Boat shoes vs Loafers

Last Updated on October 1, 2022

There is a large variety of slip-on shoes on the market, with boat shoes and loafers always topping the list whenever such kinds of shoes are mentioned. They’ve been used interchangeably by certain persons, because of their very similar aesthetics, although they each have their significant differences.

Boat shoes and loafers are quite different, as boat shoes have a part of their heel extending, and the loafers usually have the heel as an addition to the sole.

As they both have similar designs, loafers and boat shoes can prove quite difficult to identify apart, as manufacturing firms might tend to put the information of one for the other. To tell them apart, it is then important to look at the different parts of the shoes individually.

Difference between Boat shoes and Loafers


Loafers and boat shoes are slip-on, they can be worn easily and comfortably, however, the lace is quite an important distinction between these shoes. Loafers do not have lacing. Any shoe that has similar features to loafers yet has lacing is not loafers.

Originally, boat shoes come with lacing, however, the lacing is 3600, going around the shoe with an opening at the eyelets. These laces help in fastening the shoes the way you want them; in whatever kind of knot, you prefer.

Heels and Soles

Loafers are semi-formal shoes, such that their style and looks are in tandem with dress codes. Usually, they have a sole and heel attached to them distinctly, hence, the heels and soles can be made of different materials like leather or rubber.

Boat shoes, on the other hand, have quite thicker rubber soles, usually white not having a distinct heel part. A short heel is however fashioned out the sole, adding elegance to the look of the shoe. Boat shoes also have a series of zig-zag lines on the bottom, called herringbone patterns. Boat shoes were made originally for sailors and fishermen, hence these herringbone patterns aid traction and grip.


Generally, loafers and boat shoes are made with either or leather suede materials, however, boat shoes can also be made with fabric materials similar to sneakers. In terms of preference, boat shoes are quite better in terms of water resistance, as the leather is treated to be waterproof, although not all brands have this quality, hence it is important to verify before purchase.

Toe Detail

Boat shoes have a moc-toe, which is a piece of extra leather stitched to the top part of the shoe, which extends to the toe. Loafers, however, are equipped with an apron toe, which extends completely to the toe. In boat shoes, the leather stitched to the vamp stops just before the toes. This design gives the loafers a streamlined look.

Loafers vs Boat shoes: factors to consider


For casual, semi-casual, and smart-casual dress codes, loafers will suffice. However, if the needs are only limited to casual dress codes, boat shoes would be preferred. Boat shoes are categorized as a staple of casual apparel and cannot be worn to smart-casual settings.


Boat shoes are commonly worn during the summer, as they are comfortable, light, and breathable. Loafers, on the other hand, are more suited to the colder years, however, they can be used comfortably all year round.


When comfort is a priority, boat shoes are the top choice, as they have a soft collar and tongue, a breathable top part of the canvas, which permits the flow of air and they also have a cushioned outsole which is quite thicker than loafers.

Loafers are not uncomfortable in any way, however, they do not match the coziness and comfortability which boat shoes offer.


There are some levels of variations regarding the price of both shoes. It all depends on the style, the kind of material used, the grade and quality of leather, and the brand. At lower price points, both loafers and boat shoes should cost about the same price, while at higher price points, loafers have been found to cost more.

Considering the fact that loafers are strictly dress shoes, you should expect to pay more for loafers than boat shoes. If you are on a budget and would want to get shoes that would suit you for summer, then boat shoes are the best choice.

Are boat shoes for on-shore use only?

Owning a large fishing boat or a yacht would demand getting boat shoes, as they grant a better and much more solid traction and grip on these boats, compared to loafers. They are also quite easy to take on and take off.

Also, boat shoes are not made for water alone. For individuals who reside around areas with warmer climates or you spend a lot of time around the dock, then boat shoes would come in handy, as they are not only a good fit on boats, but also dinner after spending a long day on the water. Boat shoes would also be effective as office footwear since they are made of leather.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are boat shoes still in vogue?

Absolutely. They have become classic footwear for fall, summer as well as spring. The boat shoe still remains relevant and in style because of the constant recognition of comfort, style, and versatility.

Can I wear boat shoes and loafers with socks?

For loafers, any casual socks would go just right, however, for boat shoes, it is advised that no-show socks be worn with them.

Which should I wear with shorts, boat shoes or loafers?

Wearing shorts gives a casual look, hence, none can beat boat shoes in giving you that casual look.

Final Note

Boat shoes and loafers are excellent shoes, and they go right on peculiar occasions. It is important that you get your style basics and identify which would suit your purpose more efficiently. The nature of your environment, as well as the weather conditions, should also be a factor to consider when making your choice. This article has given a well-described comparison between boat shoes and loafers and hence should guide your choice.