Most surfers much prefer to surf barefoot. You get a better grip and feel for the board, and it’s also less faff if you don’t need to remember, put on, take off, rinse off and dry a pair of boots every time you go surfing. However, in winter, there’s little choice if you don’t want to lose your toes to frostbite.
Getting the right pair of wetsuit boots can make a real difference to your session, so don’t rush the decision and buy the first pair you see. Here’s what to look out for…
Whatever style, shape or thickness you go for, you need your boots to fit you properly. Too big and your feet will be sliding around inside them, too tight and your toes will be crushed into them and you’ll find yourself dreading having to put them on – despite how much you might think they’ll stretch in time, they won’t.
Sizing for wetsuit boots is the same as for any normal pair of shoes, but it can vary between brands, so try out a couple of pairs and see what feels comfortable for you.
This largely comes down to personal preference for surfing. You want to go for as thin as you can bear, as the thinner the boot, the better you can feel the board beneath you.
As a rough guide, a pair of 3mm boots should be fine for in between seasons in the south of the UK, but by winter you’ll probably need to upgrade to 5mm. If you surf further north, you might even need to go up to 7mm.
There’s two shapes of boots to look out for, each with their own pros and cons.
Probably the most popular option, as they tend to be cheaper to manufacture and are pretty straightforward when it comes to getting the right fit. They can also be a bit warmer than the alternative option, as all your toes are cosied up together. The Gul Power 5mm Round Toe Wetsuit Boot is one of our bestsellers for good reason – it’s versatile, affordable and durable. If you've got a higher budget, Prolimit's Womens Pure 5.5mm Round Toe Wetsuit Boots include rubber reinforced Footlock panels combined with Heel lock reinforcement for a better fit and a fixed foot position.
Favoured by more serious surfers, as it enables better grip and balance on the board. The big toe is separated from the others, which is why it might get a little bit chilly. This also means there’s another aspect to think about when it comes to getting the right fit, but it’s worth it when you get the right pair. Note that sometimes the split is internal, meaning you can't always tell immediately from looking at the boot. The Gul Viper 5mm Split Toe Boot is great choice for winter waves. For thinner neoprene but with the Zodiac2 lining for warmth, the Prolimit Mercury TR 3/2mm Split Toe Wetsuit Boot is the perfect lightweight option. At the higher end, Mystic's Supreme 5mm Split Toe Boots are super toasty with a fast drying lining to keep your feet warm and comfortable.
Sometimes in the warmer season you might still find yourself in need of a pair of boots, but not for warmth. If you’re surfing somewhere rocky and don’t want to risk any damage to your feet, or somewhere that’s popular with weaver fish, a pair of lightweight reef booties are a great option.
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