Cross Country Packrafting Boots

Hello All,

I’m new to packrafting, but I’m all too familiar with expedition hiking and kayaking/rafting. I’ve been planning a cross country hiking trip, then I learned of Alpacka rafts and the sport of packrafting. Now I’m bent on incorporating inland waterways into my journey starting in New York City and ending in Seattle or Portland.

But, with this crazy sport comes an interesting fusion of gear, one I am looking to solve right now is my footwear. I’d really like to just carry one pair of boots/shoes for both Hiking and Paddling. I’m either looking for a hiking boot that can be submerged and used as a water shoe with drainage and the ability to dry quickly or a water boot that has ankle support and a stiffer sole for hiking long distances over rock and trails.

The only option I’ve found right now is Astral’s Rassler, Does anyone have experience with this company or this particular footwear? Or maybe you have other suggestions for a good combo boot.

I think I have all my other gear set. I’ve got a Llama with spray deck on the way, as well as a sawyer paddle and a stormy seas SV100 inflatable vest. If anyone has other gear suggestions or tips, they would be greatly appreciated!


PS- If anyone is looking for a good read, take a look at River Horse by William Least Heat-Moon. I’ve read it twice already for river research and to prepare for my trip. It follows the author and his close friend across the country on inland waterways from the Hudson River all the way through the end of the Columbia River. It’s quite humorous and enlightening.

You might look at Vietnam boots. Just don’t get ones with punji plates in the soles.

I always use an old pair of tennis shoes on my packrafting trips. They drain well, are comfortable, and easy to scramble in. I’ve found it doesn’t pay to have expensive shoes cause they wear out fairly quickly being wet then dry a lot. They key is to wear neoprene socks- they will keep your feet much warmer!

The desert has been the one place where I’ve developed blisters due to the sand. Just came back from Escalante where we tried wearing ziplock bags on our feet, then the sock, then the shoe. That idea kinda worked. It kept the sand off our feet but didn’t stop the sand from building up in our shoes. We were constantly pulling them off and dumping the sand out. I didn’t develop blisters but I’ve come to the conclusion that the desert may be the one place where I will need to wear traditional hiking boots with gaitors. I will still need the tennis shoes though when hiking in water or packrafting. Bummer. I’m a lightweight backpacker and hate bringing multiple pairs of footwear. I don’t even bring camp shoes. Anyone have a better way of getting through the desert when encountering sand AND water?

On my trips I use North Face Hedgehogs or similar type of Gore-tex trail runners. My philosophy is lightweight and quick drying. I don’t bring any additional footwear, I wear neoprene socks inside of the shoes for paddling and also wear those around camp.

I got the New Balance OTB from NRS, really like them. Really the only quick drying, relatively lightweight, high cut boot I’ve found. Had it about a year two thicknesses of insoles so you can adjust the room if you want to wear it with neoprene socks or thinner socks when hiking. Just finished a trip with a total of 35 miles hiking, some with heavy backpack, some light day hiking and a few days of floating. Worked well for everything.

Those new Balance OTB’s seemed great to me as well… until I thrashed them in 3 months; great concept, but too many seams to break. FYI, I am hard on my gear and I use it A LOT!

I will stick to whatever old running shoes I have around, non-gore-tex preferably. The constant wet to dry cycle is hard on gear.