Shoes for Sailing – Our Top Picks for Men and Women

Footwear Gear

Want to get out on the water? You may be wondering how to find the best shoes for sailing. What features should you look for? What different styles can you get? And what about drainage and grip? We’ll answer all those questions and give you our top 3 recommendations for both men and women.

The bottom line up front: for men, we’d recommend the KEEN Men’s Newport Retro Sandal. They’re comfortable, easy to wear, and have excellent grip and durability.

For women, we like the Columbia Women’s Slack Water Shoes. They feel great to wear, they have good traction, and they come in a range of styles and patterns.

We’ll be looking at:

  • The best shoes for sailing compared
  • What shoes for sailing are
  • The key features you should look for in sailing shoes
  • The best shoes for both men and women, including their key features, pros, and cons
  • Some frequently asked questions about sailing shoes
  • Which ones do we like the best, and why

Keep reading to find out more about shoes for sailing.

Best Shoes for Sailing Compared (Men)

Feature
Best for Stain Resistance
Most Comfortable
Most Durable
Model
Columbia Men's Dorado Boat Shoe
Helly-Hansen HP Foil Waterproof Shoes
KEEN Men's Newport Retro Sandals
Columbia Men's Dorado CVO PFG, Ti Grey Steel/Electron Yellow, 12
Helly-Hansen Mens HP Foil V2 Lightweight Breathable Sailing Watersports Shoes, 597 Navy/Off White, 13
KEEN Men's Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal, Banyan Tree/Banyan Tree, 10
Style
Closed shoe
Closed shoe
Sandals
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
Speed-lacing system
Speed-lacing system
-
1,369 Reviews
6 Reviews
19,917 Reviews
Feature
Best for Stain Resistance
Model
Columbia Men's Dorado Boat Shoe
Columbia Men's Dorado CVO PFG, Ti Grey Steel/Electron Yellow, 12
Style
Closed shoe
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
1,369 Reviews
Feature
Most Comfortable
Model
Helly-Hansen HP Foil Waterproof Shoes
Helly-Hansen Mens HP Foil V2 Lightweight Breathable Sailing Watersports Shoes, 597 Navy/Off White, 13
Style
Closed shoe
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
-
6 Reviews
Feature
Most Durable
Model
KEEN Men's Newport Retro Sandals
KEEN Men's Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal, Banyan Tree/Banyan Tree, 10
Style
Sandals
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
19,917 Reviews

Best Shoes for Sailing Compared (Women)

Feature
Most Versatile
Best Value
Most Stylish
Model
Columbia Women's Dorado PFG Boat Shoes
Alibress Women's Water Shoes
Columbia Women's Slack Water Shoes
Columbia Women's Dorado PFG, Silver Grey/Coastal Blue, 8
Alibress Outdoor Water Shoes for Women Slip On Beach Sailing Boating Water Shoes Blue Navy White 8 M US
Columbia Womens Slack Water PFG Slip Boat Shoe, Gulf Stream/Cool Moss, 12 US
Style
Closed shoe
Closed shoe
Closed shoe
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
Speed-lacing system
Slip-on
429 Reviews
1,107 Reviews
177 Reviews
Feature
Most Versatile
Model
Columbia Women's Dorado PFG Boat Shoes
Columbia Women's Dorado PFG, Silver Grey/Coastal Blue, 8
Style
Closed shoe
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
429 Reviews
Feature
Best Value
Model
Alibress Women's Water Shoes
Alibress Outdoor Water Shoes for Women Slip On Beach Sailing Boating Water Shoes Blue Navy White 8 M US
Style
Closed shoe
Fastening
Speed-lacing system
1,107 Reviews
Feature
Most Stylish
Model
Columbia Women's Slack Water Shoes
Columbia Womens Slack Water PFG Slip Boat Shoe, Gulf Stream/Cool Moss, 12 US
Style
Closed shoe
Fastening
Slip-on
177 Reviews

What Are Sailing Shoes?

view on legs of relaxed young woman sunbathing on a sailing yacht during sailing

Sailing shoes are designed to keep you safe and comfortable in and out of the water. They usually have strong, non-slip soles, ideal for walking on slippery terrain. They come in different styles, ranging from water sandals to more formal deck shoes.

What to Look for in Sailing Shoes

Here are the main features to look for in sailing shoes:

Style

Mens brown loafers shoe on a pier head for Yacht Marina

There are 2 main styles to choose from:

  • Sandals – these offer the best ventilation and are ideal for hot days. They provide excellent grip while still providing plenty of air to your feet.
  • Closed shoes – available either as deck-style slip-on shoes, or sneaker-style shoes with laces, these offer waterproof uppers and good ventilation, with solid soles to keep you steady.

Grip

Light running sport shoe's sole isolated over the white background

The most important thing you can look for is how good the grip is. The grip should be strong enough to stop you from slipping over, even if your shoes are wet.

Drying/Draining

contemporary sneaker trainers

Look for sailing shoes that dry quickly to prevent your feet from becoming uncomfortable while they’re wet. You can also find shoes with large drainage holes, so water won’t pool around your feet if your feet become submerged entirely.

Water/Stain Resistance

Boat wet shoes

Sailing shoes are typically made from polyester or synthetic materials, ideal for repelling water. While not completely waterproof, they should help to keep your feet dry if they get splashed.

You may also find stain-resistant sailing shoes, which are ideal for activities like fishing.

Closure Type

Feet and shoes on the boat.

Sailing sandals should have durable velcro closures, which are easy to use. Typically, closed sailing shoes will have a speed-lacing system, which will allow you to pull the laces tight to fit your feet quickly.

Deck-style shoes may not have any closure, which means the fit is more important, as you won’t be able to tighten them to fit you.

Top 3 Sailing Shoes for Men

First, let’s look at the top 3 sailing shoes for men. We’ve included their key features, pros, and cons so that you can find the most suitable pair for your needs.

1. Columbia Men’s Dorado Boat Shoe – Best for Stain Resistance

Columbia Men's Dorado CVO PFG, Ti Grey Steel/Electron Yellow, 12

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber and water-resistant fabric
  • Closure Type: Speed-lacing system
  • Style: Closed shoe

The Columbia Men’s Dorado Boat Shoe is excellent for stain resistance. Their ‘Omni-Shield’ fabric is designed to resist the absorption of liquid, allowing your shoes to dry quickly. Plus, they are treated with stain-resistant material to help to keep your shoes clean.

In terms of comfort, they’re pretty good. They have decent midsole cushioning, so they feel good to wear even when you’ve had them on all day. They may require breaking in, however, so it’s worth wearing them around the house before you wear them out on the water. The sizing is accurate, so you shouldn’t have to size up or down, and the speed lacing system is easy to use. 

Plus, they have an excellent grip, with an advanced traction sole designed to keep you steady on slippery surfaces.

These are closed shoes, and they look stylish in a range of colors. You can wear these in day-to-day life as well as on a boat.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Cushioned and comfortable once broken in
  • Looks stylish
  • Designed to resist liquids and stains

Cons

  • It may not be comfortable to wear until broken in
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2. Helly-Hansen HP Foil Waterproof Shoes – Most Comfortable

Helly-Hansen Mens HP Foil V2 Lightweight Breathable Sailing Watersports Shoes, 597 Navy/Off White, 13

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber and synthetic
  • Closure Type: Speed-lacing system
  • Style: Closed shoe

The Helly-Hansen HP Foil Waterproof Shoes are comfortable, easy-to-wear shoes. They’re made from synthetic materials and rubber, and they’re quick to dry, so it doesn’t matter if they get wet.

These are comfortable shoes with some cushioning in the midsole. They’re moisture-wicking, so they’ll keep moisture away from your feet, and they’re breathable, which is ideal for keeping you cool in warm weather. The speed-lacing system is easy to use, making it fast to take your shoes on and off.

They have rubber soles that are designed to keep you safe, and they have odor-reducing fabric on the inside to prevent them from developing odors as they dry.

These are closed shoes, and they look a little like sneakers. They’re less ‘dressy’ than some of the other shoes on this list, so you may not be able to wear them for as many occasions.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Cooling with odor-reducing fabric
  • Speed-lacing system is easy to use
  • Fast-drying fabric

Cons

  • Less ‘dressy’ than some of the other shoes on this list, so they may not be able to be worn for as many occasions.
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3. KEEN Men’s Newport Retro Sandal – Most Durable

KEEN Men's Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal, Banyan Tree/Banyan Tree, 10

Key Features

  • Materials: Polyester, rubber
  • Closure Type: Speed-lacing system
  • Style: Sandal

The KEEN Men’s Newport Retro Sandals are durable, tough sandals that will last for a long time. Made from rubber and polyester, they are machine-washable, and they can be worn in the water again and again.

They’re also comfortable, with a cushioned insole and a lace-lock bungee lacing system so you can slip them on and off in seconds. The shoes are perfect for warmer weather, as they have plenty of ventilation while still protecting your toes. They’re a little narrow, so it’s not good for those with wide feet.

These sandals have excellent grip, keeping your feet safe on slippery surfaces, with a toe bumper to keep your feet protected. 

They’re based on the designs of the famous designer Jerry Garcia, so they’re very ‘retro’ in style. If you’d rather have something plainer, there are solid color options too.

Pros

  • Durable and hard-wearing
  • Machine washable
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to take on and off
  • Good toe protection

Cons

  • Narrow, so not suitable for people with wide feet
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Top 3 Sailing Shoes for Women

Now, let’s take a look at our top picks for women. We’ll look at their pros and cons and their key features, so you can see whether they suit you.

1. Columbia Women’s Dorado PFG Boat Shoe – Most Versatile

Columbia Women's Dorado PFG, Silver Grey/Coastal Blue, 8

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber, synthetic
  • Closure Type: Speed-lacing system
  • Style: Closed shoe

The Columbia Women’s Dorado PFG Boat Shoe is a comfortable, durable boat shoe that can be worn in all sorts of situations, not just on the water. A closed-style shoe, they’re great for running errands as well as wearing around water. They’re pretty durable, and they’re easy to care for, with water and stain repellant fabric on the uppers.

They’re pretty comfortable. They have a lightweight midsole but with decent cushioning, so they’ll feel comfortable all day. The speed-lacing system is really easy to use, and they’re well ventilated, so your feet shouldn’t get overheated.

With a strong rubber sole, these boat shoes have a good grip, so you won’t have to worry about slipping over.

They’re casual but still stylish enough to wear for different occasions, and they come in a decent range of colors. The downside is, that the light grey/blue style has some color bleeding issues when wet, so you may want to go for a different color.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Easy to put on and off
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Color staining issues in the light grey/blue style
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2. Alibress Women’s Water Shoes – Best Value

Alibress Outdoor Water Shoes for Women Slip On Beach Sailing Boating Water Shoes Blue Navy White 8 M US

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber, polyester
  • Closure Type: Speed-lacing system
  • Style: Closed shoe

The Alibress Women’s Water Shoes are great value shoes for any kind of water-based activity. They’re closed water shoes with excellent drainage, so they’ll dry quickly if you do get them wet, and they’re fairly durable given the price.

The downside to these shoes is that they’re not as comfortable as some of the others on this list when soaking wet. However, they do have some good cushioning, and they feel lightweight to wear. They’re pretty easy to care for, too, and they’re easy to take off and on again.

They’re designed to be worn on slippery terrain with good grip, so you should be able to feel confident walking in them when they’re wet.

These water shoes look a little like sneakers, so they’re pretty casual. You may not feel as comfortable wearing them to a fancier occasion.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Pretty durable
  • Quick-drying
  • Easy to care for
  • Great grip

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as some of the others on this list
Check Price

3. Columbia Women’s Slack Water Shoes – Most Stylish

Columbia Womens Slack Water PFG Slip Boat Shoe, Gulf Stream/Cool Moss, 12 US

Key Features

  • Materials: Rubber, textile
  • Closure Type: Slip-on
  • Style: Closed shoe

The Columbia Women’s Slack Water Shoes are fun, stylish water shoes. They’re closed shoes in a slip-on style, and they’re designed to dry quickly.

They’re comfortable, with excellent cushioning and absorbency, so you should still feel good even after hours of wear. It also has an antimicrobial treatment on the footbed, which will keep them fresh all day long. The downside is that they’re a little wide, so you may need to size down if you have narrow feet.

Designed to be worn on wet surfaces, they have an ‘Omni-Grip’ sole to keep your feet steady. They have a crush-friendly back heel, so they’re easy to get on and off without worrying about wearing the backs down.

They look great in a range of patterns and styles, including some bright and colorful options. 

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to wear
  • Good cushioning
  • Excellent grip
  • Easy to take on and off
  • Stylish with a range of patterns

Cons

  • Wide fitting with no option of tightening, so you may need to size down
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Frequently Asked Questions

Before we give you our final verdict, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about shoes for sailing:

Are sailing shoes good for fishing?

Read view of man in cut-off shorts on boat

Yes, sailing shoes can be used as fishing shoes! It may be a good idea to look for shoes with stain resistance, just to help them to stay clean for longer. You could also look for shoes that can be washed in a washing machine for easier care.

Can I wear sailing shoes on the beach?

Close-up of a man's legs and a girl in sneakers running at sunse

Yes, you can wear sailing shoes on the beach! They’re ideal for dipping in and out of the water as they have good drainage and may help to protect your feet from creatures like Weeverfish, which can produce pretty nasty injuries.

Do boat shoes shrink?

Navy top sider shoes with lifebuoy, binoculars on the wood background

No, boat shoes should not shrink. Depending on the materials, they may loosen up over time, but synthetic materials tend to hold their size pretty well. You should always go for the best fit you can find for safety reasons.

How can I wash my boat shoes?

Many pairs of dirty sneakers in the washing machine

If your boat shoes can be machine washed, simply follow the instructions. If the manufacturer doesn’t specify this, it’s best to wash them by hand. You can do this by washing them in soapy water, paying careful attention to the grooves in the bottom of the soles, and then leaving them to dry thoroughly.

Our Final Thoughts

Shoes on a pier - let's swim

If we had to pick one, we’d go for the KEEN Men’s Newport Retro Sandal for men. These sandals are ideal for hot weather, they can be machine washed, and they’re comfortable to wear.

For women, we’d recommend checking out the Columbia Women’s Slack Water Shoes. They have excellent grip, so you won’t have to worry about slipping over, and they come in a wide range of patterns.

We hope this has helped you find the best shoes for sailing!