If you are in a rush the best surf booties are the Hyperflex Pro Series Round Toe Surfing Boots.
Many amateur surfers think that they don’t need surf booties. After all, they’re tight, impede balance, and are just plain not needed in warm water — right?
Of course, the seasoned surfer knows differently. At some point, every surfer has that one experience that utterly convinces them of the necessity of foot protection. Moreover, the right pair of surf booties is comfortable, enhances coordination, and provides all day protection.
Here, we’ll review some of the most loved surf bootie brands. More importantly, we’ll discuss everything you could possibly need to know about selecting a good pair of booties. Say goodbye to hypothermia, burns, splinters, and foot discomfort at the end of the day.
The Best Surf Booties go as Follows:
- Hyperflex Pro Series Round Toe Surfing Boots
- O’Neill Superfreak 2 mm Tropical Split Toe Booties
- Xcel Drylock 5 mm Split Toe Boot
- Billabong Foil 2 mm Reef Surf Boot
- Rip Curl Flash Bomb Round Toe Boot
The Ins and Outs of Surf Booties
Selecting surf booties is more of an art than a science. If you’re unsure whether or not booties are right for you, keep in mind that you don’t have to sacrifice performance for comfort in cold water.
A Brief History of the Surf Bootie
At the dawn of the twentieth century, researchers and divers realized they needed some way to prevent one of the greatest risks of underwater death: hypothermia. Just a decade later, commercial fishing industries came up with the wetsuit.
Funded by the US Navy, the modern wetsuit dates back to the fifties. Soon enough, physicist Hugh Bradner from the University of California came up with the modern neoprene wetsuit.
Since then, both full body wetsuits and surf booties have been constructed from thin layers of neoprene. Over the years, booties have just gotten easier to put on and wear all day long: thin layers of nylon and internal fleece prevent ripping, while improved factory processes keep neoprene tear free.
How to Choose the Best Surf Booties
Before you opt for any regular pair of booties, you should first research into the distinct fit, materials, and composition that reputable products are known for. Depending on your needs, the perfect pair for you will be distinct from anyone else’s.
Modernly, there’s a huge surplus of different fabrics, composites, and synthetics that are used in surf boot manufacturing. However, there are a few materials that clearly stand above the rest in terms of long lasting performance.
For the most part, surf booties are primarily made out of closed cell-foam materials like neoprene. Neoprene is a composite, synthetic rubber material that consists of small pockets of nitrogen gas.
Unlike other wetsuit materials, neoprene is highly water resistant while maintaining its flexibility in a huge range of temperatures. It’s best able to resist degradation from sunlight, oxidation, sand, and nearly every weather condition. Most importantly, neoprene retains its shape after use and can’t necessarily be “broken in” like other flexible materials.
Neoprene has few actual limitations, which makes it hands-down the most popular material used in wetsuit and surf bootie manufacture today. Users should keep in mind that neoprene is pricier than other materials, owing to its longevity and unique chemical composition.
Most booties include a thin layer of dense, internally lined micro-fleece. Without any soft internal membrane, materials like neoprene can easily cause friction burns on sensitive heels and foot soles.
Micro-fleece is also valued for its ability to create warmth even when wet. If you opt for a boot that doesn’t include any fleece, we recommend wearing a thin sock before putting on your bootie for the most comfortable fit.
Rubber is a common component of the sole of surf booties. With superior temperature resistance and zero conductance, textured rubber can effectively grip any surface it comes into contact with.
Moreover, even a thin 2 mm rubber sole provides robust protection against rocks, jagged edges, and ocean floor muck. A proper sole may even improve your coordination and balance, which is why many professional surfers wear booties in any temperature of water.
Most surf boots are constructed from a combination of neoprene, rubber, and internal fleece lining. However, Latex dipped booties have started to become increasingly popular amongst some beach dwellers.
Latex-dipped booties mimic the sensation of single layer neoprene, in that they are very thin but incredibly dense and lightweight. Some surfers prefer latex because it makes the booties feel virtually non-existent.
However, latex-dipped booties aren’t very warm and won’t provide much protection against the cold. Think carefully about the type of conditions you’re going to surf in before opting for a trendy pair of latex dipped booties.
Virtually all surf booties come in standard feet sizes that range in both men and women’s sock sizes. Unfortunately, many brands use non-standard templates for their booties, meaning that one products’ size 6 could be another’s size 8.
The best way to find the right fit is to try different brands on in store in order to get a feel for what works. For cheaper prices, find the same product in the correct size through online platforms.
If you’re wearing a size too large, the bootie could fill up with water and pockets of air will create uncomfortable sources of friction. The boot will end up feeling “heavy” during the surf.
By contrast, small sizes may pinch your big toe and will be extremely uncomfortable within an hour of use. Contrary to popular thought, tighter isn’t always better and stretchy materials like neoprene won’t adjust to your foot over time.
All surf booties are made from water resistant materials; however, all booties and wetsuit materials will be penetrated with water over the time. In fact, booties aren’t necessarily made to be waterproof – these products do let water in and are manufactured to keep you warm and protected.
Warmth and Thickness
The warmth of your boot will most likely be determined by the thickness of the material used.
Warmer waters that range from 65 to 75 degrees F will likely only need a minimally thick bootie at .5 mm. Waters that reach 58 to 68 degrees would benefit from a 2 to 3 mm thickness bootie.
For the coldest waters that drip below 43 degrees, 5 to 6 mm thickness booties will provide the most robust protection against hypothermia.
Make sure to factor in air temperature, wind speed, your activity level and your personal sensitivity to the cold when making a decision.
Keep in mind that the thinnest booties provide little protection against the cold, yet feel just like a second skin. Thicker booties will keep you secure against jagged rocks and hypothermia, yet may impact the surf.
Some surfers state that thicker booties impede their coordination on the board, while others feel it’s absolutely vital to remain protected against the cold. When it comes to cold protection, it’s all about your willingness to make a few trade-offs.
Distinct Boot Types: What the Best Type of Surf Booties?
There are two traditional boot types that continue to dominate the wetsuit market today: round toe and split toe.
Round Toe Booties
Round toe booties are currently the most popular type of surf boot. Featuring a rounded end, round toe products are easy to manufacture and fit properly. Generally, these booties are the least expensive and offer generous leeway for providing the proper fit.
That said, it can be difficult for experienced surfers to retain fine-grained control over the movement of their surfboard in round toe products. Toe movement and total foot flexibility is one of the most important elements in riding the wave.
Split Toe Booties
By and large, split toe booties are popular with professional surfers. In this style of boot, the large toe is split off from the rest of the toes with one double-stitched cut.
Split toe booties provide an appreciable difference in performance. Since the foot is more free to move about the cabin, the surfer’s movement is more effectively transferred from the heel to the ball of their feet.
However, split toe boots are also noticeably chillier compared to their round toe counterparts. Since the big toe is in a separate chamber, warmth can’t move as effectively throughout the entire boot.
This is why some serious surfers opt for thinner round toe booties rather than comparably warm, yet thicker, split toe booties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put my booties in the wash?
Wait! Before you throw your brand new booties in the wash, make sure to check out the materials of the boots. Some waterproof materials like neoprene lose their stretchiness and water resistance when put in really hot water.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid treating any wetsuit-like material in a washing machine or dryer. It’s recommended to first cold rinse debris off the boot before treating it in a warm tub with a couple squirts of detergent.
Along those lines, avoid bleaching, ironing, and other potentially harsh bootie treatments. If you notice a funky smell starting to develop, simply rinse the wetsuit in fresh soapy water for half an hour.
That said, make sure to follow any and all advice provided specifically by the manufacturer. You know how the old saying goes: every bootie is unique.
How should I store my booties?
You should typically store your booties in a cool, dry place that’s not too humid. Over time, hot car trunks can degrade sensitive water resistant and stretchy materials like neoprene.
Some bootie aficionados prefer to store their booties upright and stuffed with socks so that they retain their shape. Always make sure to clean and dry your booties before any long term storage; otherwise, the materials could suffer and they could start to smell.
What temperature should I wear booties in?
Booties can be worn in any temperature of water. More than just cold protection, a good pair of booties can enhance surfboard grip, provide balance, and protect your feet against rocky reefs.
For warmth, most people wear booties in water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 C).
Should I wear socks inside my booties?
If your booties are too loose, socks can provide a quick fit for an ill-fitting pair. Over time, water will seep into your boot so they will get wet; however, many find them more comfortable because some materials can cause friction burns on the skin.
For booties with no internal fleece lining, socks provide more warmth in cold temperatures. That said, socks will likely be overkill in soft, lined booties that are already form fitting to your foot.
Review of the Five Best Surf Booties
Below, we’ve compiled five of the most reputable surf booties that keep customers coming back for back-up pairs every few seasons. These long lasting, durable booties don’t needlessly compromise the serious surfer’s performance for protection.
Rather, these surf booties are designed with the sport in mind, ensuring great coordination, durability, foot protection, and grip.
1. Hyperflex Pro Series Round Toe Surfing Boots
- Most durable booties
- Provides great range of motion through using stretchy neoprene coating
- Specialized TaperLock closures keep all sources of water intrusion closed tightly
The Hyperflex Pro Series surfing boots are a must-have for all your surfing needs. Designed for accurate board feel and traction, these booties are able to keep you warm without impeding your range of motion a bit.
While traditionally tight surf booties make it hard to perform your best, these Hyperflex boots are made with very stretchy, waterproof neoprene. Unlike other materials, neoprene is designed to move with your feet to maintain complete control. Additionally, the neoprene is coated in patented ExoShell+ membrane that provides enhanced support, meaning that it’s easier to find the perfect fit. On the interior, the boot is lined with P4 thermal micro-fleece that offers warmth and a slight cushion support. The booties feature a specialized TaperLock closure that limits all sources of cold water intrusion.
Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with the double glue, blind stitch seams and easy removal zipper. This boot is strong, durable, and flexible enough to provide constant support in the water.
Customers that aren’t satisfied can opt for the thirty day money back guarantee; no matter the issue, the manufacturers are happy to resolve any problems.
Potential buyers should be aware that these booties do need to be broken in. At first, they may feel firm due to the stiff neoprene coating, yet they quickly conform to the user’s specific foot shape.
- Blind stitched and double-glued seams make stretchy neoprene fabric impenetrable to water, muck, and flotsam
- Micro-fleece thermal lining provides warmth in colder temperatures
- Diamond shaped, deep channel grooves on foot sole provide excellent durability and board adhesion
- Some users complain that the boot sizing is slightly unintuitive
2. O’Neill Superfreak 2 mm Tropical Split Toe Booties
- Best foot protection guarantee against rocky shores, beaches, and reefs
- Features single toe split for easy balance
- Customizable enough to fit a foot size above or below comfortably
Built specifically for those that frequently switch between surfing and walking, the Superfreak booties are dense enough to keep your feet protected in any environment. However, they are also light enough to ensure comfortable use and a huge range of motion on the water.
With a deep split toe design, it’s easy to keep balanced on the board with this rugged pair. Unlike most other products, the bootie’s exterior is constructed from dense fluid foam that is highly breathable while keeping water at bay. This pair fits just below the ankle to remain as unobtrusive as possible during use. Each boot can even be adjusted with two independent straps: the arch strap and the ankle tightening strap. Although they’re quite a bit thicker than traditional surfing booties, this pair is considered very durable and comfortable to use.
Users recommend the Superfreak booties primarily for exploring rocky beaches, wave pools, and reefs. That said, many professional surfers still opt for this Superfreak pair since it greatly enhances balance and warmth on cold Northern shores. Unfortunately, buyers who try this product on technically void their refund. It’s recommended that you first try on a pair in store before searching for the discounted version online.
- Fabric cuts off at the ankle to retain a high degree of flexibility
- Thick, double-glued rubber sole is perfect for exploration on rocky shores and surfboard foot adhesion
- Wide split toe design enhances balance on the beach, reef, and board
- Buyers who try the Superfreak pair on will void any refund
- Some may consider these booties too thick for highly controlled surfing
3. Xcel Drylock 5 mm Split Toe Boot
- Best option for cold water surfing
- Features patented DryLock ankle guard
- Constructed from celliant black for breathable, dry fit
Featuring an internal split toe, the Xcel dry lock booties provide a unique fit specially designed for cold Northern waters. With patented DryLock ankle seals, this pair is resistant to water, mud, and all sources of muck. These booties are crafted from Celliant black fibers, which refers to a type of synthetic polymer that creates a tight, oxygenated fit. To put it simply, the Xcel boots feel firm yet consistently comfortable and never cut off circulation.
Additionally, the three dimensional foot molding material is meant to feel like a second skin in the water. Many users comment that they completely forget they are even wearing the boot at all. The two arch adjustment straps and single calf tightener just add yet another way to customize the fit of the boot. The bottom of the bootie is double-seam stitched to a thin, rubberized material for enhanced grip. Moreover, the unobtrusive rubber base can protect you against sharp rocks and other sources of damage.
- Texturized rubber base grips surfboard and protects feet from muck, sharp rocks, and reefs
- 3D Foot molding and adjustable straps make booties feel like a second skin
- Celliant black material is quick drying and provides breathable fit on most foot shapes and sizes
- Some users complain of itchy internal seam that irritates the bottom of their foot
4. Billabong Foil 2 mm Reef Surf Boot
- Provides best foot sole cushioning support
- Internally split toe offers more fine-grained control of the board
- Boots’ fabric cuts off at ankle for more slim, smaller fit
Manufactured from a trusted brand, the Billabong Reef Surf boot provides consistent comfort while guaranteeing high performance in the water. The booties are made from air ventilated neoprene and an interior, dense fleece lining that provides a slight cushion, water resistance, and continuous warmth.
If you’re mucking around near rocky reefs, it’s important to protect the sensitive soles of your feet. Thankfully, these booties feature a dense yet slim rubberized sole that prevents most possible sources of foot damage. Most importantly, the textured soles create a high degree of foot adherence to the surfboard.
Designed with durability in mind, the neoprene outer layer is able to stretch and flex to conform to most shapes and sizes. With a two way adjustable arch strap and interior ventilation, these booties can be highly customized to retain the maximal range of motion.
Unlike other booties, this pair of Billabong boots is split along each toe for more fine grained control over the surf. Each toe features slightly less interior fleece padding in order to totally ensure your flexibility. Users should be absolutely certain that they’ve sized their feet before purchasing these booties online. In order to function properly, the Billabong booties need to adhere closely to your skin; otherwise, the boot will be unable to keep water out and may even cause you to slip off the board.
- Interior ventilation keeps booties’ temperature regulated at all times
- Great option for professional surfers that want to more specific control
- All toes are internally split for enhanced flexibility, control, and balance
- Improper fit may cause booties to not adhere properly to the board and may even affect user balance
5. Rip Curl Flash Bomb Round Toe Boot
- Constructed with Flash inner lining for super fast drying cycles and consistent warmth
- Most compact boot
- Double-glued construction
The Rip Curl Flash Bomb booties are constructed from a neoprene body with a flash inner lining. For those who are unaware, flash is a type of composite fabric that remains warm even when wet and dries very quickly once out of the water.
Unlike other products, these boots are consistently 5 mm thick across the entire foot. Rather than employing a rubber construction, the sole of the foot is made of texturized, double-glued neoprene that completely adheres to the rest of the boot.
Moreover, the two points of possible adjustment around the ankle and arch strap are extremely form fitting. No chunky velcro straps or buckles will impede your range of motion.
If you’re looking for a “no frills” pair, these extremely compact booties are easy to pack for long term surfing trips. The closure system is a simple hook and loop strap that provides nearly complete resistance against sources of water, mud, and flotsam.
The manufacturer offers a generous three month return policy; if you’re not satisfied with the fit, simply send them back for a refund or trade them in for a different size. Customers warn that these booties run smaller than most other major brands.
- In-line adjustment straps don’t cause any extra bulk
- Super thin frame means that these booties are very easily packable
- Flash inner lining provides very quick drying cycles in the sun
- Sizes may run small
- The neoprene material is so stretchy that foot sole may come into contact with water after extended use
Overall, the Hyperflex Pro Series booties provide some of the best performance guarantees currently on the market: super grip soles, cold-conquering fleece, double-stitched seams, and stretchy neoprene base for flexibility.
If you’re looking for a world class option that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Hyperflex. These booties will last you both on and off the board, providing protection on rocky shores and balance in the surf.
When all is said and done, both professionals and new surfers attest to the high quality construction of the Hyperflex surf booties.
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