What shoes should pilots wear? If you ask this question around aviation groups, the answers are likely to vary. Like what we do, the shoes we wear tend to reflect our personal tastes. This means what one pilot puts on is going to be different from what another deems appropriate.
Before shopping for aviation shoes, you must first understand what your employer expects of you. Commercial and private passenger airlines expect their pilots to adhere to uniform rules. This mostly means wearing oxford shoes alongside your work uniform.
For others, especially military pilots, boots are essential because they provide the best support when you are expected to jump out of a flying chopper (think G.I, Joe). And then there is the issue of personal freedom of choice. In this case, you can wear practically any shoe that you want.
However, the best shoes for pilots must be comfortable, breathable (because of the enclosed environment), durable, and flexible. Your shoes must be lightweight and give you the best feeling when engaging the pedal. In this review, we are going to talk about a few worthy choices you can go for. Let’s jump right in then.
Top Aviation Shoes 2020
Here are the top shoes most pilots prefer:
1. Merrell Men’s Sight
While most pilots are expected to wear black shoes as their professional guidelines stipulate, once in a while, it’s expected one to go the casual road. And when you are feeling casual, one supremely good-looking shoe to go for is Merrell Men’s Sight.
This is a zero-drop low-cut shoe with a good level of padding to improve comfort. Its lightweight construction and minimalistic design can allow you to stay light while flying or going about your off-duty errands.
Merrell Men’s Sight comes along with an anatomical ortholite footbed. These types of footbed take cushions all the edges of your feet leading to the best-fit one can expect in a shoe. Technically, the arch support becomes better with an anatomical footbed.
Airports courts are smoothly paved, which is why this shoe’s Vibram can come in handy when you need extra traction. Last but not the least, the price tag will not burn a hole in your pocket.
- 100% leather and textile
- Molded arch shank
- Anatomical footbed
- Zero-drop shoes
- EVA midsole
- Vibram outsole
- Stylish for pulling a decent casual look
- Long-lasting full-grain construction
- Dependable arch support
- Cushioned for long hours of walking or flying
- Superior traction on slippery floors
- Runs small so go a half size up
Merrell Men’s Sight can be a great shoe for pilots who find boots to offer supreme support. The shoe strikes just the right balance between protection and good looks. It’s also comfortable and breathable for many hours of flying and walking (especially on off-road paths).
2. Hush Puppies Men’s Strategy Oxford
Typically, as a pilot for commercial and private airlines, you are expected to be in black shoes. This maintains your professional appeal as well as the set uniform regulations. But that doesn’t mean any black shoe will suffice. Instead, go for advanced low-cut choices like Hush Puppies Men’s Strategy Oxford.
This pair is considered one of the best shoes for flying for a couple of reasons. The first one is the stunning look. When nicely polished, this oxford shoe is very much likely to turn the heads. Although not anywhere near the minimalistic design of zero drop shoes, this oxford shoe is still lightweight enough to let you feel the pedal action on the rudder.
Hush Puppies Men’s Strategy Oxford comes with a padded instep and a contoured EVA to provide you with the comfort that you need in and out of the job. Now, let’s talk about the leather top. It’s not the ordinary stuff. Rather it’s Weathersmart-designed to repel water and put together through a direct-attach construction that reassures a long lifespan.
- Weather smart water-repelling Leather top
- Direct-attach construction
- Padded instep
- Removable EVA footbed
- Gel heel padding
- Nicely padded for comfort
- Supports custom insoles
- Long-lasting direct attach construction
- Impressive arch support
- Its lifespan has been decreasing with time (usually for some pairs and not all of them)
If you desire the comfort of a running sneaker but in an Oxford-style shoe, go for Hush Puppies Men’s Strategy Oxford. Its flexibility will help you feel the pedal and enjoy outdoor walks in great comfort and style.
3. Rockport Men’s Style Leader 2 Slip-on
If you are looking for comfortable dress shoes that smoothly work with any formal attire, you can never go wrong with Rockport Men’s Style Leader 2 Slip-on. Though not widely talked about in aviation cycles, it is still one of the best airline pilot shoes.
You don’t like hassles? Well, so are many people. The good news is, Rockport Men’s Style Leader 2 Slip-on is not here to torture you with lacing and looking for replacement laces. With dual gore panels, all you need to do is slide in and go about other businesses. Slip-on are also great for those with arthritic fingers.
As a bonus, the shoe comes with a premium quality antimicrobial lining. This should keep moisture and microbes at bay when you are flying for over 8 hours. After all, who wants to deal with smelly shoes in the cockpit? Let’s say it together one!
- Genuine leather overlays
- Synthetic outsole
- Concealed gore panels
- Antimicrobial lining
- EVA footbed
- Versatile design for all formal wear
- Padded for comfort
- Lightweight and thus less burdensome
- Flexible outsole
- No serious quality flaws
Rockport Men’s Style Leader 2 Slip-on core advantages are comfort, lightweight, and breathability. Being a slip-on, you can enjoy some barefoot sessions in the cockpit and put it back on within a second. Its price point is also not a bummer.
4. Allen Edmonds Men’s Park Avenue Oxford Shoe
Are you here for a shoe with a timeless design? If so then you will find Allen Edmonds Men’s Park Avenue Oxford Shoe to be the perfect companion for your daily or weekly flights. According to the company, this is their best-selling shoe and you will find out shortly why this is so.
Appropriate fit is the desire of everyone and this shoe delivers that through its cork footbed. This type of footbed conforms to each user’s foot shape resulting in the best fit. Edmond lotion is used to keep the leather soft and pliable.
It’s easy for someone to ask why the overblown price tag. First, you get a premium European calfskin top. Secondly, this is a handcrafted shoe that sports and enduring Goodyear welt construction for years of dependable support. Good Year is also known to provide legendary comfort and support.
Rockport Men’s Style Leader 2 Slip-on is designed to fit any foot shape (narrow or wide).
- 100% premium European calfskin leather top
- Welted construction
- Timeless cap toe
- Cork footbed
- Leather outsole
- Designed to provide the best support
- Long-lasting Goodyear welt construction
- Easy to achieve a personalized fit
- A timeless design that is always fashionable
- Reliable traction
- Doesn’t come cheap
Allen Edmonds Men’s Park Avenue Oxford Shoe is for those who are looking to make a one-time investment. This shoe’s quality is one of a kind thanks to the Goodyear welt construction that not only lengthens its lifetime but makes it fit practically all feet types.
5. ECCO Men’s Helsinki Plain Toe Dress Shoe
ECCO Men’s Helsinki Plain Toe Dress Shoe could be the one and only shoe in this review with advanced construction. Thanks to the company’s efforts in exploring new materials and construction designs, this shoe is likely to offer a fit and comfort that you would not always get in typical and knock off oxford shoes.
The leather used is supple for a soft touch yet long-lasting. The shoe pops along with comfortable ECCO comfort and moisture absorbing insoles. This guarantees hours of comfort without worrying about smelly or moisture-soaked feet. In fact, you can replace the insole with other bespoke varieties that meet your comfort needs.
ECCO Men’s Helsinki Plain Toe Dress Shoe also boasts of a roomier toe box that allows your toes to splay in complete freedom. This feature is ideal for individuals with foot pains such as sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and bunions. However, it is advisable to invest in pain shoes if you have extreme conditions.
This shoe’s polyurethane outsole is flexible and lasts longer than rubber. An added TPU shank provides support while allowing you to pass through checkpoints without the metal detector going berserk.
- Genuine leather top
- PU outsole
- Removable insole
- Lace design
- Padded collar and instep
- Roomier toe box
- Padded to provide the same comfort as running shoes
- Designed with a Polyurethane outsole for impact absorption
- Can accommodate custom insoles
- Moderately priced
- Fits as expected
- Ideal for most feet widths
- No deal-breaking flaws
When it comes to innovation, no shoe in this review outshines ECCO Men’s Helsinki Plain Toe Dress Shoe. It is flexible, comfortable, and extremely durable. It is indeed one of the best shoes for flying that can meet the needs of any pilot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What shoes do pilots wear?
Corporate and airline pilots must adhere to uniform requirements and this includes black or brown oxford shoes. Military pilots, on the other hand, are expected to wear boots in case they need to jump out of a plane or land in the wilderness.
What defines the best shoes for pilots?
The best shoes for flying need to be comfortable. This is the first thing you need to look for. You also need to consider things like breathability, flexibility, durability, and room for toe movements. Try not to go for stiff shoes as they can affect the rudder pedaling action.
Can pilots wear running shoes?
No one is ever a pilot all the time. So yeah, at some point you would really crave the comfort that running shoes provide. Some pilots prefer sneakers because of their low-cut lightweight design. They are easy on the feet and can allow you to comfortably ace long hours of flight or walking.
The kind of shoe you are going to wear as a pilot depends on many things like the type of pilot, uniform type, and at times your style. This means the best shoes for pilots can range from boots, Oxford formals, low-cut sneakers, and other comfortable varieties.
You need to consider your feet’s condition as well. If you have swelling then more room would be pacifying. If you sweat a lot, then breathability and things like moisture-wicking sockliners should be at the top of the list. No matter the style of the shoe, make sure it gives you the best flexibility and comfort so you can perform your duties without distractions.
Last but not the least, if you are allowed to go super casual, then running sneakers can provide you with unparalleled comfort. But no matter what you have to stick with, always remember the old adage ‘dress like you are going to walk home.’ We hope you find your favorite pair amongst our reviews above. All in all, enjoy your flights.