Are Water Shoes Good for Sailing?

Table of Contents

Can they replace boat shoes?


Do you have to go on a boat trip soon but don’t have fancy boat shoes? Worried about scuffing up your friend’s yacht or slipping overboard? This might make you take a glance at your old water shoes and wonder: are water shoes good for sailing? This is exactly the question we will be looking to answer in today’s article. Let’s go!

Can I wear sneakers on a boat?

The answer to this question is usually no, but it can be yes if you have non-marking sneakers that won’t ruin the deck. Boats usually require you to wear non-marking shoes with soles made of rubber instead of some other material which can leave nasty looking marks on the wood. The shoes you wear on a boat should also be non-slip, because the boat’s deck can get pretty slippery at times. We don’t want a man overboard, now do we? For this reason, people generally wear specially designed boat shoes on a boat. However, if you already have water shoes, you might not need to buy new boat shoes!

Why you need to wear shoes while sailing

If you’re wondering why you even need to wear shoes while sailing, let’s clear it up for you. Like we stated earlier, your shoes have to be non-marking and non-slip. Meaning, that when you walk around on deck, your shoes shouldn’t leave behind scuff marks. These scuff marks are near impossible to remove and will require a lot of elbow grease!


Next, the shoes you wear should give you a good grip to walk on-deck, without fearing a scary slip. Strong waves can cause quite the commotion on a boat and can easily throw you off the balance if you don’t have a good grip on the floor. Wearing appropriate shoes while sailing will help prevent injuries and accidents caused by slipping and falling.


A few more points include comfort, protection, and insulation. The shoes you wear on deck should be comfortable enough to make you forget about them. They should protect your feet from rubbing against hardwood floors on the deck and getting scraped up. Lastly, if you’re sailing in colder waters, they should provide insulation to your feet and guard them against the cold.


Fun Fact: Water shoes generally have a unique herringbone pattern, which allows for increased grip on whichever surface you’re walking on!

Qualities of a good boat shoe

So, in a nutshell, a good boat shoe should have the following qualities:

  • Non-marking
  • Non-slip
  • Comfortable
  • Good insulator
  • Durable
  • Provides protection


You know what other kind of footwear has all of the above qualities? Water shoes. More on this in the next subheading.

Are water shoes good for sailing?

So, are water shoes good for sailing? Let’s see.


Water shoes are a piece of special footwear that’s worn in or around water where your feet can get wet. Let’s compare what they do with the qualities of a good boat shoe.


  • Water shoes are designed to provide protection for your feet against anything you might step on in the ocean, including sharp rocks or sea urchins (or harsh hardwood floors!).
  • These shoes provide added traction for your feet for slippery surfaces or places where you need that extra grip (psst… wooden decks!).
  • They also insulate your feet and keep them nice and toasty (much needed in cold waters!).
  • Water shoes are durable and a pair of water shoes can last you hundreds of trips to the beach (or voyages on a boat!) without wearing down.
  • They’re made of a flexible mesh, which hugs your feet and is super comfortable! Water shoes’ are also lightweight and easy to move around in (need to be comfy out at sea!).
  • Last, but certainly not the least, most water shoes come with non-marking rubber soles which won’t rough up your precious deck!

Final Thoughts

The final subheading alone is enough to answer the question; are water shoes good for sailing? Water shoes are fantastic options if you don’t have access to boat shoes and have to go on a boat. They have the makings of a strong boat footwear, being durable, comfortable, providing traction, insulation, protection and also usually having non-marking soles. We hope this article helped you out. Happy sailing!

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Jenny Schmidt

Jenny Schmidt

As an avid swimmer and kayak lover for decades, I know how important it is to get the right shoes to keep your feet healthy.
I'll let you in on some secrets only a few know...

About Me

As an avid swimmer and kayak lover for decades, I know how important it is to get the right shoes to keep your feet healthy.
I’ll let you in on some secrets only a few know…

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