Charts & Equipment

You won’t want to take them off!

At last January’s Seattle Boat Show I noticed something new at the LFS booth: XTRATUF shoes. The word was “once you put them on, you will not want to take them off.”

The XTRATUF name is legendary for their legacy brown gum boots that have been a favorite with commercial fisherman and anyone working near water for years. While preparing this story I did hear about a slip with this venerable brand. Honeywell Safety Products, XTRATUF’s parent company, made a decision recently to move boot production from Minnesota to China. This was done with little fanfare, though the new XTRATUF boots no longer sported the small American Flag on them.

Legacy XTRAFUFs

Classic XTRATUF boots have been a staple of commercial fishermen.

After 6 months, alarms sounded. New XTRATUF boots were falling apart. The Governor of Alaska reportedly banned state agencies from purchasing them. This is significant because in Alaska, XTRATUFs are known as “Alaska Sneakers,” and are acceptable footwear for dinners out, church, funerals, weddings and even a prom or two—for both men and women! XTRATUF even created a low-cut boot they call “Alaska Sneakers.”

The staff at Honeywell/XTRATUF did the right thing. They recalled all the boots made in China and trained workers to properly make XTRATUFs. Now, legendary quality is back.

Back to the new shoes…

Late last year, new boat shoes were launched in several styles and colors. They’re offered in brown, tan, blue and light blue, in both slip-on and lace up styles. They have the same XTRATUF rubber sole that grips well in all weather and does not mar boat decks.

XTRATUF Boat Shoes

New XTRATUF boat shoes, seen here, are comfortable and durable.

I tried on a pair at the boat show, and yes, they were light and comfortable. I enjoy a good boat shoe and already owned a comfortable pair of good leather shoes that cost $200. I live in them, and feel the cost is worth it for a comfortable shoe. But I am always concerned about getting them wet in salt water. I have had to treat my shoes to get the salt out of the leather after a bad soaking. When things get too wet, the leather shoes go away, and on come my trusty XTRATUF boots. But what about their shoes?

After almost a month of testing on the water, I am thrilled. My slip-on pair are dark brown with a Nubuck brushed leather finish. I have gotten them wet, dripped diesel fuel on them, and even splattered them with clam chowder. They do not stain in salt water, and stay pretty dry. They clean up with a brush. Most of all, they are very comfortable, with socks or with-out, all day long. Highly recommended.

Note also, while up in Southeast Alaska, I saw the new XTRATUF II boots which are now available. It looks like they combined the traditional rubber design with Nubuck on the upper areas. Pretty stylish. I wonder if they will catch on with the commercial fisherman.

XTRATUF dock shoes are available in many places XTRATUF boots are sold, such as LFS in Bellingham, Marine Hardware in Anacortes, Fisheries Supply in Seattle, and Tongass Trading in Ketchikan. They are still new to the market and not stocked in all sizes, styles and colors in all places.

If you buy a pair, let us know what you think.

—Mark

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