Dad shoes AKA old people shoes AKA ugly sneakers have been around for a long time. And while dad shoes started out as a fashion trend a few years ago, they’re showing no signs of leaving. Yep, those clunky, thick-soled lace-up sneakers that you cringed at as a kid, aren’t going anywhere. Now if you think about it, a comfortable shoe that’s fashionable is about as rare as a dancing unicorn. The best dad shoes are the ones that make your feet happy. Let’s hope this style stays around for a long time.
The history of the dad shoes trend
How did we get to fall in love with chunky sneakers? The 90s made athletic wear trendy, which set the ground for what was to come. Back in 2014, Adidas’ Stan Smith sneaker was relaunched and everyone had to have them. That shoe was the gateway to it all. Then in 2017, Balenciaga released the Triple S sneaker and suddenly oversized, thick-soled, chunky sneakers were the big thing. Yeezy, Louis Vuitton and everyone else jumped on the trend. Demna Gvasalia, the genius behind Balenciaga also created the knitted or sock sneaker. Want to know what the next footwear trend will be? Follow Balenciaga. Under Gvasalia’s reign as creative director, the brand is creating sneaker trends every day.
How to wear dad shoes
The best dad shoes, as we’ve established earlier, are insanely comfortable. Maybe it’s the big, chunky foamy heel or the knitted top, but once you got them on you don’t want to take them off. Maybe that’s what made Dad grab those shoes the moment he was off work. When throwing together an outfit, remember that the best dad shoes, once you parse it down, are really just sneakers. They’ve got an amped-up sole and sometimes crazy colorways, but in the end, they’re just sneakers. Using that philosophy and applying it to dressing, the stuff that you’d normally wear with sneakers — jeans and a tee, or khakis and a sweatshirt, — will work just as well with dad shoes. Basically, you can wear a dad shoe with anything except maybe a tuxedo or a kilt. Then again, if the dad shoe is the best dad shoe you’ve ever worn, go ahead and break the fashion rules and do it up.
Now that we’ve cleared all that stuff up, scroll through to find the best dad shoes for you and your budget.
1. New Balance Men’s 624 Sneaker
Dubbed the “classic dad shoe” the 624’s silhouette remains unchanged since it hit the streets when originally debuted. Classified as a cross-trainer AKA mall walking shoe for Ops, this sneaker has a plump, chunky heel, rounded toe, EVA cushioning for a comfy midsole and EVA heel pocket for more plushness.
New Balance Men's 624 Sneaker
2. New Balance Men’s 608 V5 Casual Comfort Cross Trainers
If you think these New Balance 608 V5 cross trainers are the same shoes pictured above, then you aren’t a connoisseur of dad shoes like we are. However, you might still appreciate that these popular white sneakers are on sale for just $50 right now via Amazon Prime. Not only are these sneakers some of the most popular men’s trainers on Amazon, but they’re also the quintessential dad shoes for your summer style. Oh, and they’re 28% off right now.
New Balance Men's 608 V5 Casual Comfort Cross Trainers
3. Nike Air Monarch IV
We know what you’re thinking, “isn’t this the same dad shoe as the top two?” Close, but no cigar. Sport Nike instead of New Balance with the Air Monarch IVs. These foam-cushioned sneaks are lightweight for long walks, runs and other workouts so your feet can stay active longer than most dad shoes. Each sneak is durably topped with leather for support and is clad in that classic dad shoe coloration — white and navy blue.
Nike Air Monarch IV
4. Adidas Ozweego Shoes
BEST IN BLACK
The Ozweegos are on everyone’s “best dad shoe” list. These clunky all-black sneaks hold all the original details the OG version designed in ’98 has. They’re eccentric yet low-key, which are perfect for goofy dads and modern street style wearers alike. Ever work in the food industry? These are super similar to what you wore running tables, hands-down.
Adidas Ozweego Shoes
5. Skechers Relaxed Fit: D’Lux Walker Pensive
MOST COMFORTABLE PICK
Skechers, no matter how they’ve tried to position themselves, were always the home of the dad shoe. And now, drum roll please, they’re an “In shoe.” Kinda. One thing they do right is create a massively comfortable sneaker. The Relaxed Fit: D’Lux is a slip-on sneaker that looks like a running shoe. With its flared outsole and air-cooled memory foam insole, you’re in for miles of easy walking. This dark shade works well with jeans.
Skechers Relaxed Fit: D’Lux Walker Pensive
6. Crocs Classic Clogs
Crocs are the ultimate dad shoe and no one can take that away from us. These once deemed “uncool” clogs are now some of the most unapologetically cool shoes to wear in 2021 due to their carefree nature and ready-for-anything approach. Plus, these puppies are way too comfortable.
Crocs Classic Clogs
7. Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Sneaker
BEST OLD-SCHOOL STYLE
The Nike Air Force 1 is beloved by college students, dads and welp, everybody. It has clean lines which make it easy to pair with khakis and jeans. It has a removable insole and a nice thick outsole. It’s probably not the first sneaker that comes to mind when you think “dad shoe,” but when you break it down, that’s really what it is.
Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Sneaker
8. K-Swiss Men’s ST329 CMF Training Shoe
BEST ON AND OFF THE COURT
When K-Swiss debuted this dad shoe it was positioned as a tennis shoe. Yes, you can use it on the courts, but its chunky heel and silhouette screamed “Daaaad.” It has a gum rubber outsole, leather upper, stripy laces and a groovy best-dad-shoe feel.
K-Swiss Men's ST329 CMF Training Shoe
9. Columbia Vitesse OutDry Hiking Shoe
BEST FOR HIKING
Not every day calls for the best dad shoe to wear on the streets. Sometimes, your choice of the best dad shoe might be something made for the wilderness. If you find yourself hiking in the wilderness from time to time, the Columbia Vitesse OutDry Hiking Shoes are a must for dad shoe lovers. These sneaks are as light as a feather to make your trip on the trail easier than it would be with the best hiking boots. They have a mesh construction that provides breathability but stays completely weatherproof so you can walk right into puddles and rains without fearing the worst. Because who wants to walk around on the trail with wet sneaks?
Columbia Vitesse OutDry Hiking Shoe
10. SOREL Kinetic Rush Ripstop
The SOREL Kinetic Rush Ripstops are sure to give you some compliments whenever you wear them out. “I’m not even lying, every time I wear them someone will stop and tell me how cool they are,” says our e-commerce editor Tyler Schoeber, “these are the best dad shoes I own solely for that reason. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a good compliment from a stranger?”
Not only that, but these sneaks are impressively breathable, comfy and cushiony. You’ll never want to take them off.
SOREL Kinetic Rush Ripstop
11. PUMA Men’s RS-X Sneaker
BEST RUNNING DAD SHOE
Running shoe meets dad shoe in Puma’s RS-X collection. This hybrid sneaker has the now-classic thick outsole that’s topped with lots of color for a bold take on this trend. Reviewers rave about its comfort. If you’re planning on traveling or walking everywhere, this may be the best dad shoe for you.
PUMA Men's RS-X Sneaker
12. Hanes Moccasin Slipper
Sure, there are tons of great slippers to choose from from the likes of UGG, Allbirds and L.L.Bean, but we’re talking dad slippers, people. The best dad slipper on the market? These moccasins from Hanes. Each pair is crafted with thick memory foam, odor control and is able to use indoors and outdoors.
Hanes Moccasin Slipper
13. Fila Strada Disruptor
BEST CHUNKY HEEL
Fila’s a respected name in the world of tennis shoes and sneakers in general. Frankly, it’s insane that the price is so low for this mixed-leather dad shoe. It has the requisite chunky heel and bungee cord lacing. Walking in them is like walking around in uber cushy slippers. It comes in a whopping 37 different colorways depending on your preference.
Fila Men’s Strada Disruptor
14. Everlane Court Sneaker
BEST FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Using less waste, energy and virgin plastic than almost every other sneaker of its kind, Everlane’s Court Sneaker is taking the term “dad sneaker” to a whole new level. Everlane offset all of the emissions they could possibly eliminate for this sneak’s creation and uses a 100% recycled polyester lining and natural and recycled rubber.
Everlane Court Sneaker
15. Reebok Walk Ultra 7 DMX Max Men’s Shoes
BEST LOW-KEY COOL PICK
The walking shoe or sneaker is the basis of the dad shoe. Trust Reebok to create one that not only pleases dads, but is also cool-looking too. The blue racing stripes give this sneaker a fashiony edge. The mixed leather and fabric upper sit on a wide chunky outsole. Inside is a cushioned insole for all-day comfort.
Reebok Walk Ultra 7 DMX Max Men’s Shoes
16. Allbirds Tree Runners
BEST NEW CLASSIC
Allbirds are great dad sneaks for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they have a minimalistic, shapely design that is eyecatching to both dads and street geeks alike. They come in an array of cool colors so they can match just about anyone’s style and are totally breathable through and through. Each pair of Tree Runners are also totally environmentally friendly and made from eucalyptus trees. Lastly, the Tree Runners are easy to clean — simply throw them in the wash worry-free and your sneaks are lookin’ sharp again in no time.