If you are going to be out on the water then you will need a pair of waterproof boat shoes, even if you intend to stay largely dry. We take a look at what's on the market...
We’re not suggesting for a moment that boating in the wet will result in trench foot, but anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a good soaking at sea will know just how unpleasant cold, soggy toes can be! So a good pair of waterproof boat shoes is essential.
In addition to personal discomfort, there’s also the not insignificant matter of staying safe on board – and if you can’t feel your toes, safety is likely to be compromised to some degree or another. Another reason why donning the appropriate waterproof boat shoes when casting off is so important.
But what to wear? While some marine footwear is designed to withstand pretty much anything – see the Musto Goretex Ocean Racer sailing boots below, for example – they come in at a hefty price and simply might not look the part on the deck of a motor cruiser.
Progressing along the spectrum come deck shoes, neoprene bootees and trainer-based footwear. All play a part and all are capable of fulfilling a defined set of needs, but ultimately, as always, the choice of what to buy is yours.
Our footwear buyers’ guide is certainly not exhaustive – there are literally hundreds of makes and a multitude of types of shoes and boots to choose from. Rather, this list seeks to provide an overview of the type of footwear you might consider purchasing for your boat.
In our view, it’s worth keeping a pair or two on board which can be slipped on whenever you step aboard as that will help protect your boat from any grime and small stones picked up by the soles of your day shoes.
As with any other type of footwear, fit, comfort, grip, quality and price are all factors to take into consideration when buying a pair of shoes for boating.
Best waterproof boat shoes available right now
Helly Hansen W Skagen F1 Offshore women’s boating shoes
Named after Denmark’s most northerly town, Helle Hansen’s Skagen F1 Offshore is a high performance waterproof boat shoe.
The lace-up shoe features an open-mesh construction for breathability and flexibility with seamless structural overlays to protect the feet on and off the boat. The rubber sole is flat-heeled, non-marking and comes with a well-defined tread pattern for traction and slip protection.
The outer material is entirely synthetic, so should both perform well and last at sea. Three colours – Navy, Graphite Blue and Off White – are available and a full range of sizes from UK 3.5 to 8 (including half sizes) are offered.
Reasons to buy: High-performance reliable brand, breathable and flexible, full size range
Reasons to avoid: Premium price
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Quayside Clipper unisex adult’s boat shoes
A marine classic if ever there was one, the Quayside Clipper has all the features boaters and sailors have come to expect in a deck shoe or waterproof boat shoes.
The moccasin-style navy and chestnut brown breathable leather upper has been hand-stitched and looks solid and sturdy. The 360-degree laces are made of leather too, and there’s a flat-heel on the non-marking rubber sole. While the inner material itself is unlined, a padded insole is provided to keep feet comfortable.
Quayside’s website bills these as adult shoes, but we noticed the size options go all the way down to UK 3.5, meaning there’s plenty of kids out there who could also benefit from a pair of these smart boat shoes.
Reasons to buy: Classic, padded insole, great size range
Reasons to avoid: Inner material is unlined, boots offer more foot coverage
Tribord adult’s sailing boots
Tribord is sports and leisure goods retailer Decathlon’s in-house sailing sports brand. The company has a history of developing its own products and reports these boots have been created by its designers and fellow sailors.
Made of genuine rubber, functionality was clearly at the top of their list. Where they score especially highly is when it comes to keeping feet dry and warm – obviously important on the high seas. The soles, which are also made of rubber, are non-marking and non-slip.
The boots are also extremely flexible, adding to the comfort when wearing them for extended periods. An inner sock provides additional insulation and the entire product is salt water resistant.
Reasons to buy: Genuine rubber, great functionality with non-slip soles
Reasons to avoid: Other options provide better ankle support
Musto Goretex Ocean Racer sailing boots
Weighing in at the heavyweight end of the boating footwear spectrum, these boots are made for sailing in the kind of conditions that confine most of us to quarters.
Just about every protection system known to man has been incorporated; a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane, Grip Deck sticky rubber soles, Grip Flex multi-directional outsole grip, EVA midsole, footbed and ankle protectors, this boot has it all – and more.
There’s even a removable gaiter to provide an additional layer of protection from water ingress and inside the boot has a unique DynamicFit bellowed tongue and bungee-style lacing to hold the foot safely and securely in place. They’re not cheap, but this kind of specification is always going to come at a price.
Reasons to buy: Incredible protection, GORE-TEX membrane, removable gaiter
Reasons to avoid: Premium price, heavy
Wuzzos Corinthian Pro
As a high-end product, the Wuzzos Corinthian Pro raises the bar for the ubiquitous deck shoe. The attractive leather and mesh uppers have been designed not only to look good but also to provide high levels of ventilation and drainage.
The metal lace hole eyelets are salt water resistant, and water-dispersing, anti-aquaplaning soles help the wearer keep their feet come what may. An extra safety feature are the shoes’ forward-facing ‘Wave-Shock’ panels. Built into the white outsole, these limit torsional twist and absorb impact to help prevent injuries to ankles, knees and other joints.
Wuzzos Corinthian Pro shoes are available in a choice of three colours; navy, brown and grey.
Reasons to buy: Salt water resistant eyelets, attractive leather, ‘Wave-Shock’ panels
Reasons to avoid: Premium price, boots offer more foot coverage
Price: £120.00 inc VAT
Gill Race Trainer
Smart and functional, this shoe is a quality product from one of the marine industry’s most respected names. Available in adult’s sizes from EU 41 – 46 (UK 7 – 12), the Race Trainer is attractively styled in navy with royal blue laces and orange detailing on the lace holes.
The shoe has been designed to be non-marking, non-slip, quick draining, and incorporates moulded toe protection and a padded tongue. An EVA insert gives extra impact protection at the heel, and the lightweight, cushioned midsole is anti-microbial treated to reduce odour.
An additional noteworthy feature is that an air-cell has been incorporated into the insole to provide an impact-absorbing base for this tough and practical shoe.
Reasons to buy: Respectable brand, non-marking and non-slip, an EVA insert for extra protection
Reasons to avoid: Could be more size options
Lands’ End men’s water trainers
“Hooray for holey soles,” trumpets Lands’ End’s website and we have to agree it’s a pretty clever idea. For these trainers have been designed to get wet, and when they do, the drain holes built into the soles are there to help disperse it as quickly as possible.
There’s lot of other features to commend these reasonably-priced shoes as well. Take, for example, the polyester mesh upper, bungee style lacing, removable foam-cushion insole, and pull tabs on both the heels and tongues. The cotton/polyester lining has been anti-microbial treated and the shoe’s thick rubber soles provide protection and absorb the shocks.
Reasons to buy: Affordable, mesh upper, comfortable
Reasons to avoid: Heavy water flow might not be advised
Lakeland Active Eden Aquasport protective watersports shoes
Designed for use in and around the water, these four-way stretch neoprene shoes are great for watersports of all types and are an out-and-out pair of waterproof boat shoess. Both the men’s and women’s versions are available in six vivid colourways – mostly two-tone in the case of the male shoe and mainly solid colours for females.
The shoes are held in place by way of an elasticated ankle band with an adjustable toggle at the heel. Water-draining mesh panels are incorporated into the top surface, and underneath there’s a durable, anti-slip outer sole.
The neoprene uppers dry quickly once back on land and the insoles can be removed and simply wrung out.
Reasons to buy: Great budget option, fast drying with removable insoles
Reasons to avoid: Basic feature set, stronger options available
Price: £15.99 – £17.99 (mens) £9.99 – £16.99 (womens)
Need a wider fit? Check out our guide to the best boat shoes for wide feet.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.