Best Boat Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Boat shoes, you may have guessed, were designed specifically for walking on the slippery deck for those out sea. Sailors used them for the simple fact they were easy to air out, included waterproof leather or breathable mesh uppers, and were non-slip. Although, in the late 1900’s they began to catch on as a fashion trend in most countries.
You can usually recognize them by their moccasin-like design, and sometimes the line is blurred so much that there isn’t much of a difference between the two. Or, at least until you hit a wet, slippery deck to find out that your mocs don’t have the grip and water resistance a legitimate boat shoe has. There’s the difference.
- Skechers Flagship
- Resalyte cushioning
- Dunham Captain
- waterproof leather
- Tommy Hilfiger Bowman
- Rawhide laces
By the 1990’s, boat shoes were being worn as dress shoes by both men and women, boys and girls. Despite being made to be worn without socks, the trend to wear them with was formed, and they were no longer just for sailors or a deck shoe anymore. Today, they fall under many categories and are even associated with the preppy style. One thing for sure is, no matter how you wear them, they are a staple in the history of well designed, catchy and performing footwear.
10 Best Boat Shoes
1. Skechers Flagship
if you're troubled with aches after being on your feet all day, you may want to consider this pair of boat shoes. This is simply for the fact they have extra cushioning, and a rubber outsole to ensure you stay up on your feet, at all times. Not only are the insoles and midsole made for comfort, the outsole is too.
Lightweight Fabric Upper
The upper is not made of leather, so it is not waterproof but is much lighter in weight. The fabric is also super breathable, so the lack of waterproofing is compensated for by allowing air circulation and temperature regulation. In the end, you get a better breathing and drying boat shoe.
Cost & Value
The Flagship is on the average side when it comes to out-of-pocket cost but its true value comes from the diverse use you can get out of them. Yes, they can be used onboard but can also be used as a fashion or casual shoe. Walking all day never felt so good with this "airy" slip-on boat shoe.
Fabric Upper for Breathability
Low heel for natural foot angle
All-around light in weight
Cushioned Resalyte sole
Energy return footbed
Lack of arch support
2. Dunham Captain
With its midsole and footbed being composed of EVA foam, you will experience the highest comfortability then with any other material composition. Why? Well, EVA's properties allow for a sponge-like softness with the ability to flex without breaking.
Those with flat feet can finally get the perfect shoe for them. Along with the width options, there are also extended sizes. The perfect fit isn't far away. Don't bother with tight-fitting shoes any longer.
This boat shoe has a steep price but it certainly makes up for the out of pocket cost by its sheer quality. The durability for one will keep the shoe going far longer than even the laces will last. Just have a second pair of your favorite laces ready and you'll be going strong with these for as long time.
Water resistance leather material
Eva Cushioned Midsole
Eva and memory foam footbed
Laces are difficult to keep tied
3. Tommy Hilfiger Bowman
The leather is a bit flexible so the fit is adjustable. If you get a slightly tight fit, don't worry they will loosen up. In fact, they run a little bit on the wide side. After you slide your feet into the shoe, you can then tighten as needed using its lace. The best part about its lacing system is that it runs around the rim so the lace fastens perfectly.
Waterproof Leather Upper
With a waterproof upper, you don't need to worry about your feet becoming soaked. The leather is treated with oils to seal any pores to be truely effective in this area. This shoe is made to be on deck with.
For a high-quality leather boat shoe, the price to buy them is quite fair. The strong leather upper will ensure they last without succumbing to water damage. The rubber sole and lacing system that runs the full extent of the rim for grip and proper fit. If that's not enough for one shoe, they also incorporate an extremely fashionable design.
Waterproof leather upper
Low heel for natural feel
Rim-wrapped lacing structure
seams tend to tear if rough
4. Sperry Top-Sider Sea Kite
The outsole isn't the typical fashion shoe outsole. No, it is made specifically to prevent slipping and falling. They use a technology called Wave-Siping, which is just another term for leaving a route in the outsole grooves that lead water out from under the foot.
Style and Performane
Not only are these for th sailor on deck, but they are fashionable enough to be used with casual wear. This means from sea to shore to indoors and all around, you will find perfect use with the Sperry top-sider Sea Kite.
At just marginally above the average cost of quality bost shoes, these are worth checking out. They have a bit more casual style than some more higher fashioned boat shoes but perform perfectly when put to the test, on and off-deck.
Water Resistant leather upper
Mesh windows for airflow
Comfortable cushioned lining and footbed
Slip-resistant outsole profile
Grippy synthetic sole material
Textured insole said to bit a bit irritating
Laces wear out quickly
5. Columbia Bahama Vent PFG
This feature would be perfect for sailors on deck who have sensitive feet and need maximum drainage. Not only does it contain synthetic mesh to allow for moisture to evaporate more easily, but also has holes at the sides of the sole to let any trapped water find its way out from the inside of the shoe.
Outsole Provides Perfect Traction
When you're on a wet deck you don't have to worry about slipping and sliding around it. You also don't have to worry about falling on your head or overboard, which is known to happen. With the special rubber outsole that's made to expel water out to prevent hydroplaning of the feet, these are perfect for your time on the water.
Mix of leather and mesh
Cushioned Techlite sole material
Water and air ports in heel area
More comfort than the ordinary
No wide available
some say the leather tends to keep moisture in
6. Sperry Top-Sider Ivyfish
The mesh side panels assist in expelling water from the insides of the shoes. Water can easily come in through the rim, so this drainage system ensures none stays inside. It works much like the drainage ports you can find put into the soles of some boat shoes.
A padded collar keeps the top of the foot cushioned and blister free. Blisters have been known to form from wet feet and the roughness of bare leather on the skin. With the soft padding, that is avoided.
360-degree leather lacing system
Minor arch and heel support
Stylish for casual wear
Made specific for on deck
7. Clarks Jocolin Vista
The perforated upper allows for much better breathability and regulates the temperature inside the shoe much more efficiently. A lower temperature inside the shoe means less perspiring and less moisture to worry about. These are great if you typically deal with sweaty feet.
Ethylene-vinyl acetate Sole
Because Eva is lightweight, and the upper is made of mesh rather than leather, the overall weight of the shoe is much less than the typical boat shoe. But, Eva isn't only light in weight. It is also super durable and cushion-like. That means you will be walking on a cushion that will hold up to hard surfaces.
Mesh upper with minor leather overlays
Lightweight EVa cushioned sole
Ortholite cushioned insole
Known to fit loose
8. Lacoste Dreyfus
The thin rubber sole allows the shoe to be more flexible while still providing the same amount of protection. They are also able to provide slip-resistant traction, with less weight. The end result is a cushioned shoe with medium weight.
Made with style in mind
Style is a strong aspect with the Dreyfus. They are known to be worn on a daily basis from casual wear to dress style. With the slot-collar and perforated quarter with logo in plain sight, they sure are a unique pair.
All-around leather upper
Detailed design great for diverse style types
360 lace structure
durable, flexible outsole
Not so good in ventilation
9. Rockport Perth
This is a shoe that has a bit of class in it and tends to be obtained as a dress shoe rather than by sailors themselves unless they have a formal occasion to attend to. You're more likely to see this shoe paired with a fancy get-up but even works as casual wear. The side lacing is purely aesthetic.
Textured synthetic rubber sole
The sole along with the upper leathger makes for a decent boat shoe for any occasion. With a textured sole, grip and traction will not be a problem whether on a slippery floor or boat deck.
10. Margaritaville Anchor
The elastic panels allow for a more conforming fit. They span the rim and ensure that shoe is snug but not tight against your feet. It also ensures the shoe won't slip off as it has a slip-on design with no laces.
Sipped rubber outsole
A special outsole is always required for footwear that's made to go u against slippery, wet floor surfaces. This design allows for both traction on wet surfaces and wonderful traction of dry as well. They are great for walking on concrete, even on hot, sunny days as they don't retain heat at all.
Large mesh portions on upper for air flow
Super grippy oustole
Small for wide feet
There you have it. The highest rated and most effetive boat shoes available in 2017. Not only are they made to perform on board a boat, but they incorporate a bit of fashion and style as well. Some are made solely for on-dek use and some made to wear for formal events and on boat. Some of the more diverse options don’t exel at one thing though. The one’s that do stik to being solely boat shoes with fashion not considered tend to perform better when it really counts.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Boat Shoes
Ability to be worn effectively on a wet surface
Since boat shoes are made to be worn while on a boat to prevent slipping and water retention, we included this dynamic in our research. What we found is that traction on wet surfaces comes from the material of the outer most part of the sole that comes into contact with the ground and the tread pattern. Sticky rubber, as they call it, is most effective. This can be from Vibram, be a mixture of EVA foam and much more. Although, It wasn’t more the rubber than it was the herringbone-like outsole pattern. This pattern or outsole profile was one of the first designs for boat shoes by the first to ever create what we know as a boat shoe. The
Although, It wasn’t more the rubber than it was the herringbone-like outsole pattern. This pattern or outsole profile was one of the first designs for boat shoes by the first to ever create what we know as a boat shoe. The design mimics that of a dogs paw. The padding of a dogs paw has grooves that let it traverse slippery surfaces, like a boat deck when its wet, effectively. The pattern is still utilized today for its effectiveness and the design has been adapted among many shoes.
Ability to Air Out easily or Resist Moisture
Some boat shoe designs are made specifically to resist any sort of moisture intake or retention. Others are made to air out and dry quickly rather than preventing the intake of moisture in the first place. This boils down to the upper material they are made of mainly, but there are some other small factors that tip the scale.
Leather Upper – Leather is commonly seen in quality boat shoes as it’s natural ability to be water resistant. To further waterproof the material, oils are used to coat the leather. This prevents water from entering the shoe, although has its downsides. One of the downsides is that water can still enter the shoe from the top, trapping the water in. Although, this is what was first used in boat shoes when they were made for the Navy.
Synthetic or Mesh Upper – It is also common to see boat shoes with mesh uppers. This is because mesh is extremely breathable and provides the best possible drainage. This means water will easily get into your shoes but comes out just as easy. Becuase of the airflow, mesh uppers dry out quickly. It also allows for temperature regulation, keeping the feet cool. When they are cool, you won’t have to worry about excessive sweating. Consider the two types of materials, and make the decision based on where exactly you will be taking the shoes.
Some shoes will even have a mix of mesh and leather, which allow a bit of mixed results. Check the exact specs on the pairs above to see what would be best for you.
Fashion or Performance
Be careful what you are choosing. There is a line between fashion and performance but it may not always be apparent with boat shoes. As they rose oin popularity, more than just sailors were wearing them. They became a fashion trend and to this day are worn between professionals, for casual use and formally.
Although they were initially made for sailors you can now find them in various styles. Some have replaced their sneakers and slippers for a good pair of boat style shoes. Some wear them with or without socks, although if you are wearing for performance purposes, we do not recommend socks. On the other hand, you will find those that are true to the shoe. This means they will only wear the original made by Sperry. They will only wear legitimate boat shoes made to perform for the navy, which is how most would see them fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best boat shoe?
In 2017, we recommend the Skechers Flagship, but there are so many great boat shoes that could have taken the top spot. It’s hard to choose, but according to wear tester feedback, it would have to be either the Dunham Captain, Bowman by Tommy Hilfiger and of course the Flagship by Skechers. As new models become evaluated, we will update out list to always provide the absolute top quality for the time.
Q: Is a Sperry a boat shoe, or what is it?
That is exactly what it is. Sperry is a brand, the first maker of actual boat shoes, and they still produce the original. Don’t be hesitant to pick up a pair of Sperry boat shoes. They are a quality and reputable brand.
Q: Can socks be worn with boat shoes?
Socks should only be worn with boat shoes if for fashion or everyday purposes. If worn on a boat for performance, they should be worn barefoot.
Q: How can I make my boat shoe more comfortable?
The best way to make your boat shoes more comfortable is to use orthotics. A custom insert or gel pad will do wonders while still maintaining the overall effectiveness of the boat shoe. There are many different inserts to choose from for an array of different uses. Some boat shoes come with removable inserts, to easily accomodate for a custom.
Q: How long does it usually take to break in boat shoes?
If you’re wearing leather boat shoes it may take a few wears but a minimalistic type made primarily of mesh may not need breaking in at all. Consider the build of the shoe and the material as a more heavy shoe will generally take longer to break in properly.
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