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Friday, February 11, 2011

Drysuit Diatribe: Boots

There are three common kinds of boots on drysuits - a "rock-boot" type system where there is a neoprene/crushed neoprene sock with a separate boot on top; a "turbo-sole" style that has an attached boot that is neoprene/crushed neoprene or some similarly flexible material with a rubber sole fused to the bottom of it; or what I will call "rigid boots" attached right to the suit. DUI offers the first two options; I've never had the third option (well, once on a rental Mobby's suit) so I'm not going to comment on it. The boot question seems to be really contentious and there are divers out there that love each option. Personally I prefer the turbo-soles hands down. I have had turbo-soles on two suits and rock-boots on two suits, and my current suits are one of each. I don't dislike the rock-boots enough to replace them on the suit that has them, though I frequently think about doing so.

Here's what I think are the good and bad points of each:
  • The rock boots give you more ankle stability. I think this is helpful if you are trudging over uneven surfaces and worried about rolling an ankle. I don't see that as being a big issue for most of the diving around here.
  • The greater ankle stability comes at the cost of less ankle flexibility. This can make certain kicks a bit more difficult for some people, so the turbosoles win here.
  • The turbosoles give you more consistency in how they fit; I frequently don't tie the laces on my rock boots tight enough (and occasionally tie them too tight), and it's just a little annoying to dive them that way.
  • Depending on the shape of your foot, the rock boot may or may not fit well. I have two pairs of rock boots that are different vintages; one fits my foot really well, but the other is too wide and my feet tend to wiggle around in there. You could always use a different boot if this is a problem.
  • A neoprene sock is less sensitive to poor fit than a turbo-sole. If the sock is too big, you can still jam it into the proper size rock boot and dive it.
  • Rock boots are a pain to put on, and another thing to forget. They also occasionally "fail" when you break a lace or the velcro tab. I guess you could break the velcro tab on the turbo-soles too, but I haven't done that yet.
  • The rock-boots are pretty likely to require a bigger sized fin. With the turbo-soles, you may get away with using the same fins you use with a wetsuit. This is a pretty minor benefit though.
  • The turbo-soles are just way more comfy! This is probably related to the second point.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

You can kick out of rock boot type footgear, if it isn't tight enough or if the boot is too big. In certain circumstances, that can be a REALLY bad thing.