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Owning a boat doesn’t require you to wear boat shoes, but if you’re going to get into the spirit of things, you might as well dive in head—or foot—first. Boat shoes have become an essential fashion accessory over the last few years, and for good reason. They’re stylish, comfortable, and incredibly practical, and those are just a few reasons why you should get yourself a pair or two.
Since they’ve become fashionable there are literally thousands of different types to choose from. Unfortunately, not all of them are particularly suited to a day out on the boat. There are a lot of fashion-focused shoes that look the part, but don’t actually fair too well out on deck. It’s similar with motorcycle jackets: it can be hard to find what you’re looking for under the masses and masses of fashion products.
With that in mind, we decided to put together a comprehensive list of some of the best boat shoes on the market that look good, feel good, and most importantly, will work well out on deck without compromising your comfort or safety.
Here are our top choices, followed by a short buying guide that covers everything you need to know about boat shoes: what features to look out for, what factors to consider, and most importantly, which ones will suit you best.
From that day on, Sperry has been a leading name in the boat shoe industry. The shoes that we’ve selected from the brand’s range are some of the best out there. Based on Sperry’s original design, these heritage boat shoes have been made from premium leather with a hand-sewn Tru-Moc construction for a durable and fashionable look and fit.
The sole is made from rubber, featuring a non-marking rubber outer sole with a razor-cut tread for optimum water-siping ability and traction.
Inside, the insole’s feature Orhtolite cushioning for added comfort, resting on a bevelled heel section for better stability.
These Sperry boat shoes are fastened together with a 360(0) lacing system, with rawhide laces and rustproof eyelets.
Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, and at an affordable price point, these deck shoes are the perfect fit for any regular boater.
Construction Material: Premium Leather
Sole: Rubber outsole
Size Range: Size 5 to Size 16
Top Feature: They have a shock absorbing sole with a beveled heel.
Anyone who knows anything about footwear will be familiar with the Timberland brand. While the brand is famous for boots, Timberland boat shoes are also held in high regard. Timberland’s Piper Cove range are ideal for life a life on the ocean waves, but they’re also very comfortable on dry land too.
These deck shoes are manufactured from 100% leather. In fact, the soft leather is ethically sourced from Silver rated tanneries or higher, and environmentally checked by third parties. The result is a premium leather, which has been hand stitched together to create e durable and attractive shoe.
The interior of each shoe features advanced anti-fatigue technology, with a specially designed midsole that improves standing comfort by using a geometric cone shaped support. This also improves shock absorption and boosts your energy return. Ideal for those who spend long days on the water.
On the bottom, Timberland has fitted these Piper Cove shoes with rubber soles manufactured from partially recycled rubber.
Not only are they comfortable and practical, but they also look the part too. They’re available in five different color options, such as Java Nature Buck, Brown Pull Up, Chocolate Chamois, Medium Brown, and Jet Black Oiled Nubuck.
Construction Material: 100% Leather
Sole: Rubber outsole
Size Range: Size 7 to Size 14
Top Feature: They’re made of environmentally-conscious materials like ethical leather and recycled rubber.
Sebago is another leading name in the deck shoe business. It’s up there with Sperry as one of the most recognizable labels. It’s been popular since the 80s, when the brand’s moccasins and loafers became essential Preppy uniform, launching the brand into the realm of mainstream fashion. Before the Preppy boom, the brand’s Docksides were popular among boaters since they were first released in the 70s.
The main portion of the shoe is made from 100% leather, with hand stitched joins and features. The uppers are made from a single piece of strong leather, and the result is a close and comfortable fitting shoe that look timeless. They’re classic in design, and in truth, the look hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years.
Underneath, the Docksides feature a tough and sturdy rubber sole with a slip-resistant sole that will keep you upright in any condition, and provide traction on any surface. The soles are quite thick and have a nice amount of shock absorption, which works excellently with the shoe’s cushioned EVA foam insole, for a comfortable and cushioned fit.
These Sebago boat shoes are available in a huge range of colors—more than 24 configurations!—with multiple sizes on offer.
Construction Material: 100% Leather
Sole: Rubber outsole
Size Range: Size 7 to Size 15
Top Feature: These are a great alternative to Sperry shoes if you want something different.
While the brand is usually more synonymous with comfortable walking shoes, Skechers boat shoes do exist—and they’re great. They may not be as well known as other styles on this list, but if you want deck shoes that buck the usual leather boat shoes / moccasin style trend then consider these.
The uppers are made soft woven canvas with a Vintage Washed finish. This soft material is comfortable and breathable, and strong enough to handle the stress of being up on deck. The main body of the shoe features raised stitched seams, and canvas overlays, with casual lace up fastenings.
Like all Skechers shoes, the real appeal is the deluxe Memory Foam insole. These super cushioned soles are also air-cooled, keeping your feet from sweating and overheating when you’re on your boat. They also feature a shock absorbing midsole, and a relaxed fit interior design for added comfort.
Underneath, these Skechers boat shoes feature a synthetic sole with a ¾ inch thick heel. The sole features a siped traction outsole for improved traction, even in slippery conditions.
These are unconventional deck shoes, but there’s no denying that they’re incredibly comfortable.
Construction Material: 100% Canvas
Size Range: Size 8 to Size 14
Top Feature: Skecher’s air-cooled Memory Foam insoles are perfect for long days on the boat.
Dockers is a recognizable fashion brand that produces authentic casual wear. It’s a huge name, and almost everyone will have heard of it. While the brand’s pants might be well-known, their deck shoes aren’t known as well as they should be. Dockers make excellent shoes for boating, and their Castaway kicks are some of the best.
Manufactured from a full-grain leather with a hand sewn construction, the Dockers Castaways look the part, and are tough and durable too. The result is a flexible and comfortable shoe that you can wear all day long in changeable conditions, without being left with sore (or sweaty) feet.
On the inside, the Dockers Castaway boat shoe feature a cushioned EVA insole that helps to absorb shocks, and apply gentle support from your heel to your toe. The outer sole is made from rubber, which offers serious protection. The sole has been cut with a unique tread that boosts traction and provides excellent stability over wet surfaces and in slippery conditions.
They’re fastened with two-eyelet lacing, with rustproof eyelets.
If you’re tempted by these Dockers boat shoes, they’re available in sizes between 7 and 15, and in two color options: Tan, and Raisin. You’ll be pleased to know that they’re also very reasonably priced, despite how expensive they actually look.
Construction Material: 100% Leather
Sole: Rubber outsole
Size Range: Size 7 to Size 15
Top Feature: Dockers Castaway boat shoes have a tread pattern that provides excellent traction
The Perth boat shoes from Rockport are some of the most iconic boat shoes on the market. They tick all the usual boxes, with a modern yet classic shape, high-quality full grain leather, and typical two eye lace-up fastenings. If you’re looking for the ultimate classic boat shoes, then these are worth considering.
This classic shoe is made from full-grain leather and hand sewn for a strong and durable bond. On the inside, the shoe is lined with a moisture wicking suede material to boost breathability and keep your sweating down to a minimum.
The sole features a synthetic inner layer, with a full rubber outer sole. The synthetic interior adds extra cushioning, while the rubber outer adds an important layer of extra protection. The rubber side also has a traction-focused tread pattern that results in a durable grip that will keep you upright, no matter what. There’s also a steel shank support in the midfoot section to boost your support and increase wearing comfort.
These Rockport boat shoes are available in very comprehensive size range, from size 7 to size 15 with variations including narrow, wide, and extra wide options. They are also available in 8 different color styles, such as Dark Brown, Black, Beeswax Leather, Chocolate, Timber, and more.
Construction Material: 100% Leather Upper
Sole: Synthetic and rubber
Size Range: Size 6 to Size 15
Top Feature: This shoe comes in a wide range of sizes, guaranteeing an almost tailored fit.
Vans are one of the most recognizable footwear brands on the market. While the Vans name is better associated with the skate scene, the brand has expanded and now produces cool, casual, and protective shoes for a wide range of markets. These Vans, the Zapato Del Barca boat shoes, are proof of that.
Since Vans aren’t ones to follow old traditions, their boat shoe attempt takes only a small bit of inspiration from the classic models, and puts a typical Vans twist on it. Imagine grunge deck shoes, because that’s essentially what these are.
Made from soft woven canvas, the upper section of these shoes are similar to traditional moccasins in shape. The top section also has a leather panel section that houses the lace eyelets, and bold stitching that give it a rebellious look.
The interior is lined with soft padding. Like other Vans shoes, they provide exceptional support in vulnerable areas, with plenty of cushioning to keep your feet comfortable and protected in the event of a fall.
A fall is highly unlikely with these soles though. The vulcanized outersole is equipped with a unique tread pattern that promises excellent traction whether you’re walking on the deck of your boat, or walking down the street.
The Zapato Del Barca boat shoes are available in two (very similar) styles: black with a black sole, or black with a white sole.
Construction Material: Canvas & PU Leather
Sole: Vulcanized outsole
Size Range: Size 6.5 to Size 13
Top Feature: These are the ideal boaters shoes for those who don’t like the traditional deck shoe look!
Tommy Hilfiger is one of the world’s leading fashion brands, designing and manufacturing all kinds of casual apparel. The brand also makes some of the best boat shoes for men on the market. The particular pair of boat shoes that we like the best are the Tommy Hilfiger Bowman boat shoes. They’re sleek, stylish, practical, and they’re quite affordable for a designer label too.
These boating shoes feature uppers made entirely from leather. At the front, they have a Moc-toe shape, with detailed contrast stitching embellishments. Each shoe has a leather lining and insole for added comfort. The result is a fashionable look with a comfortable fit.
Underneath, these Bowman boat shoes feature a thick contrasting color sole made from man-made rubber. The sole is non-marking, and unlike many other shoes on this list, it doesn’t have a grooved tread pattern. Instead, it has a textured bottom that offers decent grip on wet and slippery surfaces. They don’t have the same level of grip as many others, but they have enough for casual boating.
Other cool features on this shoe include the lace-up closures which come equipped with a classic two-hole fastening, metal eyelets, and contrasting laces.
If you’re looking for the best boat shoes for fishing trips, then these probably aren’t what you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a set of shoes that can handle a day on the water, long walks in the country, and also look good when you’re lounging around the barbecue with a beer in hand, then these are worth a look.
Construction Material: 100% leather upper
Sole: Rubber outsole
Size Range: Size 8 to Size 13
Top Feature: Very affordable for a designer label
Crocs are most certainly not your typical boat shoes, but these loafers are very well suited for a life on the water. Crocs are the ultimate casual shoes: they’re easy to wear, offer plenty of protection, serious grip, they’re comfortable, odor-resistant, and you can even clean them in your dishwasher! They’re ideal deck shoes.
The Santa Cruz 2 Luxe Loafer takes the best parts of standard Crocs shoes and fuses them with deck shoe sensibilities. Here, we have a slip-on loafer with elasticated fabric uppers for a tight and secure fit. They’re easy to look at, and comfortable to wear thanks to the footbed’s massage-like raised nub elements.
Like all Crocs, the main construction material is Croslite, a closed-cell resin that offers a soft and comfortable, lightweight sole, with serious grip and waterproof protection. This synthetic Croslite sole design makes these shoes ideal for casual wear and recreational boating too.
Most people are skeptical of Crocs because they look weird. There’s no doubt about that. However, these loafers take all the comfort and practicality of a standard Croc and put them in a less divisive shape. The result is a practical shoe that can be worn by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. They’re also available in six different colors, and a wide range of sizes.
Construction Material: 100% synthetic Croslite
Sole: Croslite sole
Size Range: Size 7 to Size 15
Top Feature: The use of Crocs Croslite material for boating purposes is a clever idea
Last on our list, we have another pair of shoes from Sperry. These sneakers are another blend of traditional deck shoe DNA with a more modern approach. The result is a pair of casual sneakers that look like regular fashion shoes, but with all of the important features that a real, hard-working boat shoe would need.
These cool boat sneakers are made from strong woven washed canvas that has been shaped to provide a close and secure fit. The hidden gore construction adds flexibility, making these shoes feel comfortable but without restricting your movements. Inside, the shoes have a durable textile lining, with a removable footbed that molds to the shape of the wearer’s foot.
A vulcanized sealing method forms a secure bond between the upper and the sole sections. The outsole is made from a flexible non-marking rubber material. The sole features a molded wave-siping tread pattern that offers incredible traction over both wet and dry surfaces. No-slip guaranteed!
Each shoe is fitted with four pairs of lace eyelets with genuine rawhide laces, but they can be worn with or without laces, depending on your style preferences. What’s more, they are also available in a huge range of colors, with over 20 color combinations to choose from.
Construction Material: Durable canvas upper
Sole: 100% rubber sole
Size Range: Size 7 to Size 16
Top Feature: These shoes have the appearance of sneakers but the practicality of traditional boat shoes
Buying The Best Men’s Deck Shoes: A Guide
What Is A Boat Shoe?
A boat shoe could be defined as a moccasin-inspired loafer with a low cut profile, and hand sewn features. They are designed for use on boats and in marine environments, so they come equipped with a soft, non-slip, non-skid, non-marking siped sole, for firm traction and easy maneuverability.
Traditionally, they are fastened with rawhide laces that are fed between 2 pairs of eyelets, and around the perimeter of the shoe too. Though they have laces, they’re generally slip-on in nature. These boat shoes have become incredibly popular over the years, as a fashion item, as well as in indispensable part of a regular boater’s unofficial uniform.
If your hunting for the best pair of boat shoes for men, then there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re out shopping. Buying shoes is fairly straightforward, but buying shoes for boats is a little different. Since you’re going to be up on deck, having shoes that are sturdy, comfortable, able to resist the elements, and with plenty of grip, are what makes the difference. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
When it comes to buying boat shoes for men, there are two popular construction material options: leather boat shoes, and fabric boat shoes.
Leather is tough and durable, and one of the most popular boat shoe materials. However, it comes in a variety of styles and the difference between them is quite large. Here are the most popular types of leather boat shoes.
Full grain leather is thick, durable, and tough. It’s quite stiff when compared to soft leather shoes, but once it has been broken in, it will become comfortable and more pliable.
Top grain leather is another tough and thick leather type. Unlike full grain leather, this kind is sanded down during the tanning process to remove imperfections. This is a top-quality leather type.
Genuine leather is one of the poorest quality leathers. It’s mixed with glue and other materials, and it degrades quickly. If you’re looking for cheap fashion shoes, these are fine. However, they’re not great shoes for boats, because they’re not as tough and durable as other material types.
Suede is another popular leather type, made from a deeper hide cut, with a sanded finish. It’s soft leather and nice to touch, and very comfortable to wear. It can also be dyed in a variety of colors.
Nubuck is like a premium suede. The two materials are very similar in nature, though nubuck is finer, and is usually stronger. For these reasons, it’s priced higher. Many boat enthusiasts are big fans of nubuck footwear. Mainly because nubuck shoes look great.
Woven canvas another one of the best materials for deck shoes to be made of. It’s a lightweight, durable material that’s very breathable too. Another important thing about it: it’s cheap. Since it doesn’t come from an animal, it’s cheap to produce, and doesn’t require an animal to die for it either.
Man-made materials like Nylon, polyester, rubber, and others are also widely used in boat shoe manufacture. These materials are great for use in marine environments, since many of them are waterproof, or designed to withstand the elements better. Leather shoes don’t fair well underwater, but a pair of rubber shoes will be fine. These materials allow for more durable shoes that can be worn in a variety of conditions, usually for years.
No matter what the sole is made from, it’s important that it has a special, high-traction tread on it. Boat shoes need to be slip-resistant if they’re going to be effective. Walking around on a marina, boat surface, or beach can be slippery, so you’ll want a pair of boat shoes with real grip.
The soles also need to be non-marking too. A non-marking sole is a sole that has been specially designed not to leave black scuff marks behind when you’re wearing them. The last thing you want is for your boat’s freshly polished and waxed surfaces getting covered in black rubber marks!
Other Useful Features
Since you’ll be in a marine environment, having boat shoes with a degree of water resistance would be a useful feature. They don’t need to be completely waterproof, since you shouldn’t be wearing them underwater, but a material with a chemical treatment that allows water to run off of your shoes rather than soak in to them will make your wearing experience more enjoyable. It will also help your shoes to last longer, since salt water can damage leather and canvas.
Most boat shoes have a lacing system; it’s part of the classic boat shoe look. However, form should always follow function. If you like to have shoes that are tightly secured to your feet, make sure you buy a pair with real laces that can be fastened properly. Or look for alternative fastenings. There’s more to life than laces, and if elasticated slip-ons offer a more comfortable fit, then go for them instead. Again: form should always follow function!
Memory foam insoles are a particularly useful feature, especially if you plan to be on your feet for long periods of time. Orthopedic linings can really boost your shoes comfort factor, and there are some that are designed to closely hug your feet and provide a very close and comfortable fit. If you have foot problems, opting for a special insole could really make a difference.
Antimicrobial boat shoes are also worth seeking out. These specially treated shoes are designed to stop the spreading of bacteria, which can lead to bad odors and foot infections. It’s not even a matter of personal hygiene: if you’re standing in damp shoes—a common thing on boats—then bacteria will get in and breed. Consider an antimicrobial treatment to keep that bacteria at bay.
Lastly, make sure that you buy a pair of boat shoes that you actually want. They need to look good and suit your taste so that you’ll have confidence wearing them. Luckily, all of the models listed on our list look great, and you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.