7 Best Retro Sneakers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
7 Best Retro Sneakers in 2024
We earn affiliate commissions at no extra cost to you when you buy through us. Why trust us

Yes, every sneakerhead has to have a pair of old-school, retro sneakers. Good thing, we have loads of them.

There is a wide array of sneakers from stylish Adidas kicks oozing with a vintage vibe to timeless Nike sneaks that have been around since the bygone days. Because of this, we took it upon ourselves to pin down the most outstanding kicks by performing actual tests on them. We acquired the shoes and put them on in real life to gain concrete knowledge about them. 

You might want to check out our top picks, which also feature the best retro kicks overall. These shoes have been thoroughly reviewed and assessed. So, when we say one shoe is excellent, you can take our word for it.

How we test sneakers

Retro sneakers may have been around for ages. However, some are no longer as high-quality as they were back in the day, while others somehow aged like fine wine. Enter RunRepeat.

Your team of shoe-doting geeks, RunRepeat, is here to tell you which among the hundreds of retro kicks are value for money. We do this by doing the following:

  • Buy the shoes and test them out ourselves. NOTE: We make sure to BUY the shoes to avoid biased reviews.
  • Emerge ourselves into the shoes. We use them in our daily undertakings to actually have valid opinions regarding their performance, durability, comfort, price, fit, and others.
  • Weigh, measure, and even dissect the shoes to get into their nitty-gritty details. We really go deep with the numbers behind how the shoes respond to each of our tests, both on the foot and in the lab.

 

Best retro sneakers overall

ASICS Gel 1130
94
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Out of all the retro sneakers that we tested, it was the ASICS Gel 1130 that we would consider as the best. Aside from retaining the defining look of the OG, this shoe also delivered in terms of traction and cushioning. These two benefits that made it such a pleasure to wear wherever we went.

The ASICS Gel 1130 never went through significant transformation before it was released again to the public. Those who had worn it before would find them exactly as they were years back. This shoe is retro in the strictest sense of the word.

Being a running shoe originally, the fact that this sneaker had really good traction was not surprising. We enjoyed how easy it was to stop on a dime while wearing this shoe. Its amazing bite made it such a great companion, regardless of the occasion or the venue.

When it came to cushioning, we could say that the ASICS Gel 1130 was among the softest that we tried. Our HA durometer scored it 19.0, making it miles softer than the average midsole, which could go as high as 30.9.

Unfortunately, breathability was a problem with this one. We pumped smoke into this shoe, and we saw that not much of the gas could be let out through the upper. The Gel 1130 only got a 2 out of 5 for breathability from us.

Pros

  • Top-notch materials
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Supportive foothold
  • Stable platform
  • Grippy, running-inspired outsole
  • Feels lightweight with a padded interior
  • Roomy at the big toe
  • Wide-feet friendly
  • Real suede and leather
  • Cool 90s dad shoes retro vibe

Cons

  • The leather version lacks breathability
  • Quite stiff
Full review of ASICS Gel 1130

Best classic retro sneakers

Adidas Samba
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

Surviving decades of innovation and trends, the Adidas Samba stands the test of time and remains the best classic retro sneaker for many reasons. Other than its clean and easy-to-match look, it has a minimalist build that makes it so versatile. On top of that, it delivers a stable ride with its grounded profile and exceptional traction, inspired by its initial purpose as a football shoe in the ‘50s.

From a sporty shoe to a wardrobe staple, the Samba’s light and loose construction makes it an exceptional choice for everyday wear. Weighing a mere 12.1 oz (342g) on our scale, it’s remarkably 14.1% lighter than the average sneaker. It’s far from being a burden on foot as it moves gracefully with our strides. Our bend test backs this up when it emerged 40.9% more flexible than the average.

This Adidas Original embraces minimalism with the absence of a foam midsole, explaining its low profile. This naturally leads to a more agile and stable ride, as we have better ground feel and control. Carrying its outsole practices from before, it features a gum rubber outsole with two-directional lugs and three suction cups to enhance traction and instill confidence in our strides.

One nitpick is that the non-gusseted tongue slides to the side occasionally. We recommend securing this before going out.

Pros

  • Clean and minimalist style
  • Unbelievably affordable
  • Real leather and suede
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Long-lasting construction
  • Lighter than average
  • Highly flexible build
  • Good grip for casual use

Cons

  • Poor breathability
  • Tongue slides to the side
  • Not for all-day wear
Full review of Adidas Samba

Best chunky retro sneakers

What makes it the best?

Though the New Balance 9060 was inspired visually by New Balance classics and 2000s sneakers, it still retained its futuristic appeal. It also provided a good deal of chunkiness without sacrificing comfort and stability. Given all these benefits, it was easy to hail this sneaker as the best chunky retro sneaker in our arsenal.

Just because the NB 9060 was a retro sneaker did not really mean that it looked old-fashioned. It actually had both the classical and futuristic vibes, and it was such a pleasure to experiment with different looks while wearing it.

We loved how this NB sneaker made us feel and look taller. It was 37.3 mm and 26.0 mm thick at the heel and forefoot, respectively. The average midsole was only 31.3 mm thick at the heel and 20.0 mm thick at the forefoot.

We were pleasantly surprised by the immense stability that this sneaker afforded us. Much of its  steadiness was due to the very wide platform, which made it practically impossible for our feet to slide off the footbed. According to our caliper in the lab, the platform was 121.0 mm wide at the forefoot and 103.1 mm wide at the heel. The average numbers were only 108.9 mm and 83.4 mm, respectively.

It would have been a lot better if the New Balance 9060 was available in more colorways. The options that we had were pretty limited.

Pros

  • Next-level comfort
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Quite heavy-duty
  • Dope aesthetics
  • True to size
  • Looks better in person
  • Premium-grade materials
  • Stable

Cons

  • Limited color options
  • Squeaks
  • A tad warm
Full review of New Balance 9060

Retro sneakers with the best comfort

Adidas Campus 00S
97
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Retaining the nostalgic look of the OG, the Adidas Campus 00s easily set our retro-loving hearts on fire. We were just lucky that aside from looking so good, this shoe also delivered a good deal of comfort. It was very breathable and had a prominent tongue that gave our feet the pampering that we never experienced in any other shoe. The most comfortable among retro sneakers, indeed.

The neat look. The prominent Three Stripes on the side. The exaggerated look of the sole. The Campus 00s retained all elements that made the OG iconic. Sporting the classic look, it was fairly easy for us to pair this shoe with many kinds of outfits. We loved it!

When it came to ventilation, this leather shoe was not to be outshone. It had strategically placed ventilation holes that allowed air to go in and out of the shoe. We confirmed this during our smoke test where we gave this shoe a solid 4 out of 5 for breathability.

The average tongue is 8.7 mm thick. The Campus 00s did not only double it, it almost tripled it being 23.0 mm thick! Wearing this shoe was the closest that our feet could get to getting cuddles.

Our HA durometer was the one that delivered a disappointing assessment result. It gave the midsole 37.1, making it firmer than the 30.9 average. The firm cushioning system wasn’t as effective in absorbing impact.

Pros

  • Extremely padded tongue and collar
  • Astounding comfort
  • Awesome for daily and casual wear
  • Spot-on fit
  • Soft leather upper
  • Worth the price
  • Old-school vibes
  • Stylish for casual fits
  • Comes with two extra sets of laces

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than usual
  • Its midsole’s a tad firm
  • Difficult to clean and maintain
Full review of Adidas Campus 00S

Best retro sneakers for summer

Nike Zoom Vomero 5
95
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Combining form and function, the Nike Zoom Vomero 5 boasts a nostalgic aesthetic while delivering an exceptionally comfortable ride. No amount of heat can stop us from wearing this sneaker because of its light and airy construction, making it our top summer retro sneaker. Thorough lab and wear tests prove that Vomero 5 feels like a breeze on foot.

Our feet remained dry and odor-free even after endless walks under the sun. The upper is a thin mesh with wide chain links for seamless ventilation. Our smoke test confirms its flawless breathability with a perfect 5/5 rating.

Adding to its airy feel is its light weight. Our scales reveal a mere 11.1 oz (316g), 26.9% below the average sneaker. Its fluid build that bends easily with our feet keeps the ride effortless. Our flex test reveals it’s 5.6% more flexible than our current lab average.

Surprisingly, the Vomero 5 feels cushioned even with its moderate stack height. Our dissected shoe reveals two Zoom Air units that soften our landings and add a little spring to each step. Our durometer shows the foam is a balanced 28.0 HA, ensuring comfort for extended periods.

However, this sneaker comes at a premium price of $160, $50 above the average summer-friendly shoe. Those who prefer more affordable options should explore further.

Pros

  • Nostalgic 2000s aesthetic
  • Excellent breathability for summer
  • Cushioned like a running shoe
  • Lighter than average
  • Very comfy in-shoe feel
  • Flexible and forgiving on foot
  • Wear-resistant outsole and inner lining
  • Better lockdown with a gusseted tongue

Cons

  • Mesh is easy to tear
  • Not for flat feet/overpronation
  • Pricey
Full review of Nike Zoom Vomero 5

Best basketball inspired retro sneakers

New Balance 550
88
Good!

What makes it the best?

The outcome of our wear tests showed that the New Balance 550 is the irrefutable victor of basketball-inspired retro sneakers. We most certainly enjoyed donning this sneaker on different occasions with different fits, even though its style dates back to the 1980s. Also, we are ecstatic with the quality and craftsmanship of this basketball kick that is still ahead of the curve!

Upon close scrutiny, we could not spot any trace of glue stains. All the seams were done and everything was flawless. We also challenged the quality of the New Balance 550 by putting it through practical situations, and we were stunned by its strength and ruggedness. 

Moving on to the underfoot feel, we were over the moon! We were beyond content with the super plush feeling that this sneaker’s two-layered Ortholite insole offered. One thing we noticed about its fit was it has a spacious toe box, which was perfect for wide footers but might be a deal breaker for those with narrow feet. If you also have narrow feet, we suggest considering a smaller size or looking for other snug retro sneakers.

Pros

  • Attention-grabbing throwback look
  • Well-cushioned insole
  • Incredibly clean details
  • Suitable for various outfits
  • Durable, high-quality construction
  • No visible wear after several uses
  • Easy to clean
  • Striking shades
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Insufficient lockdown feel
  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Released in a limited quantity
Full review of New Balance 550

Best premium retro sneakers

What makes it the best?

With actual use and intensive lab testing, we discovered the unmatched premium quality of the New Balance 990 v6 among retro sneakers. A classic design is combined with modern cushioning technology for a cushy and responsive experience without foregoing stability. Not only that, it’s made of robust materials that ensure a long shoe lifespan.

990 v6 delivers out-of-this-world comfort through its bouncy midsole. Our cut-in-half shoe reveals the FuelCell foam, a feature usually incorporated in the brand’s running shoes. Rising to a high 39.1/23.8 mm, we have bottomless cushioning for whole-day activities. Our durometer reveals it’s 8.4% softer than average, magnifying its comfort. 

Despite its visual bulk, the shoe feels light and stable on foot. 990 v6 adds width to its midsole to help us find our footing securely. Meanwhile, the ENCAP rim surrounds the heel for bolstering support.

Our lab further cements the shoe’s quality by proving the suede layers in the upper are real, courtesy of our torch test. Mesh panels complement this to allow continuous airflow, receiving a flawless 5/5 breathability rating. Even underfoot, we have a tough 89.0 HC Ndurance rubber, proving it can withstand hundreds of miles by barely showing any wear after testing.

The only hindrance we see from this shoe is its high $200 price point. Those on a budget should find other options.

Pros

  • Unexpectedly lighter than average
  • Real suede and quality materials
  • Extra thick cushioning for all-day wear
  • Comfortable and springy FuelCell foam
  • Mind-blowing arch support and stability
  • Exceptionally hard-wearing outsole
  • Fantastic breathability
  • Well-padded all around
  • Six(!) widths available

Cons

  • Very delicate toebox mesh
  • A bit stiff
Full review of New Balance 990 v6
Author
Sheena
Sheena
Sheena is a wordsmith turned sneaker addict. Her sneaker fixation intensified as her passion for writing grew. A hands-on mom of two sweet yet spunky kids (plus three dogs and two cats), she finds solitude in leafing through shoe catalogs to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinizing hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favorite pastime.