If you are a warm-water diver and use full-foot fins, boots may not be at the top of your gear list. If you are a cold-water diver, then boots are probably close to the top of your dive gear list. The three key factors to dive boot are: (1) do they keep your feet warm, (2) are they comfortable, and (3) are the boots durable for your style of diving?
One important point to keep in mind is the vast majority of dive boots do not keep your hands dry; they trap the water that enters the boots and trap your body heat, which warms the water within the boots. The exception to this rule is dry-suit boots, which do not allow any water to come into contact with your skin. Don't be surprised when you exit the water and a flood of water follows your feet as you free them from your boots.
The majority of modern dive boots are made out of neoprene. Neoprene is measured in millimeters; the greater the thickness, the greater the millimeter amount. For example, 5mm boots are not as thick (thus, as warm) as 7mm boots.
Additional warmth contributors include if the boots offer a VelcroÆ strap or tab at the ankle/calf to reduce the water transfer in and out of your boots, if the boots include a supplemental material (for example, titanium), and the number of seams created during the manufacturing process. The fewer the seams, the less likely you'll encounter a leak.
Some boots offer zippers at the ankle that make the donning and ditching processes easier. The tradeoff is zippers typically invite leaks into the boots.
Some warm-water divers and snorkelers like to wear booties (socks that cover the foot without covering the ankle and calf), even when wearing full-foot fins. While the booties offer a slight amount of warmth, their main function is to reduce wear and tear on the diver's/snorkeler's feet. Blisters and raw spots are invitations to infection, especially in tropical waters. To protect yourself from such a discomfort, booties might be an ideal addition to your gear bag.
Regardless of how warm dive boots are, if they are uncomfortable, they will do nothing but be a hindrance while you're at depth. If something doesn't feel quite right when you're on land, it will feel very wrong when youíre underwater and stuck with the boots throughout the dive.
If your boots are too small, the seams will experience increased stress and you may experience numbness in your toes. Eventually, the seams may wear out, which means they'll allow cold water into your boots. Because the stressed seams cannot stop the transfer of water, your feet will continue to feel colder as your dive progresses.
If your boots are too big, water will not get trapped between your boots and your feet. If it is not trapped, your body heat cannot warm it. Therefore, you'll be facing cold feet throughout your dive.
Neoprene, as a material, offers a lot of stretch. It does not, however, offer a great deal of strength and protection from slipping while on the beach or boat deck. By protecting the soles of a dive boot, the life of the boot is greatly increased. All dive gear experiences a certain level of wear and tear. In addition to adding to the durability factor of boots, non-neoprene materials on the sole of boot, booties, and socks increases your level of safety. These materials make your boots slip-resistant, which can prove to be beneficial in and out of the water. These soles also protect your boots from the sharp edges of barnacles and rocks as you walk into and out of the water. The non- neoprene soles also keep you safe on the boat deck, if you're a boat diver, by keeping hazards, such as slivers, broken glass, etc. from moving from the boat's deck to your foot.
Sprinkling a little talcum powder into your dive boots prior to putting your feet into them makes the donning process a bit easier.
Because neoprene is very porous, it can also absorb and trap smells. Keep your boots smelling fresh by bathing it with neoprene shampoo. Simply rinsing your boot with fresh water will reduce the amount of residue but won't remove odors.
Keep holds of your dive boots, gloves, hood, and fins. This sturdy hanger allows for proper drying and keeps your precious gear off the floor to prevent damage.
The last thing you want to do is find out on the beach or dive boat that something is wrong with your gear, and not have a way to fix the problem. By carrying a save-a-dive kit, you can still safely enjoy your dive or snorkeling adventure just like you planned.