Which is the most rugged/durable boat shoe?

bikemaniac

Starting Member
Hi,

I'm new to this forum so this will be my 1st question.

For the last 10-15 years my preferred shoe has been the classic boat shoe with leather inside and out. No syntehtics at all. During the last 10-15 years I have owned

4 pairs of Timberland heritage 3-eye classic lug
https://shop.timberland.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4208417&prodFindSrc=search
They cost approx 200 dollars.

4 pairs of van Bommel boat shoes
https://www.vanbommel.com/en/shoe_detail/387
They cost approx. 160 Euros for a pair which is approx 200 dollars

Please be aware that I live in Europe and the high prices reflect that matter.

I wear the shoes almost every day and wax them 2 times a year. I don't go rockclimbing with them and I don't play soccer with them. I just walk and nothing more. However, after approx 2 years (a total of approx 600-700 days) the shoes are completely ruined and ready for the trash.

Here is what happens:
After approx. 6 months the vertical sewing in the heels is completely ripped and is falling apart.
After approx. 6 months the leather insole delaminates from the main sole and I have to glue it back in using special leather glue.
After approx 1 year the upper coarse sewing on the front panel starts ripping in parts. The threads cannot take all the bendings and crack. I usually remove the entire sewing on the front panel and sew it back in using a special heavy thread bought in a leather shop.
After approx. 2 years the sewing attaching the sole to the leather shoe itself (the sewing going all the way around the shoe close to the ground) startes ripping/cracking in the front with the result that the sole delaminates from the rest of the shoe. You could say that the front end of the shoe looks like a ducks mouth :)
After approx 2 years, if unlucky, the leather close to the outer sole will crack and open exposing the toes.

The best thing about all my boat shoes where the outer sole: It never failed.

The above description has been going on for the last 10-15 years. Every time I have tried to improve. I really feel that I have taken care of the shoes, however they do get ruined anyway.

Pictures:


Now, some of you might think I mistreated and didn't take care of the shoes shown in the pictures. I wouldn't say so. Unless you ask me to treat the leather every single month.

My question to you is:
What is the worlds most durable rugged boat shoe? I'm not necessarily looking for the exact same design at the ones I have owned - something similar is OK. I don't care about the price at all. I just cannot accept my shoes falling apart anymore. Can I get a boat shoe with life time warranty? Actually, life time warranty does not make sense if I have to ship the shoes across the globe every time they need to be fixed :). I just need a pair of boat shoes that can take A LOT of abuse. Am I asking too much?

Thanks, Lucas
 

hardline_42

Honors Member
Bikemaniac, welcome to the forum! I own a pair of the Timberland 3-eye boat shoes you linked. I find them perfectly suitable, but I wear them maybe 5 times a month. The first thing I noticed about your post is how often you wear them: "almost every day." The most you should wear a leather shoe is every other day. They need to rest 24 hours between wearing so the moisture they've absorbed throughout the day has some time to evaporate. Otherwise, the shoe starts to fall apart. The insole glue dissolving is one of the first signs. Second, two years is not a short life for boat shoes worn that often. They're often regarded as casual "throw-away" shoes and many would rather just buy a new pair every couple of years.

As far as suggesting a more rugged shoe, you won't find it in the new models of Timberland 3-eye. They're actually worse than what you could get ten years ago. The "handsewn" parts of the shoe are not handsewn in the traditional sense. The holes are prepunched by machine and then a person with a needle and thread simply connects the dots, making no allowance for irregularities in the leather, grain orientation etc.

Another consideration is whether a moccasin construction is best for durability. A moccasin where the sole is stitched directly through the vamp puts a lot of stress on the leather. A welted moccasin still has the welt stitched through the vamp, but the stresses are divided among the vamp-to-welt and the welt-to-outsole seams. The addition of a leather midsole makes it even more durable. An example of this from Rancourt can be seen in member dorji's post .

However, a Goodyear welted shoe with a moc-toe would be a better compromise with a true boot construction but the looks of a moccasin. Something like a Thorogood Moc-toe Oxford or similar.
 

bikemaniac

Starting Member
However, a Goodyear welted shoe with a moc-toe would be a better compromise with a true boot construction but the looks of a moccasin. Something like a Thorogood Moc-toe Oxford or similar.




Thanks for your interesting reply. Actually, I'm aware of the moisture problem and the fact that shoes should rest for a day. But then again, I travel often and don't have space for carrying various shoes. Also, it doesn't make sense in my mind to have an ongoing sequence where shoes are rotated.

It's funny that you mention the moc toe. A few months ago, in total frustration of my ruined boat shoes, I went out and bough a pair of Redwing Moc Toes:



They set me back 330 dollars over here in Europe. The idea was exactly like you described above: Get a similar low cut shoe with a more rugged sole system. The Redwing shop owner told me he would replace the moc toes if I was able to ruin them within 2 years. That was good news.
That bad news is comfort. They totally lack the comfort of a real boat shoe. They are rock hard compared to boat shoes even though I have worn them in for sevaral months. My Redwing Gentlemans Traveler which is a tall boot, looking even more rugged/solid than the Redwing Moc Toe is more comfortable to wear than the moc toes. I believe that the RedWing moc toe problem is their white outer sole. This sole is super stiff and thus will not easily bend. I'm about to stash these shoes very soon and have to acknowledge that those 330 dollars are lost.

Lucas
 

godan

Elite Member
Bikemaniac: Excellent first post! You say you walk in your boat shoes, and nothing more. Do you need (or insist on having) boat shoe soles? Would camp mocs serve you better? Without the precise knowledge of purists, I think of camp mocs as robust boat shoes with thicker, usually lugged, soles. My several pair from Timberland, Eastland, Quoddy, Dunham and others have lasted several years, worn in rotation during dry seasons. I wear camp mocs with jeans and pressed, but not creased, chinos, often with a sweater and/or shirt, but never with a tie.
 

hardline_42

Honors Member
Bikemaniac: Excellent first post! You say you walk in your boat shoes, and nothing more. Do you need (or insist on having) boat shoe soles? Would camp mocs serve you better? Without the precise knowledge of purists, I think of camp mocs as robust boat shoes with thicker, usually lugged, soles. My several pair from Timberland, Eastland, Quoddy, Dunham and others have lasted several years, worn in rotation during dry seasons. I wear camp mocs with jeans and pressed, but not creased, chinos, often with a sweater and/or shirt, but never with a tie.

Look at the pics and links in the OP. None of the shoes he has are equipped with boat soles. They're all lug-soled bluchers that are technically boat shoes because they have 360* lacing.
 

fishertw

Elite Member
I've had nearly every boat shoe brand made over the past thirty years. By far, the most durable and nearly indestructable boat shoe is the Gokey bullhide shoe sold by Orvis. I've had a pair for over ten years and continue to return to that shoe over and over. The leather is thick, stiff and the most durable of any boat shoe I've ever seen. It takes a while to break them in, but they wear like iron.
Tom
 

ashcroft99

New Member
Alden boatshoe?

Have you given the Alden boatshoe a try? Not sure if they are still available--but I recall well seeing a pair at the D.C. Alden store: impressively solid, at least by the lights of a cursory inspection.
 

bikemaniac

Starting Member
Bikemaniac: Excellent first post! You say you walk in your boat shoes, and nothing more. Do you need (or insist on having) boat shoe soles? Would camp mocs serve you better? Without the precise knowledge of purists, I think of camp mocs as robust boat shoes with thicker, usually lugged, soles. My several pair from Timberland, Eastland, Quoddy, Dunham and others have lasted several years, worn in rotation during dry seasons. I wear camp mocs with jeans and pressed, but not creased, chinos, often with a sweater and/or shirt, but never with a tie.
No, I don't insist on boat shoes. I have chosen boat shoes because:


1. Only made out of leather - also inside. This ensures that they will never smell badly and this feature is very important to me
2. They are extremely comfortable with plenty of air around the foot when walking.
3. They are just slip in/slip out and the sole is not too hard = it will bend with the foot (unlike the rock hard Redwing moc toes).


So yes, I am open for something new (same comfort level, just more durable). Even loafers. But I'm still young and prefer not to have a shoe which puts me in the granddad class :)


Lucas
 

Himself

Super Member

godan

Elite Member
Look at the pics and links in the OP. None of the shoes he has are equipped with boat soles. They're all lug-soled bluchers that are technically boat shoes because they have 360* lacing.

Hardline: Can you explain in more detail? I have always thought that the essential characteristic of a boat shoe was a sole that would not mark the deck, typically a white, un-lugged sole. By 360* lacing, do you mean a single lace that extends back around the heel? I searched on AA for a definition without success. Wikpedia (hardly a Trad authority) mentions the non-marking sole. What is the Absolute Truth? Thanks.
 

Topsider

Honors Member
Personally, I think you would be better served by buying a second pair of shoes and alternating them. Wearing shoes every day without allowing them to dry out in between wearings is a fast track to destruction. You're fortunate that they're lasting two years. Based on your photo, however, I'd have thrown them away a long time ago.

As far as your question as to which boat shoe will hold up better under those conditions than others, I'd say "none." They're all disposable.
 
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hardline_42

Honors Member
Hardline: Can you explain in more detail? I have always thought that the essential characteristic of a boat shoe was a sole that would not mark the deck, typically a white, un-lugged sole. By 360* lacing, do you mean a single lace that extends back around the heel? I searched on AA for a definition without success. Wikpedia (hardly a Trad authority) mentions the non-marking sole. What is the Absolute Truth? Thanks.
A traditional boat shoe is as you describe it. Somewhere along the line, Timberland came along and put a heavy, lugged sole on a 3-eye boat shoe upper so wearers could wear their "boat shoes" all year long (though it's currently called the 3-eye classic lug). Since the upper is identical to a traditional boat shoe, I can understand the OP and others referring to it as a "boat shoe" though it's obviously useless in that regard.

The 360 degree lacing is also as you describe it. The laces are threaded around the entire opening of the shoe. This is common on boat shoes, canoe mocs, tassel loafers and a non-functional version is also used on welted tassel loafers.
 

Dockside

Inactive user
Buy 2 pair of the Timberland shoe. Wear each shoe for 1-2 days and let it rest for 1 day. PS: It's not possible to rockclimb in Denmark. Hehe...
 

Haffman

Super Member
I have never owned a boat shoe but would like to try one, one day. A friend of mine was raving about Quoddy and they seem to be 'handmade in New England' ?Maine. I would certainly be prepared to pay over the odds for that. Are they any good?
 

hardline_42

Honors Member
I have never owned a boat shoe but would like to try one, one day. A friend of mine was raving about Quoddy and they seem to be 'handmade in New England' ?Maine. Are they any good?

They are very good. Expensive, very long wait and, on rare occasions, not up to snuff, but mostly good. The Made-in-Maine boat shoes available today (Rancourt, Quoddy, Oak Street, Eastland, etc.) are more of a niche product and don't really make sense if you plan to use them as disposable outdoor shoes (for sailing, fishing, mowing the lawn etc), but are a nice investment for casual shoes that will see modest use.
 

Haffman

Super Member
They are very good. Expensive, very long wait and, on rare occasions, not up to snuff, but mostly good. The Made-in-Maine boat shoes available today (Rancourt, Quoddy, Oak Street, Eastland, etc.) are more of a niche product and don't really make sense if you plan to use them as disposable outdoor shoes (for sailing, fishing, mowing the lawn etc), but are a nice investment for casual shoes that will see modest use.

Thanks Hardline, they sound up my street. I will add them to my iPhone 'clothes wishlist' (my 2013 attempt to stave off impulse purchases or at least make them more considered! :redface:)
 

bikemaniac

Starting Member
I would like to give an update. Summer 2014 i bought a pair of Gokey worlds most durable boat shoe. Now 1.5 years have passed and the main top sewings have ripped just like with less expensive shoes. The leather itself is in perfect condition everywhere ... i have treated it often to avoid damaging the leather. The sole itself is also in a perfect condition. The shoe itself it very comfortable, but i am disappointed by the top sewings where the shoe bends at every step. Right there the sewings cannot withstand the forces and are slowly abraded away until they rip. Now it is a matter of time before the entire upper sewing completely falls apart and i can see my own toes :).

Lucas
 
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