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Our favorite sailing kicks

ultimate sailing boot

Since we began cruising, I’ve been on the lookout for a good pair of sailing boots. Something that was versatile and could handle salt water. Ultimately I discovered the ultimate sailing boots were in fact a pair of sandals.

Gear review: Keen Sandals (the ultimate sailing footwear).

A quick note that this post contains affiliate links (so if you purchase through a link we’ll earn a small commission). All of the opinions are our own.

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Robin’s parents in Cottonwood Arizona, I underwent a family right of passage and bought my first pair of Keen sandals.

I’d held out for a while, desperately loyal to a pair of Birkenstocks that I’d backpacked around in through Europe. However, over the past few months of wear and tear on the boat my resolve began to degrade along with the cracked cork soles and rusting fasteners. 

Everyone in Robin’s family has at least two pairs of Keens and Robin wanted to buy another pair before going into Mexico as he was afraid we might not be able to find a store that sold them later.

This isn’t a one-family phenomena however, I’ve been seeing Keens EVERYWHERE in the sailing world. It’s frankly a bit ridiculous. Of the many cruisers we’ve met sailing down the coast I’d estimate 80% own a pair of Keens. Here’s why:

  • Versatility. There’s no space on the boat for anything that only
    has one function. When it comes to footwear, sailors want something they can wear while sailing, provisioning, fixing the boat, hiking, and going out for dinner.
  • Salt water resistant. That means nothing that will rot or rust and is ideally quick drying. When landing our dinghy on a beach we inevitably get our feet wet and it’s no fun running around in wet, smelly, shoes.
  • Non-marking soles

When I was looking for a shoe, I wanted all of these benefits and, dare I say it, something that looked cute too. So, on our last day in Sedona we went to a travel outfitters and I bought a pair of KEEN Women’s Rose Sandals in Indian Teal. Robin bought the KEEN Men’s Kuta Sandals Black/Yellow,

The verdict after two weeks? I’ve been wearing them non-stop! They’ve been great on the boat, hikes, splashing about in the ocean, and can be dressed up enough for dinner (well at least the casual cruiser dinner parties we get invited to!). I even tried to go rock climbing in them (not recommended).

While a sandal will never replace a pair of sailing boots when it comes to foul weather, they’ll probably be what you end up wearing 90% of the time while cruising in warmer climates.

Love your Keens or have other sailing footwear recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.


Daniel Machado

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Long time fan of Keens...and they look good too...

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Wednesday 29th of March 2017

These are genuinely wonderful ideas in regarding blogging. You have touched some pleasant things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

Harry Hoare

Thursday 15th of December 2016

So these black soles are non marking? Don't want to mess.up the deck on the boat.


Sunday 5th of February 2017

We've never owned a pair that has marked the deck - so should be good to go.

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