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Just like their wetsuits, O’Neill makes some of the best surf booties you can get.
With a variety of options from budget-conscious to top-of-the-line, it’s pretty easy to find a bootie that will suit your needs and local water temperatures.
Here’s what you need to know before choosing the right O’Neill surf booties for you.
The Psycho tech and Psycho Freak surf booties are going to be more expensive, but offer the most in terms of comfort, warmth, water-lock, balance/board-feel, and durability.
The Heat and Ninja models are typically going to be a lot less expensive and a little more of a basic bootie. You may find these are going to get water logged easier and develop leaks faster than a more expensive one would. If you’re not surfing all that often or are looking for booties for something other than surfer, these will probably work just fine for you.
If you’re unsure what size surf bootie to get, sizing down is typically your best bet. They will stretch, and you want them snug.
What thickness (mm) of surf booties should you get?
The proper thickness surf bootie you need depends on where and when you’ll be surfing.
As far as thickness goes, you’ll typically be safe by at least matching the thickness of the wetsuit you’ll be using.
A thicker 7mm bootie is going to be warmer than a 3mm, but you may find it restricts your movement/board-feel a little more too.
If you’re surfing in San Diego or Southern California, booties are typically going to be optional all year round. If you find that your feet are getting too cold, you probably don’t need anything more than 3mm booties.
If you’re surfing somewhere like SF or Santa Cruz in the winter, 3mm to 5mm surf booties should keep you comfortable.
Surfing somewhere like New England in the winter, some 7mm surf booties are probably called for.
How to Surf in Booties
If you’ve never surfed in booties before, it’s going to feel a little weird the first time.
The worst or ill-fitted surf booties will feel like surfing in wet socks.
The best surf booties will feel like a wetsuit for your feet.
Give yourself at least a few waves or a few sessions to get a feel for them.
The extra material between your toes and your board can tend to feel a little strange at first, but once you get used to the feel, you should be surfing like normal.
How should surf booties fit?
You surf booties should feel pretty snug when you put them on.
Not so tight that your toes start to turn purple, but tight enough to keep air and water out of the boot.
Surf booties are designed to be pretty well form-fitted to your foot, so if you’ve got space to move in the bootie, it’s probably too large.
However, if your booties are hurting your feet, forcing your toes to bend, or otherwise preventing movement, you should probably size up.
When in doubt, go for a slightly tighter fit or smaller size than your shoe.
How to Dry Out and Clean Surf Booties
If you’ve ever used surf booties before, you’re probably familiar with the term “bootie-juice” or some similar variation.
This describes the smelly, foot water that pours out of your booties after a surf.
Properly cleaning and drying your surf booties will cut down on the smell and gnarliness of your own brand of bootie juice and keep your surf boots lasting longer.
Care for your booties like you would your wetsuit.
Rinse them out with fresh water after each surf.
Dry them out upside down so water and moisture can drain out.
A home-made PVC apparatus can be effective.
Don’t leave them in direct sunlight for too long, and avoid storing them anywhere enclosed while they’re still damp.
Every once in a while you can use some wetsuit cleaner or dishsoap and clean them out.
Best Surf Booties: More Good Choices
The best surf booties for you is really going to come down to how cold the water is and how much feel and control you prefer. Every model and brand with fit your foot a bit differently, so sometimes it takes a bit of testing to find the perfect one for you.
Hey…you gonna drink all that bootie-juice yourself?
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Here’s the deal, if you’re surfing where water temperatures drop to the low 50s and below, you’re probably going to benefit from some surf booties. In water warmer than that it’s going to be a mater a personal preference.
However, if you surf somewhere with sharp rocks or reef, a thin surf bootie can help protect your feet and prevent any trip-ending injuries.
They’ll feel weird at first, but once you find a good bootie and get used to it, you should be too distracted by your actual surfing and how toasty you are to notice them.
If you’re surfing in booties, you might need some surfing gloves and a wetsuit hood too. Check out our recommendations for those too.