6 Best Summer Sneakers in 2024

Jaydee
Jaydee on
6 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

Vans Old Skool
93
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Nothing outshines Vans Old Skool when it comes to summer sneakers! Vans Old Skool eclipses all the other pairs in this category because of its smooth air circulation, minimal to no break-in period, and refined style oriented toward the tropical season.

We experienced how breathable this sneaker is by taking it for a spin outside, and we couldn’t love the canvas upper more for allowing fantastic ventilation inside. Another wonder this upper can do is stand firm against our Dremel test, at least for the one where we used a wire brush attached to a drill to press against it. The wire brush didn’t cause any abrasion to the kick’s upper. 

Vans Old Skool also came with us during skating sessions and we found out that its outsole grips well that we could just stop whenever we needed to stop.

However, the thing about this sneaker is it embraces dirt and marks, and it doesn’t easily let go. We verified this by applying powdered and liquid dye on the sneaker’s toe box. This test led to us having a permanently stained Old Skool even after trying to clean it. So, unless you like your sneakers rugged looking, don’t go for Vans Old Skool.

Pros

  • A classic silhouette deserving of any wardrobe
  • Easy to wear in
  • Super comfortable
  • Fits true to size
  • Incredibly breathable thanks to the all-canvas upper
  • Clean aesthetics
  • Very durable outsole
  • Brakes well on the board

Cons

  • Not very durable in comparison to other modern skate shoes
  • Collect stains easily
Full review of Vans Old Skool

Summer sneakers with the best stability

New Balance 327
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

The 327 is uncontested among summer sneakers we deeply scrutinized when it comes to unshaky strolls. The breathability of this kick assured us a lasting coolness even during sunny climates. Its overall sturdy construction maintained our balance while traipsing on our urban explorations.

Having introduced smoke into the sneaker, we witnessed an appreciable outflow of smoke from the upper, getting a 4/5 breathability rating. On our feet, the 327 is indeed well-ventilating with its open-weave upper which became even more evident under our microscope.

The 327 is also generous, cushioning-wise. In our lab, we measured 35 mm of stack height in the heel and 25 mm in the forefoot. Both trumped their averages and they are by 13.6% and 30.2%, respectively. In spite of being elevated, we were steady in each of our steps. We traced this back to the wide base of the 327, which is 119.5 mm in the forefoot and 90.6 mm in the heel. These measurements surpassed the averages by 10.2% and 11.3%.

We realized that the structured build of the 327 is a double-edged sword. With our digital force gauge, we found that the sneaker lacks flexibility with a stiffness of 26.7N, 25.9% more rigid than most kicks. This is great for countering wobbliness but the consequence is less fluid walking strides. For those inclined towards smooth foot progressions, we recommend considering other kicks.

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

Best retro summer sneakers

PUMA RS-X
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

Immaculate retro style and superior breathableness intertwine in the PUMA RS-X, locking its spot as the best retro summer sneaker. In our day-long trips during summer, this sneaker successfully made us ignore the heat because of its incomparable foot feel. Additionally, its classic appeal is just the confidence lift we need while strolling the streets.

Having released smoke in the confines of the RS-X, we observed a great volume clear out of the kick, deserving a 4/5 rating in breathability. On our walks, this translated to foot freshness overload. Even though the tongue padding of the RS-X is a chunky 11.1 mm or 82% thicker than most, this didn’t affect the airflow. Instead, it granted us plushness on top of our feet.

Subjecting this shoe through wear and tear during the summer was more than fine because its outsole can withstand a serious beating. In our lab, we pressed our Dremel to its 6.5 mm thick outsole, and it only chipped 0.8 mm away, which was 38.5% less than the usual dents made by our tool on hiking boot outsoles.

The construction of this kick is rigid, which hinders the natural mobility of our feet. Our digital force gauge indicated it countered bending with 26.5N force, making the sneaker 37.3% stiffer. If smoother strides are your goal, you won’t find it in PUMA RS-X.

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

Best classic summer sneakers

Reebok Club C 85
92
Great!

What makes it the best?

No sneaker can go against Reebok Club C 85 in terms of being a classic summer pair for two major points: it is the epitome of the statement, ‘never goes out of style’ and it is ultra-comfortable during hot days. And by ultra-comfortable, we meant whether with or without socks!

In the lab, we flooded and cascaded water over this sneaker’s upper, and it resulted in a bone-dry interior. Reebok Club C 85 boasts a waterproof construction, which is why we were so amazed when our feet felt well-ventilated in this sneaker at the same time. Thanks to its perforated upper and terry cloth-covered insides, we were sweat-free the whole time!

What made this silhouette from the 80s even more fitting for summertime is its lightness and easy upkeep. In our lab, we tried how well Reebok Club C 85 could resist both wet and dry stains. And as we suspected, it repelled any markings, making it perfect for carefree use during summer. 

The only thing we found lacking in this sneaker is a more supportive underfoot construction. Albeit already super comfortable as it is, Reebok Club C 85 is not for those who require lots of support.

Pros

  • Ideal price point
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • Water-resistant
  • Surprisingly breathable
  • OK for sockless wear

Cons

  • Lacks modern inner shanks for support
  • Slightly loose fit
Full review of Reebok Club C 85

Summer sneakers with the best durability

Nike Air Max 90
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

For the most durable summer sneaker, we looked for a nearly indestructible kick that is insanely breezy during the sunny season. And the Nike Air Max 90 perfectly fits the bill. Showcasing promising resilience in both our lab and field tests, this pop culture icon also has a highly breathable leather-and-mesh upper that ages gracefully, akin to fine wine.

To put the sneaker's durability to the test, we used a metallic brush attached to a Dremel drill to scratch the upper. The Air Max 90 proved its legendary status by effortlessly shrugging off the scuffing, showing minimal signs of fraying. In our opinion, the abuse even enhanced the sneaker's appearance!

Hitting the town in the AM90s, we found the mesh upper to offer excellent breathability, keeping our feet cool and fresh even under the scorching sun.

It is important to note, however, that these kicks are very narrow-fitting even to our average-sized feet. We recommend exploring other sneakers for a more accommodating fit.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Breathable
  • The stuff of legends and rightly so
  • Huge amounts of colorways
  • Great price for a statement shoe
  • Fits true to size
  • Quality materials
  • Easy to clean
  • Stain resistant

Cons

  • So stiff it asks for an adjustment period
  • Normal and wide feet find it too narrow
Full review of Nike Air Max 90

Best chunky summer sneakers

What makes it the best?

After dedicating hours to testing summer sneakers in the lab and sporting them around town, we have determined that the Nike Air Zoom-Type is the best chunky summer sneaker. Here's why: its double-layered foam soles are not just chunky but incredibly responsive, offering amazing energy return and excellent grip. Additionally, the lightweight mesh that complements the chunky profile makes it perfect for hot weather.

As we took the sneaker for a stroll around city streets, we immediately felt its impact-absorbing properties. With every step, the shank and air pucks in the forefoot propelled us forward. Furthermore, the EVA foam midsole felt highly responsive while the outsole stayed grippy on various surfaces, resulting in a totally comfortable walking experience.

We also appreciate the balance achieved by the hefty soles and the light layer of breathable mesh on the upper, making the Zoom-Type an ideal companion for the summer. In our lab tests, the mesh material demonstrated promising durability too.

However, during our stain-resistance test, it failed to meet expectations. When the dye was intentionally poured on the toebox, the mesh absorbed much of the color, and cleaning them proved to be nearly impossible. For individuals seeking wash-friendly and stain-resistant summer sneakers, we do not recommend the Nike Air Zoom-Type.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fits true to size
  • Mind-blowingly comfortable
  • Robust
  • Amazing energy return
  • Blends modern and chunky styles

Cons

  • Not very weatherproof
  • Pricey
Full review of Nike Air Zoom-Type

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.