Wetsuit (Neoprene) Booties Guide

Wetsuit bootiesWetsuit booties (also called neoprene boots) are boots the you put on your feet when the water starts getting really cold and just wearing a wetsuit in not enough anymore. Even a full wetsuit leaves your feet, hands and your head exposed. The first thing you usually protect are your feet, this is where you will feel the most cold. Next is usually your head and your hands are last.


At what temeprature should you start wearing wetsuit boots?

This depends on your personal feeling of cold and also what is your attitude towards surfing in booties. Some surfers hate it because they don’t feel the surfboard under their feet. In this case you are probably going to wear them later as you normally would. In general, water temperatures between 54F and 59F (12C–15C) are when you need to wear booties. But even in temperatures above that you will feel more comfortable in booties. For more info on water temperature and wetsuit thickness read our guide.


How to choose wetsuit booties?

When you are buying wetsuit booties check the following:


  • What kind of boots do you need? Reef walkers or winter wetsuit boots?  Reef walkers are made out of thin (0,5 – 1mm) neoprene and are low cut. You wear them to protect your feet from from rocks and coral in the summer. Winter booties on the other hand are thicker (2 – 7mm) and are there to protect your feet from the cold.
  • What kind of neoprene is used in booties and what is the thickness? Flexible neoprene is better, booties are easier to put on and of, they are more comfortable and they better hug your foot so less water comes inside. The thickness of neoprene in neoprene booties can be between 1mm and 7mm. For cold water surfing anything under 3 mm is useless.
  • Stitching? Are seam waterproof? If they are, less water will flow into your shoe. That keeps your feet warmer and also the feeling is better. Glued, blindstitched and liquid taped seams are the best. A high end wetsuit boot should have all that.
  • What is the right wetsuit booties size? They should be tight but not to tight. If to big, they will fill with water and your feet will float inside them (a stupid feeling and less control). On the other hand, if they are to small they will slow your blood circulation and that will make your feet cold. A good solution to this is booties that have a strap across your feet. This way you can tighten and secure them.
  • Wetsuit booties length – how far up your leg do they go? The longer the better. If they are to short they can slip from under your wetsuit and leave your leg exposed. They will also fill with water…  which also sucks. You want your wetsuit booties to reach high up under your wetsuit so there is no way they come out. While you are being active your wetsuit can crawl up your leg a bit and if your booties are to short they will get flushed.
  • Straps! We already mentioned the strap across the arch of your foot. Then there is also a strap around your ankle. They both help you tighten your wetsuit booties and stop the water from coming in.
  • Wetsuit boots with split toe? The idea here is that with your toe separated from other fingers your foot can not slide inside the boot. So unless you are annoyed by something between your toes, get boots with a split toe.


One last beginner tip to finish our wetsuit booties guide…


How To Put On Wetsuit Booties?

Just make sure you put your boots under the wetsuit not over it. Think – if you have your wetsuit tucked inside your booties they will be flushed with water.


  1. I know we are supose to put on out boots first but I can’t,,my wetsuit legs are longer so they cover half of my foot,, that is why a where a short bootie.

  2. [quote name=”Harley Tom”]I know we are supose to put on out boots first but I can’t,,my wetsuit legs are longer so they cover half of my foot,, that is why a where a short bootie.[/quote]

    You don’t put your boots on first, that would most likely damage your suit when you try to push your boots thru the leg. Suit first, then boots then, just pull your wetsuit leg over the boot top. (just no one gets confused)

  3. I’m a beginner, water temp locally is about 12-13 degrees and it’s our summertime. I can go without booties but it feels like it’s easier for my feet to grip the board when I popup with them? is that true for others, is it looked down on a bit to wear them unless absolutely necessary (freezing cold)?

  4. Hey, if air temp is about 6 degrees and water temp is about 11 degrees, would a good 5/4/3 wetsuit and 3mm booties do the job?
    Thanks in advance

  5. @Matt, if you can go without them, go without them. I think booties give you even better grip but you loose some of the feeling for the board.

    @Thomas, 5/4/3 and 3mm booties will be fine!

  6. oops.. posted this in the wrong place :P

    surfing in oregon in april.. should i get 3mm booties and gloves or 5mm? lookin at xcel. thanks!

  7. Hi i just wondering if there is an easier way to put them on. i put them on like a shoe but its really difficult to do as i have big feet is there an easier way?

  8. I want to wear my short wet suit and use booties. Are the booties that won’t flush off without tucking them under the wetsuit leg?

  9. Cameron, get booties from elasto neoprene and ones that have a handle that you can grab when putting them on located on the heel.

    Nate, get booties with two velcro straps. One over the foot and one around the ankle. They wont fall off. But you will still get water in…

  10. Jeff, maybe a little but you don’t have to get smaller size…cold feed and tight booties dont go good together, if they are too tight they will restrict the bloodflow to your feet making them colder.

  11. I have been trying to buy a new pair of dive boots, but keep finding that they are made for strange bird-legged people. I normally wear a 10, but 2 different 10’s won’t even pull on. I bought a pair of 12’s and can barely pull them on, but no possibility of zipping them up. I’m no that big at 6′ and 230lbs. But all boots are sized for Asian famine victims or something. Any ideas?

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