When picking the ideal boat shoes, you face a choice between traditional moccasins that look the part but lack support and cushioning, or modern deck trainers that cover the sporty angle but are not understated. Is there a happy medium?
Some sailors swear by deck trainers as the best boat shoes, but once the wet weather hits, are you left with squidgy feet and a damp shoe smell?
Others are steadfast Crocs wearers, arguing that the boating versions are light, grippy and kind on the pocket.
But for the traditionalists, moccasin boat shoes offer a smart look at sea and ashore, with the elusive find being a pair made from soft leather yet offering hard-wearing capabilities in all weather.
Here we look at seven of the best boat shoes on the market today, ranging in price from £39 to £169.
*Yachting Monthly is not paid by manufacturers for our recommendations. If you click through and buy an item, we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer, at no cost to you.*
Best boat shoes available now
YM tested – Dubarry Commodore X LT review
Best lightweight boat shoes
YM editor Theo Stocker has been putting Dubarry’s Commodore X LT moccasin boat shoes through their paces for a few months now.
He believes they represent a happy medium between traditional moccasins and their sporty competitors.
Theo says: ‘Their key selling point is that they are, as the name suggests, extra light. In fact they are roughly half the weight of my previous boat shoes.
‘Despite this, they still have a good degree of cushioning in the sole and are firm enough to give my foot some support, with the three-hole lacing keeping them secure on my foot.’
YM tested – Chatham Sperrin review
Best winter boat shoes
The Sperrin Winter Boat Shoe is Chatham’s twist on its classic boat shoe, featuring three eyelet laces, contrast stitching detail, side laces and a heavy cleated sole for additional traction on slippery pontoons.
One of the key selling features is the sole spring poron insole, which promises to be cushioning, supportive, breathable and anti-bacterial.
Our tester wore them over several months and can vouch that they give their feet good all-round support, and the leather lacing kept them securely in place.
‘The eyelets are robust, which I have been impressed with as often this has been the first thing to go on previous pairs of boat shoes.
Available in UK sizes 6-15.
RRP: £89 / $62
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Best all-round boat shoes
Sebago’s summer range of boat shoes come in a variety of colour options and materials.
These hand-sewn deckies have a leather sock lining, 360° rawhide lacing and non-marking anti-slip rubber soles.
They are pricey but Sebago’s shoes have proven to be of consistently high quality and among the best boat shoes available.
For us, you can’t beat the traditional leather for a good quality boat shoe. The Mapple is our favourite of the new boat shoe designs – we’ll probably steer clear of the suede options…
Best classic boat shoes
This classic-style boat shoe from US shoe brand Sebago is probably of greatest interest to the active sailor.
It’s constructed to be long-lasting and made from unique hot-stuff buffed leather conditioned with oils and waxes.
There are a variety of colour and material options too, making it easier to pick the best boat shoe for your needs.
Each pair is hand-stitched and features non-marking anti-slip soles, designed to offer stable grip in all conditions.
Best value boat shoes
These leather boat shoes are developed for inshore sailing in dry weather conditions.
Non-marking with a non-slip micro-grooved natural rubber outsole, these boat shoes are made in Portugal.
The leather and accessories have been coated with a water-repellent treatment to resist salt water.
Available in men’s and women’s versions and foggy blue or navy colours.
An appealing alternative boat shoe option
Crocs men’s Classic Boat Shoe is designed to be waterproof and lightweight thanks to the Croslite foam construction.
Other features include a soft fabric tongues, faux lacing, ventilation ports in the heel and forefoot to add breathability and help shed moisture.
The rubberised sole is promised to provide increased traction, flexibility and ‘360-degree comfort’.
RRP: £54.99 / $33
Premium boat shoes with a difference
Wuzzos is a new name in the boat shoe market, currently selling a couple of different varieties for men and women, each available in a variety of leather finishes.
As is often the case with deckies there is little that particularly stands out at first glance – to a degree, a boat shoe is a boat shoe is a boat shoe.
But one difference they have over other boat shoe offerings is the option to add embossed text to the shoes in a couple of font sizes and colours (gold, silver, plain).
This, combined with the made-in-Europe build, hand stitching and sewing, and good quality leather mean they are clearly aiming at the higher end of the boat shoe market, with a luxury brand feel.
This luxury feel continues on delivery of the shoes, which arrive with your name embossed on the box and initials on the care card. These are far from necessary, of course, but does make the whole experience of purchase feel bespoke.
The boat shoes themselves have razor-cut soles so should provide a good level of grip.
The leather is fantastically soft and the soles offer a great level of padding. All in all, they are initially impressive and they should work well on the water.
YM tester Toby Heppell said: ‘I was really impressed with the grip they offered.
‘The boat upon which I was testing the shoes on had had the helm footrest removed as it was due to be repositioned.
‘This meant standing at the wheel while helming with nothing to brace against.
‘We were sailing upwind in around 20 knots AWS without any reefs and so had a significant amount of heel.
‘I can honestly say that there was not a single moment in an entire afternoon’s sail that I did not feel securely planted to the deck. Very impressive.’
Wuzzos boat shoes are available in both men’s and women’s styles.
RRP: £100 (plus £15 for personalisation)
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