After living aboard our sailboat for over four years now, we know the best shoes for sailing. Surprisingly, in the tropics it’s not deck shoes. Before leaving land we had to choose between what we took on board and what we left behind. While sailing over 30,000 nautical miles we’ve actually gotten rid of more things than we’ve taken aboard.
Watch this video to discover the Best Boat Shoes For Sailing!
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Best Boat Shoes For Sailing Transcripts
Are you planning on sailing the tropics for an extended time? Are you wondering what to bring on the boat with you and what to leave behind?
When Simon and I left land we had four piles that we put the contents of our house into:
3. For storage
4. For the boat
With limited space on a boat you want to make sure you only take what you’re going to use! Furthermore, you want to make sure that what you’re taking will work on a boat.
This episode is on shoes but we’ll follow up with other videos helping you know what to bring on the boat and what to leave behind!
So – what boat shoes don’t work on a boat?
1. Any shoes with metal on them will corrode. For a while you can rub off the corrosion but eventually it eats the fitting. Finding shoes that have plastic looking metal are better.
2. Shoes that are canvas or material based don’t work very well either. They mold very easily and discolor. They also stink. Simon and I went out one night and we kept smelling mold everywhere we went. Come to find out, it was his shoes!
3. High heels are a big no-no. They can damage your deck, mark your topside and there are very few places or events where you’d be expected to wear such nice shoes. Furthermore, most land based gatherings are on the beach, pot-holed roads or grass verges. If you’re seriously vertically challenged, consider getting some wedge saddles instead.
4. Deck shoes in the tropics aren’t that great either. It might surprise you but most sailing cruisers, in the tropics, do not wear deck shoes. They’re hot, the metal fittings corrode and they’re very slippery on wet decks and docks. The only thing that they have going for them is that they won’t mark you topside. For us, that’s not a good enough reason.
5. And what about sneakers? Once you go without wearing socks for a while, it’s actually painful to put them on. Many cruisers have sneakers set aside for hikes but there’s a far superior option. I’ll explain that soon.
So – what shoes do we recommend?
1. No shoes. In the tropics you’ll actually be barefoot more often than not. So, the number one shoe to have aboard a boat is actually no shoe at all, but that’s not what this video is about.
2. Flip-Flops. The second most warn shoes by cruisers are flip flops or sandals offering more support. Ideally, the plastic or rubber shoes are the best. (I wear Roxy flip flops – they last for years) They don’t corrode, mold or smell. Furthermore, they’re easy to wash the sand off, light to carry around and finally, if you loose them, its not the end of the world.
Flip flops are great for going into town on the dinghy, taking short walks and even walking along the hot sand on a beach.
They’re not good, however, for gripping on the deck, hiking or when using them in the rain. They don’t protect your toes on the deck from kicking fittings. During a hike you’ll slide out of them. And flip flops simply get too slippery when it’s raining.
Simon, however, has a special use for his flip flops. (The one’s he has come with a bottle opener so he can always open his beer!)
3. Adventure and Water Shoes. The best all-around shoe for a boater is a lightweight water shoe for adventure and travel. Now, these are not to be confused with the cheap $10 shoes you find at the touristy shops that are supposedly made for water yet fall apart after one use!
A good water shoe that’s available on the market for men, women and kids is the Aleader shoe. Whether it’s sunny or raining, I use these shoes on the deck. They’re lightweight, and are made of a mesh so your feet really breath. These shoes don’t slip unlike my deck shoes that have had me flying all the time.
So, I use my Aleader Shoes on the deck and I also use them when it’s raining or when we’re going to shore for a walk, hike or anytime where my feet might get wet. I also wear them when flip flops won’t provide enough support.
With the possibility for rocks or urchins in the water I often wear these shoes to get the dinghy back in the water. I know my feet are protected AND I can simply rinse the saltwater off when I’m back on the boat.
The only downside of these Aleader shoes is that they have large holes along the bottom which are great for support and anti-slip matters but bad for getting little pebbles in them. Whenever we return to the boat, I always wash the shoes and make sure to pull out any pebbles that got stuck.
4. One pair of nice shoes. Another good shoe to bring with you is something slightly more dressy for those nights when you want to dress up a bit. You can either bring a nice pair of sandals or something like these patten leather shoes (see video). Mold doesn’t grow on them and there’s nothing that can corrode.
Our Top Tips for Shoes On A Boat In The Tropics
- No metal, gemstones or zippers. They’ll all corrode eventually and look terrible
- If you’re going to have shoes with canvas on them consider keeping them in a vacuum bag to prevent them from absorbing moisture and getting moldy. You can put a bag of silicon in with them too.
- Have a no shoes below deck policy to prevent scratches and sand. We keep all our shoes in a basket underneath the sprayhood. If you do have to wear shoes for support, have one pair of shoes that are only for the boat that you never wear out. That way they won’t get pebbles stuck in them fill with sand.
Do you have any comments or suggestions about the best boat shoes for sailing?
Please leave them below. And if you like this type of video let me know. Simon will be doing one about his Cabin Cave tools and the next one I create is one about bedding for boats. Make sure to subscribe to weekly newsletter to get updates when new articles and videos are published.
If you’re looking for more helpful articles about living on a boat, check these out: