Pilots are given a very high level of responsibility. So looking the part, being easily recognizable, and presenting yourself as someone passengers can put their full trust in is paramount. This includes the shoes you wear.
From a commercial or airline pilot point of view, though, a great pair of shoes not only needs to look smart, but also deliver a high level of performance, and comfort. Ideally, not having to take off your shoes every time you step through security is another important factor.
Here are four of the best shoes that fulfill all these requirements.
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The 4 Best Shoes for Pilots
Top Pick: ECCO Helsinki Oxford Shoes
Made of 100% leather, the ECCO Helsinki Oxfords are smart-looking, reasonably priced, durable, and comfortable.Check Amazon for Pricing
Smart-looking, reasonably priced, durable, and comfortable – there is a lot to love about the ECCO Helsinki Oxford shoes. So it’s no surprise that they are favored by many pilots all around the world.
Made of 100% leather, I have found the Helsinki Oxford to hold up very well under everyday wear for a long time. No metal is used in their construction either, so getting past security quickly is usually a breeze. The Helsinki’s moisture-wicking lining designed to let my feet breathe is also very welcome, and seems to work well.
A Slip-On style is also available.
Premium Pick: Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Shoes
The Allen Edmonds Park Avenue shoes are unmatched in everything from their style, fit, and comfort to durability.Check Amazon for Pricing
If you’re more of a buy once and then be done kind of shopper, and want to leave nothing to chance, there is no better shoe than the Allen Edmonds Park Avenue.
They may not be cheap but are unmatched in everything from their style, fit, and comfort to durability.
Made in the USA, the shoes feature single oak leather soles, a lined premium calfskin leather upper,
and timeless perforated brogue styling. No metal parts also mean that security won’t be a hassle, though you may want to take them off anyway for all to admire.
Best Value: Rockport Leader 2 Bike Slip-on Oxford
A great budget pick that are higher quality and more durable than any other shoe at this price point.Check Amazon for Pricing
The best value shoes for pilots is the Rockport Leader 2 Bike Slip-on Oxford.
Made of 100% leather, they feature everything that more expensive shoes have. This includes a full-grain leather upper, sponge EVA footbed for enhanced comfort, and anti-microbial lining to let your feet breathe. Thankfully, there is little compromise either, as the shoe contains no metal parts.
At this price point, these Rockport Oxfords can’t be beaten.
Best Boots: Ariat Heritage Roper
The Ariat Heritage Roper boots are loved by pilots worldwide.New: $149.95
A pair of boots may not immediately spring to mind when shopping for suitable footwear for flying. But these are no ordinary boots and have many fans who are pilots that rely on them day in and day out.
First of all, the Ariat Heritage Roper is more durable than any other shoe on this list. They are also designed to keep your feet dry and warm, so they are ideal when flying in and out of colder locations, yet are also breathable, making them suitable for summer flying too.
Due to their composite shank, there is also no need to take them off as you go through security. A gel-cushioned footbed ensures a high level of comfort and shock absorption.
Important Things to Consider If You’re a Pilot Buying Shoes
While each airline has its own dress code, generally, to maintain professionalism, any pair of shoes that a pilot wears must look smart.
So that means no open-toed shoes or, shudder, something like a pair of Crocs, despite their supreme comfort. This also means they should be able to hold up well with everyday wear and suffer minimal scuffing.
- Airport Friendly
As you have to go through security more often than even the most frequent of flyers, metal-free shoes are definitely a plus so you don’t have to take them off every time.
All shoes I have recommended on this list do not use metal in any part of their construction.
As it isn’t really possible to find a pair of shoes that are both very high quality and inexpensive, you have a choice to make.
Either you don’t mind paying for a pair of very high-quality shoes that will last years, or are happy to spend under $100 and replace them every year or two.
Sitting in a cockpit, you may not be on your feet all day, but comfort is still an important factor to consider.
You will never regret buying a pair of shoes that offer plenty of cushioning and support. Shoes that let your feet breathe for those long-haul flights are always welcome too.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.