Thinking about sailing shoes may bring up visions of well-dressed people lounging on deck in — you guessed it — deck shoes. These are most likely in nautical colors paired with a Breton t-shirt and chinos to complete the look. That’s what the adverts say anyway. But finding the best sailing shoes for you involves a lot more than a Monaco-backdrop.

Sailing shoes provide all sorts of protection and are a key part of your sailing equipment. Finding the right sailing shoes means taking into account lots of variables, including the kind of sailing you’re planning on doing. We don’t like cold feet or busted toes here at The Adventure Junkies, so read on to learn about the best sailing shoes for you.

 

 

 

 

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SAILING SHOES

  1. Sperry Authentic Original Boat Shoe
  2. GILL Tall Yachting Boots
  3. Gill Trapeze Sailing Boots
  4. GILL Competition Sailing Boots
  5. Rugged Shark Great White Deck Boots
  6. Helly Hansen Midsund 2 Rain Boots
  7. Sperry Sojourn Duck Chukka Boots
  8. Body Glove Seek Watershoe
  9. Dubarry Ultima Stretch Boots
  10. RONSTAN Superflex Boots

 

 

 

SAILING SHOES REVIEWS

SPERRY AUTHENTIC ORIGINAL BOAT SHOE

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Casual cruising yacht sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: Sperry Authentic Original Two-Eye Boat Shoes

MATERIAL: Full-grain leather

BREATHABLE: Yes

PROS: Smart look, EVA foam footbed for cushioning, leather inner sock, siped outsole gives reliable grip

CONS: Need leather care to prevent salt damage

 

 

 

DUBARRY ULTIMA STRETCH BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
West Marine

BEST FOR: Cruising and racing sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Cordura

BREATHABLE: Yes

PROS: Easy slip-on design, durable Cordura material, fast drying water resistant finish, stretching Lycra panel, GORE-TEX lining, classic look

CONS: Expensive, need washing in freshwater for optimal longevity

 

 

 

GILL TALL YACHTING BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Cruising and racing sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: Gill Tall Yachting Boots

MATERIAL: Rubber

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Waterproof, reinforced instep plus toe and heel, hardwearing, quick-dry lining removable insole, tie top

CONS: Not very low-profile, not very warm in cold climates

 

 

 

GILL TRAPEZE SAILING BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Keen dingy and small boat racing sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Neoprene

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Reinforced top side, grippy soles, 5mm neoprene offers warmth, VELCRO fastening

CONS: Can be very tight-fitting, pricey for beginners

 

 

 

GILL COMPETITION SAILING BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Serious dinghy sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: Gill Competition Sailing Boots

MATERIAL: Rubber

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Quick-dry lining, excellent grip, reinforced instep plus toe and heel, low-profile for fast movement

CONS: Pricey, not breathable for hot weather

 

 

 

RUGGED SHARK GREAT WHITE DECK BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Boat fishing trips, tough weather conditions

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Rubber

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Great for heavy weather, warm with socks, soft cuff, removable cushioning footbed, good grip

CONS: Heavy and clumpy

 

 

 

HELLY HANSEN MIDSUND 2 RAIN BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Cruising and racing sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: Hello Hansen Women’s Midsund 2 Rain Boots

MATERIAL: Rubber

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Excellent grip gum rubber soles, back pull tab, suitable for boat use and land use

CONS: Wide tread may pick up stones and gravel, no tightening cord on cuff

 

 

 

SPERRY SOJOURN DUCK CHUKKA BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Coastal cruising sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Leather/Rubber

BREATHABLE: Yes

PROS: Rubber toes plus leather upper create comfortable waterproofing, neoprene bootie adds extra support, removable compression molded footbed, anti-microbe treatment on footbed, rustproof eyelets

CONS: Wide tread pattern could pick up gravel on land

 

 

 

BODY GLOVE SEEK WATERSHOE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Beginner dinghy sailors

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Neoprene/Mesh

BREATHABLE: Yes

PROS: Easy to slip on, VELCRO and bungee closure, non-slip reinforced sole

CONS: No cold protection, no ankle support

 

 

 

RONSTAN SUPERFLEX BOOTS

Check out the latest price on:
West Marine

BEST FOR: Warm water dinghy sailing

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

MATERIAL: Neoprene

BREATHABLE: No

PROS: Very flexible for full range of motion, ankle seal stops most water getting in, bridge strap for support, padded heel

CONS: Little ankle support, may not take heavy use

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST SAILING SHOES

PICTURE
SAILING SHOES
MATERIAL
BREATHABLE
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SAILING SHOES
MATERIAL
BREATHABLE
PRICE
RATING
Sperry Authentic Original Boat Shoe
Full-Grain Leather
Yes
$$
5.0
GILL Tall Yachting Boots
Rubber
No
$$
5.0
Gill Trapeze Sailing Boots
Neoprene
No
$$
5.0
GILL Competition Sailing Boots
Rubber
No
$$
4.8
Rugged Shark Great White Deck Boots
Rubber
No
$$
4.8
Helly Hansen Midsund 2 Rain Boots
Rubber
No
$$
4.5
Sperry Sojourn Duck Chukka Boots
Leather/Rubber
No
$$
4.4
Body Glove Seek Watershoe
Neoprene/Mesh
Yes
$
4.3
Dubarry Ultima Stretch Boots
Cordura
Yes
$$$
4.7
RONSTAN Superflex Boots
Neoprene
No
$
4.7

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SAILING SHOES

TYPE OF SAILING

Equipment and clothing that you require for sailing very much depend on what type of sailing you’ll be doing. Whether it’s dinghy racing or classic cruising, your footwear needs to be right.

 

DINGHY SAILING

Dinghy sailing is probably the wettest kind of sailing (unless you’re into extreme performance yachts!) and so your dinghy sailing shoes need to cope. Dinghy sailing also involves shifting your body and weight quickly so clumpy shoes just aren’t going to cut it.

To keep your feet warm and easy to move in wet conditions, most dinghy sailors wear wetsuit booties. Made from neoprene, these types of boots come in different thicknesses depending on what temperatures you’ll be sailing in. Some dinghy sailing booties also have reinforced top sections so they don’t wear out when you’re feet are under the straps.

 

CRUISING

Cruising tends to be a much more laid back affair than dinghy sailing and shoe choice is much larger. From deck shoes to sailing wellies, your footwear choice will depend on your boat, the conditions and whether you need to go on deck or not.

The main consideration for cruising sailors is a non-marking sole. Black rubber marks are a big no-no on any boat! Cruising shoes should be reasonable waterproof in case waves come over, but also grippy, comfortable and easy to clean.

 

RACING

While many cruising yachts can also race, the act of racing is a more extreme form of sailing. What does that mean? It means that you’ll probably have a lot more water washing along the decks and into the cockpit.

Yachts may also be more heeled over when racing than other types of sailing so it’s easier to slip. If you want to do some racing or will be sailing a racing yacht, grippy soles are a must. Sailing shoes should also be waterproof and with a low-profile so you can move quickly should you need to.

 

LOCATION AND WEATHER

Will you be sailing on a lake? At sea? In big waves? In flat water? Will it be cold? Hot? Tropical? No one wants cold feet right?

If you’re sailing in a cold water area, you should plan your shoes for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Why? Because when the wind crosses water, it will often cool to the temperature of the water. Even on a hot, sunny day, sailing can get chilly if the water is cool.

In cold weather, numb toes can be a real problem. If you’re planning on cold water sailing then remember to leave room in sailing shoes for warm, thick socks.

On the flip side, if you’ll be sailing in warm seas and hot sun, you’ll need breathable sailing shoes that won’t leave your feet sweaty. Shows made from leather, mesh or GORE-TEX are usually very breathable.

 

MATERIAL

Sailing shoes come in all sorts of materials, mainly suited to conditions and environment. Dinghy sailing shoes need to allow you to swim in them should you capsize, hence being made out of neoprene. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer they’ll keep your feet.

Other sailing shoes can be made out of rubber or plastic. These materials are waterproof, making them good for cold water sailing. Rubber isn’t breathable though, so for warmer weather, leather or breathable synthetics are a good choice.

 

SOLE TYPE

Non-marking soles are crucial for any type of boat. A passenger or crew member with a marking sole is liable to be made to walk the plank. Luckily, it’s hard to find marking soles in the sailing shoe industry. All the sailing shoes featured in our reviews have non-marking soles.

Grippy soles are important as decks and cockpits can get very slippery. However, deep tread isn’t necessarily good and can pick up stones and gravel ashore which then scratch the gelcoat and wood on a boat.

Neoprene booties usually have reinforced soles for longevity and extra comfort when walking up dinghy ramps. Cheaper booties might lack this feature and could wear out much faster but are great for beginners.

 

COMFORT

Uncomfortable shoes are terrible so it seems like a no-brainer to buy comfortable sailing shoes. But there’s often more to it than ordinary shoes.

For instance, will you always be wearing socks? Sometimes, you might need to get out on deck quickly when you have to reef a sail. You may not have time to put socks on, so can you still wear and walk in your shoes without them?

Do you find shoes often rub? If so, finding shoes with a softer opening might be a good idea. Blisters can get infected in saltwater environments, especially if you’re sailing in the sub-tropics and tropics.

 

Best Sailing Shoes - Sailing Gear and Accessories Articles – Sailing Clothes for Men and Women – Sailing Tips for Beginners – Sailing Equipment Products
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