History Of Sperry Top Sider
After a nearly tragic sailing incident, Paul Sperry decided to create a non-slip boat shoe. He searched far and wide until inspiration stuck while Paul might slip and fall in the ice and snow, his dog Prince never lost his balance. Based on texture he saw on Princes footpads, he designed the now-famous herringbone-siped rubber sole in 1935.
Sperrys shoes quickly became popular with the New England boating community, but they werent well-known to the rest of the country until their endorsement by the US Navy in WWII. Returning veterans brought their favorite Sperry Top Siders home with them, and the rest is history!
Sperry Gold Cup Handcrafted In Maine Tri
For our first pick, we wanted something strong for the best boat shoes. Scrolling through the Sperry website, there was one shoe that stood out among all others: the Mens Gold Cup Handcrafted in Maine Authentic Original Tri-Tone Boat Shoe. The Handcrafted in Maine part of the name indicates this is Sperrys 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. Nothings more awesome or more American or more boat shoe than handmade shoes in America in the good old red, white and blue.
The Best Alternative Boat Shoe Brands
While we lead with Sperry, you shouldnt think theyre the only name in boat shoes. They may be the standard but trust us, there are plenty of incredible brands out there making worthwhile Sperry contenders.
Dont believe us? Take a look through the rest of our list of the best boat shoes for men below!
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River Island Chunky Boat Shoes
We know what youre 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 youll be styling in comfort too.
Sperry Plushwave Boat Shoe
We wanted something from Sperry 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. Thats what Sperry set out to fix with its Mens 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 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.
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Clarks Un Pilot Lace Boat Shoes
Not everything Clarks does is a home run, but they do a few staples extremely well, including boat shoes. The Clarks Un Pilot Lace Boat Shoes are a textbook example of a solid boat shoe. The shoes are made from leather, use a lightweight rubber outsole and feature a soft footbed and textile lining for comfort. You probably wont turn heads, but you will have pretty durable boat shoes that didnt break the bank.
The Best Sperry Boat Shoes
Were 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. Thats 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 worlds first boat shoe in 1935 to prevent slipping on deck. Thats why we couldnt talk about the best boat shoes without throwing at least one pair of Sperrys your way.
Of course, given the variety of Sperrys boat shoe offerings, its an impossible task to pick just one great pair. Thats why we went through Sperrys more than 130 styles and picked multiple styles that it seems only Sperry could make.
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Sperry Mens Authentic Original Kick Down Boat Shoes
These next Sperrys wont be any more useful near the water, but the Mens Authentic Original Kick Down Boat Shoes make going from spiffy to casual incredibly easy. These boat shoes have a kick down heel, so you can keep the heel up for the full boat shoe look or flip them down for more casual slip-ons. Soft nubuck uppers take care of your foot and an Ortholite cushion keeps your sole happy for an all-around winner of a boat shoe.
Sperry Mens Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe
Weve given you some of Sperrys absolute best, most premium options, but what about something a little more directly useful for water?
The new Sperry Mens Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe is a boat shoe designed to, yup, float in water, and its perfect for beaches and general spring and summer weather.
These boat shoes are made from an EVA material, so theyre super light, buoyant and waterproof. Size down a half size for the best fit and never lose your shoes on the water or deal with soaked steps again. Try wearing it on beach days for summer 2021 you wont regret it.
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Mens And Womens Boat Shoes
Now that youve gone through our handpicked selection of the best boat shoes on the market, there are a few things you should consider before buying your maritime footwear. What makes these kinds of loafers so iconic is their practical use in and around boating, an experience that has made them favorites for casual lifestyle activities. Read on:
Rowing Blazers X Sperry Lug Sole Boat Shoe
Stock on these is very limited, but theyre too cool not to include. Rowing Blazers added their twisted take on prep to the classic Sperry boat shoe, and the result is anything but traditional. These shoes have a thick lug sole and a color-blocked design. Rowing Blazers also swapped out traditional leather for nylon. The white lug soles are Vibram, so these boots are built to last.
Sperry Rowing Blazers Boat Shoe
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How Do You Tie Boat Shoes
The best boat shoes can be a little difficult to tie because of their material. Most of the time, boat shoes will use flat, leather laces that are on the shorter side. There really isnt a tip to tie these kinds of laces aside from one: patience. Dont allow yourself to get too frustrated when tying the best boat shoes or you might break a lace. Nobody wants to break a lace.
How Should You Wear Boat Shoes
Boat shoes are the epitome of summerwear. Obviously, given the name, boat shoes were initially a go-to shoe to wear for boating, but theyve become very stylish in the mens summer fashion space. With that said, boat shoes dont make so much sense to wear during fall or winter. You can get away with wearing them in the latter half of spring, but the best boat shoes are made for summer. Its important to note that if youre actually wearing them for boating, they do have to meet certain standards. Specifically, youll need to ensure that the soles are non-marking. Some of the options on our list are more for style than seafaring, as the soles may not be deck-approved.
Boat shoes look great with flowy button-down shirts, short chino shorts or rolled chino pants and a pair of handsome sunglasses. If youre really trying to spice up your outfit here, consider even topping your look with a fedora if you can pull it off.
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Marks And Spencer Leather Boat Shoe
Staying in the UK, Marks & Spencer makes straightforward shoes inspired by simple, classic designs. Thats 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 youll always have a classed-up boat shoe option for every outfit.
Rancourt Read Boat Shoe
Rancourt is yet another made-in-Maine shoe company, but hey, its not a bad thing to have a region that clearly makes the best boat shoes. We love the Rancourt Read Boat Shoe. In addition to the normal trappings of the best boat shoes, such as Horween Chromexcel leather, a great benefit to these shoes is the ability to choose a shoe width. You can stop pretending your feet fit into other narrower boat shoes and finally get the shoe width you need. Unfortunately, these boat shoes are made to order, so itll be some time before you get them, but theyre worth the wait.
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Ll Bean Mens Casco Bay Boat Mocs
If you havent 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 Mens 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. Theyll 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.
Sperry Gold Cup Orleans Boat Shoe
Next up from Sperry, we wanted to go for something classic that was a bit more affordable while still utilizing premium materials. You cant go wrong with the Mens 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 youve got one comfortable, durable, forever-stylish shoe for hitting the bricks or the upscale restaurant. You cant go wrong with the gorgeous brown amaretto color, but the black and grey versions are just as useful.
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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 brands unique offerings is a design-your-own boat shoe option where you can pick every aspect of Quoddys 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. Its almost like making it yourself, except you lack 80 years of experience in making high-quality footwear by hand.
But if you dont 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, theyre 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 theyre already broken in.