A Complete Guide to Boat Shoes

Boat shoes have been a staple in the shoe market for decades, and their timeless design has helped them to maintain popularity. There are many different styles of boat shoes on the market today, so finding one that suits your style is no trouble at all! In this article we will discuss the history of boat shoes, how they became popular in America in the 1930s through 1940s, thanks to Paul Sperry, and what you should look for when buying a new pair of deck shoes.

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What is boat shoes?

Boat shoes are a style of footwear that became popular in America during the 1930s and 1940s. They were originally designed as shoes to wear on boats, as their name suggests, but they have since become a popular staple in the shoe market for both men and women. Boat shoes are typically made from leather or canvas, with rubber soles that provide traction and prevent slipping. They are typically lace-up shoes, but some styles have been designed as slip-ons.

When was boat shoes invented?

Boat shoes were first invented in the 1930s by Paul A. Sperry and they quickly became popular among American boaters. The design of boat shoes was based on traditional British sailing shoes, which were designed to provide traction and protection from the elements while sailing.

Should you wear shoes on a boat?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question – it really depends on your preference – and of course you should always follow the rules set by the captain.

Some people feel more comfortable wearing shoes while boating, as they provide extra protection against slipping and give you a better grip on the deck.

However, others believe that going barefoot provides a more natural feel for the boat and allows you to interact with the water more naturally.

If you choose to wear shoes on the boat there are som guidelines to follow:

  • Always wear shoes with a non-slip sole, such as boat shoes.
  • Never wear high heels as they can damage the boat.

What to look for when shopping for boat shoes?

There are a few things you should look for when shopping for new boat shoes. The most important is finding a shoe that you feel comfortable in and matches the style and color that suits your personal taste. You should also consider the type of material the shoes are made from, as well as the sole.


The most important feature is the type of sole that your boat shoes have. As mentioned earlier, they should be made from rubber and provide good traction to prevent slipping on wet surfaces such as docks or boats.

Another important factor is that they should not leave any marks on the boat so they should be non-marking soles.


The upper of your boat shoes should be made from a durable material that can withstand the elements. You will want to find a good water resistant material such as leather or canvas.

Laces or no laces?

Laces are a good choice for boat shoes because they provide the most adjustable fit. Lace-less or slip-on styles tend to be less durable and can give you blisters, so if possible try on both types of shoe to find which one works best for your feet.

Are they in style?

Boat shoes have been in style for many years and show no signs of going out of fashion. In fact, their timeless design is what has helped them maintain their popularity for so long.

Can I wear them at the office?

Most boat shoes are casual footwear, but if you are working in a business casual environment you can easily wear them and they will look great with different kinds of outfits.

Is it okay to wear socks in boat shoes?

Boating shoes was originally designed to be worn without socks. However, some people still choose to wear visible socks with their boat shoes and that is perfectly fine. Consider wearing low no-show socks.

Most popular boat shoe brands

1. Sperry Boat shoes

Sperry Boat shoes are known for their durability and great slip resistance. They provide a comfortable fit with the lace-up design, while also making it easy to take them off when needed. The rubber soles provide good traction on wet surfaces and prevent any slipping accidents.

All of these factors make Sperry boat shoes one of the most popular brands in the market today.

Buy Sperry boat shoes on Amazon

2. Timberland

The Timberland brand has been around for many years and is known for their high quality products. Timberland men’s boat shoes are perfect for those who are looking for a stylish and durable option. The shoes are made from premium leather, which is perfect for keeping your feet dry in any weather condition. They also have a non-marking rubber outsole, so you can wear them without worrying about damaging the surface of the boat.

Buy Timberland boat shoes on Amazon

3. Sebago

Sebago is another popular brand of boat shoes that offers a wide variety of options for both men and women. The shoes are made from high quality materials, such as leather and suede, and come in a variety of colors to match your personal style. They also have a slip-resistant rubber sole to keep you safe while boating.

If you are looking for a stylish and comfortable pair of boat shoes, then Sebago should be at the top of your list.

Buy Sebago boat shoes on Amazon

4. Columbia

The Columbia brand is known for their high quality outdoor gear, and their boat shoes for men and woman are no exception. They have several different models to choose from, all with a non-marking rubber outsole to prevent any damage to the surface of your boat.

If you are looking for a versatile pair of boat shoes that can be used for both boating and other activities, then Columbia should be your go-to choice.

Buy Columbia boat shoes on Amazon

5. Dockers

Dockers offers a wide selection for both men and women. The shoes come with a non-marking rubber outsole that is perfect for preventing any scratches or damage to the boat.

They also have different styles of lacing, including lace-less slip on models, so you can choose which one will be best suited for your feet.

All in all, Dockers are a good match if you if you are looking for a stylish and comfortable pair of boating shoes.

Buy Dockers boat shoes on Amazon

6. Skechers

Skechers is known for their highly comfortable footwear, including boat shoes. They have a wide variety of models to choose from. Most pairs come with a slip-resistant rubber sole that has good traction even on wet surfaces.

They also feature different types of lacing including lace-less slip on styles so you can pick the one which will be most appropriate according to your preferences. If you are looking for comfortable boating shoes at an affordable price, then Skechers should definitely be considered as an option.

Buy Skechers boat shoes on Amazon

Popular boat shoes for men

Sperry – Billfish 3-Eye

This model is perfect for men who want a classic boat shoe look. It is made from water and stain resistant leather and air mesh with a rubber sole.

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Sperry – Men’s Authentic Original 2-Eye

The Authentic Original is perfect for men who love the classic Sperry look and want a slip-on option with 360 degree lacing eyelets. Hand-sewn and made from leather and textile.

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Timberland – Men’s Classic 2-Eye

This classic designed model is made from premium leather and it also features an EVA midsole and a non-marking rubber outsole.

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Columbia – Men’s Dorado CVO PFG

Made from high quality quick drying materials, this model features a rubber outsole that has good traction and speed lacing for convenience.

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Sebago – Portland Flesh Out

This model is made from high quality leather and has a cushioned footbed for comfort. The outsole is made from non-marking slip resistant rubber.

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Skechers – Men’s Relaxed Fit elent-mosen

Made of Soft suede and canvas, this model is perfect for men who are looking for a comfortable and stylish option. It comes with a Air Cooled Memory Foam midsole and rubber outsole that has good traction on wet surfaces.

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Dockers – Men’s Beacon

Classic boat shoe with a supreme level of comfort thanks to the light weight and flexible EVA outsole. Pre-treated with NeverWet to repel stains.

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Top Boat shoes for women

Sperry – Angelfish Varsity

If you want a classic boat shoe look this is the one. It has a upper made from leather and a a non-marking sole made from rubber. Adjustable 360° lacing system for a secure fit.

Buy on Amazon

Sperry – Women’s Bluefish 

The Bluefish is a great option if you are looking for boating shoes that come with the iconic Sperry look. It has non-marking rubber outsole and it also features adjustable 360° lacing system.

Buy on Amazon

Columbia – PFG Women’s Delray Loco 2 PFG

This model is perfect for women who are looking for a stylish and comfortable option. The upper is made from lightweight canvas with mesh for added breathability.

Buy on Amazon.com

Columbia – Women’s Dorado PFG

Made from quick-drying materials, this is the perfect shoe to wear on a boat. It features a rubber outsole with good traction and the Techlite midsole offers superior cushioning and comfort. Available in multiple colors.

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Skechers – Women’s Go Walk Lite boat shoe

Classic and stylish. Lightweight and comfortable. Slip in design and machine washable. Available in narrow widths.

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Sebago – Women’s Spinnaker

It has an adjustable 360 degree lacing system and the upper is made from 100% leather. Non-marking sole and non-corrosive brass eyelets.

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We hope that this guide has provided you with valuable information about boat shoes in general and the top brands and models available on the market.

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