Float the Buffalo River – What Shoes?

Planning a day float or overnight float on the Buffalo National River can raise a lot of questions. Not the least of which is – “What kind of shoes should I wear to float the Buffalo River?”. Sometimes it can be difficult to foresee what challenges your feet will face on the river. Especially in cold temperatures or fast-moving water. Here are some quick tips to help you make the best decision for your river adventure.

float the buffalo river

Some helpful tips to keep in mind before you float the Buffalo River:

In general, you will want to make sure that whatever you wear is flexible and breathable. Some canoers kneel in the back of the boat for stability. In this case, insure that your shoe bends comfortably at the toe and isn’t prone to cracking or tearing.

As a rule, do not wear flip-flops, slip-ons, crocs or any shoe that can easily come off of your foot. Moving water will make this type of shoe difficult. Slip-on shoes will be downriver and out of reach in a heartbeat.

Riverbanks on the Buffalo National River are made up of rocks and gravel, and these rocks can be sharp and unpleasant on bare or unprotected feet. In the heat of summer, gravel bars can also get hot. Choose shoes with a sturdy sole that won’t allow your feet to be bruised or cut by river rocks.

We recommended that you wear waterproof shoes or boots in the colder months. In this case, make sure that you bring along a few pairs of dry socks stored in a waterproof bag or box.

Obviously you will also want shoes that are versatile, comfortable and snug on your feet. Shoes that chafe, rub or blister your feet spell trouble for extended river trips. You may also want to stop and explore some of the beautiful hiking trails in the national park, of which there are many. In this case you will want footwear that dries fast and is suitable for long walks.

For summer plans to float the Buffalo River, the best type of shoe is one you can swim in and still stay comfortable. For long trips or overnight trips, remember not to wear wet shoes for long periods of time.

Whenever you can, dry your feet and shoes, especially on multi-day trips.

Please keep track of your shoes!

During your float, you may want to remove your shoes and free your feet. After removing your shoes, secure them to your boat to avoid loss in the event that you tip or flip your vessel. A lot of shoes wash ashore on the Buffalo National River. Of course, any debris such as a lost shoe or shoes can litter the river and potentially be dangerous to wildlife.

Whatever your feet wear, we here at Buffalo River Outfitters hope you have a safe and wonderful float on the Buffalo National River!

Click here for more float planning tips from the NPS.