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What Shoes To Wear When Salt River Tubing

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tubing shoes
Tubing Salt River with friends last summer :)

As a foot doctor, Phoenix resident, and outdoor enthusiast, the question of what shoes to wear when going to Salt River tubing is a topic close to my heart. I've called Maricopa County home since 2020, and tubing the infamous Salt River has been one of my favorite activities to do during the summer. Are you curious about which shoes are best when tubing the Salt River? Continue to scroll down to learn my answers.

What Is Salt River Tubing?

Salt River tubing is floating down the salt river in innertubes. Some people stand up paddleboard, or even kayak down the salt river during the summer as well. Water activities on the Salt River are a great way to experience the natural beauty of this river while soaking up the Arizona sunshine solo, or with loved ones.

Salt River tubing typically takes place in the Lower Salt River, in Mesa, Arizona. This is about a 45-minute drive from Downtown Phoenix. The most common starting point is near the Salt River Tubing & Recreation facility, where tubers can rent equipment and take buses to the launch point.

Some people also bring additional items like coolers to keep snacks and drinks cold during the float.

How long a Salt River tubing trip takes can depend on things like the river flow rate and the route picked, since there are several ways to flow down the Salt River. On average, a tubing trip down the Salt River can last for a couple of hours.

One of the reasons why Salt River tubing is so popular is because of the scenic views of the surrounding desert landscape, including mountains, cacti, and wildlife such as birds, fish, and even wild horses.

The Salt River offers a different experience depending on the time of day that you go. This can range from being a very tranquil setting in the morning or being more of a party atmosphere in the afternoon and definitely on the weekends.

What Shoes To Wear When Salt River Tubing

When doing any kind of water activities outdoors in nature, having the right footwear is key. The key thing when thinking about any kind of tubing shoe, is that you want something that will protect the sole of your foot from rocks, branches, and any other objects that can cut the sole of your foot, or just be uncomfortable to walk on.

Another important feature is that there should be some kind of heel or ankle strap to these shoes if the heel isn't closed completely. I don't like slide-on shoes as tubing shoes because it's very likely for your shoes to slip off while walking in the parking lot, or along the banks of the river. When carrying innertubes, bags, or coolers, this can be especially dangerous.

Shoes without a back or some kind of ankle or heel strap can also slip off when actually on the Salt River which becomes a pain trying to chase after or find in the current.

Here are my pics for tubing shoes to wear when on the Salt River.

1.Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV Sandal

tubing shoes
Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV sandal

The Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV Sandal (Mens/Womens) is my #1 pick for Salt River tubing for several reasons.

The Z-Trail EV sandal is very lightweight, coming in at only 4.3 oz per sandal. These have a very minimal and effortless feel on your feet.

The Z-Trail EV sandal also has trusty straps. This sandal is not flying off in any pumpy currents.

The design of the Xero Shoes Z-Trail EV sandal managed to eliminate 70% of the, at times redundant materials used in modern sports sandals, for a much lighter experience.

Like all shoes from Xero Shoes, the footbed matches your foot shape exactly, eliminating the squeezing of toes, which can potentially lead to foot problems down the road like plantar fasciitis, Monrton's neuroma, hammertoes, and more.

The sole of the Xero Shoes Z Trail EV sandal combines flexibility, traction, and protection of your foot. The flexible aspects of the sole of this sandal allow your feet to move as naturally as possible.

The rubber grip pods allow for traction and a grippy feel of this sandal when walking. This is especially important for slippery rocks, and walking in the silt of a river bed.

If you're looking for a minimalist shoe that can be worn while tubing, that feels like you're wearing nothing, or very close to it, then look no further than the Xero Shoes Z Trail EV sandal. I love this shoe so much.

2. Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport

tubing shoes
The Aqua X Sport from Xero Shoes

The Aqua X Sport (Mens/Womens) from Xero Shoes hits every point that is important to me when selecting a pair of shoes to wear for tubing and other water activities.

The Aqua X Sport is completely enclosed, so every inch of the skin of your foot will be protected from anything in the water including larger rocks, sticks, and branches.

The sole of the Aqua X Sport includes 3.5 mm lugs on the sole, great for added grip or traction when walking on slippery rocks, or through water.

The Aqua X Sport is made from mesh, which allows water to quickly leave the shoe. The materials that the Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport are made from aren't absorbent, which means your shoe won't become waterlogged or absorb water, which keeps the overall weight of your shoes down, making it much easier to walk and move around.

The Xero Shoes Aqua X Sport is a great option for tubing the Salt River, and as a tubing shoe in general.

3. Chaco Lowdown Sandal

tubing shoes

Another favorite sandal of mine for everyday wear, but especially for a tubing shoe is the Chaco Lowdown Sandal. Chaco is an amazing sandal brand overall.

The Chaco Lowdown sandal has a thinner sole than some of their other sandal offerings and has less of a heel drop as well, meaning your heel isn't as high off the ground. For me, these shoes are more comfortable to wear than some of their other sandals.

The Chaco Lowdown sandal is not a minimalist sandal. The sole of the shoe has a lot less give than the Xero Shoes option. The Chaco Lowdown sandal also weighs more.

The Chaco Lowdown sandal line also has straps to ensure that this sandal is not going anywhere.

To see my in-depth review of the Chaco Lowdown Sandal, click here.

If you want a slightly less ground feel, but still a very lightweight and intuitive wear experience, the Chaco Lowdown Sandal just might be up your alley.

Key Takeaways

Deciding what shoes to wear while Salt River tubing can bring up a lot of questions and concerns. I hope my pics helped to set your mind at ease. Enjoy your time on the Salt River, have fun, and be safe. Who knows, you just might see me out there too.

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