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Tartan 28
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So except in instances of cold weather sailing, I have always been a barefoot sailor and I know debate varies of barefoot versus shoe'd sailing. Well after nailing a toe a few weeks back and watching it, and half my foot, swell and turn purple, I started to look for an alternative that would give me the freedom, grip and flexibility of barefooting while offering some more protection. I splurged and purchased a pair of Vibram Fivefingers KSO's.

For the record I have zero affiliation with the company. At first glance these things are flat out goofy looking (think "Big Foot") but after reading more about them they really started to make sense as an innovative alternative to going shoeless...



I used them for the first time this last weekend on the boat and thus far it is nothing but 100% praise. You can wiggle your toes in these things meaning they flex as you step around the boat and help contour and grip uneven surfaces. They breathe well and after getting them wet, drain and dry well too. I took a swim with them on and they were barely noticeable. The soles are non-marking. At the end of the day you hardly realize you have any shoes on at all yet you're offering your feet greater protection from the many obstacles on a sailboat. I intend to make these my full time kayaking shoe also.

I can't speak to their longevity - so hopefully some others out there have used FiveFingers and speak to that but otherwise 2 thumbs up and thought I'd share.
 

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There's an extensive thread on sailing footwear over on SA and a couple people mentioned these, too. Comments were similar to your's: The look goofy, but work well.

Personally, I'm planning on trying Harken's shoes, with over-the-calf SealSkinz underneath in cold weather/water.

Jim
 

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The Limit of Absurdity

Clear your decks and learn to walk around cleats. Alternatively, wear shoes. The notion of spending money on a 10-character sock puppet is so ridiculous as to approach the sublime.
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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Clear your decks and learn to walk around cleats. Alternatively, wear shoes. The notion of spending money on a 10-character sock puppet is so ridiculous as to approach the sublime.

I have to agree with drgamble. I normally sail barefoot because I feel more secure walking around on a heeling boat's foredeck without shoes than I do with. Sometimes I stub my toe, and would love some sort of protection without giving up the grip.
 

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Hate to burst your bubble guys...

But those 10 toe booties won't protect you from stubbing your toe, only possibly improving your grip a little and allow you to walk on hot decks. I've stubbed my toes through boat shoe loafers. Not as bad as a direct hit, but they can be painful for a few hours.

If you stub your toe often use a full front shoe, not a pair of ape feet shoes. If you have a desire to get shoes and spend money to "avoid" toe stub, at least spend it on something that will offer protection.

DrB
 

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I don't discuss my member
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A guy on SA said he's free climbed a mast w/ those and a pair of atlas type gloves. They don't give you great protection, but they're better than sailing barefoot. Sailing with out any type of shoe may be comfortable, but imho, stupid. Look at the deck of ANY sailboat, all that hardware just waiting to break toes and cut your feet. Whinch handles, spinnaker poles, hell a cooler down below, etc. Take care of your hands, and take care of your feet. I only take my shoes off at anchor, and to go swimming. They're safety equipment.
 

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Well, this thread was certain to change direction. i will simply make a couple of comments.

I typically go barefoot. My barefoot typically grips better than most shoes (with some exceptions). And I do not care how careful you are, one good swell you weren't prepared for and you can jam your foot into a cleat or something that does not give.

But I have a real issue with shoes too. Most people buy a $100 pair of Harken shoes, which work as good or better than barefoot out of the box, then proceed to wear thema all around town or through the boat yard. THat's about all it takes is one good trip through a parkinglot and you put an oil-sheen on the bottom of those shoes and they pretty much become worthless. I popped my knee out of its socket (I have no ACL in rt knee) stepping off wearing one of those shoes. I learned my lesson after that. I have shoes for boat and shoes for getting off the boat.

My point in all this is that there are worse things that stubing a toe - like slipping off and going overboard or ripping out an acl. Very, very few people I have known have a 2-shoe principle and stick to it. As such, I generally favor the barefoot approach. But then again, I also sail in warm climates. I cannot imagine the pain of stubbing a cold toe.

My opinions.

- CD
 

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Tartan 28
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Geesh - a lot of sensitivity here to these shoes. I'll admit, I was a critic and had zero expectations when I got them so frankly I'm not sure knocking them without trying them would do anyone any good on a gear review post. Maybe we can start a forum where people can rip apart items they don't have or haven't tried - brilliant! :rolleyes:

Another side note, I do have full protective Sebago deck shoes with full toe protection. Simply put these Vibram's grip ten times better and they really do offer protection, albeit obviously not as great as a full shoe, or steel boot for that matter. The rubber is firm yet flexible and wraps over the upper part of the toe. Another positive over a shoe - a flatter style sole has a tendency to slip or be unbalanced when stepping on lines. This shoe actually contours around such an obstacle.

Clear your decks and learn to walk around cleats. Alternatively, wear shoes. The notion of spending money on a 10-character sock puppet is so ridiculous as to approach the sublime.
And this one really cracked me up. Rhodes - I'm torn here with your advice... I can work my way towards really cleaning my decks - I mean really get rid of everything - no cleats, no lines, no clutches, no grab rails - then again, maybe I could drop a cool $30M on a Wally 80 with pure flush decks free of obstacles. On the other hand - I could really just get as sloppy as can be but continue to purchase crazy "sock puppet" items like this as technology evolves that would fully protect my body - I'm thinking maybe a suit like Batman's - or maybe Iron Man. Just think - I would no longer have to worry about the boom! :laugher :laugher :laugher

As others have pointed out - it appears quite a few racers swear by these things. Anyone that has ever had experience with a Vibram sole can attest that they make quality products. In doing my research I discovered that these shoes, aka sock puppets, were named a "Best Invention" by Time magazine in 2007 and there are current studies being conducted on marathon runners that are using said sock puppets. Another benefit touted, and one that makes sense, is that with shoes we truly don't utilize all the muscles in our feet and lower legs, whereas the FiveFingers free up the foot and toes to get full range of motion to those muscles. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge to get a pair was reading from those that have purchased and used these shoes and how much praise they put out there on the shoe - so from a skeptic to a believer there you have it.
 

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I think DrB has it right, most of the protection that you get with shoes is because a blow from stubbing your toe or dropping something is spread out over the rest of the toe by the shoe material, so with each toe individually wrapped, the protection level will drop. If the five finger material was thick enough to provide serious protection, you'd lose any advantage of flexability.

To me they are just expensive moccasins, which I used to wear all the time. During the summer now, pretty much all I wear are water shoes or nothing. I wear them on bicycle rides, working in the garage, and for pretty much everything else. It's actualy pretty common for me to have lost my regular shoes/boots when I need them in the fall.
I think I would like to try a pair though, because I do most climbing barefoot for the grip.

Ken.
 

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I have shoes for boat and shoes for getting off the boat. ......

As such, I generally favor the barefoot approach. But then again, I also sail in warm climates. I cannot imagine the pain of stubbing a cold toe.

- CD
I actually have a similar approach. I'm NOT into racing just kicked back cruising and attempt to avoid bad weather/ conditions when possible. I also favor the barefoot approach. On some occasions I need to alter this due to deck temps, or when it is obvious I'm probably going to have to do some faster maneuvering on deck than I normally do. That is time for shoes. I also always use shoes when coming into or out of a slip but not normally when I take a mooring or set anchor which is the majority of the time. I have "shoes" I toss into the dink when I'm going ashore. I have a set of hiking shoes for when I taking an extended hike which is usually on a volcanic island and bare-feet and light weight flip flops are a non starter.

Avoiding stubbing your toes is always the "best" way to go but as stated it is just something that too frequently happens. Keep decks clear as possible and be prepared to may changes to your footing in advance of the real need. Like in the Boy Scouts "Be Prepared" or "Be Repaired??? :laugher

I RealllllLYly can Not see me in those monkey feet!
 

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Cute, but what's going to protect my Achille's tendon when I get suddenly backed into a cleat or winch drum?

No thanks.
 

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Sailing Junkie
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Although I haven't tried the Vibram sock thingies....I have, and love, my Keens! They offer fantastic toe protection and are ergonomic to boot. They are non-marking!


I have no affiliation with keen, but I have multiple pairs of their shoe and sandals and love 'em:)
 

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Okay, I'll chime in. I am enjoying this thread, if only for the nomenclature! Just think how useful the "monkey feet" will be come Halloween!

Having said that, I think most would pefer not to wear shoes. But toe stubbing, pain, and possible infection are all enough for me to want to wear shoes while underway. As for the choices available, I guess the FiveFinger KSO approach is as valid as any. My choice: either the TredSafe brand found at WalMart (very good non-skid, durable and cheap) or a pair of water mocs (if I foresee getting wet).
 

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Barefoot

I go barefoot most days in the summer/early fall. Like most things in sailing thinking ahead and being careful are part of the game. Accidents happen and they can hurt.. but if you can anticipate things a little and react quickly you can avoid the worst of it... Just my .02$
 

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Although I haven't tried the Vibram sock thingies....I have, and love, my Keens! They offer fantastic toe protection and are ergonomic to boot. They are non-marking!


I have no affiliation with keen, but I have multiple pairs of their shoe and sandals and love 'em:)
I have a pair of these but had no idea that they're non-marking! Thanks for the info, I'll have to see how they do on deck.
 

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Sailing Junkie
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For the record (if anybody cares!) I usually wear my Keens while I am sailing and go barefoot while at anchor. I have stubbed my toes too many times while sailing not to wear anything.
Another alternative: buy a 95' crewed sailboat and let the crew stub their toes while I sit back and sip a gin and tonic while barefoot:D :D :D
 

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Look.... It's very simple.... Vibram Soles are made at Quaboag Rubber Co. which is in the center of my tiny little town of North Brookfield - They Have to be Good :D :D :D
Joking and home town industry plugs aside.... Vibram IS one of the best gripping soles ever made by man. As for walking around on a moving sailboat barefoot - I think it's nuts. I go with an earlier post - Protective footware is Safety Equipment.
 

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As a general rule, I think it's best to wear shoes when underway. I love going barefoot on the boat and do so at anchor, but I always bear in mind what a wise man told me: "Boats are not soft places."
 

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I too have stubbed my toes too many times to willingly sail barefoot. I have a pair of Sperry boat mocs that I keep exclusively for the boat; I found out the hard way that wearing them around town wears away the necessary stickiness from the soles. I have had to improvise though; I have forgetten to bring the Sperrys on occasion and wound up sailing in my sneakers, my sandals or even barefoot.
 
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