Dad shoes may have been made famous by dads, but dads aren’t the only ones who wear them! These types of shoes are old-school and retro, and are every bit as much of a fashion statement as anything else.
But can you run in these chunky, funky shoes? Well, we’ve reviewed the best dad shoes for runners to use safely and stylishly.
Our top choice is the Nike Air Max 96 II. Nike has been making top-quality shoes for a looong time, and they’re still at the forefront of stylish and retro.
The Air Max 96 II features a cool, rugged design, has Nike Air technology to protect the feet, and was designed for sport from the start.
Read on, though. They’re not the only excellent choice on this list. Your next favorite dad shoe awaits!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
1. Nike Air Max 96 II
The original Air Max 1 came out in 1987. It was the first time wearers could actually see the cushioning and not just feel it – and it was a huge hit.
The latest model keeps its retro style and classic 90s design, as well as the original Air Max colors for a true flash-back style. Visible Nike Air cushioning in the forefoot and heel also brings that retro vibe right back.
You may be surprised at how good a shoe this one is for running. It has a nicely padded ankle collar and tongue, which is low-cut for comfort and flexibility of the ankle. A spacious toe box means there’s no chafing, which is excellent news.
The one thing that runners may not like is a slight lack of breathability in the upper. It’s made from synthetic textile with added overlays for support, which isn’t quite as well-ventilated as mesh.
It does have some cool colorways and bright reflective strips, which serve the dual purpose of being funky and increasing your safety in low-light conditions.
A rubber outsole provides good grip, especially on the forefoot. The heel is somewhat less textured, but heel strikers should still be able to take advantage of the lugs in the midfoot and forefoot and make it work for them.
- Rugged, retro design
- Visible Air technology
- Padded collar and tongue
- Flexible rubber outsole
- May run slightly tight in the midfoot, in true Nike style
2. New Balance 608v5
The New Balance 608v5 debuted in 2014, and it’s a classic dad shoe. Given its many width options, men’s and women’s models, and stability-conscious design, it’s excellent value for money.
Like all New Balance shoes, this one has a wide, stable base that helps to keep you steady on your feet. It is notable, though, that the toe box seems to be slightly more pointed than the average NB shoe, which may aggravate those who want more space in the front.
The upper is mainly made from leather, which adds to that retro feeling and also provides a good, snug, stable fit. For breathability, perforations in the leather, a mesh tongue, and a mesh inner lining allow air to flow easily through to the foot.
A full-length EVA slab in the midsole offers comfort and cushion. Light support is added by the midsole’s unusual shape. It rises up on the edges, providing extra stability by “holding” the foot in place.
New Balance’s classic Abzorb cushioning protects the heels from taking a pounding on the road. This tech mixes EVA with isoprene rubber, which significantly increases the lifespan of the shoe, as well as offering great bounce-back and shock-absorption.
Rubber lining the outsole offers excellent grip on multiple surfaces. A light, geometric tread grips well to loose ground, as well as slippery surfaces. It’s also non-marking, so you won’t leave a trail wherever you go.
In the previous iteration of the shoe, there was a slight rocker bottom. That’s been removed for this model, which contributes to the stability of the shoe. Flex grooves in the forefoot also keep it flexible.
The biggest gripe people may have with this shoe is that it’s somewhat heavy. A men’s standard shoe weighs 14 ounces, which is definitely on the heavier side for a running shoe.
- Breathable leather and mesh upper
- Injection-molded EVA midsole
- ABZORB heel pad
- Wide, stable base
- Somewhat heavy, at more than 10 ounces for both men’s and women’s shoes
3. Reebok Classic Leather
An all-black shoe is classic old-school. Today’s running shoes tend to come out in vibrant colors, but you can’t go wrong with solid black footwear. It’s sleek, stylish, and doesn’t show dirt nearly as much as white or colorful shoes do.
We chose the Reebok Classic Leather as our favorite all-black dad shoe for runners. It features a super sleek, old-school design in stylish leather. It’s a great running shoe, but it also looks good enough to wear with your jeans.
A low-cut profile keeps you looking cool and feeling flexible. Perforations across the leather upper allow air in, but it is less breathable than a mesh shoe.
EVA cushioning in the midsole gives you some decent comfort and responsiveness when running, and it absorbs shock fairly well.
The gum rubber outsole not only offers excellent traction thanks to its softness and lugged design, but the orange-brown color stands out stylishly against the black of the rest of the shoe.
- Classic Retro running design
- Low-cut profile
- EVA midsole cushioning
- Durable Gum rubber outsole
- May run slightly narrow
4. FILA Disruptor 2 Premium RT
If clean, pure, all-white is your jam rather than black, we recommend the FILA Disruptor 2 Premium RT. It’s super sleek and has a chunky but funky sole.
This shoe strikes the perfect balance between athletic and fashionable. Wear it with your running gear out on the road, or with your street clothes out at a restaurant, and you’ll look good either way.
A white leather upper provides all of the style but also supports the foot very well without being restricting. It has unique shoelace eyelets that contribute to the retro look.
The FILA logo on the vamp comes in a couple of different colors, adding just a touch of bright personality. You can also get one with a white logo if you want that stark and stylish look.
A lightweight EVA midsole makes the shoe lighter than it appears to be at first glance. This is durable and works with the rubber outsole to provide good shock-absorbing qualities.
- Leather upper with FILA logo
- Lightweight EVA midsole cushioning
- Removable and washable insole
- Thick rubber outsole
- Can run small in the toe box
Best Color Options
5. New Balance Fresh Foam 3000 V5 Turf-Trainer
Not so keen on the all-black or all-white styles? You may prefer to choose from one of the bright, exciting colorways that the New Balance Fresh Foam 3000 V5 Turf-Trainer offers.
Orange, maroon, red, dark and light blue, midnight blue, yellow and black, and combinations are just a few of the choices of upper you’ll have. Whichever color you choose, it’s made of synthetic materials, perforated to keep good airflow throughout.
New Balance’s Fresh Foam cushioning layers the midsole from heel to toe. It’s lightweight and comfy while providing great shock absorption too.
More shock absorption and great traction comes from the rubber turf outsole, which is laid out in a honeycomb-like tread pattern.
- Variety of colorways
- Mesh and synthetic upper
- Full-length Fresh Foam cushioning
- Honeycomb-pattern rubber outsole
- They seem to run slightly small
Top Leather Shoes
6. Skechers Energy Afterburn Shoes
Leather shoes not only look good and are highly durable, but they’re actually quite structurally sound and help to support the feet while remaining comfortable.
These have a truly cool, old-school retro design that looks athletic at the same time. The leather upper is sleek and features light overlays at spots that need more reinforcement, like the toe and heel.
Your foot will feel cushioned and comfortable from the moment you slide this shoe onto your foot. A padded heel collar and tongue make it feel plush, and a soft lining and cushioning insole add to the pleasing on-foot feeling.
The EVA midsole provides good shock absorption, protecting your feet no matter what you choose to do in these shoes. Patterned rubber tread on the outsole offers excellent traction on various types of ground, both indoors and outdoors.
If you need extra arch support, though, this shoe may not be the right dad shoe for you.
- Smooth, supportive leather upper
- Shock-absorbing EVA midsole
- Cushioned insole
- Flexible rubber outsole
- May not be suitable for those who need strong arch support
Wondering about the best dad shoes for runners? Here are a few answers to the most common questions we get.
What Are Dad Shoes?
Dad shoes are 80s and 90s-style sneakers that have a “so ugly it’s cool” kind of feel.
They’re pretty chunky, both in the sole and the upper, so it’s quite noticeable on someone’s feet. Dad shoes are more of a fashion statement than anything else.
Why Are Dad Shoes So Popular?
Dad shoes have been made popular by influencers. Technically, it’s just a term used to describe chunky, thick-soled sneakers that have an old-school, retro design. It just so happens that many dads back in the day used to wear these kinds of shoes!
Influencers are bringing the dad shoe back to its former glory. If you’re into the latest styles and trends, this is one you’ll want to hop onto.
Can You Run in Dad’s shoes?
You can run in dad shoes if you really want to. But if you’re a serious runner, we recommend going for a dedicated running shoe.
Dad shoes are usually well-cushioned, but heavier than regular running shoes. This could weigh you down or lead to fatigue a little too early in your run.