gears (9K)  Footwear Choices

Well, we're deep into May this spring, and it hasn't rained for three weeks. Since I've had lots of time to think about paddling, I'll share my thoughts with you about a subject not close to my heart ... physically, that is. I'm talking about my feet.

oldsneaks (6K)

Like you, I'm sure, I've got several pairs of old sneakers I've set aside for warm water canoeing, you know, late spring and summer when the water is nice and even warm.

But I also have neoprene wet suit booties, a gift from my dear brothers. They zipper up on the side over my ankles and velcro-loop around the top for a tight fit. Although they keep my feet dry, the floppy rubber doesn't provide much protection from rocks.

booties (5K)

They don't protect from the cold either. On a recent April 15 trip on the Keswick ... way too early, I know ... my feet were encased in wet-suit booties, and they were cherry-red cold frozen at the end of the day.

I have rubber boots up to mid-shin, but they're not much good when you step in water deep enought to overtop them. You shouldn't but sometimes you have to.

My bro Paul likes rubber boots that lace up tight at the top. Maybe that's the way to go, if you don't mind that tight feeling. But he's paranoid about getting his feet wet, can't stand it one bit.

Sandals? They might make some sense in the summer, but your feet are open to the elements, prone to scrapes and cuts. Mine especially.

Whatever you do, don't stand too close to the fire with sneakers on. A spark landed on the back of my Adidas a couple of summers ago, and the back exploded in a ball of black smoke.

The fire went up the back of my pants in seconds, causing a severe burn on the back of my leg. I had to paddle for two days before I could get to see a doctor, no fun lemmetellya.

Can you imagine how bad a pair of neoprene boots would burn if they caught fire around the campfire?

pgloves (5K)

Once upon a time, I was paddling with a buddy who wore neoprene paddling gloves. At the end of our trip, he was short one glove. We rooted all through our gear, but couldn't find it.

The next day, I took a load of garbage to the dump. This was back in the day when there were still small local dumps in New Brunswick, and this dump, out the Noonan Road, was burning, like they all did.

As I tossed the bag onto the flames, I saw my buddy's glove fly beside it, and land right on a hot spot. It went up almost immediately in a big black poof, and was completely incinerated within a minute.

Maybe I'll think twice about wearing my wet suit booties on my next trip ... when the rains come. And yes, I have seen people in neoprene wet suits standing by a campfire. Have you?

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