Waco session inspires Air Jordan wetsuit booties

There are few harsher critics than surfers. By and large, inventions in the surf world are met with scorn and derision. That is until they are deemed necessary. The retractable legrope? Yeah, that didn’t last long. Nose guards? Out of vogue now and scoffed at when they first hit the market, but they’ve saved more than a few eyeballs and teeth. While webbed gloves and board socks might be viewed as essential by only a few surfers, most of us view leg ropes, removable fins and deck grip as standard equipment. But all surf products (some embraced, some discarded) have one thing in common – an inventor was brave enough to put their hand up to say “Look what I’ve come up with.”

At WavePoolMag we like to celebrate this courageous lot. 

Say hello to Michael Limas, surfer, and confessed sneakerhead. Not only does he appreciate the form and function of shoes, he knows how to make them, from scratch. His bright idea was born from sore, cold feet, after a winter session at Waco Surf. He slammed his foot into the bottom and got a good raspberry from it.

When he got home to Redondo Beach the first thing he did was to make a set of sneakers out of old wetsuits. Michael took a 4/3 full suit and a 3/2 full suit and made an Air Jordan 1 High top upper set, onto a Nike Air Jordan Sole. They are glued, stitched, and sealed. He used an old rash guard as the liner.  

Air Jordan wetsuit booties
Air Jordan wetsuit booties, besides looking hella stylish, could provide more cushion for surfers landing big airs.

“It’s way out of the box I know, but they worked well longboarding,” said Michael. “With that being said and with the future of wave pools and all the technology to come along with it, what will the future of surfing footwear be like?”

Michael sees his creation as providing more protection to the feet of wave pool surfers.

“Most, if not all current bootie designs have an ankle strap to keep water out, but not much support in the ankle or toes. This prototype is similar in weight to any current bootie on the market. I believe with improved technology and design, surfers’ could wear sneaker booties in wave pools to provide a lot more support and confidence in going for tricks over and over again.”

Michael added that one downside in the prototype is that it isn’t as waterproof as a traditional bootie due to its open ankle.

“However future development could address that,” he said. “Drying time is the same as any wetsuit in the elements. And I believe sneaker booties could be built to last using reused, recycled, and repurposed materials from around the world.” 

Air Jordan wetsuit booties
Some highlights of the process to make a wetsuit bootie that looks like a sneaker – not just any sneaker, but the world’s most popular shoe.

Although the Air Jordan 1 High top is one most popular sneakers ever made, it was designed for basketball. The Air Jordan 1 bootie mockup is designed for wave pool surfing.

“With specific development geared toward wave pools, this same pattern can be constructed using additional water-friendly components, providing surfers with similar ankle and foot support to basketball players. Or at least that’s the idea. Perhaps the future of WavePool bootie gear will look more like a skater shoe?”

Wave pools allow surfers to train and attempt the same trick over and over again, but such moves take their toll on the human body. Pro surfing is rife with ankle injuries.

“I’d be interested to get a pro’s perspective on how it feels to launch an air of significance and land awkwardly. I watched and took pics of my brother and friends on the air wave at Waco for three hours straight (and) every one of them could barely walk after the session thanks to the cold temperature, plus slamming their feet on their boards and the pools cement-like bottom.” 

With some boards now being designed specifically for wave pools, why not surf booties? Vans recently launched their Surf Boot, which admittedly is a traditional bootie with a Vans stripe on the side. Maybe there is an unquenched desire for a more ‘sneaker-type’ surf shoe? Stranger things have certainly happened, and worked commercially, in the surf world.