Last updated: August 19, 2021

Boat shoes are closely associated with the sea and navigation. This type of shoe, created more than a century ago, arose from the need for sailors to have shoes that would not slip on the deck of ships.

Nowadays, the close ties of boat shoes to seafaring have disappeared and these shoes have become footwear that is used every day thanks to their comfort and classic sporty style. Learn more about these stylish shoes here:

The Best Men's Boat Shoes: Our Picks

Buying criteria: What to look for when buying men's boat shoes

There are different types of boat shoes for men. There are classic style boat shoes or boat shoes with a sportier style and informal shoes. Likewise, the choice of material of the boat shoes is very important and also the colour to be able to combine our shoes perfectly with our clothes.

The following buying criteria will help you find the right boat shoes for men for you:

  • Material
  • The sole
  • Style
  • Season
  • Colour and size
  • Closure

It is very important that before you buy the boat shoes, take a short walk with the boat shoes and make sure that the shoes do not rub against your feet.


There are different boat shoes; depending on the material. These shoes must be able to withstand salt water and dry quickly.

The classic boat shoes are made of leather and the sporty boat shoes are usually made of synthetic or mixed fabric.

  • Leather: The high quality of the leather ensures comfort, robustness and durability. It also has good breathability, so the shoes dry quickly after a rainy day. However, they need a lot of care and have a high price.
  • Imitation leather: Thanks to their particularly dense structure, they are more water-resistant than the classic boat shoes. But because the quality of the material is not as good, the product is less breathable.
    They are easier to care for and cheaper.
  • Linen in different forms: Cotton, linen or chemical fibres are also used.... Sometimes as synthetic or mesh fabric. Mesh is breathable, water-permeable and dries very quickly. Besides mesh, neoprene, solid rubber or rubber mixtures are also often used. It is important that these shoes are made of breathable materials that quickly release moisture.

The material they are made of is usually canvas or leather, which shapes the style and price of the nautical shoes.

The sole

The sole is the most important component of sailing shoes. It was Paul Perry who developed the sole during a walk with his dog Prince, after observing that his pet could balance on the ice without slipping.

Perry concluded that this was because of the grooved surface of his dog's paws, so he made similar indentations in a piece of white rubber in the shape of a pattern and stuck them to his shoe, thus improving the traction of the shoes and preventing slipping.

The sole of the boat shoes is either made of rubber or high-quality rubber, which ensures slip resistance. The classic drainage channel patterns are the herringbone pattern and the knife-cut pattern. Both have the smooth contact surface in common, as well as many channels that allow the water to drain away.

The soles can also have different thicknesses. Thinner soles are more comfortable to wear but absorb shock less, and thicker soles are more comfortable in the long run and insulate our feet more.


If you want to buy boat shoes, you can choose between two types, depending on your needs and style.

There are mainly two different styles: boat shoes with a classic style made of leather and boat shoes with a more sporty and informal style.

Boat shoes are made of different materials, outside and inside. What materials are used in detail varies from model to model and also depends on the manufacturer and the price.


Not only for sea activities, but also for leisure, boat shoes are a perfect garment for the warm season, i.e. spring or summer. Canvas designs are more suitable for warmer climates than leather designs with an elegant touch. Nevertheless, boat shoes are suitable for any weather, as well as hot or cold days, cloudy weather, sunny or stormy moments.

The season par excellence to wear the nautical shoes is summer, we can wear them without socks together with shorts. They are also easy to combine with jeans and a shirt.

And if it rains, that's not a problem for you either, because these shoes are waterproof. Remember to wear the shoes with socks on cold days.

As you can see, the many varieties of boat shoes offer a suitable model for every occasion. But be careful: you should not wear these shoes when the weather is extremely cold and there is snow.


Boat shoes usually all have laces. But over time, new forms have developed.

In classic boat shoes, the laces run not only through 2 eyelets (the most traditional boat shoes) or 3 eyelets at the top of the shoes, but also inside and outside their sides. The laces, belted and tied, are largely decorative and are usually also made of leather.

But there are also boat shoes without laces, and modern boat shoes with zips, easy to put on in no time.

Colour and size

Some time ago, boat shoes were only made in neutral colours like grey, brown, navy. But nowadays, boat shoes are available in a variety of colours.

If you are a more conservative person and looking for a classic style, the darkest brown colour is the best for you. It is the most attractive, classic and versatile colour and can be combined with almost anything.

If you want a more sporty and casual style, you can opt for striking colours like blue or white. It depends on what your personality is like.

Another important point is the shape. It takes a while for boat shoes to mould to your foot. For this reason, it is especially important to consider whether you want to use the shoes with or without socks before choosing your size.

Boat shoes stretch over time when you wear them. So if you are between two sizes, choose the smaller of the two.

Boat shoes for men: The most important questions answered

In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about boat shoes. In this way, we want to give you a deeper insight into the subject.

What types of men's boat shoes are there?

If you want to buy boat shoes, you can decide between two types that suit you better depending on your style.

Type What are the characteristics of the shoes? t?
Classic boat shoes They are made of pure leather or also of synthetic leather. The types of leather vary between smooth leather, nubuck leather and suede. They are more formal than the sporty boat shoes. The classic colour is brown.
Sporty boat shoes They have a combination of neoprene and mesh textiles and rubber. The mesh textile offers more comfort and at the same time is dry again within a very short time. This material can be designed in all colours and patterns and is therefore very popular in informal and cheerful looks. They also have a high wearing comfort, but are susceptible to wear. The sole is thin and light.

Boat shoes are a very versatile footwear used by men of all ages. Decide on the style that you most identify with and think about how you will use these shoes.

How do I clean and care for my men's boat shoes?

Caring for boat shoes is not very difficult. When caring for them, it is important to brush your boat shoes regularly to prevent dust from damaging the leather skin. Use a brush or a damp cloth for this purpose.

Moisturising the leather is also important to prevent cracks in the surface and to give the footwear a shine. To do this, apply a polish or a special moisturiser for leather. Natural leather becomes brittle over time, so - to maintain the water-repellent property - you should use this leather grease or shoe cream often.

If the footwear becomes stained, clean it with a cotton cloth and a moisturising cream or shoe polish.
The canvas boat shoes should also be impregnated regularly.

If your boat shoes get wet, you must dry them well. To do this, fill the inside with newspaper to absorb moisture and do not dry them on a heat source.
Always keep the shoes very clean and in a dry and dark place and with shoe trees to prevent them from losing their shape.

How long do men's boat shoes last?

How long your boat shoes will last depends on the quality of the material and how you will care for your shoes.
Normally higher-priced models made of leather are more robust and durable, but also require more intensive care than models made of plastic, which are somewhat more vulnerable.

With inexpensive models, there is a risk that the sole or the stitching will come loose after a few uses, or even that the leather strap will tear.

Depending on the manufacturer, price and model, the lifespan varies, but also depending on the use. If you follow our tips and care for the leather properly, your boat shoes will last a long time. If you want to pay a slightly higher price, you will enjoy shoes made of natural leather for a long time.

Please note: with boat shoes made of imitation leather, the lower the quality, the shorter the life of the shoes.

What outfit goes with men's boat shoes?

Boat shoes are no longer worn exclusively for seaside activities. Nowadays, these shoes are often worn for leisure, thanks to their comfort and casual look. Some boat shoes look almost like sneakers and can be combined with almost any outfit. If you want to wear these shoes, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Since sailing shoes are made for spring and summer, that is also the best season to wear them. Therefore, avoid wearing boat shoes in winter. You can combine these shoes well with jeans or shorts.

But you can also wear boat shoes in a more formal setting, for example, if you are going to the office or to an event. In that case, long tight trousers and a T-shirt or shirt of a similar colour will suit this look. If you want to combine these shoes with trousers, follow the rule that shoes must not be a lighter colour than trousers.

To note: Boat shoes are rather informal, so they don't go well with a suit.


Boat shoes are designed for the practice of sports and work at sea and for navigation, as these shoes have a sole with a grooved surface that prevents slipping on the decks of boats.

Currently, these shoes have become a fashion accessory that men use frequently in their daily lives. Classic and made of leather or sporty and made of canvas or synthetic material, it is a footwear very versatile and comfortable.

Featured image source: Unsplash / Rui Silvestre