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The Best Shoes For Sailing


Finding the best shoes for sailing is easier than you think. Here is a summary of our favorites for sailors, including our best choices: the Helly Hansen water shoe for men Aquapace 2 and the Columbia Vulc N Vent Lace canvas shoe for women.

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Every experienced sailor needs a good pair of water shoes. If you’re serious about sailing, a pair of flimsy flip-flops simply won’t work. More substantial sailing footwear protects your feet and provides ample traction in a slippery situation. The best shoes for sailing are low-cut and have a non-slippery design that makes them practical and comfortable, qualities that are a must.

According to Gentleman’s Gazette, sailing shoes originated in the early 1930s when Paul Sperry, a sailor, took his dog for a walk and was surprised by his grip as he ran across the ice. The traction he managed to generate on the slippery surface intrigued him. Paul thought it had something to do with Prince’s footpads.

Upon closer examination, he realized that the cracks and grooves in Prince’s feet formed a herringbone pattern that gave him a grip. Then Sperry got the idea to cut similar patterns into the soles of the shoes he wore while sailing. And sailing shoes were born (note that Sperry is still one of the best brands today and is featured in the article).

When you buy shoes for sailing, there are some questions you’ll want to answer. Will the shoes protect and support my feet? Will the shoes keep my feet warm or cool? Will the shoes provide adequate traction on the platform? Will the shoes be sufficient for the type of sailing I’ll be doing? If you’re not sure what to look for in a good pair of boating shoes, we can help.

Our team has put together a list of the best shoe options.


  • Size: when buying sailing shoes, it’s important to know that they are usually different in size than street shoes. Use the size chart provided by the shoe company to find the perfect fit.
  • Material: nowadays, you can find sailing shoes in a wide range of materials. The most common fabrics used for sailing shoes include leather, suede, canvas, and synthetic materials.
  • Non-slip sole: To avoid slipping on slippery decks, it is important to find a pair of nautical shoes that have a non-slip sole. Rubber soles often provide optimal slip resistance. Grooves in the sole can also provide a better grip.
  • Upper: Most nautical shoes have upperparts that help evacuate water from the foot platform to keep it dry and comfortable. While leather uppers are often preferred for their softness and appearance, synthetic uppers generally dry faster.


Helly Hansen Aquapace 2 Water Shoe

Our first choice of shoes for sailing is not an average deck shoe. The Helly Hansen Men’s Aquapace 2 water shoe resembles a modern sports shoe with water-resistant top construction.

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The Helly Hansen Men's Aquapace 2 water shoe

Available in several vibrant color combinations, this low profile shoe features breathable mesh uppers as well as protective overlays. An elastic lacing system keeps the foot firmly in place during all your water activities.

Sperry Top-Sider Man Kite Sport Boat Shoe

Sperry is a widely known brand in the shipping industry, creating high-quality products that last. The Sperry Top-Side Men’s Sea Kite Sport Boat Shoe features a sporty style in a wide selection of colors.

Sperry Top-Sider Man Kite Sport Boat Boat

The imported leather shoes have a synthetic sole that dries the leather quickly and is water-resistant, and a mesh upper that helps keep water out. A soft fabric lining and a removable padded insole keep your feet comfortable.

Adidas Outdoor Unisex Climacool Boat Lace Water Shoe

Adidas doesn’t just make great sports shoes. They are also leaders in water shoes. The Adidas Outdoor Unisex Climacool Boat Lace water shoe is a synthetic shoe with a rubber sole.

Adidas Outdoor Unisex Climacool Boat Lace Water Shoe

What makes them the best sailing shoes are the Climacool tool construction, open mesh, and EVA tongue upper for breathability and comfort. The shoes also have an elastic heel insert to achieve the ideal fit.

Sperry Top-Side Men’s Tarpon 2-Eye

If you like the look of classic boat shoes, you will love our next choice. The Sperry Top-Side Tarpon 2-Eye Men’s Boat Shoes are made from quality fabric and hand-stitched seams.

Sperry Top-Side Men's Tarpon 2-Eye

Non-marking rubber soles provide a secure footing on both wet and dry surfaces. The footrest is well padded for optimal comfort and the shock-absorbing EVA heel helps prevent foot fatigue after a long day of sailing.

Aleader Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

When it comes to water shoe materials, the breathable and durable air mesh makes it one of the best shoes for sailing. Aleader Men’s Quick-Dry Aqua Water Shoes feature not only a mesh construction but also a rubber outsole that keeps your feet firmly attached to any surface, wet or dry.

Aleader Men's Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Another great feature of these water shoes is the ComforDry sock line and insole arch support that offers a dry experience and a comfortable ride.


Columbia Women’s Vulc N Vent Lace Canvas Shoes

Our top pick for ladies is a little different than our other picks as it looks more like a deck shoe than a sneaker. The Columbia Lace Vulc N Vent women’s canvas shoe is made from textile with a synthetic sole.

Columbia Women's Vulc N Vent Lace Canvas Shoes

Classic lace-up style provides a secure fit with enough ventilation. The Omni-grip sole leaves no

marks and gives you the best grip on any surface, making these shoes ideal for sailing.

Helly Hansen Women’s Aquapace 2 Water Shoes

The Helly Hansen Aquapace 2 Women’s Water Shoe has many of the same great features as the Men’s Aquapace, but with a feminine touch.

Helly Hansen Women's Aquapace 2 Water Shoes

Available in many vibrant colors, this women’s boat shoe features a synthetic construction and a rubber sole. The quick-drying mesh is a perfect material to surf on and the low-profile, slip-on, quick-fit design makes wearing these shoes easy and comfortable.

Sperry Top-Sider Women’s Bluefish Two-Eye Boat Shoe

Our last choice is another great shoe from Sperry. These 100% leather shoes are imported with a rubber sole and padded tongue.

Sperry Top-Sider Women's Bluefish Two-Eye Boat Shoe

The Mocc-Toe boat shoe has a waterproof and smudge resistant upper along with two eyelet laces, giving it a perfect fit. With a classic look, you can’t go wrong no matter what color you choose. These durable shoes are the perfect shoe choice for an active lifestyle.

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