Finding the best shoe for the activity you are doing is something we all deal with daily. When it comes to what shoes to bring on river trips, though, you might not have as easy a time deciding…especially if you have not done anything similar to this before.
If you live in Flagstaff, most of us already wear outdoor sandals in our everyday lives, but some of you would never buy them other than for the trip and do not plan to wear them afterward, which is totally fair! However, we wanted to talk about one brand that has a special connection with the Grand Canyon and then some other brands we like to help you while you prepare.
Teva has been a well-known brand in the outdoor world, but did you know they began in the Canyon in 1984? In classic river rat fashion, a guide rigged two Velcro watch bands to an old pair of flip-flops in an attempt to create a shoe that would float. His makeshift shoe was successful and 40 years later, they are still a staple in the river community. Not only are they a go-to brand for rafters, they also do a lot of work with Grand Canyon State Park and supportive organizations. The year 2019 was the 100th year for the Grand Canyon and Teva donated a $100k donation to Grand Canyon Conservancy, the official non-profit partner of Grand Canyon National Park, for trail restoration on Bright Angel Trail and supporting youth with Field School scholarships!
Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular entries to the canyon, and this funding is to renovate parts of the trail that need it most, which is essential in ensuring continued access for visitors to explore the canyon for the next hundred years and beyond. The Conservancy’s Grand Canyon Field School provides scholarships for underserved youth, as well as, provides kids with immersive educational experiences throughout Grand Canyon National Park. The Field School students get the opportunity to explore science, technology, engineering, art, math, culture, and history with the Grand Canyon as their classroom!
Teva holds a special place in our hearts since it was born in the canyon, but we also want to share other brands we love and recommend for your trip.
Any of these brands will work well, but we know they can be pricey, especially when you don’t plan to use them much outside of your trip. Any sport sandals work and sometimes it’s better not to bring your nicest gear since there is potential to lose anything you bring with you to the river. Many sandals have been sacrificed to the river gods and so it might be better to get a cheap pair. While you’re shopping, keep these things in mind to ensure you are getting a shoe that will work for your trip.
- Good tread to help navigate slippery surfaces both on and off the rafts
- Arch support for comfort and to reduce the chance of foot pain
- Broken-in BEFORE your trip to lessen the chance of blisters
- Quick drying (no leather straps)
We will also add that getting sandals with or without the toe loop is a big debate. Here are some things to consider when choosing. The toe loop helps with support on hikes and helps keep your sandals on your feet better. However, it makes it easier to wear socks with your sandals without a toe loop. This comes in handy when it is chilly at night or in the mornings if you have any cuts or blisters, and it can also help cover your feet if they dry out or get burned.
Another hot debate on sandals is whether to get closed or open-toed shoes. Having closed-toe shoes can help with toe protection and keep you from scratching or kicking anything that might hurt your feet. Close-toe shoes also tend to hold onto rocks, and it can be hard to get small debris out of them quickly. So consider what you think will best work for you when you’re packing.
Lastly, bringing an old pair of sneakers will work well too. This is so you can trash and lose them all you want, and it won’t matter after the trip. Whatever you choose to bring, we always recommend having two pairs of shoes in case you break or lose a pair on your trip. (shoes breaking and getting lost in the river happens often, so don’t be left shoeless)
For more information on Teva’s work with the Grand Canyon, check out this video from 2019 that Teva put out on as part of the Faces of The Canyon series: Teva Faces of The Canyon: Angel Tadytin
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**Photo from Teva website**