10 Best Shoes for Sailing Reviewed & Rated
Do you live to sail the seas? Any sailor knows that the equipment you bring a-board can make a huge difference in the enjoyment you get and one of the most vital pieces is - you guessed it - sailing shoes! The footwear you choose will be the only thing that protects your feet from potential hazards while you're at sea which is why choosing the right pair is so crucial!
We've carefully researched to bring you this guide to the ten best pairs available. Continue reading for a detailed review of all ten options, as well as, a breakdown of the criteria used to narrow down the ten pairs. We've also answered some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic to help ease your mind and included some interesting facts for your enjoyment.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 5 hrs of research
Top 10 Picks
1. Sperry Top-Sider Billfish
Sperry’s Top-Sider Billfish is a classic deck-inspired pair that delivers a solid performance and top safety features. This choice is ideal for boaters of any skill and experience level thanks to its smooth design and effortless wear. Sperry is one of the most trusted brands in sailing equipment and this pair lives up to the high standards that Sperry guarantees with every product. The Billfish offers a sporty three-eye build and comes in an appropriate array of colors for riding the seven seas in style.
The Top-Sider Billfish promises to provide superior grip on both wet and dry surfaces thanks to its rubber sole with Wave-Sipping for added hold. It’s made to allow for just the right amount of airflow to keep you cool and comfortable even after long hours spent on board and its perforated sides ensure just that. The Billfish was constructed using an all-leather upper unit that allows years of continuous wear without having to worry about them falling apart. A 360° lacing system will hold this pair tight to your feet and guarantees your shoes won’t fall off when you need them most! Rustproof eyelets are the perfect choice for boating because they will hold up nicely even while being repeatedly exposed to wet conditions.
Overall, this pair delivers nicely on its claims and is a great option for sailors of any skill level. Its molded EVA midsole prevents the aches and pains you can get from standing all day and its non-marking rubber sole will keep your decks looking pristine. This shoe a reasonably priced option that is ideal for shoppers on a budget!
2. Rugged Shark Atlantic
Dri-Lex Air Cool
Rugged Shark’s Atlantic is a premium choice of deck shoes that will work comfortably with boaters of every skill level. A classic silhouette and top grade leather materials help to make this option a comforting and stylish pair that will have you looking your best while you’re top-side. Extra cushioning and built-in odor control work together to make this one enjoyable option which is why wearers just can’t get enough of the Atlantic.
Rugged Shark promises unparalleled quality and superior design features with every pair. The Atlantic is a three-eye model that brings the perfect mix of style and functionality together for an A-grade choice. A comfortable Dri-Lex Air Cool Chamber Aero Spacer lining built into the tongue regulates the air temperature inside of the shoe and helps to reduce a build-up of sweat. Its removable antimicrobial footbed helps to eliminate odors before they start for a fresher all-day foot feel that lets you enjoy your sail without the threat of stinky feet.
Overall, the Atlantic is a top choice of boating wear that offers an excellent range of features appropriate for any level of sailing experience. Its slip-resistant SharkGrip sole is made from non-marking rubber so your decks will stay in pristine shape while you walk about and nylon lacing ensures a secure fit everytime you wear this pair. Anyone who is shopping on a tighter budget will love the affordability of these Rugged Shark’s, especially considering the sheer level of features they have to offer.
3. Sperry Authentic Original
360° Lace System
Sperry’s Authentic Original is the perfect choice for both advanced and novice sailors who are looking for more from their deck-shoes. Sperry is the original designer of boat-inspired attire and many accomplished sailors won’t wear anything other than these pairs. The Original is made from 100% leather and comes in a plethora of color choices to suit any taste. Its laid-back look and comforting wear make the Original a must-have for anyone who enjoys a casual sail and is the perfect choice for yacht clubs and other gatherings.
Since 1935, Sperry has been the leading name behind the boat and deck-inspired designs. During World War ll, the US Navy wore Sperry shoes and during the ’60s the Kennedy family was photographed wearing their pairs while on vacation. The Authentic Original promises to uphold the core values that this brand is all about which include the highest quality craftsmanship and an ultra-luxurious ride.
Overall, the Original lives up to its expectations and delivers an unparalleled performance! This shoe offers a non-slip rubber sole and Tru-Moc construction that help to uphold the original style of boating-wear. A 360° lacing system ensures that your shoes will stay firmly in place all throughout your sail and an EVA heel cup helps to better absorb the waves of shock from every step. This option is both affordable and functional which means it’s a great choice for anyone headed out to the sail the seven seas.
4. Dockers Lakeport
Sizes Run Small
Dockers’ Lakeport was made for yachting of any skill level and it delivers a smooth ride that’s perfect for cruising the seven seas. This pair comes in five nautical-inspired colorways which makes it easy to match with nearly any other sailing equipment and its authentic appearance will blend nicely with even the most accomplished of seamen.
Dockers promise to uphold the true boating style of shoe with their Lakeport and it delivers quite nicely. This option includes genuine leather uppers and handsewn construction that make for a durable ride. Its cupsole design ensures a perfect fit everytime while a memory foam insole helps to keep you comfortable even after hours of wear. The Lakeport is a flexible option that won’t restrict you while you’re on the move which is ideal for time spent on the deck.
Overall, this is an excellent choice of boating shoe that upholds its promise of quality and comfort! The Lakeport is an affordable option that is ideal for any level of experience thanks to its effortless wearability and cool looking sense of style. Choose from one of five colorways: dark tan, red-brown, dark taupe, tumbled nubuck, or red/brown.
5. Margaritaville Anchor
Margaritaville’s Anchor is a comfy two-eyelet lace-up that is geared towards boaters from every level of experience. This option comes in two colorways: brown and light tan, so you’ll have no trouble matching them with all of your nautical attire. Its padded collar and tongue offer additional support and comfort making the Anchor a plush choice for all your deck-side adventures.
Margaritaville promises to deliver a classic style of comfort with the Anchor and guarantees a solid delivery of performance-enhancing features that are jam-packed into this petite frame. The Anchor boasts a bright painted anchor design that adds to this pairs personality, along with contrast stitching at the sole and upper. The Anchor is an enjoyable option to wear thanks to its breathable and lightweight mesh side panels that allow for adequate airflow inside of the shoe and around the skin which helps to prevent a build-up of sweat and odor-causing bacteria.
Overall, this pair delivers on all of Margaritaville’s claims and offers a solid choice for both novice and experienced sailors. Its selling price is very affordable making it a great option for budget-conscious shoppers or just for those who live for the thrill of the bargain.
6. Timberland Two-Eye Boat
Timberland’s model is an excellent choice for sailors of any skill level and it delivers a smooth like that wearer just can’t get enough of. This pair offers the same standards of quality as all of Timberland’s designs only with an added nautical vibe. Its made from quality leather and comes in four colorways: dark brown, rootbeer, navy, and navy-smooth so you’ll have no trouble matching these with all of your sailing equipment.
Timberland guarantees that this product with keeping you comfortable and well-protected while you sail. This pair is as stylish as it is functional thanks to its white ledge look and smooth two-eye lacing. Seam-sealed construction ensures that you’ll stay totally dry no matter how wet the conditions are so you can feel comfortable all day long. Timberland is a brand that’s synonymous with quality craftsmanship and the Two-Eye model delivers well!
Overall, this pair is an excellent choice that offers a lot of value for such a reasonable selling price. Anyone who is looking for a stylish and fully-functional choice should consider opting for this pair! Wearers rave about its comforting foot feel and excellent waterproofing that help to make this shoe as popular as it is.
7. Sanuk TKO Loafer
Removable EVA Footbed
Sanuk’s TKO Loafer is for the young sailor at heart and offers a modernized take on the classic deck-inspired shoe. This pair comes in five colorways: black, brindle, natural, navy, and dark charcoal, which means it will be easy to match with all of your nautical gear. The great thing about this selection is that it looks so stylish you can wear it practically anywhere, not just while you’re onboard!
Sanuk is notorious for their surf-inspired geared and offers a huge selection of beach-ready wear. It’s only natural that they would promise a deck shoe that was made to deliver a smooth and comforting ride while also providing all of the necessary features for sailing the seven seas.
The TKO is a great choice overall! It offers a removable EVA insole for all-over comfort and an antimicrobial additive that helps to prevent odors before they start. Vulcanized construction ensures that this pair will last for ages and a sipped rubber sole provides superior traction on both wet and dry surfaces. This option is very affordable and is a popular choice among younger audiences who may just be finding their way into the world of sailing.
8. Bruno Marc Pitts
Latex Cushioned Footbed
May Slide Off
Bruno Marc’s Pitts Penny Loafer is a modernized take on the classic boating shoe. Its smooth finish and statement white outsole add to its versatile personality that is perfect for sailors of any skill level. Anyone shopping for a more trendy design to wear while they’re on-board will love the Pitts on-trend design and feature-rich ride.
Bruno Marc is noted for their quality designs and ever-trendy appearance. This brand promises to never compromise style over comfort and manages to seamlessly integrate the two into one enjoyable and an equally eye-pleasing pair of shoes. The Pitts Penny Loafer is everything you could need and more from an ocean-inspired design! It offers an Italian style and is made from soothing synthetic materials that are both breathable and lightweight. This pair’s man-made latex-cushioned footbed is ultra comfortable and ensures an enjoyable ride no matter hours you spend in them. Moc-toe construction and double-stitching help to make this pair a tough choice that won’t fall apart under the wear and tear of sailing so you can play as hard as you want to without having to worry about your shoes failing you.
Overall, the Pitts Penny loafer is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for an updated take on the classic deck-inspired style. This shoe is well-made and offers a comforting ride that wearers just can’t seem to get enough of. It’s priced incredibly reasonable and is perfect for shoppers who are on a tighter budget, though with this much style, these are an ideal choice for anyone!
9. Tommy Bahama Stripe Breaker
Tommy Bahama’s Stripe Breaker is a great looking pair of deck-inspired shoes. This pair is ideal for sailors looking for a more youthful appearance thanks to its super-cool style and on-trend design. These shoes are so hot you don’t just have to wear them while you’re on the water, they’ll look smart no matter the occasion!
Tommy Bahama offers a youthful alternative to the usual deck shoe and is perfect for trendy boaters. This pair promises to deliver a comforting and performance-geared ride and it comes through on every claim. Breathable textile materials help to keep you cool and comfortable while its non-slip rubber outsole ensures you’ll stay stable on your feet whether you’re on wet or dry terrain. This traditionally rooted deck shoe will have you sailing in total comfort and looks amazing while doing so!
Overall, this is a high-quality design that looks as good as it feels. Tommy Bahama is a trending brand that offers a classic option with updated benefits and a smooth cruising build. This shoe is an affordable choice that doesn’t scrimp on quality in order to look good.
10. Vilocy Vintage Boat
Textured Canvas Upper
Vilocy’s Vintage Loafer perfectly combines the old and new with its modernized take on the original deck-inspired shoe. This canvas pair is incredibly comfortable and super stylish! Its easy on-off wearability makes this option an effortless choice that will look amazing with nearly any outfit and can be worn while you’re at sea or anywhere else for that matter!
This option is as durable as it is trendy thanks to its double stitching and synthetic outsole that offers a slip-free environment. The Vintage is a flexible pair that offers complete comfort no matter how many hours you spend in them and its shock-absorbing latex materials help to prevent foot pain and lower limb fatigue.
Overall, this shoe delivers excellent value and comforting ride that’s perfect for trendy sailors looking to bring a little youth into their wardrobe. It's rolled moccasin stitching and textured canvas upper help to add a unique vibe to this slip-on shoe. Air ventilation along the arch helps to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the day so you won’t have to worry about sweaty smelly shoes.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you’re yachting it’s very important that you properly protect your feet from any potential injuries. There are all sorts of potential hazards that you could face while on board and the wrong choice of deck shoes can make matters all the worse. There are certain aspects to keep an eye out for while making your choice which we’ll get more into detail with now.
Firstly, a reinforced toe is a great consideration because it will provide twice the protection for that delicate area of the foot. If a reinforced pair isn’t an option, at least look for a closed toe rather than an open. An open toe leaves you too exposed and puts you at risk of getting seriously hurt if anything happens to fall onto your foot, which can easily happen while you’re rocking about on deck.
Secondly, you want to check the kind of cushioning in the footbed because this is what will protect your arch area. The arch is very susceptible to injuries and strain which is why it's so important to properly protect it. It's also a good idea to check the type of closure the pair has because there are certain benefits to each style. Slip-on pairs are commonly associated with yachting because they’re very comfortable but they aren’t the safest because they can easily slip off your feet which raises the risk of accidentally falling. Laces are a good choice because you can adjust the fit to your own foot and they will hold the shoe firmly to your foot. The downside to laces is that they have the potential to un-tie which also posses a risk of tripping.
Having a pair of nautical footwear that isn’t water-resistant won’t do you much good while you’re at sea! Waterproofing is one of the most important consideration while you make the choice of which pair to buy and should always be taken into consideration. There are certain materials that offer excellent protection from water and moisture like rubber and Gore-tex, which are two of the best choices for any water-related activities.
Rubber will provide 100% waterproofing and is often used for either the outsole or the entire build of the shoe. If you can opt for a pair that’s entirely made from rubber you can rest assured that no water will be able to sneak inside of your shoe, whereas, if the upper is made from another material there is always a chance of leaks. Gore-tex is mostly used in the lining and it provides an excellent shield from any kind of water.
There are certain features to look for in a pair of deck shoes that can really make or break any pair. The following are some aspects that you should hope to see with this style of footwear.
Lining: The lining of a shoe makes constant contact with your foot which is why choosing the right lining material is a must for comfortable boating. It can also help to keep you dryer and prevent a build-up of sweat an odor-causing bacteria.
Leathers are a popular material used for lining because it wicks excess moisture away from the skin while allowing adequate airflow inside of the shoe and around the foot.
Dry Time: It’s important that a deck shoe is made from a material that dries quickly so that you won’t be uncomfortable for too long if you happen to end up with wet feet.
Traction: Having good grip is a must while you’re on the water! That’s why its imperative to look for a shoe with a tractioned outsole. Wave-sipping is a popular way of making the sole hold better to both wet and soft surfaces through the addition of wave-shaped tread along the bottom.
Leather: While leather is one of the most popular choices, it also has its drawbacks. On the plus side, leather is breathable and if properly treated, it’s also resistant to water. Leathers have a knack for drawing excess perspiration away from the skin in a process called, wicking. This helps to prevent a build-up of sweat and odor-causing bacteria. The downside to this material is that without proper pre-treating it will occur salt damage when worn sailing.
Gore-Tex: Gore-tex is an excellent material used to make waterproof shoes because of its incredible ability to keep water away from the skin. This synthetic fabric is lightweight and comfortable to wear, though it does not wick moisture as leathers do.
Rubber: Rubber is the best material for waterproofing any shoe! It is 100% waterproof and relatively comforting to wear.
Canvas: Canvas has gained popularity in recent years for its lightweight structure that is noted for keeping wearers cooler. Though it is not water-resistant which can be a drawback for yachting.
The Sailing shoe, also known as the top-sider, has managed to bridge the gap from being known as strictly work or utility shoes to being a staple in men’s and women’s fashion. Lisa Birnbach’s 1980 publication, The Official Preppy Handbook, helped to turn this style of footwear into a household one and it was no longer just for sailors to wear.
Yachting shoes are easily recognized by their unique appearance which will usually see a moc-toe design with two to three-eyelet lacing and a non-marking outsole that’s often white. In the past, this type of footwear was mostly made from leather, but today they’re crafted from other materials like a canvas which offers a lighter feel that’s better for warm weather.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Before sailors had modern navigational systems, British ships would carry a cage of crows. When released, the crows fly straight to the nearest land,
thus telling the men where the nearest land was.
This style of footwear often requires some breaking in. When you first take the shoes out of the box, feel around inside of them for any harder areas in the leather and manually massage them out.
Also check for pointy threads or seams that stick out and snip them off if possible.
Other Factors to Consider
When it comes to the color of your boating gear, you’re going to want to stick to shades that are nautical. These include blue, beige, white, and tans. With blues, navy and royal hues are the most appropriate and look great with light colored clothing. Peach is another color that’s perfect to wear while you’re at sea that isn’t too heavy so it won’t make you hot while you wear it. Darker colors tend to be warmer so it’s best not to opt for blacks or greys unless you’re boating in the winter time.
Traditionally, this type of footwear would come in a darker shade, though nowadays, you can find them in all of the lighter colors too! Just be aware that lighter colors will show dirt and stains much better than darker ones would so take that into consideration while making your selection.
When it comes to boating wear, certain brands stand above the rest! Sperry is considered to be the original captain’s wear and many sailors won’t wear anything but. Though with so many other brands joining the race and tackling boat-inspired designs, it’s well worth trying out a new designer nowadays.
Sperry dates back to the early 1900s and is considered to be the first line dedicated to crafting quality equipment for sailors. During World War ll, the US Navy wore shoes made by Sperry and many famous people, including the Kennedy family have been photographed wearing designs from this line.
Boating is an intensive activity that requires the right kind of personal equipment in order for things to sail smoothly. With the original deck-inspired designs born to the Sperry line, it’s left some sailors loyal to one brand only often causing them to miss out on something new. While Sperry is the industry leader thanks to their well-constructed pairs that hold true to the original concept, there are several other brands that deliver excellent designs of their own.
After careful research, we’ve narrowed it down to the ten best boat-ready pairs that deliver a solid performance and nautical appearance. These pairs are made for life on the open seas and offer unique benefits designed to make life behind the wheel.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are there any brands that compare with Sperry?
Sperry is considered to be the original brand behind the sailing shoe design and to this day offers incredible footwear. With that being said, there really isn’t another brand that is equal to, or better than, Sperry. There are however different labels that have stepped up in recent years that produce excellent options and unique looking designs that many younger yachtsmen enjoy.
q: How should I care for my sailing shoes?
Caring for this style of shoe is relatively easy and there are several different methods that can be used. Firstly, you can simply remove excess dirt with a bristle brush by gently brushing away loose debris. Or, you could use soap and water by gently wiping your shoes clean. Those are two of the most simple yet effective methods.
q: Is leather really a good choice for water?
Yes, leather can be a great choice for water-related activities, so long as it’s been pre-treated. If it hasn’t been treated the leather won’t tolerate water well at all and it could quickly ruin your shoes.
q: Should my shoes be waterproof?
While waterproof is ideal, if you don't plan on actually going in the water you can wear whatever it is you prefer. Just remember that you are on the water, accidents can happen, and if your shoes do happen to get wet you won't want to ruin something expensive and beloved.
q: Besides being water approved, what else should I look for?
The traction on the bottom of your shoe is going to be very vital. You don't want to accidentally slip or trip while out sailing as this could lead to a dangerous situation. Ensure that your shoes will grip the deck well regardless of it's wet or dry.