8 Best Boat Shoes For Women Reviewed

Last Updated on July 15, 2024 by Brendan

best womens boat shoes for women

You’ve heard the term ‘boat shoe’ or ‘deck shoe’ but do you really know what they are? In general terms, the best boat shoes for women are made from canvas or leather with a non-marking sole and are designed specifically for use onboard a sailing vessel. However, ladies’ sailing shoes are also regarded as fashion accessories and can be worn just about anywhere because they are comfortable and practical.

In this article, we will look at these types of ladies’ deck shoes as well as a few that are not made with traditional deck shoe materials.

Our Picks Of The Best Women’s Boat Shoes

Many of us have been there… After a day of sailing or just a few hours on a boat, our feet ache and the soles of our feet and toes are sore from kicking blocks and treading on ropes and jib sheet tracks.

There are a lot of different brands out there making women’s sailing shoes nowadays. This can make finding the best women’s sailing shoes a little overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve decided to take a look at what we think are the best women’s sailing shoes available today. This will give you an idea of what is on the market to help you navigate through the different options available.

We’ll check out the various features you’ll want to look for and show you that women’s sailing shoes can be functional and stylish, so you are sure to find something you like.


Helly-Hansen Women’s Ahiga Hydropower Boating Shoes

Helly-Hansen Women's Ahiga Hydropower Boating Shoe

Key Specs

ManufacturerHelly Hansen
UpperTextile
SoleRubber
Sizes5.5-10
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes, including:
Off White/Shell Pink/Blue Tint,
Navy/Off White/Cayenne/Light Grey,
Alloy/Glacier/Off White/Melon
FitTrue to size

Featuring HellyGrip rubber in the soles with siping for traction, these synthetic shoes also contain cushioning for comfort and a flexible outsole. The design includes a quick-dry mesh which makes these shoes breathable. They come with the popular HellyWear rubber construction.

This provides durability and users online rave about how much support these shoes provide. The white sole and dark shoe combination means you can wear these shoes casually if you like.

Pros

Great fit, very comfortable
The excellent grip provides stable footing
Easy to clean with just a damp cloth
The leather strap on the heel prevents blister formation

Cons

A bit on the costly side
Not enough colors to choose from
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Helly Hansen Women’s Watermoc Sailing Shoe

Helly-Hansen Womens Watermoc Sailing Shoes

Key Specs

ManufacturerHelly Hansen
UpperSynthetic and Mesh
SoleRubber
Sizes6.5-10
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes, 3 options:
Black/Charcoal, Blue Navy Coast Blue, Grey Charcoal Ebony Light Grey
FitTrue to size

Our list would be incomplete without mentioning another product from the same company. We are also fond of the look of the Helly Hansen Women’s Watermoc Water Shoe.

Equipped with a rubber sole that contains a multi-directional grip system and quick-dry mesh, this shoe is another great choice to have onboard when sailing. With a flexible and comfortable grip, you can’t go wrong with this particular brand.

Pros

Great fit, attractive design
Quick to dry
Comfortable enough to wear both off and on the boat

Cons

There is no tightening strap in the design which may be required for individuals with wider feet
The material does not give around the top which may make for a tight fit for some
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Skechers Women’s Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe

Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe

Key Specs

ManufacturerSkechers
UpperTextile
SoleSynthetic
Sizes5-12
Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes, including:
Navy, Natural, Grey, Light Mauve, Taupe
FitTrue to size

Constructed with a soft canvas fabric & a smooth ‘Leather-Tex’ overlay, these shoes are stylish and functional. The synthetic sole has superior grip, stability, and shock absorption. The insole is made from a high-rebound material for maximum comfort.

The attractive appearance makes these a popular choice. Anyone who has owned a pair of Skechers will attest to how comfortable they are.

While these boat shoes may not be as good in wet conditions on the boat as others that are specifically designed for boating, they are great-looking boat shoes that you can walk in and be comfortable wearing all day.

Be sure to check them out as these boat shoes are well worth a look.

Pros

Lightweight and comfortable
Attractive-looking shoes that appear dressier than sneakers
Excellent fit

Cons

Some users found these shoes lacked sufficient support
Foot design may not work for some wearers
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Sperry Top Sider Women’s Bluefish Boat Shoe

Sperry Top Sider Women’s Bluefish Boat Shoe

Key Specs

ManufacturerSperry
UpperLeather
SoleRubber
Sizes5-12
Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes, including:
Linen/Oat, Black, Tan/Navy, Rosefish Linen/Oat, Linen Stripe, Tan
FitTrue to size

Sperry is a leader in the boat shoe industry. These particular ones are made of leather and have a rubber sole. The design is a bit more on the casual side with a padded tongue for added comfort and a slotted collar. The moc-toe styling includes an upper with two eyelet lacing. These women’s leather boat shoes are also stain and water-resistant.

The casual look of these shoes allows them to be worn for more than just sailing as they complement many different wardrobe combinations. These shoes are also constructed in such a manner that they do not lose their shape or level of comfort regardless of how or where you choose to wear them.

Pros

A narrow-fitting shoe with a perfect fit
Great value
A good-looking boat shoe that can be worn in other settings as well
Durable and well-made

Cons

Sizing runs a little on the small side
The leather is too easy to mark
Some wearers found them far too narrow to fit properly
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Sperry Womens Songfish Boat Shoe

Sperry Womens Songfish Boat Shoe

Key Specs

ManufacturerSperry
UpperLeather and Textile
SoleSynthetic
Sizes5-12
Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes, 4 options:
Linen Oat, Black, Taupe Grey, Offwhite Shimmer
FitTrue to size

Our list of the best women’s boat shoes would look a bit lopsided if we did not include another quality product made by Sperry. Another of our favorites happens to be the Sperry Women’s Songfish Boat Shoe.

Made from a combination of leather and textile construction, these shoes have a synthetic sole that is non-marking and provides excellent grip. An EVA foam midsole adds comfort and a breathable, moisture-wicking Dri-Lex lining keeps feet cool and dry. Add a 360-degree lacing system with rawhide laces and rust-proof eyelets and these are dependable shoes for boating.

Pros

The venting in the design keeps these shoes cool and comfortable
Attractive design
Some users found these fit perfectly

Cons

Some report that the sizing is too small
Only has three eyelets so lacing across the top of the foot may be an issue
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Xtratuf Finatic II Women’s Deck Shoes

XTRATUF Finatic II Women’s Deck Shoes

Key Specs

ManufacturerXtratuf
UpperLeather
SoleRubber
Sizes7
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsno. Available in 1 color style only:
Brown/Kelp
FitTrue to size

Here is a very special boat shoe. It features a full-grain leather upper and slip-resistant outsole that is non-marking for grip and stability. The inner pigskin lining of the removable and washable liners contains antimicrobial Ortholite which provides cushioning comfort.

The shoe design includes Airmesh lining plus Airmesh windows at strategic locations (heel, tongue, sides) for additional cooling and offers quick-drying solutions. These are probably some of the best women’s sailing shoes and are described by users as light and sporty.

That pretty much makes them suitable for more than just boating. If you are seeking a flexible shoe that is not only comfortable and stylish but does what it is designed for when on the water or off, then these are certainly a good selection to make.

Pros

Lightweight and comfortable
Attractive design
Breathable mesh keeps shoes cool and assists in quick-drying

Cons

Leather is easy to mark up
Pigskin interior may cause foot irritation or blisters from rubbing
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Vibram Women’s V-Aqua Black Water Shoe

Vibram V-Aqua lady's sailing shoes

Key Specs

ManufacturerVibram
UpperTextile and Synthetic
SoleEthylene Vinyl Acetate
Sizes7-17
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes, including:
Black, Grey, Blue/Black, Black/Light Blue
FitTrue to size

Featuring a black and yellow color combination, these ladies’ sailing shoes really stand out. They have a stretch polyester mesh construction, which is tear-resistant, with a rubber wave grip sole.

If you do wash them, remember to use the cold water setting. Also, do not dry them in direct sunlight or in a dryer. Your best bet is to air dry at room temperature. Users generally like these shoes but some find the sole to be ineffective in the comfort department.

Pros

Lightweight
Secure fit
Attractive looking footwear
Look great and durable

Cons

Some users found these difficult to put on
The fit can be problematic with a seam that rubs against the big toe
Too expensive for what you get
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Sperry Women’s Koifish Boat Shoe

Sperry Women's Koifish Boat Shoe

Key Specs

ManufacturerSperry
UpperLeather
SoleRubber
Sizes5-12
Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes – many, including:
Linen/Oat, Linen Oat, Black/Black, Tan/Navy, Rosefish Linen/Oat, Linen Stripe, Tan
FitTrue to size

With an EVA foam midsole, these leather boat shoes are comfortable. The comfort comes in part from the shock-absorbing cushioned EVA footbed. These may be the best leather deck shoes for women as they are breathable, comfortable, practical, attractive, and non-marking.

These deck shoes include leather lace-up features. Sizing is good according to users. They also rave about the comfort of these shoes. There are raves related to the visual appearance that make these shoes a good choice for more than just boating. This is casual footwear that will likely have your friends commenting on how cute they look – as has been reported in online reviews.

Pros

Comfortable shoe
Affordable price
Non-marking rubber sole with excellent grip
A stylish look that makes these shoes perfect for more than just boating

Cons

Some users found the sizing a bit off
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Here’s a summary of the boat shoes mentioned above…

What To Look For In Boat Shoes

ImageTitleRatingMore Info
Helly Hansen Women's W Ahiga V3 Hydropower Fashion SneakerHelly-Hansen Women’s Ahiga Hydropower Boating Shoes
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Helly-Hansen Womens Watermoc Sailing ShoesHelly Hansen Women’s Watermoc Sailing Shoe
3.5 out of 5 stars
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Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite Boat ShoeSkechers Women’s Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Sperry Top-Sider Women's Bluefish Boat ShoeSperry Top-Sider Women’s Bluefish Boat Shoe
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Sperry Womens Songfish Boat ShoeSperry Womens Songfish Boat Shoe
4.4 out of 5 stars
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XTRATUF Finatic II Women’s Deck ShoesXtratuf Finatic Ii Women’s Deck Shoes
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Vibram-Womens-V-Aqua-Black-Water-ShoeVibram Women’s V-Aqua Black Water Shoe
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Sperry Women's Koifish Boat ShoeSperry Women’s Koifish Boat Shoe
4.5 out of 5 stars
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There are several different styles of the best women’s sailing shoes available in the marketplace. Although they are called boat shoes, not all of them are as effective as you may desire if you are a serious sailor. While the name implies that they are primarily to be worn when boating, some styles have a more casual flavor to them. As such, they are more suited to wearing onshore.

Most women’s boat shoes, particularly when worn with socks, can easily substitute sneakers or loafers, depending on the function. It is because of the design and construction material that they are so versatile. However, with this in mind, here is a list of things to look for and what you will typically find when shopping for the best boat shoes for women:

  • Uppers are traditionally found in mid to dark-brown leathers. More contemporary styles feature canvas and leather uppers in different color choices as well as in numerous patterns.
  • Uppers should be water and stain-resistant.
  • Construction is often hand-sewn and top-stitched.
  • The overall design would be identified as ‘moc-toe’ in construction.
  • Lacing systems vary but commonly include a 360-degree design.
  • Boat shoes typically have two or three sets of eyelets.
  • Laces come in different materials but usually match the uppers.
  • Rubber soles are usually white and are always non-marking.
  • Soles have patterns carved into them to provide grip and to flush away water.
  • Shock absorption features appear in many styles.
  • Comfort in design and padding (often with removable liners) are typical.
  • Breathability comes from mesh panels and lightweight construction.
  • Many styles offer quick-dry materials in the uppers.

As you can tell, the details listed above can easily describe more than just women’s deck shoes. For serious sailors, not all of these factors make for good sailing shoes. As mentioned, some boat shoes are a good choice onboard boats and yachts, while other shoes in this category are best worn on dry land and not used for any kind of sailing activity.

Regardless, for a serious sailor, boat shoes serve a very different purpose than many of the shoe styles that fall under the actual name of ‘boat shoes.’ To find out more about the best sailing shoes for men and women that are specifically designed for sailing yachts, dinghies, and sailboards, click here.

How To Properly Care For Boat Shoes

Because boat shoes are exposed to elements that regular shoes are not typically (sun and saltwater) they require special care. By taking these precautions, your boat shoes will last longer and perform at their best at those times you need them most:

  • Clean the leather frequently with water-based cream shoe polish. Apply a leather conditioner to maintain the flexibility and water resistance of the leather.
  • Do not use alcohol-based or silicone polish.
  • Brush frequently to remove dirt, dust, and salt deposits.
  • Clean suede boat shoes with cornmeal massages. Let sit overnight then brush clean.
  • You should hand wash canvas boat shoes unless otherwise noted.
  • Dry at room temperature. Do not dry in the sun.
  • Store with shoe trees to keep their shape intact. Store shoes in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Put on with a shoehorn to keep the back of the shoes in proper form.
  • Monitor sole condition and seek repairs when needed. Replace shoes when the soles show signs of wear to maintain traction and stability on the deck.

Important Features of Boat Shoes

When choosing the perfect boat shoes for women, consider specific features. Finding the right combination of comfort and functionality is vital to ensure your happiness with them. Factor the following main considerations into your selection process:

  • Comfort: Put comfort at the top of your list when choosing new boat shoes. If you anticipate wearing them for long hours, then you will want to ensure that a well-cushioned insole is part of the shoe construction. This, combined with arch support will reduce the development of pain and fatigue when worn for extended activities. Also, the fit of the show on your foot is crucial. Boat shoes that fit poorly can cause blisters and other forms of foot pain.
  • Durability: Boat shoes made from high-quality materials will generally last longer. The better choices are those made from either durable synthetic materials or genuine leather. Look closely at the shoe construction making note of the stitching and other details. A well-built shoe will give you countless hours of service. Plus, there are two benefits to factoring durability into your boat shoe search: you will contribute to sustainable fashion practices and receive a good return on your investment.
  • Traction: Boat shoes typically stand out from other types of sports shoes simply because of the type of traction they provide. A good pair of boat shoes will keep your feet where you plant them or help you move around without slipping or falling, even on wet surfaces. The soles of boat shoes are specially designed and contain patterns that grip well on wet decks and slippery surfaces. The superior traction found on boat shoes makes them a good choice for not just boating. Walking on docks, taking strolls on the waterfront, or enjoying activity on a rainy day are all possible with the safety that boat shoe traction offers.
  • Breathability: Look for boat shoes that contain either mesh panels or perforated leather as part of the design. These features provide breathability which keeps your feet cool and dry. Also, these features add ventilation to the shoes. This is important as ventilation keeps feet from experiencing discomfort and contributes to foot hygiene by reducing odor and eliminating the conditions that may otherwise lead to the development of bacterial growth.

Versatility and Beyond Boating

Although they are called boat shoes, they are for boating and so much more. Known as a staple in women’s fashion, boat shoes have become versatile over the years which has allowed them to fit into so many different settings. This is why adding boat shoes to your wardrobe is a wise decision. The style, comfort, and functionality of boat shoes perfectly fit many different occasions. Some of their most common uses include:

  • Outdoor Gatherings: The blend of casual comfort and subtle sophistication that come from boat shoes make them a perfect addition to your wardrobe when attending one of many different types of outdoor gatherings. They fit well at garden parties, picnics, or barbecues.
  • Vacations: Traveling across the country or to exotic overseas locations, boat shoes are a great companion due to their versatility. Because they are easy to wear and lightweight, they can easily be packed into luggage. They also look great worn with shorts, skirts, or sundresses.
  • Everyday Wear: Because of their timeless style, boat shoes have become part of everyday fashion. They are comfortable and functional when worn to run errands around town or when spending time with friends. Plus, they can be easily paired with any outfit thanks to their classic designs and neutral colors.
  • Casual Work Attire: If you work at a place where the dress code is business casual, boat shoes can easily become your go-to choice for work footwear. They pair well with blazers, blouses, and tailored trousers. Boat shoes will also tone down the look of your outfit by bringing a laid-back elegance to your ensemble.
  • Weekend Escapes: Whether you’re exploring the mountains or walking the city streets, you’ll find boat shoes a welcome addition to any weekend adventure. Their effectiveness stems from their construction – sturdy soles and durable build. Boat shoes ensure your feet remain comfortable and offer the necessary grip for any surface.

Boat Shoes For Women FAQs

How should women’s boat shoes fit and what sizes are available?

You should ensure your boat shoes are comfortable with a secure fit that is neither too tight nor too loose. Consider these tips:

– Snug Fit: Boat shoes should have a snug fit around the heel and instep. This ensures that your foot does not slip out of the shoe when walking.
– Toe Space: The boat shoe should have enough room in the toe box to permit you to move your toes with ease. They should not feel squeezed or cramped.
– Arch: There should be enough arch support to keep your feet comfortable when wearing them for extended periods.
– Heel: The boat shoe should have enough room for a little heel movement. If the show slips off your heel, the size is too big.

As for sizing for women, boat shoes usually range in size from US size 5 to 12. Keep in mind that sizing may vary depending on the brand and some manufacturers produce boat shoes in half sizes which can help you find a better fit.

What are some popular materials used for women’s boat shoes?

There are several different types of materials used in women’s boat shoes. They include:

– Leather: This is a popular choice for boat shoes as leather is durable, comfortable, and has a classic look.
– Canvas: This is a lightweight and breathable material that is commonly used for casual boat shoes. It is easy to clean, and canvas is considered a practical selection.
– Suede: As a soft, velvety type of leather, suede is both flexible and comfortable. Its elegant look makes it a great choice for boat shoes.
– Nubuck: This is another type of leather that has similar qualities to suede. However, Nubuck is more durable and water-resistant.
– Mesh: This lightweight and breathable material is used in many athletic-style boat shoes. It keeps feet cool and dry as it permits maximum airflow.
– Synthetics: Boat shoes often come in synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. People choose them often because they are lightweight, water-resistant, and quick-drying.

Which brands of boat shoes do you recommend for women?

Several different brands produce great boat shoes for women. Some popular brands include:

– Sperry: Known well in the sailing community, Sperry was the brand that produced the first-ever boat shoe. They boast a large product line of women’s boat shoes. Sperry uses high-quality materials in their products, designing them for style and comfort.
– Helly Hansen: Helly Hansen, a brand with a high-quality outdoor and sailing gear reputation, also boasts a line of women’s boat shoes. They design these shoes with non-slip soles and construct them using water-resistant materials.
– Sebago: Sebago, another reputable brand, provides a variety of boat shoes for women. They construct their shoes from high-quality leather and equip them with non-marking, slip-resistant soles.
– Timberland: This is a popular outdoor and casual wear brand that also carries women’s boat shoes. These products are made with premium leather and come complete with anti-fatigue technology for all-day comfort.

Are there any specific boat shoes designed for women with wide feet or specific foot problems?

There are boat shoes designed for women with wide feet or specific foot problems. Most brands have wide widths of up to EE or EEE. Others have removable soles which allow some women to insert custom orthotics.

Here are a few examples of shoe brands with special design features to accommodate women with wider feet or other foot issues:

– Sperry: This brand has boat shoes in wide widths and removable insoles. For the extra room in the toe box, Sperry also has a “relaxed” fit option.
– Clark’s: This brand features women’s boat shoes with wide widths and cushioned insoles.
– Rockport: The women’s boat shoes made by this brand have wide and extra-wide fits and an extra cushioning system that provides additional support.
– Vionic: This shoemaker has boat shoes with orthotic insoles and widths ranging from medium, wide, and extra-wide.
– Skechers: The boat shoes from this brand have a relaxed fit and memory foam insole for added comfort.

Are boat shoes suitable for other water activities besides boating?

Boat shoes are suitable for occasional water exposure like at the beach or poolside. However, they’re not ideal for activities that involve prolonged submersion or water sports. For those, specialized water shoes are recommended.

Can boat shoes be worn for casual or dressy occasions, or are they only suitable for boating?

Boat shoes, while originally designed for boating, are versatile footwear suitable for casual and semi-casual occasions. They pair well with shorts, jeans, and chinos. However, for formal events, traditional dress shoes are preferable.


Conclusion

There are several different options available in ladies’ deck shoes, even if not all of them are made just for sailing. However, if you are looking specifically for the best boat shoes for women, you are in luck. Manufacturers that are known for their sportswear, and men’s boat shoes in particular, also happen to have ladies’ styles available in their product line.

You really have to be clear on what you intend to use the shoes for as not all boat shoes are suitable for serious sailing. Some of the deck shoes on the market are intended to be used in and best suited for a more casual setting. Although that adds to their versatility, it reduces their value for boating.

Regardless, shoe manufacturers will continue to produce what they call deck shoes. Serious sailors know a good boat shoe when they see one. Even if you don’t own a boat nor do you intend to, you will surely find some boat shoe styles to be comfortable enough to wear casually.

Hopefully, this list of some of the best women’s sailing shoes has helped you decide which pair is right for you.

With so many different types of sailing shoes on the market, it’s interesting to see what other people like to get ideas. So, ladies, if you have a favorite pair of sailing shoes, let us know. What is your pick for the best boat shoes for women?

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About Brendan

Brendan has over 30 years experience sailing dinghies, yachts, and windsurfers, but has recently started Laser sailing. "I found it difficult to find all the information that I needed when I started sailing my Laser, and I am sure that others have had the same problem. So I combined all the information I could into this website to help other Laser sailors get the most out of this sport. If you have any questions or comments, let me know... I will get back to you as soon as I can."

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