Everything you need to know about surf shoes

Surf shoes are one of the most epic secrets to being good at all things surfing. Whether you’re tackling a world-class left from any angle or warming up to catch some major air this season, pick surf shoes that can carry you through whatever the water has in store. We’ll help make choosing the right surf shoes as simple as ever. 

Of all of the surf equipment out there, we’d argue that surf shoes are the most important gear to consider. Offering the ultimate warmth and protection, the right water shoe can guarantee you stay secure without sacrificing on board feel. 

When building out your surfer style, keep an eye out for key features like a perfect fit, neoprene construction, and a moldable sole, sturdy webbing, and arch support to the max. Then, tackle any water sport in some serious style. (Just don’t forget to swap your wetsuit for board shorts if the sun is scorching today.)

Surfer on Vans board


What kind of shoes do surfers wear?

Surfers tend to wear surf booties in the water, and durable casual footwear on dry land. The best shoes for surfers are built to exceed all of the needs of their team, with every inch and stitch crafted to improve comfort and performance. 

Whether you’re heading from the waves to the weekend, let’s do a deep-dive on the best booties and day shoes for surfers. On the beach and out and about, here are the top shoes for surfers this season:

  • Best overall: Surf Boot 2 HI V: These booties take literally everything we know and love about skate shoes and package them into a surf bootie. Optimising boardfeel, grip, fit, and overall durability, you can’t go wrong with these boots in the water.  

  • Best utility style: 66 Supply UltraRange EXO HI MTE Shoes: If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that’s made for the elements, you can’t go wrong with these picks that are armed with additions. Featuring leather, textile, and synthetic uppers with warm linings, these shoes will stand up to any journey. 

  • Best surf sandal: Invest in a pair of Vans Slide-On Sandals when you’re out of the water and hitting the road. Built for all-day ease, synthetic leather straps and foam-backed textile linings offer support and water-resistant covering. 

  • Best all-weather shoe: UltraRange EXO MTE: These shoes are equipped with extra support, traction, and comfort to keep up with your creativity on dry land.  A reverse lug outsole increases durability and traction, while weatherized materials will keep your feet dry after you’ve wrapped up your stint on the water. 

  • Best versatile surf shoe: The Ulta Range EXO MTE Shoes: Pair your RipCurl Flash Bomb Wetsuit with a pair of sneakers that are as lightweight as they are functional. Made with our signature reverse lug waffle pattern to maximise rubber grip coverage, these shoes are engineered to handle whatever nature throws your way. 

What are the best booties for surfing?

The best booties for surfing are durable, waterproof, and made to last. Invest in wetsuit booties that protect your feet with rubber soles, a wide big toe for a universal fit, and a hook-and-loop strap for epic adjustability.

Vans surf shoes on rock

The next evolution of our iconic Surf Boot has landed. Grab your board and make some waves.

If you’re looking for the freshest surf gear out there, you’ve totally come to the right place. The best neoprene booties have a 3mm or 5mm thickness with an antimicrobial lining. Built to keep your feet warm in colder water, go for a set of water shoes with velcro straps to guarantee a dry fit. Plus, nail your grip while you ride your next wave with a split toe design. 

If you ask us, the best booties for surfing are: 

  • SURF BOOT 2 HI V: Featuring 3mm neoprene with a round-toe construction for added versatility, these boots place a premium on grip and boardfeel. Plus, a moulded toe cavity optimises comfort with a seamless second-skin fit that puts (almost) nothing between you and your boat. A perforated neoprene outsole guarantees optimal water flow and prevents water buildup while regulating your body temperature like a pro. If you aren’t quite sure where to start, these booties are the absolute best around. 

  • SURF BOOT 2 HI V 5MM: If you’ve already been making waves in the surf world for some time, you can’t go wrong with the next generation of surf shoes. These boots top our list because they are thinner and warmer than our original Surf Boot so that you can feel your board even better. Since we’re also suckers for a solid design aesthetic, we also love the bold red inner sole paired with our signature checkerboard loops. 

Vans surf shoe breaking water surface


How tight should surf booties be?

The best surf booties, or wetsuit boots, should fit snugly around your feet and ankles to keep out excess cold water that might weigh you down. The key here is to check they aren’t so tight they cut off circulation, but minus extra space for your foot to slide around.

Buying booties that are too small can be a real bummer because they’ll be uncomfortable, tight, and your feet will get cold way faster due to decreased circulation. Plus, a boot that’s too big will let more water in and cause you to lose some much-needed dexterity on our board. 

There’s no need to stress out if you don’t find the right fit the first go-around. Here at Vans, we’re all about helping you perform at your best. That’s why we’ve included a Size Guide to make sure you find the right pair of surf booties for your needs. 

If you’re still not quite sure which ones to go for, we’ve also custom-built our Vans Fit Finder that guarantees you can track down the perfect pair for you before you pound those waves. 

If you aren’t satisfied with your size or simply changed your mind, you can return your order within 30 (thirty) calendar days of your delivery. Plus, you’ll get a full refund when your order has been correctly returned to our warehouse. 

Shop Vans Surf Shoes today to find gear that’s built to keep you “Off The Wall” and in the water. What are you waiting for? The boot you’ve been waiting for is right here. 

Vans Off The Wall surfer banner

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