The Newport Hydro-m Sandal is our top pick of the best sailing shoes for men. More of an all-round type shoe rather than specifically designed as yachting shoes, the Newport Hydro-m Sandal offers great comfort, good traction and do not get waterlogged. These shoes keep your feet cool and comfortable, even while sailing in the hottest weather. With a rubber toe guard, you get the comfort of sandals with protection from deck hardware.
One trouble with most sandals is the lack of toe protection. Many sailboats are fraught with toe-stubbing hazards. Open-toe sandals with sturdy straps are comfortable to wear sailing, but aren’t much safer than sailing barefoot. The Newport Hydro-m Sandal covers the toes and provides much-needed protection.
These really shine as sailing footwear in the tropics, as sandals keep your feet cool and dry almost immediately if you get splashed or jump in the water while beaching a dinghy.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Textile and Synthetic
COMFORT: Sandal comfort with toe protection
TRACTION: Good deck traction
WATER RESISTANCE: Canvas webbing drains quickly and dries
BREATHABLE: Open sandal style makes for good breathability
BEST SUITED TO: All around sailing
- Adjustable fit
- Drain water and dry quickly and easily
- Good deck traction
- Toe protection in a sandal design
- Not good for cool weather
- Not available in a Wide size
Helly Hansen earned their reputation as a top tier maker of sailing gear and clothing, and it shows with their line of sailing footwear. This canvas pair of sailing sneakers offers a great budget alternative to leather deck shoes or higher-end technical footwear in the Helly Hansen line.
If they get wet, the canvas dries quickly. Six full laces make sure you have a firm fit with no slipping. Helly Hansen’s HellyGrip rubber sole gives a tight grip on slippery decks and are comfortable to wear on and off the boat.
BRAND: Helly Hansen
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Premium Canvas
COMFORT: Light weight, EVA footbed
TRACTION: HellyGrip Siping for excellent traction
WATER RESISTANCE: Canvas dries quickly
BREATHABLE: Canvas uppers
BEST SUITED TO: All around sailing
- Lightweight and comfortable fit
- Breathable canvas uppers
- Good gripping sole
- Thin canvas doesn’t provide much protection
Paul A. Sperry was the inventor of the original boat shoe, and we associate the Sperry brand with some of the best deck shoes for sailing. The Sperry Billfish is one of many variants of their classic deck shoe, and it provides rugged construction and nice features for the casual sailor.
Water-resistant leather uppers combined with mesh siding, produces a sturdy shoe with good ventilation. Add a shock-absorbing EVA heel cup for extra comfort, and Sperry’s wave siping on the sole and you get a sporty shoe good for many conditions.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Leather and Air Mesh
COMFORT: Cool mesh and shock absorbing heel cup
TRACTION: Wave Siping across the whole sole
WATER RESISTANCE: Resistant, quick drying leather
BREATHABLE: Air mesh panels
BEST SUITED TO: Cruising and day sailing
- Mesh webbing on the sides gives good ventilation and breathing
- Stain and water-resistant leather looks good and protects the foot
- Shock absorbing heel cup adds comfort
- Three eye lacing gives a tighter grip on your foot
- Huge variety of colors and finishes to choose from
- Available in Wide
- May not hold on the foot as well as full laced shoes
- Some find the finish on the inside liner rough in bare feet
No sailing shoes review is complete without a few entries from Sperry. The Salt Washed Striper LL CVO Boat Shoe is a well-known design in the canvas sneaker class category. This lightweight canvas shoe is equipped with the classic Sperry styling and siping. The canvas dries easily and breathes well, and in improved insole offers excellent comfort. The full-sole siping gives these shoes a great grip on the deck.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: All canvas
COMFORT: Light breathable uppers, with good padding inside
TRACTION: Molded Wave siping with good wet and dry traction.
WATER RESISTANCE: Quick drying canvas uppers.
BREATHABLE: Canvad uppers offer good breathability
BEST SUITED TO: All around sailing
- Light and comfortable
- Quick drying
- Five lace holes give good security
- Tongue is held with elastic for laceless wearing option
- Sometimes run a little narrow in size
- Unlined insides may irritate some feet without socks
The Terrex Climacool are sailing water shoes which work effectively on slippery decks in wet conditions. They are ranked as more of an all -round outdoors type shoe, rather than a specifially aimed at the sailing gear niche but notably, the breathable construction and Traxion soles allow for great performance onboard a boat.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Textile open mesh
COMFORT: Lightweight mesh, good aeration and stretchale heel insert.
TRACTION: Traxion outsole with drains
WATER RESISTANCE: Very quick drying mesh and drainage design
BREATHABLE: Highly breathable mesh uppers
BEST SUITED TO: Casual sailing
- Open mesh breathable uppers
- Full lacing for good support and hold on the foot
- Drains in the sole to avoid waterlogging
- Climacool design for enhanced comfort
- Some models have black soles which are not wanted on boats
- Sizing runs narrow, if you have wide feet
Skechers are known for providing extremely comfortable sport and general walking shoes, but are not well known for sailing shoes. This entry is a lightweight, comfortable shoe with a non-skid bottom, aimed at the casual boater and sailing lifestyle buyer. They have laces, but as purchased they are not true laces for fully tightening the shoe. Some owners have replaced the elastic laces with other others to turn the shoe into more of a tie-on type shoe.
Overall, this should prove a comfortable shoe for casual sailing and boat life.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Leather and textile
COMFORT: Lightweight, air cooled memory foam insole
TRACTION: Two large siping spots for primary traction
WATER RESISTANCE: Not a water shoe
BREATHABLE: Vented and air cooled
BEST SUITED TO: Casual sailing
- Very comfortable, with a memory foam insole
- Very breathable and airy
- Two patches of non-skid siping on the soles
- Extra wide available
- No water removal tracks or quick dry materials
- Without replacement lacing, may not provide support in demanding conditions
The Mawgwan Trainer is a technical shoe made for serious sailing and racing by the offshore equipment experts at Gill. These light, comfortable athletic shoes have good drainage and ventilation through mesh sides, and impact absorbing insoles making quick movements on tricky decks, a breeze. Molded toe and heel protection keeps the stubs and bangs down so you can focus on what you’re doing on the boat – sailing.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Synthetc mesh and material
COMFORT: Light weight, breathable with removable insole
TRACTION: Low profile, low slip tread with water expulsion channels
WATER RESISTANCE: Rapid draining with water expulsion channels and water resistant materials.
BREATHABLE: Very breathable with mesh in the uppers
BEST SUITED TO: Racing and performance sailing
- Light weight
- Good drainage and breathability
- Quick drying
- Impact absorbing soles
- Toe and heel protection
- Full non-skid sole with water drainage runnels
- Removable insole might be uncomfortable
- No wide sizing
The second entry from Adidas – the Summer.rdy Boat Water Shoe, this is another lightweight athletic shoe with non-skid, ventilation, and draining features – appealing to many sailors alike. Mesh uppers ensure breathability and cool wear, and a draining system in the sole gets water out fast to promote drying.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Knit Textile & Synthetic Mesh Upper
COMFORT: Light weight and comfortable
TRACTION: Triangular patterned non skid
WATER RESISTANCE: Quick drying, easily rinsed
BREATHABLE: Ventilated Climacool
BEST SUITED TO: Day sailing and off boat expeditions
- Full lace closures for support and hold
- Drainage system the soles
- Cool, vented upper
- Quick drying materials
- Some colors have black soles, a poor choice for boats
- Nonskid pattern may be less effective than siping
The Sea Kite Sport Moc Boat Shoe is a hybrid of a traditional deck shoe and a mesh upper athletic shoe. Made from waterproof leather with mesh panels, the combination of sporty-looks and proper ventilation provides a cool, comfortable fit. It comes with a cushioned footbed that can be removed for drying, cleaning, or comfort and is lined with mesh to assist in the quick drying process.
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Leather with rubber sole
COMFORT: Removable insole, good drying and circulation
TRACTION: Multi-directional Adaptive Siping
WATER RESISTANCE: Quick drying leather, vented uppers
BREATHABLE: Vented uppers help
BEST SUITED TO: All around keelboat sailing
- Good support and comfort
- Sperry wave siping
- Available in wide sizing
- Wears more like an athletic shoe than a deck shoe
- Not a water shoe – they are water-resistant and not recommended for swimming
- Not as cooling as some full mesh shoes
This hybrid deck show/athletic shoe from Helly Hansen has a rich mix of features making it a brilliant all-round good shoe for casual sailing, racing, and even offshore use. The uppers are cut from waterproof leather and hydrophobic synthetics, with decent water resistance and drying capabilities. Inside, you’ll find a molded EVA foam sock liner and a side post for better support. HellyGrip rubber compound soles with high performance multidirectional grip and siping, keeping your feet static – exactly where you put them on a wet deck. Though expensive, this may be one of the best sailing shoes for men.
BRAND: Helly Hansen
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Waterproof leather, hydrophobic synthetics, and quick drying textile
COMFORT: Molded removable sock liner, with a side post for good support.
TRACTION: High performance HellyGrip rubber and siping
WATER RESISTANCE: Waterproof leather and quick drying materials keep it dry
BREATHABLE: Highly breathable materials
BEST SUITED TO: Day sailing and boating lifestyle
- Waterproof/hydrophilic uppers
- Great gripping sole
- Comfort sock liner with antibacterial technology
- Good support for heeling decks
- The most expensive shoe in this roundup
- No wide sizing
Good sailing deck shoes are a necessary piece of gear for both comfort and safety. Comfort matters alongside safety, as you won’t wear gear that’s uncomfortable. If you wear uncomfortable gear over time, it will affect your ability to function. Finding the best shoes for sailing is a challenge, and it depends on many factors.
The first consideration is – what type of sailing do you do? The best shoes for boating may not be the best shoes for sailing, since the needs of power boaters and fishermen are often different from sailors who may move on tilted decks awash with water.
What type of sailor are you?
Are you a racer? Do you day sail causally, sail in dinghies, or cross oceans? How you sail affects the footwear you will choose as much as your shoe size and personal taste and style.
While every sailor wants the best non slip boat shoes, not every type of sailing has the same demands. Racers are very aggressive sailors, and the boat will sail upwind as hard as possible with big angles of heel. No matter the conditions, the crew will push boat, and spray, waves, and wet conditions are common. Action is fast and furious at mark roundings and crossings, and slipping and sliding leads to accidents and injuries.
Even your job on the boat affects your footwear choice. The bowman who is hip-deep in breaking chop during a sail change has different needs from the helmsman or tactician who rarely leaves the cockpit. The racing sailor has the most strenuous demands on sailing boat shoes, and the most specific requirements for footwear to safely undertake his/her task aboard the yacht.
If you’re a dinghy sailor in a boat like a Laser or an RS Aero, you’re right down in the water if you make a mistake. Dinghy boots offer good support and padding for hiking, and some closed toed sandals are good choices for hot, wet days.
If your preferred sail is a sunset cruise on a keel boat having cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with friends, you’ll avoid that upwind sailing and splashing. You’ll spill the drinks. The comfort and style of deck shoes or canvas sneakers will work well.
Offshore sailors and passage makers have different requirements still. While they don’t push the boat the way racers do, the sea rarely cooperates with plans for an uneventful and quiet sail. Footwear needs can vary from sea boots to sandals.
Another type of use for boating shoes would be the tropical charter boat sailor or cruiser. Hot sun and warm weather call for lighter shoes with sufficient ventilation and easy drying features. Barefoot sailing is common, but decks can get slippery with rain and spray or even bake under the hot sun. Closed toe sandals are a favorite choice.
Men’s sailing shoes are popular among non-sailors because many of the shoes are good looking and comfortable. People on cruises or vacations who want to look sharp but may face slippery or wet conditions are big purchasers of deck shoes and non-technical men’s shoes for sailing.
Much of the market for “sailing boat shoes” is fashion oriented, which opens the door to several shoes that look nice but are not well suited to sailing.
What makes a good sailing shoe?
The best sailing shoes for men are comfortable, tough, don’t stay wet, and stick to wet, slick surfaces. It’s also nice if they look good, since many will get worn off the boat. There are a lot of ways to meet these criteria, and how important one factor is versus another, comes down to personal preference, along with how you sail.
Different shoes take multiple approaches to these needs. For example, with water management, sturdier deck shoes often use waterproof leather to repel water and stay dry. Sneakers and technical shoes may use mesh sides and gutters to direct water through vents in the bottom of the shoes. Sandals are made from quick drying materials; since they are open water just drains out and they dry quickly. And some shoes use hybrid techniques.
One overlooked characteristics of the best shoes for boating is how well they stay on your feet. Shoes which cannot lace tightly are suitable for that cocktail cruise, but will give you problems on deck while sailing offshore or racing around the buoys. If you think they might fall off when you dangle your legs over the side, they may not be the best choice for more challenging conditions. There are shoes not marketed specifically as men’s sailing shoes, but rather rated among the best shoes for boating in general. Another notable point: Brands that claim to be sailing water shoes or non-slip boat does not necessarily guarantee the shoes really are up to standard.
What Types of Shoes are out there?
Non-slip boat shoes come in a variety of forms, from sandals and sneakers, to deck shoes and technical apparel, and hybrids of two or more styles – available in men’s, women’s and unisex options. These shoes all have non-skid soles and water resistance capabilities but these parameters vary from one type of shoe to another.
Sandals are open in the sides and may be open-toed and lack heel straps. Open toe sandals are not optimal for sailing, as it’s easy to stub a toe on deck, especially sailing at night. Toe protection and heel straps make sandals much more suitable.
Deck shoes are the type most seen off the water. They look sporty and stylish, but many styles and makes are not suitable for more demanding conditions. I’ve personally worn two eye deck shoes on and off the boat for decades, but when the sailing gets serious, I’ve found they do not hold tight enough to my feet to provide reliable traction at high angles of heel in wet conditions.
Sneaker or “trainer” style shoes are popular. Based on tennis and running shoe style uppers, the addition of siping and better non-slip to the soles makes them a good choice for sailboat shoes.
The makers of marine apparel have also developed specialized shoes for racers and athletic sailors. Racers may buy their best yacht shoes and only wear them during a race. These may look different from an athletic shoe or deck shoe, but are made from hydrophobic materials and are designed with high tech water management systems for dryness and superior treads.
How to size and pick a shoe?
Most of what we do when we buy street shoes applies to buying shoes for sailing. Check and measure your feet before you order online. If you have any doubt, trace your feet and measure the size to compare to the sizing guide on the website.
Some of the best sailing shoes for men aren’t made in the United States, so take care when checking sizing that you are using the correct shoe size. A UK 12 is not the same as a US 12, so make sure you’re ordering from the right scale.
When you’re trying on shoes, lace them up like you would to wear them and move around in them. If you can’t find an angled surface to stand on, trying leaning against a wall with your feet out at an angle to simulate a sloped deck. Check for any wear or pressure points on an angle and walking on flat surfaces.
Finally, remember how they will be used. If you sail in socks, especially in cold weather, don’t forget to leave room for them.
1. Do you wear shoes on a yacht?
To a large extent, that depends on the yacht and what the owner prefers. If I was aboard Mirabella V or the Maltese Falcon as a guest, I’d not only wear shoes, but a blazer and long pants. On my own yacht, we’re very casual and only put shoes on when we’re sailing in open water or the teak gets too hot to walk on.
If you’re just a passenger, follow the owner’s lead and enjoy the ride. If you’re sailing the boat or crewing on a race yacht, you have more to think about. Yacht racers almost always wear shoes. There are too many people doing too much too quickly to worry about stomped or stubbed toes.
Most decks have things to catch your feet, stub your toes, or hurt you if you step on them badly. If you’re sailing and running around on the deck, sailing shoes are usually a good idea.
2. What is different about sailing shoes?
Sailing shoes handle water and wet feet far better than street shoes and have very different tread patterns on the bottom. Most sailing shoes are made of water repellent, quick drying material and may have runnels and drains to carry water out of the shoe to let the shoe dry fast. Also, the soles will be non-marking and usually are not black.
The best shoes for sailing won’t stay wet all day if they get soaked, and they won’t slip on a wet deck. Street shoes often have little or no tread, and the tread on many athletic shoes is geared to roads and conditions with more traction than the tilted deck of a sailboat.
Wearing street shoes that scuff up a pristine deck is a good way to never get invited back for a sail!
3. Are boat shoes comfortable?
The best shoes for boating are very comfortable, and you should not buy any shoes which are not comfortable when you try them on. Boat shoes are so comfortable that many non-sailors buy them for the comfort and styling. Extra care is taken to make them comfortable, because sailing is a demanding activity which can keep you on your feet much of the day and night.
4. How do I take care of sailing shoes?
Don’t let saltwater stay on your sailing shoes when you’re done with them. If they get wet while sailing, rinse them off in fresh, clean water at the end of the day. Let them dry out fully before you put them away, especially if they are leather.
Avoid leaving them in the sun, which is a challenge in the tropics. Some rubber soles can harden and become slippery if left in the sun for extended periods of time.
Different styles of shoes will have different care regimens – i.e. you wouldn’t treat canvas shoes the same way you’d treat leather or an artificial material. Consult the manufacturer for specific care instructions beyond keeping them free of salt buildup.
Pro Tip: Besides protecting your footwear from the harmful rays of the sun – One should take precautions when it comes to sun protection by either use of sunscreen or possibly a great addition such as a sun hat, to shield you from the elements.
5. What are the best shoes for sailing?
The best sailing shoes for men are those that fit you well, are comfortable, and meet the needs for how you sail. There is no single answer, but a sailing shoes review like this one will give you some valuable insight and various options to suit your needs.
As always, we create our content with you, fellow adventurers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next adventure is a great one!