In the cut throat world of boat shoes, two brands stand tall as the top dogs. Those brands are Sperry Topsider and Sebago. Both have fans with brand loyalty greater than most political parties. Ask anyone who lives in a water front town which is better and you will practically start a civil war. To save you the trouble of traveling and doing the dirty work we wear tested a variety of shoes from both brands to bring you the winner of the Boat Shoe Showdown.
We tested every shoe in conditions similar to the intended use (boating). Everything from rain storms to 95 degree heat on a Connecticut beach were all considered. Our review encompasses 5 characteristics: Durability, Material Quality, Comfort, Traction, and Fit. Each section is worth 10 points, the points per shoe are then totaled to produce a final grade. Let’s finally settle this!
Here is round 1:
The Sperry Topsider is the first real “boat shoe”, back in ’35 Paul Sperry was sick and tired of slipping around on the decks so he cut siping into the bottom of his shoe. Low and behold the topsider was born. A little more refining and we end up with Sperry’s Authentic Original collection, their main product line and a model that we wear tested.
Sebago started out as the Sebago Moc Company and introduced their Docksides in 1970. Though entering the market a little later on than Sperry, Sebago turned the tables with their patented welt construction and super high quality materials.
Sperry Topsider v. Sebago Docksides
We really loved the design and initial comfort of this classic and the water proofing was top notch. It’s a no brainer that these are the go to shoe for many boaters in the North East. The sole traction was the clear winner and there was no squeaking or noise on dry land.
Despite everything we love about Sperry we were extremely disappointed when the glued insole came out. To make it even worse the sole glue wore down within 2 weeks of wearing them. The leather quality was mediocre at best and the construction was not as high quality as Sebago’s.
Durability- 6/10 Comfort- 7/10 Quality- 6/10 Traction 9/10 Fit- 6/10
The materials that Sebago chose for their Docksides are second none and the construction quality follows suit. The fit is exceptional and very true to size. After a longer period of time (~ 1 month) they break in and are even more comfortable.
Initially, the Docksides are hard leather and gave blisters to some of the reviewers. After 1 week no new blisters formed but still, a whole week with blisters sucks. Plain and simple. The sole was good but a lot of noise on waxed floors was sure to follow. Also, it really baffled us here at GearTested why Sebago would put such a low quality lace on such a high quality shoe. Not a deal breaker but something to consider.
Durability- 8/10 Comfort- 7/10 Quality- 9/10 Traction 6/10 Fit- 9/10
Final Verdict- Due mainly to super high quality materials and superb fit Sebago takes the Boat Shoe Cup for round 1 of Sperry v. Sebago – The Boat Shoe Show Down.
So what do you think about our decision? Share your experiences below.