Your regularly scheduled news cycle was likely interrupted by Hurricane Irma reports as the storm headed for the mainland in September 2017. While the wind picked up and water started to accumulate, we were scurrying around making preparations for the properties we manage as well as our own homes. We were spared the brunt of the destruction but there was still plenty of work after landfall. Danger abounds when you’re on a roof, ladder, or around jagged edges and everything is slippery. And there’s nothing that saps productivity like working when you’re wet. The right footwear for the job is imperative – so what better boot to try out than one made for some of the toughest wet-weather conditions on Earth: Grundens Deck-Boss Boot.
Editor’s Note: Check out our best work boots review article for our favorite products for all applications.
Grundens is renowned in the offshore fishing industry for its products’ ability to keep the wearer warm and dry. You might remember our review of Grundens Herkules Bib Pant and Ragnar Jacket. We’re not in the fishing industry, but we do run a construction, property maintenance, and landscape design company where we work in the rain, ponds, and creeks! The company’s workwear is top-notch but, until now, it didn’t offer footwear to match.
Grundens Deck-Boss Boot has been making some inroads among offshore fishermen and longshoremen in Alaska since its introduction in March after two years of development. The XtraTuf boot had been the benchmark footwear – even earning nicknames like Sitka Sneakers – but a few years ago the company changed hands and, in the Pros estimation, degraded the quality. In the opposite corner of the country, in contrast, Grundens Deck-Boss Boot won the 2017 Miami Boat Show innovation award. So what’s special about this boot? We were sure a hurricane and its aftermath would reveal the answer.
Material, Toe, and Band
The Grundens upper is an injection-molded synthetic rubber boot. It feels quite durable but it’s also pliable enough to be folded down toward the ankle when you don’t require the full height. The toe cap is rigid, but it’s not a safety boot. You’ll notice a 1-inch wide band around the shaft that at first looks like decoration. But it’s actually a removable silicone band that either holds the pant near the knee, out of the muck, or holds the pant tightly around the boot ankle.
Bilge Cavities and Heel Channels
The boot’s innovative strength lies in the two-piece Dry Deck insole. The upper deck is perforated to allow water to flow down into the bilge cavities created by pilings on the bottom of the insole. Scuppers around the insole’s perimeter also allow water to drain into the bilge cavities. By turning the boots upside down, the water evacuates the bilge cavities through the heel channels. So if water does enter through the top of the boot, your foot won’t soak it in, and it can be easily emptied. It’s really cool.
All the waterproofing and drainage in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans if a boot has poor traction. In some cases, it could be a matter of life and death. Grundens has patented its own traction it calls Herkules Grip designed to “stick” to wet surfaces.
Fit and Comfort
I am particularly picky about my boots so I was apprehensive to even try out another kind! So imagine my surprise when I put on the Grundens Deck-Boss Boot (wearing a regular sock) and found them to fit perfectly. There’s very slight stretch that, coupled with the synthetic rubber material, hold my feet and ankle just right. Loose boots can quickly cause discomfort but the Grundéns hold firmly without being too tight.
There’s a gentle arch in the insole that makes the boot ergonomically superior to my typical boot. In fact, there were several days during this review when I put the boots on in the morning for a particular job and wore them all day without thinking another moment about it. That’s unusual as I would typically take off boots like this and put on something more conducive to the job site.
Don’t Tread on Me
It was late summer/early fall in Florida and the humidity was still clinging to each day. Yet at the end of the long days, my feet weren’t particularly sweaty or slimy when I took the boots off. In the days before Hurricane Irma, I wore the boots in every type of condition: I was in the mud, on roofs, on ladders, and more. I wore them like they were true construction work boots and not just for wet conditions. The traction is remarkable. I really love wearing them. Thanks to the Herkules Grup, I felt stable and secure on my feet.
Start a Band
The silicone bands are an ingenious idea. I used them with the Grundens bib pants during the hurricane and they worked perfectly to keep the floppy leg tight around the boot ankle. But I used the bands to hold the pant leg near my knee – and out of the muck – when I was wearing normal workwear. One job had us on rescue duty for a tree that had blown over in the hurricane. It hadn’t uprooted, but was quite loose and needed backfilling.
There was an abundance of soil for the job sitting just below its retaining wall, so I jumped into the creek and dug the soil and Myakka from the embankment. I had secure footing on the slippery, off-camber embankment while the silicone bands held my clothing out of harm’s way. When I finished, my feet were completely dry. If only every tool or piece of apparel worked as effectively the Grundens Deck-Boss Boot!
Update – 7/16/2018
There isn’t a ton different between the old and new Grundens Deck-Boss boot. What you’ll recognize at first glance is a little difference in the color scheme. The gray straps are now orange and the orange midsole and outsole are now gray.
It’s the improvements you can’t necessarily see that are more important, though. There have been a number of complaints about not having enough traction and elements of the boot coming apart more quickly than you expect.
As a job site boot, we haven’t had that kind of experience, but there’s a big difference between working in mud and on a boat deck. Improvement on the materials side of things gives you an upgrade in traction. If you put the new boot on one foot and the old one on the other, you’ll notice the better traction.
On the durability end, I don’t have long enough in them to make a call on how much better the performance is there. However, from an initial quality standpoint, there aren’t any issues so far.
A Quick Update on Fit: The boots look a little larger than they actually are – you can thank the extra material in the toe cap for that. They’re pretty much dead on for fit with just enough room in the front and sides to wear an extra thick sock in colder climates. What you need to be aware of is that the front of the boot curves in and may make the toebox uncomfortable if you don’t have a little wiggle room. Since they only come in whole sizes, go up a size if you’re in doubt.Kenny Koehler, Managing Editor
The Bottom Line
You may not be in the offshore fishing industry, but if you need exceptional traction and dry feet in wet conditions, you don’t need to look any further than Grundens Deck-Boss Boot. The innovative bilge system and heel channel keep the foot dry and comfortable – even after a full day’s work.
You can pair these boots with other Grundens dry weather gear or wear them alone (well, you know what I mean). Either way, they are durable, ergonomically sound, and exceptionally functional. Here’s to dry feet and sure footing!
Grundens Deck-Boss Boot Features
- Two-piece insole
- Perforated upper deck
- Bilge cavities trap water
- Heel channels allow easy water removal
- Rigid toe cap
- Injection molded upper
- Patented Herkules Grip traction
- Silicone band
Grundens Deck-Boss Boot Specifications
- Item Number: 15DB
- Synthetic Rubber Technology
- Sizes: Men’s 3-14, Women’s 5-12 (Whole Sizes Only)
- Prices: $99 – $129