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8 Affordable Sneakers for Men That Actually Hold Up

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bruno Marc and contains affiliate links.

Matt Gulielmi Writer & Photographer   Updated: 
Model Wearing Bruno Marc mesh Oxford Dress Sneakers in grey

Your jaw hits the floor every time you shop for new sneakers. What’s with these 4-digit prices? They don’t seem any better than the ones you bought years ago.

It often seems like it’s just the same ordinary styles, the same materials, and maybe with the addition of a gaudy logo emblazoned over the side. That’s why I’ve rounded up my top recommended affordable sneakers to suit a range of styles, and almost any wallet. 

Shopping for cool sneakers has me thinking I got sucked into a wormhole where the United States dollar has lost all of its value.

$300 for a pair of low-top skate shoes?

Did Tony Hawk perform his first 900° in them?

I can’t be the only guy flabbergasted by these prices.

Not to mention what they go for on second-hand sites like StockX and Grailed.

For the greater good of ourselves and our wallets, I scoured the web for sneakers that won’t offend our swagger, budgets, or shopping sensibilities.

My overall top pick is Bruno Marc’s Breathable Men’s Oxford Sneakers, but if these aren’t quite what you’re after, I also found several other stylish—but affordable—sneakers worth considering.

How Did I Come Up With My List?

The Adult Man Bruno Marc Mesh Lightweight Midstep on Sidewalk

Finding these sneakers wasn’t easy, but I focused on four things: material for performance, design for fashion, construction for durability, and branding for flair.

Balancing these four attributes, plus personal experiences, and hours of in-depth research, I confidently hand-picked these options to guide your sneaker safari.

My Recommendations

Best Overall: Bruno Marc Men’s Breathable Mesh Oxford Sneakers

The Adult Man Bruno Marc Mesh Oxford Top

If you work hard and play even harder, the Bruno Marc Mesh Oxford Sneaker has a business-first aura with an ultra-comfy fit.

The Mesh Oxford Sneakers have an upper made of, you guessed it, mesh. It maintains the dressy silhouette of the popular dress shoe, only more breathable, comfortable, and flexible.

The Adult Man Bruno Marc Mesh Lightweight Standing on Sidewalk
Taking my grey Bruno Marc Oxford Dress Sneakers out for a test drive

Leather soles might be true to the traditional oxford, but they’re stubbornly rigid and lack any tread. The custom-designed rubber tread on the Mesh Oxfords is delightfully adaptable and proved to be a blessing whenever my simple walks turned into a lengthy excursion.

The gray colorway I picked up has the right balance of character and class I look for. The silhouette clearly takes a page from the dressy greats, but the leather tongue patch and subtle orange stripe bless it with a touch of flavor.

What I Like

  • Flexible mesh upper mimics the dressy look of an oxford without the painful stiffness of leather.
  • Molded outsole and removable insert provide superb comfort even on my days with a high step count.
  • Forgiving materials and timeless style for less than $60.

What I Don’t Like

  • Bruno Marc doesn’t make their navy colorway with the orange stripe I adore. I’d like to see them add this colorway in the future.

What Other Reviewers Say

When we’re talking specifics, owners of the Mesh Oxford Sneakers appreciate the shoe’s light weight, and the stretchy opening makes for a painless on-and-off.

The Verdict

You need a shoe for playing hard and working even harder.

Bruno Marc’s Mesh Oxford Sneaker is a multifaceted beauty that does a lot for a little.

The mesh upper and minimal yet sporty sole provide relief without looking like a dorky marriage of contrasting designs. Combined with lasting quality, it balances everything I look for in a shoe.

The price is just the icing on top.

Best Overall
Bruno Marc Breathable Mesh Oxford Sneakers

This sneaker is built for playing hard and working even harder. The mesh upper and minimal yet sporty sole provide relief without looking like a dorky mishmash of styles, and the lasting quality balances it out.

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Best on a Budget: HEYDUDE Wally Slub Canvas

HEYDUDE-Shoes-Wally-Slub-Canvas-being-put-on-in-chair
The Wally Slub Canvas feels like something between a slipper and a sneaker

I woke up one day, and every guy had a pair of HEYDUDEs. I guess I didn’t get the memo.

I blushed at the shoes’ roughly $60 price point. A premium brand’s defining shoe that showcases comfort, quality, and “pura vida” aesthetics? Take my money.

With the Wally, they took a moc-toe slipper and placed it over a sneaker-like outsole. It’s a low-profile shoe that’s easy to take on and off (thanks, elastic laces) or tuck into a backpack while you’re out catching barrels.

The colorway is intriguing, and while it looked a little different in person than online, it’s still stylish and in keeping with the relaxed moc aesthetic.

HEYDUDE-Shoes-Wally-Slub-Canvas-from-above-on-white-background

Also to note: few things make a sneaker better than easy cleaning. HEYDUDEs are machine washable. Whether my HEYDUDEs are caked in mud or peppered with sand, throwing them in the wash is easy.

What I Like

  • I get a premium brand’s #1 option for well under $100.
  • Elastic laces and low-profile make them easy to slip on and off.
  • Tossing them in the wash is way easier than going to town with soap and a brush.

What I Don’t Like

  • They read hyper-casual, so they aren’t my first option when crafting an impressive fit.

What Other Reviewers Say

A popular aspect of the HEYDUDE Wally Slub Canvas is no break in required. Because they’re so easy to care for and durable, they thrive around water.

Various reviewers wore them to the beach or as boat shoes with no complaints of water-logged shoes.

The Verdict

I was tardy to the HEYDUDE party, but now I get the hype.

The Wally Slub Canvas is a shoe that thrives in and around water. It’s insanely comfortable, sturdy, and doesn’t require surgery to get it off your feet. For a bit over $60, there’s no reason every dude shouldn’t have a pair.

Best on a Budget
HEYDUDE Wally Slub Canvas
(Get 20% off 2 Pairs, 30% off 3+ Pairs with code AFFBMSM)

The Wally Slubs stay true to the HEYDUDE promise of comfortable, accessible footwear. While the color was a little different in person to what I was expecting based on the online images, I’m a big fan of how easy it is to slip these shoes on, and love that they’re comfortable and breathable from the first step.

Check Price Read Our Review

Great Value: New Republic Kurt

Menlo Club White Kurt Leather Sneakers by New Republic Front On

White sneakers are an absolute necessity.

The New Republic Kurt sneaker has the simple beauty white sneaks are known for but without the nonsensical prices.

The polyurethane-coated leather handles moisture and heavy wear better than naked leather, so caring for them is quite literally hands-off.

Menlo Club White Kurt Leather Sneakers by New Republic Top Down Single

Instead of a flimsy fabric insert, New Republic opts for a bouncy EVA sole–essential for a flat-bottomed shoe because it adds extra support that’s usually not found in this type of shoe.

Best of all, the Kurts run true-to-size. Leather court sneakers often fit closer to a dress shoe, needing me to size down by an inch or a half. Going with an 11.5 left me with an almost personalized fit.

For just under $100, I’d say a comfy, low-maintenance, genuine cowhide sneaker is worthy of the “great value” title we bestow it.

What I Like

  • Action leather can take a beating against wetness and requires minimal maintenance.
  • EVA foam sole provides support needed for a flat-bottomed court sneaker.
  • The Kurt runs true-to-size.

What I Don’t Like

  • The inside heel requires five to six wears before breaking in.

What Other Reviewers Say

The action leather receives shining compliments for being so easy to clean, and since the white sneaker goes with everything, numerous customers say it’s their new daily driver.

The Verdict

$400 designer sneakers will make me look rich. Barebone court sneakers with sparkly logos spell a dirt-poor experience for my feet.

But for costing under a quarter of that, the New Republic Kurt delivers enhanced leather and a supportive sole that takes the ache out of flat sneakers.

Those uncomfortable designer sneakers can go ruin someone else’s feet.

Great Value
New Republic Kurt

This minimalist dress sneaker is an effective weekday-into-weekend shoe thanks to its cushy insole. While your break in mileage may vary, go for the New Republic Kurt if affordability is your priority.

Check Price Read Our Review

Best Slip-On: Seavees Huntington Slip-on 

SeaVees Huntington Sneakers in Greyboard

The slip-on has been a classic since the moment it was invented. The SeaVees’ Huntington honors its legacy (and my net worth).

The durable recycled cotton canvas lining provides superb comfort and durability, and the natural suede upper gives it a nice down-to-earth coastal vibe.

SeaVees Huntington

I haven’t found another casual shoe brand that boasts natural rubber soles (or at least, SeaVees is the first). Nothing beats the good stuff, and they put it through a vulcanization process for added durability.

Available in Deep Navy, Greyboard, and Oyster, each color evokes a chilled nautical vibe that makes these feel like the perfect summer slip-on.

What I Like

  • The rugged, oiled leather is top quality while the natural rubber is extra durable and ideal if you prefer non-synthetic materials.
  • The suede upper feels buttery soft and looks super casual and comfortable.
  • The thoughtful color selections are versatile enough to suit most wardrobes.

What I Don’t Like

  • While the suede is luxuriously soft, it won’t hold up to inclement weather – so you might be on edge if it starts to rain.

What Other Reviewers Say

Nearly 200 reviews culminating in a 5-star average, it goes without saying the SeaVees Huntingtons are legit. It’s easy to find slip-on for under $100, but with the durable rubber sole and buttery-soft suede, I have to agree with the majority when I say these are luxuriously comfortable, casual sneaks. A few folks did mention a lack of arch support, though, but this wasn’t an issue for me.

The Verdict

Nothing beats the renowned simplicity of slip-on sneakers, but I’ve owned some that quickly formed a hole in my wallet and sole.

Hardened with vulcanized rubber, the SeaVees Huntingtons ensure I’m equipped for miles of boardwalk cruising without worry and this shoe feels cushy and casual while reflecting a classy, minimalist style. While the buttery-soft suede is prone to stains and won’t give you the substantial support more walking-friendly models will, the support and cushioning mean that these will hold up more than well enough in dry conditions, such as on summer city walks.

SeaVees Huntington Middie

This slip on sneaker looks chill but has comfort for days. These recall the classic sneaks of the 1964 Huntington Beach Surf Club---how much cooler does it get?

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Best Low Top: Cariuma OCA Low

cariuma canvas yellow sneakers

The Cariuma OCA Low is a canvas low top sneaker. And it’s pretty low – skirting beneath the ankle bone and low enough that my socks were pretty much always on display (but it’s worth noting that Cariuma also offers a high-top version, and both come in a variety of bright and bold colors).

The shoes also feature Cariuma’s shoes signature rubber toe cap, which is small and distinct. It’s not as defined as, say, a Converse sneaker, but instead covers just the tip of the shoe instead of a full rubber toe, jutting out about a half-inch, which is something I haven’t seen in any other shoe. 

What I Like

  • I love how Cariuma makes sustainability a major cornerstone of their message, with each pair of shoes they make representing two trees planted in the Amazon rainforest.
  • The unique look of the rubber toe cap (something of a Cariuma signature) adds another layer of interest on top of the eye-catching color.
  • The materials, from the canvas to the rubber, are all sustainably produced, and the cotton lining makes the shoe surprisingly durable.

What I Don’t Like

  • These do run a tad on the small size. I ordered true to size, and it was a little snug, so going with a half-size up might have been better.

What Other Reviewers Say

As of writing, the Cariuma OCA Low has over 6,000 reviews on site. Several reviewers mentioned this was their second or third pair (I even saw one person who said they have five).  

Female reviewers all tended to say the shoes fit true to size, though several of the reviews from men echoed my sentiment—a half-size larger is the way to go.  

The Verdict

The OCA Low is more durable than other canvas sneakers I’ve had in the past because of its cotton lining. It’s bold, detail-oriented, and when compared side by side with other mass-produced sneakers from huge brands, Cariuma has the edge in just about every way I can think of, while still remaining affordable.

Cariuma OCA Low

There’s no reason to play coy here—we got these sneakers because they look cool. But after wearing them around for a few months, it became clear that their memory foam insoles make them excellent travel partners.

Check Price Read Our Review

Best Athletic: Calvin Klein Arnel Sneaker

Calvin Klein is synonymous with sleek, masculine elegance, and their Arnel sneaker captures that very essence.

The Arnel’s athletic silhouette speaks a simple language of style and comfort, with a breathable, mixed media upper that kept my feet cool through a day’s hustle. I have wider feet, so the rounded toe box provides ample room without sacrificing support.

The monogram logo detail is a subtle nod to class, not too flashy but just enough to turn a few heads.

What really won me over was the cushioned footbed. With a thick layer of foam support material, it makes my daily commute something I actually look forward to.

What I Like

  • The round toe box is ideal if you have wider feet, but the medium width maintains a standard fit for most foot shapes.
  • The side CK logo is classy but doesn’t announce itself.
  • A bouncy foam sole keeps any hustle-induced foot pain at bay.

What I Don’t Like

  • The elastic opening can be irritating at first.

What Other Reviewers Say

Attractive colorways, supportive footbeds, and the soft-yet-durable outer are the main takeaways of what customers are most pleased with. Some weren’t thrilled about the elastic nature of the mixed-media upper, but those remarks are rare.

The Verdict

Take a look at a vintage shoe store catalog and you’ll weep seeing what Dad used to get his trainers for.

For under $80, the CK Arnel sneaker is a cost-effective way to bring Calvin Klein’s uncontested prestige onto my shoe rack. The cushioned sole and supportive upper draw on the trainer silhouette, but the laid-back design allows me to incorporate it into my casual outfits.

Best Athletic
Calvin Klein Arnel Sneaker

I love how the casual athletic design of these sneakers is elevated by the Calvin Klein name but still remains reasonably priced. Not only are they iconic, stylish, and affordable - they're also comfortable, too.

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Best Eco-Friendly: adidas Stan Smith End Plastic Waste Sneakers

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If your search for an eco-friendly shoe led you to primitive burlap moccasins, take a breather. Our choice for eco-conscious stompers might be a familiar friend.

The true OGs: adidas Stan Smiths in all-white with a hint of green. They adapt to whatever I pull out of my closet.

What really got me was adidas’ eco-friendly approach. The vegan upper and the outsole is made from rubber waste, but I can hardly tell the difference between this eco-friendly alternative and leather cowhide.

If your budget and carbon footprint are tied for most important, these are a winner.

But it’s not just about the look or the fit. Knowing that 50% of the upper is recycled, I feel like I’m doing a tiny bit for the environment. It’s a small step, but hey, it counts.

What I Like

  • The all-white styling, a hint of color, and the Stan Smith portrait on the tongue is a perfect combo of versatility and character.
  • The vegan upper is almost indistinguishable from genuine leather.
  • Adidas’ eco-friendly approach to a mass-market shoe makes me feel a bit less guilty about shoe shopping.

What I Don’t Like

  • For such a basic silhouette, I don’t get why adidas recommends sizing down.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers praise the adidas Stan Smith sneakers for their iconic style, comfort, and eco-friendly design, appreciating their versatility, sustainable materials, and the classic yet modern aesthetic they bring to everyday wear. However, some found Adidas’ direction to size down to be inaccurate.

The Verdict

The adidas Stan Smiths are super comfy, stylish in that classic way, and the 50% recycled upper seals the eco-conscious deal.

I’ll take a classic sneaker redesigned with earth-friendly materials over the compostable slippers found at the local farmers market.

Best Eco-Friendly
adidas Stan Smith End Plastic Waste Sneakers

Stylish, classic, and the 50% recycled upper means they're eco-conscious, too. Saving money while saving the planet is the main aim here, as reflected in their price tag and their supply chain. What's not to love about an iconic sneaker redesigned with earth-friendly materials?

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Best Hi Top: Puma Caven Leather Sneaker

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As a mid-top lover myself, Puma’s Caven Leather Sneaker stacks beautifully with my faded denim jeans.

Other mid and high-top sneakers destroyed my ankles thanks to a stiff leather opening. The Cavens have a padded fabric interior that is much kinder.

Part of their budget-friendliness is not having to buy XL bandages.

What I Like

  • They’re a genuine leather mid-top sneaker for less than $75.
  • The padded opening interior doesn’t cause any friction-induced blisters during the first few wears.
  • Timeless and retro.

What I Don’t Like

  • The tongue tends to fall lopsided if they aren’t laced all the way up.

What Other Reviewers Say

As one could imagine, customers love the price point, considering it’s a genuine leather shoe. Some buyers reported the upper leather needing an extensive break-in period, however.

The Verdict

Here’s the deal with high tops: more material = more money.

I didn’t trudge through every corner of the web for a best-sneaker list that doesn’t include them.

The 80s and 90s knew a thing or two about crafting a sexy pair of sneaks, and Puma’s Caven is a prime example of retro beauty.

Best Hi Top
Puma Caven Leather Sneaker

The 80s and 90s knew a thing or two about crafting a sexy pair of sneaks, and these are a prime example of that retro beauty. The throwback design is clean and classy, and the genuine leather construction exudes quality, making these a really reasonably priced pair of sneaks for the quality you get.

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What’s the Real Difference between Affordable and Premium Sneakers?

KOIO-capri-triple-white-sneakers-on-stairs

It might seem like paying more will get you more, but that isn’t always the case with footwear. Here are a few things to consider as you weigh options between affordable and premium sneakers.

Material

Best Casual Sneakers for Men

Check out the product description for material info. Do they use generalized language to describe the sole or upper? Terms such as “composite foam” or “bonded fabric” can mean the brand is hiding something.

If an inexpensive shoe is specific, “genuine leather” or “100% cotton canvas”, for example, you can know exactly what to expect.

Construction Process

GREATS white sneakers

Country of origin is a solid pulse check for quality. If a shoe is made in a country known for craftsmanship, like Italy or Japan, you’re likely in for some quality shoes.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though. Plenty of nice shoes are made in China or Vietnam. Shoes listed as handmade or utilizing a specialized process also suggest higher quality.

For example, Seavees’ Baja Slip-on is made with vulcanized rubber, utilizing sulfur in a chemical process to further the durability of rubber.

Design

New-Republic-Kurt-Leather-Sneakers-being-put-on

A sneaker’s design can make or break a potential purchase. Seemingly basic sneakers can pack serious function from a premium brand. Inserts developed in-house, custom fabric weaves, and other technology can justify the price of expensive sneakers.

Consider Bruno Marc’s Breathable Mesh Oxford Sneaker. Standard oxfords made from polished leather aren’t the best for long walks. Altering the design with mesh retains the upscale look with soft, flexible fabric.

Some affordable sneakers have just as much to offer, though. Ultimately, price is a culmination of material, construction, design, and branding, so it depends on how the brand chooses to balance the four pillars.

Branding

Greats vs Oliver Cabell vs KOIO Capri - Minimalist Dress Sneakers Compared

Some premium sneakers don’t bring anything to the table style-wise. If a premium brand makes a court sneaker, adds a small logo, and charges $300 extra, you’ll look just as dapper in an identical pair from an affordable brand.

Which Is Best for You?

Bruno Marc’s Breathable Men’s Oxford Sneakers were my clear overall pick because of their innovative fit and look, and the fact that they cost less than $60. 

My Top Pick
Bruno Marc Breathable Mesh Oxford Sneakers

This sneaker is built for playing hard and working even harder. The mesh upper and minimal yet sporty sole provide relief without looking like a dorky mishmash of styles, and the lasting quality balances it out.

Check Price

Cariuma and SeaVees also make great sneakers, so if I couldn’t get my hands on the Bruno Marcs, either of these would be my second choice as they’re comparable in terms of quality. 

This being said, every pair on my list has earned its place as an affordable sneaker that looks and feels anything but cheap.

While you can always find a cheaper or more expensive pair of sneakers, I’m confident any of the pairs I tried and reviewed here will get you the most bang for your buck.

FAQs

Are expensive sneakers better?

Price doesn’t always equal value. When shopping for sneakers, identifying the quality between material, construction, design, and branding is a surefire method to see if the cost makes sense.

Why are prices for sneakers so high?

Unlike timeless staples, sneakers go through frequent trends. Brands will often release new styles in limited runs to artificially inflate demand, causing the second-hand market to charge even crazier prices.

Are cheap sneakers as good as expensive ones?

Inexpensive sneakers can offer just much style, comfort, and quality as pricier options. Be weary of designer brands marking up sneakers solely due to a flashy logo, as they’ll only be marginally better than a cheaper alternative in terms of material, design, and construction.