Get a Grip: Son-R Bearing Bootie

Sperry Top-Sider's Son-R Bearing Bootie is lightweight with a sole that keeps your feet connected to your brain. Gear Review from our July/August 2011 issue.

Sailing World
Sperry Top-Sider Son-R Bearing Bootie
Sperry Top-sider

If anyone ever saw the amount of sailing footwear I’ve collected over the years, one might suspect I have a fetish. My collection is a wide assortment of sailing sneakers, sea boots, dinghy boots, wetsuit booties, open-toed sandals, you name it. For small keelboat sailing, I prefer wetsuit booties to anything else: if my feet are going to be wet, they might as well be warm, and they fit nice and snug. But mostly, I need to feel the deck underfoot for better grip and balance. That’s why, when I discovered the new SON-R bootie from Sperry Top-Sider, I knew I’d found the Holy Shoe.

Sperry Top-Sider designed the SON-R line for the paddling market (kayaks, etc.). The secret is in the sole, which has raised “pads” in key areas—think pressure points. The concept, so I’m told by its designer, is that these pressure points send triggers to your brain to let it know what you’re “feeling.” The result is surefootedness, and therefore balance.

I tested the SON-R Bearing Bootie at Sperry-Top Sider Charleston Race Week, and on the Audi Melges 20, which has pretty aggressive grip tape, the grip was far better than the more rugged-soled sailing booties I’d been wearing. I felt as if I had neoprene socks with sticky-bottoms. Our middleman, Harcourt Schultz, a committed barefoot sailor, was converted after only one day of wearing his.

The neoprene upper is thin, so they weren’t overly hot in the southern heat. After a quick dunk (there are drainholes), my feet were cool all day. The two adjustment straps keep them snug, and make them easy to take on and off.