How Do I Choose the Best Diving Booties?
Diving booties are an important addition to any scuba diver's gear. Choosing the best diving booties comes down to finding the right combination of material thickness, sole thickness, and fit, both with the feet and underneath diving fins. Scuba diving gear can often be expensive, and diving booties are no exception, but try not to let price be the deciding factor on which booties are best. Purchasing high-quality gear will most likely lead to a diving experience that is worth the price of the equipment, while lower-quality gear that easily falls apart or gets damaged will not only be frustrating, but also possibly dangerous.
Like a wetsuit, diving booties come in different thicknesses of neoprene, measured in millimeters, that affect how warm the booties will stay in various temperatures of water. Thinner booties will provide less insulation and be more comfortable in warmer water, while thicker booties are more suited for cold water diving. Keep in mind that, as with thicker wetsuits, thicker booties will provide more buoyancy in the water than booties with less material. Also take into account the thickness of the sole as well as the neoprene top. Divers who frequently dive in rocky areas or on beaches with sharp shells will want to look for thicker, more protective rubber soles than divers who stick to boat diving or soft sandy areas.
Another factor that affects warmth is how high the booties reach on the leg. Lower-cut booties will provide less insulation and coverage than higher cut booties. Although they may be colder, many casual divers who mainly frequent warm vacation spots prefer to stick to low cut booties because they often just slip on over the feet and do not require an uncomfortable zipper that may chafe and be hard to manipulate with gloved fingers. For colder dives, however, the warmth and security of higher cut booties may outweigh the fact that they do usually require a zipper.
At the scuba diving shop, try to ask for an experienced employee to help with finding diving booties that fit correctly. Many beginning divers get confused by the fact that diving booties only come in whole sizes instead of offering half sizes like regular shoes typically do, and end up buying booties that are too small assuming that the neoprene will stretch and accommodate their feet. Others fear being uncomfortable and buy booties too large, which may slip and chafe during the dive or fall off entirely. Additionally, finding booties that fit correctly under the diver's specific type of scuba diving fins is also important, so beginners should feel free to ask dive shop employees or other more experienced divers for help.
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