Who doesn’t like to go barefoot on boats? After all, it is 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 that 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. In this article, I have listed the best boat shoes for sailing to help you make the best decision!
1. Keen Newport Boating Sandals
There is no doubt that you’ll feel great at 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 designed to protect feet against injuries. They 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 an 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 help prevents feet injuries
- Pebble and sand can get in the sandals easily.
- They are more pricey than regular sandals but they 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 Top-Sider Escape Bungee
There are so many good things to say about the Sperry Top-Sider Escape Bungee.
Light, airy, comfortable, 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 which is a great advantage
- They provide great traction on wet fiberglass deck
- These boat shoes absorb shock, preventing back and foot pain thanks to its anti-shock and vibration technology.
- Ultra quick drying
- Ultra Lightweight
- Ultra soft
- The sole 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?
3. 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 mixed 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 maximizes protections against irritations to the ankles
- Excellent traction
- Extremely durable
- The removable insole is made of synthetic fabric and not of 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 an exceptional shoe at a great price!
4. 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 continue to surprise 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!
Table of Content
- 5. Columbia Powerdrain
- 6. Sperry Top-Sider Men’s ASV Shock Boat Shoe
- 7. Irish Setter Lakeside
- 8. Skechers Performance Women’s Go Step-Seashore Boating Shoe
- 9. Skechers Performance Women’s On-The-Go Flagship Slip-On Boat Shoe
- 10. ALEADER Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
- Guide to Choosing the Right Pair of Boat Shoes
5. 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 allow 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 for long distances
The Columbia Powerdrain is an excellent pair of shoe for water sports activities
6. 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. And 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 to 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.
7. Irish Setter Lakeside
These are rugged boat shoes that are meant to keep your feet dry and bring you comfort. They Features 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 does 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 for 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.
8. Skechers Performance Women’s Go Step-Seashore Boating Shoe
Made of 100% Textile with Rubber Sole 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 a 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 in the office and the great outdoors. However, they might not suit people with foot problems who require the use of orthotics.
9. 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 slip-on lace-up design. Moc toe. With the Goga Mat™ technology and Resalyte™ Midsole that provides comfort on the sole due to lightweight feature. Flexible outsole. It has a soft fabric lining, 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 the 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 the stylish women who want to keep using the same shoe indoors and outdoors. Odor problems can be easily fixed with foot powder, so overall, this is a staple in every women’s wardrobe. Be classy and chic while sailing.
10. ALEADER Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes
Aleader has drainage ports to drain water with rubber pods for additional traction offering food performance on water sports or water aerobics activities. FluidFlow Technology. The open mesh provides excellent drainage from the mesh to insole allowing quick-drying breathability. Made of fabric, rubber sole and Solyte midsole which makes it ultralight.
Average Rank: 4.4 out of 5
- The holes in the bottom drain out water thoroughly
- They dried out quickly too whenever we were in the sun for a bit.
- Comfortable due to the ComforDry sock liner and arch support making it breathable for the feet.
- Provides traction that can be used for wet/dry surface
- Very lightweight and easy to pack on those short or long trips.
- The soles of the water shoes collect rocks and debris.
- Getting it wet and sandy provides a scratchy feeling on the feet
Acqua shoes are perfect for the water as they can dry easily, however, it does not bring the same comfort such as other boat shoes with a thick sole. Recommended for those quick trips at the beach and forwater 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 shoe and topsider, are usually made with canvas and leather. But, if you are getting a leather boat shoes, get a half size smaller than the average size. You want your shoes to 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 from day to 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 non-slip sole 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 on several materials such as black rubber sole. It was until he noticed his dog Prince running over icy water without sliding that he has 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, that 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 the yacht or boat for sailing. This is a feature that is very important for sailors. Who would want to leave marks on their boats, right?
From 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 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 to forget, Amazon!
With the increasing popularity of online shopping, boat shoes are available on different websites online. Be wary though of imitations that could give leave a bad taste in the mouth. 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 the 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 is 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 in their yacht. Through the years, these slip-ons 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 ensemble.
Why Wear Boat Shoes?
Today, women and men of all ages are rocking the boat shoes both on-and-off deck. It has the 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 V neck sweater for the women.
For the modern preppy look, pair it up with shorter length pants and 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 semi-formal look choosing a complimentary shoe with your suit.
For that natural look, jeans and boat shoes are perfect pair 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 is your favorite boating shoes? Please, feel free to share your experience in the comment below.
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