Scuba Diving Boots and Socks FAQ

1. Why do I need wetsuit boots?

One of the key areas we lose heat from when diving is the feet.  By wearing wetsuit boots you can help to maintain a comfortable body temperature when in the water.  This will allow you to stay underwater for longer and will also make your dive sessions much more enjoyable.  Also wetsuit boots will protect your feet whilst you are diving.  This is important if you are going to be exploring wrecks or reefs which can have sharp, abrasive surfaces.

2. What are wetsuit socks?

Wetsuit socks are made from neoprene and can help keep your feet warm and dry when you are in the water. Generally, diver wear wetsuit socks when using closed heel (full foot) fins. Many water sports enthusiast prefer wetsuit socks to boots are they are lighter and more flexible.  However they will not provide the same level of protection against rough surfaces as boots so if you are wreck or reef diving it is better to invest in a good pair of wetsuit boots.

3.  Are there any alternatives to neoprene wetsuit boots?

Some people can be allergic to neoprene and find that wetsuit boots can cause rashes and sore areas, especially around the toes, heel and ankles.  Unfortunately there is not much choice when it comes to wetsuit boots as most designs are made from neoprene.  However it is easy to reduce the contact of neoprene against your skin by wearing spandex or Latex socks under your boots.  These stretchy socks will protect your skin from the neoprene and will also provide an additional layer of comfort and warmth.

4.  How do I care for wetsuit boots?

Neoprene needs special care and attention to prevent it from wearing too quickly.  Bacteria from the water and general grime can cause wetsuit boots to start to smell unpleasant if not cared for properly.  Every time you wear your wetsuit boots you need to wash them thoroughly. This will help to remove any salts, dirt, bacteria or chemicals from the neoprene before you put them away.  If you use your wetsuit boots a lot then you can simply soak them in cool freshwater for an hour before hanging them up to dry.  If you are not going to be wearing them for a while then it is best to give them a thorough clean with some wetsuit wash to make sure they are fresh smelling for when you next wear them.  Also make sure you dry boots before storage to prevent mould from forming.

5.  How do I store my wetsuit boots?

After you have washed and dried your wetsuit boots make sure you store them in a dark, dry place away from any extremes of temperature.  You should lay them flat or stand them upright and stuff some newspaper in them to keep them straight.  This will prevent the boots from bending which can cause permanent creases in the neoprene.  Keep wetsuit boots out of the sunlight when storing them as the UV light can degrade the neoprene over time.

6. What should I look for in wetsuit boots?

Wetsuit boots need to feel comfortable when on, so make sure you try them on and ensure they provide a good fit before you get in the water.  You don’t want them too tight as your feet will feel restricted but you also don’t want them too loose as this could let water in.  Flexibility is important so check you can rotate your ankle and move your foot around with the boot on.  If you can afford it invest in at least 60% super stretch neoprene as this will provide a good combination of warmth and flexibility.

7. How can I prevent water from leaking into my wetsuit boots?

Wetsuit boots, as the name suggests, are not meant to be waterproof. They keep you warm by allowing water into the boot, which when it gets trapped, is warmed by body heat, the keeps you warm.  Boots that are blind stitched with liquid taped seams are the most effective at holding this layer of warm water, so it is worth paying a bit more for this option.  Also check that the boot length is sufficient to tuck right up inside your wetsuit pant leg.  This will help prevent them from pulling free when you are in the water.  Wetsuit boots should reach up to just above the ankle bone.

8. What are reef walkers?

If you are diving in warm waters then you may not want a full wetsuit boot.  You can buy slim line ‘reef walkers’ (around just 0.5 - 1mm thick) which are low cut for freedom of movement.  These cover your foot and provide additional protection from any sharp or abrasive surfaces such as on reefs.  They also have grippy soles which can be useful if you are engaging in water sports such as wind or kite surfing.

9.  What temperature do I need wetsuit boots?

You could wear wetsuit boots all the time if you like but in warmer waters many divers prefer to go barefoot or wear thinner reef walkers for more freedom of movement.  In cooler waters you will probably need to start wearing boots once the temperatures start to dip under 20 degrees centigrade.  This will ensure you feet stay dry and warm.

10.  What thickness wetsuit boot do I need?

The thicker the wetsuit boot the warmer it will be, but it will also be less flexible.  You need to think about what temperatures you will be diving in to judge the right thickness of boot.  Wetsuit boots start from around 2mm and go right up to 7mm.  If you are diving in water temperatures from around 15 to 20 degrees then a 3mm or 4mm boot should be sufficient.  For water temperatures around 10 to 15 degrees centigrade then a 5mm or 7mm boot would more efficient at keeping your feet warm