Q. Gear Guy, I’m going on a Boy Scout backpacking trip in a couple of weeks with my son to Utah. We will be walking through water and sand for three days at the bottom of the canyon. Any recommendation for an inexpensive pair of water shoes for my son (age 16)? Thanks for your help.
—David the Dad, Mitchell, S.D.
A. Here’s what you need to consider, Dad: Your feet will be very sandy and very wet during this hike. Water shoes are fine for some applications, but when you have sand and grit and dirt constantly rubbing between wet shoes and your feet you’re going to get blisters and irritation. So, the first thing you should invest in is a pair of neoprene socks. These things are made from thin wetsuit material and will keep your feet warm and protect your skin from rubbing raw. A good option is the NRS Sandal Sock ($20; nrsweb.com). Your son could wear those with an old pair of running shoes and be good to go. If you’re set on getting him a new pair of water shoes, look at brands like Teva, Keen, Salomon and Merrell, and expect to pay a minimum of around $75 retail (you might be able to find cheaper prices online). So I guess I can’t really help you with inexpensive water shoes. Just get your son the neoprene socks and use an old pair of running shoes. Have fun on your trip!