In our experience, besides gloves, there are no other items of personal watercraft riding gear that wear out faster than riding boots. Be it the use of inferior materials, poor molding or stitching, or a combination thereof, riding boots are one of the hottest contested items on a consistent rider’s list of products that seemingly never hold up. In our gear closet, we’ve got four pairs of riding boots (as well as some slip-on booties), each of which hailing from a different manufacturer: Slippery, Jetpilot, Jobe and now Jettribe.
While we vowed new to perform a one-on-one comparison of personal watercraft, we want to bend our rule and illustrate a little how the 2016 Jettribe GRB 2.0 Race Boot stacks up against the above brand’s boots that have also been reviewed on The Watercraft Journal previously. It’s a little unprecedented, but as we’ve discovered, there’s enough difference between each brand that its worth noting where the new Jettribe boot shines and where it might gain from a little positive influence.
First, it’s important to mark on how superior the design, construction and materials used on the GRB 2.0 Race Boot are to its predecessor. Jettribe poured a lot of effort into designing a rubber sole that has been purposely molded with three raised points of contact – the ball of the foot, the arch, and the heel. All of this has been done to accommodate the aggressive rider and/or racer who switches through different standing and sitting positions, and shifting weight from one foot to the other.
This is illustrated in a pre-curved sole with a strong arch support that also wraps around the sides and toes to limit lateral side-to-side movement. The toe and heel are heavily protected by the rubberized, nodular sole. That knobby rubber acts to grip the ends of the foot in the tray (or foot holds if so equipped) for maximum grip when needed. Thick stitching circumvents the sole, sewing it all the way around the boot to prevent separation; the boot itself being made from neoprene.
Gone are the traditional laces that are prone to rot and snap, eyelets that corrode and tear, and hooks that break off. In their place is a zippered entry running half-way up the boot for slipping in and out of easily, with two large, adjustable Velcro straps snugging one’s foot inside. As Jettribe notes, their boots run a half of a size too big on purpose, encouraging riders to purchase their neoprene socks to wear with these boots. Initially, we ignored this advice and later found wisdom in the purchase of their Gator Lycra socks.
Both Slippery and Jetpilot boots come with removable neoprene socks as part of the boot purchase. For those looking to pinch their pennies and forego the sock purchase, they’ll find the Velcro straps don’t tighten enough without them. Yet, with them on, the GRB 2.0 is snug and comfortable – in fact, the most comfortable boots we’ve evaluated thus far at The Watercraft Journal. And, as noted by Jettribe themselves, the neoprene boots are cut extra high to keep out rocks and gravel. The long Lycra heavily assist with that.
Although Jettribe includes nine mesh flow-through panels for drainage, there are no drain holes in the sole like you’ll find with all other competitor’s boots. Jettribe says this is intentional, but as water filled our boots and starts to weigh them down, we argue that at least one or two drains do serve a purpose. Yet, the positives heavily outweigh any complaints. The zipper is thick and comes pre-waxed (and with a stick of surfer wetsuit zipper wax), and the straps are heavy duty and attach firmly. Ankle and heel support is solid, and the high arch is comfortable.
Again, we need to reiterate: these are the most comfortable riding boots we’ve tested on The Watercraft Journal to date – but only when wearing a pair of neoprene (or Lycra) socks. Without them is a totally different experience. Priced at $98.99, the 2016 Jettribe GRB 2.0 Race Boots are also the most expensive boots we’ve tested, almost by 40-percent over some. Thus far, the GRB 2.0 boots have held up great, but we’ll need a few more months of prime riding season to really rack up the mileage before evaluating whether they’re worth the extra duckets or not, but our feet are happy with ’em, and that’s what matters most.