When picking the best boat shoes, it's often 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?

The nautical look never fails to triumph on the fashion circuit, which is why the best boat shoes – or deck shoes, as they are more commonly known in the boating world – are now as popular on the high street as they are on the water.

Given the fact the classic leather deck shoe was originally intended for use on the deck of a yacht, the design of the shoe included all the important elements such as good grip/non-marking soles, non-corrosive metal eyelets, and premium quality soft leather.

Nothing has changed in that respect and the classic leather boat shoe continues to dominate, particularly in the cruising world. For the more active sailor; those who spend a lot of time on deck while racing, there is also a huge choice of lightweight, technical deck trainers on the market.

With more and more specialist sailing clothing companies not only understanding the needs of those involved in high octane sailing, but also investing in huge amounts of research and development, these super-light sailing trainers are becoming more and more popular.

Here’s a selection of some of the best boat shoes on the market.

Jump to modern deck shoes

Jump to women’s boat shoes

Traditional boat shoes

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Dubarry XLT deck shoes

Dubarry Commodore XLT

Best lightweight boat shoes

Specifications: Sizes: 6 up | Colors: Chestnut, Navy, Navy / Brown, Old Rum, Mahogany | Material: Leather

Reasons to buy: Extra-light | Good cushioning | Three-hole lacing
Reasons to avoid: Expensive | May prefer a stronger shoe for more support

YM editor Theo Stocker has been putting Dubarry’s Commodore XLT 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.’


Chatham Sperrin winter boat shoe

Hardy but breathable boat shoes

Chatham Sperrin boat shoes

Best winter boat shoes

Specifications: Sizes: 6 up | Colors: Dark Brown, Dark Tan | Material: Leather

Reasons to buy: Good all-round support | Sole spring poron insole – offers cushion | Breathability and anti-bacterial | Robust eyelets | Available in UK sizes 6-15
Reasons to avoid: Thick leather takes a while to wear in

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,’ they add.


3 Sebago Portland Lea Oiled boat shoes

Best summer boat shoes

Specifications: Sizes: 5.5 up | Colors: Brown / Dark Brown | Material: Leather

Reasons to buy: Hard wearing | Comfortable fit | Available in UK sizes 5.5-11.5
Reasons to avoid: Expensive

Made from oiled leather, which promises to make them strong, these boat shoes are available in a two-tone tan brown and black with contrast stitching, writes John Stickland. After wearing them regularly, they barely show any signs of distress or cracking, and the stitching is all still intact.

The oiled treatment means even after wearing them in the rain, and while sailing, where they got regularly drenched in spray, the leather cleaned up really well, with no marks or stains and was still soft.

The leather sock lining makes the shoes comfortable enough to wear with or without socks, even when new, and I experienced no rubbing. There is extra cushioning to protect your instep arch, giving good support. A full-grain leather collar also helps keep your foot firmly in the shoe when barefoot.





Sebago Portland Tumbled Deck shoe

4 Sebago Dockside Portland Tumbled boat shoes

Best classic boat shoes

Specifications: Sizes: 6 up | Colors: Brown | Material: Leather

Reasons to buy: Long-lasting | Variety of colour and material options | Hand-stitched | Non-marking anti-slip soles
Reasons to avoid: Expensive | The insole only covers 2/3rds of the foot (leaving toes and ball of foot on leather)

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.



5 Orca Bay Fowey

Best boat shoes for wide feet

Specifications: Sizes: 7.5 up | Colors: Saddle | Material: Leather

Reasons to buy: Classic-looking | Wide fit | Premium hand stitched leather
Reasons to avoid: If Saddle brown is not your colour

For a good, solid leather, classic style, canoe-cut, moccasin deck shoe you can’t go far wrong with the Orca Bay. This company prides itself on producing the finest leather footwear for outdoor pursuits and its sailing range has always been popular.

Orca Bay is also a company that recognises the demand for wider-fit deck shoe options, which is why it has developed the Fowey as its wide-fit men’s option.

The Fowey, which is handmade in premium Saddle-coloured leather, retains all the fine qualities expected from this high-end brand including two-eyelet, leather rawhide continuous lacing system, full leather cushioned insole, and non-slip, non-marking rubber sole. We’re testing these right now and will report back next month.

Modern deck shoes


Helly Hansen Ahiga V4 HP

Best summer deck shoes

Specifications: UK sizes: 6.5-12.5 | Colors: Choice of four | Material: Synthetic textile and mesh upper / EVA midsole / HellyGrip rubber outsole

Reasons to buy: Optimised for summer; Lightweight, extremely quick-drying, highly breathable; Maximum grip
Reasons to avoid: Not suitable for all-day wear due to tight fit

Helly Hansen is a giant in the outdoor clothing world and has heaps of experience producing marine gear.

They are optimised for summer use and are very lightweight, extremely quick drying and highly breathable.

The siped HellyGrip rubber outsole is designed to maximise grip, while the high-grade EVA midsole promotes maximum comfort.

Our reviewer praised their versatility, reporting that they are just as suitable for paddleboarding as sailing onboard a foiling yacht.


Zhik Fuze boat shoes

Best deck shoe for comfort

Specifications: Sizes: 6 up | Colors: Grey | Material: Fabric / Rubber

Reasons to buy: Lightweight | Flexible and comfortable | One-way drainage system
Reasons to avoid: Premium price

This Australian company’s kit tends to be at the top end of the price range, but that hasn’t stopped it from drawing plenty of advocates.

They argue that, if your time off work and on the water is limited, a little extra investment to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible, even when the weather turns nasty, is easily justified.

The Fuze deck shoes are very lightweight, flexible and comfortable, with excellent support. A one-way drainage system is incorporated in the sole.




3 Sperry Authentic Original Float Boat Shoes

Best deck shoe for water protection

Specifications: Sizes: 7 up | Colors: Black, Grey, Navy, White | Material: Rubber

Reasons to buy: Super-lightweight; Floatable; Speed drying
Reasons to avoid: Can get very slippery; Some consumers report sizing issues

The Sperry Authentic Original Float Boat shoe is guaranteed to *ahem* float your boat. And even if the water does manage to get in, these shoes are more than up to the job as they are made from super-lightweight injected EVA, which floats.

In fact, Sperry Authentics have been designed to be water-ready and all about protecting you and your feet whenever you get wet.

To do this, they have strategically placed drainage ports on the waterline to help speed drying, vent holes in the uppers to ensure breathable comfort, and moulded wave-siping incorporated into the outsoles to provide sure-footed traction in all conditions.


4 Crocs Classic Boat Shoes

An appealing alternative boat shoe option

Specifications: Sizes: 5.5 up | Colors: Slate Grey, Khaki, Espresso, Navy | Material: Rubber

Reasons to buy: Waterproof and lightweight | Good breathability sheds moisture | Rubberised sole provides increased traction | flexibility and comfort
Reasons to avoid: Long break-in time

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 tongue, 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’.


5 Gill Race Trainer

Best race deck shoe

Specifications: Sizes: 4 up | Colors: Grey, Graphite | Material: Fabric / Mesh

Reasons to buy: Secure fit; Breathable material; Mesh-lining
Reasons to avoid: Lacks arch support

This British company has long offered top-quality kit at competitive prices.

The 2020 Race Trainer is designed for a secure fit and is made of breathable materials, including a mesh lining with minimal water absorbency.

The moulded insole and outsole both have fast drainage and there’s extra toe protection to reduce risk of injury.


6 Musto Dynamic Pro II boat shoes

Best dynamic deck shoe

Specifications: Sizes: 7 up | Colors: Grey, Black | Material: Fabric / Mesh

Reasons to buy: Designed for both yachting and dinghy sailing | Grippy sole | Enhanced for comfort and protection
Reasons to avoid: Premium price

This technical boat shoe from Musto is designed for both yachting and dinghy sailing.

The sole uses sticky rubber for maximum grip, while the TPU welded overlay along the sides gives excellent lateral support.

EVA is used for the mid-sole to enhance comfort and protection.

The mesh construction dries quickly and provides plenty of ventilation, making these trainers ideal for summer use when the anti-microbial protection will also be beneficial.


7 Lizard Regatta boat shoes

Best technical deck shoe

Specifications: Sizes: 4 up | Colors: Blue, Grey, Dark Grey | Material: Synthetic Leather  / Mesh

Reasons to buy: Non-slip rubber outsole | Breathable mesh | Anatomical footbed and secure lacing
Reasons to avoid: Premium price

This innovative Italian brand produces a range of excellent technical sailing shoes and sea boots.

The Regatta Shoe has a non-slip rubber outsole that provides excellent grip and is shaped to improve side protection.

The outer material is of a breathable mesh that promotes very quick drying and allows water to drain fast.

There’s also a removable anatomical footbed for extra comfort. The lacing system is designed for secure fastening.


8 Tribord Unisex Yacht Race boat shoes

Best value deck shoes

Specifications: Sizes: 5.5 up | Colors: Dark Petrol Blue, Lunar Grey | Material: Synthetic Leather  / Mesh

Reasons to buy: Great value | Lightweight | Non marking rubber with deep drainage
Reasons to avoid: Some consumers complain too narrow | Not as long-lasting or durable as competitors

These may have a bargain-basement price, but they don’t skimp on quality.

Decathlon’s technical shoes are lightweight, with a mesh upper that benefits from a plasma coating that reduces water absorption by 40 per cent.

The sole is made of non-marking rubber, with deep drainage channels and an effective non-slip pattern.



9 Gill Pursuit Trainers

Best boat shoes for protection

Specifications: Sizes: 5.5 up | Colors: Dark Petrol Blue, Lunar Grey | Material: Synthetic Leather  / Mesh

Reasons to buy: Lightweight | Good grip | Quick drainage | Impact absorbing sole | Racing friendly
Reasons to avoid: Feet will get wet underfoot in rain

Gill is a name that’s synonymous with quality when it comes to sailing kit, and its new Pursuit Trainer is a fine example. This shoe has been created not only for active use in, on or around water but also to offer exceptional comfort and good grip.

Like most technical sailing trainer-style shoes on the market, the Pursuit Trainer is lightweight and has a quick-lace adjustment for a secure fit.

It is constructed using breathable and quick drying fabric and, the air-cell impact absorbing insole has a drainage system to help speed up the flow of water through the shoe in wet conditions.

To help avoid the inevitable stubbing of toes during activity on deck, Gill has designed the shoe with reinforced protectors moulded around toe area.


Best women’s boat shoes


1 Chatham Java Lady G2

Best boat shoes for sustainability

Reasons to buy: Two-year manufacturer’s guarantee, Sustainable credentials, Classic style, Not bulky
Reasons to avoid: If brown is not your colour

Chatham has taken its bestselling G2 and developed a new, sustainable deck shoe. The Java Lady G2 essentially looks the same as previous shoes in the G2 range and retains all its fine qualities, but is made using eco-conscious materials and craftmanship.

According to Chatham, this hand-stitched moccasin-style shoe, is crafted from premium walnut nubuck leather sourced from a Leather Working Group gold-rated tannery. The aim is to reduce water consumption, harmful chemicals and energy throughout the manufacturing process.

The natural latex rubber sole is also sustainably sourced, and its new sole spring poron performance cushioning is manufactured using natural latex rather than polyurethane foam, is anti-bacterial and offers maximum comfort and shock absorption.


2 Decathlon Tribord Sailing Boat Trainers Race

Best deck trainers on a budget

Reasons to buy: Light weight | Good grip | Quick drainage | Low budget option
Reasons to avoid: Water ingress from side wall of sole

Although it is understandable to believe that Decathlon’s value for money Tribord sailing kit is ‘too good to be true’, it’s worth knowing that this company prides itself on its thorough testing regime with sailing professionals. This means that the products you buy have been approved and are fit for purpose.

The Women’s Sailing Boat Trainer Race 500 is a fine example of the company’s low-cost version of a lightweight, technical shoe. Other than its good looks and light weight, this shoe offers good grip thanks to Decathlon’s specially developed, diamond patterned, non-marking sole.

To help dispel water from inside, the shoe has a quick-drainage system with channels located on the heel and front of the foot, on the side wall of the sole.



3 Helly Hansen HP Foil V2 Sailing Shoes

Best boat shoes for summer racing

Reasons to buy: Superlight, Good grip, Quick dry, Non-marking soles, Extreme comfort
Reasons to avoid: White will show the dirt quickly

Helly Hansen is always at the top of the game when it comes to innovation, which is why it’s not surprising that the company’s latest sailing shoe – the Women’s version of the HP Foil V2 – hits the mark in many ways.

Its low-cut design allows for plenty of movement around the ankle area, and the open-mesh construction enhances breathability. This shoe also features engineered structural overlays in high-stress areas, which not only helps protect the foot, but also increases longevity.

Inside the shoe, you’ll find a comfortable, removable, EVA footbed made from quick-drying and anti-microbial fabric.

The non-marking rubber outsole offers good grip for sailing, and the fully-adjustable, shock cord lace system, and decent-sized loop tab at the heel, makes them easy to get in and out of.


4 Decathlon Tribord 500 Leather Sailing Boat Shoes

Best value boat shoes

Reasons to buy: Non-marking with a non-slip micro-grooved natural rubber outsole | Coated with a water-repellent treatment to resist saltwater | Great price
Reasons to avoid: Developed for dry weather conditions, may not be suitable for more intense conditions

The Tribord range at Decathlon has impressed the Yachting Monthly team in other tests – notably their coastal waterproofs. 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 saltwater.

Available in men’s and women’s versions and foggy blue or navy colours.


5 Chatham Pippa II G2 leather boat shoes

Best premium women’s deck shoe

Reasons to buy: Wide range of colours and sizes | Premium washable leather | Antibacterial sole cushioning
Reasons to avoid: Premium price

Chatham has more than 30 years of shoemaking under its belt and so confident is the company of its Pippa II G2 women’s leather boat shoes that each pair comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Offered in half sizes from 3 to 7, with sizes 8 and 9 also available, the shoe comes in a choice of three distinctive upper/sole colourways to match your sails and your mood!

Crafted from premium washable leather with non-slip rubber soles, rust-proof eyelets and rot-proof laces, the Pippa II G2 also features Chatham’s new anti-bacterial Sole Spring Poron performance cushioning for maximum comfort and shock absorption. 


6 Decathlon Cruise 100 Boat Shoes

Best women’s deck shoe for wearing barefoot

Reasons to buy: Thin lightweight mesh for increased breathability; Can be worn without socks; Good snug fit
Reasons to avoid: May struggle on a very wet deck

While billed as leather boat shoes, the uppers of Decathlon’s moccasin-style Tribord Cruise 100s also incorporate a thin lightweight mesh for increased breathability. As such, they are ideal for wearing without socks.

The shoes are fully laced all round to ensure a good, snug fit, and feature anti-rubbing protective strips and non-slip and micro-grooved natural rubber outsoles.

The outsole is also thicker at the heel for cushioning and comfort. Resistant to salt water, Tribord 100 boat shoes have detachable cotton insoles for easy cleaning and a small leather tab at the back helps make them easy to get on and off.


7 Keen Women’s Solr Closed Toe Water Shoe

Best open foot deck shoe 

Reasons to buy: Water-resistant upper; Recycled plastic webbing; Quick-drying lining
Reasons to avoid: Premium price

Although many technical boat shoes are great at shedding water and are quick drying, there are times that a closed shoe just simply isn’t what you want.

However, flip-flops and open-toe sandals are a big injury risk thanks to the number of deck fittings on most yachts – stubbing your toes in a properly serious fashion is all too easy.

Keen is one of the very few manufacturers with a product that addresses this problem.

It has a water-resistant upper with recycled plastic used for the webbing, plus a comfortable quick-drying lining.

The non-marking rubber sole has deep drainage channels, plus siped zones to improve grip.


Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

Looking for more protection? Check out our guide to the best waterproof boat shoes on the market right now.

Need a wider fit? Check out our guide to the best boat shoes for wide feet.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.