Best Shoes for Hiking The Narrows: 3 Great Options [2023]

The Hiking Helper contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using a link on my website, I may receive compensation, at no extra cost to you. Read my disclaimer for more information.

Are you planning a trip to Zion National Park to do one of America’s most popular hikes through Zion Canyon?

The beautiful Narrows hike winds through the canyon and the Virgin River and has become extremely popular over the years.

And because of how unique the hike is, it can be tough to determine what you should wear during it.

In particular, many people wonder what the best shoes for hiking The Narrows are, and in this post, I’m going to cover exactly what footwear to wear.

Top 3 Shoe Recommendations:

Best Lightweight: Astral TR1 Minimalist Hiking Shoes
Best Sandals: Keen Newport H2
Most Versatile: Merrell Speed Strike Aerosport

What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear for The Narrows?

The Narrows can be a tricky hike to get dressed for because of the fact that you’ll be hiking in water for a majority of it.

Because it’s through a river and there are so many rocks at the bottom, it’s important to have a specific type of shoe.

It’s best to choose a pair of sturdy, closed-toed shoes that will protect your feet and toes during the hike.

Tyler standing on a rock with his shoes that he wore for hiking The Narrows.

The bottoms of your shoes should be hard and should have a good grip on the bottom to help prevent slipping.

You’ll also want the shoes to be durable and supportive because they will be getting wet and will be coming into contact with a lot of rocks.

Some people choose to wear water shoes, but if you go for these, you should opt for a pair that is hard-bottomed, rather than soft.

Many people compare wading through the river and over the rocks in The Narrows to walking on wet bowling balls, so you need grippy and sturdy shoes.

In the end, what shoes to wear for The Narrows should have these qualities to ensure a comfortable and fun hike:

  • Sturdy
  • Hard-bottomed
  • Well-draining
  • Durable
  • Closed-toed
  • Good traction
  • Fast-drying

Best Shoes for Hiking The Narrows

Below you’ll find 3 of the best recommendations for shoes that will help you have an enjoyable experience within The Narrows.

All have a sturdy bottom, are fast drying, and will protect your toes and feet from rocks or anything else you may find in the river.

Astral TR1 Minimalist Hiking Shoes

One of my top recommendations for the best shoes for hiking The Narrows are the Astral TR1 Minimalist hiking shoes.

These fast-drying shoes are designed to be worn in water, so they’re going to be a perfect fit for this type of hike.

You will also see that they’re very lightweight and have drainage holes so you won’t be lugging around water all day.

And although they’re water shoes, they still have a nice, sturdy bottom that will prevent you from hurting your feet and will help with traction and stability.

Keen Newport H2

If you’re thinking that wearing a totally closed-toe shoe while in water seems uncomfortable, I totally understand.

That’s where the Keen Newport H2s come in!

These sandals are great for The Narrows because they protect your feet with their hard bottom and sides but still allow for airflow.

Strap them snugly onto your feet and wade through the water and watch as it flows back out into the river, rather than sitting in your shoe!

Because of their quick-drying lining, they’ll be ready to go for your next hike in no time.

Plus, they offer a super great bottom that has rigid traction to prevent slipping on the rocks found at the bottom of the river.

Merrell Speed Strike Aerosport

The men’s Merrell Speed Strike Aerosport is a versatile shoe that is perfect for both water adventures and hikes on hot summer days.

These ventilated shoes will keep you cool when hiking in the sun as well as allow for airflow and drainage when in the water.

With their elastic cord system, they’ll stay on your feet during the entire hike and will provide you with good support.

The durable outsole provides traction and grip when you need it most on those slippery rocks.

For women, the Merrell All Out Blaze shoes offer a very similar fit and the same great qualities as the Speed Strikes.

Both shoes are perfect for wading through the Narrows and keeping your feet comfortable and supported as you complete the hike!

What Kind of Socks Should I Wear for The Narrows?

Because your feet will be getting wet during the hike, you’ll want a pair of socks that is going to help prevent blisters.

Normal socks might slip down or rub on your ankles, causing hot spots and pain which can make for an uncomfortable hike.

The water in the Virgin River can also be very cold, so it’s best to have socks that can help insulate your feet to keep them warm.

I recommend getting yourself a pair of neoprene socks.

If you’re wearing a pair of sandals instead of closed toe shoes, you might just go without socks all together.

If you’re hiking later in the year, you might want to wear a dry suit.

Best Socks for Hiking The Narrows

Below you’ll find my favorite sock recommendations for hiking The Narrows to ensure you don’t get blisters and stay as warm as you can in the water.

OMGear Neoprene Socks

The OMGear neoprene socks are affordable, comfortable, and come in tons of different colors.

They’re perfect for wearing underneath whatever shoes or boots you decide on.

Smartwool Merino Wool Socks

Some people also recommend wearing wool socks because they’re easier to find and more versatile than neoprene socks.

Wool socks, such as Smartwool’s merino wool options, keep their insulation even when wet, so they’ll keep your feet warm.

I personally don’t love wearing wool socks when they’re wet, but if you’re okay with it, this might be a great option as well!

Rentals for Hiking The Narrows

If you aren’t interested in wearing your own shoes for hiking The Narrows, then I would recommend renting a pair from a shop outside of Zion.

Everyone has differing opinions on whether or not the rentals are worth it, but I personally think that they absolutely are.

When I did the hike, I rented a pair of canyoneering boots from Zion Outfitters right outside Zion National Park.

Myself wearing a pair of rental shoes for hiking The Narrows.

The package comes with a pair of canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, and a wooden hiking stick.

Rentals can save you from wrecking your own shoes and it also ensures that you can easily have the right pair of shoes.

What to Wear to Hike The Narrows

Besides the shoes to wear for hiking The Narrows, you’re going to want some other specific clothes because of the possibility to get wet.

Quick Dry Clothing: You’ll want clothes that dry fast in case you fall or the water is higher and you need to hike through it.

Layers: Because you’ll be in the canyon, you’ll want some layers to keep you warm if it gets too cold.

Sturdy Shoes: You already know this, but get yourself a good pair of sturdy shoes or rent from Zion Outfitters!

Tyler wading through the Virgin River in The Narrows.

Sun Protection: The Utah sun is really hot, especially in the summer, so be sure to protect your skin.

Day Pack: Carry a 20 to 30-liter day pack to store all of your gear for the day.

Dry Bag: I would recommend putting your electronics or valuables in a dry bag to ensure that they don’t get wet.

Hiking Stick: Bring a sturdy hiking stick (you can rent from Zion Outfitters!) to prevent you from slipping on the rocks. I don’t recommend basic trekking poles.

What Are The Narrows?

The Narrows is a popular hike found in Zion National Park where hikers wade through a narrow canyon and the Virgin River.

A majority of day hikers complete the hike from the Bottom Up, starting at the Temple of Sinawava.

A narrow area within The Narrows in Zion National Park.

This portion of the hike is about 9 miles in length, but hikers are able to turn around at any time to head back to the trailhead.

The first mile of the hike is on a paved trail called the Riverside Walk, before entering Zion Canyon and the Virgin River.

It’s an excellent trail for advanced hikers as well as beginners who are looking to hike within Zion National Park.

Tips for Hiking in Zion National Park

Before you head into Zion National Park to explore and do some hiking, there are a few things that you should know.

Here are a few tips that will help make sure that your visit is fun and successful.

  • Have your national parks pass before entering to make entering the park easy. The best option is the America the Beautiful pass.
  • Bring plenty of sun protection because the hot Utah sun can be dangerous if you don’t protect yourself.
  • Download the park maps on Google Maps or All Trails before you arrive because cell service can be spotty.
  • To avoid being met with a closure, check park guidelines and updates so you know if any roads or trails are closed.
  • Always leave no trace when you’re in national parks or anywhere outdoors.
  • Understand the shuttle system within Zion National Park and know that you can’t have a private car on the main road during the shuttle season.


Do I Need Waterproof Shoes to Hike The Narrows?

No, waterproof shoes are not required to hike in The Narrows.
But, I would recommend having them as they’ll help keep your feet warmer and provide stability for you.
The shoes that you rent from Zion Outfitters aren’t waterproof, but when paired with neoprene socks, they’re great for entering the water.

What Kind of Socks Should I Wear to Hike The Narrows?

Neoprene socks are the best option for the socks that you wear in The Narrows.
These are very tight-fitting, insulating socks that prevent blisters and make wearing wet boots much more comfortable.
Some people recommend wearing wool socks as they stay insulating even when they’re wet, but I find that they get too heavy and uncomfortable.

Can I Hike The Narrows in Crocs?

No, it is not recommended to wear Crocs for hiking in general or for hiking in The Narrows.
They can be very slippery and won’t protect your feet when underwater in the Virgin River.

Are the Rentals Necessary for The Narrows?

While rentals aren’t required or fully necessary, they can be very helpful!
I rented the canyoneering boots and neoprene socks when I did the hike and found that they were comfortable and made my hike a lot easier.

Can I Hike The Narrows in Water Shoes?

Some people choose to wear water shoes when doing the hike because of the fact that you’ll be getting wet.
They can be good for the hike, but it is recommended to make sure that they are hard-bottomed and sturdy.

Can I Hike The Narrows in Flip Flops?

No, avoid hiking The Narrows in flip-flops at all costs.
They won’t protect your feet at all and you’ll likely slip around under the water.
Some people do wear sandals such as Chacos for their hike, but I still don’t recommend these for The Narrows.

Can I Hike The Narrows in Gear I Already Own?

Yes, you can definitely wear gear that you already have at home on The Narrows hike.
Wear fast-drying clothing and a pair of sturdy shoes.
I would also really recommend having a walking stick or trekking poles as well.

Do I Need a Permit to Hike The Narrows?

If you’re hiking from the Bottom Up (starting at the Temple of Sinawava), you do not currently need a permit.
If you’re starting Top Down, you will need to obtain a permit here.

Conclusion: Best Shoes for The Narrows

Zion National Park is filled with some of the country’s most beautiful views, including the unique Narrows hike.

And since you’ll be wading through water for the entire hike, it can be tricky to decide what type of footwear you want to wear.

In this post, I walked you through the best shoes for hiking The Narrows and how to best prepare for a comfortable and enjoyable time.

Now that you know what you’ll need, it’s time to get out there and enjoy your day within Utah’s first national park.