In the past, I've never been much of a boat-shoe wearer. When fishing out of a boat I was more of an athletic-shoe angler. And while athletic shoes work fine and are super comfortable, it doesn't take long to trash a good (and expensive) pair of athletic shoes from all the water your feet are exposed to while fishing.
So when the footwear designers at Cabela's asked me to test a pair of Guidewear Boat Shoes, I was eager to see how they held up compared to athletic shoes. I was headed to Brazil to try peacock bass, and during this trip, we would be fishing out of bass boats, spending long hours in the boat and running great distances each day to fish.
I wore the shoes for a few days before the trip, but no break-in time was necessary. These shoes fit like gloves and were comfortable from the first moment I tried them on. The slip-on design is perfect for boat shoes, as you can quickly slip them on and off throughout the day as conditions warrant. I purposely stepped in the water a lot during the week of fishing with my shoes on, just to test how they handled not only being soaked, but also how well they gripped on slick boat surfaces and docks.
Like a good tire on a vehicle, one of the key components to a good boat shoe is its ability to channel water through its sole, helping to maintain traction and sure-footedness on slick surfaces. Boat shoes accomplish this task by using what is called a siped sole, which is a sole designed with water-channeling grooves, troughs or slits. The Guidewear Boat Shoes have non-marking siped rubber soles, and the siping is virtually invisible to the eye, until you flex the shoe, then you can see the hundreds of tiny slits in the sole. It works, because these shoes provided rock-solid footing even when wet or on wet surfaces.
Above the siped sole, waterproof leather combined with an air-mesh lining provides a comfortable, yet supportive fit. I really appreciated the vented design of these shoes, especially in Brazil, where temperatures at the equator reached well into the 90's each day, and with humidity levels in the rain forest to match the air temperature, perspiration is a constant issue. But the Guidewear Boat Shoes did a good job of venting internal moisture away from my feet. I found the shoe worked well on that front both with and without socks. Most days we fished without wearing socks with these shoes, but I also traveled wearing these shoes because of their superior comfort level, wearing socks during travel. I like wearing a slip-on shoe for traveling because of airport security measures, and these shoes were great for traveling as well as fishing.
They are built on a premium footbed to provide cushioning and shock absorption, with an athletic-shoe midsole and midfoot support bridge, which you'll appreciate during long days of travel or fishing. It took 30 hours of non-stop travel to get to Brazil, with no chance to change clothes or shoes. But as much as I needed a shower and sleep after arriving, my feet actually felt great.
I tested the Guidewear Toggle Boat Shoe model, with an easy-to-adjust brass tightener to cinch up the shoe for a snug fit. A three-eye lace up model is also available.
After virtually living in these shoes for 10 days, they've become a favorite pair, both on and off the water.
Click here to purchase Cabela's Guidewear Toggle Boat Shoes