Superior Grip, Classic Style: The Best Boat Shoes In 2022
The 1930s called, and they’re back again…well, almost! Boat shoes were a big hitter among the New York crowd when yachts were shipping off from multiple ports in the Manhattan area, giving a nautical appeal to the wardrobes of the post-roaring twenties men and women. Fortunately, they’re back and better than ever. Now, boat shoes can turn a casual outfit into something sophisticated and classy. We love the canvas and leather uppers, how the rubber soles provide superior grip, and the all-around style of the classic boat shoe.
Whether you’re looking for deck shoes with good traction and water management for fishing or sailing, or a pair of comfy and great looking boat shoes for the office, our guide to the best boat shoes has got you covered.
- Best Choice: Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Authentic Original Boat Shoe
- Slight Twist on a Classic Style: Sperry Top-SIder Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe
- Most Bang for Your Buck: Margaritaville Men’s Anchor Lace Boat Shoe
- Casual Style: Globalwin Men’s Casual Loafers
- Best for the Office: Sperry Top-Sider 2-Eye Canoe Mocs
- Most Comfortable: Timberland Men’s Classic Two-Eye Boat Shoe
- Best Synthetic Sole: Rockport Men’s Perth Boat Shoe
- Premium Pick: Sebago Men’s Docksides
- Statement Shoe: Unlisted, By Kenneth Cole Santon Boat Shoe
- Tried and True: Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Bowman Boat Shoe
- Budget Buy: Dockers Men’s Beacon Boat Shoe
The Best Boat Shoe
Sperry takes the cake with one killer boat shoe. And so, aptly, we’ve named these the best boat shoes for men. First of all, we’re big fans of versatility in design, and they give you up to thirty options to choose from between coloration and style. It certainly doesn’t get any better than that and many shoe manufacturers don’t come close to giving you that many options. Besides the looks, it’s about comfort and construction: all leather, all the time. You’ll slip right into these shoes, feeling completely at home, while feeling comfortable wearing them all day long. Humor aside, we couldn’t be happier with the non-marking rubber outsole, and the shock-absorbing EVA heel cup. Sperry sits at number one for value and comfort: it’s time to hit the boardwalk, lads.
As for the ladies, you’ll be pleased to hear learn Sperry also offers fantastic women’s boat shoes: Sperry Women’s A/O 2-Eye Boat Shoe.
Non-marking rubber outsole
Sturdy leather strap construction w/ metal eyelets
Leather construction; available in over thirty different designs/colors
- ModelAuthentic 2-Eye Boat Shoe
- Weight2.19 Pounds
Sounds like a ZZ Top song or a new A&E reality show, but it’s the title that Sperry tossed onto one of their best boat shoes. The Billfish 3-Eye is about as far away as you can get from boat shoes while still sticking to the general construction and providing that long stitching pattern on top of your feet to give a nautical feel. Thanks to the air mesh and leather hybrid construction, these slip-on shoes are breathable and durable against the elements, whether that’s the roaring ocean waves or if it’s the festivities around the backyard on a Fourth of July weekend. Either way, you get to choose between a handful of killer designs, and get the same great Sperry quality that earned our top spot on this list.
You can combine these great-looking shoes with one of the top leather backpacks from our list.
Leather and air mesh construction
EVA heel cup for comfort and support
360-degree lacing system
- ModelBillfish Boat Shoe
- Weight2.37 Pounds
Legend has it that Margaritaville Men’s Anchor Lace Boat Shoes won’t make Jimmy Buffett appear and start singing, but they’re still fun either way. These ultra stylish boat shoes cost next to nothing (for the quality they bring to the table), and are versatile without compromising on that rustic look that sailing shoes are known for. Two leather straps cross near the tongue and meld into the comfortable padding that keeps your ankles from chafing, even if you’re not using socks. All around, it’s a leather and textile build that’s destined to last, if you’re adventurous enough to handle it. Breathable, affordable, and complimenting to your wardrobe: what more could you ask for?
Mesh upper section; breathable
Soft padded collar and tongue eliminate chafing when not using socks
Leather and textile construction
- ModelAnchor Lace
- Weight12.5 Ounces
The Globalwin Men’s Loafers are casual enough to wear with just about any look, whether you go with our favorite white/grey or choose from the other seven styles available. These comfortable boat shoes have a faux leather top, the traditional double lace over the tongue, and a serious sense of style when you slip them on your feet. They don’t take long to break in and deal with oncoming saltwater and wet surfaces with relative ease. If you look for angular lines, you’ll be happy to know that this pair of sailing shoes narrows your feet, giving you a slightly taller appearance. Hey, every little bit helps, right?
Pair these with an amazing V-neck T-shirt and you are ready for a boat adventure.
Faux leather upper
Quick break-in period
Comfortable and narrowing
- BrandGlobal Win
- Weight1.4 Pounds
You can’t escape the Sperry; not on this list. Sperry is the name you think of when you think of boat shoes for men and women and they put out some of the best boat shoes, over and over again. Much like their 3-Eye model, the 2-Eye comes with rust-resistant eyelets to run your laces through while sticking to that rubber non-marking sole that we love them for. On top of that, they went the extra mile with comfort, giving you dual-density padding along the bottom. This works for immediate comfort and some support throughout the day to reduce fatigue. Last but not least, the shock-absorbing EVA heel adds so much to these moccasins. Whether you choose our favorite (tan) or the other four styles, you’re sure to fall in love with Sperry one way or another.
Dual-density bottom gives you added comfort
Non-marking rubber outsole
Rust-proof eyelets take on water like a champ
Good shock absorption
- ModelMako 2-Eye Canoe Moc Lace-Up Shoe
- Weight12 Ounces
No ultimate footwear list is complete without Timberland making an appearance. The original makers of the yellow boot took their nautical caps, put their heads together, and made one dapper pair of deck shoes. Leather-lined EVA footbeds cradle your heels and remove pressure from your arches, while the rubber sole adds some nice pep to your step. On top of that, this deck shoe is made from primarily leather, giving you serious durability. You’ll have these for years to come, whether they’re going on the boat deck with you every Sunday or merely adding a more sophisticated element to your casual wardrobe. Timberland is synonymous with quality: they deliver and never fail to impress.
For more stylish & casual footwear, check out our guide to the best Sanuks for men.
Leather-lined EVA footbeds
Primary leather construction
- ModelClassic 2-Eye Boat Shoe
- Weight4 Pounds
We know you can likely see yourself in Rockport’s killer boat shoe. Full grain leather and a dual eyelet design leave nothing to be desired: you’re looking at exactly what you get, with an added benefit. You get a little pep in your step with the synthetic sole, so you’re not kicking around on pavement with sore heels by the end of the day. It’s not all about being on the boat, it’s also about heading into town and enjoying the sights, and your heels shouldn’t be killing you like a double-shift Denny’s waitress by the end of the day. Do yourself a favor; slip into something that’s comfortable, and built to last for years beyond anything else you own. We love these slip-on shoes for their comfort and full-grain leather upper.
Full grain leather construction
Synthetic sole material (adds nice bounce)
Mocc-toe two-eyelet design
- Weight2 Pounds
You’re a high-roller, aren’t you? We’ve got just the thing. Sebago has graced the feet of tens of thousands of men, giving them a unique style to cherry-pick from with over twenty different ways to approach this boat shoe. Our favorite is the grey leather, which goes wonderfully with the white stitching and rawhide laces. Every part of this shoe defines your outfit, not the other way around. Thanks to the primary leather upper construction and EVA foam insole, these high-end boat shoes are built to cradle your feet in comfort and weather every literal storm with you. Rain or shine, boat or the docksides, you’re good to rock and roll with Sebago as your wingman.
For some awesome waterproof boots, check our helpful guide.
Primary leather construction w/ EVA foam insole
Available in over twenty different styles and colors
- ModelDocksides B727
- Weight2.29 Pounds
Nothing’s cooler than not caring enough even to list your own shoe, right? Humor aside, this Unlisted Santon boat shoe brings all the quality of Kenneth Cole to the table that we’ve grown to know and love over the years. This modern take on the classic boat shoe features canvas and a flexible synthetic sole. These deck shoes bring all the rustic charm to the table while keeping the unnecessary add-ons at home. No frills, all flair with these guys. The traditional two-eye design and the thin brown strip above the outsole showcase attention to detail that can’t be beaten, while the durable interior keeps you comfortable and under protection. Best of all? Kenneth Cole’s name is widespread and adored, but the prices are kept relatively low.
Synthetic sole is comfortable and helps keep costs down
Available in six unique styles
- BrandUnlisted by Kenneth Cole
- Weight13 Ounces
You didn’t think we’d leave ole Tommy out, did you? While they weren’t the top-tier boat shoes we were hoping for, Hilfiger gives you a very attractive pair with over eight different options to choose from for style while keeping true to the brand name we’ve all come to know, love, and trust. 100% leather upper blended with a durable rubber sole gives you sustainability for the ages, while looking smart-casual. Round moc toe stitching, non-marking siped rubber outsole, and lace-up closure make this deck shoe not only stylish and ready for any adventure, but also good-quality with great dry/wet traction.
100% leather construction
Rubber sole for grip and comfort
Low-top arch for support and style
- BrandTommy Hilfiger
- Weight2 Pounds
Dockers have been in the shoe business for over 30 years, and are owned by Levi Strauss & Co. So, with those credentials, you can expect high-quality materials, great style, and generally well-made shoes. These boat shoes are made from 90% genuine leather and 10% rubber, making them both durable and comfortable. The grippy rubber sole keeps you from slipping, even on wet and uneven surfaces. They’ve also been treated with NeverWet, which makes them impervious to water and stains. You can spill red wine on these shoes, and it’ll slide right off. The inside of the shoe has been treated with CleanSport NXT, an antimicrobial treatment that prevents odors. If you’re looking for an inexpensive boat shoe that can genuinely withstand life on board, the Dockers Men’s Beacon Boat Shoe is the way to go.
90% leather and 10% rubber
Treated with NeverWet
Inside treated with CleanSport NXT
Lightweight EVA outsole
Why Trust Us
We're GearHungry, as in that's our name and we're always hungry for the latest and greatest gear - it's our specialty. We spend hours researching every single guide and ensuring we've found the true cream of the crop in every guide. Our team cumulatively has decades of experience in gear testing, sales and reviews, meaning we're well versed in what separates the good from the great. I've spent much of my career focused on apparel and footwear as an athlete and a writer, meaning shoes are one of my most familiar categories, so I'm excited to bring you a guide to the best boat shoes.
Who This Is For
This guide is for anyone looking for a pair of boat shoes, otherwise known as sailing shoes or deck shoes. Whether you want to change up your wardrobe with some summer flair or you're learning to sail, we have a wide variety of some of the best options on the market in this guide.
How We Picked
As with most of the guides I write, I focus on curating a selection that has something for various user groups and people. In this case, I aimed for a variety of materials, colors, styles and price points, since deck shoes shouldn't break the bank. We looked at the best-selling and most highly-rated boat shoes for men and women to complete our round-up of the best boat shoes.
These are pretty straightforward shoes, but there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes time to buying them. We’ve broken down the dos and don'ts, and the key features you should look for in your next pair of boat shoes.
Features To Look For In Boat Shoes
Material - Leather and canvas are your go-to construction here, but other materials will appear too as we look at the modern boat shoe. A leather upper is a classic style.
Comfort - You don’t have to kill your feet to look good: you can have function and flair, the two commandments here at Gear Hungry. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. Most boat shoes should keep your feet comfortable for all-day wear. Some features that add to comfort are a padded tongue, a molded EVA footbed, and a memory foam insole.
Grip and traction - With these being designed for nautical use, they have to have some form of grip along the bottom, this often looks like rubber outsoles or unique tread patterns. Furthermore, your bare feet should have a fair amount of traction to keep you in the shoe instead of on the deck.
Water-resistance - They don’t call them boat shoes for no reason: most of these are water-resistant, but only to a point. It allows them to last much longer, especially if you’re just using them for casual occasions.
Breathability - Especially in warm weather months, your shoes need to be breathable. If water gets in your shoes and they aren't breathable, your feet will prune, become uncomfortable and your shoes will degrade or even mold. You want to keep your feet dry and comfortable as much as possible. Leather uppers and canvas upper options are most common but neither of these is very breathable. Look for eyelets and vents to assist with breathability in your boat shoes.
Slip resistance - Slip resistance is crucial for nearly any pair of shoes. Falling all the time is going to be problematic no matter where you are. On a boat, not only are you contending with a slippery floor, but you're also going to be dealing with plenty of wet surfaces and water on the deck of the boat. It's crucial that your shoes feature grippy rubber soles and keep you from slipping and sliding around any more than you need to.
Design - It’s a fashion statement, not an ultra innovative way to wear shoes. The design element is half the battle, so make sure it works for you and your image before even putting it into your cart. Whether you spend a lot of time sailing, on a boat, or want to put a summery twist on your wardrobe, there are modern boat shoes out there for you.
Color - This includes the dye potency and the likelihood of it bleeding into your socks (should you choose to wear them) or coloring your skin. We prefer less potent dyes, making your shoes odor-free and able to be used right out of the box. Neutrals will work with most outfits like a button-down or polo. If you prefer to make more of a statement and want your shoes to be the highlight of your ensemble, go for more bold colors that are bound to stand out.
How To Wear Boat Shoes
It sounds like a pretty straightforward concept, right? I mean, you’re probably wearing shoes right now. But here, we’re referring to how to style the versatile boat shoe. Here are a few different ways you can wear boat shoes and make them work for you.
- Opt for more casual clothing. You can pair them with a polo shirt, some blue jeans or even colored (gray, brown, vibrant colors), so long as your boat shoes have a laid-back style. This gives you a very trendy look and the right boat shoes will take your casual style up a notch.
- Boat shoes also work well with shorts, giving your calves a longer appearance, which can help you seem taller (if you’re not wearing socks; it’s all thanks to the extra ankle skin being exposed).
- If you’re heading out on the boat, a semi-nautical look is excellent, too. These usually involve some sort of neutral/vibrant horizontal striped shirt, a nylon belt, and a tan or light-colored pair of shorts.
As a rule of thumb, choose more simple, casual, neutral clothing options to work with the classic style and give yourself maximum comfort.
Boat Shoes FAQ
Q: Can you wear socks with boat shoes?
A: You remember when people used to be called shoobies? Well, we don’t either, but at one point in time, that was a thing. It’s kind of the same concept if you decide to wear boat shoes and socks together. These shoes are designed to be worn without socks, accounting for water splashing around while you’re on a boat and all. You can choose to wear socks but it's a far cry from the classic look of the classic boat shoe.
Q: Are boat shoes smart casual?
A: The traditional boat shoe toes a very fine line in the fashion world. Boat shoes (depending on the brand) are similar to casual loafers, without requiring as much outfit coordination. For instance, you’ll match your boat shoes to a casual outfit, such as jeans and a simple button-up short sleeve shirt, but you wouldn’t match boat shoes to an exhausted casual look, that is, the rolled-up sleeves, vest, undone tie type of look.
We consider them the bridge between casual and smart, giving a slightly more posh look to your jeans and t-shirt look. The simple, little things that you do are much more impactful than you think. Switch out your sneakers for a pair of these sailing shoes, and you’ll see a facelift to your outfit of choice.
Q: How to tie boat shoes?
A: Most deck shoes don't stay on your feet exclusively because of the laces. So a small bow is perfectly fine.