The best men's boat shoes you can buy

  • Boat shoes help you keep a good grip on the dock or deck even in wet conditions so you're less likely to end up in the water yourself.
  • A good pair of boat shoes should resist water and/or dry quickly and be comfortable for extended, active wear.
  • The Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoes are our top pick thanks to their timeless style and the quality of their construction, which sees most pairs lasting for years.

The boat shoe as we know it today was invented by a man named Paul Sperry, whose surname is now almost synonymous with the footwear he created. As the story goes, Sperry was tired of slipping on wet, icy boat decks and carved a tread pattern into the sole of a rubber shoe, taking inspiration from the grooved paws of his surefooted dog, Prince.

The siping on the soles of Perry's new shoes kept him reliably on his feet, and would soon make him a wealthy man. He began selling his boat shoes in 1935, soon scoring a contract with the US Navy and over time gaining broad popularity with the maritime-minded public. These days, boat shoes are the de rigueur footwear among some circles and considered tragically uncool among others. If you're going to be aboard a boat, however, they're simply practical. So it's a good idea to have at least one decent pair of boat shoes in your closet.

To qualify as a decent pair of boat shoes, footwear must have a non-marking sole, as most boat decks are white and easily shoe scuffs. This is why most boat shoes have white soles. They must also have a sole offering good traction on slick, wet, and even icy surfaces, helping you stay upright on a slippery dock or a heaving deck. And finally, boat shoes should be made from materials that resists water or that dry out quickly after a soaking.

Beyond those three points, there's a wide range of footwear that falls into the boat shoe category. When you think of a boat shoe, you might picture a classic preppy brown leather loafer with white soles and decorative crossed laces, but they are hardly limited to that style. Of the three pairs of boat shoes I own, none of them look at all like that - in fact, you probably wouldn't know they were shoes designed for use near the water at all, and that's how I like it.

If you like a classic boat shoe, a more modern, casual style pair, or a shoe as suitable for scrambling through a boulder field as hanging out topside on a yacht, you'll find those and more on this rundown of the best men's boat shoes you can buy.

Here are the best boat shoes for men you can buy:

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Find all the best offers at our Coupons page.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

{{}}

View As: One Page Slides

The best boat shoes for men overall

The best boat shoes for men overall
A pair of Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoes wouldn't have looked out of place three generations back and will surely still have fans generations into the future.

When we picture boat shoes, most of us see a pair that looks just like the Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoes. They have the classic white soles with siping carved in for traction, the leather upper with the contrast stitching, and the laces crisscrossed over the tongue and running along the sides.

Some people love the look of the classic top-sider boat shoe, while others would rather wear just about anything on their feet. Love or loathe the styling, the Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original is undeniably a good shoe. The leather is water-resistant and will last for years with a bit of care, the soles are thick and grippy, and a lambskin lining creates excellent foot comfort. Also, those laces aren't merely decorative, but rather constitute a 360º lacing system that lets you customize the fit, so you get a shoe you can slip on and off yet that will reliably stay on your foot even as you run back and forth on deck, weighing anchor, trimming the mainsail, or reeling in that rock fish.

And while these are far and away the most expensive boat shoes on our list, a pair of Gold Cup Authentics will probably last you a decade, unless you're a true old salt whose out on the water many days a year.

With well over 250 ratings on Sperry.com, the Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoes enjoy a 4.2-star overall rating. One young mariner said the "leather feels amazing" calling it "very soft and cushiony." Another called them "comfortable and stylish" and said they were "worth every penny."

A writer with GearStyleMag.com called the Gold Cup shoes "a step above the rest with impeccable stitching and premium materials."

Also, it's worth noting that Sperry also makes a lot of charming and comfortable boat shoes for kids that are not nearly as expensive, which is good news what with the rate at which kids' feet grow. We got our son a pair of Sperry Big Kid's Authentic Original BIONIC Boat Shoes that cost less than $40, for example.

Pros: Built to last for years, soft and supportive insole, water-resistant leather, classic design

Cons: Expensive, some find style dated

The best slip-on boat shoes

The best slip-on boat shoes
Thanks to their patented Drop-In heel, you can slip your feet into a pair OluKai Nohea Moku Shoes with zero effort. And with the heel folded up, you can wear them just like regular shoes.

OluKai was founded in 2006 and in just a few short years they have made a big splash, if you'll pardon the pun. Being a Hawaiian brand, it's no surprise that much of their footwear was designed for use near or on the water, which is very much the case with the OluKai Nohea Moku shoe. (Nohea Moku means "handsome" in the Hawaiian language, in case you were wondering. Also, for the record, I have both a pair of shoes and slippers from OluKai, and they are fantastically comfortable.)

Made with entirely vegan-friendly materials, these shoes are lightweight, breathable, and quick drying. The outsole offers plenty of grip on flat, slick surfaces, and the insole features dual-density polyurethane and a gel foam for comfort even during hours of wear.

What sets these apart from other boat shoes, though, is a feature most OluKai shoes have in common: a fold down heel that allows you to wear the shoes like slip-ons. With the Drop-In heel folded down, you can kick your feet into a pair of Nohea Mokus in a fluid motion. With it popped up, you pull them on and lace them up like any other shoe.

With nearly 450 reviews posted on Amazon at the time of this writing, OluKai Nohea Moku shoes have a shining 4.6-star overall rating. One gentleman praises their "perfect fit" and "supportive" feel. Another loved how well they work on the water and that they also gave him "the support [he wanted] when walking longer distances."

Of the few complaints beyond price, the only common issue was a tendency for them to show wear-and-tear too quickly.

Pros: Versatile options for wearing, quick dry material, supportive footbed

Cons: Rather pricey, break down too quickly with regular wear

The best casual style boat shoes

The best casual style boat shoes
Adidas Outdoor Terrex CC Boat Water Shoes don't look like boat shoes at all, but they sure do perform like it.

If traditional boat shoe styling isn't a fit for you yet you nonetheless need a pair of shoes that will perform well on the water, then Adidas Outdoor's Terrex CC Boat Water Shoes definitely deserve consideration. I have a pair that I would honestly wear all the time as a casual sneaker were I not trying to preserve them for use when I'm kayaking, canoeing, or on a boat. And whenever the day's activities may well include a stroll around town or a drink with a friend as well as time on the water, these are my go-to shoes.

Take a look at the bottom of an Adidas Outdoor Terrex CC Boat Water Shoe and you'll see a non-marking sole and subtle treads that grip wet surfaces well. But even more notable are the drain ports that let water flow out of the bottom of the shoe, helping dry your feet out after a splash or submersion.

The shoe's upper is made largely from a breathable mesh that comfortably grips your foot, while the lacing system and heel tab make them easy to put on and keep on. And they come in five different colors, so you can find your style match with ease. I went with green.

One customer who left a review about the CC Boat Shoes made multiple great points, calling them the "perfect travel shoe" and praising their style as well as how they "feel great with or without socks."

And a writer with TrailSpace called them a comfortable and "lightweight, breathable boat shoe that will keep your feet cool and drain water super fast."

Pros: Lightweight and comfortable, excellent drainage, casual styling, good breathability

Cons: Too casual for some boaters

The best boat shoes for fishing

The best boat shoes for fishing
Columbia Sportswear's Dorado CVO PFG Shoes were specifically designed to help you deal with some of the less pleasant aspects of a a fishing trip.

Fishing is a great hobby and can see you land some of the tastiest food on the planet, but some aspects of fishing are decidedly… messy. Thus you'll appreciate the trademarked Omni-Shield Blood 'n Guts treatment on the exterior of the Columbia Dorado CVO PFG shoes. This coating helps the shoes resist water and stains from, well, fish guts. And blood. And lots of other stuff, too, like mud and sand and algae and so forth.

The Dorado CVO is a lightweight shoe that pulls on easily and tightens with a quick lacing system. The white outsoles will grip the deck without marking it up while an EVA footbed offers comfort and support. The mesh upper dries fast and is made of durable materials — if your Dorados are ever getting a bit ripe, don't be afraid to toss them in the washing machine.

With dozens of reviews posted on Columbia's website, the Dorado CVO PFG Shoes have a solid 4.3-star rating. Almost every customer comments on their comfort, and many also echo the sentiments of a gentleman who said they "breathe really well" and can be worn "without socks."

A few people did mention a breaking-in period, so plan to wear them intermittently at first, or else have bandages on hand to stop blisters.

In a review on RoadRunnerSports, a product tester said the Dorado CVO PFG's "razor siping [allowed] for excellent wet grip traction" and called the shoes "water-repellent [and] quick-drying."

Pros: Stain resistant exterior, quick dry materials, durable construction

Cons: Some chafing during break-in

The best low-cost boat shoes

The best low-cost boat shoes
Your fellow boaters will never suspect that your fine-looking new London Fog Harrow Boat Shoes cost less than $35.

A pair of London Fog Harrow Boat Shoes has all the right boxes checked, so to speak, when it comes to the traditional boat shoe. They have a classically-shaped upper, a non-marking white sole with siping, contrast stitching, and the 360-degree lacing system. The shoes come in a brown or black leather or a blue or black denim, and every material and color combination offers its own take on the boat shoe.

But none of that really sets these shoes apart from the rest of the options out there, so why should you consider them? Well, they cost less than thirty-five bucks, that's why.

If you can find a decent-looking boat shoe that's cheaper than a pair of London Fog Harrow Boat Shoes, frankly you probably shouldn't buy it. For despite the low cost of these shoes, they're quite well made, living up to the long legacy of the London Fog brand. Just note that the denim options tend to stay damp and don't shed sand well, so they are more about style than performance.

One Amazon customer was "pleasantly surprised by the quality" given the price. Another called them a "great value and perfect for summer."

Several buyers did note that the shoes run large, so consider going down a half size for a better fit.

Pros: Very low price, available in multiple colors and materials, wraparound lacing

Cons: Sizing runs large

We also considered

We also considered

The aforementioned boat shoes are some of the finest footwear you'll find topside, on the dock, or at the club, but it's a huge category with lots of other options out there, many of which nearly made the list. Here are three more pairs to consider, albeit with slight reservations.

I have a pair of Astral Brewer 2.0 Everyday Minimalist Outdoor Sneakers and I often wear them when kayaking or just on a walk that leads near water, including on shorter hikes where I may encounter a stream or pond. (Longer hikes demand true hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners, of course.) They're versatile, they have drain ports and they dry fast, and they're adjacent to stylish, but I just feel they're a bit overpriced, thus the also-ran status.

If you value comfort as much as style, consider the Margaritaville Anchor Lace shoe. They're not all that stylish, what with too much pattern for a simple shoe style, but they have comfortable foam insole and a padded tongue and color.

Finally, UGG has made major strides into the boat shoe category, such as with their Beach Moc Boat Shoe, which is a fine-looking piece of footwear and offers the comfort for which the brand is known. But the Beach Moc is pretty pricey and I worry about suede near water.

Subscribe to whatsappSubscribe to whatsapp
Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.