Boat Shoes: Performance To Casual
The best boat shoes are footwear purpose-built for boating and the marine industry. From sailing shoes to yachting attire, these types of shoes are perfect for serious boaters with either specific needs or a particular style. Most boat shoes feature souls that are designed to not scuff up wood and faux teak decks and are manufactured using durable material that is designed to withstand harsh saltwater conditions.
Above: The best boat shoes are designed for your style of boating. Photo via Pond5.
There are boat shoes made more for style and looks and then there are practical, purpose-built performance boat shoes including sailboat racing boots, rubber fishing boots, rugged deck boots and durable ankle boots.
Classic All-Purpose Boat Shoes
If you’re looking for the right attire for a leisurely luxury sail on a Nantucket summer day, consider the traditional classics: Sperry Topsiders, Tommy Hilfiger’s Bowman Boat Shoe and Sebago Docksides. Let’s take a look at some of these iconic boat shoe manufacturers.
Above: Classic Sperry boat shoes on the company’s official online Sperry store. Photo by Sperry.
As the undoubted industry leader in terms of traditional boat shoes, Sperry Shoes have remained immensely popular since the brand’s introduction by Paul Sperry back in 1935. They are both functional and good looking as casual footwear, proving to be the loafing shoe of choice for many high school and college students. Offering a comfortable fit along with excellent traction on boat decks they are also highly durable. Today’s Sperry-Topsider’s Full Active Comfort System includes a padded comfort wedge under the heel, EVA foam under both heel and forefoot, a lighter, more flexible outsole and a leather sockliner. Simply put, there’s a reason Sperry’s are the brand that’s top of mind when people think of boat shoes.
Above: Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Billfish Ultralite Boat Shoe. Photo by Sperry.
Visit the Sperry Shoes online store to browser Sperry Boat Shoes
Dubarry shoes of Scotland offers their Regatta Boat Shoes, the Sailmaker line of yachting shoes and a line of yacht loafers. With a history of great craftsmanship and rural heritage, Dubarry has created a versatile range of clothing and footwear perfect for outdoor pursuits. The brand’s line of sailing shoes offers buyers high performance, skillfully constructed sailing footwear.
Frank Daniel’s deck shoes are classy Italian-made iconic boat shoes that are perfect for the seaside yacht life. Founded by two Italian brothers who manufacture belts for other major brand, Frank Daniel was founded in 1984, all of their footwear and garments are made entirely on Italian territory in handicraft laboratories. The attention to detail and to the significance of the Made in Italy isn’t just limited to the production of shoes, rather it extends to the meticulous selection of materials such as soles in real Italian vegetable-tanned leather produced in the historic leather district of Ponte a Egola and Santa Croce sull’Arno in Tuscany. Even the hides, coming from the same area, are carefully treated handled by the skilled hands of our craftsmen who pass on the tradition of treating hides from generation to generation.
Fratelli Rossetti Portofino Yacht Loafers from the “Yacht” line by Fratelli Rossetti are an ultra-premium, luxurious pair of yachting footwear, made of soft deerskin. This breathable shoe has a sponge lining and leather insole with a thin, lightweight rubber sole, making them ideal for hot summer weather onboard a yacht.
From Riomar shoes comes the Waterman, another classic high-end boat shoe for the discerning boat stylist. The Waterman is defined by its versatility. Designed for optimum performance on and off the water, The Waterman’s hybrid driver sole, low profile lines and technical capabilities make it the ideal shoe for everyday wear. The shoes are made out of 100% waterproof Portuguese leather and feature nonskid / non-marking soles along with an odor-proof, antimicrobial lining and comfortable leather insole. Also from Riomar, are the Deck Drivers. Designed as a crossover model, they perform equally well on or off the water and are form-fitting and flexible.
While Sperry Topsiders, Italian deck shoes, yacht loafers and bowman boat shoes are a few of the more classic boat shoes, if you prefer something a bit more casual, or a bit more modern, there are a number of other boat shoe brands on the market these days that offer some great alternatives. Any day is the perfect day to wear the Dock slip-on boat shoe from Margaritaville. Casual and cool with a sunwashed look this canvas shoe is an easy weekend favorite.
Performance Boat Shoes: For Sailors And Anglers
For more avid sailors who might be competing in something a bit more than your classic “beer-can races”, consider sailing shoes available from brand such as Musto, Gill and Zhik. If you’re heading offshore on serious fishing boat on a Deadliest-catch-style mission to haul in some Alaskan king crab, or you plan on reeling in some big game fish like tuna, marlin, halibut or grouper on the bloody decks of a giant center console, you’ll want to go with an extremely sturdy pair of waterproof insulated rubber boots from names like: XTRATUF, Grundens, HUK, Pelagic and Dryshod boots. For boat shoes suitable for dinghy sailing, paddle sports and board sports such as stand up paddleboarding and surfing, check out Gill’s neoprene Edge Boots with waterproof seams.
Let’s take a closer look at a some top brands and shoe lines in the world of performance boat shoes.
Musto GTX Ocean Racer Boat – If you’re looking for the ultimate extreme sailing footwear for the harshest conditions the sea can dish out, look no further than the GTX Ocean Racer booat by Musto. This isn’t your grandfather’s boat shoe. For complete waterproof protection and optimal breathability, the boot features the toughest GORE-TEX® footwear membrane available. The CORDURA® upper and gaiter ensures outstanding durability. Areas prone to abrasion damage have also been reinforced with scratch rubber for complete protection. GripDeck rubber and a GripFlex tread to supplies exceptional, multi-directional traction on deck. And a unique DynamicFit bellowed tongue and bungee lacing system provides a locked-down, comfort fit. Musto has more sailboat racing shoes including the popular Dynamic Pro II Sailing Shoes.
Grundens has a number of great boat shoes that are built for hardcore fishing, including the SeaKnit Boat Shoe, 12-inch Deck Shoe and their Deck Boss 15″ fishing boot. The 12-inch Deck Boot is designed to provide anglers with comfortable performance with a thick insole to promote noticeable shock resistance and an anti-odor cooling liner along with a natural gum rubber outsole that features built-in razor siping to help move water out from under the shoe (improving grip on wet surfaces). The SeaKnit Boat Shoe is a lightweight, water-friendly sneaker that offers tournament anglers comfort and performance under extreme conditions. With a 100% nylon upper with welded PU overlay and shock-absorbing EVA midsole, these quick drying shoes have non-marking, natural gum rubber outsole pods and are made for wearing with or without socks. The Deck Boss 15″ fishing boot sets the standard for what a fishing boot should be with superior traction, a flexible and protective toe cap and an injection-molded upper that eliminates delamination and cracking. The Patented “Herkules Grip™” compression molded rubber outsole is certified with SRC Slip Resistance, the most stringent level of slip resistance certification; providing best-in-class traction on wet surfaces.Designed in the Pacific Northwest and Made in America.
Gill’s Offshore Boot, when worn with our the manufacturer’s other sailing systems, offers the complete top to toe waterproof solution. Its 3mm thermal neoprene inner, XPLORE+® 3-layer external gaiter with secure elastic cord and thermomoulded outsole offer complete warmth and waterproofness to keep you dry and comfortable all day. With reinforced heel, instep and toe, combined with the non-slip razor cut outsole to ensure a safe grip, it is ideal for on-board athletes or for any other activity which requires a comfortable, free draining boot.
Zhik High Cut Sailing Boot – An evolution of our previous range, the new range of Zhik dinghy boots improves on grip and durability, while adding more comfort. The High Cut Ankle boot is an update to a favourite amongst the sailing community, and a great all-rounder. A new moulded, rubber compound sole boasts even more grip. New quick lock lacing system makes it easy to put on and take off. Improved ankle strap design removes bulk but retains support. A reinforced midsole and moulded heel cup add structure and support to the boot. The boot is shaped on Zhik’s unique ergonomic lasts, allowing a firmer, closer fit with more comfort, and reduced chafing. With 4mm neoprene construction and 2mm rubber upper, this boot is suitable sailing all year round.
Who Makes The Best Boat Shoe?
So, still want the ultimate hands-down answer to the question: who makes the best boat shoe? Well, for starters, the shoes should be designed for the type of boating you’re doing – just like the boat you’re on. After all, there are 1001 different types of boats out there, and there are just as many styles of shoes to fit the bill. If you’re after comfort, go for the casual shoes, but if you want warm and waterproof look for strong rubber commercial boots. Or, if you’re going for style above all else, go with the handmade Italian classics. The truth is, as with boats, boating fashion and attire is part function, part form, and in the end personal preferences and lifestyle choices will dictate the best boat shoe for your money.