Best Sailing Shoes – Your Guide to Boating Footwear

Best Sailing Shoes – Your Guide to Boating Footwear Blog

Considering the popularity and specificity of sailing in recent times, manufacturers of sailing footwear do not only sell shoes but a lifestyle. These are basic items to both look fabulous and stay stable onboard. Sailing shoes should look casual and formal at the same time. If you don't understand what we are talking about, the best sailing shoes exude elegance, ease of living, and simplicity. Often, deck shoes provide an old-money vibe. Even if you don't like sailing, deck shoes should make you think twice. Due to their adaptability to any outfit, deck shoes are often worn at various events that have nothing to do with sailing.

Also, considering that sailing can be very challenging, it is necessary that sailing shoes ensure easy movement and do not impair stability. Wet decks, pitching, getting on and off the sailboat, and other sailing conditions can be obstacles to pleasant sailing if we don't have adequate shoes. The perfect deck shoes are closed, non-slip, and have a light-coloured rubber bottom.

Packing things for sailing can be very challenging, so it is necessary to pack only the clothes and shoes that we need.

To begin with, let's start with defining different types of boat shoes

Sailing sneakers are a common choice of many because they are practical to wear, and you can wear them even when you are not on the boat. It is important to choose sneakers with a light rubber sole and to be made of material that dries quickly

Sailing sandals are a great solution for hot summer days. When choosing, you should pay attention to those that will not easily come off your feet. Also, they should be made of light material and without any heels.

If wearing flip-flops on a boat is not recommended for practical reasons, it is always a good idea to have one when you are out of the boat, on example to lunch. Here is our recommendation for where to eat this summer on the Adriatic. Boat flip flops should be made of light material and have the ability to dry quickly.

Sailing boots are excellent for keeping your feet warm, dry, and safe in all weather. Additionally, sailing boots have non-slip, gripping bottoms that offer optimal traction on deck in all kinds of weather.

Traditional boat shoes usually have a single lace system which means that the laces, which are made of leather, surround the foot and tie in the front.

What makes deck shoes unique?

There are three characteristics whose proper ratio makes perfect boating shoes, and they are nautical design, practical features, and exceptional comfort.

Nautical design of boating shoes

Nautical design is manifested in a moccasin-like shoe with a rubber sole that provides a firm hold on the deck of a boat. The perfect deck shoes are closed, non-slip, and have a light-colored rubber bottom. Those are typically canvas or leather with non-marking rubber soles designed for use on a boat.

What practical features should boat shoes satisfy?

Practical and adaptable boat shoes are crucial for mastering the sea and quality movement on the boat.

​The basic practical features which deck shoes should satisfy are:

  • Stretchable mesh-up for breathability.
  • Memory sock liner that molds to your foot, with extra cushioning.
  • Good grip with a rubber sole and won't mark the deck
  • Clean profile without laces — no snagging as you shift around onboard.
  • Quick-dry and easy to wash to keep fresh from saltwater.

Why are boat shoes so comfortable?

These lightweight sneakers are easily taken on and off. However, they're also comfortable enough for long days of travel spent on your feet due to the memory foam insoles that provide arch support and padding.

What do the best sailing shoes look like?

Everyone who has sailed at least once knows how important it is to have the best shoes for boating. Today, there are a large number of different sailing shoes on the market, and sometimes it is very difficult to know which one is the best. We know that perfection doesn't exist, but we'll give you some guidelines to keep in mind when shopping to find the best deck shoes for you:

  • Waterproof: Everyone who has ever stepped in water on the floor with socks knows how bad it feels, so imagine how bad it is to have wet feet when you are exposed to the wind and cold on a boat.
  • Comfort: Sailing can sometimes be very challenging, which is why it is necessary to have footwear that will make it easier for you.
  • Traction: Pick a non-slip sole with excellent traction on a wet deck. The best shoes have rubber bottoms (or comparable soles) with a nice tread pattern.
  • Quick drying ability: It is impossible to find completely waterproof shoes, so this item is essential
  • Endurance: All footwear wears out quickly, but there are shoes made of better quality materials that will still last a little longer.
  • Leave no trace: You want shoe soles that don’t leave marks on the deck as you move about.

Most famous boating shoes brands

Quality nautical clothing is very important for being on a boat, and nowadays there are brands that have perfected that clothing. Most popular nautical clothing brands also offer amazing sailing shoes.


Sebago is a clothing, footwear and equipment manufacturing company that has devoted most of its work to deck footwear. In their offer, they have a very large number of diverse shoes for men and women. Over the years, their boat shoes have proven to be of high quality, but they also meet all the criteria of boat apparel in terms of aesthetics.

Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen is a Norwegian manufacturer and retailer of clothing and sports equipment. Their offer of Helly Hansen boat shoes stands out for its very good design and waterproof material. They are also known for their HellyWear rubber construction.


In the world of footwear, the term Sperry boat shoes is very well known. Paul Sperry was a yachtsman who sailed in the thirties of the last century. On one occasion, he fell into the sea because of a wet deck, and that was the key moment when he realized the danger of such a deck and decided to find a solution to deal with it. He had many ideas that failed, but when he realized that the essence was in the rubber sole, he made his first Sperry boat shoes.

In 1937, Sperry partnered with a Boston-based rubber company to manufacture his new shoe, and two years later, he managed to patent his herringbone sole design. The rest is history.

Rules and tips for combining deck shoes

Although we mentioned that you can combine deck shoes with various clothes and let your imagination run wild, there are still unwritten rules that you should follow.

Rule No. 1: Minimalism and elegance

Deck shoes in themselves are synonymous with elegance, but what you wear them with is just as important. There are materials and colors that we do not recommend wearing with deck shoes. The colour that goes best with deck shoes is white. Whether it's pants or a shirt, this color will make you look elegant and like you just got off the boat.

Given that minimalism is always linked to elegance, this should also be kept in mind when choosing an outfit. Deck shoes are best combined with trousers, a shirt or T-shirt, and one or two pieces of jewellery. Of course, you won't go wrong with a hat and a wristwatch either.

Rule No. 2: Look casual but modern.

If you are not one of those who pays a lot of attention to choosing clothes, when it comes to deck shoes, you don't need to try too hard. It is enough to wear pair of jeans and a flowing shirt, and you have a great look. This combination will be perfectly completed by your favourite sunglasses.

Rule No. 3: Keep it simple with your hair and makeup.

We have already mentioned that deck shoes give an old-money vibe, so you should also choose your hairdo and makeup in that hairstyle. Regarding the first, softer colors should be used to emphasize your natural beauty. As for the latter, it's best to have your hair down or in some sort of casual ponytail or bun. Of course, you should dress up the way you want, but keep in mind that less is more when it comes to boat outfits.

Boating shoes for women

Women's boating shoes, in addition to having to meet all the criteria mentioned above, are also considered a fashion accessory and, in that sense, must be at a certain level. Given the care with which women's deck shoes are designed, they are often worn on off-board occasions as well.

Here are our five recommendations for the best boat shoes for women:


Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 Hydropower_trade inn.jpg
Helly-Hnasen Ahiga V4 Hydropower (Photocredit:Trade Inn)

Featuring HellyGrip rubber in the soles with siping for traction, these synthetic shoes also contain cushioning for comfort and a flexible outsole. The design includes a quick-dry mesh which makes these shoes breathable. They come with the popular HellyWear rubber construction.


Leading the boat shoe market is Sperry. These particular shoes have a rubber sole and are composed of leather. The style is a little more laid-back, with a slotted collar and padded tongue for increased comfort. The upper of the moc-toe style features two eyelet lacing. These leather boat shoes for women also withstand water and stains.


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Skechers Go Walk Lite (Photocredit: Skechers)

These shoes are fashionable and practical because they are made of a smooth "Leather-Tex" overlay and a soft canvas fabric. Superior grip, stability, and shock absorption are all features of the synthetic sole. For ultimate comfort, the insole is comprised of a high-rebound material.

These are well-liked options due to their appealing appearance. The comfort level of Skechers may be attested to by everyone who has owned a pair.


Here is a very special boat shoe. It features a full-grain leather upper and slip-resistant outsole that is non-marking for grip and stability. The inner pigskin lining of the removable and washable liners contains antimicrobial Ortholite which provides cushioning comfort.

The shoe design includes Airmesh lining plus Airmesh windows at strategic locations (heel, tongue, sides) for additional cooling and offers quick-drying solutions. These are probably some of the best women’s sailing shoes and are described by users as light and sporty.


These deck shoes have lace-up details made of leather. According to users, sizing is good. They also gush over how comfortable these sneakers are. These shoes are popular for more than only sailing due to raves about their outward appearance. According to online reviews, this is casual footwear that will probably cause your friends to remark on how adorable they appear.

The offer of women's deck shoes is very wide nowadays, and the market is constantly raising the bar of standards. For women, shoes are always more than footwear, and choosing the right ones is always important, even on board. The only thing that is important is to choose shoes that provide the perfect balance of suitability for sailing and satisfying aesthetic requirements.

Men's deck shoes

Men love deck shoes, and the reasons for this are easy to see: they are comfortable, light on the feet, and perfectly complement almost any outfit. You don't even have to sail to wear them. Also, you don't even have to have a boat to wear them, but that's a good start too—fake it until you make it.

Men often combine deck shoes with jeans, and it's a hit. These shoes take the outfit with jeans to a new level. Even when you add a light white shirt to all that, you will look casual and serious at the same time.

Here are our five recommendations for the best boat shoes for men:


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Timberland Men Classic Boat Shoe (Photocredit:Office Shoes)

The industry leader when it comes to high-quality outdoor wear, their line of ruggedly casual boat shoes is a true reflection of the craftsmanship, comfort, and durability Timberland became known for.


The Margaritaville Men’s Anchor Lace Boat Shoe looks great and has the performance to match. 

It has an airy leather mesh upper portion for breathability, a padded tongue and collar to prevent chafing, a foam insole for unmatched comfort, a side palm tree, and a printed anchor on the rubber outsole to complete the tropical design.

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Sebago boat shoes (Photocredit: Sebago)


The legendary Docksides from Sebago have moccasin construction, which means that the leather wraps around the foot to create a flexible and comfortable fit that only gets better with use. They have that timeless deck shoe aesthetic.

A rawhide lacing that wraps around the neck elegantly complements the moc toe stitching. Additionally, a non-marking rubber outsole and a moulded EVA foam insole for comfort and support are included.


The Vargas Boat Shoe is hand-sewn and made of premium leather. It has a traditional two-eyelet design, a grippy rubber sole for optimal traction on slippery conditions, a cushioned EVA footbed for unparalleled comfort, and a moulded EVA heel cup for further support.

Because of their timeless design, you may wear them from the beach to your regular activities by pairing them with shorts, jeans, or, of course, khakis.


This one-eyelet slip-on has the timeless and functional style that every wearer of boat shoes craves. It has a hand-sewn moccasin construction, is made of 100% American Horween leather, and has a special active memory foam comfort footbed from Eastland that supports and moulds to the contours of your foot.

Where and when to wear boat shoes

The first logical place to wear boat shoes is onboard, that's why they are called yachting shoes. Boat shoes are made following beach activities and everything related to the sea. Whether it's a party on the beach or you're just going for an evening walk, boat shoes will make you feel great and give you the impression that you're the main actor in an Italian summer movie.

Deck shoes are very practical and a good choice for travelling. Due to their design, they are very light and comfortable, and they will allow you to rest your tired feet to some extent. Also, their advantages are that they are easy to take off and put on and are practical to pack.

Want to wear boat shoes to the office? No problem. Although office activities do not tire the feet too much, classic shoes can be heavy and make your feet tired. Therefore, do not hesitate to wear deck shoes to work. Of course, combine them with clothes that are suitable for the office.

Another occasion for which deck shoes are a great choice is the date. If you decide to do this, you will show the person you are dating that you are authentic and interesting. Also, deck shoes are a great start to forming a date outfit.

How to wear deck shoes in summer

Summer is finally officially here and we are all happy about it.If you plan to visit as many islands as possible this summer, you must choose the best boat for island hopping. Heavy footwear is by no means an option now, and deck shoes are the only good solution. These shoes are not only super comfortable and light, but they have a real summer vibe and you should keep them in mind when choosing your summer outfits. Make your summer boat shoes as light and airy as possible.

First of all, these shoes go perfectly with the white color that is the trademark of the summer wardrobe. Whether you choose wide linen pants or a shirt in this color, or both, deck shoes will be the perfect addition to the whole story.

Ladies should know that summer dresses can very well be combined with deck shoes. Moreover, they can give a more refined look than sandals or flip-flops. If you choose a dress with a colorful print, let the shoes be in a neutral color. On the other hand, if the dress is white, then choose deck shoes in a bright color.

Deck shoes and shorts? Why not. If trousers in summer are not your cup of tea, shorts are a great choice. Deck shoes will add some seriousness to this outfit. As for the top, whether you opt for a plain white shirt or a floral tee, you won't go wrong.

Deck shoes and chino trousers - effortlessly chic. This combination gives a completely casual summer look suitable for all occasions.

We have selected several excellent summer boat shoes for you:

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Rockport Perth Boat Shoes (Photocredit:Amazon)


With a name like Rockport, it should not be surprising that the company offers a fantastic assortment of boat shoes that are suitable for seaports. This particular pair stands out because of its leather uppers in the colors of bark and chocolate.


Manolo Blahnik, the maker of some of the toniest footwear around, always brings drama with its designs. I mean, it really doesn't get any more dramatic than croc-effect nubuck leather.

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Tommy Hilfiger Boat Shoes (Photocredit: Amazon)


Tommy Hilfiger understands maritime life and applies its traditional philosophy to footwear. The brand's iconic flag and color-blocked white and navy are simple to match with any summer outfit.


A casual classic, the Capstan is a lightweight and robust option for warmer days. Offering all-around leather lacing and a leather lining for utmost comfort, the shoes are finished with embossed branding on the side walls.


Take to the streets or the water in these time-tested classics. Traditional real moc structure provides feet with the utmost comfort organically. Each pair of premium pull-ups is distinctive due to the sheen and color variations in the leather as well as its softness and durability. comes with our adjustable full perimeter lacing system for a secure fit.

How to wear sailing shoes in winter

While in summer we look at deck shoes more from a fashion aspect, in winter it is necessary to choose shoes that will provide functionality and safety. ‍Keeping your feet warm and dry aboard a sailboat is essential. Winds are typical for the Adriatic Sea, and this should be kept in mind during winter sailing.

When the cold winter days come, all the requirements that deck shoes have to meet become even more important. So, it is very important that winter sailing shoes are waterproof and that it dries quickly. It is not at all pleasant to have wet feet in low temperatures.

Classic winter sailing boots are made with materials like wool and leather. The leather is often treated with wax or an anti-water material, which sheds liquid and prevents the shoe from absorbing water.

Modern sailing boots are made with the latest synthetic materials. They’re extremely lightweight and affordable, and they're usually very waterproof. These shoes are ideal for sailing in the winter, as they utilize advanced materials that weren’t available decades ago.

Summary of best sailing shoes to wear

Deck shoes are one of the most important items of sailing equipment, and from this article, we learned why. Today, there are numerous versions of deck shoes on the sailing footwear market, so it is important to choose the best one for you. Also, these shoes should primarily be adapted to live on board and accordingly satisfy a whole range of requirements in terms of design, materials, maintenance and performance. However, sailor shoes have come to the position that they are also footwear through which fashion expression is shown, and there is an entire clothing culture related to them.

Regardless of whether you sail in summer or winter, whether you want boat shoes for practical reasons or to complete your outfit, you can always find something for you. Although the choice of such footwear is necessary and should be followed, don't forget to be barefoot on board sometimes. That is a special experience.

What material is best for boat shoes?

Ideally, boat shoes should have rubber soles so you can have a better grip on wet surfaces.

Can I wear deck shoes without socks?

Since boat shoes are designed to feel comfortable and airy without socks, most people choose to wear them barefoot. However, you can always add invisible socks or shoe liners for more comfort while maintaining a traditional aesthetic.

Why do boat shoes have laces on the side?

In addition to the sipes, side laces were added to boat shoes to create a tighter fit.

Can I wear deck shoes when I'm not on board?

Boat shoes are just fine for walking the piers and streets of town. Or the back yard or office for that matter