So I’ve been trying out some new footwear. Well, to be honest, my own boots have worn out and I’ve been hunting for a suitable replacement, and after researching what’s on the market I think I might have found the answer.
The boots are from the Aqua Lung line-up, they’re called Superzip Ergo Elite, and I’ve been using them for a few months now.
Constructed using a four-seam (two front, two heel) pattern, the seams are glued and flat-lock stitched to provide a soft surface for the wearer’s skin. The boots are made from 5mm Supratex neoprene and boast an anatomically correct shape to the footbeds, resulting in a slightly wider fit than most dive footwear.
The rubber soles are 10mm thick with a parallel-line-pattern grip, and have an almost indiscernible heel, while the boot uppers feature strategically positioned 2mm vulcanised rubber toe, heel and instep protectors.
The boots are what could be described as “high-leg”, because the ankle portion rises almost to the base of the calf, and the tops are raised at the rear to provide a built-in pull-tab.
A full-length chunky YKK zipper is placed on the inner face of each boot with an internal 2mm neoprene bellows panel printed with the EU size and whether it’s the left or right boot.
Cleverly, the zipper has a small red webbing panel at the base, so it can’t be pushed to its limit while donning the boot. A hook and loop keeper prevents it slipping when zipped up.
The boots are available in a choice of 11 sizes and are all-black with a red lining.
Sliding into these boots for the first time was like putting my feet into a custom-made and well-worn pair of Italian slippers. The internal surfaces were soft to the touch without anything rubbing, but what made them feel special was the fit.
I’d been cramming my Hobbit-like appendages into narrow, tight-fitting dive-boots for such a long time that I’d come to regard discomfort as a normal thing, taking soft cotton socks and waterproof sticking plasters on protracted dive-trips in the knowledge that my water-softened skin would eventually blister around the heels and toes.
These ergonomically designed boots made me feel I’d never have to suffer again.
The boots were easy to don, aided by the wide zipper opening and pull-tab but, as with most dive-boots, I had to deal with a bit of post-dive water suction as I tried to pull my feet out.
The soft neoprene moulded itself to the contours of my feet, leaving little room for water exchange during the dives, so kept my 10 little pinkies warm and toasty.
The 10mm soles proved thick enough to deal with shore entries across jagged rocks and stones, even with the extra weight of a full scuba unit and heavy camera gear.
The modest grips on the soles did however slip on a few smooth, wet boulders.
The wider-than-normal profile at the toe end of these boots provided a snug fit in my fin foot-pockets. I’m not sure if it was my imagination playing tricks on me, but my fins felt more stable and connected, especially at depth, when the increased pressure had compressed all the neoprene.
In my youth I was seduced by the latest designs in footwear, and still wince at vivid memories
of the pain some of those inflicted on me. Nowadays I tend to choose comfort over fashion, and seem to need wider-fitting shoes as the years roll by.
I hadn’t been spoilt for choice in this aspect when it came to dive-boots, because most models are built on identical platforms with different branding, and have what look to be standard narrow profiles.
The Aqua Lung team have clearly put a lot of thought into the design of Superzip Ergo Elites, and the result is a wetsuit boot that’s fit for purpose, one that slides snugly into a fin’s foot-pocket, doesn’t crush the wearer’s toes, rub or chafe water-softened skin and, most importantly, will accommodate Frodo feet in total comfort. Kudos to the Aqua Lung guys – these boots are outstanding.
MATERIALS: 5mm/2mm Supratex neoprene, vulcanised rubber soles & protectors
FIT: Anatomical, wide
SIZES: EU 37 to 47
DIVER GUIDE 10/10
Appeared in DIVER December 2016