If you’re a young guy, then either you or your friend (or both of you) have at least one pair of boat shoes. That’s because the best boat shoes are stylish, easy to slip on and easy to dress up or down depending on whatever you’re doing. Not to mention, even the cheap ones tend to be made of durable materials like leather with rubber soles, so they’ll take care of you as long as you take care of them.
If you’re new to the boat shoe train, it can be hard to know where to begin. Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Sperry, but everybody has Sperrys and there are so many great boat shoes out there besides them.
That’s where we can help. We’ve gathered some of the best boat shoes online here in one list. We’re familiar with and have owned shoes from all of these brands and they will all deliver the stylish boat shoe you’re looking for with their own twists on the classic style.
So check out some of the best boat shoes below. They’re versatile enough for the office or a date, but they’re casual enough to wear on weekends in the city or at the boardwalk, so no matter which boat shoe you go with, you’re going to be choosing a winner.
1. Sperry Boat Shoes
We’re sorry to have to lead with Sperry and it may be the stereotypical shoe of New England prep wear, but when you think of boat shoes, you think of Sperry. That’s because Sperry practically single-handedly ignited the boat shoe trend through its high quality and variety of stylish boat shoes. And to be fair, Paul Sperry invented the world’s first boat shoe in 1935 to prevent slipping on deck. That’s why we couldn’t talk about the best boat shoes without throwing at least one pair of Sperrys your way.
Of course given the variety of Sperry’s boat shoe offerings, it’s an impossible task to pick just one great pair. That’s why we went through Sperry’s more than 130 styles and picked four styles that it seems only Sperry could make.
Sperry Gold Cup Handcrafted in Maine Tri-Tone Boat Shoe
For our first pick, we wanted something strong. Scrolling through the Sperry website, there was one shoe that stood out among all others: the Men’s Gold Cup Handcrafted in Maine Authentic Original Tri-Tone Boat Shoe. The Handcrafted in Maine part of the name indicates this is Sperry’s premium line of shoes and this shoe absolutely delivers.
It uses leather from the Horween Leather Company, one of the best and oldest continuously running tanneries in the US. The shoes are hand punctured and stitched and incorporate Vibram soles for traction and top-quality perforated leather linings for supreme softness, breathability and comfort. But what really brings these shoes together is the tri-tone color scheme of red, ivory and navy. Nothing’s more awesome or more American or more boat shoe than handmade shoes in America in the good old red, white and blue.
Sperry Gold Cup Orleans Boat Shoe
Next up from Sperry, we wanted to go for something more classic but costs less while stilling using premium materials. You can’t go wrong with the Men’s Gold Cup Authentic Original Orleans Boat Shoe. This shoe uses full-grain leather uppers with lambskin linings and the typical rawhide laces.
Add in a cushioned heel cup, an Ortholite insert for the footbed and a latex outsole with siping and you’ve got one comfortable, durable, forever-stylish nice shoe for hitting the bricks or the upscale restaurant. You can’t go wrong with the gorgeous brown amaretto color, but the black and grey versions are just as useful.
Sperry Gold Cup Camden Boat Shoe
So you don’t want a fabulous tri-tone shoe, but the tried-and-true single color boat shoe is a bit too basic for you. Given we’re talking about the most comprehensive boat shoe maker in the world, it should come as no surprise that Sperry offers a two-tone leather boat shoe, such as the Men’s Gold Cup Authentic Original Camden Boat Shoe. This shoe is a part of the same Gold Cup line Orleans boat shoe, so it’s got all the same features just in a snazzy grey and wild blue. You’ll always be comfortable and styling on your friends in these boat shoes.
Sperry Plushwave Boat Shoe
For our last Sperry pick, we wanted something that prioritized comfort above all else because hey, no matter what any shoe manufacturer says, any leather shoe can get uncomfortable after a day of walking. That’s what Sperry set out to fix with its Men’s Authentic Original Plushwave Boat Shoe. You get the full-grain leather and laces you expect from Sperry, but this shoe uses what Sperry calls Plushwave technology, an ultra-light, cushiony, bouncy sole to keep your foot from getting tired out while footing it around the city. We think the tan color will give you the most versatility, but honestly the brown, navy and oatmeal colors will work with a million outfits too.
2. Quoddy Classic Boat Shoe
If you only want the best boat shoes, then you need to go to Quoddy. What the brand lacks in variety it makes up in quality, timeless design and customer service.
One of the brand’s unique offerings is a design-your-own boat shoe option where you can pick every aspect of Quoddy’s Classic Boat Shoe, including the upper leather color, the kind and color of sole, the thread color, the hardware color for the three eyelets, the lace color and the lining color. It’s almost like making it yourself, except you lack 80 years of experience of making high-quality footwear by hand.
But if you don’t want to go through that process, Quoddy has in-stock options of its Classic Boat Shoe, including a whiskey leather color option.
Because Quoddy is in the business of premium boat shoes, they’re also in the business of premium customer service too. If you wear down the sole of your boat shoe or beat the leather up over years of wear, you can send it off to Quoddy for repair and resoling for a fee. Your shoes will be like new again, except they’re already broken in.
3. Maine Mountain Mocassin True Maine Boat Shoe
Maine Mountain Moccasin is right up there with Quoddy for top-quality boat shoes. Each pair of the brand’s True Maine Boat Shoe is made to order, so there’s some turnaround time, but the wait will be worth it. The upper uses Horween’s Chromexcel leather, a leather known for excellent comfort and durability, in a rich dark burgundy color as well as a white siped sole for extra traction, just like a rubber tire. Like Quoddy, Maine Mountain Moccasin wants your shoes to last basically forever, so the boat shoes the company Blake stitches the soles, meaning they can be resoled again and again and again. If you’re looking for the best boat shoes, this is one place to consider dropping your benjamins.
4. L.L. Bean Men’s Casco Bay Boat Mocs
If you haven’t picked up on a trend yet, Maine makes the best boat shoes in the world. L.L. Bean is both an inheritor and a carrier of that tradition, and its Men’s Casco Bay Boat Mocs are top-notch. The Casco Bay Boat Mocs are, as the name implies, a true cross between boat shoes and moccasins. They’ll handle boating and fishing, but are comfortable enough for hanging in the backyard too. An all-leather upper and leather lining keep things durable and comfortable while a siped rubber outsole keeps sliding on wet surfaces to a minimum.
5. Rancourt Read Boat Shoe
Rancourt is yet another Maine-made shoe company, but hey, it’s not a bad thing to have a region that clearly makes the best boat shoes. Though our favorite Rancourt shoe, the Traveler Boat Shoe, is sold out (you can still check it out and sign up to be notified when your size returns at the link below), we also love Rancourt’s Read Boat Shoe. In addition to the normal trappings of one of the best boat shoes, such as Horween Chromexcel leather, a great benefit in this shoe is the ability to choose a shoe width. You can stop pretending your feet fit into other narrow boat shoes and finally get the shoe width you need.
6. Eastland Men’s Seaquest Boat Shoe
For the last of the Maine-based boat shoe makers, we turn to Eastland. A family-owned business since 1955, Eastland shoes are high-quality without the $200-plus price tag. The Eastland Men’s Seaquest Boat Shoe is one of the brand’s most popular options for its basic boat shoe appeal, leather upper and memory foam insole. Available in multiple colors, the light blue is particularly well-suited to summer and will match any seaside environment and go with any of your favorite summer shirts and shorts.
7. Sebago Men’s Litesides 2 Eye
Moving out of Maine (finally, we know) to Michigan, you can find Sebago, one of the more popular brands of boat shoemakers. In addition to traditional leather options, Sebago also makes canvas boat shoes, such as the Sebago Men’s Litesides 2 Eye. Canvas shoes tend to be more wearable out of the box and offer a bit more of a casual summer vibe. Sebago adds in an EVA foam insole for additional comfort, which makes this boat shoe comfortable enough for all your adventures.
8. Dockers Men’s Vargas Leather Handsewn Boat Shoe
We know we’ve given you some pricey options, but there’s one brand that makes great boat shoes at a much more affordable price that you might never expect: Dockers. That’s right, the company most famous for its pants makes boat shoes too and doesn’t skimp on the materials either. With the Dockers Men’s Vargas Leather Handsewn Boat Shoe you’ll get a soft leather upper, rubber outsole and an EVA footbed and molded EVA heel cup for added comfort. The reddish-brown rust color is as basic and versatile as it gets and pairs nicely with khakis for well under $100.
9. River Island Chunky Boat Shoes
We know what you’re thinking and yes, a lot of boat shoes look kind of similar. The classic design has a timeless appeal that nobody tinkers with too much, but there is some room in that design for tweaks. Enter River Island Chunky Boat Shoes from the United Kingdom and ASOS. These brown suede boat shoes have a chunky rubber sole for added traction but mostly for a bit of street flair on what is typically a pretty conservative-looking shoe. Plus, the suede upper is super soft so you’ll be styling in comfort too.
10. Marks and Spencer Leather Boat Shoe
Staying in the UK, Marks & Spencer makes straightforward shoes inspired by simple, classic designs. That’s what you get in the Marks and Spencer Leather Boat Shoe. The leather is soft and comfortable and ready to wear right out of the box, and a classic siped sole will help give you extra traction and slip-prevention you need.
Pick these up in a classic tan, which is more of a light brown, or a dark navy blue. Or treat yourself and buy one of each and you’ll always have a classed-up boat shoe option for every outfit.
11. Cole Haan Cornell 2-Eye Boat Shoe
Add some preppy colors to your day outside with this Cole Haan Cornell 2-Eye Boat Shoe in vintage indigo and british tan. The rubber sole will help keep you from slipping around and the light blue and tan combo will go great with jeans and khakis. You’ll look right at home near the water.
12. New Republic Baldwin Boat Shoe
If you’re looking for a snappy, stand-out boat shoe, the New Republic Baldwin Boat Shoe offers rad colors you can’t find from any other brand and are typically on sale for prices far below competing boat shoes. You can expect all the features of a classic boat shoe: metal eyelets, a rubber outsole with siped soles, a hand-sewn suede leather upper and a leather lining and footbed. But the bright colors are what really sell the Baldwin. Pick it up in a deep red or a deep bright blue for a boat shoe with some pizazz and panache.