Coldwater surfers know better than anyone that a good pair of booties can be worth their weight in gold. After all, if you’re too cold and can’t feel your feet, you can’t surf. The most common critique of booties since their invention is that they don’t feel the same as your bare feet when surfing. Solite booties aim to change that by creating a heat-moldable boot that can actually be set to the exact contours of your foot.
Solite is the brainchild of two snowboard/surf industry vets, one of which actually headed up Burton’s boots division back in the day. The Burton connection is interesting as we’ve previously seen heat-moldable soles in the ski/snowboard industry as well as other sports like mountain biking. However, these are the first-ever boots for surfing that can be custom fitted to your foot. We’ve tried a few pairs and put them through the paces to write a full review as well as a “How to Heat Mold” section on Solite’s Boots.
Opening the box, we noticed a pair of socks inside. Every pair of Solite booties, regardless of thickness, size or model comes with a set of knit Heat Booster Socks. This Heat Booster sock is included not only to make the booties warmer but they also help with the heat molding process. Just before heat molding the booties, we double-checked the sizing to make sure it fits properly.
FIT & SIZING
The crew at Solite recommends that you size slightly down as the booties will conform to your foot and they found a little snug or tight is better than too big. This means if you’re a 10 ½ in your regular shoes, boots, etc. you would go with a size 10 in Solites. If you’re an 11, you should stick with a size 11 bootie. Once we got the sizing down we could heat mold the boots.
How to Heat Mold the Boots
Heat molding these booties is super easy. If you’ve ever heat molded a mouthguard before, it’s honestly not too different from that. Basically, if it breaks down like this…
- Throw a tea kettle filled with water on a stove. While you’re waiting for it to boil, put your booties in a sink with the cuff rolled down.
- Once the tea kettle goes off, pour the boiling water in the booties. Only pour up to the brim of the moldable material. You don’t want to fill it to the top where the neoprene is.
- After 5 minutes pour the water out, let the booties sit for a moment and quickly rinse the inside of the booties with cold water. (This will prevent you from getting burned or having the booties be uncomfortably hot while setting the mold.)
- Put on the heat booster socks (these will help with the molding) and slide your feet into the booties while sitting upright in a chair.
- Once the booties are on feel free to walk around in them. After 5 minutes the booties should be molded and ready to go. This process can be done over and over so, down the line, if you ever want to change the fit of the booties you’d just repeat these steps.
For this review, we tried a couple of pairs of both the 6mm Customs and Custom Pros. However, Solite also offers a 3mm and an 8mm option in various colors. All of Solite’s boots, with the exception of the 8mm, have an internal hidden split-toe design. Meaning there’s a divider (like a flip flop) between your big toe and the other four. The 6mm provided ample warmth and with the addition of the Heat Booster Sock, these booties would keep your feet warm all the way down into the 40’s.
What’s the difference between the Solite Custom and Custom Pro?
The Solite Custom Pro has a few extra features like a strap that runs over the top of the foot, internal tape on the seams, and an altered cuff fit that is narrower than most booties but exceptionally watertight. The biggest difference is that Custom Pro’s have a different liner, called Hollow Fiber (The orange fuzzy material). This liner is quick-drying, which is great since the inside of booties are notoriously slow to dry and comfortable.
Once the booties were heat molded, it was surprising how good they felt. The boot conforms to your foot and they make it seem second nature once your feet are in. Feel-wise, you definitely are still aware you’re wearing booties, I don’t think anything can really change that, but it’s the best board feel you can find in a bootie.
On top of that, Heat Molding benefits aside, the Solite Customs are just plain solid booties. The sole is grippy and flexible but doesn’t feel thin like some other performance booties. A few months of testing and these are still holding up well.
Some other features include a liquid seam weld over the outside stitching and at the cuff and a liner on the inside. Weight-wise, these are some of the lightest booties we’ve ever had in the shop. I’m not sure how or why, but these booties, even with some extra features are significantly lighter than most.
Before the review, we weren’t sure how well these booties would retain heat with the moldable material on the bottom. We were pleasantly surprised to find they hold heat well and the cuff, in particular, was snug and didn’t flush at all. The cuff is so snug actually that it makes the boots a little harder to get on but it’s worth it for how watertight they are.
Overall, these are the best “board-feel” booties out in the market and surprisingly also one of the best all-around.
If you’re looking to try something different, or just want the most possible board feel in your boots, we highly recommend you check out Solite’s Custom series. We’re stoked on these boots and like how Solite offers such a wide range of thicknesses for even the coldest waters out there.
Sizing on these booties is pretty important and different from most other booties. So if you have any questions on sizing or anything else, feel free to leave a comment, email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 1-888-546-6176.
SHOP BY STYLE
Custom 3mm Split-Toe Boots – Green/Black – $64.95
Custom Pro 3mm Split-Toe Boots – Green/Black or Black/Grey – $84.95
Custom 6mm Split-Toe Boots – Orange/Black or Black/Grey – $69.95
Custom Pro 6mm Split-Toe Boots – Orange/Black or Black/Grey – $89.95
Custom Fire 8mm Round Toe – Black/Red – $109.95