Birkenstocks aren’t just for hippies anymore; now they’re for boaters, too. In fact, senior editor Capt. Bill Pike, who has foot problems (which he attributes to years of jumping onto docks like Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate, but that’s beside the point), recently tested Birkenstock’s Devons, shown here. He reported they were the most comfortable boat shoe he’s ever worn and that he was able to wear them at a boat show for more than 15 hours with no discomfort, thanks to their wide foot bed, lightweight sole, and moderate arch support. When I asked him whether he’d pay the $300 asking price for another pair, he said, “I wouldn’t go to a boat show without them.” That pretty much says it all.
I tested two shoes from Sebago—the $55, open-toe Sandbar Thongs (not shown) and the $65, water-resistant Skippers (in red)—the reason being that I prefer flip-flops when kicking around the docks or chilling onboard or at the beach and closed-toe shoes when fishing and running around the boat to handle lines, fenders, etc. Both are comfortable, and I wore the Skippers at a boat show without having broken them in and felt no discomfort. Sebago has a new line-up of casual and modern-looking boat shoes for men, women, and children.
When I first saw these bizarre-looking shoes, I vowed I’d never own a pair. But then I started seeing them everywhere and became curious. After testing a pair, I am officially a convert. Crocs rock, and while they score low in aesthetics, they rank tops in comfort and practicality for boating thanks to their light weight, nonskid soles, and holes for ventilation and water drainage. And, boy, do these babies grip! I tried my darndest to make them slip on a wet pool deck, and they simply would not. They’re $30 and come in a range of styles, colors, and sizes.
Just one look at Sperry’s funky Figawi Zip, and you’ll know this shoe is anything but traditional. The nonmarking sole, made of molded polyurethane for comfort, integrates Sperry’s Quadro Grip Super Tack rubber outsole, which reportedly delivers 20 percent more traction on wet surfaces. The shoe also features a removable insole that has a microbe shield to kill odor-causing bacteria. But what I really like about these shoes is the zipper, which means no laces to trip over, a safety concern on the water and elsewhere.
This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.