Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Billfish Ultralite Boat Shoe
Last updated on February 26, 2022 9:20 am
- 100% Leather and Air mesh
- Rubber sole
- Shaft measures approximately low-top from arch
- Features air-mesh upper panels for cool, breathable comfort around the foot with shock absorbing EVA heel cup for added comfort
- Stain and water resistant leather
|Is Discontinued By Manufacturer|
12 x 8 x 4 inches, 1 Pounds
|Item model number|
|Date First Available|
January 28, 2011
Crowd Control –
I only give these boat shoes 3 stars for a few reasons. I have bought Sperry’s for years, and still have some that are over six years old. I do not remember having to break them in previously. These wear on your heal when new, and seems a bit narrow. I am hoping the shoes behave themselves and contour to my foot, and give my heal a little mercy sooner than later. Also, I loved the color of these shoes on Amazon’s site. Do NOT expect that the color you see is what you get. These are more of a chocolate brown than the attractive copper tone color that is advertised. The soles are also not toffee color, but a shade of brown, I personally found the color I received disappointing since I was looking for a color that was a little different. Bait and switch by Peltz shoes, or a substitute they figure you wouldn’t notice? A lighting problem with the camera work? Just wondering. Also these shoes have a “squeak” factor to them when you walk like some plastic shoes. After thinking about this, three stars might be a little generous..
First of all, I have owned several of this Billfish model over the years, as well as several other Sperry boat shoes. I use them primarily for walking, lots of walking, at the Jersey shore, in Florida and in winter in Canada. Hiking on pavement, sand, gravel trails, you name it. I weigh over 300 pounds and am hard on shoes. I read reviews from other people here and want to makes sure that readers recognize that it is the Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe that I am reviewing here, not the ultralight version, not the classic boat shoe with minimal sole and leather laces.
1) The Fit. I have experimented over the years with different sizes. I have three closets full of shoes, and they are reliably size 11D. Except for the Sperrys. They come small. This is not only my experience, this reflects the experience of many friends who have them. On the other hand the leather uppers stretch with use. For example, I bought from Amazon size “11.5 M”. The sizing information provided by Amazon was confusing, but I think this size marking printed on the tongue corresponded to 11.5D. It fits like a glove. Literally. I have to keep my toenails trimmed if I expect to wear them, and they need a little bit of stretching for my toes, but they will be fine. They are exactly the same size as my last pair, suitable for bare feet. If I have any sock beyond a bare thin one the shoes are uncomfortable – they might get better with time, but right now they are for bare feet only.
So I decided to order another size. Amazon did not have a selection in stock, so I found another site that sold me a pair that was listed as “11.5E”, but “11.5W” is what is printed on the tongue (W means Wide in Sperry speak). They are more comfortable, and will be the ones I will go to when I wear socks. I was tempted to order the 12 D model, thinking that the 12 size in that width might have the width of the 11.5W, but I am glad I did not.
My advice would be to get three different sizes in under the Amazon “try them on” program. That is assuming that they have the size variations you want. They do stretch, but they should not be painful when you first wear them.
2) The Design. I settled on the Billfish 3-Eye because I wanted something more versatile than the classic boat shoe. I like the cushioned sole – when I switch to a classic boat shoe with a quarter inch rubber sole I really miss the pleasant feeling of these. I like the ventilation on the sides, as my feet get hot ( I even like the ventilation in the winter). I like the padded tongue – some shoes can hurt me on the top of the foot after extended walking. The laces seem indestructible – not like the leather laces on the classic boat shoes that look great but are always untying or breaking. As far as “arch support” goes, my feet are fairly flat, and I don’t find shoes that give arch support so comfortable. I do a lot of walking in them and they are comfortable for me. Probably the support they give is minimal, but beyond the nonexistent support of the classic Sperry boat shoe.
3) Quality. The shoes I bought through Amazon are made in the Dominican Republic, the ones I bought elsewhere are made in Vietnam. The construction is the same, although the Dominican ones have a very slight color variation in portions of the leather – only can see it close up in good light. These shoes have the “glued on” soles, not the sewn on soles of the classic boat shoe. Some reviewers have said that the soles separated from the uppers early on. I have had shoes that have done that, but never with any of the Sperry Billfish I have owned and used over the years. In fact they have held up extremely well – by held up, I mean I have worn them until the material in the heel area has worn away, exposing the foot bed, and then eventually that wearing through and exposing my heel to the payment. I walk a lot and am hard on shoes. Sometimes if I am lazy I will knock down the backs and wear them as slippers to go out and get the mail – easy to slip on, uncomfortable, but the shoes survive without a sign of distress.
So in conclusion, make sure this is the model you want, choose the right size for you, and you will not be disappointed. If it falls apart unexpectedly (something that has never happened to me with the Billfish) complain often and hard, even if it is beyond any return period. That is the only way companies can learn if something they are using or doing has to be improved.
*** UPDATE ***
I added a third picture below, of the third replacement pair of shoes, 16 months after date of purchase. As you can plainly see, you’re not going to get more than a year, at best, out of these shoes. I am really disappointed, mostly because I love the style.
– – – – – – – – – – –
This is a really good looking shoe. This is why I didn’t rate 1/5 stars.
However, this is the SECOND pair of shoes with the SAME EXACT problem. One picture below is the first shoe and the next photo is the replacement pair of shoes.
There is a serious manufacturing error with this specific shoe. I would stay away unless they decide to fix their manufacturing errors. If they fix the issue, I think its a comfortable shoe with a great style. But right now, the shoes don’t stay intact for longer than a week.
Got these a few days ago. I have another pair of these in another color, ordered from Z A P P O S, so I know there’s no funny business going on with those. The minute these showed up, I opened them up and tried them on. They felt…. weird. Couldn’t figure out why, since I love my other pair so much. Tried one of the “old” ones on (just got those a month ago, by the way) with one of the new ones, and it was like night and day as far as comfort. The new ones were tight (not just because they were new), and felt cheaply manufactured, even though they’re supposed to be the same exact shoe, right?
That warranted a closer inspection, comparing the “old” pair I had (again, which I just got a month ago) with the brand new pair. Long story somewhat short: The stitching was off, the imprint on the Sperry label was slightly off, the label itself was sewn on crooked, and there were a few other things as well. I’m guessing these are fakes, and I’d bet my next paycheck on it. It’s either that, or Sperry’s quality control has completely fallen off the wagon in the last month or so. I’m going with fake. To be fair: they are GOOD fake shoes in the sense that they almost fooled me, but not quite. I purchased them through Amazon, supplied by Peltz shoes.
BUYER BEWARE – you might want to look elsewhere. If you can get the real deal, they’re amazing shoes. The fake ones… not so much. These went back immediately today.
Capt. Dave –
Sperry used to be the go to for boat shoes. Now they make cheap crap.
This was to replace my 7 year old Bill Fish that wore like iron… everyday, in the summer.. on the boat.
The new version of these has crappy leather, cheap laces, and the fit is all messed up (narrow with pointy toes). These used to be functional boat shoes. The new version is even missing the trademark sipping on the treads. Dangerous on a boat without.
So if you are a pant pegging, IPA sipping, skinny jean wearing hipster… these are your boat shoes.
If you are looking for functional boat shoes that will last, and are actually in use for a boat… Time to find a new shoe.