The safest way to get in and out of your canoe at a portage is to "wet foot" it. As you canoe up to a portage, turn your canoe parallel to the shore and step out of your canoe and into the shallow water before the canoe touches a rock.
It is dangerous to try and keep your feet dry by stepping on a rock that is out of the water. Why? You may lose your balance or slip as you precariously stretch to reach for the dry rock. The result is a possible flipped canoe or an injury from your fall. And your canoe will get banged up in the process.
In blistering hot summer weather when wet feet are okay, I recommend old sneakers or rugged closed toe sandals while paddling and portaging.
However, in spring, fall, and cool weather, wet feet are cold feet. That's when I recommend Northerner brand Max model rubber boots for a very cool price of only about $20. This probably isn't a recommendation you'll receive from an outdoors store that wants to sell you a Chota Quicklace Mukluk for $120. But, I grew up on a farm and that sort of a price tag sends my head spinning. And the Northerner Max works better at a fraction of the price.
I recommend the Northerner Max for cool weather. Here's why:
- 100% waterproof
- Aggressive tread makes it super-stable on rocks
- 15" high which is about right for the depth of water at most portages
- Adequate support for portaging
- Easy to slide off to let your feet air out while paddling across the lake
I recommended that the group bring Northerner Max boots on the trip this week. They did and the weather has been cool, with rain this afternoon. They can't imagine not having these boots.
If you're driving to Ely, you can buy Northerner Max boots along the way at L&M Fleet Supply in Cloquet (click here for directions) or Virginia (click here for directions). This photo shows the crew this week with Northerner Max boots and happy feet.