The Coolest Knit Sneakers For Men (That Aren’t Ugly)
Breathable, comfortable and lightweight, every man should have a pair of knitted kicks in his warm-weather rotation.
Lightweight and as comfortable as slippers, knit sneakers are one of the genuine footwear innovations of the 21st century. Marrying all-day comfort with sporty streetwear styling, they came along just as the athleisure trend took hold and functional sportswear crossed over into everyday men’s fashion.
The best knit sneakers, however, aren’t just for the gym or just for the ‘gram. These are multifunctional shoes that you can wear on any casual occasion. Many of them are designed to look as minimal as they feel on your feet, which means they slot into your wardrobe easily.
And with post-pandemic menswear unlikely to sacrifice comfort any time soon, now is a great time to invest.
What is a knit sneaker?
A knit sneaker is exactly what it sounds like: a sneaker made from a knit material. The upper of the shoe is constructed from interlocking yarns (usually a synthetic fabric) that create a breathable, flexible and lightweight material. With 3D knitting technology, the uppers are often seamless, creating a form-fitting silhouette that feels like a barefoot running shoe.
In the past 10 years, a number of knit sneakers have become footwear icons, just like Superstars and Air Jordans did before them. And all the major sneaker brands have invested: the Adidas NMD and Nike’s Flyknit range are some of the most famous, and don’t forget luxury sneakers like the Balenciaga Speed Trainer or the influential (if controversial) Yeezy line.
Knit sneakers are available in a variety of silhouettes, from high-tops to low-tops, and while they’re inherently sporty, they come in a range of colours and patterns to match your style. The knitted technology is also a great way to use recycled fibres, meaning you can find a lot of sustainable designs.
The benefits of knit sneakers
If you’re used to wearing traditional leather sneakers, knitted kicks may feel like a leap. But if you’ve ever worn lightweight runners or canvas low tops (and who hasn’t?), then making a switch needn’t be difficult. Plus, there are a number of compelling reasons why you should consider giving them a try.
One of the core benefits of knit sneakers is that they offer exceptional comfort. The stretchy, knitted material conforms to the shape of your foot, providing a snug and personalised fit that feels like a second skin. This is especially important for people who spend long hours on their feet or engage in physical activities that require a lot of movement, as it can prevent discomfort and fatigue.
Knit sneakers are inherently breathable, allowing air to circulate around your feet and preventing them from getting too hot or sweaty. They’re an ideal vacation shoe, especially if you’re the kind of traveller who likes to see a new place on foot. As well as staying comfortable when temperatures rise, the breathable design can reduce the risk of blisters and chafing between stops.
Knitted kicks are also much lighter than their leather or suede counterparts, which can make a big difference in terms of all-day wear. Whether you’re running errands, commuting to work or hitting the gym, you’ll appreciate the freedom and flexibility that comes with wearing sneakers that make you feel lighter on your feet.
The best knitted sneaker models for men
Want to add some knitted kicks to your rotation? Here are the models you should consider.
Adidas Ultraboost Primeknit
Adidas is known for its innovative approach to footwear, and the Ultraboost is a perfect example of its envelope-pushing performance sneakers. The 3D knitted upper is stretchy, breathable and lightweight, making it the ideal choice for runners and sneaker enthusiasts alike.
The Boost midsole meanwhile provides incredible cushioning and energy return, so whether you’re chasing a bus or a new PB, you’ll stay comfortable no matter how long you’re on your feet.
Hylo is an eco-conscious footwear brand that helps you tread lightly on the planet in more ways than one. Using plant-derived materials in its knit sneakers, you can also send the shoes back to the brand when you’re finished with them for recycling.
This minimalist approach extends to the shoes’ look, with simple block-colour designs that fit into your everyday wardrobe as well as your kit bag.
The Hylo Light is built on a footbed created to mould around the anatomy of the foot. A perfect knit sneaker for light runs and everyday wear.
Oliver Cabell Phoenix
Specialising in luxury minimalist shoes, Oliver Cabell’s designs are stripped back for versatile wear. Its Phoenix sneaker is the brand’s innovative knitted trainer, 3D printed with materials derived from plastic bottles.
Engineered for comfort, it’s big on cushioning while the seamless upper keeps your feet cool.
It’s also completely machine-washable – handy for keeping your kicks box fresh.
Greats The Royale Knit
Greats is a Brooklyn-born sneaker label that aims to find a more environmentally friendly way of creating amazing footwear. Its knitted Royale sneaker is a big step in the right direction.
Crafted from recycled plastic bottles, the mesh upper is textured and luxurious, as well as lightweight and breathable.
Sporty but laid back enough to wear with smart casual trousers, it’s also machine-washable if you remove the sole.
Nike Flyknit Racer
Nike’s Flyknit technology has been a game-changer for the evergreen sneaker brand, mixing true running credentials with streetwear styling. High-strength synthetic fibres are woven together for a sock-like fit across the range.
The Flyknit Racer is one of the brand’s lightest, fastest and best-selling running shoes – ever, knitted or no. The shoe’s lightweight construction, combined with a comfortable and snug fit, makes it ideal for road running.
Meanwhile an ever-increasing roster of colourways keeps the hype machine rolling.
Balenciaga has form when it comes to eye-catching, mould-breaking sneakers. The Speed is a prime example: an offbeat luxury sneaker that features a sock-like knitted upper and a chunky sole for a fashion-forward look. It’s sci-fi, it’s barmy, it’s completely Balenciaga.
The upper is made with a stretchy, breathable knit material that conforms to the foot. Meanwhile, the oversized sole is as much about the look as it is about bouncy comfort on the road.
Vans Ultrarange Rapidweld
Vans may be known for its classic skate shoes, but the Ultrarange Rapidweld is a great option for those looking for a comfortable, athletic take on the brand’s classic silhouettes.
It’s an underrated gem of the Vans roster, bringing an outdoorsy, trail-shoe vibe and the performance to match.
The mesh upper provides a comfortable and flexible fit while the UltraCush midsole ensures that your feet stay cushioned no matter how long you’re on your feet.
A must-have shoe in the Adidas line-up ever since its release in 2015, the NMD range is based on classic models from the 80s, but brought into the 21st century with advanced construction and comfort.
Featuring a sleek and modern design, this is a crossover sneaker that appeals to runners and sneakerheads alike.
The Boost midsole delivers responsive cushioning that makes the NMD suitable for a wide range of activities, from running to everyday wear. And those distinctive midsole plugs add a touch of visual interest to the shoe’s overall aesthetic.
Its popularity has been driven by a number of iterations on the classic design, plus collaborations with the likes of Pharrell, bringing a fashion-forward approach to the silhouette.
Nike Air Max 270 Flyknit
Combining retro looks with futuristic construction, the Air Max 270 Flyknit is a hybrid sneaker that’s perfect for urban living. Featuring one of the tallest heel bases that Nike has ever produced (perfect if you need a little boost in height), the signature Air Max unit provides serious cushioning with every step.
Plus, as with all of Nike’s best knit sneakers, the technology used in the construction of the Air Max 270 Flyknit creates a breathable and flexible fabric that conforms to the foot for a lockdown fit.
The upper also allows for a lightweight, airy feel, which helps to keep your feet cool and comfortable, especially during warmer weather.
Allbirds Wool Runner
Allbirds has made a name for itself as the go-to brand for sustainable and eco-friendly footwear, thanks to its novel use of merino wool and transparent decarbonising plans. It’s one of the few sneakers brands to be a certified B Corp.
The Wool Runner is a prime example of its approach, stitched together from merino wool and recycled materials. This sneaker is incredibly comfortable, and the simple, logo-free design means that it can be worn with just about anything.
If you’re not happy after 30 days of wear, the brand will take the shoe back, no questions asked
New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz
New Balance has been around for over a century, and its popularity among runners and barbecuing dads is testament to the brand’s commitment to comfort. The Fresh Foam Cruz offers something different to the Seinfeld-friendly chunky sneakers that New Balance is best known for.
As well as a breathable knit upper, the shoe features a slip-on bootie-style construction that is comfortable and flexible on-foot. The Fresh Foam midsole meanwhile is soft and responsive, making it the ideal choice for runners and gym-goers.
Reebok Zoku Runner Ultraknit
The Reebok Zoku Runner Ultraknit places comfort at the forefront, designed specifically as an everyday shoe.
The Ultraknit upper is soft and flexible, providing a sock-like fit that conforms to your foot. Down below, the DMX Foam midsole provides excellent cushioning and support, making these shoes ideal for all-day wear.
Under Armour HOVR Phantom
Chunky, futuristic but minimal in its own way, the Under Armour HOVR Phantom is among the best knit sneakers on the market.
Engineered for runners, but appealing to hypebeasts and techwear fanatics too, the shoe’s knit upper provides a secure fit while still allowing the foot to breathe, keeping it cool and dry.
The HOVR technology in the midsole delivers a responsive and cushioned ride, while the outsole offers reliable traction. The sock-like collar and tongue design also contribute to the shoe’s overall stability and comfort, making it a perfect choice for intense workouts or long-distance runs.
ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25
The ASICS Gel-Kayano 25 Knit is a top-tier knit sneaker that ticks all the boxes in terms of style, comfort and functionality. Designed as an all-round running and training shoe, the knit upper is a standout feature, as it offers a breathable and stretchy material that conforms to the shape of your feet.
The recycled knit material is made for durability and can handle the wear and tear of everyday running. The sneaker also boasts ASICS’ FlyteFoam technology that delivers excellent cushioning and soft landings with every stride.
The outsole is made from high-abrasion rubber, providing exceptional traction on various surfaces.
Converse CX Crater
Imagine the classic Chuck Taylor, evolved one million years into the future. That’s kind of what you get with the Converse CX Crater, a crazy-looking sneaker that won’t be for everyone, but is certainly unique.
What is it? Well, it’s a sock-style knitted upper encased in a ‘crater foam’ midsole that wraps over the top and front of the shoe. Despite its offbeat looks, the DNA here belongs to modern athletic shoes that prioritise lightweight comfort.
Constructed with a blend of materials including recycled polyester, cotton and leather, the use of repurposed materials makes the CX Crater an eco-friendly option for anyone who wants to stand out from the crowd.
The On Cloudswift earns its place among the best knit sneakers on the market, simply because this brand is a genuine disruptor in the running and lifestyle market.
Built on a chunky sole with ‘clouds’ that compress upon impact and then spring back into shape, it cushions your strides and propels you forward – delivering comfort and support during intense workouts.
The shoe also features a breathable knit upper that conforms to the foot’s shape. This allows air to circulate, keeping your feet cool and dry, even during long runs.
Cole Haan ZeroGrand Stitchlite
The Cole Haan ZeroGrand Stitchlite seamlessly blends style, comfort and functionality. The standout feature of this sneaker is the lightweight and breathable Stitchlite upper.
Cool and comfortable it’s ideal for everyday city life, but can also be used as a training shoe when needed.
The sneaker features the brand’s Grand.OS sole that offers excellent cushioning and support for your feet, making it suitable for running, walking or any other physical activity.
The sole is also flexible and lightweight, providing a comfortable and natural feel.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23 Knit
Asics’s long and strong history of sturdy, reliable running shoes means it’s always worth looking at for any kind of athletic footwear, knit sneakers included.
The Gel-Nimbus 23 knit is a top-of-the-line running shoe that features a knitted upper for a comfortable and flexible fit.
The Gel technology in the midsole provides excellent cushioning and support, making the shoe ideal for committed runners who hit the road several times a week.