7 Best Breathable Trainers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
7 Best Breathable Trainers in 2024
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If you’re looking for a new pair for the summer season, it’s important to have breathable trainers in the closet when the temperature rises. Aside from keeping your toes cool and comfortable, a reliable pair of shoes will protect your feet and ankles from the impact of walking on concrete paths or standing for long hours.

Whether you're attending a formal gathering, or going out with friends on a weekend getaway, there’s a perfect pair of breathable shoes for your feet. Shoe manufacturers are constantly innovating their designs using various materials to produce more comfortable and breathable trainers that suit everyone’s lifestyles.

With tonnes of options out there, getting into your summer sneaker hunt can be time-consuming. We can help you with that. How? We have purchased breathable trainers and personally tested their ventilation (among other properties) while wearing them on our indoor and outdoor trips and by also performing a smoke test in the lab. We appointed the pairs that were really impressive and put them on a list. Here are our top picks in various categories.

How we test trainers

Carefully wear testing one shoe at a time, we are sneakerheads who put in the hours of research and performance tests just to review them with the full scoop. We also examine each model to its essential parts inside our independent RunRepeat shoe testing lab. As you can see, we want to be comprehensive in our approach which includes:

  • Buying breathable trainers for testing using our own money. This eliminates any taint of bias in all of our reviews.
  • Thoroughly wear-testing each model, which involves not just a quick on-foot try but engaging in a variety of activities like a short walk to the grocery store, going on a date, or other similar activities. We take every sneaker for days of wear and tear use before giving our assessment on its fit, comfort, durability, etc…
  • Testing the shoes in our lab. Yep, more sets of tests. We do this to provide proof and a deeper explanation behind how a shoe performs or feels on foot. We also chop up the shoes to gather as much information from their parts.

Best breathable trainers overall

What makes it the best?

There were a lot of breathable trainers, but the ASICS Gel Lyte III trampled on them all through its clever use of materials to ensure ventilation. While a good part of it was made of real suede, it made use of highly breathable mesh in key areas. It was able to keep our feet aerated, earning a score of 4 out of 5. In addition to breathability, this shoe also delivered noteworthy plushness and effective structural flexibility to give us a completely comfortable experience.

The typical midsole would get a rating of 30.9 from our HA durometer. The midsole of the ASICS Gel Lyte III, for its part, only got 22.1, making it significantly softer than average. When worn, the soft midsole compressed when needed and ensured a pain-free experience for us.

Structurally, this ASICS sneaker was more flexible than usual. In our lab, we learned that the typical sneaker would need as much as 23.2N of force to bend at 90 degrees. When we subjected the Gel Lyte 3 to our flex test, we saw that it only needed much less; just 17.2N. This extra flexibility allowed the shoe to be more attuned with the movements of our feet.

If only the platform were a bit wider, this shoe would have been the perfect one. Our calliper measured it to be only 100.0 mm wide on the forefoot and 76.8 mm on the heel. The width of the average platform was measured to be 108.9 mm and 83.4 mm at the same points.

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

Most comfortable breathable trainers

Nike Zoom Vomero 5
96
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Unrestricted is the best way to describe our experience with Nike Zoom Vomero 5. It offers unlimited ventilation and seamless transitions with its light and loose construction. Along with the Zoom Air units that soften impact and spring us back up, Vomero 5 offers a pleasant ride. Out of all the breathable trainers we tested in the lab, this sneaker serves top-notch comfort.

Walking all day with this pair feels effortless since it’s so light on foot. Our scales reveal a mere 11.1 oz (316g), 21.2% below average. It never became a burden because other than its airy build, it follows our natural foot flexion easily, as proven by its close-to-the-average flexibility score in our bend test.

Its weightlessness is further enhanced by its airy mesh upper that allows the breeze to flow in and the heat to escape easily. Our smoke test confirms its exceptional ventilation with a flawless 5/5 breathability rating.

Surprisingly, its stack isn't too high but still delivers plushness and impact protection. Our cut-in half shoe reveals two Zoom Air units that soften landing and add responsiveness upon takeoff, enhancing comfort throughout our strolls around town. Furthermore, our durometer reveals the foam is 28.0 HA, 9.7% softer than average.

Unfortunately, its £170 price tag may be a deal-breaker for those on a budget, considering the average low-top sneaker only costs £130.

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 premium breathable trainers

What makes it the best?

New Balance 990 v6 defies the odds by combining suede with breathability and cushioning with stability, all in a light package —a feat achieved through meticulous craftsmanship and world-class materials. Our lab analysis unveils its robust construction and innovative use of FuelCell cushioning, solidifying its status as the best premium breathable sneaker.

Crafted with real suede layers, the upper withstands our torch test, showcasing its genuineness. We expected limited breathability with its material, but lo and behold, it has mesh panels that offer a high level of ventilation. Our breathability test confirms our experience with a 5/5 rating.

In the midsole, we discovered the FuelCell cushioning—a feature often reserved for elite running shoes—that rises to an above-average 39.1/23.9 mm stack with a below-average 28.3 HA composition. Both results highlight the supreme comfort and snappiness we experienced. Despite its size, 990 v6 has a light build of 12.9 oz (366g) and keeps us stable throughout our strolls. This sneaker delivered strong arch support and bolstered our form through the ENCAP rim around the heel. Additionally, 990 v6 widens its midsole to compensate for potential off-balance strides. 

There’s so much more to love about this shoe except its premium £210 price tag. If budget is a priority, we recommend looking for more affordable high-quality shoes.

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

Best lightweight breathable trainers

New Balance 327
90
Good!

What makes it the best?

When it came to breathability, the New Balance 327 was definitely up there with the likes of the NB 990 V6 and the Nike Air Max 270. It also offered other benefits, and its lightness was a definite standout, together with its pretty minimal feel on the foot. It easily became our favourite lightweight pick among the breathable ones.

The breathability of the 327 from New Balance deserved a 4 out of 5. We felt quite airy while wearing it, and it performed so well during our breathability tests in the lab.

Weighing only 10.62 ounces or 301 grammes, this shoe was definitely among the lightest that we’ve ever walked in. Our feet didn’t feel worn out even after strolling the whole day. The average sneaker could go as high as 14.04 ounces or 398 grammes. 

We also loved that this shoe felt very nice and minimal on the foot. Its tongue was only 2.0 mm thick based on our calliper measurements. The average tongue could rack up a whopping 8.7 mm of padding.

It’s just too unfortunate that wide-footers wouldn’t be able to enjoy the goodness of the New Balance 327. At its widest, the footbed was only 94.0 mm wide when the average could give as much as 99.1 mm of space.

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

Breathable trainers with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

It was already good enough that the Adidas Alphaboost V1 was breathable, but it just didn’t stop there. It also delivered one of the softest cushioning systems that we tried. As a result, it easily became our pick for the breathable sneaker with the best cushioning. The durability of its outsole, which made it outdoor-ready, was already a bonus.

Deserving of a 4 out of 5 rating for breathability, the Alphaboost V1’s upper easily allowed air to pass through. We confirmed this through our own experience and conducting a smoke test in the lab. 

Aside from being thick, the midsole was also nice and soft. The impact from occasional jumps and jolts was easily neutralised by it. Our HA durometer gave this midsole a 22.4 rating, which is significantly lower than the 30.9 average.

We were pleasantly surprised that the outsole displayed a good amount of abrasion resistance. We subjected it to high-pressure Dremel drilling in the lab, and our assault only managed to leave 0.4 mm of damage. This number is far lower than the 1.0 mm that we would have seen in a typical outsole.

Unfortunately, the Adidas Alphaboost V1 was too inflexible for its own good. Based on the results of our flex test, it needed 41.9N of force to be bent at a 90-degree angle. The average sneaker would have required only 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

Best breathable retro trainers

PUMA RS-X
90
Good!

What makes it the best?

In the category of breathable trainers, the PUMA RS-X prevailed as the superior retro model. The ventilation of this sneaker really wowed us as it notably relieved us from sweaty feet even on the hottest days. What’s more, is that it offers affordability without sacrificing its bold and captivating vintage aesthetic.

To fully grasp how inviting the PUMA RS-X’s upper to air, we meticulously inspected it under the illumination of a bright light and our microscope. These two tests unveiled identical results: porous toebox and quarter.

The colorway selection for this retro piece is simply a feast for the eyes. While its classic charm is stunning, it didn’t require a fortune. In fact, the PUMA RS-X is priced at £120, which is 30.2% cheaper compared to its kind. 

We confirmed that its hefty silhouette equates to its weight. Our scale read 16.05 oz (455g), which is 12.3% above the typical sneaker weight. If you wish for something that’s unburdening on your feet, we urge you to explore other breathable alternatives.

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 budget breathable trainers

New Balance 237
90
Good!

What makes it the best?

One look at the New Balance 237 and you would already know that it’s going to be breathable. The upper had mesh portions that let air in and out. Selling for only £80 (average was £120), this shoe felt comfortably light and had a pretty stable platform, especially around the heel. The NB 237 is easily the best breathable budget sneaker to date.

Several breathability assessments were done on this shoe in the lab, and the results concurred: this shoe was pretty well-ventilated. A score lower than 4 out of 5 would be a gross injustice!

Despite its thick midsole and rather bulky appearance, the New Balance 237 actually felt light. Our weighing scale in the lab confirmed our observations. This budget sneaker weighed only  11.25 ounces or 319 grammes, making it significantly lighter than the average sneaker (14.04 oz or 398g).

The platform was pretty wide, especially around the heel. Our calliper measured the platform’s heel part to be 101.7 mm wide when the average was only 83.4 mm. The extra surface area served as an outrigger that kept our steps stable and safe.

We could say that the firm midsole also contributed to the shoe’s stability, but it was just too much. Our HA durometer gave it a 42.5 rating, which is far higher (therefore firmer) than the 30.9 average.

Pros

  • Breathable and ready for the summer
  • Very durable and premium materials
  • Real suede
  • Out-of-box comfortable
  • Incredibly light
  • Retro vibes and effortlessly chic
  • Mix-and-match queens
  • Loads of colorways
  • Compliment magnet
  • Super affordable

Cons

  • Firm sole
  • Narrow fit
  • Materials wrinkle
Full review of New Balance 237
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 catalogues to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinising hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favourite pastime.