Photos and words by Darin McQuoid
An expedition paddler for Dagger Kayaks, C&K contributing photographer Darin McQuoid has notched expeditions everywhere from Canada to Mexico, Argentina and Chile, with notable descents in Africa, India, Pakistan, Japan and Corsica. But as a seasoned High Sierra kayaker first and foremost, McQuoid is no stranger to hiking long distances on slick, polished granite. So for testing this year’s crop of top river shoes, McQuoid didn’t have to head far, utilizing his home river, California’s Kaweah, which is notorious for some of the most slippery rock in the world. Outside of hiking with the shoes on, testing took place using two locations: the first, stepping from water directly onto a polished slab with an increasingly steep angle, followed by a traverse going from 45 degrees to vertical; the second, walking across sand- and cobblestone, leading up a difficult portage route.
The Vasque Lotic is a trail-running shoe designed for performance in wet environments.
The Gecko is Salomon’s river shoe. Arch support is great and the sole is stiff, making them good for extended hikes.
Starting as a climbing shoe company in California, 5.10 is no stranger to granite, and the Water Tennie is well known in the whitewater world.
Started 25 years ago in Paonia, Colorado and loved by raft guides, these sandals are different from the other standard shoes in the test.
The Rassler is the fastest drying high-top, which won’t come off even in the worst of swims.
The Adidas Jawpaw II is the fastest draining shoe of the test, thanks to innovative use of metal mesh in the footbed.