How to Choose the Right Sailing Boots
by Sarah Imlay, Vaikobi.
Having the right sailing gear is the key to getting the best out of your performance while staying comfortable in all weather. Wetsuits, rashies and lifejacket designs have all become tailored to dinghy sailing, and wetsuit boots specifically for dinghy sailing are now following suit.
The primary function of neoprene booties is to protect your feet from the elements and enhance performance. In dinghy sailing, connectivity with critical surfaces in your boat, such as hiking straps or gunwales, can make or break a maneuver, or even a race. Standard grip on the sole of neoprene boots is enough for trapezing, but the best sailing boots are designed with added grip on top of the foot to assist hiking. They provide comfort in cold water conditions and prevent cuts and scrapes upon entry and exit at boat ramps, beaches, and jetties. With product diversity and so many choices out there: it's hard to know which neoprene boots are the best for you. Vaikobi has a range of specialized unisex sailing boots to suit your specific windsports needs.
The Performance Sailor’s All Rounder: Speed-Grip Low Cut Boot
This wetsuit boot is the ultimate all-rounder for most dinghy sailing but is particularly popular with dinghy skippers. Their ergonomic ankle cut design allows for both comfort and grip with a durable, sleek profile minus the bulk.
They have an ultra-grip 2mm rubber sole to ensure the best contact between your feet and vessel to keep you from slipping through roll tacks and gybes. It has an upper diamond grip for strong connectivity to hiking straps and a small foot strap across the foot's arch for a secure and firm fit. This boot also suits for early spring water temperatures with a 1mm upper section and 5mm neoprene body for superior warmth and comfort.
They slide on and off easily without laces: perfect for when the AP flag comes down or if you're itching to get out on the water quickly. They're can be worn across other sports such as paddling, kayaking, and rock fishing between training and regattas.
The Skiffie's Pick: Speed-Grip High Cut Boot
Vaikobi's speed-grip high cut boot is the ultimate trifecta show for skiff sailing, trapezing, and hiking. They have unsurpassed performance in ankle protection, durability, and warmth. A removable ankle strap is available for additional support and stiffness to prevent further rolling or stress on the joints when moving around quickly in high adrenaline racing.
This boot also features an ankle-forward zipper and non-stretch woven backing to maximize hiking performance and stamina. Like the low-cut boot, it also has a diamond upper grip for hiking strap connectivity and to enhance racing performance. This sailing boot is also an excellent choice for colder weather, providing higher coverage over the ankle with 5mm neoprene padding to insulate the foot.
The Minimum Weight: Speed-Grip Split Toe Boot
The split toe boot is Vaikobi's lightest, fastest, and most agile boot. This design suits warmer water sailing and is for those looking for the lightest alternative in the minimum weight game. They have a 2mm neoprene body and a 1mm upper component. Much like our other boot options, it has our signature grip formula but also has a VAR panel on the upper foot strap for sensitivity and durability. Its unique split-toe function prevents the foot from rolling inside the boot for excellent ankle protection.
They are an ideal choice for sailors that prioritize grip, flexibility, and sensitivity on the water and allow you to better feel your surroundings due to their thinner nature. This boot has strategic panel placement with programmed support and flex zones to maintain this sensitivity without compromising security.
Top Tips For Choosing a Sailing Boot:
- Buy your boots according to your sport. The Speed Grip High Cut boots are best for skiff sailing and cold-water ocean sports due to their support. The low-cut boots and split-toe boots are more diverse in sports performance but are extra lightweight, allowing extra sensitivity to your surroundings.
- Consider the water temperature and conditions: Choose a taller thicker wetsuit boot for cold weather sailing, and a low cut or thin neoprene boot for warmer water.
- Buy boots that fit snugly but that don't press on the toe. This will make swimming in them easier in the event of a capsize. If you're unsure about your size or in between sizes, always buy the bigger option to leave room for growth (or socks!).
Frequently Asked Questions About Vaikobi Wetsuit Booties
How do I know what size sailing shoe I should buy?
In the event of a capsize, swimming in booties is easiest when they fit as snugly as possible. Like regular footwear, there should be a little wiggle room for your toes, and they shouldn't press against the front of the shoe. Generally, if you're between sizes, always size up. The last thing you want is an awesome pair of booties ruined by too much pressure on the toes. Our unisex design means we have both women's and men's neoprene boots ready to go. If unsure, you can double-check our size guide under each product (we use standard US sizing).
Should I wear my watersport booties over or under my wetsuit leg?
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this one is a personal choice, Vaikobi boots work best when worn OVER your wetsuit. Our ankle strap design is deliberately secure, so you won't have to worry about them slipping off if you end up swimming on the racecourse.
How do I look after wetsuit booties?
Leave your wetsuit boots to air out and dry in the shade. While it is a slower process than your average wetsuit, your shoes won't become smelly with the proper airflow. For fast drying, completely undo the zips and all strapping on our high cut boots to increase exposure to air.