What shoes should you wear sailing?


With Summer upon us, many of us will be wanting to try something new and will be eyeing up some exciting outdoor options.

Being out on the water is a great way to relax and feel at one with nature.

Whether you’re a Dinghy Sailor, Offshore Sailor or Ocean Sailor, sailing shoes are a key consideration to what gear you should wear.

In the latest Gill blog, we take a look at what shoes to wear when sailing and give you some handy options from which to choose.

Why wear shoes on a boat?

You may be wondering if wearing shoes on a boat is really necessary. With so much water flying around, going barefoot could be seen as a better way to go! But in reality, there are certainly plenty of reasons to consider wearing waterproof sailing shoes while on deck.

The first reason is to protect your feet. The decks of a sailing boat can be rough and full of obstacles, so the last thing you want is to stand on something and bruise or cut your foot. Bare feet also lead to a higher chance of getting an unwanted infection, so wearing shoes for sailing can be a good way to prevent this.

Wearing the right shoes on a boat also offers a better level of balance and stability. With greater levels of grip, it becomes easier to move across wet surfaces, and you are better prepared if you were to fall in.

Wearing dedicated sailing shoes can also help protect the deck of the boat, with non-marking rubber soles, you’re less likely to leave marks and scratches that damage the surface.

What to look for when selecting sailing shoes

Whatever boat you are sailing, one of the most important elements of sailing shoes are the soles. Non-slip, rubber soles are a fundamental requirement of sailing shoes, lowering the chances of you falling over on wet decks.

Non-marking soles are a good option, helping to protect the deck and stop marks and scratches from being made. A waterproof, neoprene or free-draining fabric is also a good option, as this helps shift water and allows shoes to dry quicker.

It’s worth considering the breathability of the fabrics as well. This will prevent your feet from becoming warm and clammy, and will enhance your overall comfort level.

Things to avoid

Flip flops are a no-go when it comes to sailing shoes! While this type of footwear is fine to get wet, they can be slippy and therefore dangerous when you’re walking between ropes. They also offer little to no stability, meaning the chances of injury increase.

Shoes that also absorb water (such as canvas), leather and anything with a heel you should also stay clear of!

The Gill Range of Sailing Shoes

Gill specialises in exceptional clothing and equipment for sailing activities and watersports. The strong selection of sailing shoes available can help provide the desired level of protection and stability while on deck.

As an Offshore or Ocean sailor, we would recommend our Offshore Boots. They are the perfect option for anybody seeking the highest levels of grip and balance while walking around a boat. These boots feature an external gaiter made from XPLORE+® 3 layer waterproof and breathable fabric and a thermal neoprene inner for comfort and warmth. What’s more, they have a fully integrated system so your trousers can be tucked into the boots to provide a top to toe waterproof solution.

Gill’s Offshore Boots also have reinforced heels, in-steps and toes for increased protection, while the non-slip, razor cut sole offers exceptional grip to prevent unwanted accidents or loss of balance from occurring.

You can find out more about how we make our Offshore Boots  in this blog article.

Another option for Offshore sailors and those on deck are our  Cruising Boots, which are perfect to quickly throw on. These 100% natural rubber compound sailing boots are made with a non-marking razor cut sole for safe grip on board. With the open top, they are suited for wearers who are not likely to be in the water, or paddling through shallow water.

For activities where there is a higher chance of being in the water, such as dinghy sailing,  Neoprene Shoes are a good option. These shoes also work well for paddlers, stand up paddleboarders, canoers and surfers since they offer great grip and a high level of comfort. The Neoprene material used in their design also helps keep your feet warm, working in the same way a wetsuit does by trapping a thin layer of water between your feet and the fabric.

There are also  sailing trainers available from Gill for both onboard and onshore wear, and for offshore sailors. These trainers have a dependable grip that makes them suitable for a variety of conditions. They also have specially designed water expulsion channels to allow water to drain through, helping the trainer dry out more quickly.

Need more information on why you should wear shoes paddling?  This article from GoPaddling has some more on this topic.


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