Whether you're looking for men's or women's styles, choosing cheap boat shoes usually means opting for canvas rather than leather. Canvas is a cheaper material and although it doesn't typically last as long as leather, it can hold up well in the wet environments common to boating, so this shoe can be a good buy. You're also likely to find inexpensive canvas boat shoes in many fun colors and patterns. Make sure the footwear you pick specifies that it is a boat or deck shoe on it's packaging though or you may not get the type of non-skid sole you need. Cheap boat shoes should fit well, plus have a gripping, textured bottom and a thick rubber sole.
If you're going to be climbing ladders or doing quite a bit of walking while wearing boat shoes, some flexibility in the sole is important. You can test the flexibility by holding the cheap boat shoes you're considering purchasing up with one hand on the toe box area and the other on the heel. If you push upward on the toe section then try to bend it back toward the heel, some "give" there will let you know that the shoes are likely to move with your feet unlike a stiff shoe. This flexibility often provides comfort while it also gives some support to your feet.
Pick the right size boat shoe and give some thought to the shape of the toe box. While most cheap boat shoes, as well as more expensive models for men and women, tend to have a rounded, spacious toe section anyway, deciding to be different with a pointier version isn't likely to be the best choice for comfort. When you try on the shoes, wear the kind of socks that you'll have on during your boating trips to ensure the best fit. If you wear thin socks, the shoes are likely to still fit your bare feet as well. Classic boat shoes should have laces around the top edge that help the footwear stay on your feet better, but also check to make sure the lace-up front section is strong.
Once you find the ideal style and fit in a cheap boat shoe, you can consider color. If you think in terms of your boating wardrobe, it's often easy to make a decision on which color to select when buying cheap boat shoes. Fun patterns such as plaid with multiple colors can be a good choice if they coordinate with your boating clothes and suit your personality. Patterned shoes also tend to show dirt less than solid colors, especially light or pastel shades.