In search for the best canyoning/canyoneering shoes? We bring you the ultimate guide to help you choose which canyoning boots to invest on, together with a comparison between the most popular canyoning/canyoneering shoes currently available in the market.
How to choose canyoning shoes
Choosing the best canyoning or canyoneering shoes is not exact science but given the environment variables that we encounter while canyoning requires us to take a few things into consideration. Before we get into the actual comparison, let’s have a look at some variables:
- How good the grip and adherence is
- The shoe’s durability
- How comfortable the shoes are during approach and descent
Let’s look a bit more in-depth into each of these points
Canyoning shoes grip
Grip is possibly the most important feature of canyoning/canyoneering shoes, and the one canyoneers normally base their decision on which canyoning shoes to invest on. Canyoning shoes that provide good grip boost a canyoneer’s confidence in their progression, specially in exposed sections. The technology has evolved and nowadays the materials used are specifically designed for wet environments, increasing the adherence to the rock surfaces.
The sole’s design also help with traction in muddy terrain, specially during approach.
Canyoning shoes durability
Durability is another measuring stick for canyoning/canyoneering shoes: the harsh use conditions require superb durability and resistance as we trod through the canyons. The stitching and glueing must be tough to resist the constant beating we put the shoes through; the sole must endure numerous descents to make it worthwhile.
The canyoning/canyoneering shoes body construction must also protect the canyoneer’s feet against bumps into rocks and also in technical manoeuvres such as protecting the rope from abrasion using the feet, as seen on our Canyoning Level 2 course.
Canyoning shoes comfort
Comfort may be overlooked, but on demanding approaches and for long descents, picking the most comfortable canyoning shoes should be part of your decision-making. Comfort means not only cushioning but also protection and insulation: it is likely you will descend a canyon with fresh and cool water, so these factors should be taken in consideration when deciding between canyoning shoes.
Shoes that are not too heavy also help us save energy when progressing in the canyon.
Canyoneers in subtropical areas might benefit from shoes that provide more insulation, while in tropical and warm areas canyoning shoes that drain well and keep the feet cool may be the best bet.
Canyoning shoes: a comparison
We have selected the most popular canyoning shoes in the market: the Adidas Terrex Hydrolace, the Fiveten Canyoneer 3, the Bestard Canyon Guide and the Mont Bell Sawer Climber.
Adidas Terrex Hydrolace Canyoning Shoes
By far the most balanced of any canyoning shoes currently in the market, the Adidas Hydrolace 2021 is a favourite amongst professional & recreational canyoneers around the world. Adidas has invested considerably on the development of these shoes, with testing held in multiple locations from New Zealand to Bali and USA.
Since acquiring FiveTen in 2011, Adidas has also held the patent for the Stealth© rubber compound, a favourite amongst climbers. The main feature of the Adidas Hydrolace canyoning shoes is the use of the Stealth© rubber for the outsole: it is a variation of the same Stealth C4© rubber used on FiveTen climbing shoes and provides superb grip in any condition.
The Adidas Hydrolace shoes are extremely comfortable benefiting from Adidas’ expertise in the sneakers industry; they are also built to last through extensive testing and Terrex adventure footwear knowledge. The shoes provide excellent insulation even in the coldest of waters. The downside is its weight when wet: it becomes heavy due to the lack of drainage and water absorption by the neoprene used in the lining.
FiveTen Canyoneer 3 Canyoning Shoes
The latest iteration of the pioneer canyoning shoes, the FiveTen Canyoneer 3 canyoning shoes have been a popular choice due to its excellent grip in any condition. Available in 2 versions (guide and regular) and featuring the Stealth© rubber compound for the outsole, it has been widely used by canyoneers in both Europe and the USA. Despite the excellent grip, it is not the most comfortable shoe for long descents: we find the sole to be too thick and hard, and not enough cushion on the heel makes it not the best option for long descents. Many canyoneers have also complained about the durability of the latest version, with issues arising after only a few descents. Still, it is a great option for those looking for canyoning-specific shoes.
The guide (red) version is built with a canvas outer, which increases its durability in harsh conditions when compared with the regular (yellow) version. The FiveTen Canyoneer 3 shoes are very light and drain well, which slightly increases its comfort rating.
Bestard Canyon Guide Canyoning Shoes
Bestard’s main canyoning boots are designed with the canyoning guide in mind. Featuring an integrated gaiter to keep rocks & sand from coming in and an orange fabric on the body, it provides excellent ankle protection and is super lightweight. THe Bestard Canyon Guide’s outsole is a Vibram™ Idrogrip, which works well in wet environments but is sub-par in some rock types such as schist. We find that the grip improves after a bit of wear. Bestard offers a free resole of the shoes when worn out: you must cover the shipping costs to their workshop in Europe. The laces tighten all the way from the ankle to the toes, providing excellent fit according to your taste.
It is worth mentioning that Bestard has some new additions to its line of canyoning shoes, namely the Wildwater Pro which seems to follow the trend of black and red canyoning shoes.
Mont Bell Sawer Climber
The Mont Bell Sawer Climber is little known in the canyoning community: a good explanation is that it is not marketed as canyoning shoes, but as shower climbing shoes. Shower climbing is quite similar to canyoning, but instead of descending a canyon, shower climbers go up, climbing waterfalls and traversing sections. It is a popular sport in Taiwan and Japan. The Sawer Climber is super lightweight and fits snugly on the feet due to its lace system, providing a climbing shoe feel. Its body construction is in mesh which provides excellent drainage but poor insulation, therefore it is a nice option for tropical climates. The Sawer Climber uses Mont Bell’s Aquagrip outsole, which provides excellent grip in all conditions, in and out of the canyon. Mont Bell also offers a felt sole which works great when walking on rocks but wears quite quickly: we’d go for the Aquagrip sole any day.
One of the downsides of these canyoning shoes is that they provide little protection for the feet, and can deteriorate quite quickly if subject to harsh & abrasive environments.
La Sportiva TX Canyon
There was much anticipation and hype prior to the arrival of La Sportiva’s canyoning shoe option, the La Sportiva TX Canyon. The renowed Italian climbing and trekking shoes manufacturer brings their footwear expertise to the watersports, and according to the brand, “each component is designed for maximum drying speed and water repellency is obtained with 100% PFC Free materials and treatments, compatible with the environment”. The design is attractive and bold, and the Vibram Idrogrip sole provides excellent grip in the canyon. The high profile of the boots protect the ankle and the toe box is fully wrapped by sturdy rubber, providing additional protection to the front of the foot. We think it’s one of the best looking boots out there, but we’re yet to reach a final veredict on how it stacks up against the Hydrolace or Bestard Canyon Guide.
Taking the above factors to choose the best canyoning shoes for your canyoning practice will boost your confidence on your feet when progressing in the canyon. Did we miss any shoes? Get in touch and we will add it to the list!