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In the Press: The Best Deck Shoes

There’s a fantastic, very in-depth group gear test article in the June issue of Yachting Monthly, which is out now.  We’re delighted to learn that our GP Race Shoe came out as the best deck shoe out there:

THE UK’S MOST TRUSTED KIT TESTS: Which shoes grip best on deck?

Andrew Brook tests traditional deck shoes, plimsolls, ‘technical’ boat shoes, Crocs and bare feet to see what is best to wear on deck

‘Shoes are a highly personal choice, especially aboard a boat.  The needs of a Southern Ocean racer are very different to those of a weekend summer sailor.  Traditional deck shoes, with moccasin uppers and razor-cut rubber soles, are the shoe of choice for many cruising sailors – comfortable enough to wear on deck and smart enough for the bar – but a lot of sailors grew up wearing plimsolls, which promise equal grip for less money and slightly higher clearance in puddles and on wet decks.

Some people prefer nothing at all on their feet, despite the risk of injury, yet nowadays there is more choice on the market than ever before.  Mary marine footwear manufacturers, such as MUSTO, Henri-Lloyd and Sebago, now offer ‘technical’ boat shoes, which look more like trainers than moccasins and are aimed at active on-deck crew.’


‘Other alternatives have sprung up, such as the distinctive Crocs, loved by some sailors and loathed in equal measures by others.  Meanwhile, traditional deck shoes have become fashionable and are now frequently seen on feet that never step anywhere near a yacht deck.

What do people look for in deck footwear?  Keeping a steady footing can be the difference between sailing and swimming, so grip is crucial on a variety of surfaces and in a wide range of weather conditions.  Protecting the foot is also important.  While deck shoes do not quite need steel toecaps, they still have to cope with a wide range of bumps and scrapes.  They must be durable, buoyant, easy to clean and quick-drying.  They need to keep feet warm and dry.

Personal reasons, such as comfort and looks, also impact the decision.  If a shoe ‘feels’ wrong, it will very quickly find its way to the bottom of the shoe cupboard.  That could be heavily influenced by arbitrary factors, such as foot shape.  For example, my father never wears trainers, because their high insteps leave him in great discomfort and even pain.’

‘How we tested them

We tested grip on four different surfaces.  We had a smooth, flat, varnished wooden panel, a GRP locker lid with a moulded non-slip surface, some old teak decking and Flexiteek, a synthetic teak alternative from Advanced Marine Decking.

Each surface was inclined until it was no longer possible to remain standing.  We recorded the critical angle of slippage, at which the surface was still climbable, but not without some sliding.  We repeated this process with wet surfaces.  We then walked through thick Hamble River mud at Low Water to see how easily they could be cleaned, first with a hose and then a washing machine.  We also tested buoyancy.  Finally, a ‘princess and the pea’ test, standing on the most painful thing we could think of – an upturned plug – demonstrated how much protection each of the shoes offer.


Most marine clothing companies now offer a “technical” boat shoe, primarily aimed at racers, but equally suitable for cruising.  These MUSTOs have a part-suede, part-mesh upper, which makes them very comfortable, but the mesh retains water for a long time.  Even when the outside feels damp, inside the shoe is bone dry.  The GP Race Shoe performed best in the grip test.  They could still stand until 60° on most dry surfaces, dropping to 50° on the GRP, in the wet that fell to 40° on the Flexiteek and 30° on the other three surfaces – still best on test.

They resembled something near their original state after hosing the mud off.  The thick sole provides plenty of protection from toe stubbing and standing on things.

  • Materials part-suede, part-mesh uppers, cushioned rubber soles
  • Weight 2lb
  • Web www.musto.com
  • Tel 01268 491 555′


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