6 Best Boat Shoes For Men: All Feet on Deck in 2024
Fashion & Style

6 Best Boat Shoes For Men: All Feet on Deck in 2024

In 1935, Paul A. Sperry invented the boat shoe.

From 1935 to present day, people have been very opinionated about the boat shoe.

Fair enough. But whether you love them, hate them, or can’t decide if you’re late-1950s-JFK-on-the-Victura enough to wear them, you can bet your footwear-curious ass that boat shoes are here to stay.

And with that, it’s my duty—nay, honor—to present you with the six best boat shoes for men. From Sperry’s Authentic Original, the O.G. beacon of casual footwear, to rooftop-ready, nubuck-leather pairs, there’s something here for every leisure-loving man.

In. Out. In. Out. Who cares…

What’s in style is whatever you say is in style. Now get out there and make the venerable boat shoe proud.

Key Takeaways 

To find the best boat shoes for men, I began by researching dozens of pairs and their materials, construction, authentic details, customer reviews, and photos. The resulting six are the best of the best across a range of categories, from travel-ready footwear to casual stunners and everywhere in between.

My top overall pick is the one that started it all—the aptly named Sperry Authentic Original. Close on its pun-not-intended heels is the wallet-friendly Dockers Beacon Boat Shoe.

fixing a shoelace of a gambaree boat shoe by velasca
View More On Velasca

Sperry Authentic Original: best boat shoes for men

Why they’re great: Sperry’s Authentic Original is the one that started it all. Created in 1935 by Paul A. Sperry, it set the laid-back, preppy bar for countless other iterations of the species. Sturdy, buttery soft leather, grippy rubber soles, and a timeless design join forces to create this iconic shoe that you can dress up or down all spring and summer.

Who are they for? Sperry’s Authentic Original is for the guy whose personal-style convictions are strong enough to persevere through whatever sartorial winds of change may come. He ignores the haters. He ignores the trends. He wears what feels right.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: Boat shoes are seasonal and best laced up during the warmer months. If you don’t already have a reliable cache of seasonal or year-round shoes, then these likely won’t be a fit just yet.

Material: Leather | Sole Material: Synthetic | Sizes Available: 4–16W | Colors Available: 35

Velasca Gambaree

Why they’re great: Italian menswear brand Velasca’s Nubuck leather Gambaree boat shoes are the epitome of comfort and laid-back luxury. Made by skilled artisans in the Abruzzo region of Italy, they come in 11 colors, from standout blue to traditional brown.

Who are they for? The Gambaree is for the footwear connoisseur who’s got the right pair of dress shoes, slippers, sneakers, walking shoes… you get it. Adding the best elevated version of the boat shoe to his arsenal is just icing on the cake.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: The Gambaree’s construction and materials are no doubt superior. But if their Italian craftsmanship and the techniques used to make them are lost on you, then you may want to skip this splurge.

Material: Nubuck Leather | Sole Material: Rubber | Sizes Available: 5–13 | Colors Available: 11

Dockers Beacon Boat Shoes

Why they’re great: Dockers’ Beacon Boat shoes are every bit as handsome and classically designed as the OG Sperry. Leather uppers. Rubber soles. Neutral colors that pair well with anything from a white linen button-down to your favorite T-shirt. The main difference is the impact it’ll have on your wallet, which is minimal.

Who are they for? Dockers’ budget-friendly boat shoes are best for the thrifty guy who’s willing to sacrifice a little bit of construction quality but not at the expense of style.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: The Beacon has a faux 360-degree lacing system. If this functionality is important to you, then you’re better off shelling out for a pair of Sperry Authentic Originals.

Material: Leather | Sole Material: Rubber | Sizes Available: 7–15 | Colors Available: 5

Timberland Classic 2-Eye Boat Shoes

Why they’re great: Timberland’s Classic 2-Eye Boat Shoes are sturdy, rugged, classic, and built with comfort in mind. With nearly 4,000 5-star Amazon reviews and more than 70 years of manufacturing know-how backing them, these traditional deck shoes will serve you well for years to come.

Who are they for? Dads. Uncles. Regular guys who want to buy only one or two pairs of boat shoes for the rest of their lives.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: I’m personally not a fan of having a brand’s logo emblazoned across the uppers of my shoes. It’s a prominent feature and one Timberland’s boat shoes proudly employs. But although my personal preference is a more understated route, there’s no denying these are cozy, well-constructed shoes.

Material: Leather | Sole Material: Rubber | Sizes Available: 7–14 | Colors Available: 5

Sebago Portland Waxed Boat Shoes

Why they’re great: Another pioneer of classic American footwear, Maine-based Sebago makes some of the best deck, dress, and boat shoes out there. One such shoe is its Portland Waxed boat shoe, which is as classic as it gets.

The water-resistant, full-grain leather uppers and leather linings keep things cloud-like in the comfort department. Meanwhile, functional features like a 360-degree lacing system and siped rubber soles provide safety and longevity.

Who are they for? Traditionalists will love Sebago’s heritage boat shoe in one of its many muted tones like brown or tan. But if you’re looking to make more of a statement, then you won’t have a problem finding some standouts among its 16 color options.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: These guys tend to have a longer break-in period, and even wide sizes may not be wide enough for all.

Material: Waxed Leather | Sole Material: Rubber | Sizes Available: 6–15 | Colors Available: 16

Sperry Bahama II Sneaker

Why they’re great: And here we are going full circle with yet another stellar pair of Sperry boat shoes—this time with handsome, breathable, accommodating uppers. If you can snag a pair of these summer-ready classics in white, then you can’t go wrong with some navy chinos, a braided belt, and a pop of color in your henley or linen button-up.

Who are they for? Regardless of the style, canvas shoes are a great fit for anyone who appreciates a long and winding patio brunch, rooftop happy hours, and any other scenario that involves unleashing free leisure clinics on the unsuspecting masses.

Flaws but not deal-breakers: Unlike the super-soft leather boat shoes on this list—especially the ones with leather footbeds—canvas shoes may not provide enough cushioning for some wearers. That said, it’s nothing that a good pair of insoles can’t take care of.

Material: Canvas | Sole Material: Rubber | Sizes Available: 5–16 | Colors Available: 8

man sitting on a seawall wearing pink shirt and white pants
sebago_world / Instagram

Buying Considerations For The Best Boat Shoes For Men

Material

The first of its kind, Sperry’s Authentic Original boat shoe features a leather upper and rubber soles. Since its 1935 inception in Connecticut, the boat shoe has taken on many forms and been constructed of many materials.

But if you’re going for overall comfort, durability, and style (which, of course, are), then your best move is sticking with leather, canvas, or a combination of both.

Size and Fit

Before picking up a pair of boat shoes, try on several to make sure they conform to the contours of your feet and have the weight and feel that you require. Prioritize durable, comfortable shoes made of leather, canvas, or a combination of both. Beyond that, keep in mind that there’s no substitute for some old-school trial and error.

Comfort

Actual boat-adjacent functionality aside, boat shoes are all about laid-back style and, most importantly, comfort. The right materials and the right fit are crucial, but if you check those two boxes and your boat shoes still don’t feel right, it’s all for naught. If push comes to shove, don’t hesitate to splurge a bit to achieve the right balance of durability and comfort.

man standing on a boat wearing a shirt and linen pants
sperry / Instagram

How We Chose

As a fashion and grooming writer at FashionBeans, I compare, test, and research the products that make a gentleman a gentleman. If it can be worn, carried, or used in a way that elevates your look and feel, I’m into it.

For this review, I pored over trusted sources, customer reviews, materials, construction specifications, and my own experience to understand what makes the best boat shoes for men. Some of my key considerations include:

Comfort: Not all boat shoes for men are created equal. If you’re on your feet all day, for instance, then you should opt for a thicker rubber sole as opposed to a thin, dressy, all-leather sole.

If you’re a heavier guy, then you’ll need to prioritize support and stability. For the purposes of this list, I made every effort to prioritize versatile boat shoes with universal functionality, second only to comfort and easy-breezy craftsmanship.

Customer Reviews: I picked through multiple product reviews in search of both positive and negative throughlines to help inform my picks for the best deck shoes for men.

Materials: The original Sperry Top-Sider’s upper was and still is constructed of full-grain leather—a superior material in terms of waterproofing, durability, and overall comfort. Many of the best boat shoes for men are still made of leather, but also incorporate a mix of canvas and other materials.

For the purposes of this list, I went the traditional (and quality) route and stuck strictly to base materials of leather and canvas. 

Why Trust Us?

Kelly is a long-time writer for FashionBeans and an all-around shoe enthusiast. In addition to hours of independent research, Kelly relied heavily on his own experience to find the best boat shoes for men.

He’s also written prolifically on the topic of footwear, covering the most comfortable men’s walking shoes, the best dad shoes, cowboy boot brands, and comfortable dress shoes, to name a few.

To substantiate that experience, he researched dozens of deck shoes for men, checking out materials, construction, customer reviews, and his own closet to pick the best of the best. If there’s a stranger to trust for legacy-footwear advice, it’s Kelly.

Final Verdict 

Though its iterations have been many, the venerable boat shoe has been in existence since 1935. For the purposes of this list, I stuck mainly to the O.G. styles.

That in mind, my top overall pick for the best boat shoes for men based on versatility, durability, authenticity, and general style are Sperry’s Authentic Originals. Riding in its wake is my budget pick of Dockers’ Beacon Boat Shoe.

FAQ

    • The short answer: Yes. The long(er) answer: While you should certainly consider wearing socks with boat shoes to increase breathability and reduce foot odor, make sure they’re no-show socks. These aren’t derby shoes. They’re not boots. They’re boat shoes, and boat shoes are all about stripped-down leisure.

      • Sperry. Conceived in 1935 by New Haven, Connecticut-born Paul A. Sperry, the Sperry Top-Sider is the original boat shoe as we know it today.

        • Regardless of whether you have wide feet, flat feet, or whatever “normal” feet are, boat shoes should fall within the sweet spot of not too loose and not too tight. Make sure there’s enough width, length, and overall breathability to make them the relaxed, comfortable shoes that they’re meant to be.

Originally Published Here.

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