Sebago Docksides vs Sperry Topsiders
Over the years, there has been some comparison between Sebago dockside vs Sperry topsiders. One may not realize that the two shoes actually serve the same purpose. Sebago docksides and sperry topsiders are owned by Wolverine Worldwide (makers of Hush Puppies, Saucony, Merrell, Keds and Cat Footwear, among others), known for its quality American heritage footwear.
Sperry gets the credit for creating the original boat shoe in 1935. Paul A. Sperry of New Haven, CT, noticed his dog could easily run over ice without slipping. Using a knife, he cut siping into his shoe’s soles and created a shoe perfect for boating—the Sperry Top-Sider.
Sebago came onto the scene about 10 years later, and its boat shoe style, the Docksides, would skyrocket in popularity in the 1980s on college campuses. Both brands, and hallmark styles, have their pros and cons, and we’ve broken down all of them so you can pick the right shoe for your style, need and budget.
If you’ve worn boat shoes before, you know that there is a break-in period. The stiff nature of the shoe, met with its no-socks styling, can rub on the back of the heel until the leather softens and the shoe isn’t as stiff as other shoes. Some suggested adding heel cup insoles so that the heel sits above the contact point. Others wear boat shoes by soaking the shoes in salt water right out of the box, which will mold the leather to your feet and add those authentic salt stains.
After the break-in period, reviewers say the Sperry Top-Siders are stiffer and more cushioned while the Sebago Docksides are more flexible and closer to the ground. Docksides are known for being extremely lightweight (especially in its new neoprene iterations), so they are more comfortable in that original break-in/chafing stage. Sperry’s, however, offer a bit more support for a long day on your feet. Boat shoes in general, aren’t designed for all-day walking or standing, but for providing grip and drainage during a sail. If you are wearing these for style and want to up the comfort factor, both styles could benefit from orthopedic insoles.
For actual boating, the Sebagos have more ground-feel, so it’s sailor’s preference on how much contact they prefer. While it’s a close race here as well, the Sebago Docksides win out for their more-modern comfort and lightweight attributes.
Both brands have American heritage with roots in the U.S. and are owned by Michigan-based company, Wolverine Worldwide. Construction of these shoes, however, is sourced overseas in both cases. Reviewers say that Sebago has better quality-control and overall more mindful construction.
Sperrys feature medium quality full-grain leather uppers and Sebagos have unlined, full grain, nubuck or waxy pull-up leather uppers. The quality is a touch higher, in this case, on the Sebagos, which have really rich and waxy leathers—you’ll known just by the smell when opening the box.
Overall, stitching and construction is high quality for both brands (except for a few complaints of quality control issues for Sperry). The slip-resistant outsoles will do their job and the shoes are built to last. Ignore reviewers who complain of “leaky soles” as, well, that’s sort of the point…
Overall, Sebago takes the win here for slightly better quality control and materials. In the case of Sperry vs. Sebago, it’s really your preference. For those who want the name recognition of Sperry and credit for being the “original,” it’s the only option.
Counterculture people who prefer to go against the grain will love Sebago, which also has great heritage but is a lesser-known name. As far as styling, Sperry has more iterations of the Authentic Original, but Sebago has a ton of bright colors that you can collect in every hue. Sebago also comes out ahead on overall quality, and only retails for $5 more than the Sperry.
In either case, you really can’t go wrong. And since both brands are owned by Wolverine, you are really paying the same company, ultimately. Although the construction is sourced overseas (think Chevy vs. Ford), you are still supporting great American brands with decades of history and craftsmanship.
Where to buy Sebago docksides Vs Sperry Topsiders
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