Offering excellent all-conditions thermal protection from cold water, plus brilliant grip, a high collar, sole support and serious underfoot cover to prevent puncture injuries and scrapes, the Edge Boots from Gill Marine are a versatile form of footwear for all manner of water-based adventures.
Excellent sole and upper foot protection
Warm all year round
Very secure fit
Good foot support
Crazy long laces
Too hot in summer
Tricky to get off
Materials not recycled or eco-friendly
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Gill Marine Edge Boots: first impressions
Perfect for all kinds of paddle, boat and board sports, from sea- and whitewater kayaking and canoe touring, to sailing, standup paddleboarding and surfing, Gill Marine Edge Boots are a very versatile water shoe – certainly one of the best water shoes around.
• List price: $95 (US) / £76 (UK)
• Gender specificity: Unisex
• Weight (per shoe, men’s size 11): 620g / 22oz
• Materials: Neoprene (90%) & nylon (10%)
• Colors: Black with red laces
• Compatibility: Ideal for coasteering, canyoning, gorge scrambling, kayaking, SUPing and other aquatic board sports in chilly conditions, plus all kinds of boating activities
Made almost entirely from 4mm-thick neoprene, these booties are flexible but tough, and they are warm enough to keep your feet comfortable all year round.
The protection and grip offered by the sturdy outsoles is superb, and beyond beaches, boats and boards they are also ideal for outdoor activities such as coasteering, canyoning, gorge scrambling and other occasions when you might be considering water shoes vs water socks?
Extending right up and over the ankle to the lower shin, the Edge Boot shields your entire foot from knocks and scrapes from sharp rocks and other obstacles. With reinforced heel, toe and bridge support built into the sole, they’re comfortable as well as protective.
The boots are secured and tightened with a dual system of laces and a wide wraparound band with Velcro fasteners – which certainly works, but seems a little over-the-top, especially as the laces are ridiculously long and end up tied in huge hoops (but you can tuck them under the Velcro band).
Overall, though, these boots are great, and while they are a fairly pricey investment, the excellent construction quality means they should last for quite a few years, even if you subject them to some serious salty shenanigans.
Gill Marine Edge Boots: on the water
I tested the Gill Marine Edge Boots in a wide range of wet scenarios, in fresh and saltwater, from standup paddleboarding on a lake in London during a frigid dawn in the middle of winter, to sea rowing in Cornwall – with lots of off-season general beach use in between.
Even in the cruelest, coldest conditions, I found the Marine Edge Boots to be extremely warm, with the 4mm neoprene upper construction providing excellent thermal protection from cold water and chilly winds.
This protection works on two levels. If you only venture into the water to just above ankle depth – while launching a boat or board, or exploring the intertidal zone of a coastline – then the tall height and seam-sealed waterproof design of the boots means you stay dry and remain completely insulated from the chill of the water. The wraparound band at the top of the boot enables you to get a really tight seal, which stops much water seeping in during quick dunks.
If the pursuit you’re engaged in involves prolonged submersion past shin level, then some water will inevitably work its way in. When this happens, however, your body heat warms the water trapped in the boot next to your skin – just like a wetsuit – which then stays at an ambient temperature for the duration of the activity. This works well for water-based sports such as SUPing, kitesurfing, sit-on-top kayaking and surfing, when you’re regularly dipping your feet and legs into the water, but some boaters and sit-inside kayakers might prefer a shoe that drains.
As I experienced during a late November SUPing session on a London lake, in really cold conditions, the Marine Edge Boots can be paired with a drysuit to supply excellent all-round cover to keep the cold at bay, and allow you to comfortably enjoy the adventure.
The underfoot protection supplied by the hardwearing outsole is absolutely superb on these boots, and I have really enjoyed wearing them in a whole range of settings, from messing around on pebbly beaches to climbing rough and jagged rocks while coasteering and canyoning.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.