You’ve heard the term ‘boat shoe’ or ‘deck shoe’ but do you really know what they are? In general terms, the best women’s boat shoes 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 the traditional deck shoe materials.
What To Look For In Boat Shoes
There are a number of 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 ‘mocc-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 salt water) 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.
- 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 them brush clean.
- 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.
- Put on with a shoe horn to keep the back of the shoes in proper form.
- Monitor sole condition and seek repairs when needed.
Our Picks Of The Best Women’s Boat Shoes
Helly Hansen Hydropower Fashion Sneaker
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 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.
Helly Hansen Women’s Aquapace 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 antibacterial technology and a molded sock liner, you can’t go wrong with this particular brand.
Not a fan of this color (magenta/red grape)? That’s ok… it comes in Light Aqua/Aquamarine, Penguin/Bright Bloom/Charcoal, and Jet Black/Charcoal color options as well.
Terrex Climacool Boat
Constructed with a blend of textile and synthetic materials, these shoes are stylish and functional. The synthetic sole features TRAXION for superior grip and stability. The midsole and outsole have what the manufacturer calls climacool construction which provides comfort as well as breathability.
Then there’s the upper. It has a stretchable heel insert to personalize fit, climacool open mesh for breathability and all of this is built into a sleek silhouette meant for women’s wear. The attractive appearance makes these a popular choice although the sizing may be a bit difficult to pin down.
For some wearers of these shoes, the fit is described as narrow. You may want to order a larger size to compensate for the narrow fit. If you are in search of boat shoes that you won’t be afraid to get wet knowing they won’t cause you to slip, then these are well worth a look.
Sperry Top Sider Women’s Bluefish Linen
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 mocc-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 as allowing 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.
Sperry Top Sider Women’s Songfish Chambray
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. Their Top Sider line is a classic for boat shoes. Another of our favorites happens to be the Sperry Top-Sider Women’s Songfish Chambray Boat Shoe.
Made from a combination of leather and textile construction, these shoes have a synthetic sole which 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 a dependable shoe for boating.
Finatic II Women’s Leather Deck Shoes
Here is a very special boat shoe. It features 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 one 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.
Vibram Women’s Signa Water Yellow
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. Complete with drainage holes, these shoes can also be tossed into the laundry for washing.
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.
Plus, the way these are constructed, the sole is not completely across the bottom of the shoe. It is only at the toe and heel. This makes them suitable for some boating styles but definitely not for wearing off the boat and walking any distance.
Sperry Top Sider Women’s Washed Sneaker
With a low profile rubber vulcanized outsole for traction, these fabric/textile boat shoes are comfortable. The comfort coming in part from the removable cushioned EVA footbed. These may be the best canvas deck shoes for women as the uppers are made of lightweight, breathable canvas.
Although these deck shoes are designed as slip-on shoes, they 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 makes these shoes a good choice for more than just boating. Casual footwear that will likely have your friends commenting on how cute they look – as has been reported in online reviews.
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 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. For serious sailors, they 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.