When it comes to sailing boots, you will want to look out for a few things. Are the boots breathable, tall, or short, and what are they made from?
In my 10-year career in the yachting industry, I’ve found the best overall pair of sailing boots are the Gill Tall Yachting Boot.
However, the equation has more nuance. It really depends on what discipline of sailing you need them for. I’ve highlighted the best for each scenario below:
One last mention before we start is there are only boots on this list. Check out this list for the top sailing shoes to wear on deck.
💦 Best Waterproof Sailing Boots – Xtratuf Legacy Series Boot
Waterproof and triple-dipped neoprene
Special non-slip material
Durable and long-lasting
Fit not for wider feet
Xtratuf is known for doing one thing: making high-quality ocean-going waterproof boots. Their timeless classic is the Legacy Series Boot, and it’s still the best overall waterproof boot for sailing, fishing, and general boating.
Made from a synthetic material, they are lighter than traditional rubber boots. In addition, a unique triple-dipping process means the wearer will get a fully waterproof boot that is also highly durable and resistant to chemicals and cleaning products, so these boots won’t crack or fissure.
Aside from market-leading durability, they feature a stepped heel which helps keep them extremely comfortable after long hours of wear. And on the toe section is added abrasion resistance to absorb impacts and protect the foot.
The inner boot is constructed with a moisture-wicking and breathable lining to provide a little extra warmth, and Xtratuf says it reduces drying time.
A classic chevron pattern outsole provides unparalleled grip and traction for the wearer in inclement conditions.
- Waterproof and triple-dipped neoprene
- Special non-slip material
- Durable and long-lasting
- Price point
- Fit not for wider feet
⛵ Best Dinghy Sailing Boots – Gill Edge Boots
Made with a waterproof neoprene
Provide good insulation & warmth
Durable and long-lasting
Not as breathable as other materials
Higher price point than others on the market
Featuring a wrap-around flexible soul that’ll give you fantastic performance and grip when you move around the dinghy.
An easy entry system is key to making quality dinghy sailing boots, and the Gill Edge features a lace closure system that fully opens the ankle so you can hop in and out of them quickly.
They are constructed with 4mm neoprene which will help keep your feet warm and give you comfort even on full racing days on the water.
A wrap-around outer rubber sole gives you optimal grip in wet conditions, and there is reinforcement in the heel and toe. While a supported instep means you can maintain agility while wearing the non-marking soles.
Gill’s Edge series are useful in many watersports areas, from sailing and racing dinghies and lasers. To stand up paddleboarding and even surfing in cold water.
- Made with a waterproof neoprene
- Provide good insulation & warmth
- Durable and long-lasting
- Not as breathable as other materials
- Higher price point than others on the market
🌊 Best Offshore Sailing Boots – Gill Offshore Boot
Reinforced toe and heel
Customize the fit with thermal molding
Features a breathable membrane
The Gill Offshore Sailing Boots completes the offshore foul weather gear series, so these are perfectly matched with their OS jacket and trousers/bibs. However, they are still a brilliant choice even if you don’t own those.
These two-layer boots have loads of great features and capabilities. Firstly the inside of the boot is made with 3mm neoprene that fits snuggly against your leg. This provides great thermal protection and is lined with fire fleece which is what high-end wetsuits use.
The outside features Gill’s patented Xplore Fabric Technology, a three-layer fabric that provides the wearer with a highly durable, waterproof, breathable boot.
By pulling the outer layer up and over your foul-weather trouser, you will now have an extra layer of waterproofing and repellence from water ingress. A drawstring is at the top of the boot to seal off the top.
In addition, there is a perforated neoprene section at the bottom so that if any water is trapped between your bib and the outer layer, it’ll drain out.
The final aspect of these boots is the thermal molded foot. There is both heel and toe protection from reinforcements. On the bottom, a razor-cut outsole will give you heaps of grip for wet/slippery decks.
- Reinforced toe and heel
- Customize the fit with thermal molding
- Features a breathable membrane
🌡️ Best Warm Sailing Boots – Dubarry Ultima Sailing Boots
Made in Ireland with only the best materials Dubarry are the hallmark of leather boots. Their Ultima Sailing Boot gives you luxurious comfort and fantastic practical use.
You may ask why you would take a pair of leather boots out to sea. Dubarry has perfected its construction to be fully waterproof and breathable. As a result, they are incredibly strong and supple when salt water soaks the outside. But they’ll remain bone dry on the inside.
A hexagonal pattern on the outer sole provides loads of grip in slippery conditions and the ability to move around freely. It’s an award-winning design, as well as being non-marking. Heel and toe reinforcements provide extra layers of protection from stubbing and bumping into deck hardware.
Gore-tex lining on the inside is where these boots provide unmatched warmth, and if you are sailing or boating in cold conditions, then there is no better boot than the Ultima Sailing Boot.
These boots will last years if you take proper care of them. Leather takes extra work to keep them optimal, but it’s well worth the effort. You won’t find a warmer or more comfortable sailing boot on the market.
💵 Best Sailing Boots Under $100 – Gul Full Length Deck Boots
Designed to be completely waterproof
Built to last
Heavier than other sailing boots
Limited lifespan at this price
I have personally used these deck boots from Gul, and they are great value for money. Yacht crew routinely use these as working boots, and they hold up against harsh chemicals and cleaning products, as well as the Xtratuf Legacy Boots.
They also make for fantastic bargain sailing boots. The full-length high top features a drawstring closure to ensure a watertight seal so that you won’t have water falling inside the boot.
A razor-cut chevron patterned outsole provides plenty of grip in wet and slippery conditions. Additional support at the ankle means the boot is comfortable all day long. And extra protection at the heel and toe provides confidence around deck hardware.
These rubber boots provide you with full waterproofing. However, you will need warm socks if you are boating in colder conditions. But they will keep your feet dry.
At under $100, you can’t go wrong with these boots. They are comfortable, durable, and waterproof and have non-slip soles. That’s everything that most recreational boaters really need.
- Designed to be completely waterproof
- Built to last
- Non-slip soles
- Limited ventilation
- Heavier than other sailing boots
🏆 The Best Overall Sailing Boots – Gill Tall Yachting Boots
Value for money
Durable and long-lasting
Versatile boots suitable for all boating disciplines
Not many! But prone to odor build-up
These are another pair of boots I have used extensively in the yachting industry. They too, hold up better than expected against cleaning products and chemicals.
The most surprising of which is their resilience to teak two-parting products. If a pair of boots can make it through that, then I will personally certify them as durable.
They feature a razor-cut chevron patterned outsole to give you plenty of grip on the deck, and they are also quick-drying due to the polyester lining. Like the Gul boots above, you will need warm socks for cold-weather sailing.
With reinforcement in the heel, toe, and instep, you won’t need to watch every step, and there is added abrasion resistance around the base of the boot.
They are made from 100% rubber, which I have experienced as highly durable even if you decide to put them through their paces.
- Value for money
- Durable and long-lasting
- Versatile boots suitable for all boating disciplines
- Not many! But prone to odor build-up
🧑⚖️ Our recommendation process
At Sailing Savvy, we have nearly 20 years of experience in the yachting industry. As a result, we have used numerous sailing boots from brands like Gill, Helly Hansen, Gul, and Musto.
The recommendations we share are 100% impartial and bias-free. We only offer genuine advice on what we have come to know as the best and most reliable sailing gear.
📃 Guide To Buying Sailing Boots
Tall Boots vs. Short Boots
Most sailing boots are eight high top or low cut. Ultimately it depends on what you’ll be doing out on the water. I’d recommend using a high boot for sailing because it works in unison with your foul-weather gear.
Having a short boot when wearing foul-weather trousers or bibs may cause a hindrance, and water will most definitely make its way inside the boot. The short boot makes sense if you use them for dinghy sailing, as you won’t want bulky footwear as you move around.
Single Layer and Multi-layers
Single-layer (typically rubber) boots are for most entry-level sailors. You get fully waterproof capability and non-slip outsoles. However, the rubber won’t keep your feet warm in cold weather sailing.
Getting a multi-layer boot is recommended if you are sailing in colder conditions. Dubarry makes the warmest boots on the market with their Gore-tex Thinsulate lining to keep the inside once and toasty.
Lastly, neoprene boots like the Gill Offshore fit snugly against the leg to aid in warmth. An out waterproof material keeps them waterproof. These boots are best for sailing conditions where you’ll encounter lots of sea spray and rain.
Rubber boots don’t afford your feet breathability, so you need to consider this in your buying decision. If you are doing intense sailing, your feet will start to sweat, so the condensation can’t escape. Ultimately you’ll end up with wet feet and, by default, cold feet.
A boot made with neoprene will also trap moisture inside the boot. They will, however, keep your feet warm, which means you can still wear them for long periods.
Leather boots are breathable, so moisture can still escape. These are the best option to keep your feet dry and give you superior warmth.
🙋♀️ FAQs About Sailing Boots
Do you wear socks with sailing boots?
I always strongly recommend wearing socks with your sailing boots because they can help prevent blisters and provide warmth in cold weather. Socks can also absorb sweat and prevent foul smells from making their home inside your sailing boots.
There are several types of socks that can be worn with sailing boots, including:
Thick, cushioned socks:
These socks provide extra padding and support for your feet, which is helpful when spending long periods of time out on the deck in inclement weather.
Typically these socks are made from materials that draw moisture away from the skin, keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Wool socks are a good choice for cold-weather sailing, as they naturally insulate and keep your feet warm. Pair good quality merino wool socks with Dubarry’s Ultimas, and you can’t go wrong.
What Boots To Wear On A Boat?
This follows from the buying guide I touched on above, but I’ll add some other factors here to consider for the sake of thoroughness.
For wet conditions, choosing waterproof boots is important to keep your feet dry. Look for boots made from rubber or boots with a built-in waterproof lining.
Boat decks can be slippery, so it’s important to choose boots with good traction to help prevent falls. Look for boots with non-slip soles or traditional laser-cut chevron patterns on the outsole.
If you’ll be standing for long periods, then choose boots that offer good support for your feet and ankles.
We touched on this topic throughout the article, but to recap, cold-weather sailing requires warm and insulated boots. Thermally insulated sailing boots are your best bet for these conditions. Don’t forget your socks!
In general, choosing sailing boots that are durable, comfortable, and suitable for the conditions in which you’ll be sailing is a good idea. Be sure to try on different brands and styles to find the boots that work best for you.
💭 Final Thoughts
Many sailors use sailing boots at some stage or another. And while you may be tempted to get a cheap pair, you’ll regret not spending a little bit more for a good pair.
You can still get a quality pair for under $100 that’ll serve you well. But if you are cold weather sailing regularly, then investing in sailing boots that complement your foul weather gear is a must.
Ultimately keeping your feet warm is critical to your comfort and enjoyment out on the water. So next, I’d suggest diving into the best foul-weather gear on the market to round out your wet-weather equipment for your next sailing adventure.