Whether it’s on a small, yet elegant sailboat, or a gargantuan, powerful yacht, summertime is the right time to cast off and feel the cool spray of water on your face. But keep in mind that some poor swabby (probably your friend that invited you out for the day) has been carefully cleaning and polishing those decks for safety as much as decorum.
“Boat shoes exist at the intersection of style and etiquette,” says Joshua Moore, the founder of shoe brand Res Ipsa. “The essential white rubber sole prevents noxious scuff marks on the deck of the boat or yacht. There is a place for patina in menswear, but filthy boat shoes are un-stylish and discourteous. If you are lucky enough to be invited on a yacht, the last thing you want is to be the guy who left a skid mark.”
We’ve got you covered with a selection of the best men’s boat shoes that go well beyond the marina and won’t betray your land-lubbing, sartorial tendencies when you wear them on shore leave. Here’s to … ahem … a skid-mark free voyage.
Legend has it that, when Paul Sperry spotted his dog darting effortlessly across some winter ice, he was inspired to grab a pair of rubber-soled shoes and slice channels into the bottoms to make them “stickier.” More than 80 years later, Sperry Top Siders are the epitome of the boat shoe and a requirement for any true prep’s wardrobe.
Atlanta Mocassin offers several takes on the classic style, featuring moccasin stitching and white leather lacing. Made in Portugal, the brand is inspired by the country’s rich sailing heritage. We like this bright Ocean pair for its marine-inspired coloring that will look great with white jeans or khakis.
Florsheim’s take on the summer classic comes in a lightweight, easy-to-clean canvas — in khaki or navy color choices — and a high-tech, deck-friendly sole. These are the perfect pair for a long weekend: easy to pack and a great pairing with shorts or white linen pants.
With deep roots in the British sporting tradition, Gola creates this minimalistic take on the classic plimsoll. The open-weave mesh is breathable and comfortable, while the jersey lining coddles your feet. Another lightweight alternative, we like the mix of materials and the shoes’ spare, clean lines — kind of like our favorite sailboats!
Getting on a boat can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s a yacht, for others, a fishing charter. But what if it’s a kayak? Or a river raft? Don’t worry, NRS has got you covered for all situations. Made from quick-drying Cordura nylon, this technical water shoe has the daring of the brand’s rafting heritage, with plenty of style for everyday wear. An added benefit? The sole is stamped with the silhouette of the great state of Idaho, leaving a distinguished footprint everywhere you go.
Eastland’s Major League Baseball collaboration will have you decked out for the stadium as well as the marina. These classic New England-style boat shoes are designed in Maine and include comfort insoles, making them easy to wear right out of the box. Just remember, in this case, it’s best if the batter stays on deck when aboard ship.
Now that you’ve got the shoes, get the rest of the outfit with The Manual guide to what to wear on a boat.