Boat shoe v. canoe shoe

ThomGault

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I'm considering casual shoes from Quoddy's. Having not been raised in New England, I'm not familiar with the differences in use between their boat shoes (https://www.quoddy.com/collections/mens/products/classic-boat-shoe-1) and canoe shoes (https://www.quoddy.com/collections/mens/products/canoe-shoe-1).

Regarding construction, I know that the boat shoes traditionally have a siped white sole whereas the canoe shoes have a darker camp sole, and the linked pictures obviously show that the boat shoe is akin to a three-eyelet blucher with a higher tongue whereas the canoe shoe has a single pair of eyelets and a lower tongue.

What are the actual differences in usage and perception for a wearer who isn't on a boat? Does the sole design really matter, or should I expect both to have similar durability and traction when walking through town or in the yard? Is there a difference in social perception or Tradliness of the shoes?
 

fishertw

Elite Member
Thom, From my perspective, they are similar. Different companies have somewhat different designs but as you say, the boat shoes are siped. I've seen both in two and three eyelet styles. I just bought a new pair of boat shoes from AE which have red soles and have a pair of Camp Moccasins by Gokey that I bought earlier in the spring which also have red soles. both have options for sole color. If you've not looked at Gokey, you might want to take a look. They have both boat and camp moccasins and both are made out of serious leather which seems to last a lifetime. Gokey has the advantage of removable insoles which I need as I wear full sole orthotics and need the room in the forefoot for toes etc. The company was previously owned by Orvis and was sold in about the last year. Good hunting.
Tom
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Unless you are planning to wear the shoes in a boat design of your choosing on the water, it really does not matter which pair/design you buy. Hence buy the ones that fit comfortably and feel best on your foot. I have Quoddy Trails three eyelet boat shoes, camp mocs and have worn several brands of canoe shoes. My strong preference seems to be the three eyelet boat shoe designs. Please note, I am not a boater, except as a platform to fish from! ;)
 

Vecchio Vespa

(aka TKI67)
And just to add another option, if you are looking for a very Trad NE shoe, the Maliseet in the brown chromexcel is on an awful lot of happy New England feet. It is an amazingly comfortable shoe.
 

Vecchio Vespa

(aka TKI67)
I have 1 pair of leather boat shoes. The 1 caveat I'd add is to avoid ones with leather shoe laces. Damned if I can keep mine tied for long no mater how I tie them.
I know what you mean, but IME there are two very different sorts. The ones that look all new and pretty are stiff and will not hold a knot, but there are leather laces that are dark, soft, and very workable. That is the kind on my squdgy old Maliseets, and I love them,
 

Tweedlover

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I know what you mean, but IME there are two very different sorts. The ones that look all new and pretty are stiff and will not hold a knot, but there are leather laces that are dark, soft, and very workable. That is the kind on my squdgy old Maliseets, and I love them,
Actually, mine are pretty old and malleable.
 

andrewdc

New Member
The sole won't matter much for walking around - none of these are meant for miles of walking. I also don't think they are perceived differently in terms of style; they're all moccasins, easy to dress up (to a point) and down, and Quoddy in general says 'trad' to me. The main difference is the number of eyelets, and that can affect how they fit. PS, a 'traditional' boat shoe (eg sperry top sider) usually has 2 holes, not 3, so Quoddy is already riffing on the so-called standard - if there is one.

I happen to like Sperry's gold cup shoes because a number of them build some support into the midsole; you will probably like either of those shoes from Quoddy.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
When going through the shoe collection I realized I had rather indiscriminately bought a bleep-ton of assorted mocs and, presumably rejected them all (although the mists of time obscure the "thought" process behind this).

What I'm doing this year is:

Wearing the chocolate Timberlands with the white sole (because the LL Bean version wasn't available)

Wearing a lighter brown Eastland version with white sole that has some padding, so I am reluctant to get them wet

Wearing a definitely tan Lands End version with white sole that are probably 10 years old

If you sense a theme emerging here, you're right. I like the white sole on boat shoes.

As opposed to canoe or camp mocs. There I am agnostic.

I prefer boat shoes because I like to be able to kick them off when I capsize.
 

drpeter

Super Member
Not to derail the thread but a quick question - is a canoe shoe the same as a camp moc? Never heard the term “canoe shoe.”
I looked up the etymology of the word canoe. The original word is kana or kana-wa, and the language is Native American: Arawak or Carib. It has gone through Spanish, French and English transmutations into its present form.

So perhaps a true canoe shoe would be a moccasin (certainly a Native American word, likely Algonquin) since they may have been worn by Native Americans while travelling in their beautiful birch bark canoes -- I have seen one and I greatly admire their construction and the cleverness of the whole concept, a light boat built from bark, easy to "portage" over land. As we modern Americans might say, "who woulda thunk it"? And I can see a broad similarity between classic moccasins, camp mocs and boat shoes.

I can't help reflecting on the very word Indian, a historic mistake Columbus made because he thought he had arrived in my old country! After all, its wealth was what the Europeans were lusting after, in all those attempts to find a sea passage to India. And Vasco da Gama did get there in 1498. I have stood on the beach that he landed in, near Calicut in northern Kerala, my old state. The only problem is that the sea has advanced and the actual beach da Gama landed on is under water now!
 
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Vecchio Vespa

(aka TKI67)
Not to derail the thread but a quick question - is a canoe shoe the same as a camp moc? Never heard the term “canoe shoe.”
When I survey the offerings, I believe most canoe shoes are traditional moccasins with fairly thin rubber soles affixed. Some are single eyelet. IMO they are the same as camp mocs, although a camp moc that is a true moccasin with no affixed sole is not unheard of. The cheap suede ones quickly develop holes. The heavier ones wear longer but are not very comfortable. By adding an affixed sole you can build a reasonably soft and comfortable moccasin that will not wear out before the Family Truckster arrives to rescue you from camp.

Boat shoes OTOH will generally have two or three eyelets and although of moccasin construction will have a more purposeful sole affixed, usually siped to provide traction despite being on wet surfaces and white, in order to avoid leaving marks on white decks. Boat shoes in my view fall into (at least) two distinct camps, the Sperry look favored by Trads and the true performance boat shoes designed for use on large sailboats. The latter often have technical aspects that dominate their design and signal that ,you are a serious sailor (although not the way sailing boots will!). Also the Sperry line has a few that border on being more technical boating shoes, like the Billfish. If you are a deck ape on a two ton, these will stay firmly on your feet. The Sperry look has undergone a lot of change over the years. Probably the most beloved Sperry of all time, the Kudu, featured heavy, oiled leather, no lining, and an off white siped sole that was a good bit thicker than the very thin white sole on their so called classic models. There is a line called Sperry Gold Cup that is seriously worthy of consideration. The Gold Cup version of the classic model has leather that fields a tad softer, perhaps oiled (although not as heavily as the Kudu) and a slightly thicker and more off white than bright white sole (not as thick as the Kudu but noticeably heftier than their lower end models). The Gold Cups also have a deerskin lining, and they are luxuriously comfortable out of the box due to the lining, the softer leather, and the better sole. I have a ten year old pair that is holding up pretty well.

The other category that is similar to these is the blucher, sometimes called a Ranger, typically moccasin construction, dark rubber sole, and three or four eyelets. The Bean version has undergone a lot of changes but seems to be in a good place right now. It is an extremely good value. The Rancourts are pricier, but lately they have run some good crowd funding deals. The Rancourts are extremely well finished but may take longer than others for break-in. Quoddy calls their version the Maliseet. The leather is very soft chromexcel. They are pricey and probably the slouchiest of the bunch. They are out of the box comfortable and are my favorite summer footwear, a worthwhile splurge IMO.

I know @never behind asked a much narrower question, but I thought I'd offer one person's take on the three basic iterations of the moccasins used by Trads as casual footwear. I am sure others will have better and more correct and/or in depth takes on these very important matters.
 
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andrewdc

New Member
the differences are more style than practical for a shoe that you'll probably wear for casual purposes, rather than boating, canoeing, or extended walking. They're all good if you're standing around drinking a bloody mary or gin & tonic.

The more eyelets a shoe has, the more secure the fit, to some degree, so a one-eyelet camp moccasin might have a slightly looser fit. A siped rubber sole might give you better traction in a slick, wet surface than other kinds.

Quoddy, you are paying for made-in-USA and the ability to choose various options. Gokey, someone mentioned above, is an old-line made-in-USA brand that was folded into Orvis for a quarter-century, then bought by an Iowa-based hunting gear company, Boyt Harness. (I expect Boyt will show more interest in Gokey's boots than shoes, so who knows how long you will be able to get Gokey boat shoes - they sell at a premium price, in the Quoddy vicinity). For slightly less, Rancourt sells good, made-in-USA moccasin-style shoes. For less money, you're looking at brands that are more mass-produced: Sperry, Sebago, LL Bean, Timberland, for example. I have had good experience with Sperry and Bean lately - good quality and comfort for the price. I have worn some Sperry shoes for a decade or more, the quality is very good.
 

Vecchio Vespa

(aka TKI67)
the differences are more style than practical for a shoe that you'll probably wear for casual purposes, rather than boating, canoeing, or extended walking. They're all good if you're standing around drinking a bloody mary or gin & tonic.

The more eyelets a shoe has, the more secure the fit, to some degree, so a one-eyelet camp moccasin might have a slightly looser fit. A siped rubber sole might give you better traction in a slick, wet surface than other kinds.

Quoddy, you are paying for made-in-USA and the ability to choose various options. Gokey, someone mentioned above, is an old-line made-in-USA brand that was folded into Orvis for a quarter-century, then bought by an Iowa-based hunting gear company, Boyt Harness. (I expect Boyt will show more interest in Gokey's boots than shoes, so who knows how long you will be able to get Gokey boat shoes - they sell at a premium price, in the Quoddy vicinity). For slightly less, Rancourt sells good, made-in-USA moccasin-style shoes. For less money, you're looking at brands that are more mass-produced: Sperry, Sebago, LL Bean, Timberland, for example. I have had good experience with Sperry and Bean lately - good quality and comfort for the price. I have worn some Sperry shoes for a decade or more, the quality is very good.
I have found mine to work equally well with Campari and soda with an orange wheel. I am thinking of trying them with a Negroni soon.
 
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