Personal preferences vary so it is difficult to recommend one shoe over another. However, it is important to bring shoes that are comfortable, “broken-in” and also in decent condition. The structural failure of shoes is a common occurrence especially with older and cheaper sport sandals. Since space is a consideration, most people bring two pairs of shoes: one pair for the river and one pair for hiking. Passengers who don’t have to hike the Bright Angel Trail might want to bring a third pair to wear around camp. If you are hiking the Bright Angel Trail you will need a pair of sturdy, supportive shoes with good tread.
HIKING: The hikes vary from trip to trip. They may range in length from 20 minutes to eight hours and may include significant grade change, uneven terrain, bouldering, loose or wet footing, and exposure to the elements. Most hikes are on non-maintained wilderness trails and some cross streams and pools of water. For hiking footwear we recommend a well built athletic shoe or low hiker with good arch support and substantial traction. For more ankle support, bring lightweight hiking boots. We don’t recommend all leather hiking boots, as they are heavy, hot, and don’t dry quickly.
BOAT WEAR:Footwear must be worn on the boats at all times. Since your feet may be wet and cold a good deal of the time, your shoes should be lightweight and quick drying. One option might be to wear wetsuit, river booties with a sturdy sole. These may be good especially in spring and fall to keep your feet warm in the 48 to 53 degree water temperatures. However wet-suit booties often promote foot rot and are not suited even for short hikes.
A more popular choice might be a recreational sport sandal such as a Teva, Chaco or Keen. These shoes work well on the boats, in camp and may be used on short or wet hikes at your discretion. They allow your feet to dry quickly and provide warmth when used in conjunction with a neoprene or wool sock. When purchasing a sport sandal pay particular attention to the fit, how much support it offers, the quality of the fastenings and how well the straps are secured to the sole. Sand and water tend to work against velcro closures. Structural failure is a common occurrence especially with cheaper sport sandals. An advantage of open-toed sport sandals (as opposed to split toe) is that you can also wear socks with them for sun protection or to help prevent blisters.
Some passengers prefer a closed toe sandal, such as a Keen, to protect their foot from stubbed toes though the closed toe can make removing pebbles and sand more cumbersome. Other passengers prefer a more open sandal which allows pebbles and sand to wash out freely; however, this type of sandal does not offer as much overall protection from stubbing your toes or accidentally bumping into the prickly desert plant life.
Take Care of your Feet!
- The constant elements beating against your feet such as cold water, scorching sun, grinding sand and dry air and wind really takes a toll on your skin. Here are some suggestions to keep your feet healthy during your trip.
1. Avoid getting sunburned on your feet.
2. Keep your feet from soaking in the water as much as possible.
3. Clean your feet with soap once a day.
4. Put dry shoes on when you are in camp.
5. Use a heavy-duty moisturizer on your feet such as Super Salve or similar product.
- It is very likely that you will encounter rocks and cactus when hiking. Wear a closed toe shoe to prevent cuts and scrapes.
- We highly discourage old shoes because they tend to fall apart quickly, don’t offer much support and often don’t have enough tread.