Boating and sailing shoes are no longer just popular amongst sailors. Nowadays, the big shoe brands also carry boat shoes in their product range. Although these shoes only have to be roadworthy, original boat shoes for active sailors come with lots more features: A sailing shoe must be highly water repellent, resistant to seawater and provide a perfect grip even on a steep slope and wet deck. Moreover the sole has to be designed in such a manner that stones cannot get stuck and no marks are left on the sensitive boat deck.
A deck shoe needs to fit well and come with a sole that carries as little dirt as possible on deck. Whether the classic shoe in leather, the deck shoe made of nylon with a waterproof membrane, the leather/nylon sailing boots or rubber boots with short or long shaft, the right boat shoe is easy to find. Modern boat shoes made of breathable materials are not only light and well insulated but also ensure a comfortable foot climate, without getting your feet wet.
As a sailor's tradition, shoes with seawater resistant leather and a slip- and abrasion-resistant sole have stood the test of time. They are extremely comfortable, which is certainly one reason why they are still among the most worn boat shoes, and not only on board. Newer shoes made of breathable materials or sailing boots are waterproof and usually more lightweight. For open seas, especially in colder regions, sailing boots are very suitable. Sailing boots made of leather in combination with breathable materials not only keep your feet warm but also dry.
The shoe: outer and interior material
The outer material, the shaft, the interior and the laces of a classic deck shoe are made out of leather. More and more sailing shoe manufacturers not only use leather, but also special textiles and membranes such as Gore-Tex in order to increase breathability and wearability of the modern boat shoe.
However, SVB's water sports experts recommend pure leather shoes with greater activity on board, because leather as a shoe material prevents bad odors and sweaty feet. Even though blisters can occur when breaking in a new pair of leather shoes, the pain is worth it - the shoe will turn soft and whether during summer or wet fall days will keep your feet feeling comfortable. Good boat shoes have to be manufactured in such a fashion that they are seawater-resistant, which means for example that the eyelets should not rust.
The boat shoe sole - an original!
The sole of a technical yachting shoe is very special. The sole of a true boat shoes is made of very flexible rubber or natural rubber. With the right sole, a deck shoe is skid-proof, has a good grip, bounces your steps, repells water and is of course waterproof.
Over 70 years ago, the passionate sailor Paul Sperry invented the innovative and still widely used soles with a siping pattern. Due to its fine grooves, this particular sole profile is perfect for repelling water, preventing slipping and not attracting small pebble stones that could scratch the deck.
Until recently, the sole of a boat shoe had to consist of white rubber, since it was believed that dark soles leave marks on the deck. These fears have subsided somewhat due to substantial progress in the area of technical boat shoes over the years. Today, yachting and boat shoes come with colorful soles, which do not rub off due to their high quality rubber, even in blue or black colors. However, this only applies to top quality, technical boat shoes - fashionable boat shoes that are sold by outside retailers might not have the same quality standards.
SVB expert tip: break in your shoes a few days prior to wearing them on deck. Factory new shoes can still be very slippery due to wax residues from the production process. You should always walk off any residues.
Fit and shoe size of boat shoes
Shoes of different manufacturers and brands often vary in size. If you are between two sizes, we always recommend choosing the larger size; this way your shoes will fit comfortably even with thick socks. In addition, boat shoe manufacturers from different countries use different size designations. Among others, there are European, English and American sizes.