Three Things to Consider Before Buying Boat Shoes

Unless you want to anger a boat owner, get yourself some non-marking, grippy footwear before climbing on board.

If you own a boat, or you know someone who does, then you’re probably know how easy it is to mark up or otherwise damage the deck and so many of the vessel’s other surfaces. That’s why it’s incredibly important to board wearing footwear designed not to do damage. A true boat shoe is lightweight, somewhat breathable, offers great traction (even on we surfaces), and doesn’t leave a mark, no matter where you step. If you need a new pair of boat shoes, or need to get a pair for someone who plans to come on board your boat, here are few things to keep in mind as you shop, as well as a few inexpensive models that feel great and won’t leave a mark.


Mesh Upper Panels

Designed to not damage the deck or other surfaces common on ships of all shapes and sizes. Sperry

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Shoes intended specifically for recreational boating will usually say “non-marking.” However, many everyday sneakers and loafers are also safe to wear on deck. If you are uncertain, test the sole by first scuffing it against a white plastic or fiberglass surface to determine whether it will leave a mark.

Genuine Leather Uppers

The soles have small cuts or “sipes” to improve traction and grip. Dockers

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Boat decks get wet, making for slippery and even potentially deadly footing. A genuine boat shoe will have tread material that is grippy by nature and is also siped (cut with small slits) to increase traction.

Most Styles

If you don’t want a true boat shoe, you can use these as long as the bottoms are “non-marking.” Hey Dude

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If you are only an occasional boater or a guest on someone else’s vessel, a standard loafer with a rubber sole may suffice. Just make sure it is non-marking, and keep in mind that even on the largest sport vessel there is a good chance it will get wet. The uppers and footbed should be able to handle a thorough dunking and still dry out quickly.