I have been a kayak guide for 15 years and have always hated getting my feet wet. My home waters of Puget Sound are a chilly 45 to 50 degrees year-round, so if my little piggies get wet, they get cold. I love my kayak more than I love dry feet so you won’t catch me getting aboard my kayak while it’s high and dry then grinding my way into the water. I get aboard when my kayak is afloat, and if I’m not wearing my drysuit with built-in waterproof socks my feet will get wet. I’m often standing in water for long, chilly minutes while launching and landing clients.
I’ve struggled to find workable footwear. I’ve tried neoprene boots and neoprene socks, always hoping that the manufacturer’s claims of waterproofness will prove true, but each time my feet get soggy. This autumn I tried waterproof knee-high rubber boots. They keep my feet dry but they’re not flexible enough to work well in the cockpit and they aren’t safe in the case of a capsize.
When I heard about Kokotat’s Launch Socks I was pretty excited. The first time I tried them, I waded into the water, got aboard my kayak and my feet were still dry! It was a cold day paddling in the wind and rain, but my feet stayed happily warm.
The height of these socks—18″ from heel to top—is perfect for me. I have short legs for my 5′6″ height so the socks reach just above my knees, which allows me to launch easily from water more than deep enough to keep kayaks off the rocks. The toggles and draw cords at the top allows me to tighten them down to any size leg and keep the socks pulled up high. The Launch Socks are perfectly waterproof. I filled them with water one evening and laid them out on newspaper. In the morning the paper was still completely dry. The Hydrus three-layer waterproof, breathable material and taped seams had worked their impressive magic.
To avoid wear and tear, the Launch Socks require footwear to be worn over them but they’re just a thin layer of material (think lightweight rain jacket) and can easily slide into boots, shoes, or sandals and leave room for thick socks underneath to keep feet warm. The only itty-bitty drawback with the Launch Socks is that they’re baggy, so they don’t go with my super-stylish zip-leg quick-dry pants.
I’m more into function than fashion, and the Launch Socks are the most functional and versatile thing I’ve found for beach-launching footwear. I highly recommend them.
Spring Courtright has been sea kayaking for over 15 years, leading and assisting day trips and multi-day trips in Washington and British Columbia. She has taught sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, backpacking, through the Olympic Outdoor Center, Outward Bound, Naturalists at Large, YMCA Earth Service Corps and Colorado Mountain College.
Kokatat’s Launch Socks are available from retailers for $80.
Is there a product that might be useful for boatbuilding, cruising or shore-side camping that you’d like us to review? Please email your suggestions.