Munich winters are long and cold. Plenty of time to test different booties, desperately trying to keep the feet warm….here are my learnings so far.
LEARNING1: SPLIT-TOE BOOTIES make your toes to numb
Split toe booties are great for surfing, because you actually feel to the board, but there is no point in feeling the board when you don't feel your feet anymore. In cold conditions, split toe booties are useless. Even in my O'Neill Mutant 6/5/4 my feet turn into ice.
LEARNING2: Normal rounded-front booties are much warmer then split toe booties
The warmest ones are the ones for diving with the thick sole, but they are not good for surfing. Always buy them one size warmer then you can wear waterproof socks underneath.
LEARNING3: There is some use for the ugly crocs after all…
And here is an insider tip from my friend Carsten Kurmis (Imagine Surfboards). For long tours in flatwater, buy some crocs, 2-3 sizes larger and wear them on top of your neoprene booties. The slightly elevated stand will keep your feet dry.
LEARNING4: Sealskinz Socks are magic
I discovered those waterproof socks at the London Boat show. They are quite expensive (23GBP) but they do wonders for your feet. I thought: "waterproof socks", they must feel horrible, like wearing plastic bags, but they are not. The water proof fibers are so smartly weaved into the fabric, that they feel like wearing tennis socks.
CONCLUSION FLATWATER: Warmest combo for long flatwater tours: Gore-tex Shoes.
Obviously there is a trade-off between safety and warmth, but for long tours in flatwater, where I most likely don't fall in, I have started to wear Gore-text hiking booties on top of the water proof socks. We also tried snowboarding boots, but believe me, you don't want to swim in those…..
CONCLUSION RIVER/WAVE: 6.5 Neoprene Booties with waterproof socks underneath.
For paddling on rivers and waves, where you most likely fall in, the warmest combo I found so far are the ION Plasma 6.5 booties (1-2 size larger than normal) with waterproof socks underneath. More info on the booties can be found here: