Grundéns jumped into making a fishing deck boot in 2017 with one of the company’s foundational philosophies in mind. From the mindset of a fisherman, they approach a product and ask if they can improve on the prevailing market.

“If we can’t make it better, we don’t make it,” said Grundéns CEO Dave Mellon. But with footwear, they felt they were up to the challenge. They got to work and, after some stumbles out of the gates, Grundéns’ footwear line has now grown to 13 models, ranging from flip-flops to steel-toed 15-inch deck boots and everything in between.

Meanwhile, the company’s footwear department has also grown exponentially from one to seven designers, with veterans from Nike, Adidas, North Face, DC Shoes, and other major footwear companies joining the crew. According to Mellon, footwear sales have exploded to the tune of 95 percent growth year-on-year for the past few years, with no sign of slowing down.

“I think the number-one reason we got into this was fishermen requests, as well as requests from retail partners. And then we had a group of passionate commercial fishermen who worked on the project and tried to figure out how they could make a better boot,” Mellon said.

As Mellon put it, Grundéns “thought they could make a comfortable boot that was light and would last a long time,” and the company has done just that. Grundéns approaches all their footwear with the concept that fishermen are athletes, and their boots should reflect that. The result is a more supportive, built-out outsole that sustains the feet through long, active shifts.

“Commercial fishermen need to able to move around, to be comfortable, and not worry about their feet. Our number one feedback from users is how much they love the comfort,” Mellon said.

The durability is not a mistake either. The 15-inch DeckBoss boots are made with an injection mold process, which eliminates the danger of delamination that is associated with boots assembled by gluing separately manufactured components. The 5- and 12-inch boots are vulcanized. 

Fishermen have been slow to pick up on it, but the DeckBoss line in its present iteration is as good or better than anything on the market. While it will not fit everyone’s foot — in particular very wide feet may find a better match elsewhere — the combination of durability and comfort is unmatched. The only detractor is the higher profile that makes the boot a bit clunky, somewhat prone to rollover, and complicates doffing bibs without taking the boots off. And Grundéns seems to be on course to fix all that.

“For the next generation, we’ve been playing with the optimum height for the outsole so you have that cushioning but don’t feel like you’re going to roll over,” Mellon said.

Grundéns may already have the answer in house with the 12-inch DeckBoss boot, which has a lower profile but maintains the hallmark comfortable, athletic feel.

Mellon said fishermen should keep an eye peeled for a new 15-inch version that has the 12-inch DeckBoss outsole, a boot Grundéns hopes will strike the right balance on deck and provoke a wholesale conversion.

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Brian Hagenbuch is National Fisherman's products editor, a contributing editor to SeafoodSource and a Bristol Bay fisherman. He is based in Seattle.

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