Avid fisherman and sailor, Jonathan, has found that Vibram Five Fingers make great boat shoes. He tested them out on a recent fishing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Read about his experience choosing the right pair of Vibrams and see pics of Jonathan and the whopper tuna he caught!
I was one of those skeptical people who fell in love with VFFs from the moment I saw them in the "New Products" section of a sailing magazine I subscribe to. However, I refused to buy them online until I had a chance to try them on and get a feel for them.
The VFFs I had my eyes on (ok, I was online-stalking them) were the Men's Classic. I wanted a shoe that I could wear either when I sail or go fishing on my boats. Conventional boat shoes like Sperry Topsiders are great, but let's face it, they're pretty hoity-toity looking, and I don't like wearing sneakers onboard because if they get wet, you're soggy for the rest of the day. Sandals on a boat are just an accident waiting to happen with fish hooks on the deck....
It turned out, the Classics were my least favorite when I actually put them on. They just weren't right for my foot shape, which bummed me out at first. I ended up, much to my own surprise, with grey/black KSOs. A week later, I was on the Outer Banks to do some tuna fishing. What a great boat shoe! I got some curious looks from the dock guys who'd never seen anything like them. The KSOs had great grip on a deck that got very slippery with fish yuck and water (a 93 and 163lbs tuna will do that!). They help me stay planted when the boat gets rolling, and I can feel how the boat is going to move in a stiff sea through my toes. Plus, I can spray them down with a hose, and they're reasonably clean (try THAT with a canvas or leather boat shoe!) Plus, my ankles never fatigued, which happens a lot when I wear "normal" shoes on a boat. They're great and surefooted for climbing the aluminum superstructure to get up to the tower controls, even when they're wet, something I wouldn't dare try in Sperry's or sneakers!
Due to poor weather, I spent the next several days scrubbing and maintaining the boat. My KSOs got completely coated in soap and grime. I tossed them into the washing machine and let them air dry. Two hours later they were bone dry and ready to go!
A month later I still wear my KSOs almost daily. Basically, if I have an excuse to wear them, I will! I travel extensively, and they make great travel shoes. My arches never feel tired, although I do get some fatigue in the balls of my feet if I stand still for too long (airport screening lines, etc.). But the moment I get moving, the fatigue goes away. They're fantastic on soft ground and even concrete sidewalks. They're a little uncomfortable on loose heavy gravel or paths with broken branches (the thin soles means you are protected from cuts and punctures, but you WILL feel that sharp rock!).
I have added a pair of grey/navy Sprints to my orginal KSOs for less intense wear (city walking, dockside use, etc.), but they have a totally different feel from the KSOs. The Sprints feel like I'm wearing ballet shoes as opposed to the KSOs which feel like gloves for my feet. I want to try the all leather Mocs when they come to my area for around the house and meditation.
In summary, if you couldn't tell, I highly recommend VFFs! They're worth the price if you're looking for an active outdoor shoe, particularly anything wet.
Hope I helped somebody out there!
That's a whole lotta tuna! Looks like Jonathan will be enjoying grilled tuna, tuna croquettes, tuna helper, tuna fish sandwiches, etc. for quite a while. Congratulations on your catch and thanks for letting us know that Vibram Five Fingers work so well as boat shoes.