Wetsuit booties are a love/hate thing. You either swear by them, or you refuse to wear 'em. For some ou's it's about the grip, for others it's about keeping their tootsies from freezing off, and for the crew who constantly surf reefs - they save you from chop-sueyed feet.
No one will argue that a dash out the channel at Supers is a helluva lot easier with some rubber between you and the reef. Even Millers reef can be carnivorous at times. And anyone that's encountered the urchins at Seals would probably in retrospect wished they'd had a pair on.
Not all booties are created equal. Drop the dough and get a decent pair. My personal faves are the Billabong Foils (lank easy to get into) and the O'Neill PsychoFreaks (lotsa technical stuff going on in these). You wanna try go for the split toe vs the rounded toebox, as it does make it more comfy and efficient to have a big toe that can go on it's own mission vs the other 4 lil piggies.
Some of the split toe booties have a small rubber bridge between the big toe and #2 toe, so even though technically the big toe is separate it stops your leash from getting caught in the split. Which invariably happens when you catch the wave of the day...and you end up wobbling down it thanks to the leash tangle.
If it's warmth you're after, go for a bootie that has velcro starp at the cuff for added snugness. Fit is vital in a bootie. How do you know you have the right size? It'll be an absolute bitch to get on! Getting into it too easily? Probably too big for you. An exception to this are the Billabong Foils - lank stretchy, with no fussy stuff. But if you're wanting arch bars, rubber heel cups and forefoot straps...prepare to swear under your breathe every time you put em on.
I've been a bootie wearer since I started surfing. Learning to surf at Muizenberg meant floundering around the shallows and always standing on big slimy bits of kelp. Used to freak me out - so I got booties! Worn em ever since. Did try a sesh in the Maldives once without em...and proceeded to slip right off my board at the bottom of a solid wave. No fun in that - back to the boots.
Only recently worked out the easiest way to get the buggers on. All you gotto do is fold the top part of the bootie right down on itself (like the pic below), as it makes it much easier to get your foot in - instead of trying to squirm it into the normal opening. Usually your foot gets halfway in and then your heel gets stuck and yah - just lank annoying. The fold-over works a treat. More you fold it down, the better it works.
Nothing smells quite as funky as a wetsuit bootie. Yrr, they can honk. Tried all that fancy anti-bacterial bamboo-lining whadawhadawhada - they stink just as much.
Why do they get so bad? Because they don’t dry out before bacteria take over. The same glues and materials that keep the water from getting in fast also prevent its escape. So they stay nice and damp, and the bugs just thrive.
The obvious solution would be to dry em out properly, but unless you turn em inside out it doesn't really happen. At least hang em upside down (toes higher than heels) so that the water can drip out of them. Most definitely don't leave em baking in the boot of your car - maxing the miffness.
Rinsing them out with fresh water will help keep the stench at bay, but if the smell is starting to get serious - there are a few ways to unfunk your feet.
Some guys swear that a cold water wash in the washing machine does the trick, others reckon you should soak em in a bucket of water with some mouth wash and vinegar. Dettol works too cos it's an anti-bacterial. Have even heard of guys using vodka and lemon juice (just don't try drink it after you're done). There are some westuit shampoo's on the market, so they'll also do the trick.
Just remember not to piss in your suit - cos that'll really add to your wetsuit funk!
Winter is coming. Go grab some rubber love for your feet. You won't be sorry you did.
An added bonus is that apparently being all warm n snug in booties makes you so happy you throw shaka's - like the Beck bro's here! Frigid feet suck. Cut to shreds feet suck. Feet that slip off boards suck. Booties rock.