Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sperry Top-Siders and other Boat Shoes and Shoes on Boats

Women's Bluefish and Men's Billfish

Boat shoes are an iconic style, made by a variety of vendors. Boat shoes and shoes on boats are chosen for different reasons.  For example:
Our bowman on our Newport to Bermuda bound race boat swears by his Dubarry boots for a secure safe grip on a wet foredeck, warmth in cold weather, and dryness; they are light enough in weight to assure his nimbleness as well, Those leather mocs that Sperry makes are comfy ashore or out for a day sail on a perfect summer day, but many sailors change them at the dock before boarding for more rugged sailing shoes that both dry quickly when wet with salt water (leather shoes take forever to dry) and are also less slippery. As soon as you wear those Sperry mocs ashore you degrade the sole, they take a beating on gravel or pavement and are soon unreliable. I like the Sperry ASVs, others swear by Rugged Sharks and Harken, Musto, Gill, and Henri Lloyd all make excellent boat shoes. (Hearthstone Farm, June 4, 2014)
I wear Sperry Billfish now but mainly for their versatility. For true boating wear, I don't think that these are any better than the old Tretorn canvas pair that survived my tennis. The Converse All-Stars were great shoes but not the best on wet deck where the Tretorns pulled through just fine. I should get another pair of those.:) (James, June 4, 2014)
The [Sperry] Gold Cup are certainly more comfortable than the original AOs (blame the tautology on Sperry, not me) . Quoddys are great if you can spend that much. Rancourt is another good company for shoes made in Maine; worth spending time with either company discussing sizing before placing an order. (John G, June 4, 2014)
Some boat shoe providers are:


Can One Wear Socks With Boat Shoes?

One common question should be resolved first.  Can one wear socks with boat shoes? Yes.

When on a boat in spring or fall, it can be quite cold and the last thing one wants are bare ankles.   In addition, boat shoes are comfortable and easy to wear on land, and as long as there is not two feet of snow on the ground, one can alternate between these, camp mocs,  blucher mocs and newer Dawson Mocs.  (Some have several pairs of boat shoes and buy up a size for sock wearing.)

Quoddy Boat Moc for Women

Quoddy Boat Shoe for Men

The right sock (and the left sock) goes a long way.   Two casual socks that work well, the Wool Ragg sock, and the old fashioned tennis sock.  Both styles were purchased at L.L. Bean and both made in the USA.


I have been wearing top-siders for 50 years and its only the last few years that these twits have been talking about "you can't wear Top siders with socks." Have they never been on the Ocean in the spring or fall? (Comment, August 15, 2013)
Boat Shoes with Socks

Sperry

For decades, after Paul Sperry in 1935 invented the iconic boat shoe with the "Razor-Siping" sole, no other brand would do.   Now, of course, most are made in China instead of Connecticut (Sperry also has a Gold Cup line, made in the US), and there are many viable alternatives.
I recently ordered a pair of Sperry Angelfish shoes and was horrified when they arrived with glittery bits. Where would I wear that? I promptly sent them back. Perhaps I should try the Quoddy Mocs. (Kim, June 19, 2013)
My top favorite boat shoes for land & sea are the Quoddy Classic and Sperry's Gold Cup. Both are outstanding shoes and worth the extra $ IMO. (Comment, June 4, 2014)
I'm a big fan of the Sperry Gold Cups. Their regular line along with anything from LL Bean are like walking on boards once you have donned a pair of gold cups. Go for the ASV 2-eyes over the AOs. (Darryl, June 4, 2014)
Sperry Sea Kite sneakers for racing and original Topsiders the rest of the time because old habits die hard. (Katahdin,  June 4, 2014)
Many choose either the Original Boat Shoe (in Classic Brown only) or the popular Billfish 3-Eye in Dark Tan or Dark Brown. The Billfish is a somewhat more substantial shoe which is arguably more comfortable despite the mesh, which is where the shoe will most likely start to come apart first.


Women's Bluefish 2-Eye Boat Shoe




Men's Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe (Sperry Link, Amazon Link)

Men's Original Sperrys

Women's Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe (Sperry Link, Amazon Link)






Men's Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe (Sperry Link, Amazon Link)



Bluefish 2-Eye Boat Shoe (Sperry Link, Amazon Link)

Color: Tan


Sperry boat shoes have soles designed for traction and to be non-marking.

Men's Billfish

Women's Bluefish, Original (Compared to Bean Blucher on right)
The one thing that the Sperry Topsider has that other deck shoes don't have is their patented razor-cut siped sole. If you are sailing and walking on decks that are awash, you want as good a grip to the deck as you can get. That said, even Sperry has modified their original razor cut sole in recent years and, in my opinion, have made it less effective on a wet deck. (Comment, October 17, 2012) 
The soles get hard and slick otherwise the shoes are like new. I've had 3 pair to do this. Is it a China made thing? (Galestorm, June 3, 2014)
Regarding Sperry soles going "hard," I speculate the cold has something to do with it - I have had a few pairs go hard (both traditional and performance styles) after the winter. The most recent pair after being left in my trunk through much of the winter. With the traditional dog paw type soles, going at them with a little sandpaper and even a sander if necessary will bring back some of the grip. (Comment, June 7, 2014) 
After a few years without, I decided to buy a new pair of Sperry topsiders over the weekend. Went to the Sperry store in Freeport, ME and had an interesting conversation with one of the employees that left me not so keen on what Sperry (like SO many other retailers) has become.
Turns out the original Sperry topsider they offer (made in Maine) is discounted to $240 (regularly $300). If you don't want to spend that much, they offer many other iterations, but all made in China, Indonesia, etc. And those are $85 to $115, not exactly throwaway pricing for this Yankee. If you want the dark brown, white sole, leather lacing model NOT made in Maine, that is only available online. Ridiculous.
After hemming and hawing (and feeling like I was buying the "cheap", made for the outlet store version) I bought the China version (ugh) in dark brown with the nylon cord lacing and had them put in new leather lacing for me. It's close enough, but why all the nonsense?
If you want pink or camo or yellow or vine print or patent, glossy (seriously!) topsiders, they have plenty of 'em. Why do the classics have to be "improved"? And why do I feel like I "settled" for a pair of $90 Topsiders? Icky. Hopefully after a few dunks in the ocean and some boat time, they'll feel like old friends and this experience will fade out of memory, but it was much too close to a Mall experience for me. (Comment, June 4, 2014)
I usually wear Sperry's. I have both the AO and the Bluefish and find I tend to go with the Bluefish most of the time. Several years ago I got a pair of Merrell sailing slip-ons at the recommendation of a friend. These are no longer made. I also have a pair of Musto Dynamic Pros. Both the Merrells and the Mustos grip well and drain and dry quickly, but I seldom wear them. My husband wears anything that meets Patsy's requirements: non-marking and comfortable, and often what he's already wearing. (Bitsy, June 4, 2014)

Sperry Water Sports (Sperry Link, Amazon Sperry Store)




I have whatever the older version of the Sperry "bungee sneaker," "water sports" model is called, and it performs very well for sea kayaking, especially launching or landing on a rocky area or one with deep sand. Good protection, holds fairly tight, dries fairly quickly, less sand in my shoes than with others I've used. (John G, June 4, 2014)
I've always loved my CVO canvas Sperry sneakers. I've worn those for years and years. I was upset when they discontinued them for awhile. They're back now and I've stocked up on them. I love the traction on a wet deck ( actually, I haven't been on a wet boat deck since the 80's). I think they look great with a pair of Red's/khakis. (Wasp Decor, June 6, 2014)

Quoddy

Men's Classic Boat Shoe, Brown (Quoddy Link)
I bought my first pair of Quoddy boat shoes at the beginning of this season, and love them. I suspect they will be in use for a very long time. (RR, October 17, 2012)
My Quoddy shoes are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own. (Comment, October 17, 2012)
Great shoes! Expensive, USA- and well-made goods with top quality materials are like nothing else. To buy anything else would be to downgrade. I love things that will last for 20 years because each time I wear or use them, they evoke great memories from the years past. They become like an old, familiar friend. (Comment, October 17. 2012)
My father's Quoddy mocs (what he calls his Quoddy boat shoes) have to be at least 30 years old. Maybe more..... (Patsy, October 17, 2012) 
I have Quoddy's in several styles. Love them all. The Vibram sole on the boat mocs is quite durable, and really allows a nice grip on wet decks. (Charles Dryton, June 20, 2013)
I've not owned Quoddy, for many years preferring Chatham deck shoes from the UK. However, a sailing chum acquired Quoddy boat shoes several years ago. He absolutely believes they are the shoe we should all aspire to use whilst sailing. Therefore, during my next trip across the pond I shall purchase a pair.  (Lucan Webb, June 22, 2013)
Quoddys are made to order. If shoes are important to you, they are worth the wait. They are not cheap, but the price is what you pay and lasting value is what you get. In many of their models, Quoddy uses top quality Horween leather from Chicago. The Horween website describes in detail their treatment of leather for fine shoes, jackets, etc. One of the great things about having a custom set of shoes ordered, is that they can usually accommodate varied widths and sizes. If you are one of the fortunate ones whose feet are exactly the same size and a medium width, this is not a big deal, but for the rest of us, it is... Buy from them while you can. This is American craftsmanship at its finest.  (June 22, 2013)
 I ordered a pair of Quoddy boat shoes and have worn them now for a few months. Hands down, these are the best boat shoes I have ever owned. (Gary, August 14, 2013)

Men's Classic Boat Shoe, Brown (Quoddy Link)


Women's Boat Moc (Quoddy Link)



L.L. Bean

Men's Casco Bay Boat Mocs <http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/46112>


Dubarry 

(Company Link, a selection of Dubarry Boots at Royal Male)
If you can afford it, Dubarry is the way to go. (Comment, June 4, 2014)
Love that you featured the DuBarry boots too. I love mine...nothing more waterproof, hardworking and yet great to look at. I wouldn't be without a pair. Etienne fixed me up with mine at the Royal Male in Newport. (Alexandra, June 4, 2014)





Other Pictures of Boat Shoes and Shoes on Boats




I wear Tretorns, Converse or non-marking flip flops, and my husband wears whatever is on his feet at the time (even when he is racing)- all his everyday shoes have non-marking soles. He's usually on someone's boat every day. The #1 most important thing is non-marking soles. Then, go for comfort or style, or both! (Patsy, June 4, 2014)
For those of us spending time in small vessels who are sure to get wet, any canvas sneakers with nonmarking soles work best. I wear Vans authentics or Sperry's canvas sneakers. Anything leather takes forever to dry out, leaves dye on your feet, and smells. (WRJ,  June 4, 2014))
No one has mentioned Sebago boot shoes. Wore them for years in college and afterwards. I think they were better made and more comfortable especially for wearing on the streets. (Comment, June 4, 2014)
I agree with the Sebago postings. I have worn their Clovehitch model for years and could not be satisfied. Great on deck and comfortable and supportive around town when we arrive in port. (Seadog, June 5, 2014)
i like sperry's gold cup because the insole and midsole are more comfortable for standing and walking around.  for any hardcore sailing in a dinghy - lasers, 420s and the like - shoes and sneakers are not great. i prefer neoprene booties with a grippy sole, sperry seahikers. ugly but more effective. i think boat shoes can be maintained the same as any leather shoe. a generous cleaning with saddle soap will loosen up stiff leather, then treat with some light leather conditioner. Gokey's sells conditioner through Orvis. Limmer Boots in New Hampshire makes great leather conditioner too. (Andrew, June 11, 2014)


I had a very brief career as a crew member on my college's sailing team (joined late in senior year), and I wore basic Sperrys because they worked well and were priced within the reach of a working student. My skipper preferred Converse All Stars - red canvas hightops. Several of the more experienced team members wore canvas shoes, especially surprising considering how chilly NE lakes tend to be in the spring! (JSL, June 3, 2014)

Hmmmm?  Anyone, Anyone, Bueller?
In the photo with the red LL Bean tote, the ones holding the tote are Gokey Boat shoes by Orvis and the ones behind that are Sperry Gold Boat with ASV. (Cubanchem, June 3, 2014)