10 best dad shoes & chunky trainers of 2021
Dad shoes are taking the world by storm right now, so we’re rounding up all the best chunky trainers out there.
That’s right, kids - dads are cool right now.
While they can keep their bad jokes and quiet mid-life crises to themselves, your old pops might actually be something of a trend-setter. Whether you like it or not, the dodgy style which once had you cringing at the school gates is now taking the world by storm.
Yes, I am of course talking about chunky trainers. Since the dawn of time (probably), dads have been rocking massive, ugly shoes as if they’re challenging each other to a battle of the boldest footwear. Now the “dad shoe” has become a staple of modern street style, and it looks as though it’s here to stay.
All the biggest brands are inevitably jumping on the dad-wagon, so I’m running through the best dad shoes you can buy right now. In fact, I’ll have you dressed like your old man in no time at all - though we can probably avoid the high-waisted trousers.
What Are Dad Shoes?
Dad shoes are a very particular style of trainer, typically worn by (you guessed it) dads. You’ll recognise their distinctive appearance immediately: chunky sole, ugly colours and brash retro-style design. It’s a sight many of us know all too well.
However, the dad shoe is more about practicality than the way it looks. Those chunky soles provide a bouncy, durable kind of comfort, built for pretty much any situation a typical dad might find themselves in. Presumably, this means that barbecues, football matches and trips to the pub are well and truly covered.
Before you ask - no, you don’t have to be a dad to wear them. There isn’t some kind of quick paternity test when you reach the checkout, and the best dad shoes typically come in women’s and kids’ sizes, too. Hey, you could even get matching pairs if you really wanted to. Shudder.
READ | Our ranking of the best retro trainers you can still buy today.
Why Are They So Popular?
The beauty of dad shoes is they can be worn just about anywhere. They’re designed around comfort and functionality, meaning that you’re essentially always ready for whatever the day has to throw at you. After all, we’ve all found ourselves in a spontaneous hike situation at some point in our lives, right?
When you mix this practicality with a bold, in-your-face retro style, well, it’s not really hard to see why they’re so popular. The style lets you make a statement, while the sensible design often makes you feel like you’re walking on fluffy clouds. Basically, this is the dream combo for loads of people out there.
Of course, it’s the likes of Kanye West, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton who have flipped the switch away from “seriously uncool” here. You’ll now see these trainers on catwalks and the feet of fashion influencers, but they’ll always look best on the man who just can’t sit down without grunting a little. Dad.
READ | Our complete rundown of all the latest trainer trends.
The Best Dad Shoes of 2021
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the biggest brands on the planet are all jumping on the dad-wagon. The likes of Nike, adidas and Puma are all producing chunky, ugly trainers for us to sink our feet into, so we’ve ranked all of the best dad shoes you can buy right now.
Just make sure you and the old man don’t end up wearing the same pair, unless you want to give the rest of the family a good laugh. Let’s do this.
10. New Balance X-90
It makes sense to kick things off with a real retro throwback. The New Balance X-90 serves as the ultimate 90s mashup, bringing together some of the best features from the entire 99x collection. It pinches elements from the 997, 991 and other insanely popular silhouettes, before repackaging them all in something a little more modern.
While the chunky heel might instantly send you back in time, the X-90 is bursting with new tech and more than lives up to the standards of modern comfort. The “Reconstructed” model boasts a REVlite midsole and insane responsiveness, while each design is popping with the 90s style we all know and love.
9. adidas Yeezy Boost 700
I think we can probably thank Kanye West for the current “dad shoe” craze. The adidas Yeezy remains one of the most popular trainers on the planet, and it’s the Boost 700 which really nails the chunky dad-look. Okay, so they don’t come cheap, but trainers also don’t get much more distinctive than this, to be honest.
Putting the stunning range of colourways aside, the bulky design catches the eye practically all by itself. Of course, this isn’t simply all for show, and the adidas Boost technology will soon have you bouncing right down the road, while they’re also durable enough to justify such an eye-watering investment.
This is very much the premium choice here, so it really depends on what kind of budget you’re playing with. Fortunately, this list has plenty of cheaper options for you to choose from. Phew.
READ | Our rundown of the most expensive adidas Yeezys ever made.
8. Reebok Daytona DMX
These are the dad shoes from the future. The Reebok Daytona DMX features a curvy, streamlined design which looks like it’s landed from outer space. These are the trainers I imagine astronauts might wear, acting as a giant leap in the world of chunky trainer design.
Packed with bold colours and presumably turning heads all over the galaxy, the Daytona DMX draws elements from classic 00s style. Just like every other dad shoe, the cushioning is downright insane, but this is also a much lighter, more streamlined type of trainer which is a very good option for runners.
The current generation is the Daytona DMX II, which features Reebok’s comfortable EVA midsole, alongside the DMXi cushioning also found on the original. Yep, they’ll keep you as snug as a bug.
7. Adidas Yung-1
Stand back and make a little room, because the adidas Yung-1 is big. These chunky monkeys are clearly inspired by running shoes of the 90s, serving up the kind of sweet nostalgia we’d usually only get from UKTV Gold. Well, just like Del Boy, these dad shoes definitely don’t shy away from stealing the spotlight. Cushty.
While your eye is probably drawn to the striking design, the appeal of the Yung-1 actually comes from the incredibly supportive Torsion system. This essentially offers fantastic support through the mid-foot, while the mix of mesh and suede materials keeps it surprisingly light and breezy. Plus, some of the colourways are incredible.
6. Skechers D’Lites
We just can’t talk about the best dad shoes without giving Skechers a mention. These trainers are notoriously comfortable and supportive, but it’s the popular D’Lites which really pull off the chunky dad vibes. Yes, I’m going to call them D’Lightful and, no, I’m not going to apologise for it.
This is a classic look mixed with insane comfort, it really is as simple as that. Only 90s kids will know that Britney and Christina are written all over these, but just about everyone can see that this is a sporty silhouette which is dripping with nostalgia. Of course, as the name suggests, these are also pretty darn light.
The memory foam insole, mesh fabrics and chunky sole are all designed with comfort very much in mind, as are the padded tongue, collar and lightweight midsole. A solid choice.
5. adidas Falcon
Let’s face it, the adidas Falcon is so 90s it might as well come with a Tamagotchi and a pack of Pokemon cards. The vibrant colourways throw up shades of The Fresh Prince, but it’s actually Kylie Jenner who has made these so popular in recent times. In fact, this has essentially become the closest thing we have to a “mum shoe” right now.
After attaching her face to their marketing campaigns, adidas have seen demand for the Falcon soar completely off the charts. Yes, it’s very easy to get carried away with all the vibrant colourways but, underneath all that, you’ll find a shoe which is famously comfortable, durable and supportive.
The design of these trainers is undeniably loud, but don’t let that drown out the incredible technology which lies beneath it all. That’s right, mums are cool, too.
4. Fila Disruptor
This is a no-nonsense dad shoe. The Fila Disruptor comes without any unnecessary bells or whistles, and is probably at its best when wearing the classic all-white colourway. In many ways, this is perhaps the quintessential dad shoe, a chunky, fat icon which is just as popular now as it was back in the 80s.
The Disruptor is an absolute monster, an enormous silhouette which practically gobbles up the pavement beneath you. You only need to look at that bulky design to see how strong and durable they are, while all the cushioning inside will keep your feet wrapped up like warm, toasty cinnamon buns.
The oversized wedged sole is instantly recognised all over the world, the design is beautifully simple, and the upper is made from soft nubuck leather. In a nutshell, there really isn’t much not to like about it.
3. Puma RS-X
Now these are bold. The Puma RS-X is more 80s than a vintage Walkman, bursting with insane colours and a design which is just straight-up loud. Yeah, I’ve got to say these are probably the coolest dad shoes around right now, but that means you’ve also got to feel brave enough to actually pull these bad boys off.
Inspired by the Puma Running Sport collection from the 80s, the RS-X reboots this fantastic silhouette and packs it with all kinds of cushioning. The chunky sole, patchwork upper and bulky design are undeniably retro, but then Puma’s use of modern tech brings this right into the future as well. Marty McFly would be proud.
2. Nike M2K Tekno
Since the early 00s, the Nike Air Monarch has been a dad-favourite all over the world. The beefy sole, wide-fit and absolutely remarkable comfort obviously holds a certain appeal to the older gentleman, and now the Nike M2K Tekno takes things to the next level. In short, this is the classic Monarch on modern steroids.
The M2K Tekno takes everything we love about the Monarch, and then wrapped it all up in a far more futuristic silhouette. This oversized design definitely isn’t just for dads, though, so pretty much anyone can benefit from cushioning which feels like it’s been sent straight down from heaven and onto our feet. Bliss.
Of course, the colourful panels and broad sole ensure none of the old retro appeal has been lost, even if these are much narrower than the Monarch ever was. Even so, once you’ve slipped your feet into a pair of these, you might just never want to take them off again.
1. Puma Thunder
Bring the thunder. Whether you opt for the Spectra, Desert or Electric model, the Puma Thunder is one of the best dad shoes you can buy right now. Just like everything else in this guide, they’re unbelievably comfortable, stable and durable, but Puma deliver all of that dad-friendly goodness with real panache.
Although smarter black and white designs are available, the Thunder’s colours will turn heads quicker than a flash of lightning. This is the kind of bright and bold design which maybe had you cringing in the past, but now it sits at the forefront of street fashion - even if your dad isn’t quite aware of that fact.
The leather and mesh combo are every bit as comfortable as you’d expect, while the IMEVA midsole offers enough stability to stay on your feet all day. Yeah, it’s all those colours which will really whip up a storm, but the Puma Thunder is also a lot lighter than you’d probably expect. Iconic.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a dad, a mum, or couldn’t think of anything worse than having kids. You can always find cheap trainers by comparing prices at FOOTY.COM - and, yes, that includes all the awesome trainers listed above!