7 Best Summer Sneakers in 2024

Jaydee
Jaydee on
7 Best Summer Sneakers in 2024
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As summertime approaches, it is inevitable to go over your cabinet and check which of your sneakers fit the warm season. As you swing from your spring clothes to your summer outfits, we’ve concocted a user-friendly guide to help you pick the best summer sneaker you can confidently rock during the dog days. And to help you jumpstart your summer sneaker hunt, we have made several recommendations for different categories.

But to give you a little more assurance, we want to go out of our way and tell you that each sneaker we recommend went through wearying testing. So everything here is not about what the brands say, rather it is about what we felt, what we experienced, and what we measured.

 

How we test sneakers

To save you from the inconvenience of opening scores of tabs, we have tested summer sneakers from a multitude of brands. Below are important notes about our testing procedure:

  • We buy these sneakers using our money to avoid biased reviews. 
  • To get authentic and actual results, we put them through wear testing while doing the typical things we do on a daily basis. Going out for coffee, strolling in parks, sightseeing, city tours, errands, name it! 
  • We meticulously test the sneakers inside our lab. We even go as far as cutting the shoes into pieces just to acquire more accurate measurements of various parameters. 

Best summer sneakers overall

New Balance 327
88
Good!

What makes it the best?

Summer is always the perfect time for strolls, and boy did we have fun strolling around while wearing the New Balance 327. This sneaker brought breathability to the next level. It also delivered a good deal of plushness and confidence-inducing stability. It was easily the best summer sneaker in our book.

The smoke that we pumped into the New Balance 327 escaped without much glitch and drama through the upper material. Given this result, plus the cool feel that we enjoyed while wearing this shoe, we deemed it appropriate to give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Aside from being a little thicker than usual, the midsole was also on the softer side. Using our HA durometer, we measured the softness of the cushioning system to be 26.6, which is lower (therefore softer) than the 30.9 average.

The platform was amazingly wide. At the heel, it opened as much as 90.6 mm (vs 83.4 average). It was 119.5 mm wide at the forefoot while the average was only 108.9 mm. There was no way for our feet to slide off the footbed given this much surface area! 

It was just unfortunate that the NB 327 was a little bit tighter than expected. It needed 26.7N of force to bend at 90 degrees. The typical sneaker needed only 23.2N.

Pros

  • Fashionably sporty
  • Well-cushioned
  • Stable and planted platform
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Above average breathability
  • Superb grip
  • Suitable for driving
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Relatively stiff
  • Fits a little tight
  • Not suitable for wide feet
Full review of New Balance 327

Most comfortable summer sneakers

Nike Zoom Vomero 5
95
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Nike Zoom Vomero 5, born from a lineage of running shoes, redefines the sneaker experience in our wear tests with its well-cushioned interior and Zoom Air units delivering unparalleled comfort and a good amount of responsiveness. Its ultra-breathable design ensures freshness even on the warmest days, maintaining a light and airy feel during extended wear. In the lab, this shoe cements its position as the most comfortable summer sneaker.

Our walks feel effortless and breezy, thanks to its light and loose build. Weighing just 11.1 oz (316g) on our scales, it’s 21.2% below average. Additionally, its flexibility is at par with the average lifestyle sneaker, ensuring comfort since it barely resists our strides. 

Its featherweight feel is further enhanced by the ultra-thin mesh upper, preventing heat buildup and sweat accumulation inside the shoe. Lab tests confirm its exceptional breathability with a perfect 5/5 score. 

Despite its lightweight build, Vomero 5 doesn't compromise on cushioning, boasting a plush sensation. Our durometer reveals the CushIon foam is 28.0 HA, 9.7% softer than average, complemented by Zoom Air units under the heel and ball of the foot for added cushioning and bounce.

However, the Vomero 5’s $160 emerged as $40 more expensive than the average low-top sneaker. Those on a budget should explore alternatives.

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 retro summer sneakers

What makes it the best?

One look at the ASICS Gel Lyte III and we could really tell that it was a blast from the past. Its impressively plush cushioning and noteworthy breathability make it such a great summer pick. Taken all together, these benefits make this ASICS sneaker the best retro pick in our roster of summer sneakers.

From the color scheme down to the textures of the materials used, the ASICS Gel Lyte III inspired a good deal of nostalgia. We loved wearing it when we wanted to give a nod to our colored past in our look.

The plushness of the midsole was immediately felt the moment we put this shoe on. It became even softer and more comfortable the more that we used it. Our HA durometer only confirmed what we experienced, and it gave out a rating of 22.1 when the average is as high (or firm) as 30.9. 

When it came to ventilation, the ASICS Gel Lyte III surely did not leave a lot to be desired. We felt so comfortable and air in it, and it got a 4 out of 5 in our breathability tests. We’re confident that even those with sweaty feet would have a nice time wearing this ASICS summer sneaker.

We just wish the platform were a bit wider. It was only 100.0 mm wide at the forefoot (ave 108.9 mm) and 76.8 mm wide at the heel (ave 83.4 mm).

Pros

  • Electrifying ‘90s look
  • Splendidly comfy
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Generously padded tongue
  • Durable structure
  • Breathable
  • Premium materials
  • Reliable grip

Cons

  • Tight-fitting
  • Narrow platform
Full review of ASICS Gel Lyte III

Best premium summer sneakers

What makes it the best?

No sneaker can go against the New Balance 990 v6 in terms of being a premium summer pair. Our lab agrees with what our feet sensed: this sneaker is highly breathable, cushioned, and supportive. It’s infused with modern technology and high-quality materials, making every cent worth it.

990 v6 sports a classic look with real suede layers, as our torch test proves its genuineness. While the shoe doesn’t look breathable, it delivers the exact opposite. The mesh panels allow seamless airflow for all-day freshness. Our smoke test confirms its ventilation with a 5/5 breathability rating.

The midsole doesn’t skimp on quality and delivers supreme comfort and responsiveness with the FuelCell cushioning, typically found in high-performance running shoes. Our feet reveled in its cloud-like feel, as evidenced by our plush 28.3 HA durometer measurement. To our amazement, the ride feels extra stable thanks to the firm ENCAP rim around the heel and the wide midsole, ensuring our balance.

Underfoot, the robust Ndurance rubber barely shows wear after extensive testing. True enough, our durometer registers 89.0 HC, one of the highest we’ve seen in lifestyle shoes, proving its commitment to last long.

Honestly, it’s tough to find a flaw in this sneaker other than its high $200 price point that may not be accessible to many. Though we believe its quality is worth the investment.

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

Summer sneakers with the best colorways

PUMA RS-X
89
Good!

What makes it the best?

The Puma RS-X presents a unique personality with every colorway. Because of how creative each colorway is, sometimes we’d think that a new color release was a different sneaker altogether! It was fairly easy for us to hail this Puma sneaker as the one that offers the best colorways among all the sneakers this summer. Its being breathable and uber cushiony are bonuses that only made us even more in love with it.

We subjected the Puma RS-X to the usual light and smoke breathability assessments, and it fared so well in both. No wonder we never felt toasty in this sneaker even if we were strolling under the sweltering heat of the sun. We gave this shoe a well-deserved 4 out of 5. 

The softness of the cushioning underfoot was as intense as the summer heat.  We loved how our feet slowly and comfortably sank into it. Our HA durometer in the lab gave the RS-X a 15.6 softness score, making it roughly 50% softer than average. 

This Puma sneaker was so soft and airy that it was quite surprising that it was 2 ounces heavier than average. It weighed 16.05 ounces or 455 grams when the average is only 14.04 ounces or 398 grams.

Pros

  • Retro charm
  • Numerous vivid colorways
  • Very comfortable step-in feel
  • Plenty of cushioning for all-day wear
  • Breathable, summer-ready upper
  • Very stable platform
  • Highly durable outsole
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Heavier than average
  • Stiff forefoot
Full review of PUMA RS-X

Summer sneakers with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

Not only was the midsole of the Adidas Alphaboost V1 thicker, but it was also a lot softer than average. In fact, it offered the plushest experience among all the summer sneakers that we tried. It also delivered a good deal of outsole durability and impressive breathability.

According to our caliper readings, the midsole of this Adidas summer sneaker was 41.8 mm thick at the heel and 28.3 mm thick at the forefoot. Both these numbers significantly dwarf our recorded averages, which are 31.3 mm and 20.0 mm, respectively. Aside from giving us that chunky look, the thick midsole also delivered amazing softness. Our HA durometer gave it a rating of 22.4, making it 28% softer than average. 

When it comes to durability, the outsole was not to be overshadowed by anything. Our Dremel drilling only left 0.4 mm of damage, which was way lower than the 1.0 mm that the average sneaker would have incurred. Using this on rough surfaces, therefore, was never a problem. 

The Adidas Alphaboost V1 was also not to be discounted when it came to comfort because of its high level of breathability. We were so impressed with it during our wear tests and lab assessments that we gave it a score of 4 out of 5.

It was a bummer that the sneaker’s structure was largely inflexible. Based on our flex test, this Alphaboost V1 needed 41.9N to bend at 90 degrees. A typical sneaker would only need 23.2N.

Pros

  • All-day comfort
  • Springy ride
  • Well-cushioned
  • Great for casual runs
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • Amazingly stable platform
  • Futuristic look
  • Versatile for many activities

Cons

  • Largely inflexible structure
  • Flimsy heel hold
Full review of Adidas Alphaboost V1

Summer sneakers with the best arch support

New Balance 580
85
Decent!

What makes it the best?

The New Balance 580 is easily among the most breathable kicks this season. It was perfect for strolls under the heat of the sun even for those who need a lot of arch support because of its thick and soft midsole. It was the best summer sneakers for arch support; a very durable one at that!

The smoke that we pumped into the NB 580 escaped quite smoothly through its upper material. During our wear-tests, we never felt any uncomfortable overheating of our feet. On the contrary, we felt that they were nicely and comfortably aerated all throughout. A perfect 5 for ventilation here.

The heel stack of this sneaker stood at 34.8 mm while the forefoot was at 24.5 mm. The average measurements were 31.3 mm and 20.0 mm, respectively. Aside from being thicker, the midsole was also significantly softer. Our HA durometer gave it a 20.3 rating when the average was at 30.9. The thick and soft cushion was able to follow the contours of our arches, giving us the support that some of us never even thought we needed!

Besides breathability and arch support, this New Balance sneaker also delivered in terms of durability. The outsole, in particular, was a standout in this arena. A typical outsole incurred 1.0 mm of damage after a round of Dremel drilling; yet, we only saw a practically negligible 0.3 mm of damage in the New Balance 580!

Too bad this sneaker couldn’t really serve those with wide feet. At its widest, the toebox was just as wide as the average (99.1 mm) at 97.7 mm.

Pros

  • Luxuriously comfortable
  • Well cushioned landings
  • Among NB's most stylish
  • Extremely breathable
  • Stable and supportive ride
  • Good for some fitness activities
  • World-class finish
  • True to size
  • Premium parts

Cons

  • Subpar color retention
  • Not ideal for broad feet
Full review of New Balance 580

In the summer months, a good pair of sneakers is a non-negotiable must-have for your wardrobe. With longer days comes more opportunity. Outside is calling and the warmer air is inviting, the sun is shining and your skin is glowing. With so much to offer, summer is a favorite season for activity lovers as we choose to embrace the great outdoors.

Reebok Club C85 Tennis Shoe

But what exactly makes a good, if not great, pair of summer kicks? Which features should you be looking for? Maybe you’re in the research phase yourself and if so, I’ve got good news for you. You see, all good questions require good answers so with that in mind we’ve done our homework and taken a deep dive into this exact niche.

Just because your summer sneakers might only come out for a few months of the year, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to make the most out of them - in fact, quite the opposite. Let’s go find out and get into it!

Summer sneakers are great… if they’re comfy

When it comes to summer sneakers, comfort must be your first priority. As the temperatures rise, your choice of footwear becomes crucial in ensuring a pleasant and enjoyable day out. With longer days and outdoor adventures on the horizon, the last thing you want is the feeling of being uncomfortable or having sore feet slowing you down.

Nike-Air-Max-90-Lace.jpg

When researching your next pair of kicks remember this: comfort isn't just an added bonus – it's a non-negotiable. When sneaker-cupid does find your match, put a proverbial ring on them because they will undoubtedly become your go-to choices for a season filled with comfort and style.

Primary colors complement the classic summer look

There is nothing more pure than a fresh pair of sneakers kicking along on the summer sidewalk. Adaptable and versatile, plainly colored sneakers can be worn with multiple outfits and on multiple occasions. With a dress at the beachside cafe? Sneakers are a perfect match. With some shorts at the dog park? Sneakers are a staple. Date night dinner in a fitted slip dress with a blazer over the top? Edgy, but formal.

Air-Max-720-outdoor-product.jpg

This summer look for simple designs in your sneakers. Features such as classic contours and primary color elements should be standard. Though it can be fun to sometimes go for a bold ‘out there’ design, the warm weather often doesn’t require anything too flashy; it’s summer after all - let the natural daylight do the heavy lifting.

Why white

White sneakers reflect heat and sunlight, helping to keep your feet cool and therefore your body temperature down. Wearing white in the summer months can complement your bronzed skin tones, make you look slimmer and feel more confident in your appearance. White sneakers are a classic summer color that just never goes out of style.

The Vans Old Skool sneakers absolutely nails this look, and they’re far from the only brand on the market you need to consider…

Vans Era On Foot Review

5 big summer brands

Nike: World famous and known for its iconic swoosh logo, Nike has long been a trailblazer in the world of sportswear. With a highly regarded history of athletically-inspired quality products, Nike sneakers can be an ideal summer performer. From the classic Air Max and Air Zoom series’ to the cutting-edge Flyknit technology, Nike is always a popular choice.

Nike-Air-Max-90-outdoor-metal.jpg

Adidas: The famous three stripes of Adidas is a global phenomenon recognised for creating sneakers that resonate with athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike. With minimalist aesthetics and functional designs, Adidas sneakers often tick all the boxes for a summer of activity and fun. The Stan Smith cooperation is a classic style that has lasted the test of time.

Adidas Stan Smith Grass Court

Vans: Originally known for its skater offerings, Vans is now a brand that represents an urban and laid-back vibe suitable for everyone. There’s something about Vans sneakers that oozes confidence without even trying, and their under-rated styles can be the perfect compliment to nearly any summer outfit.

Vans Old Skool skateboarding

Summer is the time for a cool and lightweight sneaker

Lightweight sneakers help you get on with your day and enjoy the activities that it may bring. They won’t tire you down and will keep you comfortable throughout the day. Summer is not the time to be clunking around in some heavy-duty boots, keep them for when you need them.

Nike Air Zoom-Type

3 reasons sneakers with breathable mesh uppers are the winners this summer

Breathable air mesh uppers turn your sneakers into the perfect companion for pilates, brunch with besties or blitzing the afternoon school run. Here’s why:

1. Versatile comfort: The lightweight and breathable nature of mesh uppers ensures that your feet stay comfortable and well-ventilated during various summer activities. Perfect for low-impact exercises like pilates or social gatherings with friends, these sneakers will easily allow you to enjoy a broad range summer plans.

2. All-day coolness: The air mesh design actively encourages airflow, preventing heat and moisture buildup inside your shoes, so that you can enjoy your day without discomfort. Ideal for staying cool and composed on busy school runs, they ensure your feet remain as fresh as can be, even in the hottest weather.

3. Stylishly sporty: Mesh uppers are often incorporated into sleek and trendy sneaker designs, allowing you to showcase your fashion-forward side while staying comfortable. Perfect for elevating your athleisure game during brunch outings or any occasion where the sporty-chic dress code is on the table.

Moisture-wicking insoles are the quiet achiever

Moisture-wicking insoles, or inner linings, are the unsung heroes of summer sneakers. Bold call maybe, but these bad boys often go unnoticed as they quietly ensure your feet remain dry and comfortable even when the temperature soars.

Whether you choose to use the default shoe manufacturer-provided insoles or prefer to opt for a third-party solution, a good pair of insoles for summer are engineered to efficiently absorb and move moisture away from your feet. Not only do they help prevent that unpleasant feeling of sweaty socks, but they also prevent the bacteria that cause smelly odors from accumulating.

on-cloudnova-tongue-padding

By actively managing moisture, these linings contribute significantly to your overall comfort during hot summer days.

Whether you're out for a leisurely stroll or perhaps engaged in more active sporting pursuits, moisture-wicking linings help maintain a pleasant foot environment. They work tirelessly in the background, allowing you to focus on enjoying your summer adventures without the distraction of dampness or discomfort.

So, when the sun is beating down, and your feet are working hard, moisture-wicking inner linings ensure your summer sneakers are up to the task, keeping you cool and dry every step of the way.

5 clever summer-friendly leather alternatives

They might look great but sometimes leather (and its sidekick suede) sneakers just aren’t suitable for summer because they have a tendency to trap in heat and cause your feet to sweat unnecessarily.

For those who appreciate the timeless appeal of classic leather shoes but want to keep cool during the summer, sneakers made from alternative fabrics to leather might just be the solution. These materials combine practicality with comfort and sustainability, making them an excellent choice for the hotter months.

1. Vegan leather:

  • The appeal: Vegan leather is a synthetic ‘faux leather’ often made from polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), replicating the look and feel of traditional leather without any animal-derived components.
  • Sustainability: It's a sustainable choice that aligns with eco-conscious consumers and manufacturers alike. No animals are harmed, and the production process typically has a lower environmental impact.
  • Summer comfort: Vegan leather, being less heat-absorbent than genuine leather, prevents your feet from feeling excessively hot in the summer sun.

2. Synthetic alternatives:

  • The Appeal: Various synthetic materials, like microfiber and synthetic suede, mimic the texture of leather while offering unique benefits.
  • Sustainability: Many synthetic materials are produced using less water and energy compared to traditional leather tanning processes, contributing to sustainability efforts.
  • Summer comfort: These alternatives are often designed to wick moisture away from your feet, helping to keep them dry and comfortable on hot days.

3. Cork and fabric blends:

  • The appeal: Some brands experiment with innovative materials by blending cork and fabric, creating a distinctive summer-friendly texture.
  • Sustainability: Cork, a renewable resource, adds an eco-friendly dimension to these sneakers.
  • Summer comfort: The combination of cork and fabric offers both breathability and a unique aesthetic, perfect for those who seek standout summer style.

4. Recycled and upcycled

  • The appeal: Sneaker companies increasingly incorporate recycled and upcycled materials, including plastic bottles and reclaimed textiles, into their designs.
  • Sustainability: These sneakers not only reduce waste but also lower the demand for new raw materials.
  • Summer comfort: Many of these materials are chosen for their lightweight and breathable properties, making them suitable for summer wear.

5. Faux leather varieties:

  • The appeal: Faux leather options are abundant, ranging from patent faux leather to embossed patterns, allowing for diverse style choices.
  • Sustainability: While not all faux leather is inherently sustainable, some manufacturers prioritize eco-friendly production methods.
  • Summer comfort: If you can, choose faux leather sneakers with perforations or breathable linings to ensure ventilation during hot days.

Perforation and ventilation

Look for sneakers with fabric that utilizes strategic perforations and ventilation zones. These design elements enhance air circulation and help regulate the temperature inside the shoe. Suitable also for intense activities, your feet will appreciate it this summer when they need to stay cool under pressure.

Sleek stylin’

Another great thing about summer sneakers is that you don’t have to make trade-offs between comfort and appearance. They usually feature sleek styles that can suit virtually any style or occasion. Whether you’re gardening at home, running around with the kids at the playground, or on a casual walk at the dog park, sleek styles mean your summer selfies will be full of memories you can be proud of.

Vans-Era-Outdoor.jpg

The versatility of canvas 

It's no coincidence that all the major brands are featuring canvas sneakers in their collections this season. This is because canvas sneakers seem to offer the best of both worlds: the comfort you expect from summer footwear plus the versatility of trainers.

They are well-suited for summer activities like leisurely strolls, travel adventures and even bike rides with the family. Plus, with their closed-toe design and breathable fabric, they keep your feet comfortable without causing overheating.

vans Era Upper Review Inner

Canvas low-tops are the go-to choice for those seeking practical footwear without compromising on their summer style.

Frequently asked questions

Are sneakers actually good for summer?

Yes. The sneakerhead inside me realizes that I might be a bit biased here but sneakers are truly good shoes to wear all year round, and especially in summer as you are more likely to be more active.

Do men and women both wear sneakers in summer?

Yes, absolutely. Some men love sneakers naturally while women need some convincing sometimes, but sneakers in summer are an excellent choice regardless of your gender or activity level. Most sneakers are split into gender-specific makes and models, although some are unisex. Choose what works for you, and don’t forget to make sure they’re comfortable. If they’re not comfortable, you won't want to wear them.

Author
Jaydee
Jaydee
Jaydee dispels the myth that women can't be experts when it comes to sneakers. With hundreds of sneaker articles under her belt, she gained a surefire edge over others claiming to be experts. Since joining RunRepeat in 2017, she’s published formidable arrays of sneaker write-ups - some covered in lifestyle magazines. Interested in scrutinizing a pair of sneakers? Jaydee is the best person to talk to as she can intuitively chew it over with you even while doing her laundry. When she’s not writing, you can catch Jaydee playing with her two kids, online shopping, and spending far too much time on Instagram.