Look for these critical features that define the best boat shoes on the market, and you’ll find solid footing aboard any vessel!
A classic deck shoe has long been ubiquitous on the yachting scene, at the beach, and for practically any occasion requiring dressed-down casual attire.
From traditional hand-stitched leather topsiders to high-performance technical footwear, today’s best boat shoes have evolved to cover every conceivable need in the marine environment.
Aside from matters of personal style, there are a few traits to look for in any purpose-built deck shoe.
What to look for in the best boat shoes
The two most critical characteristics are a non-marking tread and wet-dry traction. Look for a sole fabricated of rubber or other synthetic material specifically labelled as non-marking.
For traction, the outsole should be properly siped. Simply put, this means a pattern of slits cut into the tread to increase surface area and grip.
The ability to shed moisture is also important – synthetic materials dry faster than even the most water-resistant leather, which can lead to odor problems, so consider how often your feet will get wet.
If you only need traction and comfort on deck with the occasional wave washing over the bulwarks then leather is a great choice, especially in a deck shoe intended for casual wear.
But if you plan to do any wading, such as when launching a boat off a trailer, fast-drying synthetics are a better choice.
Fit is another important consideration. Bear in mind that lace-up shoes will be more adjustable than slip-ons.
For ultimate support, opt for a stout leather upper featuring a padded collar and an insole with substantial arch support.
As a general rule, boat shoes tend to run on the narrow side, so if you’re looking for the best boat shoes for wide feet, carefully study the manufacturer’s size chart.
With these tips in mind, here are some can’t-miss recommendations for the best boat shoes that will fit any budget.
8 of the best boat shoes
Sperry Men’s Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoes
Best boat shoes for men
Men are tough on footwear, and saltwater environments make it important to choose a boating shoe that is up to the challenge.
This design is constructed with leather uppers and integrated mesh panels, offering the perfect blend of durability and fast-drying comfort.
Leather provides support, while perforated panels reduce weight, increase breathability, and help control odor.
The Sperry Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe ticks all the boxes. As the name suggests, this shoe is especially at home on the deck of a big-game fishing boat.
If you plan to spend time on a sailing vessel, you’ll appreciated the waved siping, which is rolled onto the outsole to offer traction at any angle of heel.
This shoe is a little on the heavy side and therefore most suitable to temperate rather than tropical climates.
- Rugged construction for extended abuse.
- Extra support and all-day comfort.
- Classic styling suitable for any casual occasion.
- Some consumers report quality control issues.
- Heavy construction is not as appropriate for extremely warm environments.
Chatham Pippa II G2 boat shoes
Best boat shoes for women
Style and comfort are hallmarks of Chatham deck shoes, and the G2 line is their top-shelf product.
Constructed of water-resistant leather with a siped rubber sole, the Pippa II G2 Women’s Boat Shoe is as functional and durable as it is stylish. Waxed thread prevents rot, and the eyelets are corrosion-resistant.
All G2 shoes feature Chatham’s proprietary Sole Spring technology for cushioning and comfort.
Anti-bacterial insoles make them a joy to wear, year after year. Because the G2 is Chatham’s premium line, all models come with a 2-year guarantee. This is a great shoe from “A Great British Company”.
- A superior blend of quality and style.
- Well-cushioned footbed.
- Anti-bacterial materials.
- A high-end shoe with a high-end price.
- Leather shoes are not as fast-drying as a synthetic ones.
Sperry Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoes
Best classic boat shoe
American inventor Paul A. Sperry introduced the world’s first boating shoe in 1935. Originally doing business as Sperry Top-Sider, the Sperry brand is now synonymous with yachting style and performance.
Although the company’s first shoe sported a canvas upper, Sperry’s Authentic Original 2-Eye boat shoe retains the classic look of the original in water-resistant leather.
This hand-stitched moccasin features leather laces in a slotted collar for a snug fit under the ankle bones.
Rust-resistant eyelets mean years of reliable performance in corrosive environments. The Authentic Original is available for men and women in narrow through extra-wide widths (depending on size and style).
- Traditional looks in a time-tested design.
- Lightweight for all-day comfort.
- Full-grain leather is more durable than many synthetics uppers.
- Versatile footwear on and off the water.
- Moderately expensive.
- Not as fast-drying as synthetic uppers.
Skechers Go Walk Lite
Best boat shoes on a budget (women)
Not every boat shoe has to cost a fortune. If you are looking for an affordable shoe that will perform light duties on deck but is just as suitable for everyday use, here are two brands to fit the bill.
For women, the highly rated Skechers Go Walk Lite is a bona fide boat shoe with a sneaker fit and yachty style.
The canvas-and-leather upper offers a great combination of moisture-wicking and support over a well-cushioned footbed.
A high instep gives firm arch support, and as the name suggests, the Go Walk Lite is a great choice to pack for ultralight travel.
- A shoe with both style and substance.
- Very competitive price point.
- High online consumer rating.
- Not siped like a traditional boat shoe.
- Lightly constructed
World Wide Sportsman Nantucket III
Best boat shoes on a budget (men)
Men looking for value in a boat shoe should consider the World Wide Sportsman Nantucket III.
It is a convenient slip-on constructed of soft nubuck leather and ventilated mesh at a competitive price.
A padded leather collar and cupped insole offer more support than lightweight slip-ons made of canvas. The heavily siped tread provides traction where you need it most.
- Convenience of a slip-on with the support of a sneaker.
- Fast-drying upper constructed of leather and synthetic mesh.
- Very comfortable.
- Consumer reviews report quality control issues.
- A bit heavy for hot climates.
Buy Nantucket III from Cabela’s
Chatham Aegean Technical Boat Shoe
Best technical boat shoe
Technical apparel is designed with a specific activity in mind. For a boat shoe, that means special attention is paid to traction, fit and performance.
Well-known for its moccasin-style boat shoes, Chatham’s Aegean is more of a hybrid construction, with a sneaker fit specifically designed for active deck work.
Fast-drying leather uppers and drain holes in the bottom of the sole help control moisture, airflow, and temperature.
The proprietary tread is where this shoe has an edge on the competition. In addition to integrated drainage, the Aegean’s Aqua-Go sole is a blend of rubber and latex with pronounced siping under the big toe for added grip.
A foam-filled footbed offers extra cushioning and tactile responsiveness on deck.
- Designed specifically for performance sailing.
- Holds up well to saltwater environments.
- The rugged build includes a reinforced toe well, tongue pulls, and heavy-duty laces.
- A fast-drying shoe that sheds water through drain holes.
- They are expensive.
- Leather may stretch up to one-half size after use.
Rugged Shark Pacifico Slip-On
Best slip-on boat shoe
Nothing beats a slip-on for ease of use, and the Rugged Shark Pacifico offers the perfect blend of convenience and performance.
Elastic gussets at the tongue make the Pacifico your go-to footwear for everyday use. But don’t be fooled by the house-slipper comfort, these are tried-and-true boat shoes.
Water-resistant nubuck leather and mesh uppers combine with drain holes through the footbed to shed water.
The sole is a hybrid configuration of a moderately lugged tread and traditional siping along the edges and under critical traction points.
This combination offers all-terrain functionality without compromising grip on deck.
A padded leather collar and cushiony midsole make this a great everyday choice for use at sea, on land, or around the yacht club.
- Good value.
- All-terrain traction.
- Easy wearing comfort.
- Stylish enough for casual occasions.
- Runs narrow in the toe well.
- No laces to adjust fit.
Sperry Authentic Original Float
Best multi-purpose boat shoe
An all-synthetic deck shoe is best if you need footwear that can pull double duty in multiple watery environments.
Sperry’s Float boating shoe has the look and functionality of dedicated yachting footwear, with the construction mindset of a general-purpose water shoe.
The wave-siped outsole ensures maximum traction on deck, while the topside portholes and side vents instantly drain water after wading, fishing, or kayaking.
Constructed of one-piece EVA foam uppers, the Float is super lightweight and waterproof. As the name suggests, they even float!
This model is available in a multitude of colours for men and women. But be sure to choose carefully when shopping for this shoe on Amazon; some sizes and colour options appear to have a fleece lining.
- All-around water shoe for activities from sailing to kayaking.
- Fully siped outsole for wet-dry traction.
- Extreme venting of non-absorbent materials for quick drying.
- No half sizes.
- They may run a little large.
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