Before we start I think it is good to identify what makes a wetsuit boot good:
Good feel for the board
No toe rolling
Good water seal
So, are Solite boots any good?
I had a pair of Solite boots last year and loved them. They were warm and comfortable but towards the end of the year I think I should have remoulded them to my feet. My second toe, which is abnormally large, probably because I come from rural Scottish stock, became a bit uncomfortable. After that experience I was slightly nervous about getting a pair again but because they had lasted so well, been warm and had been comfortable at the start I decided to give them a go again. This year I found out that there are a few tricks to Solite boots which, if you buy them, will hopefully improve your experience of them.
Solite have made a few changes this year, one of which is that the toe cavity for the second toe is larger – my well hammered toe sighed a breath of relief. They have also reduced the thickness of the divider between the big toe and the second to so all in all the front end of the boot has had an upgrade.
If you haven’t had a pair before, the boots are unlike any others in that they are mouldable and they also come with an inner sock for warmth. They have tried to address all the aspects of what makes a good wetsuit boot and execute it well. By making the boot mouldable they have made sure that it is customisable so you get as good a fit as possible. If it fits well you won’t find the front of the boot folded under your toes and you will be able to exert force through the boot without them slipping.
I don’t like products that try to do too much, like reversible jackets, but the inner sock really adds versatility to the boots because you can wear the boot without a sock for shoulder seasons and add the sock when it gets really cold. The sock does make the boot a little tighter so if they are tight when you add the sock then you can just remould them with an extra pair of socks on.
The soles are remarkably thin and last well. Historically I have found that the soles of my boot were the first thing to go, the grippy pattern would wear out and eventually you would get a hole - I have not had this with the Solites. I have also not experienced any water ingress with a really nice sealing system at the top of the boot. The neoprene is warm and the seams trust-worthy.
There is a bit of a nack to Solite boots. You have to realise that they are actually mouldable. It is not a gimmick. If you buy them tight then they will mould to your feet and if you mould them and they aren’t comfortable you can repeat the process until you get it right. I hadn’t really grasped this last year. To prevent them getting too tight this year I wore two pairs of socks while moulding them and also stuck a plaster on the end of my long second toe and the fit is ridiculously comfortable.
I bought a UK size 10 boot and they fitted quite tight with no sock and with the sock on they felt borderline uncomfortable. Again, I was nervous about my poor toe that already looks like it has been smashed with a hammer at the end from ill fitting shoes. The moulding process was going to have a bit of work to do.
The process of moulding the boots is a little daunting. I would recommend that you follow the instructions to the letter as it involves pouring boiling water into a cavity then putting your foot in not long after. Yes, it could go horribly wrong but if you follow the instructions then you’ll be right. I kept the boot as hot as I possibly could so that I would be making the best job possible of moulding it and did get a sensation of heat from the neoprene above the foot area. Less hot water in the boot or a more thorough rinse with cold water would have prevented that.
Anyways, I scrolled for 5 minutes while I waited for my boots to mould. They felt comfortable, perhaps a bit tight but I was still wearing a second sock. I took off the boots and removed the outer pair of socks and slipped my feet into the boots. They are now super comfortable.
It is all very well mucking about in the kitchen with the boots but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or the proof of the booties is in the surfing. The water is not really cold yet but I would imagine that the boots will perform thermally more or less the same as last year – which was well. You get a really good feel for the board with the extra thin soles and after surfing in bare feet all summer I didn’t really notice the transition back to boots.
Solite have made a really great boot which functionally and performance wise tick all the boxes.