Who doesn’t like to go barefoot on a boat? After all, it’s relaxing and comfortable. But the problem when going barefoot is that your feet are more exposed to injuries and burns, which you don’t want. So to keep your feet in good shape, it would be better to wear shoes but not just any. You need a good pair of boating footwear that is comfortable, stable, grippy, waterproof, and dries quickly.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to choosing a pair of shoes, I always look for the best quality, even though I have to pay a higher price. At least, I am sure that I don’t just throw money out the window, and I get what I paid for.
However, there are several things to consider when choosing a good pair of boating footwear, and it’s not always easy to find the ones that correspond to your needs. Here is a list of the 12 best boat shoes for sailing in 2023 to help you make the best decision!
Post Updated: 15 January 2023
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1. Keen Newport Boating Sandals
There is no doubt that you’ll feel great the moment you’ll put these sandals on your feet! They are so comfy that you could find yourself still wearing them in the winter.
Whether it is for sailing, hiking, biking, fishing, walking, or working, the Keen men’s H2 sandal will always make your feet happy!
These shoes provide comfort and are designed to protect feet against injuries. There are many sorts of boating sandals out there, but Keen did an excellent job by including all the characteristics sailors would have ever dreamed of.
Average Rank: 4.7 out of 5
- Excellent for sailing trips, water sports, and all kinds of outdoor activities
- The sole provides exceptional traction on wet surfaces.
- Easy to slip on and off
- Easy to go from land to water and vice-versa
- The closed-toe design helps prevents feet injuries
- Pebble and sand can get in the sandals easily.
- They are more pricey than regular sandals, but they are worth every penny!
- The nylon dries quicker than the ladder version.
The Newport H2 is so strong that you can look forward to wearing them many years from the moment you open the box!
2. Sperry Men’s Bahama Ii Boat Shoe
These high-end boat shoes have a nice hand-sewn construction with Rawhide lace. It’s a strong leather made from dairy cows, making them very souple and durable.
The eyelets on these shoes are rustproof, so even if they get in contact with salt water, they won’t get any corrosion stains. They are also machine washable, which simplifies life—no need to clean them by hand, although they are very easy to clean and dry fast.
These have a non-marking rubber outsole with molded wave-sipping technology. So you can be sure these will keep your feet stable on the deck or other surfaces. Plus, they don’t leave any marks.
Average Rank: 4.6 out of 5
- Grip exceptionally well
- Machine washable
- Some users said that they rubbed against the heel.
- Several reviewers reported that they fit a half size too big.
The Sperry Bahama Ii fits great. It’s lightweight and breathable.
As you can see by the rating, people love these boat shoes. They felt like walking around on bare feet so much that they were comfortable.
On top of that, they are stylish and durable, and if you take care of them well, they will last for years.
3. Columbia Men’s Bahama Boat Shoe
If you often go fishing, kayaking, boating, or hiking, having a great pair of water shoes designed for both function and comfort is what you may be looking for.
The Columbia Bahamas shoes are waterproof, stain-resistant, and have a full-grain leather and canvas construction, making them breathable, lightweight, and comfortable to wear all day. The insole is mesh and cushiony, providing excellent support for walking around towns, islands, and on the beach.
Plus, the insole is removable, which is practical if you need to replace it with orthotics or wash it separately. Not to mention, the mesh has tiny ventilated holes that allow exceptional ventilation. No doubt that these shoes will keep your feet cool all day in the summer—the sole features holes on the sides to enable the water to escape. According to many reviewers, they drain water sand, and pebbles nicely.
The Columbia Bahama is a slip-on shoe; thanks to the strap at the back, you can put them on and off quickly without effort. Another great feature is the Omni-Grip outsole; it’s a multi-terrain traction system built into the rubber outsole to maximize grip on wet surfaces. These come in multiple colors and sizes, giving you lots of choices.
Average Rank: 4.6 out of 5
- Drain water, sand, and pebbles nicely
- A few customers reported that they run a little large.
- Several buyers said the seams came apart after a few days of wearing them.
- Some users wished the shoes were more ventilated.
The Columbia Bahamas is a stylish slip-on shoe that is comfortable and keeps feet aerated all day. Plus, they dry super fast and are very easy to wash. In short, the perfect pair of water shoes for boating or enjoying watersports in the summer.
4. Sperry Top-Sider Escape Bungee
There are so many good things to say about the Sperry Top-Sider Escape Bungee.
Light, airy, comfortable, and stylish are the primary qualities that this fantastic pair of boat shoes provide!
Not only you’ll be able to use them for boating but also for many other activities without feeling you have shoes on.
Average Rank: 3.9 out of 5
- The footbed is removable.
- They provide great traction on a wet fiberglass deck.
- These boat shoes absorb shock, preventing back and foot pain thanks to their anti-shock and vibration technology.
- Ultra quick drying
- Ultra Lightweight
- Ultra soft
- The soles deteriorate quickly if wearing them often.
They look good. They are comfortable and ultra-lightweight. In other words, these are perfect for boating and outdoor activities. What more can you ask for?
5. Sperry Sea Kite Sports Boat Shoe
Whether to spend time on the water, look great on any occasion, or practice any sports activities, the Sperry Sea Kite Sports Boat Shoe will always astonish you!
It is a mix of sailing and walking shoes that are extremely comfortable to wear with or without socks!
Average Rank: 4.5 out of 5
- Provide more support than any other regular Sperry shoes
- The extra support help maximize protection against irritations to the ankles
- Excellent traction
- Extremely durable
- The removable insole is made of synthetic fabric and not leather
- They are a bit narrow compared to other regular shoes, but after wearing them for a few days, they stretch out.
The Sea Kite is an all-in-one and exceptional shoe at a great price!
6. Adidas Climacool Boat Lace
I am sure you’ve already heard of Adidas…who hasn’t:)
This Brand has never really disappointed anyone as far as I know, including me, and continues to surprise me with the new pair of sailing footwear, Adidas Climacool Boat Lace!
These shoes are mainly designed for boating as well as for all kinds of watersports, as they have all the features that sailors need. They drain and dry fast; they grip fantastically, and they are ultra-lightweight!
Average Rank: 4.5 out of 5
- They dry fast
- Nice looking shoes
- The mesh inner sole makes the shoes very comfortable
- The holes in the bottom of the shoes allow the water out easily
- Easy to slip them on and off
- Provide great traction
- Wearing them without socks may irritate the feet.
- Pebbles and sand can get under the insole, which may make them uncomfortable to wear.
- They are not designed to walk on land for extended periods
Overall, it’s a good pair of shoes. These are designed for boating and all sorts of watersports, but I wouldn’t suggest using them for any outdoor activities!
7. Columbia Powerdrain
If you want to spoil your feet, then look no further than the Columbia Powerdrain. These shoes will exceed all your expectations regarding comfort, lightness, and traction! These are excellent for water sports use, but I’ve heard from various people that they use them as well for many onshore activities, and they are very happy with the product.
One of them even said that she wouldn’t have to pack different pairs of shoes as she finds all she needs in the Columbia Powerdrain. She must have saved lots of space in her baggage!
Average Rank: 4.5 out of 5
- The Omni-Freeze ZERO technology allows drains water
- Dry quickly, thanks to the external TPU frame support
- Provide excellent support
- Ultra lightweight
- Easy to slip them on and off
- The insole may come out when wearing them for a while without socks.
- Pebbles and sand may get inside the shoes
- Not designed for walking long distances
The Columbia Powerdrain is an excellent pair of shoes for water sports activities
8. Sperry Top-Sider Men’s ASV Shock Boat Shoe
This is Sperry’s first performance boat shoe with new innovations perfect for days in the water. Athletic-designed footwear with a super lightweight feature that will keep your feet comfortable all day. They have an Adaptive Wave-Siping™, providing awesome traction on wet surfaces. The ASV Technology reduces vibration and shock while walking. The Removable full-length Molded Footbed provides the ultimate comfort for the feet.
Average Rank: 4.2 out of 5
- Its ultra-lightweight design makes it easy to walk with.
- The mesh upper fits snuggly to the feet.
- Perfect for any surface because of the rubber sole
- Easy to wear for its adjustable bungee.
- The heel cushion gives the perfect arch support to your feet.
- Due to its nylon and mesh upper design, the frays go off easily.
- Not the type of shoes that last for years
If you are looking for a boat shoe that is easy to wear, comfortable, and looks stylishly athletic at the same time, Sperry Top-Sider Men’s ASV Shock Light Bungee is for you. However, the nylon/mesh design does not last long as it wears and tears in a few months of continuous use. Thus, not a long-term investment.
9. Irish Setter Lakeside
These are rugged boat shoes that are meant to keep your feet dry and bring you comfort. They feature a Dynamic Spine System intended to reduce fatigue, absorbing the shock on the sole and non-marking rubber sole to keep your balance on any surface. These are rugged distressed shoes that do not only provide support but flexibility too.
Average Rank: 4.2 out of 5
- More than a boat shoe, it can be worn for business casual attire, with or without socks.
- It has a superior grip on most surfaces.
- Easy to wear as it is a slip-on.
- Durability. It can stand the test of time.
- Sturdy and well-constructed
- Not available in another color.
- Not suitable for long walking or running
This is a versatile boat shoe that is not limited to fishing and sailing, a perfect investment for any man in their wardrobe. The design, although limited in color, gives off an overall rugged look without the discomfort as the shoe keeps you safe, dry, and comfortable at the same time.
10. Skechers Performance Women’s Go Step-Seashore Boating Shoe
Made of 100% Textile with Rubber Soles to keep your balance and grip on any surface. The Skechers GoImpulse Sensor Technology provides flexibility to the sole. It has Goga Max insole. A lightweight shoe with cushion memory for maximum comfort.
Average Rank: 4.7 out of 5
- The design is classically stylish and comfortable. You can wear them anywhere.
- The slip-on feature makes it easy to wear.
- Durable, as seen on the stitches on the shoes.
- Super lightweight
- You can choose from leather to canvas style.
- No built arch support
- Not advisable for people who use orthotics
The Skechers Performance Boat Shoes are perfect for the adventurous office worker who wants to use them in the office and the great outdoors. However, they might not suit people with foot problems who require the use of orthotics.
11. Skechers Performance Women’s On-The-Go Flagship Slip-On Boat Shoe
The On-The-Go Flagship Slip-On is made of perforated synthetic upper material with a slip-on lace-up design. Moc toe. The Goga Mat™ technology and Resalyte™ Midsole provide comfort on the sole due to its lightweight features. Flexible outsole. It has a soft fabric lining and lightweight and responsive cushioning.
Average Rank: 4.6 out of 5
- It has Arch support better than other shoes.
- Lightweight and feels like you are walking on clouds.
- Memory foam that gives ultimate comfort
- Perfect for outdoor adventures like mud fishing, trails, and pavement walking
- Cost cheaper than the regular Skechers
- Some shoes were reported to have odor problems
- Run a bit wide on the heel
Skechers Performance Women’s On-The-Go Flagship Slip-On Boat Shoe is perfect for stylish women who want to keep using the same shoe indoors and outdoors. Odor problems can be easily fixed with footpowder, so overall, this is a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Be classy and chic while sailing.
12. ALEADER Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Aleader has drainage ports to drain water. These shoes are super light and dry in no time. They have rubber pods for additional traction offering foot performance for water sports or water aerobics activities. FluidFlow Technology. The upper mesh material provides excellent drainage through the small holes and insole, allowing quick drying. These boat shoes allow exceptional airflow, keeping your feet cool in the summer. Great rubber outsole and Solyte midsole, enhancing comfort and traction.
Average Rank: 4.4 out of 5
- The holes in the bottom drain out water thoroughly
- They dried out quickly.
- Comfortable due to the ComforDry sock liner and arch support.
- Provides excellent traction.
- Lightweight and easy to pack.
- The soles collect rocks and debris.
- Getting it wet and sandy provides a scratchy feeling on the feet
Acqua shoes are perfect for any water activities as they drain water and dry easily. However, it does not bring the same comfort as other boat shoes with a thick soles. Recommended for those quick trips at the beach and for water sports such as sailing, but not to be used in pebbly or sandy terrain.
Guide to Choosing the Right Pair of Boat Shoes
Boat shoes or also known as deck shoes and topsiders, are usually made with canvas and leather. But, if you are getting leather boat shoes, get a half-size smaller than the average size. You want your shoes to be snug to your fit, especially if you choose to be sockless. Also, add some allowance for your toes to wiggle in.
The boat shoes are a classic piece in any man’s wardrobe that can be worn day and night. It comes in canvas and leather. However, leather gives you the vintage preppy vibe that is a unique feature of boat shoes. Leathers are also known to be durable and dressier than canvas. As this is worn for sailing, waterproof materials are preferred.
The “classic pull-up leather” called Horween Chromexcel, or CXL, is the preferred leather type known for its elasticity and softness. Compared to other types of leather, Chromexcel breaks in faster, thus, more comfortable for the feet.
The sole non-slip feature of boat shoes is what led to its inception when Paul Sperry, a former Navy Sailor, tried to find a way to avoid skidding in his boat. He experimented with several materials, such as black rubber soles. It was until he noticed his dog Prince running over icy water without sliding that he had his a-ha moment. This led to the conception of the herringbone pattern of sipes (slits) in 1923. This siping pattern, initially created by cutting slits on the rubber sole, provides better traction on wet surfaces.
From the black rubber soles come the white sole with herringbone pattern and brown color that gave the classic boat shoe look.
Leather is treated with oil to become water-repellant and stainproof. The shoe is handsewn and has 360-degree lacing running through 2-3 eyelets to tighten the shoes. The 360-degree profile allows you to cinch the laces to tighten the shoe.
Once broken in, boat shoes are very comfortable on the feet, which is why it is often worn sockless. To break in your boat shoe, allow a week to a month for the shoe to stretch out a bit to widen. The temporary discomfort will pay off with a shoe that will snuggle to your feet perfectly.
Tip: Do not use the shoe for long-distance travel during the 1st few days, as this will hurt your feet. Best to use it in the afternoon, walking around your house, or for short walks. Remember, it only loosens the width but not the length.
As for how it was invented initially, the white rubber sole does not leave any mark on boat decks. This feature is very important for sailors. After all, no one would want to leave marks on a beautiful teak deck or fiberglass boat.
From a white-colored sole, it has evolved into different colors, mostly representative of the summer colors. Despite the change of color, the non-marking feature is still kept for boat sailing purposes.
Where to Buy Boat Shoes for Sailing?
The boat shoes being a staple in men’s and even women’s wardrobe has broken in the international fashion world. Here are some of the shops in America where you can buy boat shoes. Quoddy MTO, Stockists, Rancourt Shop, Russell Moccasin Co, Oak Street Shop, Sperry Made in Maine, Orvis, Redwing Germany, Skechers, and of course, Amazon.
With the increasing popularity of online shopping, boat shoes are available on different e-commerce sites. Be aware, though, of imitations that could leave a bad experience. Make sure to make use of the guides listed earlier for the authentic boat shoe purchase.
Can I Wear Socks With Boat Shoes?
Going sockless is how boat shoes are traditionally worn. Once originally for sailing, wearing socks with boat shoes paired with shorts and a polo shirt will give you a fashion run. For those people with sweaty feet, you can use cotton inserts for comfort.
There is no absolute rule in using socks. Just because it was a tradition, it doesn’t mean there is no way around it. For those who find discomfort in being sockless, there are what you call no-show or foot socks that can be worn with the shoes. A dark hose is ideal for such an occasion. But for the majority, going sockless is still the trend for that classic preppy look.
Who Are Boat Shoes for?
Originally, boat shoes are designed for the gentlemen sailors out there ready to conquer the wave on their yachts. Through the years, these slip-on had swept over the fashion world, taking over the coastal areas of the United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, United States, Australia, Argentina, China, Italy, France, and Portugal. From then, it became a fashion trend from outside the decks to the walking streets in everyday fashion ensembles.
Why Wear Boat Shoes?
Today, women and men of all ages are rocking the boat shoes both on and off the deck. It has a classic preppy look that you can wear from morning to night. For that 80s look, you can pair them French tolled jeans for men and a V-neck sweater for women.
For the modern preppy look, pair it up with shorter-length pants and a polo for the men. For the best pair, go for boat shoes and chinos. That is for the smart casual look. Looking for a challenge? Pair it with a semi-formal look by choosing a complementary shoe with your suit.
For that natural look, jeans and boat shoes are the perfect pairs as long as worn in a similar tone. For women, it is more versatile as you can pair them with your dress or trousers with a blouse. You can never go wrong with such an ensemble.
More than fashion, it is very functional and a must-have staple in your wardrobe.
Boat shoes are still in trend these days as long as you stick to the classic look. Or, if you can pull it off with the pastel colors, then that’s great news! Wear it every day or even when traveling. Great for the summer days and even in the cooler weather. You can hop on and off the yacht and still look fantastic in this quintessential classic pair.
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What are your favorite boating shoes? Please, feel free to share your experience in the comment below.
Daniella has been passionate about travel, the sea, and nature for many years. As a child, she frequently traveled throughout the Mediterranean and continued with her journeys throughout her adult life.
Her experiences have created the desire within her to share her love for traveling with other passionate and adventurers who want to discover beautiful horizons and new cultures.