10 Best Boat Shoes for Men in 2021!

Are these the 10 Best Men’s Boat Shoes? I think so. They offer great slip protection, comfort, and style while boating.


The ever-popular boat shoe has been a fashion staple for generations. Cruisers, fishermen, and boaters of all kinds have been searching for the best shoes for boating for generations. Beyond just boating, the popular shoe is a staple in summer fashion.

boat shoes

When someone says men’s boat shoe, what comes to mind?

For me, the classic men’s Sperry slip-on boat shoe comes to mind.

I bet your Grandfather and father had a pair of Sperry boat shoes. Boat shoes were the only shoes I can remember my wife’s Grandfather ever wearing. This just speaks to the comfort, ease and lasting style of the boat shoe.

This list of men’s boat shoes works well for fishermen, family boaters, cruisers and more. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to find out what shoes I wear on the boat. Hint: It’s not your typical boat shoe. Can you predict what I wear most often as a boat shoe? Keep reading to find out.

Oh, and the best part about reading this article is you can trust that I am sharing first-hand knowledge. I wear these boat shoes myself and I actually own a boat to wear them on.

I decided to sit down and write this article because almost every other article I read was just trying to sell you shoes from their store. Yes, I have Amazon affiliate links in my article, but it’s because I actually like and wear the shoes I am recommending in this article.

For this reason, I will shamelessly ask, if you like what I have to say, consider using one of these
links to make your boat shoe purchase. It costs you noting, but I get credit for the sale and it helps me.
Thanks in advance.

Watch This Quick 2 Minute Video On Boat Shoes!

What To Look For When Buying Boat Shoes: Picking The Right Shoe For You!

Anything can happen on a boat. One minute you are on a leisurely cruise and the next moment a storm rolls up on you and you are shuffling around a wet and dangerous boat trying to keep your balance.

For this reason, we need to weigh form and function for selecting the best boat shoe for your needs. Here’s what I look for when buying myself boat shoes:

Tread Pattern and Siping

If a boat shoe doesn’t have good traction, it is not worth considering for use on a boat.

Start by looking at the siping (tread pattern) on the boat shoe’s soles. If you’re going for a leisurely cruise, a modest tread is fine. But if you’re going to be a crew member on a racing sailboat or going fishing offshore, expect to need a more aggressive siping to keep you surefooted during all the excitement.

Water Resistance

The material a boat shoe is made from has a big impact on the water resistance of the shoe. Boat shoes should be fast drying. For this reason, classic boat shoes are now more for fashion and less for life aboard a boat.

As I will discuss in greater detail below about water shoes, you do not want a fully waterproof boat shoe either. With these shoes, once water gets inside it gets trapped and will prune your feet causing them to hurt after a while. You want something that is quick drying and has built-in drainage to help get the water out of the shoe and away from your skin.

Boat Shoe Closures and Ties

Typically I like a slip-on boat shoe. They are great for casual use on shore or on the boat, but sometimes you may require a tie-up or velcro closure boat shoe. If you are kayaking or racing a sailboat, you are likely to demand much more from your shoe and a slip-on boat shoe may not give you the support and stability that is required of high energy water activities.

Sole Color

In general terms, a boat shoe should have a sole that is either white or at least light in color.

The reason for this is it helps prevent leaving scuff marks on the white decking featured in most boats. If you’re considering shoes with dark-colored soles, you might be asked to remove your shoes by the captain of the boat.

Style and Comfort

When it comes to the style and comfort of a boat shoe, just about anything goes. That is the spirit of boat shoes. They are supposed to be worn in a relaxed carefree and hopefully tropical setting surrounded by friends and family. Right?

For that reason, just try them on and see what you think about how the look and feel on your feet. For this reason, let’s get into my recommendations for the best boat shoes you can buy.

Since 99%* of people who buy boat shoes never step foot on a boat let’s start with comfort and practicality.

Let’s discuss what I think most people will want out of a boat shoe.

What Is The Most Comfortable Daily Use Boat Shoe?

What Is The Most Comfortable Daily Use Boat Shoe? The Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe is the best all-around boat shoe on the market today. [Buy on West Marine]

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Are Sperry Shoes Good Quality? Yes, Sperry has been making high-quality boat shoes for generations. Sperry shoes offer non-skid soles for walking on a wet boat deck. They are comfortable when worn in a casual setting and look great with a polo shirt an khaki pants. You can wear them on a boat, to the store or all around town.

You might not want to walk miles and miles in your Sperry boat shoes, but they are great all-around shoes for day-to-day use. If you wanted a pair of boat shoes to wear on a cruise or to the Miami Boat Show, this would be the pair of boat shoes to buy.

You know most of the people who wear Sperry boat shoes never go near a boat when wearing them, right? That’s right, people are buying these shoes for comfort, style and fashion purposes.

What are the Best Boat Shoes To Wear On A Fishing Boat [Fishing Shoes]?

What are the Best Boat Shoes To Wear On A Fishing Boat [fishing shoes]? The best fishing shoes for being on a boat fishing all day are the Columbia Men’s Drainmaker III Water Shoe.

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The Columbia Men’s Drainmaker III Water Shoe is the best fishing shoe because it is made from materials that do not stay wet for long, it has lots of cushion in the sole, and it drains really well. It also fully covers your foot so you are less likely to get injured from green (not tired) fish coming into the boat and going after you. It also helps protect you from getting a hook in your foot.

I do a lot of offshore fishing and this is one of the most popular shoes I see professional captains and mates wearing most often. Yes, it comes with a premium price tag [Buy on Amazon], but when you are going to be on your feet all day fishing I say it is money well spent.

If you want other options for fishing shoes to wear on a boat, I suggest these shoes:

  • Your everyday running shoes. That’s right. They are not designed for a boat, and if they get wet your feet will be wet all day, but they have excellent support, you have already broken them in most likely, and if you are on a charter boat fishing, chances are you will not get them soaked anyway. Personally, I do this a lot. I typically hold onto an older pair of shoes and wear them offshore for a cheap pair of fishing shoes.
  • Under Armour Men’s UA Kilchis shoes. Like the Columbia’s they are lightweight, mostly mesh and quickly dry. All the things you want in fishing shoes when there is a good chance of getting your shoes wet. I still prefer Columbia shoes better because I feel like they drain better. You might want to try them on and see which one fits you better [Buy on Amazon]
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  • SoftScience The Fin 3.0 Men’s Boating/Fishing Shoes. Full disclosure here, I told you I am recommending shoes I have used, but this is one I put on the list that I have not yet purchased. Their online marketing really has me wanting to try a pair of SoftScience shoes. They check the box for quick-drying, comfortable soles, and full foot coverage. If I were to buy a new pair of shoes to wear fishing or on the boat this summer, I would strongly consider trying a pair of SoftScience shoes. [Amazon Link]
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What Do I Think Are The Best Shoes To Wear On A Boat?

I told you at the beginning of this article, if you kept reading towards the end I would come clean and tell you what my favorite shoes are to wear on my boat. Before the big reveal, don’t make ugly comments and hold the shoe memes (although I admit they are really funny).

First a little boating background…

My family and I currently own a 25′ boat. We use the boat for 70% family boating and 30% fishing. The 70% family boating consists of cruising to small islands, sand bars, and other spots to meet up with friends for the day. We are on and off the boat a dozen time unloading coolers, beach chairs and all of our gear for the day.

It generally takes us about 45 minutes to an hour one way to get to our favorite destinations from our Marina. For this reason, my favorite shoes to wear on the boat have to be comfortable, provide good cushion and support for standing while running the boat for several hours.

Okay, these shoes are comfortable, slip on and off, and they stay dry all day even getting in and out of the water all day long…

Here’s What I Currently Wear On The Boat

I wore them for our 15 hour round trip journey in rough water to Ocracoke because they offer some of the best shock absorption possible!


So what are my favorite shoes to wear on a boat? Crocs. Yes, the often mocked and teased foam clogs are my favorite boat shoes of all time. Yes, everybody knows crocs are known for their tackiness and unfashionable status in today’s society but when it comes to being on our boat all day, most of the time, I have crocs on my feet.

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For years, I work the classic crocs [Amazon Link]. Classic Crocs are inexpensive, waterproof and slip on and off easily.

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Recently though, I started wearing the Crocs Men’s Swiftwater Deck Clog [Amazon Link] or [West Marine Link]. If you have a wide foot, stick with the Classic Crocs. The Swiftwater is a little more narrow and might rub a blister. I had to go up one size to prevent getting blisters.

Now that I have publicly admitted that most of the time I am on my boat I am wearing Crocs, I hope you do not think less of me – LOL.

This is another reason I like the idea of the SoftScience shoes mentioned above. They have the cushion sole of a Croc, but they have a mesh upper shoe to make them look a little less cringe-worthy.

Next, let’s discuss my favorite day-to-day boat shoes. These are shoes I have at home that I slip on to go to the grocery store, wear out to dinner or during the summer so I don’t have to put on socks. I like all of these shoes, but I have not consistently worn them on my boat.

Best Everyday Boat Shoe

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The best boat shoe for everyday use is made by Clarks. I have had three pairs of the Clarks Men’s Armada Spanish Loafers over the past few years. I have had both the lace up and slip on style. Both are equally good.

The Clarks Armada Spanis Loafers are great out on the water too. Here’s a photo of my beloved Clarks while I am 60 miles offshore marlin fishing!

Best boat shoes made by Clarks

These Clarks Armada boat shoes are my go-to shoes for daily slip on purposes. Yes, I even wear them to the office from time to time on casual days during the summer.

I like these shoes the best for everyday use because they inside of the boat shoe is covered with fabric. Boat shoes with exposed leather make my feet smell bad during the hot summers here in the Carolinas. With the fabric on the inside, it helps absorb sweat and keeps my feet from smelling. This is an important thing for daily shoe duty purposes!

If you are interested in the Clarks Men’s Armada Spanish Loafer, you might want to shop around. They go on discount from time to time and come in many different colors. Amazon only had these available in limited sizes and colors. [Amazon Link]

Honorable Mention Boat Shoe

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I am throwing this boat shoe in as an honorable mention. One time I forgot my boat shoes so I picked up a pair of Croc boat shoes that do not look like traditional Crocs. They have a fabric upper and the traditional Croc foam for the sole. While I have never worn these in the water, they do well for daily “slip on” shoe duty. I like them, but I definitely wear Clarks as my primary choice.

The name of the shoe is the Crocs Men’s Santa Cruz Loafer [Amazon Link]. It’s comfortable and looks much better than a classic Croc clog, but the fabric can be a little scratchy until you get it broken in a little bit. After a day or two of wearing them, they are not broken in just fine.

What Are The Best Boat Shoes If You Are Going On A Cruise Ship?

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What Are The Best Boat Shoes If You Are Going On A Cruise Ship? If you are going on a cruise, purchase the Clark Armadas or the Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe.

You cannot go wrong with either of these shoes unless you want to wear them in and out of the water. Sure, you could wear them in the water (I have), but they will stay wet all day, and that is not an enjoyable feeling.

What Boat Shoes Should I Buy If I Am Chartering A Sailboat?

What Boat Shoes Should I Buy If I Am Chartering A Sailboat? None. If you are going on a charter sailboat you should not wear shoes on the boat.

I can hear the comments now and see the puzzled expression on your face. Consider this…

You have booked a $20,000 sailboat charter for the family or friends and you want to get a new pair of boat shoes for your vacation. Am I right?

Don’t waste your money. As soon to the charter boat as you get there the captain will ask you to remove your shoes before stepping on the boat. It’s true! How do I know???

One of my former co-workers was a charter sailboat captain for ten years.

He would tell me story after story about men and women strolling across the parking lot to get on the boat and he would promptly ask them to remove their shoes before coming onboard the sailboat. A few times people got upset and explained their shoes were new and they bought these new boat shoes just for wearing on the boat.

He had to explain to them that they just wore their brand new boat shoes across a large asphalt parking lot at the marina picking up gravel and grime all along the way. He allowed them to carry their boat shoes to their stateroom, but he and most captains maintain a strict no-shoe policy aboard charter boats.

Now you know!

If you are going on a charter boat in the Caribbean or other tranquil settings, don’t bother buying new boat shoes. Wear what you have and be courteous and remove your shoes when you get on the boat.

I can tell you with first-hand knowledge, cleaning tar off of the deck of a boat is a real pain! Be kind and go barefoot.

With this said, I do allow people to wear shoes on my boat but they have to be washed off on the dock before getting on the boat. Just an FYI for boating etiquette.

Are You Thinking About Buying Water Shoes as Boat Shoes?

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Let me be clear — if you are thinking about buying water shoes like these pictured to wear on a boat, don’t do it.

My family has a ton of these. I am not picking on the speedo brand shoes in the photo, I am discussing water shoes like this as a whole. They are terrible as boat shoes.

Water shoes are fine for their purpose of sloshing around in the water to protect your feet, or maybe you want them to wear for a water aerobics class. I do not have a problem with that, but please don’t wear these for going on a boat.

Why not you ask?

3 Reasons Not To Wear Water Shoes On A Boat

  1. Leaves Streaks On The Deck. Many of these water shoes have rubber soles that can leave marks on and streaks on the floor of the boat.
  2. Stay Wet All Day. Once they are wet they stay wet. This is a big deal when you are going to be on the water all day.
  3. Trap a ton of sand. You think you are being nice to take them off when you get out of the water and onto the boat and then you accidentally dump sand all over the cockpit of the boat. Getting sand out of a boat can be a real pain. I do it every weekend during the summer!

Okay, that is my rant about buying water shoes for use on a boat.

Can you wear water shoes on a boat? Sure you can. Should you do it? Absolutely not.

If you want ugly shoes to wear in the water and on a boat, get a pair of Crocs and thank me later when your feet stay dry and are not shriveled up like a prune from being wet all day.

Do You Wear Socks With Boat Shoes?

Do You Wear Socks With Boat Shoes? No. You absolutely NEVER wear socks with boat shoes. I actually chuckled a little while typing this. Please, please please do not wear your boat shoes with socks. It’s just not how they are supposed to be worn. This said. I have to be honest with you. I have worn a pair of leather boat shoes with socks before.

Why did I commit a fashion faux pas and wear socks with boat shoes you ask? Because the raw leather of the boat shoe made my feet stink. LOL

Yes, the raw inside of the leather would make my feet smell. I had to do a lot of walking in my shoes and after a while with warm feet in the summer I could really smell my feet.

For this reason, and this reason only I give you permission to wear socks with your boat shoes, but definite wear paints to hide the reality that you have on socks with boat shoes. Very few people will understand the struggle of smelly feet with boat shoes.

If I admit to wearing socks with boat shoes before, clearly, I am not a fashion expert. For this reason, let’s tackle this next question with a little help…

How Do Men Wear Boat Shoes?

So, how do men wear boat shoes? Men wear boat shoes for casual fashion wear. Don’t wear boat shoes to a formal event. Wear them with shorts or pants, but always in a casual setting.

I have to admit, I am not the most fashionable dresser. I am focused more on function and comfort although I want them to look nice if I am going to wear them anywhere other than the boat.

For this reason, I did a little research on the topic of how do men wear boat shoe. I have to laugh and myself a little because if I was answering this question, I would have said, “On their feet!”

To better answer this question, I found a helpful article over at ties.com that highlights the Do’s and Don’t of wearing boat shoes.

In summary, here is what the article said about how men wear boat shoes:

BOAT SHOE DO’s: Wear boat shoes with jeans, colorful chinos, or shorts.

BOAT SHOE DON’Ts: Never wear them with socks and don’t wear them with a suit.

How Can I Make My Sperry Boat Shoes Smell Better?

How Can I Make My Sperry Boat Shoes Smell Better? There are three tricks to making your boat shoes smell better:

  1. Freeze Your Boat Shoes! Yes, freezing your boat shoes will help them smell better. I have no clue why, but it actually works.
  2. Pour Baking Soda In Your Boat Shoes. Measure out 1/2 a cup of baking soda and pour it into each of your boat shoes. Then put them in a paper bag overnight. (I use brown paper bags from the grocery store.)
  3. Soak Your Boat Shoes In Vinegar. Yes, smelly vinegar! White vinegar is an excellent disinfectant. I use vinegar for lots of purposes. I like to spray the inside of my boat shoes with white vinegar. Then I soak a few paper towels in white vinegar and stuff them down into the boat shoe. I leave them in the garage or back patio overnight to soak. The next day, I leave them out in the sun to bake. The sun, just like white vinegar is a strong disinfectant too. Don’t worry, the vinegar evaporates and your shoes do not smell like vinegar long term.

What Is The Purpose of Boat Shoes?

What is the purpose of boat shoes? The purpose of a boat shoe is to keep you from slipping on wet surfaces like the deck of a boat.

The first boat shoe was created in 1935 when Paul A. Sperry, an American from New Haven, Connecticut observed his dogs ability to easily run over ice without slipping. It gave him the idea to use a knife to cut sipings into the soles of his shoes.

This act inspired a shoe perfect for boating and a company by the name of Sperry Top-Sider.

Pretty cool, right! I thought it was cool to know how the boat shoe got its origins. With this being said, if I was running across ice I think I might want a pair of baseball cleats or golf shoes with metal spikes – LOL!

Okay, I digress… Let’s get back to discussing the best boat shoes on the market.

Can Boat Shoes Get Wet?

Can Boat Shoes Get Wet? Yes. When you get new boat shoes the leather is often stiff. One way people have been known to break in new boat shies is to get them wet. Remember, they are meant to wear around boats so they are going to get wet. You can put your shoes on, get them wet and then let them dry why you wear them.

Just know, your feet might shrivel up and potentially be tender from wearing wet shoes for too long. This being said, wearing wet boat shoes is one of the most popular ways to get them broken in.

Are Boat Shoes Good For Walking?

 Are Boat Shoes Good For Walking? No, most boat shoes are not good for walking long distances. However, certain boat shoes are perfectly fine for walking around town and covering a few miles. I wear my Sperry Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe [Amazon Link] all the time and can walk several miles without issue.

*I assume 99% of people wearing boat shoes do not get on a boat. I might be wrong. 
This is just an opinion and not a statistical fact. I just know I see lots of people wearing 
boat shoes that look like they have never been on or even near a boat.