Multi-Use Footwear

Anyone have good insights on their favorite multi-use footwear for packrafting & other amphibious ventures?

Recently, and friend & did a warm-weather bike/hike/mountaineering/packrafting transect of the Olympic Peninsula, WA. We found a footwear combination that worked really well for us:


  1. Shoes: LaSportiva Exum Ridge approach shoes.
  2. Socks: Smartwool mountaineering socks, neoprene socks.
  3. Crampons: Charlet-Moser full-size articulated strap-on crampons (I want to say 12-point; it’s slipping my mind).

:arrow_right: Biking & Hiking: Shoes, wool socks.
:arrow_right: Snow & Cold: Shoes, neoprene socks over wool socks.
:arrow_right: Warm-Weather, Mountaineering: As above, crampons strapped onto the shoes.
:arrow_right: Riverine & Packrafting: Shoes, neoprene socks.
:arrow_right: Camp: Neoprene socks only (no shoes).

These set-ups worked very well for the warm-weather trip. In spite of about 9 hours wearing crampons on snow / glaciers on our mountaineering day (crossing Mt. Olympus), our feet were - although soaking wet - never cold. Nor were our feet cold in the Hoh river, thanks to the neoprene socks. The neoprene socks were also great for wearing alone in camp, giving our feet a rest from the shoes (we were travelling 11-16 hrs/day) while providing some light insulation & protection.

The shoes were a big surprise star: LaSportiva Exum Ridge approach shoes. They worked very well. We did the entire trip in them, no blisters. The soles have a good heel tread & edges, plus a somewhat sticky rubber forefoot for rock, + sticky rubber patches on the sides of the forefoot for cracks, etc. The soles will accept LaSportiva screw-in hobnails. We used them in logjams, step-kicking in snow, rock scrambling, etc. They did well on all surfaces and aren’t very heavy (I don’t know the exact weight). At the end of the trip, we ran another 5 miles in them to retrieve our bikes, and they ran well. So… I highly recommend checking these shoes out. The only real downside to them was the perpetual fabric shoe problem: they take a long time to dry out. As far as long-term durability / lifespan, I haven’t them long enough yet to know.

Anyone else have favorites? Comments?

If you like the Exum Ridges, you owe it to yourself to try the Exum Rivers. The last (and thus fit and performance) is the same, but they drain better, dry faster, and are made of tougher stuff. They also have a strap and flap, which holds the upper laces down and keeps them from snagging on stuff.

I got one of the first pairs years ago for canyoneering, and liked them enough that they’ve been used for peak bagging and technical hiking trips, too.

The only thing I don’t like about 'em, and sportiva shoes in general, is the EVA, which doesn’t seem to last as long as shoes from (for instance) Montrail.

I’ve found walking in conventional neo socks to be on occasion problematic. They tend to bunch around the heel, even the nicer ones from NRS. I like the NRS Hydroskin socks for everything but very cold water. I wear 'em with a very thin synthetic liner. They provide good padding, warmth, but not so much that you can’t hike in wearing them,too.

Wearing the smartwool socks with neoprene socks over them sounds really bulky. Those mountaineer socks are some of the thickest out there. How did you fit them in your shoes? or are you using shoes a size larger?
I’m new fan of Darn tough socks, their boot full cushion ones are awesome.

welcome to the forum Dave :slight_smile:

Thanks Dave, the Exum Rivers sound cool.

CST, my Exum Ridges might be slightly large, perhaps 1/2 size, but nothing I notice wearing them just with the mountaineer socks on. Also, however, the wool sox saw several seasons of firefighting, so they’ve lost a little bulk. Perhaps the main thing is that I almost always wear the moutaineer socks in the them, so the extra couple mm of the neoprene socks isn’t that much of a change. I’ll have to look at the shoes again when I’m back in the same town with them.

Thanks for takeing time to help…

My pleasure. I know Hig & Erin are/were also stoked on the Montrail Vitesse, which is a great long-distance off-trail shoe and relatively light. I noticed it seemed to have a smaller “footprint” than a lot of other trailrunners, so I liked it for off trail / rough terrain / night hiking.

If it fits, the Vitesse is probably one of the all time great wilderness lightweight shoes. The plastic plate in the forefoot is excellent for river cobbles in Alaska, but can break the shoe in half on really long (200+ mile) trips.

There are also several really good high top shoes built on a running shoe last out there. Montrail made a great one for years, but the new ones are not very good. Salomon makes a good one now, but it’s gore-tex. The END Stumptown high is ultralight and perfect for a big trip.

Our trips are combined walking(or hiking/tramping depending on from whence you come ), fly-fishing, and rafting, so we need multipurpose boots.

Best shoes to date for us have been dedicated fly-fishing wading boots - specifically those made by Simms with aquastealth soles - they grip really well on wet rocks, and have lasted well. I’ve tried Korkers boots in previous years, with the detachable/interchangeable soles, but despite a new pair each trip for 3 yrs, every yr the soles came off the boot whilst walking/fishing (and they are guaranteed not to do so, hence I managed a new pair each yr for a 10 day trip, and then got tired of them and moved to Simms).

I also tried some Columbia ??“River shoes” about 5yrs ago - meant to be easy draining , with good grip on wet rocks. They provided no significant ankle support for our miserable traverse into the valley we fished, and were just OK in terms of grip on the rocks whilst fly-fishing, but for a lesser advernture they would have been great all rounders

I have used traditional Crocs around camp for 4-5yrs. They are exceptionally light, and fantastically comfortable, albeit bulky. This yr I used Crocs thongs with home made lycra socks to keep the bities off me, and they were probably better, although keeping a thong on whilst wearing any kind of sock is chalenging.

It all comes down to use, and what your primary need is. My primary need is a shoe that I can hike in comfortably, but which also grips well on the NZ streams I fly-fish (and packraft). I reckon I’d choose a different boot if I was doing the same in Oz, or in a different bit of NZ. Packrafting is becoming a very diverse pursuit, often tacked on to another interest, so I suggest you choose your shoe wear according to your primary aim.


Does anyone use clipless pedals and shoes when bikerafting?

I have been riding clipless for years now and can’t imagine going back to platform.

A solution might be the Keen commuter bike sandals. Easy draining and great for biking. I don’t know how well they would perform hiking. I also question if it is smart to have a piece of metal attached to the bottom of your shoe while in a raft.

In my experience good cycling shoes are too stiff to do well with lots of hiking, and the cleat is invariably in a bad spot as far as slipping on rocks goes.

That said, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro II has been very well spoken of thus far. (

Footwear for multi-purpose or use? That’s great! Many sports-holism, male or female, are interested to have such. It’s good also if such multi-use footwear can be use during winter season. Is it possible?

Hello, packrafting_key,

That is a possible many-many company to make a multi-use footwear both man & female that is your require so, please contact my company otherwise reply to this thread.