6 Best Summer Sneakers in 2024
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
Summer sneakers with the best stability
Best retro summer sneakers
Best classic summer sneakers
Summer sneakers with the best durability
Best chunky summer sneakers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.