Winter is coming and the desire to go to warm surf camps destinations is hight ! : in Canary Islands, Morocco, or in Algarve … but we will still be surfing at home this winter!
Forget the boardshorts, we are going to need a thick wetsuit, gloves, hood and boots.
Surf boots, let’s talk about them ! Which one to choose? There are so many brands and models. To help you to find the best surf shoes, or at least the ones that suit you the best, we asked a specialist in neoprene and all kinds of equipment.
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My name is Ludovic Lasserre, and I have been a surf cameraman for over 12 years. I traveled and film the best French surfers throughout the years: Jérémy Florès, Michel Bourez, Vincent Duvignac, Maxime Huscenot, Jorgann Couzinet …
my expertise was formed by practicing but also with feedback from pro surfers!
I work regularly for the WSL, Equipe Magazine and all the big brands in the surf Industry. I think I can say that surf shoes, just like wetsuits or neoprene, have improved a lot compare to when I started surfing and now, what you can find on the market today! Do you want some good advices to choose you surf shoes ? It’s not that complicated.
To start, I will list you the different quality requirements for you to decide which one to buy. In the characteristics, you have the thickness of the neoprene, which ranges from 2 to 7 mm for freezing water.
There is also differences between split toe, round toe, and hid or hidden split toe.
“Are you split toe, round toe, and hid or hidden split toe ?”
When the water temperature is between 12 and 17°Celsius, it’s better to choose a 3 mm neoprene thickness. For cooler water between 8 and 12°Celsius, we will choose a boot with a 5 mm neoprene thickness. Below 8°C, we need a 7 mm neoprene thickness.
In the Basque Country, 3 mm is enough, the water goes rarely bellow 12°C !
The synthetic rubber is more expensive than a simple fabric, the neoprene is thick but light, rigid but also elastic, resistant, and above especially all thermoregulator. It keeps you warm and that’s why water sports lovers loves it!
There are several types of neoprene: the petrochemical-based one (cf. from the Green Session article on alternatives to standarts neoprene) and the most common, Rubber and limestone ones.
I recommend the Rubber because it is the least polluting for the environment. Rubber is made from rubber trees. Limestone has very interesting properties in terms of resistance and impermeability. Limestone is made from a limestone base.
“Rubber and limestone are oil-free neoprene” and that’s what we love!
Personally, I prefer the Split Toe boots because I feel like my foot has a better support in it. But I’ve had once my leash who got caught between my toe and my others fingers. So I tried the hid split toes, and I prefer them.
However, the Wetty boots have made me changed my mind recently thanks to their high quality soles which provide incredible comfort for surfers who like me have a wide foot. The Round Toe and the limestone feels like you not wearing any boots!
A little tip for the first use, you should wax slightly underneath your sole to remove the Latex dust…
Whether is Rip Curl, Wetty or Hard Boots, neoprene surf boots manufacturers always have a model with a fleece lining. It is a real protection against the cold, but also when your boots didn’t had time to dry after your first surf session… It’s a real luxury!
Surf boots are an essential accessory for surfing in winter, I will list you several models of shoes that I particularly appreciate. They are all kind of prices. Just want to tell you that my favorite color is black, so don’t count on me to make exuberant choices. All of these models are available for sale, and easily to find with a little Google search.
Wetty has made a name in the surf industry because of them original designs, but for me it is the best surf boots on the market.
It’s a French company that makes surf boots with Limestone, or Rubber.
The sole of these shoes is a overlay of latex layers, which provides incredible comfort and grip. The barefoot feelings so much praised by the brand!
All of their surf boots have a round toe sole (see explanations above). Available in different sizes, the Wetty brand has models for men, women and children.
Whether you are a bodyboard, wind, kite or surf lover, you will find what suits in Wetty. For the one who loves the tropic or the reef, there is a model specially designed so that you won’t cut your feet anymore.
The adventages is that for surfers with wide feet, the soft sole and the elasticity of the neoprene will make these booties perfect for you.
Another positive point, they are easy to put on and especially to take off after a winter session.
I hate having to take off my booties when my fingers freeze.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Decathlon or Olaian….
But I must admit that they sell booties at a very reasonable price.
The brand’s famous model is with a 4mm thick hid split toe sole.
You can choose your size from a wide range of sizes.
They are children models with zips, but no differentiation between men and women.
C-Skins is an English brand, which exists since 1997.
It was created by Carey Brown, who was one of the first importers of neoprene in the 1970s, an expert in the field.
C-skins has booties for men, women and children with quite a choice of prices. It’s a great brand with good quality and good prices.
A family brand with a good philosophy. You will find the Wired range, which is the top range of the brand with a fleece lining. And the Session range, which is also a good quality boots, more affordable in terms of price but without a fleece lining. An English reference.
I recommend this boots for beginners !
Rip Curl is an Australian brand of wetsuit, with different models and accessories. Models for men, women and children, you are sure to find your size. A wide range of colors, but we stick to “black” colors.
The leading model from Rip Curl is the flashbomb, but there are other models such as, the E-bomb or the Dawn Patrol.
The RipCurl boots Flashbomb has all the technological advances of the brand, as the top-of-the-range Flashbomb neoprene and as the exclusive RipCurl soles too.
The E bomb is the model bellow and the Down Patrol are “the Rip Curl first prices boots”.
Rip Curl boots are good quality, the brand is one of the most advanced when it comes to wetsuits. It uses this experience to make surfing boots that live up to its reputation.
Solid Boot is the latest addition to this selection. It is a recent brand, which only makes booties.
Before using it for the first time, you boil water, pour it into the boot, then put your feet in it to receive the thermoforming.
( empty the boiling water before putting your foot in, and check that it is bearable )
Reminds the past and the ski boots from before!
The idea is good, but when you have a high quality neoprene like some models above, I’m not sure that you can see a big difference. Another disadvantage to this model comes from its rigidity, it is harder to feel the board under our feet.
However, these boots are very light and of very good quality.
As we have seen, there are many surf brands that make surf boots. It is always possible to find what you are looking for whatever your budget and your level is. It’s hard to make a choice, but remember the few things I have just listed for you above.
If you’re a beginner, there’s no need to invest a lot of money, especially if you have a small budget. The same if you only surf two or three times during the winter. On the other hand, if you’re motivated and you’re not afraid of winter, invest in a good, quality product. Because you always start to feel the cold through your extremities, head, hands and especially your feet!
One thing that I haven’t seen yet is the option of having “custom” surf boots but, we should never say never!
Also pay attention to the stock on certain sizes, which quickly runs out of sizes in mid-winter.
As you saw, choosing neoprene boots it’s a matter of taste, budget and common sense.