority when you’re trying to purchase any kind of shoes, for that matter.

If your SUP shoes fit you perfectly, wherein they do not feel too tight or too loose, you are saving your feet from painful sores and any other damages caused by friction induced by the frequent rubbing of your feet and the insides of your shoes.

Here are the shoes I recommend. They fit all of the required characteristics of great SUP shoes and then some. They are lightweight, breathable, and have excellent anti-slip features.

Related The 5 Best Stand-up Paddle Board Shoes.

What Type of Shoes to Avoid?

Think of all the shoes you have worn in your life so far. Now, you have a rough idea of what types of shoes you should never wear in the water when you do SUP.

Wearing any kind of land shoes when doing SUP results in a very uncomfortable experience for your feet, and also restricts your movements, and increases your chances of falling off your board. They will get heavier once water seeps inside since they are not made from waterproof materials, which can significantly affect your swimming and overall balance when you’re on top of your board.

When Should You Wear Your Shoes?

In stand-up paddleboarding, you are not required to wear any type of shoes whatsoever. In fact, many SUP enthusiasts choose to go barefoot since this provides them with maximum comfort.

However, if you’re still a beginner, you’ll undeniably fall a lot of times, and when you do, your foot could be injured by sharp pebbles or shells lying below the water. In that case, if you have the means, invest in high-quality shoes as a means of protection for your feet.

Furthermore, if you plan to be out in colder waters, you have no choice but to wear a pair of shoes to prevent yourself from freezing. In a nutshell, if you really do not have any reason to wear a pair of SUP shoes, then feel free to go barefoot.

The Best Type of Shoes for Sup Fishing

When you are fishing on top of your paddleboard, you can pretty much just wear any type of water shoes or SUP shoes that you can find. You just have to make sure that your pair has excellent traction with your paddleboard so that you can maintain your balance once you start reeling in your catch or drop-down an anchor.

Since you’ll probably stand for an extended period, you can also go for a pair with a removable insole so that you can put additional cushion to give you even more comfort and relieve some of the stress concentrated on your feet.

Here is a pair that kind of looks like street shoes and can be worn pretty much anywhere. They just happen to work great for SUP fishing.

Related Can You Fish From a Paddle Board? | Tips and Setup Info.

Are Tennis Shoes or Any Land Shoes Okay?

If you are simply fishing along the shore or inside a boat, you can probably wear your favorite tennis shoes or land shoes. Still, if you are fishing on top of your paddleboard, these kinds of shoes will only serve as a hindrance instead and might even make you fall once you reel in your catch since they do not provide the same traction that legitimate water shoes or SUP shoes offer.

The Best Type of Shoes for Sup Yoga

SUP yoga is merely doing yoga on top of your paddleboard. Since you are doing yoga for meditation, you need to be as relaxed and as comfortable as possible.

Therefore, for this activity, being barefooted is the best since you won’t feel any sort of restriction placed on your feet. However, you still need to traverse through shallow waters before you can reach the area you want. Hence, you’ll be at risk of injuring your feet from sharp pebbles or shells if you simply go barefoot.

For this activity, a pair of water sandals with straps is probably your best choice since you can just strap them on your paddleboard once you start doing SUP yoga.

Related What to Wear to Stand up Paddle Board Yoga for any season.

What Shoes to Wear for Cold Water?

If you want to paddleboard during winter seasons or if you are in a place that’s almost perpetually cold, a simple pair of water shoes might not be enough. In this case, your choices are pretty much limited to neoprene boots only.

Neoprene is a type of rubber that has enhanced insulating capabilities, which can keep your feet warm even if the water is too cold for casual swimming. There are two types of neoprene boots:

  • Reef Walkers- These are lowcut neoprene boots that pretty much just protect your feet from rocks or coral formations.
  • Winter boots- Much thicker and are specially made to withstand colder temperatures.

I definitely recommend investing in high-quality neoprene reef walkers can ensure that you’ll stay safe and still have fun while paddleboarding in cold water. Here is a pair that is perfect for paddleboarding due to their anti-slip attributes.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I prefer to SUP barefoot. The only time I wear shoes is if I know it’s going to be cold or if I expect to be in the drink a lot on a rocky bottom. Our feet are naturally anti-slip, so you may want to try the naked-footed approach first before investing in some shoes.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

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