Surfing Booties FAQ: 9 Useful Tips You Need to Know

There is so much to know about surfing booties.

If you are curious or confused by all the different brands and styles of booties on the market, don’t worry because selecting the best bootie can be a challenging task.

A friend of mine recently asked, “What Should I know about Surfing Booties?”

To help provide a good answer, I did some research and provided answers for some of the most common questions below.

Surfing booties are one of the most important accessories because they protect surfers’ feet and provide much needed warmth when surfing in cold water. There are several factors to consider when choosing surfing booties including fit, comfort, style and thickness.

Have you ever had a question about surfing booties that you were hesitant to ask another surfer or someone at a surf shop?

Well, don’t worry because there is a good chance that the answer to your question will be in the post below.

Growing up surfing in Canada, I have tried dozens of different surfing bootie brands and styles over the last 20 years and I wanted to share some of that knowledge with you!

Keep reading to find out all the Useful Tips You Need to Know about Surfing Booties.

1. What are the Different Types of Surf Booties?

Surfers wear booties for two main reasons: too keep their feet warm or to protect their feet from cuts and scrapes.

The two main types of surfing booties are regular booties and reef booties.

When surfing in cold water, surfers wear booties for warmth because the water is too cold to last very long wearing just a wetsuit with bare feet.

In tropical locations, surfers may wear reef booties to protect their feet from rocks, coral and urchins when surfing in tropical locations.

Two Most Common Types of Surfing Booties

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Surfing Bootie – worn with a wetsuit to provide warmth for a surfers’ feet.

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Reef Bootie – typically worn in tropical locations to protect a surfers feet from cuts and scrapes.

2. Why Don’t Surfers Like Surfing Booties?

It’s not that surfers don’t like booties, it’s that most people prefer the natural feeling of surfing in bare feet.  Surfers comment that booties reduce the connection with their surfboard because of the layer of neoprene under their feet.

In Western Canada where I grew up and primarily surf, wearing booties is a necessity for most of the year.

If you need booties don’t worry about a loss in performance because bootie technology has advanced considerably in the last number of years. There are hundreds of different models and you should able to find one that is right for you.

After wearing booties for a while, you’ll won’t even notice that you have something on your feet.

3. How Do I Pick the Right Size?

Choosing the correct bootie sizing is important to make sure that your feet are comfortable when surfing. Booties should fit snugly and there shouldn’t be any extra room around your feet and ankles.

Because booties stretch when wet, the standard rule of thumb is to select surfing booties that are a half size smaller than your shoe size.

But make sure to follow the manufacturers recommendation because some brands will fit smaller than others.

If you are looking for some awesome tips to help you select your next pair of booties, check out my post titled, Best Booties for Surfing & A Helpful Bootie Buyers Guide

4. Do Surfers Wear Booties Over or Under a Wetsuit?

The top cuff of surfing booties are made to be worn under the ankle cuff of your wetsuit. Ideally, the ankle cuff of your wetsuit should overlap the top of your bootie by 3-4 inches, which prevents your bootie from filling up with water.

How to Put on Surf Booties: Step by Step

  1. First Put on your wetsuit
  2. Sit down and roll up the bottom of your wetsuit 3-4 inches
  3. Put on your booties
  4. Roll the bottom cuff of your wetsuit over the top of your bootie
  5. You are ready to go!

5. What is the Best Way to Get Surf Booties On & Off?

The best way to get surfing booties on or off is….as quick as you can!

It is super frustrating when you are struggling with your booties so check out the top tips below that will help make it much easier.

Top Tips for Putting on Surfing Booties:

  • Make sure they are a bit damp – putting on dry booties is way harder than when they are damp or wet. If you have dry booties, pour some water inside, dump it out and then slide your foot inside.
  • Roll Down Your Bootie Part Way – roll down the top cuff of your bootie. This way your foot will have less material to contact on the way inside. Once your foot is safely inside, just roll the cuff back up.
  • Grab onto the Heel Loop – Some styles have attached loops that are located just above the back of your heel. You can slide one or two fingers inside the hook to help you pull on your bootie.

Top Tips for Taking Off Wetsuit Booties

  • Take your Booties Off before Your Wetsuit – Do not try to take off your wetsuit before your booties. This may seem like a no brainer but I have seen people try and pull their wetsuit over their booties and it is an impossible feat.
  • Roll Down Your Bootie Part Way – roll down the top cuff of your bootie. Much like the tip for putting them on, your foot will have less material to contact on the way out.
  • Use Your Thumbs for Leverage – Lean down and put both thumbs in the back of your bootie on either side of your ankle. In one motion, push your thumbs down and your heel up and your foot should slide out.

6. Do Surfers Wear Socks Inside Surf Booties?

Generally, surfers do not wear socks inside their surf booties.

In most cases, surfers wear booties over bare feet for the best performance and maximum warmth. Booties trap a thin layer of water inside that is warmed by the surfers body heat.

That being said, SOLITE Custom Booties offers Heat Booster Socks made out of polyester/spandex that can be worn under their surfing booties for extra warmth and comfort.

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SOLITE Heat Booster Sock

Click on the link to check out SOLITE Custom Booties at WETSUIT WEARHOUSE

7. How Do You Wash Surf Booties?

When you take off your booties after a surf session they will be filled with warm, funky smelling water.

Make sure to rinse your booties after every surf session with fresh water.

When I get home, I usually fill up my booties with water from the hose and let them soak for a few minutes, then I dump out the water and hang them to drip dry in a shaded area.

Every once in a while, it is recommended to wash your booties. Check out the step by step instructions below.

How to Wash Your Surf Booties: Step by Step

  • Throw Your booties in a tote with water and mild soap (organic hand soap or shampoo works well)
  • Slosh them around making sure they are fully submersed
  • Let them soak for several minutes
  • Rinse with fresh water and hang to dry

Regular washing should keep your surfing booties clean and smelling fresh.

8. How Do You Stop Surf Booties From Filling with Water?

By overlapping the bottom of your wetsuit ankle cuff over the top of your booties by 3-4 inches, water will shed away and your booties won’t fill up with water.

You should expect to have a small amount of water in your booties, which is a good thing because your body heat will warm it up and your feet will be toasty.

If you notice that you have water sloshing around in your booties when you are out surfing it may because of one of the following issues.

Why Your Booties are Filling Up with Water

  • Your booties are too big or loose
  • You have a hole or tear in your bootie
  • Your wetsuit ankle cuff isn’t overlapping the top of your bootie

9. Are Surf Booties with Zippers Recommended?

Surfing booties with zippers are recommended for kids and surfers that need a convenient way to get their booties on and off.

But keep in mind that booties with zippers can impact performance because they are heavier and bulkier. In addition, zippers do not maintain a waterproof seal and the booties fill up with water more easily.

When renting equipment, booties with zippers are more common because they are cheaper and easier for beginner surfers to get on and off.

In Conclusion:

If you still have questions about booties for surfing feel free to click on the link to check out my post titled, Best Booties for Surfing & A Helpful Bootie Buyers Guide

If you surf in cold water and are interested in similar information for gloves, feel free to check out the following posts:

Best Gloves for Surfing & A Helpful Buyers Guide

Surfing Gloves FAQ: 8 Useful Things You Need to Know


I am the person behind Surfers Footprint. Thank you for taking the time to read through the post! If you want to know more about our story, scroll down and click on ABOUT SURFERS FOOTPRINT at the bottom of the HomePage.

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