Over the years, boat shoes have become something of a staple within the worlds of style and fashion, especially for those who have adopted a more “preppy” wardrobe. These days, they’ve become synonymous with high-profile attire, yacht-worthy gatherings, and days at the country club, but that doesn’t mean that they’re far removed from the realm of contemporary style. In fact, there are a handful of both traditional and modernized models that are perfect for a day at the bar, at the office, or anywhere in between. Below, we’ll sift through a hefty portion of the genre’s most versatile variants, and give you a quick rundown as to why they’re so prominent. Throw on that Hawaiian button-up, a pair of comfortable, beach-savvy shorts, and grab that cocktail — we’re about to dive straight into our list of the best boat men’s boat shoes.
Best Boat Shoes Breakdown
What are boat shoes for?
Hailing from the northeast, boat shoes were invented by Connecticut native Paul Sperry (the creator of Sperry) after he carved siping (akin to car tires) on the soles of his shoes. This provided better traction on wet surfaces, ideal for the deck of a boat, but since the 70s these shoes have been breaking into fashion territory. That doesn’t mean the utility from the original design is lost, but fashion and comfort have become equally important (if not more) than having solid traction on wet surfaces and boat decks. While most boat shoes will have waterproof leather, an outsole built for traction, durable stitching, and wraparound lacing, these days they’re worn for fashion a bit more than they are for actual boating.
important boat shoe features
Waterproof: Every good pair of boat shoes will have waterproof (usually via oil) canvas or leather. Sometimes slipper or moccasin hybrids may have a softer material, like suede, but even then it will usually be waterproofed as well. If you’re going to be using these shoes for some real boating, it’s essential that they’re waterproofed, but if you’re looking for casual comfort, it may not be as important.
Outsole: A durable non-marking rubber outsole with siping is another cornerstone of a good boat shoe, but similar to waterproofing, if you’re not boating then these details aren’t as important. If you are, however, a white outsole with a siping pattern is recommended for traction and to prevent scuffing the deck.
Material: Canvas or leather are the main materials of a boat shoe, along with the rubber outsole. Since they’re generally meant to be worn without socks, some variants might feature a soft lining inside.
L.L.Bean Men’s Casco Bay Boat Mocs
- Inside is lined with soft leather
- Good business casual choice
- Thick stitching creates some rough edges inside
- Wide at the heel
The Budget Pick: L.L. Bean’s Casco Bay is another amazing model in the brand’s expansive shoe lineup, and this time, it’s catered toward the sea. Each shoe features a comfortable, all-leather upper, a handsewn silhouette, and a siped rubber outsole, which helps to provide grip while on deck and also siphons water away from the model’s more prominent surfaces. You’ll find a handful of additional quality-of-life features throughout, including a super-soft, barefoot-approved sock liner, and functional wraparound lacing to ensure that you’ve got the best fit possible.
Ralph Lauren Merton Leather Boat Shoe
- Leather gets softer with wear
- Padded leather insole
- Easy to slip on
The Best Boat Shoes for the Office: If you’re looking for an iconic iteration of the boat shoe, search no further than the Ralph Lauren Merton. This timeless model has no interest in adapting to modern norms, nor does it care about its quality of life features, technological advancement, or texture deviation. Instead, it holds true to the design and construction of the genre’s earliest models, adopting a heavyweight leather upper, rope-inspired treads, and durable rawhide lacing to complement its antiqued metal grommets. Sometimes, it’s not worth it to fix something that isn’t broken.
Sperry Men’s Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoe
- Classic boat shoes from the original brand
- Soft lambskin lining
- No half sizes available for sizes 12 and up
The Best Overall Boat Shoes: Sperry owns the boat shoe space, and the company’s Top-Sider line is, undoubtedly, one of its most recognizable models. As such, it boasts a timeless silhouette and design that’s become synonymous with the genre’s nautically-inclined name. You’ll find everything that a boat shoe should be in the company’s Authentic models, which boast a premium leather upper, moccasin-stitched shoe, slotted collar, and rust-resistant eyelets. A 360-degree lacing system is coupled with the shoe’s hand-sewn Tru-Moc silhouette to provide exceptional security and comfort as you traverse the deck, but they’ll work just as well in an urban setting, thanks to their tasteful non-marking outsole and shock-absorbing EVA heel cup.
- Comfort out of the box with minimal breaking in required
- Made in Leon, Mexico
- No half sizes for 12 and up
The Best Boat Shoes for Boating: Boat shoes come in many different shapes and sizes, the Easymoc Slipper, for example, is a comfortable shoe leaning towards a slipper. It includes an Ortholite Footbed providing long-lasting cushioning and soft suede material. They also have Vibram camp outsole so while they may feel like slippers, they’ll have the traction you want from a boat shoe.
- High-quality Chromexcel Leather from the Chicago Horween tannery
- Ortholite footbed provides long-lasting cushioning
- Made in Maine
The Best Casual Boat Shoes: Boat shoes come in many different shapes and sizes, the Easymoc Slipper, for example, is a comfortable shoe leaning towards a slipper. It includes an Ortholite Footbed providing long-lasting cushioning and soft suede material. They also have Vibram camp outsole so while they may feel like slippers, they’ll have the traction you want from a boat shoe.
YUKETEN Fringed Suede Boat Shoes
- Soft suede with a comfortable interior
- Fashionable hybrid shoe
- May not want to scuff them out on the boat
The Grail Pick: Inspired by the classic blucher style shoes from the 50s, the Fringed Suede Boat Shoes from YUKETEN are made with soft suede and a durable Vibram outsole. The memory foam footbed and soft interior lining provide a supremely comfortable experience. And the hybrid between the blucher and boat shoe styles makes these quite versatile as well.
The Best of the Rest
Other Solid Boat Shoes
Sebago Men’s Docksides Boat Shoe
Sebago’s Men’s Dockside shoes take on the look of a classic boat shoe, and as such, they’re relatively true to the formula. You won’t find any outstanding technical additions or interesting construction principles here. Instead, the Docksides rely on their commitment to the genre’s trademark traits, calling upon a 100% leather upper, a sleek but grippy rubber sole, and moc-toe stitching that blends seamlessly with the shoe’s around-the-collar rawhide lacing. To keep you comfortable and supported, each pair has adopted a molded EVA foam insole, shaping to your foot and providing a customized fitment over time.
Quoddy Canoe Shoe
The Canoe Shoe from Quoddy is one of the brand’s flagship products and for good reason. They’re built to last and form to your feet, providing a personal and comfortable fit. The Vibram outsole delivers the traction you want out of a boat shoe, and the hand-sewn construction guarantees that every pair will live up to expectations.
L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder Camp Shoe
These classic shoes have been around since the label first released them in the 30s. This time around, the iconic Camp Shoe from L.L.Bean has been updated to be more modern by Todd Snyder. The premium full-grain leather and padded moisture-wicking insole will contour to your feet, complementing the tailored fit of the shoe.
The Best Soft Coolers for Your Next Boat Outing
Now that you’ve got some boat shoes, your summer outings could use some party favors as well. So take a look at our best soft coolers guide to get some reliable storage for the beach or the boat.