Yes, you can surf barefoot, especially when you are in the tropics. But when the water temperature starts to drop, you begin to see reasons for wearing surf booties. Surf booties do more than just protect your feet from the elements. They also protect you from unsurfaced rocks, and poisonous urchins, and can help with traction if the shore is slippery.
Surf booties can redefine your surfing experience. Most people that complain about surf booties aren’t wearing the right type or fit. If you don’t buy a quality pair of surf boots, you are going to feel that the boots aren’t worth wearing for surfing. If the boots don’t fit, you’ll end up with lots of water in the boots and this could affect your performance.
Let’s see what are the different options, designs, and factors to consider when choosing your surf booties. Here we go!
Why Use Surf Booties?
Surf Booties are one important outdoor sports accessory. I would advise every wet sports enthusiast to get one for themselves, especially for those that engage in these sports in cold regions of the world. For those who choose not to use booties when engaging in wet sports, you probably have to moan or make other weird noises a couple of times as the cold water comes in contact with your feet. Also, you probably just discontinue sporting activities during winter. With these boots at your feet, you need not worry about cold water or have to stop the sports you like doing during winter.
Surf booties are footwear designed specifically for use in water sports like surfing, canoeing, diving, etc. They serve as shoes but are to be worn when engaging in these sports. They cover the feet completely and are usually at ankle height or a little above the ankle. The soles are made of natural or synthetic rubber, since these shoes are to be used in water, they need to be water-proof.
One of the most important functions of surf booties is to protect the feet against the cold so as to retain the fun of engaging in sports. They do this by acting as a shield for the foot- preventing or minimizing the feet’s contact with the cold water. Also, most surf booties are designed in such a way that water cannot penetrate the boots. Some are even designed in such a way that they can retain heat giving the user’s feet optimum warmth.
Other than the provision of warmth, the surf booties also protect the feet from injury, especially when engaging in these sporting activities in locations with hard and rough terrains. Some of them are even sturdy enough to be used as boots for hiking. They prevent rocks or other sharp objects from hurting the feet or causing any form of injury.
It should be obvious now that these booties are essentially meant to serve protective functions to the users. They also help you maintain traction- sort of a grip. They prevent you from slipping when engaging in these sports. Essentially, there is really no disadvantage to using these boots. They are meant to keep you safe through your sporting experience.
What Thickness Should I Aim For?
Deciding how thick you want your booties to be, will be dependent on where you are engaging in your water sports. Most surf booties are 3mm or 5mm thick. However, some are up to 7mm thick.
The thicker your surf boot, the more warmth you get but there is a downside to this. You have less board feel when using these very thick boots. As stated earlier, your choice of boots should depend on your location. Since these booties are essentially used for protection purposes, the main criterion to look out for will be the temperature of your water. For example, a boot of 3mm thickness should be good enough for surfers in the mid-Atlantic region. This might not be the case for one who is surfing in the north pacific region which is a very much colder region. You would need to use a thicker boot- say the 5mm or the 7mm boot depending on the choice of the individual.
The terrain too could be a factor in the selection of the surf booties. A person surfing where there are lots of rocks- such as an individual surfing along a rocky coastline, that individual would probably need a thick surf bootie.
Round Toe vs. Split Toe Booties
When it comes to comfortability, then the round toe styles are the one since they give you the natural feel, no separation of your toes. They are in the boots just the way they occur naturally.
Although they may not be so suitable for you, especially when you intend to use them for surfing. Due to the lack of clear separation between your first and second toes. There is a higher risk of your foot sliding away in these boots when surfing. But it needs to be said that these round-toe booties offer the best insulation.
For the Split toe style, comfort is not one of the strong suits of this design. However, there is a lesser risk of your feet sliding away when using these booties. Also, these booties are less convenient to wear when compared to the round toes style. This is because of the split.
There is a third option, more like a mix of the two styles. We call this one the internal split toe. With this one, you get the comfort of the round toe as well as the traction of the split toe. However, the traction is less than that of the full split toe. Though there is less risk of slipping away than those of the round toe.
Other Aspects to Take Into Consideration When Choosing Your Surf Booties
Other than the thickness and the style, there are some other features of the surf booties that need to be considered before choosing the type to buy. Some of them are discussed below.
Construction & Seams
Surf booties are usually made of synthetic rubber- neoprene. However, a few are made of natural rubber. Even though most of these booties are made from similar materials, I’m sure you don’t expect them all to be of similar quality.
How the bootie is constructed is a very important factor to consider before going ahead to make your selection for the bootie to purchase.
Booties with glued and blind stitched (GBS) seams appear to be very durable for your surf booties. Also, as those with glued and taped seams, as well as those with flatlock stitching. These constructions listed can prevent water from affecting the quality of your bootie since it is meant to be used in water.
You need your bootie to be able to maintain its integrity in water. The best surf booties are those that can prevent water from penetrating the bootie. This feature enables them to provide optimum warmth as well as maintain the quality of the boot for a long time.
The traction of any shoe is mainly based on the sole. The same thing applies to our Surf booties. Though as earlier stated, the style also affects traction. However, the sole is the major factor for the grip of the bootie. For firm traction on your board as well as protection from reefs and rocks, you’d need a bootie with a good and sturdy sole. Surf booties with good, sturdy soles could even be used for hiking purposes.
Comfort and Fit
It is always advised to buy booties that are one size down from your normal shoe size since the material used in the production of these boots is rubber, which is elastic and would stretch in the long run. Hence, for comfortability and fit, one might need to follow this rule of buying a size down from one’s normal shoe size.
Also, ladies need to be careful when deciding the sizes to go for. Most of these surf booties are usually sized using men’s sizes. Therefore, unless otherwise stated, ladies should assume that the size stated is a man’s size.
Finally, it must not be left unmentioned that booties to be bought shouldn’t be larger than your feet or too bulky. Likewise, you shouldn’t buy one that will be too small, as those may even hurt your feet.
With all that has been said, it is safe to say that a surf bootie should be considered an important gear for water sport enthusiasts. If you are yet to get one or still feel you do not need one, all I can do is advise you to get one before your next outdoor trip.
Also, in making your choice for the one to purchase, I’ll advise you to go through the buying guide again to avoid making the mistake of buying a poor-quality surf bootie which is tantamount to a waste of resources.