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Can You Wear Sneakers on a Boat?

A man wearing white balenciaga sneakers.

Sneakers and boats don’t seem like they should mix, but sneakers aren’t really designed for treading across wet surfaces. So can you wear sneakers on a boat? The answer is yes, but not if you want to stay dry or avoid slipping while onboard.

There are plenty of better kinds of shoes to wear if you plan on spending any time on your boat.

Can You Wear Sneakers on a Yacht?

Yes, depending on the setting. You’ll want different footwear for boating around Boston Harbor than you would on an 80-foot superyacht in Monaco. There are different reasons for bringing sneakers along and wearing them during certain yacht excursions.

Think about where you plan to wear your shoes, and how much time you’ll spend in them. To that end, while they may not look very fashionable in some settings, boat shoes are hard to beat when it comes to comfort and durability.

They’re also easy to slip off at dinner, which is nice when you have wet feet from swimming or getting splashed by waves. A pair of water socks is another good option if you’re going to be in and out of the water.

Can I Just Go Barefoot?

A young couple drinking champagne.

While it might seem tempting to just go barefoot, doing so could be dangerous. Although you’re probably more likely to slip while wearing shoes than while going barefoot, there are other risks involved in not wearing shoes at all.

First and foremost, there’s an increased risk of cuts or scrapes as you navigate your way around your boat; also, you can fall and get injured. The same material that keeps you from slipping on the boat can hurt your feet if it touches bare skin.

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And even if it doesn’t cut into your skin, it could cause abrasions and lead to infections.

Alternative to Wearing Sneakers On a Boat

Sneakers are fine if you’re just going on your boat to clean things up for an hour. Luckily, there are other options than sneakers that can help make your day on a boat more comfortable.

Sandals

A woman wearing brown sandal.

When you’re spending all day in your boat, you don’t want to be thinking about your feet. That’s why sandals are perfect for boating.

They have a more secure fit than flip-flops, but let your toes breathe just as much. Plus, unlike sneakers, they won’t get damaged when exposed to water.

Crocs

The thing about Crocs is that they’re made out of foam, which makes them really easy to clean. Bring your Crocs and rinse them off after a day at sea—you can let them dry overnight and they should be as good as new by morning.

Tevas

A man wearing brown tevas sandal.

Tevas were originally designed for and by river guides, who needed an extra-tough, versatile shoe that could stand up to demanding conditions. These sandals are tough and waterproof—they can be worn with socks when it’s cold out or without when it’s hot.

A heavy rubber sole provides great traction for climbing up and down boats (or rocks, stairs, etc.) and doesn’t conduct heat or cold into your feet as easily as some other boat shoes. No-slip straps help you get your footing even on wet surfaces like boat decks.

Tevas have little arch support but plenty of cushioning from their soft leather footbeds.

Birkenstocks

The pliant footbed of a Birkenstock provides ample support and shock absorption without sacrificing comfort—important things when you’re trudging up and down boat ladders or stepping in and out of boats.

And don’t forget that they can easily pass for street shoes! For maximum comfort, we recommend trying these with straps instead of buckles.

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Flip Flops

A pair of red flip-flop on the shore.

If you’re planning a boat excursion and are looking for an open-toed shoe that’s still casual, consider going with flip-flops. They’re incredibly convenient since you can easily store them at your feet when walking around, allowing easy access when it’s time to kick them off.

When boarding or docking, flip flops are also less likely than normal shoes to slip on non-skid surfaces.

Water Shoes

Water shoes are great for snorkeling or other aquatic activities. They have soft, pliable soles, which allow them to conform to your feet better than typical sneakers.

This gives you more traction in water, allowing you to be more agile as you climb onto and around a boat. Water shoes also typically have drains in their soles, which allow water out if it gets inside.

Tennis Shoe-Style Aqua Socks (water socks with grips!)

A pairs of aqua shoes drying on the sun.

On a boat, water socks are better than sneakers. They’re less bulky, dry quickly, and make you feel like James Bond or something because they have grips on them (which is pretty cool).

Water socks aren’t just for boating either. You can wear them in a pool or by the pool or even if you’re going for a dip at the beach.

Boat Shoes

There’s really no better option than boat shoes for the deck. The slip-resistant soles help prevent slips and falls, while their rubber or leather construction ensures they can withstand all types of outdoor elements.

Many brands even have extra cushioning in their insoles, making them easy to wear for long periods. Not only do they look nice and come in every color imaginable, but there are tons of style options as well—from loafers to espadrilles.

Features to Look For in Boat Shoes

A brown boat shoes on wooden surface.

Boating can be fun, but it also means being around water, which has its hazards. There are so many different types of water-related activities, from swimming in a lake or river to navigating near reefs and islands to just floating around peacefully in a kayak.

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It’s important that you wear shoes that can withstand splashes and wetness without getting ruined! We’ve put together some important features for boat shoes so you know what shoes are best for your particular activity.

Good Grip

The boardwalk and stairs will require you to have great traction, so it’s best not to risk it in sneakers. Look for boat shoes that are clearly marked as good for boat use; you don’t want your deck shoes slipping when they’re wet, which happens often while boating.

Waterproof Lining

A blue boat shoes on white background.

If you plan on being in or around water, make sure your boat shoes have a waterproof lining. The lining makes sure that moisture doesn’t get into your shoe from either water penetration or humidity.

Good boat shoes should be able to withstand splashes and minor submersion without becoming soaked. This can easily be determined by looking at whether they are made with canvas or something synthetic like polyester. Make sure you wear water-resistant socks too!

Dries Quickly

Drying time is just as important as comfort when choosing boat shoes. You don’t want to wear something that will take forever to dry, as wet feet can lead to all sorts of unpleasantries, including blisters and infections.

The best boat shoes are made from materials that dry quickly so you can get back on your boat with minimal fuss and discomfort. It’s worth it to spend a little more for speedier drying times.

Non-Marking

Nobody wants shoe marks on their boat. As it happens, many shoes make visible residue as you walk around. Non-marking shoes are less likely to leave an ugly imprint.

For example, boat shoes made from rubber or canvas won’t leave marks. This is why they’re so popular with boaters and other water enthusiasts.

While sneakers are great for comfort, their non-marking alternatives offer much more versatility when it comes to different types of surfaces.