15 Best Men’s Summer Shoes: Casual to Dress Styles 2018
“Summer’s here, I’m for that. I got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat. I’m drinking cold beer, man I’m glad that it’s here.” — James Taylor.
“She was drinking tea in a garden, under the green umbrella trees in the middle of summer.” — Panic at the Disco.
“Hey lil’ mama, would you like to be my sunshine?” — D.R.A.M. and Lil’ Yachty.
Doesn’t matter who sez it, the fact is that summer’s a great time of year and a time to look great. Of course, the fashion options are different in summer than any other time of year, so it may be time to update or add to the wardrobe. Or, in this case, the foot locker…and the target is to find the best men’s summer shoes for your personal look and vibe.
UPDATE: This post was updated May 16, 2018. We increased the list from 10 pairs to 15 pairs and updated all pricing. Important note: the shoes aren’t ranked, they’re just numbered for convenience.
Men’s Summer Shoes: A Definition
The good people at Men’s Health Magazine have a simple definition of “men’s summer shoes.” They say “just as winter calls for waterproof and durable footwear, summer also comes with its own list of proper picks — light fabrics and ventilation, for example.”
That’s a handy starting point. We looked a bit deeper and found all sorts of definitions, all sorts of lists, and we narrowed it down, comme ca:
Sandals – which includes flip-flops and slides, although we suggest you look at this curated list for a complete focus on the sandals, flip-flops and slides categories.
Sneakers – which includes canvas and other materials.
Loafers – think “boat shoes” or “deck shoes” and driving shoes.
Dress shoes – when you need to get a little dressier with the summer shoe.
We also include a “surprise entry” at the end of this list.
Men’s Summer Shoes: What About Socks?
If you’re wearing your summer shoes with pants that break (rest at the top of the ankle part of the shoe), you can easily get away with socks (dark) or, of course, no socks, which is the trend-o-the-day. And going sockless is a very reasonable idea with any look, but especially if you’re wearing shorts or casual linen beach pants. For sandals, we recommend not wearing socks, which I have learned over the years is a no-no from the sneer/no-sneer reaction on my wife’s face.
But overall, because you’ll be wearing your summer shoes in…um…the summer, AND because you will often want to go without socks, you may suffer from sweaty feet. To help fight the comfy fight, no-show shoe liners are a great idea. They’re like super low cut athletic socks, only they’re made specifically to not show and to wick away moisture and they’re a lighter fabric than socks. These babies from Thirty 48 are made of “Coolplus” fabric, which is a patented synthetic fiber designed to release hot air from your skin. The little sockies can’t be seen by anyone, you won’t notice they’re on, and you’ll be a step ahead of schweaty feet. They come in three-packs and six-packs (they’re $11.98 and up, depending on the pack) and a variety of colors, including neutral grey, black, brown, blue and white. Do yourself, and your feet, a favor.
So let’s kick summer off on the right foot with something from our list of the 15 Best Men’s Summer Shoes: Casual to Dress Styles 2018.
1. Mephisto Men’s Zach Leather Sandal
These are some high quality, pretty high fashion men’s sandals that would look great with just about any ensemble. The Mephisto Zach Leather Sandals feature moisture-wicking leather lining to keep you cool. The suede-lined “Air-Relax” footbed is padded with arch and metatarsal support and the outsoles are polyurethane traction soles. Three buckles allow you get the best fit possible. It’s available in four color options. Mephisto, based in France, has been around for more than 50 years and has more than 800 shops worldwide. A less dressy and more sporty Mephisto — the men’s Shark Fit Sandal — is very popular with customers and is a great men’s summer shoes option if you’re looking for something more casual. It is at a higher price point.
Price: $187 and up (depending on color/size selected)
2. Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Suede Sandal
There are two kinds of people in this world: Birkenstock people and non-Birkenstock people. Here’s your chance to either get a new pair or to join the in-the-know crowd. These men’s sandals are actually considered to be unisex, which you’ll see when you look at the sizes available. Birkenstocks feature a cork footbed that conforms to the wearer’s foot. (I know this from experience, as I once borrowed a friend’s ‘Stocks and suddenly found myself singing in a different octave and walking with a double-step cadence. What I’m saying is, they reeeaaally do conform to the owner’s foot, which is a very good thing. For the owner, not necessarily the borrower.) The two buckle straps are adjustable, so you can get the fit precise to your foot. The upper is all leather and the traction outsole is synthetic. These come in 17 different color options. If you want to try some Birkenstocks in something other than a sandal, the Boston Leather Clog is a good option.
Price: $120 and up (depending on size/color selected)
3. Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandal
These sandals for men definitely qualify in a list of the best men’s summer shoes because these are crowd pleasers. The “crowd” we’re referring to is the incredible 6,200+ reviewers who’ve commented about these sandals on Amazon. The sandals get a massive 4.4 out of 5-star rating average, so Keen must be doing something real right. The popularity of these sandals lends well to the idea that you can wear them out on the hike and then right into the restaurant (okay, casual restaurant). Everybody’s seen them, everybody knows them and nobody’s gonna think twice about you sporting these in a casual setting. The soles on these babies are very technical, with a multi-directional lug pattern and razor siping (traction-giving slits in the sole) that gives them great traction in wet or dry conditions. Keen’s “metatomical footbed” conforms to your foot’s shape. The upper is breathable mesh lining with “Cleansport NXT,” which Keen says provides “natural odor control.” Available in 24 different colors. Wanna get the same style for your (or someone else’s) kid? Check out the also extremely popular Keen Newport H2 Sandals for the little ones. Cool, cute, great buy.
Price: $59.99 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Best Sneakers, etc.
4. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Canvas Low Top Sneaker
The question isn’t whether or not these are great canvas shoes for men, it’s why don’t you already own a pair? When you talk about a quintessentially American shoe that has achieved a global welcome, the Chuck Taylors are right up toward the top of the conversation. For sheer popularity, you can’t argue with the numbers: on Amazon, more than 10,000 reviews with a 4.4 out of 5-star rating average. These are the classic canvas with rubber sole lace-up low tops. If white’s not your jam, they come in 10 different colors. Another classic is the high top Chucks but we do think the low tops are more versatile as a summer shoe.
Price: $28 and up (depending on size/color selected)
5. Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Striper Fashion Sneaker
If the Chuck Taylors are the President, these Sperry Top-Siders are the VP. These classic men’s summer shoes can be worn without the laces, which is the way it’s traditionally done in the summer, while you lace ’em back up up when fall rolls around. The Sperrys feature the salt-washed twill — we’re showing them in grey, but they’re available in 16 different colors. The eyelets, tongue and heel all feature the Sperry logo. They do have a removable polyurethane footbed that Sperry calls its “Wave Comfort Foot System” and the rubber outsoles feature the well-known Sperry “Wave-Siping” that gives them traction in wet or dry conditions. Very popular, these canvas fabric shoes have almost 1,000 reviews with a 4.2 out of 5-star rating average. The leather Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe is, of course, a perennial classic and you can get it in 31 (wha?!) different colors and styles. There’s also a sort of cool hybrid between the Stripers and the classic boat shoe, featuring a leather/fabric treatment.
Price: $31.95 and up (depending on size/color selected)
6. Sanuk Men’s Chiba Sidewalk Surfer Shoe
I don’t own Sanuks but I have briefly considered stealing them from my friends who do. I have borrowed them from these dudes — with their full cooperation — which is how I know what great men’s summer shoes these are. The Chiba Sidewalk Surfer Shoe is a canvas shoe for men that is available in at least five different colors (sometimes even more colors are available on Amazon). The shoe features a molded EVA footbed, so it ends up personalizing itself to your foot, which is great. Sanuks are very popular, with more than 1,700 customer reviews and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating average. While these Sanuks lend themselves perfectly to the convenient way of wearing them like a flip-flop (i.e., you step onto the heel, flattening it out), there is a pair of Sanuks that are backless: the men’s “You Got My Back II Sidewalk Surfers.”
Price: $43.27 and up (depending on size/color selected)
7. Reef Men’s Ridge Fashion Sneaker
A great looking men’s summer shoe. Reef, the global surf brand, knows its way around summer, and these Ridge Fashion Sneakers are a terrific option for men’s summer shoes. They’re made with a fabric upper and a synthetic sole. The outsole is a molded rubber featuring “swelluar traction.” The shoes have some great detailing, with a patterned collar and tonal stitching that add stripes to the sides of the shoes. They’re available in nine different colors. If you’re looking for some flip-flops, Reef makes a very cool pair that actually have a bottle opener in the outsole. Yes, you read that correctly. Pop the flip-flops on, pop the top off.
Price: $21.17 and up (depending on size/color selected)
8. ECCO Men’s Iowa Perforated Tie Fashion Sneaker
The ECCO Men’s Iowa has an all-leather upper comprised of what ECCO says is “naturally soft, light and highly breathable” material. These men’s summer shoes have a partially leather-lined interior and a removable leather-covered inlay sole withe ECCO’s proprietary “comfort fiber system,” which enhances air circulation. Note the contrasting heel panel and the padded, perforated tongue. ECCO, which was founded in Denmark in 1963, says its “sole aim is to make a comfortable walking shoe.” As I have pointed out before in other posts about shoes, I have owned ECCO products for years and they last 4ever.
Price: $110.87 and up (depending on size/color selected)
9. Cole Haan Men’s Gunnison Driver Moccasin
These are a classic men’s summer shoe and we have singled them out before, in our list of the Top 10 Best Men’s Driving Shoes: The Definitive List. The term “driving shoe” is a real thing: they were originally made in the early 60s (in Italy) to facilitate better gas pedal/clutch/braking for car racers. They evolved into a fashion that is still going strong today. To put it simply, driving shoes are (usually) moccasins that work great as loafers for men. These mocs from Cole Haan are leather and the feature the knobby outsole that is common with driving shoes. Being loafers, these work well with shorts or jeans. Calvin Klein makes a slip-on driving moccasin that’s a bit simpler in style and is available in four different colors.
Price: $89.99 and up (depending on size selected)
10. Sperry Top-Sider Men’s Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe
While we are big proponents of the classic deck shoe from Sperry, we are including this unique take on the boat shoe because you don’t always see loafers for men with this look. The upper is leather and “air mesh,” which gives the shoe great breathability. The mesh portion contrasts with the color of the leather, in all of the four colors that the shoe comes in. These feature the Sperry logo on the heel, tongue, bottom outsole and the eyelets. The shoes are waterproof and they get great reviews: more than 1,800 reviews with a 4.3 out of 5-star rating average.
Price: $60.15 and up (depending on size/color selected)
11. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Dathan Boat Shoe
This is a loafer that can easily edge its way into the dressy men’s summer shoes column because they’re just a smart looking pair of loafers for men. Leather upper and a synthetic sole. The heel is very small, just .75″. The contrasting stitching comes in two different thread weights, with a heavier thread at the top of the moc-toe stitching. The footbed is lightly cushioned and there is a small embossed Hilfiger logo at the upper corner of the tongue. These are, basically, a really good looking pair of men’s driving shoes and they’re available in four different colors. Of the more than 490 reviews, 69 percent are a 4 or 5 out of a 5-star rating system.
Price: $39 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Best Dressy Summer Shoes
12. G.H. Bass & Co. Men’s Proctor Oxford
There are times when loafers for men or men’s sandals just won’t work when you need men’s summer shoes. The Proctor Oxfords from Bass are a terrific looking suede shoe that has that just-right lighter look that qualifies it as a men’s summer shoe. Not to mention the fact that they are suede, which isn’t the kind of material you want to be wearing in wet weather. To keep the kicks looking good, we highly recommend a Scotchgard protector for these (very affordable at around $8.50). These men’s summer shoes are all leather uppers with a rubber sole. They’re available in four different colors. Very good ratings from past customer reviews: a 4.3 out of 5-star rating average.
Price: $54.99 and up (depending on size/color selected)
13. Bruno Marc Men’s Lace-up Suede Leather Oxfords
Oxfords are such a classic style that we’re including a few pairs in our lineup of men’s summer shoes. These are from Bruno Marc New York, which makes a wide range of very affordable shoes for men. These are premium suede leather and we do recommend the Scotchgard protectant for these, too. This pair is a plain-toe oxford featuring midsole stripe, suede upper and lace-up front closure. These are very popular shoes, with around 550 reviews and a 4.5 out of 5-star rating average. Shown in “3-grey” color, they’re available in 17 different colors and styles. Another option is a great looking pair of suede men’s summer shoes from Steve Madden.
Price: $15.99 and up (depending on size selected)
14. 206 Collective Men’s Barnes Casual Oxford
206 Collective is an Amazon brand, so it’s going to be high quality and affordable. These men’s summer shoes are imported suede uppers and they feature a rubber gum sole. They’re lined with leather and the welt stitching (where the upper meets the top of the mid-sole) is in a good looking contrasting color. These shoes are shown in light tan suede and they’re also available in navy suede. Both colors of these oxford lace-ups feature four metallic eyelets.
Price: $55.85 and up (depending on size/color selected)
Best Men’s Summer Shoes: A Surprise Entry
15. Blundstone Summer Chelsea Boot
I’m calling this a “surprise entry” because I had not considered that a Chelsea boot (or any boot) might qualify for a list of men’s summer shoes. The fact is, Blundstone — which practically invented the Chelsea category from its HQ in Tasmania, Australia — has come out with a line of summer boots. A representative for Blundstone contacted me and suggested possibly including them in this list. I was skeptical, so she sent me a pair. I. Am. In. Love…with these boots (not the rep, although she is very nice). They are super great looking and they are amazingly comfortable. They almost feel like slippers, but they most definitely have some rugged DNA in their blood. Blundstone’s summer boots are made of materials that are a bit lighter and more breathable than their usual boots. Blundstones feature their classic pull tabs on the heel and tongue, so they’re easy in/easy out. The upper is water resistant premium leather and they have a “comfort footbed” for shock absorption. They’ve also got an anti-microbial lining and a steel shank for foot stability. A great product.
Price: $149.85 and up (depending on size/color selected)