Surfing footwear, Your Choices

Surfing footwearSurfing footwear, when I hear or read these two word, this is what comes to my mind: what do surfers wear on their feet when they surf or are heading off to surf?  What surfers wear on their feet when they surf can be influenced by:

  • Weather.
  • Environmental conditions.
  • History.
  • Peers.
  • Who you admire.

What To Wear?

The number one footwear of 100% of surfers everywhere: is free, has gone through hundreds of thousands of years of evolutions, almost everyone has them, never falls out of fashion, you cannot misplace, can be sensitive to heat, cold, sharp objects, etc. are your bare feet.  I’ve never heard anyone complain about surfing using only their bare feet plus the feel and sensitivity with your board is unmatched.

Another popular footwear for the surfer but not for surfing are the flip flops (click here to read my review of the Reef Men’s Fanning II Prints Flip Flop).  In the military they are sometimes referred to as shower shoes.  In Hawaii, we call them slippers or slippahs.  When I was young you could purchase a pair of slippers for less than a dollar at your local Long’s Drug Store.

Slippers or flip flops are all basically the same in design and hasn’t changed much through the years. Though the materials used and construction has certainly improved from those cheap slippers of my youth.  With the improvement in materials and constructions, so has the cost increased significantly, good luck finding a modern pair of slippers for anything less than $20.00.

Surfing footwearWhen walking from your vehicle to the beach and then back again, it’s nice to wear a pair of slippers.  The slippers can protect you from the hot ground and sharp objects.  The problem arises when you need to leave your footwear unattended, because, unfortunately, there are some people who will steal your unattended slippers.  I have personally experienced this and that is the risk you take.

Another popular footwear for surfers when surfing are the surf/wetsuit booties, though when you wear them will depend on various conditions.  I will discuss this further in this post.

As for other footwear surfers may wear when heading off to a surf session, I would say that all depends on personal preference but I would hazard a guess, that a majority of them will wear the previously discussed slippers aka flip flops.  Besides going bare footed, their ease of use and convenience is unmatched.

It’s Freezing

Surfing footwearIf you are surfing in conditions that could freeze you digits off, such as Alaska in the wintertime, then you definitely want to wear something that will protect your feet and toes.  Looking cool is one thing but losing a foot or toe is just not worth the price.

In extremely cold conditions, the pro and amateur alike, will wear surf/wetsuit booties.  Surf/wetsuit booties are usually made from neoprene and are pulled on, much like a sock, they can be fleece lined and the thickness will often determine how warm your feet will stay.

It Hurts

Surfing footwearEnvironmental conditions such as sharp reef and rocks plus your local wildlife, sea urchins, can make you want to wear some protective footwear.  Footwear that can be used for these types of conditions are surf booties.  Because surf booties are made in various thicknesses of neoprene plus other lightweight materials, such as nylon, they can be worn in cold as well as hot conditions.

Don’t be surprised if you are the only one wearing surf booties in these conditions, most surfers will not want to give up the feel they get surfing bare footed and will just be extra careful.

That’s What They Did Before

What the surfers before you did or wore at a particular surf break, can definitely influence what you will do and wear.  We are all influenced by the past and as the popular phrase states, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, so if it works fine for those before us, then why change it, especially if it not hurting anything or anyone.

So, if majority of surfers at your beach break are wearing surf booties, there might be very good reason they are doing so and you may wish to follow suit and also ask them why they are doing it.

Everyone Is Doing It

Your friend, family, peers, etc. will influence what you wear on your feet when you surf.  Most of us, don’t want to stick out from the crowd, after all, we are sociable creatures and we don’t like being alienated.  So, if you see your social group surfing with surf booties, it most likely you’ll follow suit, and nothing is wrong with that as long as you’re comfortable.

Gabriel Medina Does It

If your favorite professional surfers (e.g. Gabriel Medina, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence, just to name a few) started wearing surf booties all the time when surfing, I can guarantee that the majority of surfers would eventually follow suit.  At one point, the surfboard leash was not a popular item to use, now, most surfers use a surf leash (click here to read my post on surfboard leashes).  Not only was this due to the sense it made but also because you saw those you admire wearing them.

When and those we admire start doing something and the media is always promoting the use of something, it’s only natural for the public to want to follow suit, otherwise known as the herd mentality.  There also might be a very good reason why the surfers you admire are doing it, you can always do a little research.

In Conclusion

Surfing footwearThe number one footwear, preferred by 100% of surfers are your bare feet, the feel and sensitivity with your board is unmatched.  I would hazard a guess, that slippers aka flip flops are the most popular choice for surfers when heading out to a surfer session.  There are many factors that can influence what we wear on our feet when surfing and when heading out to a surf session, but in the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

Thanks for dropping in and if you have any questions or comments, please post it in the comments section of this page.

2 thoughts on “Surfing footwear, Your Choices

  1. Great article, I completely agree barefoot is the way to go. Although I don’t surf, I do go to the beach a lot. I think this article would be really helpful for my uncle who is an avid surfer. Will be sending this article to him today. Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Jeff, I have never worn anything on my feet when I surf but would definitely do so, if I was surfing in really cold water. I don’t want to lose any digits.

      Thanks for comments and dropping in!

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