Recommended Best Dive Boots by RDC’s Experts
Eight models of best dive boots designed for beach and boat seems like nobody thinks that much about dive boots. Scuba divers tend to focus on the sexy stuff, the regulators and computers and BCs. Picking a pair of boots is oftentimes not much more than an afterthought in a gear-buying shopping spree. But in case you haven’t noticed, there have been lots of design improvements in dive boots since the days when full neoprene foot covers were referred to as “booties.” Today, even the most basic dive boot will have a molded rubber outsole, some rubber reinforcement in the high-wear areas, and some attention to comfort. And designers of some of the more heavy-duty boots seem to devote as much attention to outsole feedback, heel elevation and arch support as they do at the R&D labs at Nike.
So which to choose? From our perspective, it all depends on how and where you dive. If you spend all your time on a boat or a nice sandy beach, you don’t really need that much cushion and protection under your feet. On the other hand, if your beach dives include climbing up and down long stairways, or traversing rocky shorelines, you do need protection, and cushion, and support to help handle the pain and strain of transporting a typical scuba rig long and/or difficult distances.
With this in mind, we gathered a handful of modern dive boots from some of the top boot makers in the business, then we divided them up into Heavy-Duty and Light-Duty categories. Here’s how they break out.
These are boots designed to take abuse, to handle heavy loads, and to protect feet from sharp rocks. These boots provide almost as much heel cushion and arch and ankle support as your favorite athletic shoe. However, for this top-notch performance you pay a price. These boots are heavier than traditional boots, they’re stiffer, and with their heavy soles and rubber armor, they’re physically bigger. This usually means a higher price tag, and it sometimes means you’ll need to find a pair of fins with a larger foot pocket. But for many divers, this is a small price to pay for the added support and protection.
Fourth Element Amphibian
Amphibians are designed specifically for shore diving. They are ruggedly built with a substantial outsole and lots of reinforcement to provide support and stability. Molded rubber is overlaid on top of the foot and on the heel cap to protect the boot from abrasion and the diver’s foot from added pressure, both caused by contact with the trailing edge of the fin pocket.
The Amphibian is also designed to accommodate an ergonomic insole. In fact, according to the company, this boot, and the lighter-duty Pelagic boot, are among the first dive boots to offer them. Insert the insoles when lugging around dive gear. They provide heel support, arch support and impact protection, while at the same time cushioning the underfoot.
The Amphibian is cut a little fuller in the body of the boot, a plus for those with wider feet. The uppers reach well up the leg (about 7.5 inches from the top of the outsole). The stiff heel cap helps protects the heel area and offers some pretty good ankle support. It also includes a fin-strap keeper. The zipper car comes with a locking tab to keep it in place. However, the zipper does not include a water blocking gusset.
Scubapro Molded Sole
This boot has a beefy but flexible outsole and good rubberized protective armor, yet it’s really not that bulky. While its aggressive outsole and tread pattern are rugged enough to scale sharp shoreline rocks, the boot feels light enough on the feet so that you don’t feel like you’ve overkilled your footwear when climbing a boat ladder or walking around on deck.
The reinforcement on the top of the foot doesn’t reach as high up the boot face as some other models, which means the edge of the fin pocket will be rubbing against neoprene rather than rubber. However, cutting back on this rubber armor does allow for more overall flexibility in the boot. Offering built-in arch support and a full cut creates a cramp-free fit for the wide-foots among us. The uppers run a full 7.5 inches from the top of the sole, providing lots of overlap with wetsuit legs. The reinforced heel cap includes a fin strap keeper. The zipper offers a gusseted water dam but not a locking tab.
Seasoft Stealth Boot
The Seasoft Stealth is one of the more rugged boots in a group of rugged contenders. This boot does everything right. Climb into a pair of Stealths and you can confidently carry your gear up and down stairs or over rocks. The arch support provides stability and supports the foot and ankle. An elevated heel contributes to comfort and eases foot strain on those long hikes to the water’s edge under a heavy load.
The beefy outsole virtually eliminates flex and compression, and when fitted inside a fin it minimizes the up and down motion of the foot while kicking. According to Seasoft, this design was also intended to eliminate foot cramping while diving. So confident is the company that they actually offer a money-back guarantee—if you get cramps, they will either send you another pair to try, or you can return the boots for a refund.
The Stealth comes with lots of rubber armor protecting the neoprene on the top of the foot. The heel cap is also well armored, and it includes a fin strap keeper. The uppers reach six inches above the sole. The zipper has an efficient zipper lock. A gusset behind the zipper helps block water.
Tusa DB-4000 Imprex
The DB-4000 Imprex is built lighter than the other boots in this category. It’s also easier on the wallet. Still, it has an aggressive outsole that provides a lot of support. The boot is cut a tad narrow but its flexible neoprene stretches, so wider feet won’t cramp up in this boot like they might in a boot with a more rigid body.
Some lightweight rubber protects the toe area; otherwise, the boot’s uppers are all neoprene. There’s also no prominent fin strap keeper on the heel, but the spot where the neoprene meets the raised rear portion of the outsole creates a natural indent to keep straps from slipping.
The boot comes with a zipper gusset to help keep water out, but no zipper lock. Uppers reach six inches up from sole, but this seems a little short on this particular model. It might be because the front is cut a tad lower than the back, giving the impression of a low-cut boot.
These boots aren’t looking to climb mountains or hike across rocky fields to get to the beach. Rather, they prefer a more leisurely approach to diving. They’re lighter in weight, much more flexible, and very comfortable. They don’t, however, offer as much in the way of foot support as the heavy-duty boots, and they won’t last long if subjected to high abrasion or sharp surfaces. But for doing a surf entry off a sandy beach, or for walking around a boat deck or climbing a boat ladder, these boots offer everything you need in the way of comfort and protection.
Aqua Lung Superzip Ergo
For light-duty work you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable boot than the Superzip Ergo. It’s cut wide in the body with a new anatomically correct foot bed and a vulcanized rubber outsole that’s flexible but still offers enough support and a comfortable foot pad for negotiating beach sand or boat decks. The asymmetric toe is just what the doctor ordered for those with wider than average feet. There is absolutely no cramping or side pressure resulting from a too-wide foot atop a too-narrow foot pad.
The Superzip Ergo offers only minimal rubber reinforcement, but it’s strategically placed in the high-wear areas to optimize its effectiveness—at the toe and on the heel, with an additional patch on the foot top where the edge of the fin pocket strikes the boot.
Uppers reach seven inches up the leg so you can get some good overlap with the wetsuit. The zipper is backed up by a water blocking gusset and a locking tab. The boot is also available in 3mm and 5mm thicknesses for warmer water diving.
Cressi Sea Lion
The Sea Lion is a solid middle-of-the-road boot, more along the lines of the traditional “bootie” but with the addition of a molded rubber outsole with an aggressive tread pattern. Made from double-lined neoprene, the boot is extremely stretchy, and is able to mold to virtually any foot shape, which makes it super comfortable. The uppers reach over six inches up the leg, measured from the top of the outsole, for good wetsuit overlap. The zipper is backed by a gusset, which acts as a barrier against any water looking to seep through the zipper teeth. However, the zipper doesn’t have a locking tab, and there is no rubber reinforcement to add protection to the top of the foot or the heel area, and no fin strap keeper.
Of course, this lack of rubber armor is what allows the boot to be so stretchy and comfortable and easy to don and doff. For light-duty work, many divers may feel this is all the boot they need, and it’s a lot of boot for the price. The Sea Lion is also available in 7mm.
Subgear Comfort Zip
Like the Sea Lion, the Comfort Zip brings to mind the more traditional bootie, but with the addition of a flexible but high-traction outsole and excellent rubber reinforcement on the top of the foot and on the heel cap.
The uppers seem a little short, although they measure over six inches from the top edge of the outsole (of course, the outsole is very thin so this lowers everything down closer to the ground, which can skew perception). The outsole also curves partially up the mid-foot area to provide a bit of arch support, something you don’t usually find on such a basic boot. The zipper doesn’t have a locking tab but it is supported by a gusset to minimize water intrusion.
Overall, this is a pretty comfortable boot; it’s basic, but it offers too much in the way of an outsole and top-foot reinforcement to call it minimalist. The boot is cut medium width; combine that with its stretchiness and it will accommodate virtually all foot shapes without cramping. And you can’t beat the price.
Waterproof B1 Wet Boot
The B1 sits right on the cusp of light-duty and heavy-duty. The outsole is not as beefy as heavy-duty boot, nor does it offer an elevated heel or the arch support you find on a heavy-duty boot. But that aside, the B1 is pretty darn substantial. The outsole tread is aggressive, the rubber reinforcement on the foot-top and heel reach higher up and protect more actual boot area than virtually any of the other entries in this go-round.
The B1 is also loaded with little convenience features. In addition to an efficient molded fin strap keeper on the heel, the boot offers a wide strip of smooth-skin neoprene on the top edge of the boot and on the inside of the gusset to enable you to achieve a waterproof seal against your skin. On the outside of the gusset Waterproof provides a label space for writing your name in case boots get mixed up on a crowded dive boat.
A pull cord is included on the zipper, and there’s also a grip tab on the top of the upper for donning the boot. The B1 tends to be cut a bit narrow, so divers with wide feet might feel some squeeze. Beyond that, this is one cool dive boot.
I’ve been a diving addict since my 14th birthday when my parents took me to the Bahamas and had my first scuba diving experience. I’ve been an active diver ever since but in the last few years my focus shifted on sharing my thoughts and experience on diving gear, writing product reviews and gave up on organizing dive tours.