6 Best Breathable Trainers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
6 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 like Nike, Adidas, Vans, and PUMA are constantly innovating their designs using various materials to produce more comfortable 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 tests 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 based on hours of meticulous testing of over 700 breathable trainers across different brands.

How we test sneakers

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

Vans Old Skool
93
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Vans Old Skool is, without a doubt, the best breathable sneaker out there. After extensive lab testing and strolling around town, we discovered that apart from breathing like it has a lung, the sneaker also offers divine comfort. Even without socks, this legendary skating silhouette is a three-season fashion beast that rules the streets and the parks.

When we put the sneakers on, we first noticed the cloud-like comfort they provided. The interior is soft, and it only took us a few steps to break them in. Then we took the Old Skool out for a stroll around the city and found that the canvas upper breathes like crazy! We felt the canvas allowing air to flow into the sneaker, keeping our feet cool. No socks? No sweat, no worries!

Staying true to its skating heritage, the clean and classy canvas upper of Vans Old Skool is complemented by a well-constructed rubber outsole. After several miles of walking on pavements, asphalt, and tarmac, we noticed how the soles remained unbelievably grippy.

Back in the lab, we tested the sneakers' resistance to dirt by applying colored chalk to the upper. We were disappointed to find that the canvas material absorbed the colors to the point where brushing them with soap and water was not enough to remove the discoloration. For this reason, we advise sneakerheads who want an easy-to-clean sneaker to look somewhere else.

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

Best breathable trainers for sockless wear

What makes it the best?

Out of all the breathable sneakers in our extensive database, the Nike Air Max 270 stands out as the supreme choice for sockless wear. Through rigorous testing of hundreds of sneakers, we discovered that the AM270's neoprene interior is the key to its exceptional comfort even without socks. Complementing this, the mesh panels ensure optimal airflow, contributing to a cool and airy interior.

Upon donning the sneakers, a sense of contentment enveloped our feet. The fit was just right, and the neoprene sock liner cocooned our feet in comfort. We wore them without socks and were delighted to confirm that the comfort remained uncompromised. Interestingly, the absence of socks lent the shoes an even sportier vibe.

Moreover, we observed that the mesh upper played a pivotal role in maintaining foot comfort due to its effective facilitation of airflow. In our lab, we subjected the upper to a rigorous scratch test, employing a power drill fitted with a wire brush. The material impressively withstood the challenge, exhibiting no signs of fraying or damage.

However, our lab testing also unveiled a drawback: the mesh material attracts dirt easily. By introducing colored chalk and dye into the toebox, we found that the mesh readily absorbs the colors. While cleaning is feasible, the drying process takes time. Consequently, we don't recommend AM270 for individuals seeking a stain-resistant low-top option.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Instantly comfortable
  • True to size
  • Durable
  • Can be worn without socks
  • Flexible
  • Super breathable
  • Sleek modern looks
  • Crazy number of colorways

Cons

  • Heel height might need adjusting to
  • Not the best for standing all day
Full review of Nike Air Max 270

Breathable trainers with the best stability

New Balance 327
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

New Balance 327 aced air circulation and steadiness so much that it excelled beyond comparison in both areas. Wearing this sneaker in our actual daily affairs afforded us extra height minus the feeling of vulnerability from instability. Also, sweat wasn’t given a chance to build up on our feet, thanks to its incredibly permeable upper. 

As if the upper didn’t exist from the way the smoke that we blew inside the sneaker exited the 327. This led us to rate the breathability a 4/5. To validate our findings, we subjected the sneaker to a secondary permeability test using our microscope. To no surprise, our device revealed loosely woven fiber.

We subjectively gauged the stability of the 327 by performing lateral weight shifts while wearing the pair. It granted us a secure stance. For additional certainty, we also twisted the sneaker using our hands, and based on personal feel, the torsional rigidity deserved a 4/5 score. Both tests were consistent with our experience while roaming around: solid footing!

However, we found it best for individuals with narrow feet. The most expansive section of the toebox is 94 mm, 3 mm shorter than the average. We suggest going for other wider options or opting for a size up if you have wide feet.

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 durability

Nike Air Max 90
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

After subjecting thousands of breathable sneakers to intricate testing in both the lab and the streets, we concluded that the Nike Air Max 90 excels in terms of durability. With its robust construction and high-quality materials, this multi-textured sneaker, now over 30 years old, lives up to its reputation for toughness.

Visually, the intriguing combination of leather and mesh on the upper of the AM90 is striking. Its visual appeal prompted us to ensure that its performance matched its looks. After pounding them on the pavement for several days, these kicks displayed exceptional resilience.

Taking our examination to the lab, we deliberately scuffed them using a metal brush attached to a power drill. The Air Max 90 demonstrated its dominance, with only a slight surface texture chipped off despite the abrasion. Overall, the distressed upper enhanced the sneaker's edgy aesthetic.

The high-quality mesh, primarily visible on the toebox of the shoe, facilitates airflow, allowing the AM90 to breathe. We conducted a stain test on the mesh by pouring dye onto the material. Although the toebox absorbed the colors, we were pleased to discover that a regular shoe cleaner was sufficient to restore their sparkling cleanliness.

Additionally, during our testing, we observed that these kicks tend to run on the narrower side. For shoppers with normal or wide feet, we recommend exploring alternative options.

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 breathable trainers

What makes it the best?

The Nike Air Zoom-Type stood tall among all the other kicks we tested in our lab, earning its place as our top pick for the best chunky breathable sneaker. The sneaker's chunky midsole seamlessly blends with a modern aesthetic. However, it offers more than just style; it's incredibly responsive and surprisingly featherlight. What more could we ask for?

Upon first seeing the double-layered soles of the Air Zoom-Type, we took a second glance. They managed to be quirky, modern, and futuristic all at once. The woven upper, which is both light and breezy, complements the aesthetic exceptionally well. In our abrasion test, where we scratched the upper with a wire brush attached to a drill, the woven material exhibited impressive durability despite its thin and airy nature.

While taking these kicks for a stroll around town, we discovered that despite the substantial soles, they remain incredibly lightweight. Upon closer examination, we noticed that the TPU shanks embedded in the soles contribute significantly to their energy return. Overall, the chunky soles prove to be highly responsive, offering a unique walking experience.

However, despite the lightweight and airy design of the Zoom-Type, they can be heavy on the wallet. In our database, they retail for £160, which is 24.2% pricier than the average cost of all breathable chunky sneakers (£130.8). For those seeking more budget-friendly options, it's advisable to explore alternatives elsewhere.

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

Best breathable retro trainers

PUMA RS-X
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

In the category of breathable sneakers, 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
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.