You probably never imagined that you’d have to wonder what shoes to wear when you took up scuba diving. And yet, if you dive in a drysuit long enough, you’ll very likely find yourself contemplating the question: What shoes go with this suit?
Many standard drysuits are sold with built-in boots; the leg simply ends in a boot made from the same material as the drysuit itself. These boots will feature some sort of sole, the thickness of which will vary depending on the drysuit.
However, there’s an alternative to the standard drysuit boot: the rock boot. Drysuits that are made for rock boots do not end in a boot, but rather in a thin neoprene sock. This sock, while waterproof, isn’t thick enough to protect the diver’s feet from the cold, nor is it sturdy enough to provide protection against sharp rocks. Even walking around on tarmac or beach sand will wear it out quite quickly. Instead, the diver will wear some form of shoe over the sock, typically a rock boot. These are made in a variety of styles, some more sturdy and heavy than others, and may feature either a traditional bootlace closing or Velcro.
So which should you chose? Below are some of the pros and cons of both types of footwear.
Attached drysuit boots
- Quicker to don and doff
With only one layer, you’re in and out of your drysuit faster than if you needed to first put on your drysuit, then a pair of boots.
- More affordable
The price difference between a drysuit with drysuit boots and one with neoprene socks is usually negligible, but then you must factor in the cost of the rock boots.
- Less protection
The soles of a drysuit boot are typically not that thick, so walking in rough terrain, near mountain lakes for instance, can be uncomfortable.
- Difficult to replace
If you wear a hole in your drysuit boot sole, you’ll need to have it replaced at a qualified dive shop.
A typical rock boot is much closer to a hiking boot than a drysuit boot, giving you extra support and protection if you have long walks to the water’s edge.
If you dive in a variety of environments, you can switch between heavier and lighter versions of rock boots, depending on your needs.
The layer that takes the wear and tear isn’t integrated with the rest of the drysuit, so if you wear it out, you can easily replace it. This feature is particularly good for divers who frequent beaches with sharp stones.
Rock boots are an extra item you need to purchase
- Can slip off
If the rock boot doesn’t fit tightly, or isn’t tied tightly enough, it can slip off mid-dive. And it’s much harder to put back on than a fin.
A larger boot requires a larger fin, so you may not be able to use the same fins with your wetsuit when you dive warmer waters.