Alternative to Boat Shoes, Part II

Almost three years ago, I wrote my first style advice article for a budding personal blog where I can share my sartorial knowledge on anything tradly and preppy. I hope my enduring compass has steered you into the right course, navigating the turbulent seas of passing fads and sailing on to timeless waters. And in that spirit, I’ll revisit that inaugural article now with another proposition for your shoe game.

I don’t stray too far from the genesis. Leave it to Grandpa Bean for giving us some of the most fundamental of preppy footwear. The Blucher Moccasin from the past article that has been keeping toes warm since 1936. The Bean Boot (“Duck Boot”) that has kept trudging through the field easy since 1912. And lastly, the Blucher’s sister, also introduced in 1936: the Camp Moccasin.

On first glance, these Native American inspired loafers look much like a Boat Shoe. Both have 360 degree lacing and a low profile. However, boat shoes have a “siped” sole made for wet surfaces that act like a car tire (water is allowed to seep in the tread in order to keep the shoe in contact with the slippery surface) as well as a blucher construction, which are those two “flaps” at both sides of the top plug that are pulled together by the lacing for better fit.

Camp mocs on the other hand are more of a traditional loafer with lace threading through the top plug. As such, a tighter fit may be best since there isn’t much leeway for lace adjusting. Camp mocs also have the camp sole made for dry, loose surface (namesake via camp grounds) allowed by the large indentation at the bottom. These may also be seen on blucher mocs.

The Blucher and Camp Mocs came back into style shortly after Boat Shoes became cool again, with the camp mocs seen on the runways in full force in the past two years. Christian from Ivy Style proclaimed last Fall as the “Season of the Camp Moc” and was highlighted by GQ too. Not that I’m late to the party or anything, it’s just that I hadn’t gotten a pair to review until now! 🙂

The Rancourt Company Gilman is the best value for an American made, chromexcel leather Camp Moc at only (only, huh?) $227. Quoddy calls theirs the Canoe Shoe and starts at $245 but has more color variations. Oak Street Bootmakers clocks in at $262 regularly priced. Of course, there is no shame in going with the original LLBean but much like the Blucher Moc, it leaves the owner wanting with cheap construction and foreign sourced materials. Still, not terrible for a budget at $79 or lower when on sale.

I went with Rancourt’s camp moc and I could not be any happier. The steady price convinced me it was worth it if the shoe lasts me for the next few decades, as it should. The shoes can be re-soled. The rich horween aroma is delicious, and the leather is extremely supple that requires no breaking in. I like the look of the classic brown with the tan leather laces and they should age and develop a patina gracefully compared to other colors. Plus, if you already have the blucher moc in tan saddle, and boat shoes in classic Authentic Original brown as I do, then a shade in between offers more variety.

As was the purpose of my recommending the blucher from the first article, it’s nice to break away from the monotony of fratty Sperries you’ll see everywhere on campus. Some guys practically live in them.

It’s always funny seeing the young bloods in blue blazer, chinos, and broken-in boat shoes they’ve had since high school that are better replaced by a hard sole for those dressier occasions. The low tongue makes camp mocs look as casualfied preppy as boat shoes, but can be worn year round whereas the boat shoe is more of a warm weather rotation.

I do like keeping to the camp shoe’s tradition and plan on keeping it a predominantly cold weather shoe, as I love the way it breaks with cuffed chinos (compared to the Blucher’s mid height). Although I can certainly put my Sperries on vacation from time to time. So if you are scheduling your casual loafer collection, it’ll go something like this: Boat shoes in the warm months. Bluchers in the cold. Camp mocs in the Fall and Winter with summer appearances (worn barefoot, naturally). Bonus question: Bean Boots? Mid and high profile in the cold, preferably with crisp snow on the ground. Bean Boot Mocs all year but worn barefoot in the Spring and Summer rains.

I look forward to the impending frigid temperatures with a Barbour, tartan OCBD, shetland sweater, corduroy pants, thick fair isle socks and my new mocs. Hope it makes Grandpa Bean proud.