Top 10 Best Sailing Shoes

Last Updated on March 27, 2024 by admin

Helly-Hansen Mens Ahiga V4 Hydropower Best Sailing Shoe

Wearing the best sailing shoes, whether on board your boat or not, can say a lot about you. Besides looking the part and being a bit of a fashion statement, of course, they have a very practical aspect as well.

The most important aspect of wearing the best shoes for sailing is that of safety. There cannot be enough said about taking the proper precautions to keep yourself and the rest of the crew on your sailboat free from injury.

The best boat shoes for sailing are the ones that you want to wear every time you go on the water. This only happens when they are comfortable and do the best job they can, providing support and grip when you need it most.

The Importance of Sailing Shoes

While it may look cool and hip to sail barefoot, there are many reasons why you should not consider this even for a short cruise around the bay. Sailing barefoot is plain dangerous. You can slip and fall or become injured. There are cleats and blocks and other equipment all over the place, and it’s super easy to stub toes.

You can trip and injure others. You may lose control of your boat should you lose your footing. Sailing shoes are your first line of defense against an unplanned dip into the water. These are just a few reasons why you should always wear the best boat shoes when sailing.

The role of sailing shoes extends beyond preventing mishaps. They’re designed to enhance grip, providing a secure foothold on slippery surfaces. The innovative tread patterns and non-slip soles grip onto wet decks, ensuring you have the control and confidence needed. Whether you’re adjusting sails, steering, or simply moving about the boat, having a stable footing is paramount.

Sailing shoes are also designed to protect your feet from the elements. Sun, saltwater, and cold conditions on bare skin can do a lot of damage, so it’s important to look after your feet when on the water.

Our Picks of the Best Sailing Shoes

Here is a table with our picks of the best options on the market at the moment (see a more in-depth review of each shoe at the bottom is this post). These sailing shoes are not specifically for laser sailing but are popular options for a variety of uses including dinghy, yacht, and ocean sailing, as well as for when you are back on dry land or in the bar…

ImageNameUpperSoleRatingMore Info
Helly-Hansen Mens Ahiga V4 Hydropower Sailing ShoeHelly-Hansen Men’s Ahiga V4 Hydropower Sailing ShoeHydrophobic SyntheticGum Rubber sole
4.3 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Sperry Men’s Sea Kite Sport Moc Boat Shoe100% LeatherSynthetic sole
4.6 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Sperry Men's Salt Washed Striper Boat ShoeSperry Men’s Salt Washed Striper Boat Shoe100% TextileNon-Marking rubber sole
4.3 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
L-RUN-Athletic-Womens-Water-ShoesL-RUN Athletic Women’s Water ShoesMesh+LeatherRubber sole
4.5 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Gill Edge 4mm Neoprene Wetsuit BootsGill Edge 4mm Waterproof Neoprene Boots90% Neoprene, 10% NylonRubber sole
4.1 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
NeoSport Wetsuits Premium Neoprene 3mm Hi Top Zipper BootNeoSport Wetsuits Premium Neoprene 3mm Hi Top Zipper BootSynthetic / NeopreneDurable anti-slip rubber
4.4 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Sperry Men's Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat ShoeSperry Men’s Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat ShoeLeatherRubber sole
4.2 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Gill Men's Yachting Rubber BootsGill Men’s Tall Yachting Rubber Boots100% Natural RubberRubber sole
3.8 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Sperry Women's Rosefish Boat ShoeSperry Women’s Rosefish Boat ShoeSuedeRubber sole
4.1 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon
Aleader Women's Water ShoesAleader Women’s Water ShoesBreathable meshSynthetic
4.5 out of 5 stars
buy from Amazon

The Different Types of Sailing Shoes

The best shoes for when you are sailing come in many different styles and designs. Each has the same basic construction and features you would expect for use aboard a sailboat. These features include:

  • non-slip treads,
  • comfortable materials that you can wear for long periods of time, and
  • strong enough to withstand the demands of sailing and sailboat racing. This goes for all upper and sole materials, as well as the stitching.

Many also have a nice contemporary look. This makes the best shoes for sailing also a good choice of footwear for other occasions off the water as well.

As for some of the more specific differences:

  • Sport sailing shoes are flexible, provide comfort, and come with super-grippy soles for added traction. They are also designed to keep your feet dry.
  • Deck shoes are waterproof, durable, and made to be comfortable. The soles do not provide as much traction as sport sailing shoes but are still non-slip.
  • Sailing boots are waterproof and have non-slip soles but are heavier and larger than other sailing shoes.
  • Good offshore boots go up the calf and will keep feet warm and dry in any conditions.
  • Dinghy hiking boots cover the ankles and provide comfort, fit, and are completely non-slip. They are flexible and comfortable with soles designed for traction.
  • Sailing sandals are for use in calmer waters and provide traction around the deck and are generally classified as casual footwear while on the water.

Here are some of the most popular sailing shoes that you will find at the moment:

Helly-Hansen Men’s Ahiga V4 Hydropower Sailing Shoe

Helly-Hansen Mens Ahiga V4 Hydropower Sailing Shoe
Helly Hansen Men’s Hydropower 4

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes –
Navy, off-white, charcoal, jet black, grey
FitTrue to size

This is one of the best-selling of the best boat shoes for men manufactured by Helly Hansen. It is also their most versatile which is actually an updated version.

The upgrade has a low-cut design with an anti-microbial, quick-drying surface. The synthetic mesh upper has increased breathability attached to a stable frame. They have a molded EVA sock liner midsole and an outsole with a multi-directional grip system that provides superior traction and shock absorption. High-wear areas have received extra treatment to add durability.

There is no reason to not consider these as one of the best men’s sailing shoes ever made!


Lightweight and comfortable
Dry Quickly
Good quality materials and construction
Good traction
Look good


The fit can be a bit small so be careful when ordering by size
These shoes are reported as not being waterproof or water-resistant. Although they are designed to dry very quickly
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Sperry Men’s Sea Kite Sport Moc Boat Shoe

Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Sea Kite Sport Boat Shoe
Sperry Men’s Sea Kite Sport Boat Shoe

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes –
Grey, sudan, tan
FitTrue to size

These are a highly rated pair of shoes and definitely sit as a contender for the best men’s boat shoes.

This moc-style boat shoe features a quick-dry and water-resistant leather and mesh upper. The smooth inner lining is also water-resistant. They come with compression-molded EVA midsoles and footbeds that are completely removable.

What sets these apart in making them one of the best shoes for sailing is the trademarked Adaptive Wave-Siping. This is the name used for the innovative tread design on the soles of these Sperry Top-Siders. The design actually disperses water from under your foot which results in better traction on wet or dry surfaces.


Attractive, good-looking shoes
Comfortable and supportive with a good fit
Sole has a good grip
Lightweight but durable


No drainage so feet will get wet inside the shoe
Dye on the outside can fade quickly
Leather uppers are easily scratched
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Sperry Men’s Salt Washed Striper Boat Shoe

Sperry Men's Salt Washed Striper Boat Shoe
Sperry Men’s Striper Boat Shoe

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes – many, including:
Anchor black, tan chambray, blue, navy, white cap tan, chino, vanilla, white, chili red, chino linen, tan chino, grey, blue linen, white cap black, white cap light blue, black chambray, black linen, chambray blue, chocolate salt-washed twill, red, white/black, pink, navy
FitTrue to size

Featuring stain and water-resistant canvas uppers, these are easily one of the best men’s boat shoes available.

A padded tongue and collar, as well as a removable polyurethane footbed, make for a nice comfortable cushion for feet. The outsole has a non-marking rubber construction with the Wave-Siping design to enhance traction on board or on land.

They will stay secure and not slip off when racing around the deck. They also look great so will definitely look the part after a race back in the clubhouse.


Comfortable fit
Good-looking, stylish shoe design
Lace-up or slip-on option
Good grip in both wet and dry
Very reasonably priced


Sizing may run small
No ventilation
Scuff easily
Laces may come undone easily due to the coating used
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L-RUN Athletic Women’s Water Shoes

L-RUN Athletic Women’s Water Shoes

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes – many, including:
black, blue, white, green, grey, brown, navy, blue gradient, pink, purple, + various combinations
FitTrue to size

Lightweight, breathable, and flexible describe this L-RUN shoe designed for women and men.

The synthetic open mesh construction allows for quick drying. Add to this a structural overlay design that keeps feet protected from various onboard and on-land obstacles and you have one of the best boat shoes for women on the market.

Stable midsoles add comfort and cushioning with a durable rubber outsole that adds extra traction.

For an in-depth review of some of the best women’s boat shoes, click here.


Good fit
Attractive, super-comfortable shoe
Good grip… work well in wet conditions
Ultra light-weight for fast drying
Wide variety of colors and sizes.
Well priced


Not as durable as some expected
Arch support is lacking
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Gill Edge 4mm Waterproof Neoprene Boots

Gill Edge 4mm Waterproof Neoprene Boots
Gill Edge 4mm Waterproof Neoprene Boots

Key Specs

Upper90% Neoprene, 10% Nylon
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsno –
Black/Orange only
FitTrue to size

These Gill lace-up boots feature a waterproof blindstitched seam construction designed to keep your feet warm.

With a reinforced heel, toes, and bridge, this is one of the best purpose-designed sailing shoes on this market. The ankle support is wide and supportive. The lace closure system keeps these boots from slipping off during an intense session on the water.

These are very durable and strong boots that will last well and do a good job when on the water.


Well constructed
An attractive shoe with a good sole
Lace closure is easy to use


Sizing may be off so beware when ordering
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NeoSport Wetsuits Premium Neoprene 3mm Hi Top Zipper Boots

NeoSport Wetsuits Zipper Boots
NeoSport Wetsuits Neoprene Zipper Boots

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsno –
Black only
FitTrue to size

Made from nylon II neoprene rubber, these zip-up boots have a high traction sole. The seams are strong and durable thanks to a glue-and-sew method using abrasion-resistant thread.

The sole also has a puncture-resistant insert which adds protection and strength.

These high-top boots will keep your feet both warm and dry. They are available in 13 sizes (4 to 16 US) and come complete with a 12-month limited warranty. This makes them one of the best sailing shoes you will find.

For more sailing boots, click here.


Comfortable, good fit
Nice solid sole
The high-top design keeps sand and water out


Zipper closure may be difficult to close on some
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Sperry Men’s Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe

Sperry Men's Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe
Sperry Men’s Authentic Original Boat Shoe

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes – many, including:
Sahara, Brown Buck, Classic Brown, Amaretto, Black, Grey Surf, Olive Surf, Tan, Navy Surf, Brown, New Navy, Dk Grey/Black, Lt Tan Suede, Olive/Brown, Brown Multi, Sahara/Oatmeal, Sonora/Riverboat, Patchwork Madras, Olive Plaid, Olive Suede, Red Orange, Tan Multi, Tan/Navy, Grey Varsity, Black Leopard, Navy Cord, Navy/Sonora, & more
FitTrue to size

Featuring a genuine leather upper and a rubber, non-marking sole, these Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes are a great casual choice. They look sharp whether you are on the deck of your boat or back in the club.

With rawhide lacing in a 360-degree lace-up system, these best boat shoes for sailing will stay on and fit your feet snugly.

The soles feature the trademarked Razor-Cut Wave-Siping tread pattern. This results in excellent traction in both wet and dry conditions.

Shock absorption is from the molded Ortholite heel cup and adds comfort to the fit.


Look and feel good, fit well
Comfortable, durable, and stylish
Good value for the price


Laces come undone frequently
Not very water-resistant
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Gill Men’s Tall Yachting Rubber Boots

Gill Men's Yachting Rubber Boots
Gill Men’s Rubber Boots

Key Specs

UpperNatural rubber
Sizes11-13; EU 36-48
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes –
Black, carbon
FitTrue to size

This rubber rain boot has a non-slip rubber sole for optimum grip in the wet.

It has arch support, as well as a tie around the top to keep the water out.

As these are tall boots, they are water-resistant, have a traction grip, and will keep your feet warm and dry regardless of the conditions.

They are made out of 100% natural rubber and have a superior grip in wet conditions.

They are a practical and durable choice of footwear for sailing.


Easy pull-on, pull-off design
Rubber non-slip sole
Fit well


Not as durable as expected
No ventilation
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Sperry Women’s Rosefish Boat Shoe

Sperry Women's Rosefish Boat Shoe
Sperry Women’s Rosefish Boat Shoe

Key Specs

Wide sizing optionyes
Variety of colorsyes –
Line/Oat, grey, tan, sparkle line/oat, black/dark grey
FitTrue to size

One of the best women’s sailing shoes is this classic from Sperry.

The Rosefish Boat Shoes have a leather and fabric upper which provides both comfort and breathability. They use a wave comfort system with a removable molded footbed constructed from polyurethane which adds to the strength of the shoe.

The 360-degree lacing system provides a secure fit and is attractively designed to be a perfect match on or off the boat.


Attractive shoe
Comfortable fit
Lightweight & stylish


Sizing may be a bit out, so take care when ordering
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Aleader Women’s Water Shoes

Aleader Women's Quick Drying Water Shoes
Aleader Women’s Water Shoes

Key Specs

UpperBreathable mesh
Wide sizing optionno
Variety of colorsyes –
Aqua blue, black, pink, Gray/Aqua Sky, light gray, teal, white/gray, black/purple, blue, dark gray, black/black, green, light purple, power/pink, gray, power/blue, grey, all black, purple
FitTrue to size

The Aleader Women’s Water Shoes are quick-drying and lightweight due to the mesh construction.

It features a convenient easy on/off design and excellent traction in wet and slippery conditions. Add to this the soft breathable mesh and your feet will stay dry as well as comfortable. They also have excellent cushioning to make them more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

The contemporary styling also makes these the sailing shoes you will want to wear on and off the water. They will go with almost any outfit and social engagement.


Available in several different colors
Looks like a running shoe
Excellent grip in the wet


They may take a bit of wearing in
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Sailing Shoe Materials

The choice of materials is important with sailing shoes. Material choices will impact both the performance of the shoes and how long they will last. The environment sailing shoes are exposed to demands that they can both withstand the elements and the rigors of sailing. Below, we will closely examine the construction materials used for sailing shoes and reveal the pros and cons of each to help you determine the best choices for your type of sailing.


  • Leather: Leather’s classic durability and rugged appeal make it a popular choice. In sailing shoe construction, leather provides not only abrasion protection, but also a touch of timeless elegance. In other words, leather is strong and looks good. Leather’s strength makes it durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of sailing. However, the downside of this material is that it may need a period for breaking in and it can absorb water, meaning it takes longer to dry.
  • Synthetic Fabrics: These materials are common in modern sailing shoes and have been engineered to provide durability and water resistance. It can do all of this without impacting comfort. Synthetic materials are also lightweight, dry fast, and don’t normally stretch or change shape over time. Because they are so versatile, these fabrics are suitable for various sailing conditions ranging from casual cruising to intense racing. The disadvantage of synthetic fabrics is that they offer an appearance that is not as classic as leather.
  • Mesh: Mesh is the go-to material for sailors seeking breathable comfort. Not only is it breathable, but mesh allows air to circulate which keeps your feet from sweating too much. This is important if you normally sail in warm weather or engage in intense physical activity. Mesh is also very lightweight however, on the downside, it is less resistant to abrasion and external elements when you stack mesh up against either synthetic fabrics or leather.


  • Traction and Grip: The sole of a sailing shoe is the only thing between your feet and the deck. To keep your balance and control where you step, sailing shoes must have good traction and grip. Sailing shoe manufacturers have created specialized tread patterns to provide superior grip on wet and slippery surfaces. The design of these tread patterns promotes channeling water away so that the shoes can hold a firm grip on the deck.
  • Rubber Soles: Probably one of the most popular choices is rubber. That is because it offers exceptional grip and durability. Rubber naturally has non-slip properties which make it well-suited for the constantly changing conditions encountered while sailing. Rubber soles will give you reliable traction when you are on a wet or shifting deck.
  • Non-Marking Design: The non-marking feature is a critical consideration when choosing sailing shoes. This is because sailing shoes that don’t leave behind marks will help preserve the look of the deck.
  • Sole Design: Different types of sailing activities can influence the type of sole design required. For example, sturdy soles with deep grooves for better grip are common with offshore racing boots. Deck shoes normally have shallow treads to offer comfort when walking but also have adequate traction for safety on wet surfaces.
  • Balancing Comfort and Performance: Although grip and traction are important, the right sole can make a difference when comfort is required. Soles that contain cushion and shock absorption can decrease fatigue experienced during long hours on the water. This makes the balance between comfort and stability one where sole material and design work together to enhance the sailing experience.

Different Sailing Shoes for Different Types of Sailing

Different types of sailing come with specific demands and challenges. The correct sailing shoes can make a difference in your performance and enjoyment. Here is a closer look at the most popular sailing activities and which sailing shoes would fit best.

  • Cruising: Relaxation is the foundation of cruising. Enjoying the journey means comfort and sailing shoes that are best for cruising should be lightweight, made of quick-drying materials, and have non-marking soles. They should also offer a superior grip on wet surfaces so that you can move around easily while soaking up the scenery.
  • Racing: Every second counts in the world of competitive racing. Performance-enhancing features are best for sailing shoes for racers. This means specific features will be best such as treads designed to provide solid grip. Lightweight shoes that fit well will permit you to make quick moves on the deck without losing traction.
  • Dinghy Sailing: Agility and protection from the elements are the demands that come from dinghy sailing. The sailing shoes for these sailors require handling of fast moves and water exposure. Sailing boots with sturdy rubber soles are a good choice providing both ankle support and a strong grip on wet surfaces.
  • Offshore Sailing: Durability and protection are what sailing shoes must provide when engaging in offshore sailing. These shoes should also feature deep treads, water resistance, and reinforced materials. A snug fit and ankle support will keep you stable on your feet and comfortable to endure extended periods on the water.
  • Casual Sailing: For sailors who indulge in various sailing activities, an all-purpose sailing shoe would be best. They will provide a balance between performance and comfort and will feature such design elements as quick-dry materials, moderate tread patterns, and water drainage.

Choosing the Right Fit

When selecting sailing shoes, choosing the right style and features is important, but fitting is another vital component that completes the equation. Shoes that fit poorly can cause discomfort, instability, and possibly safety issues while on the water. Consider these tips to help you find the right fit.

  • Measure Twice, Choose Once: Accurate foot measurements are key. Not only do feet vary in size, but they can also vary between left and right so both feet must be carefully measured. Whichever foot is the largest, if there is a difference, that is the size you should go with. Because feet can expand depending on the temperature, measuring in the afternoon and evening will help you determine the right size.
  • Consider Socks and Activities: When you’re trying on sailing shoes, ensure you are wearing the same type of socks you would when sailing. This helps you determine the fit because different socks have different thicknesses which can alter the shoe fit. Thicker sailing socks may add comfort, but they have to be factored into your shoe sizing decision.
  • Snug But Not Constricting: Sailing shoes should not feel tight. Snug is what you are looking for which gives you stability and keeps your feet from sliding around inside the shoe. Feet that move around too much can develop blisters and other foot irritations. The shoes should offer enough room in the toe box to permit comfortable toe wiggling. If not, the shoes are too tight.
  • Check For Heel Slippage: Walk around with the sailing shoes that you are considering purchasing. This way, you get to feel exactly how they fit. A little bit of heel slippage is common, but excessive slipping can lead to discomfort and instability. Also, as you walk, if your heel lifts too much, it is a sign of a poor fit. You may need to size down to find the correct balance.
  • Toe Room and Width: Your toes require enough room to move without feeling restricted. If they feel cramped or pinched, this is a sign that the shoes are too narrow. There are different width options, and some sailing shoe brands offer more than others so trying shoes made by different manufacturers is a good idea. It will help you find which feels the best and allow your toes some room.
  • Try Before You Buy: Undoubtedly, online shopping provides ease and convenience. However, you might not get the correct fit unless you try the physical shoe on. Visiting a specialty shoe store allows you to try on various brands, styles, and sizes, aiding your final purchase decision. Of course, if you discover a shoe that fits correctly, you can continue to make the purchase online, now confident in its correct fitting.

Sailing Shoes FAQs

What makes a good sailing shoe?

Sailors require good sailing shoes as they are an important piece of sailing equipment. To ensure that the right shoes are selected for a sailor’s needs, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. They include:

– Non-Slip Sole: For maximum traction on wet surfaces, a sailing shoe must have a non-slip sole.
– Waterproofing: Because the shoes will spend a lot of time wet, they must have a waterproof treatment. Look for sailing shoes made with materials such as neoprene or Gore-Tex.
– Comfort: Because you will be wearing your sailing shoes for extended periods, they must be comfortable. Lightweight, good-fitting, well-cushioned sailing shoes are best.
– Durability: Sailing shoes get quite a workout. You will want a pair that can withstand the rigors of sailing which means shoes with sturdy constriction, strong stitching, and reinforced toe caps will last the longest.
– Breathability: Ventilation is key if you sail in warmer climates. Sailing shoes with venting holes or breathable materials will keep your feet cooler.
– Fit: A snug fit that prevents your foot from moving around inside the shoe is best. A good fit prevents blisters and other skin irritations. When shopping for sailing shoes, also remember to have enough room for socks that permit you to move your toes.

What material is best for sailing shoes?

Leather is often the material of choice for traditional sailing shoes and is widely utilized by numerous brands. Valued for its durability, breathability, and ability to resist water, it’s a trusted mate for any sailor. On the other hand, neoprene stands as an excellent alternative for those who set sail in frosty conditions or smaller boats known as dinghies, thanks to its superior insulation abilities. It’s also prized for its flexibility and resistance to wear and tear. Rubber, another flexible and long-lasting material, also excels at resisting abrasion. These attributes make it a prime candidate for crafting sailing shoes, particularly the soles. Lastly, synthetic mesh brings lightness and breathability to the table, making it yet another worthy consideration when choosing your sailing footwear.

What are the best brands of sailing shoes?

The marketplace contains many sailing shoes. The majority of them are from well-known, popular manufacturers, some of whom have been making sailing shoes for several years. The main brands available today include:

– Sperry: This is another well-known brand within the sailing community. The sailing shoes made by Sperry are well-made and come with non-slip soles.
– Gill: This brand produces comfortable sailing shoes that also perform well when wet. Both are key to finding the right sailing shoe for your needs.
– Musto: Sailing shoes made by Musto are known to be of high quality with construction that leans on the technical. Key features of this brand are materials that dry quickly and non-slip soles.
– Helly Hansen: This is a brand that has a firm grip on the sailing community. The sailing shoes they produce perform well and are comfortable to wear. Two key factors in the construction of HH products are non-slip soles and waterproofing.
Zhik: If you are looking for dinghy sailing boots, this brand is worth exploring.

This is just a sample of the sailing shoe brands available today.

Are sailing shoes waterproof?

The majority of sailing shoes in the marketplace have been designed to resist water, but not all of them are waterproof. If you require waterproofing over water resistance, closely read the product description of the shoes you are considering purchasing.

Can sailing shoes be worn in cold weather?

The design of sailing shoes is primarily to address wet conditions. This means that there is some protection from cold weather, but not as much as you would get if you were to wear sailing boots.

Can sailing shoes be worn on land?

Sailing shoes can be worn on land. The non-slip soles of most brands will offer solid footing when walking on wet or uneven surfaces. However, sailing shoes will not be as comfortable as walking shoes if worn on land for extended periods.

Do I need special socks with sailing shoes?

There is no need to wear special socks with sailing shoes. However, it is good to know that seasoned sailors often opt to wear thin socks when sailing. They usually wear socks that have a moisture-wicking property while other sailors prefer to wear no socks at all with their sailing shoes. It is a personal choice but if you do decide to go sockless, you can prevent blisters and other sores from developing on your feet by ensuring your sailing shoes fit properly. Properly fitting sailing shoes do not cause your feet to slip inside of them.

What is the difference between sailing shoes and regular boat shoes?

Sailing shoes and boat shoes are designed for two very different purposes and it may be confusing as both types of shoes look much alike. Sailing shoes are intended for sailing and to meet the needs of sailors, and are designed with features fitting the sailing environment. For example, sailing shoes normally have non-slip soles, are durable, made of breathable materials that dry quickly, and are usually lightweight. Regular boat shoes are intended to be worn in casual situations that happen near water. They don’t normally have non-slip soles. Sailing shoes are designed for performance and safety on the water whereas boating shoes are designed for comfort and style off the water.

Can I machine wash my sailing shoes?

It is not a good idea to machine wash sailing shoes. This is because the heat of the water and the agitation action within the machine can break down the materials the shoes are made from. This will reduce their lifespan. However, you can still clean your sailing shoes by hand. Use mild soap and water and gently scrub where necessary with a soft brush. Rinse and allow to air dry away from sunshine or heat.

How do you store sailing shoes when not in use?

When storing your sailing shoes, consider the following to keep them in good condition:

– Cleaning: You reduce the risk of mold and mildew by cleaning your sailing shoes before storing them away.
– Storage Location: The location you choose to keep your sailing shoes stored is important. Opt for somewhere that is not damp or humid.
– Protection: Add another layer of protection to your sailing shoes by keeping them in a breathable bag. This prevents them from gathering dust or other contaminants.
– Avoid Sunlight: Heat and sunlight can damage your sailing shoes causing fading and deterioration.
– AirCirculation: Do not store your sailing shoes in an airtight container. Air circulation will help keep your sailing shoes smelling fresh and will aid in keeping them dry.


It’s not hard to find a large selection of the best boat shoes for sailing. This is because manufacturers have embraced the boating lifestyle in recent years. This means that many shoes are functional and practical whether on the water or not.

When shopping for this kind of footwear you will want to watch for certain features, including:

  • lightweight but strong and durable construction,
  • comfortable but functional,
  • water-resistant, quick-drying materials, and
  • a non-slip sole or a sole providing excellent grip in wet or dry conditions.

When you find the right shoe with these features, you have discovered the best sailing shoes to enhance your enjoyment on the water.

With the plethora of choices, making a decision can prove challenging. We are spoilt for selection with various options in design and price. So, to help out our fellow sailors (and not just Laser sailors)… What are your favorite sailing shoes? What has lasted well and stood the test of time for you? Please share your pick of the best shoes for sailing below…

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."


  1. Admin on September 3, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    So, what’s your favorite pair of sailing shoes?
    Let me know here!

  2. Tony Hastings on February 18, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    I’m stunned by the running shoes, deck shoes and gum-boots you’ve thought of as suitable for wearing while sailing a Laser. Just NO!
    You want a flexible shoe or boot with good protection for the top of your foot while hiking out.
    Depending where you are in the world, any of these. I’ve personally been wearing the Gill skiff boots most weekends for the past 2 years, maybe 180 races, and they’re still good as new – VERY durable. I also call them “the foot sauna”, because water stays in and they get hot (in Australian summer).
    Gill skiff boot
    Zhik 160
    Rooster hike boot

    • Admin on February 19, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Tony
      Thanks for your comments and feedback. I am sorry that I have caused some confusion… these shoes are not just for Laser sailing – they are for sailing in general (eg. yachts, dinghies, ocean).
      I have edited the text and tried to make it a little clearer to avoid any further confusion.

  3. Maximus Panin on December 29, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for your review! I look closely at Helly Hansen, even though the price is too high. I always used ordinary sneakers, but there are marks on the deck, I have to wash the deck 🙂

    • Admin on December 30, 2020 at 10:09 am

      Hi Maximus
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, Helly Hansen sailing shoes are nice shoes, but are a bit more expensive than some of the others.

  4. David Poor on September 6, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    What is your recommendation for wide fits – I wear 8 EEEE and can’t find any sport sailing shoes that fit.

    • Admin on September 10, 2021 at 8:43 am

      Sorry… I don’t have any recommendations for EEEE. I am not an expert with wide-width shoes.
      However, I have seen that this style of water shoes are popular, so it might be worth checking out something like them to see if they can work. They are much more flexible than other shoes so may accommodate wider feet. Other than that, you might want to talk to an expert to get their recommendations for your situation. Sorry I can’t help more than that.

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