I have hiked along and through rivers over the years, but will be hiking The Narrows in Zion this upcoming September. I have seen lots of suggestions on which footwear to use, but would like opinions from anybody who has experience with this hike.
In the Zion Narrows your feet will be in the water all day. In September the air tempreature will probably be warm, but the water is cold. You'll be walking over a lot of slippery rocks.
People may have different opinions, but personally, I would wear non-leather quick-dry hiking boots with ankle support and neoprene socks. The boots will be ruined by hiking in the water, so don't buy new ones if you can help it. For the past several years I've been using an old pair of Keene Terradora boots for wading and something like that would be perfect for the Narrows.
Keep in mind that shoes fit differently when they are dry and wet. Be prepared to take care of your feet. Take along an extra pair of wool socks. Be sure to trim your toenails. Put some Compeed blister gel pads in your first aid kit.
Thanks for your informative reply. Since I don’t have an old pair to sacrifice, I’ve been looking at Hoka one one multi sports and Merrell Blaze Sieves. Both are like water sandals with very rugged soles. I think they can handle the abuse & mileage, but I’ve heard it’s best to get a fast-drying shoe without the vents because water shoes let in debris. I plan on wearing neoprene and wool socks so they’ll be fairly snug. What do you think? Are there a lot of small pebbles etc that will get into a sandal-like water shoe in The Narrows?
I hiked the narrows last year and it was a great hike, so I'm very excited for you! We went around January so the water was 59.9 cfs. We rented a wetsuit from Zion Outfitters and it came with a whole package. The canyoneering boots are specifically designed for slippery conditions that maintain grip while wet and provide proper ankle support. The boots are worn with neoprene socks which insulate the foot and prevent the blistering and discomfort accompanied by hiking in wet boots. (As per their site).
Hiking the Narrows in January is hard core. But I can see how with enough noeprene it might be OK.
I did the Narrows at the end of last July. We hiked up about 7 miles to the big falls and back. The water was pretty murky as there had been some flash flooding. I wore Hoka trail running shoes and running socks and my feet felt great. More importantly is you definitely want trekking poles especially if the water isn’t clear. Most of the way you will experience cobbles and small boulders on the river bottom. There are places along the way depending on flow level to get out of the water. It is definitely worth the work! Angels landing isn’t half bad either! Enjoy.