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Shopping for men’s shoes is a strange endeavor right now. Sneakers are everywhere from the basketball court to the office while shoes like loafers and derbies are still being worn by well-dressed gents of all ages. Throw in sandals and cowboy boots and you’ve got one confusing and extremely exciting men’s shoe world. That’s where the best men’s boat shoes come into the mix.
The best boat shoes offer an in-between option that’s dressier than a sneaker but more casual and more comfortable than a dress shoe. Despite their name, boat shoes aren’t just for boating anymore (although they’re still great for that too). You can now spot boat shoes at beaches, weddings, bars, offices and just about any summery event you can think of.
If you’re in need of some summery kicks (that also work well into fall), read on for the best boat shoes to buy right now. We’ve found several options that range from classic Sperrys to designer picks to streetwear takes on the nautical staple. Check them out below.
1. Sperry Men’s Authentic Original Leather Boat Shoe
At 86 years old, the Sperry Top-Sider is still one of the best boat shoes around. The shoe’s original innovations were a grooved sole that would grip the deck of a boat without leaving scuff marks, as well as a 360-degree lace-up design to keep the shoes from falling off. These features are still present, but now they lend more iconic preppy style than utility. Wear them with jeans, a button-up shirt and a sport coat on business casual occasions, or dress them down with jeans and a tee for an elevated weekend outfit.
More proof that Sperry is still king of the boat shoe market? The brand has teamed up with John Legend on a number of campaigns and collaborations over the last few years.
2. Sebago Dockside Portland
Sebago is another old-school manufacturer that’s still one of the best sources for boat shoes. These Dockside Portlands are one of our favorites from the throwback brand, with a premium leather construction and quintessential boat shoe details. You get a non-marking rubber outsole, heel lacing and a comfort upgrade in the form of a molded EVA foam insole for all-day support. The Docksides come in a variety of colors, but we think this black-on-black is a nice modernization of the classic silhouette.
3. Sperry Men’s Authentic Original Float Boat Shoe
Made using 100% buoyant EVA, these Sperry Floats are a modern version of the brand’s classic boat shoe. Because they can float and get wet, they’re really a better pick for serious boating, beach days and lounging by the pool. They’re also designed with “gills” and “portholes” all over which drain of any water while keeping your feet cool. These features make the Floats good sandal alternatives — plus they’re grippier and stay on easier than most sandals.
4. Brunello Cucinelli Suede Boat Shoes
If you’re looking for an upscale boat shoe worthy of replacing loafers, check out these Brunello Cucinelli slip-ons. The shoes are made in Italy using premium calfskin suede in light beige, allowing year-round usage. Although their material is non-traditional, the Cucinellis sport some classic boat shoes design notes including wrap-around laces, rubber soles and moc-toe stitching. We recommend wearing them slightly dressy with slacks or chinos and a sophisticated button-up.
5. Cole Haan ZERØGRAND Venetian Loafer
Even though these Cole Haan ZERØGRANDs are called loafers, they’re really more of a sandal-boat shoe hybrid. The shoes’ high-quality nubuck material is nicely complemented by their casual slip-on style, which lends itself well to business casual attire. They’re also extremely comfortable thanks to a thick rubber outsole and a cushioned footbed. This comfort, combined with the slip-on design, makes the kicks great for traversing airports and traveling in general.
6. Reef Deckhand 3 TX Boat Shoe
Reef is known for casual shoe-slash-sandals that can handle lounging, quick hikes (say, to the beach), traveling and boating. We’re big fans of these Reef Deckhand kicks for anyone looking to grab some casual boat shoes. With a fabric and leather upper, laces and a moc toe, the shoes have a surfing-inspired look that’s still pulled together enough for hitting the bar or restaurant. Wear them with shorts or jeans and a tee or linen shirt for a comfy, vacation-ready look.
7. Timberland + Aimé Leon Dore 3-Eye Lug Nubuck Boat Shoes
For something a bit more street-ready, check out these boot-inspired boat shoes from Timberland and streetwear brand Aimé Leon Dore. It’s a re-working of Timberland’s own boat shoes, only Aimé Leon Dore chose to bring in Timberland’s iconic earthy beige color. The upper is made of supple suede while the sole is crafted from gum rubber. They’re certainly a statement piece, but the unlikely mash-up between work boot and boat shoe actually works well for a unique, year-round shoe. Pair them with other streetwear looks for best effect.