In temperatures reaching below 12-14C, many surfers begin to wear wetsuit boots.
For surfing generally the least neoprene that you can get away with and still be warm will help your board feel and therefore performance. However in kiteboarding where you're feet may be strapped into bindings and not moving all that much, a thicker neoprene might be considered.
The Fit of the Wetsuit Boot
Wetsuit boots come in the standard shoe sizes and usually fit true to size. It is of course worth trying a few pairs on beforehand. (note: Wetsuit boots dont generally come in half sizes however. Try before you buy)
You do want to have a layer or water in the boot which will heat up and keep your feet warm (why its called a wetsuit), but you dont want an excess which will increase weight and decrease sensitivity and performance. So they want to be tight but not too tight. Go see the experts beforehand Cinderella!!
Wetsuit boots generally have a thicker layer of rubber over the toe and heel to provide extra support and strength and if this rubber is really tightly fitted to your toe then this can cause some discomfort. Wetsuit boots usually dont 'bed in'.
The Different Types of Wetsuit Boots:
Round Toe Wetsuit Boot
The round toe wetsuit boot is the most popular boot that you can buy. They feature a rounded end, are easy to manufacture and are therefore usually inexpensive to buy. They are generally the easiest to fit as well. However, With a round toe boot your foot tends to roll around inside them. Again its preference.
Split Toe Wetsuit Boot
This style of wetsuit boot is more popular with people who really need to feel that board. The big toe is separated from the rest of the toes. They can be a bit colder than a round toe boot because its not quits as efficient at keeping your feet warm as when all the toes are packed together. The difference in performance is noticable. Because the boot is gripping onto your big toe then your foot is not as free to move about as in the round toe boot.
What Thickness Wetsuit Boot Do I Need?
Most wetsuit boots are manufactured using either 3mm, 5mm or 7mm neoprene. The thicker the boot the warmer it will be. Below is a temperature guide to help you:
Wearing Your Wetsuit Boot
Peel up your wetsuit leg, put the boots on and roll the wetsuit leg back down over the wetsuit boot. This will prevent them from flushing with water, ballooning to twice their original size. Simple.
Caring for Your Wetsuit Boots
Rinse with cold fresh water after each surf and dry them in the shade. Doing this will help them last a little longer and prevent them from smelling gross.
If you're a serious kiteboarder or surfer or general waterman, the cold shouldn't stand in your way to a killer session. For some unlucky folk its just cold all the time.
For these people gloves are an absolute must to having a safe and enjoyable time on/in the water.
Wetsuit gloves are like wetsuits made of neoprene. So most of the things we wrote in the wetsuit guide also apply here.
When choosing them consider:
the type and thickness of neoprene. Flexible neoprene is better as it hugs the hand better, the thickness for wetsuit gloves is between 2mm and 5mm, the thicker the warmer, but with thicker ones you have less feeling with your fingers and thumbs and are usually for serious cold. 3mm is a great compromise for cold and flexibility. how are they stitched: stitching influences how much water can get into the glove through stitches. Blindstitch and liquid taped stitches are the best.
How should they fit?
Below is a sizing guide to give you a rough idea, but be sure to try on a few pairs first.
a really tight fit – if they are to big ie not tight enough, they will fill with water and not help to keep your hands warm hand and also it will be like having weights on the end of your arms which increases fatigue.wetsuit gloves length – how far up your arm do they reach? they want to be long enough so that they can fit under your wetsuit sleeve with a decent overlap to keep water out. Some serious cold wetsuit gloves come with a velcro strap around the wrist to keep water out.
grip – this a matter of preference and also dependant on which sport you will be doing. Each brand and model usually comes some sort of rubberised grip on the palm and fingers. The more aggressive grips will be great for kiteboarding for example but not so great for other sports. So go and look at a few different pairs and speak to the people in the shop as they can help you more.
Beginner tip – put your wetsuit gloves UNDER the sleeves of your wetsuit.