Are you looking to protect your feet from the elements when enjoying water sports? The wetsuit shoe or boot is a well needed accessory to help you enjoy your time in the water. Whether it’s walking on rough terrain, sticking to your board or just general warmth, we have all the information you will need on how to choose the best wetsuit shoe this year.
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What are wetsuit shoes?
A wetsuit shoe is worth its weight in gold when it comes to outdoor water activities. They are made from neoprene and have a textured sole that protects the foot. The neoprene will vary in thickness depending on the water temperature you are surfing.
You may have seen different terms used to describe the wetsuit shoe. I myself will change my own description from wetsuit shoe to wetsuit boot depending on my mood. In fairness, the mental picture of a shoe and boot differ, so I suppose the accuracy of description is important. A wetsuit boot will ride higher up the leg, whereas a wetsuit shoe may sit below the ankle.
Other descriptions you may come across are wetsuit socks or wetsuit slippers. They are all aiming to serve the same purpose, which is to protect your feet. Things that may differ are the entry as the sock method doesn’t have a zip, whereas some boots have zips, which makes for an easier entry. All of the choices come down to personal preference. I prefer a sock as there is less room for water seepage. However, I do sometimes wrestle with the sock, so a zipped wetsuit boot has its advantages.
Both will help protect the sole of your feet and both will improve the overall warmth of your feet in cold water, which is why they are an essential bit of kit. I went to Surf Snowdonia in October without my wetsuit shoes and I found that the metal grid was unbearable to walk on once my feet were cold. The same will happen if you are paddle boarding outside of the summer months. Your feet are exposed to the elements so having the neoprene boot on really helps lock in the warmth.
The Best Wetsuit Shoes
Gul 5mm Wetsuit Boots
At 5mm thick these Power Wetsuit Boots from Gul are well suited to the winter months. The boots feature Gul’s titanium 2 lining which is designed to help reflect heat back within the shoe. This is great for heat retention, so if you suffer with cold feet these will be perfect for you.
They provide a nice snug fit and the ankle strap gives you a locked in feel. The heel and toe has reinforced protection, so your foot is well protected. Perfect for surfers walking across rocky areas that your can’t see.
These are a budget friendly set of wetsuit boots that also provide high levels of performance.
Rip Curl 3mm Split Toe Wetsuit Boot
With no zip, this slip on wetsuit sock feels like it’s part of your skin, which is ideal when it’s wet. The 3mm neoprene is flexible, so even though it hugs the foot, you can easily slide it over your foot.
At 3mm thick, these wetsuit boots can be worn all year round. Light and flexible enough that it works during the summer months, but they will also serve you well as the water turns colder in the spring and autumn months.
Rip Curl are a force to be reckoned with in the wetsuit world, so you get the security of having a well respected wetsuit brand designing your boot. The sole is light and less thick than some of the other boots on the market. Perfect for paddle boarding and surfing as you keep the feel of your board beneath your feet.
O’Neill 2mm Super Freak Wetsuit Shoe
I have these shoes myself so I can definitely give them my own personal seal of approval. They are the best summer wetsuit shoes on the market, in my humble opinion.
The sole on the shoe is rugged and durable, so stepping on rough ground does not cause concern or have any nasty surprises for you. The heel and toes are well protected too, so overall protection in this wetsuit shoe is fantastic. The small drainage hole means that the shoe never feels bogged down.
The velcro strap helps lock the shoe down, so they really feel tight and secure once on. The pull cord also add to the locked in feel and helps personalise the shoe to your own body design, as you get to decide how tight to have everything.
This is a very comfortable wetsuit shoe, which is perfect for the summer.
Osprey Zipped Wetsuit Boot
If you need a wetsuit boot that has great warmth and is easy to get on and off, then the Osprey wetsuit boot is a good choice. With 5mm of neoprene these boots will keep your feet insulated from the cold water.
It has the benefit of a YKK zip, which makes it that bit easier to put on and off, while the zip is also well protected from the corrosive salt water. It has a reinforced heel and toe for added protection, so if you are wearing to kayak in, your feet will be well protected from any bumps and bruises.
Designed in Devon, this Osprey Zipped Wetsuit Boot is “one of our own” as the UK can do wetsuits too!
O’Neill Epic 3mm Wetsuit Boot
O’Neill are premium wetsuit makers, so their design of these wetsuit boots puts them as top contenders for best wetsuit boots. These boots can be bought in a thicker neoprene if needed. We tested the 3mm pair and they were spot on, however if you want a 5mm pair for really cold water you can also find them.
The rubber sole is hard wearing and durable, whilst also giving a good feel against your board. My feet felt well protected by the toe protection, whilst also feeling snug. I am a size 9 and found that this was perfect for me as the boots were not cramping my feet. The neoprene is lightweight and flexible so getting them on was not too onerous and they didn’t get bogged down when in the water.
They provide a nice seal against any full length wetsuit and are probably one of the better looking wetsuit boots on the market. If you are looking for some children’s wetsuit boots, they can also be found in this range.
Two Bare Feet Zipped Wetsuit Boot
If you don’t want to spend much money on wetsuit boots, these boots from Two Bare Feet are probably the best budget wetsuit boots available. The price is user friendly and the performance is perfectly adequate.
With a zip to help with ease of access, your feet are well protected thanks to the thin sole and 3mm neoprene. If you’re looking for a cheap pair of wetsuit boots for paddleboarding then don’t ignore them. The neoprene is lightweight and offers warmth against the cold, so your feet will be much better off in these than nothing at all.
Gul Strapped Power Slipper
Gul have produced a high quality wetsuit show to rival my favourite. This is a very good wetsuit shoe that obviously sits lower on the leg than a wetsuit boot.
The 3mm D-Flex neoprene is flexible and hard wearing. The blind stitched seams means that water doesn’t flow into the shoe easily; while the drainage holes are useful to keep the shoe lightweight. There is nothing worse than having a boggy shoe full of water and that will not happen in these.
The sole is very protective from hard surfaces like reefs and rocks, so your precious feet are safe in these. Overall a great wetsuit shoe for all year round.
What are the advantages of wetsuit shoes?
If you are undecided as to whether you should invest in a pair of wetsuit boots then take a look at the reasons why you should:
- Warm feet: The neoprene thickness ranges upwards from 1mm to 8mm. This means you can surf in the coldest water and still have warm feet. Without these, you will not last long in the water. Once the cold water hits your hands and feet you will wish you had wetsuit gloves and wetsuit shoes on, so make sure you invest according to the season you want to surf in.
- Foot protection: A cold foot on hard surfaces is not a pleasant experience. The thicker sole on the boots helps to relieve any discomfort when walking around. I have been coasteering in mine and they were perfect, as my feet were not bogged down with water, but protected from the rocks. My friends were in trainers and were complaining of having cold feet and heavy trainers. It doesn’t even have to be coasteering, you might be surfing a reef or just walking around the car park or road. The wetsuit shoe is your replacement footwear – wave goodbye to leaving trainers behind.
- Easy Swimming – If you are paddle boarding or surfing, you will want a show that allows you to swim when wet. Wetsuit shoes are comfortable when wet and allow you to swim with ease. The quality of the neoprene these days means that you can easily find a nice flexible set of boots that are moulded to your feet and mean a comfortable swimming experience.
Do I need wetsuit shoes for surfing?
The season you surf will dictate how much you need wetsuit shoes. If you only spend a week in the water during the summer, mainly surfing sandy beach spots, then you don’t necessarily need to invest in a pair of boots or shoes. However the grippy sole does work well on a surfboard.
People are using the wetsuit boots for anything from open water swimming, paddleboarding, jet skiing and all other water sports. I wouldn’t see these as a one sport purchase as they can be used in multiple sporting arenas.
Are wetsuit shoes and boots the same things?
Essentially yes, but also no. While the wetsuit shoe sits below the ankle a boot will ride up. If you are going to be surfing in really cold water I would recommend getting a wetsuit boot so that the whole of the leg is covered, giving you a better water seal. In cold water you want as little skin on show as possible.
I have two sets as I enjoy using the wetsuit shoe in the summer. It makes for an easier walk to the beach from my house and means I don’t need to leave trainers on the beach. Whereas the wetsuit boot works well for me in the cold months.