The Best Boat Shoes for Women

Sperry’s Authentic Original Two-eye Boat Shoe is one of the best options for looking stylish and relaxed while at sea.

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Women's boat shoes on a pink and green background

Courtesy of Amazon

Boat shoes were originally designed with a soft-soled tread that provides traction on slippery surfaces without leaving scuff marks. Of course, boat shoes have since woven into summertime and vacation wardrobes beyond boating thanks to their association with sophistication and laid-back warm-weather style. Our favorite is the classic and comfortable Sperry Authentic Original Two-eye Boat Shoe. Like the Sperry standouts, most boat shoes still provide a soft sole and additional traction that makes them a great alternative to sandals or flip-flops, especially if you plan to go directly from the pool deck to a more formal environment while on vacation.

We spoke to a handful of podiatrists and footwear experts to get their top tips on exactly what to look for and what other brands bubble up to the top when it comes to quality, affordability, and style.

Get to know the best boat shoes for women here.

Best Overall: Sperry Women's Authentic Original Two-Eye Boat Shoe

Sperry Women's Authentic Original Two-Eye Boat Shoe

Sperry

Why We Love It: This classic pair of boat shoes will always be in style thanks to the sophisticated neutral-hued leather material and soft-sided but durable rubber sole.

What to Consider: The leather material might be too hot in warmer climates.

The Sperry Women's Authentic Original Two-eye Boat Shoe will always be our top pick when it comes to deckside footwear. An Americana summer staple, these boat shoes pack a serious punch in both the style and quality departments. The classic silhouette and water-resistant leather material make this option a particularly good choice for anyone hoping to pack just one pair of shoes that can easily take them from the pool deck to dinner and drinks without appearing overly casual.

This option is also going to be a smart pick for those in search of a summertime-appropriate shoe that offers more foot support than a flip-flop or sandal. The rubber sole features shock-absorbing support while the perforated, cushioned footbed provides even further comfort and arch support for long days on your feet.

Materials: Leather, rubber︱Sizes: 5-12︱Weight per pair: 1.7 pounds

Best Budget: Roxy Women's Ahoy Slip-on Boat Shoe Sneaker

Roxy Women's Ahoy Slip-on Boat Shoe Sneaker

DSW

Why We Love It: You don’t have to spend a ton to get a high-end-looking summer shoe, and this lightweight and comfortable canvas boat shoe is proof of that.

What to Consider: This option tends to run large, so you might have to size down.

Leather boat shoes are great, but a canvas and rubber option is going to be much more affordable and can look just as sophisticated as the more expensive alternative. The Roxy Women's Ahoy Slip-on Boat Shoe Sneaker is one of our favorite budget-friendly options for a number of reasons. The lightweight canvas material is much more breathable and weather-appropriate for hot summer days while the memory foam interior and recycled terry cloth lining help ensure your feet are comfortable and cool all day long.

Materials: Canvas, rubber︱Sizes: 5-11︱Weight per pair: 1.15 pounds

Best for Walking: Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe

Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe

Sketchers

Why We Love It: This option might look like a classic boat shoe, but the lightweight sneaker was designed to suit city travelers who need something with enough support to wear while walking around all day.

What to Consider: The laces are not adjustable and might be too loose for smaller feet.

Looking for a boat shoe silhouette but don’t want to forego optimal foot support? The Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe features a laundry list of perks that make it an excellent option for those who tend to walk tens of thousands of steps while on vacation. The lightweight design features a responsive 5Gen cushioning for protecting your feet while stomping through city streets as well as a Skechers Goga Max high-rebound insole and a soft fabric lining so you won’t have to worry about uncomfortable rubbing or blisters.

Materials: Textile, rubber︱Sizes: 5-12︱Weight per pair: 10 ounces

Related: The Best Women’s Swimsuits

Best Style: Sperry Women's Angelfish Boat Shoe

Sperry Women's Angelfish Boat Shoe

Zappos

Why We Love It: This modern boat shoe offers a much more feminine and elegant silhouette than higher-top alternatives and can easily be paired with dresses and skirts.

What to Consider: The low-top design might not be comfortable for those with wider feet.

The boat shoe silhouette is one of the most versatile options to bring on vacation — but this low-top alternative is an even better option for women who plan to wear it with dresses or skirts. The shorter-cut kicks are much more elegant than high-top boat shoes, which makes them easy to pair with your entire vacation wardrobe without sacrificing comfort or support. This model also comes with a molded EVA midsole that helps to provide all-day cushioning and proper arch support.

Materials: Leather, rubber︱Sizes: 5-12︱Weight per pair: 1 pound

Most Breathable: Betrue Lightweight Boat Shoes for Women

Betrue Lightweight Boat Shoes for Women

Amazon

Why We Love It: This pair of casual boat shoes is made from an ultra-lightweight canvas material that will allow your feet to breathe even in warmer climates or hot summer afternoons.

What to Consider: The slip-on design is much more casual than a more classic boat shoe.

Although leather boat shoes offer a sophisticated and versatile vacation staple, they might be too warm or tight-fitting for those who run hot or experience swelling while in warmer climates. This canvas and rubber alternative is going to be an excellent option for travelers looking for a breathable and lightweight shoe that is easy to slip on and off even after hours of wear. The honeycomb air vent insole and mesh upper were designed to push air through the shoes to keep your feet dry and cool throughout the day.

Materials: Canvas, rubber︱Sizes: 6-11︱Weight per pair: 1.04 pounds

Best Waterproof: Sperry Women's Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe

Sperry Women's Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe

Sperry

Why We Love It: This pair of fully rubber boat shoes floats just in case you lose them in the water.

What to Consider: This option might not be the best for wearing in formal settings or into the city.

The Sperry Women's Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe offers a happy compromise between boat shoes and more typical sandal-style footwear; think of it as a slightly more elevated version of a Croc sandal. The rubber design is fully waterproof and can double as a water shoe when needed while the super lightweight design was made to float on top of the water just in case you lose your shoes in the pool or ocean. We also love that the molded wave-siping treads offer surprisingly good traction and grip even on wet and slippery pool decks.

Materials: Rubber︱Sizes: 5-12︱Weight per pair: 2 pounds

Related: The Best Waterproof Speakers of 2022

Best Canvas: Grasshoppers Women's Windsor Bow Canvas Sneaker

Grasshoppers Women's Windsor Bow Canvas Sneaker

Amazon

Why We Love It: This classic pair of boat shoes offers an ultra-lightweight and comfortable design thanks to the canvas material and removable memory foam footbed.

What to Consider: This pair runs a little tight and might take some time to break in.

Looking for a lightweight canvas boat shoe that doesn’t skimp on style or durability? The Grasshoppers Women's Windsor Bow Canvas Sneaker features a soft and breathable lining that’ll be comfortable in heat and humidity (and won’t start to smell bad!). There are also removable memory deluxe foam footbeds that were designed to cushion the impact of hard sidewalks or pavement, which makes this pair a great option for vacations where you expect to visit a lot of city sights. We also love that this option features a very slight heel that makes it just as appropriate for casual evenings out as it is for the beach or pool.

Materials: Canvas, rubber | Sizes: 5-11 | Weight per pair: 9 ounces

Most Durable: Twisted X Slip-on Boat Shoe

Twisted X Slip-on Boat Shoe

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This slip-on boat shoe is crafted from extremely durable recycled material and is an excellent option for those who look for sustainable alternatives.

What to Consider: The colorful design is not very versatile and might be hard to pair with your existing wardrobe.

Boat shoes go through a lot throughout the course of their lifetime, which is why it’s so vital to opt for a pair that’s going to last you for years to come. The Twisted X Slip-on Boat Shoe can go the distance thanks to the high-quality leather, tweed, and rubber material. Even better, this option was crafted using sustainable and recycled materials so it won’t just last you a long time — it has actually saved post-consumer trash from ending up in the landfill. The colorful red and orange print might be a little loud for some, but it can easily be paired with neutral colorways like browns, beiges, and even black or white.

Materials: ecoTWX tweed, leather, rubber︱Sizes: 5.5-11︱Weight per pair: 1.3 pounds

Best for Wide Feet: Hey Dude Women's Wendy Shoes

Hey Dude Women's Wendy Shoes

Hey Dude

Why We Love It: This minimalist option is breathable and spacious with additional width to accommodate for wider feet or those whose feet get swollen in warmer climates.

What to Consider: The contrasting white sole makes this option look more like a sneaker than a traditional boat shoe.

Shopping for boat shoes can be difficult when you have wide feet or if your feet tend to swell in warmer climates or after a long day of walking around. That’s where the Hey Dude Women's Wendy Shoes comes in. This minimalist option offers the same style and comfort as a more traditional boat shoe but it was made with a little extra room on the sides to accommodate wider feet. It also includes a unique rounded toe design that flexes and folds as needed in order to provide more room in the front of the shoe without sacrificing proper arch support and cushioning.

Materials: Cotton, rubber︱Sizes: 5-11︱Weight per pair: 2 pounds

Related: 12 Packable Sun Hats That Dermatologists Love

Best Splurge: Timberland Ray City Platform Boat Shoe

Timberland Ray City Platform Boat Shoe

Zappos

Why We Love It: This stylish and on-trend option is well worth the investment if you’re looking for a unique and city-appropriate alternative.

What to Consider: This option isn’t water resistant and might not be the best for waterside escapes.

There’s something to be said about a reimagined platform boat shoe. The Timberland Ray City Platform Boat Shoe might not be the best option if you’re looking for a practical and water-friendly shoe to bring to a pool deck or beach — but it will pack a serious punch when it comes to city dressing. What’s more, the stunning silver-hued platform shoe also shines in the sustainability department. The unique ReBOTL lining was made from 40 percent recycled plastic from post-consumer plastic bottles while at least 50 percent of the leather was sourced from tanneries that have achieved a Leather Working Group silver rating (this encompasses energy use, waste production, and water treatment).

Materials: Leather, rubber︱Sizes: 6-11︱Weight per pair: 2 pounds

Tips for Buying Boat Shoes

Choose the Best Material

According to Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, the material you choose for your boat shoes should first and foremost be breathable. “Some of the materials are very dense and very thick and don't have a lot of give to them which can cause your toes to rub, especially if you have bunions or hammer toes,” he explains. “Some of the fabrics are a little looser fabrics that they're made of and there's actually a little more stretch to them, kind of like you'd find with a leather shoe where it'll actually stretch over time. Some of these fabrics are very tightly woven, which won't stretch and other ones will.”

Prioritize Comfort

“Most boat shoes don't have a ton of support to them. But some of them are as flimsy as a bedroom slipper while some have some support built into them,” explains McEneaney. “So I like to see a little bit of bend in the shoe and not have as much bend in the midsole.”

Look for Shoes with Great Traction

If you're seriously going to be boating, it's important to buy shoes that are designed for that function, not what looks cute and fashionable.

Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO, Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists

“Don't assume your running shoes or tennis shoes will do the job on a slippery boat deck. It's one thing to be a tourist on a river cruise; it's another thing to be responsible for helping to steer a sailboat. Those environments are totally different, and you'll only be helping yourself by having the right footwear.”

— Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO, Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists

You’ll also want something that's a bit skid-resistant, especially if you're going to be on wet, slick surfaces. “If you're actually using them as a boat shoe — which isn't the case most of the time now, since they’re in style — you want something that's not going to be very slippery on surfaces and some of them are not made to actually be boat-type shoes, they're made to just be out and about and on vacation, but not functional on an actual boat,” explains McEneaney.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I clean boat shoes?

    Keeping boat shoes in clean and like-new condition isn’t all that difficult. Most boat shoes are quick-drying and water-resistant so all you’ll need to do is take a little water and dish soap to the upper material before letting the shoes air-dry. You can also remove the insole in most boat shoe styles before wiping them down with some soapy water and hanging to dry.

  • Can I wear socks with boat shoes?

    Boat shoes are designed to be worn without socks for a classic maritime look — but these days, it’s totally fine to wear socks with your boat shoes for a more city-appropriate style. A good pair of no-show socks might also reduce friction if you’re worried about rubbing causing blisters.

  • How do I tie boat shoes?

    Although most boat shoes have laces on the upper and around the exterior of the shoe, boat shoes are designed to fit loosely but shouldn't feel like they’re going to fall off. You should be able to slip your boat shoes on and off without having to unlace them each time.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Kaitlyn McInnis used her experience as a travel writer and spoke to fashion and footwear professionals to curate the best options to suit most needs.

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