Leanwhat wetsuit boot or shoe is right for the water sport you are doing. Understand the thickness and what boots are best for what and when
Essential Guide to Wetsuit Boots & Shoes
Wetsuit boots are not just for surfers, they’re ideal for any watersport or just paddling in the sea. Wetsuit boots and wetsuit shoes are designed to keep your feet warm, in the same way a wetsuit keeps your body warm. They also offer protection for your feet from rocks etc (so they’re great for rock pooling and sea swimming too) and will have a rubber sole, giving you stability and grip too. Prices and styles vary – from basic shoe style beach shoes through to high end technical wetsuit boots for those really into their watersports! Wetsuit boots are sometimes refered to as 'booties'
What are wetsuit boots made from?
Wetsuit boots are usually made from neoprene, with a rubber sole. The thickness of the neoprene will determine how warm they will keep your feet – the thicker the neoprene (3mm, 5mm etc), the warmer the wetsuit boots or shoes will be!
Do I need wetsuit boots or wetsuit shoes?
You can wear whichever you feel most comfortable in, but as a rule, if you're wearing them with a wetsuit it's best to go for a boot. You can tuck a boot up inside the leg of your wetsuit, which means total coverage and no chilly ankles! If you're rock pooling, reef walking etc. then you'll probably want to go for a shoe rather than a boot. Reef shoes tend to have a slightly thicker sole and be thinner neoprene too, so they protect your feet better but dont get too hot (most people don't go reef walking in mid winter!).
What does ‘split toe’ mean on wetsuit boots?
One of the big questions we get asked about wetsuit boots is "what's the difference between split toe and round toe?". Split toe refers to the toe part of the footbed of the shoe. A ‘split toe’ will be sectioned at the end into 2 parts – 1 for your big toe and 1 for the rest of your toes. The advantage of this design is that it makes your foot more stable inside the boot. It stops your foot from sliding around inside the boot, which can cause you to slip when standing up on a surfboard, for example.
You may also see the feature 'concealed split toe' or 'internal split toe'. This means that inside the boot is a split toe, but outside the boot the toe area is covered over. This prevents your surfboard leash from getting caught between the toes and tripping you up.
What does ‘round toe’ mean?
Round toe wetsuit boots have a toe area of the footbed where all your toes are together (like your normal everyday shoes). Some people find a split toe design uncomfortable, so prefer the ‘round toe’ option. Having all your toes together will also be slightly warmer.
How do I know if my wetsuit boots fit properly?
Sizing is important with wetsuit boots and shoes. If they’re too small they will rub and be uncomfortable to wear, if they’re too big they will fill with water and feel really heavy while you’re wearing them. Your wetsuit boots or wetsuit shoes should fit snugly on your foot without crushing your toes when you stand up. They should feel quite tight on first wear (but not uncomfortable) – the neoprene will mould slightly to your foot over time.
What thickness wetsuit boots do I need for summer & winter?
The thickness of the neoprene will determine how warm they will keep your feet – the thicker the neoprene (3mm, 5mm etc), the warmer the wetsuit boots / shoes will be! Typically in summer, something like a 3mm thickness will be worn for surfing UK waters, while in winter 5mm or 6mm may be needed. There’s no hard and fast rule however – if you suffer from cold feet, get a thicker pair and wear all year round!
What's the best way to look after & store wetsuit boots?
If you look after your wetsuit boots / shoes well, they will last much longer. First tip is to rinse them out after each use to wash out and salt water. You can soak them in cold water and every now and then use a wetsuit detergent too (this will also stop them getting too smelly). We don’t recommend putting them in the washing machine, or using household soap as it can weaken the neoprene. We stock a range of wetsuit detergents and neoprene cleaners here >>
Let them dry fully before putting away. This prevents them getting mouldy!
You should store your wetsuit boots / shoes in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Thrown on the parcel shelf of your car they will quickly deteriorate from the sun beaming through the window! You’ll end up with crusty cracked boots!
Should I wear socks with my wetsuit boots?
You can, but they will get wet! Water gets inside wetsuit boots while you’re in the sea, so although socks may make them a little warmer, it’s likely they’ll be more uncomfortable. Most people don’t wear socks inside their wetsuit boots.
Still confused? Why not give us a call on 01273 420142 and have a chat with someone from our Wetsuit Team - we're here to help