What’s the difference between the best driving shoes and the best driving shoes? That is an insightful question, I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with the definitions of this footwear style.
A “driving shoe” generally is a shoe that’s well adapted to the driving experience (by design or not). So this could be a well-adapted pair of sneakers if you’re on a track day or just tearing up the local lanes/highways (doctors do not advise).
Try a lightweight race boot for more serious, competitive racing. But the term “driving shoe” also specifically refers to a type of loafer. That’s why this best men’s driving shoes article can seem like it has a wide remit. But by the end, you’ll have the perfect pair for you. I promise.
For everyday driving, you want a shoe that is great for driving and holds its own when people can actually see the damn shoes. You want something chic. And want to know something even crazier? You don’t even have to get behind the wheel to experience the brilliance of the driving shoe.
Traditional driving loafers are a great summer shoe option. The best men’s driving shoes have a slip-resistant, flexible sole and a lightweight, malleable upper. Their sheer versatility makes them a type of shoe every man needs.
Buckle in to discover the best shoes for driving.
The best driving shoes are lightweight. They have a flexible rubber sole, preferably with rubber on the heel, and a nimble upper. The Adidas Gazelles are my overall top pick because not only do these shoes deliver on all of those fronts, but they also excel by way of looks.
They are a a favorite of Brad Pitt and by going with these, you’ll ensure you won’t fall into the trap of generic driving loafers.
The Sparco race boots are runners-up for the simple fact that they have been designed for driving and only driving. So they facilitate the activity very well indeed.
These Adidas Gazelles are the best driving shoes on the market and a favorite of Brad Pitt. And Brad Pitt is a cool, quite well-known actor… so, just saying. While, yes, Brad Pitt probably also drives a car and possibly has driven a car in gazelles, this isn’t the reason for inclusion in this list.
The Adidas Gazelle is accidentally one of the best men’s driving shoes. It has a soft, supple suede upper and a thin rubber sole (trust me, I’ve walked my way through a few of them in my time), which lets the feel of the pedals through.
And, it has a relatively shallow midsole, meaning it’s more reflective of the actual shape of a foot and therefore, brings a more natural ergonomic feel. But you could just bypass all of that and buy them because they’re one of Brad Pitt’s favorite, cool shoes.
Size Range: 4-14 | Material: Suede | Style: Sneakers | Colors: 10
I know what you’re thinking, I must be a big old numb nut because the title reads “boat shoe.” Well, allow me to blow your mind. Firstly, titles aren’t prescriptive. That’s some hard-hitting life coaching for free there. Secondly, boat shoes make for some of the best shoes for driving.
The qualities required of a boat shoe on deck (lightweight, grippy, and robust) make them brilliant “grand touring” driving shoes. Plus, the style boasts a debonair, preppy swagger that’s ideal for sauntering about outside the cockpit, too.
Style these boat shoes with a rolled-up off-white pair of thick cotton shorts, a flamboyant linen shirt, and suave sunnies.
Size Range: 7-16 | Material: Leather | Style: Boat Shoe | Colors: 7
Despite still being sneakers, this lithe Morjas pair has more driving pedigree than your regular pair of whites.
These unctuous black sneakers in suede make full use of a sewn-on treadless rubber sole that gives a large grippy surface area for control in and around the pedals. But, this shoe isn’t all about sticking to the pedals. The aesthetic symmetry of the two side panels, heel stitching, and toe cap is a staple of the modern sneaker. It’s conventional because it works so well. It’s more like a geometric fact rather than an opinion.
Size Range: 5.5-12.5 | Material: Suede | Style: Sneakers | Colors: 10
BOOM. And these very, very orange Aurélien suede driving shoes are all up in your grill. The color might be arresting, but there’s absolutely nothing illegal about these loafers. In fact, they are exactly what the style doctor ordered when prescribing the best shoes for driving.
The pebble sole is specifically used to bring about maximum flexibility through the foot so that your own dexterity and the feel of the car are both prioritized. The soft suede is lightweight, grippy, luxurious, and easily slipped on, thanks to its practical design.
But it’s the orange tone that’ll bring zest and flare to your outfits. Pair with loose-fitting trousers and a top, both preferably in a light/neutral tone to help to neutralize that sharp orange. It’s a powerful color, so tread trepidatiously when on land (tread to the metal when in the car).
Size Range: 5-9.5 | Material: Suede | Style: Loafers | Colors: 9
There is something so bubbly and exciting about these driving loafers. It’s hard to explain, but I think I know what it is. It is the precise fact that the full-grain dapple leather complete with hair is, yes, ostentatious, and yet it doesn’t do it for ostentatiousness alone. It tempers it with a classic penny loafer silhouette and a perfectly matched light brown pebble outsole underneath. In this sense, it just looks suave, desirable, and fun. It’s like the footwear equivalent of saying fuck it. And that’s quite magnetic.
Size Range: 6-15 | Material: Leather | Style: Loafers | Colors: 1
These Tod’s loafers are some of the best suede driving shoes on the market. The shoe merges an espadrille midsole with a classic driving loafer’s back heel and the upper of a penny loafer.
Rubber/espadrille sole combines dexterity with solidity, meaning you’ll still be able to jaunt around whatever town you’ve just arrived at on your road trip easily. And the supple suede upper is of the utmost quality and embossed with the logo.
On the subject of the brand, this might be the best overall brand to acquire driving shoes from. The traditional driving loafer range known as “Gomini” is a stalwart classic. But they’re not afraid to branch out too.
They have experimented with enlarged underfoot bubbles on the Gomini to stylish effect, plus struck up collaborations with the likes of Palm Angels. Tod’s can do it all when it comes to the best men’s driving shoes.
Size Range: 4-13 | Material: Suede | Style: Loafers | Colors: 11
It’s going to sound oddly specific, but it’s true. These Swims loafers are the perfect driving shoe for dads on their summer holidays. They cover walking, driving, and swimming with ease.
So, when you take a pitstop in some quaint town by the waterfront, and your kids drag you to the rockpools or down to the beach. Have no fear. The water vents, waterproof materials, and tread allow you to splash about with your kids, safe in the knowledge it won’t ruin your shoes. Plus, you can return to the car and drive away with no squelching feet or ruined suede. The vents also help prevent overheating when driving in the dry.
Despite its technical capabilities, the Swims loafer remains a sleek shoe. The basketweave front is a delicate touch that also provides rigidity and durability.
Size Range: 7-13 | Material: Woven Fabric | Style: Loafers | Colors: 3
I own a pair of one of the best men’s driving shoes on the market. Massimo Dutto loafers. They pair well with the short shorts and billowy shirts of the baking summer heat. They’re also adept at strolling around dusty Italian cities. But moreover, they’re brilliant driving shoes. I wore them for almost two weeks straight as I was driving around Tuscany sipping Montalcinos and Chianti Classicos. So they’ve had a thorough test drive.
The ability to slip them on in the morning and know they could deal with anything, thanks to the depth and sturdiness of the tread underneath, was a real relief. Also, the leather insoles meant no blisters despite walking a lot each day. If driving holidays in the sun are your bag… these loafers are for you.
Size Range: 6-11 | Material: suede | Style: Loafers | Colors: 3
I competed in my first race last year at the famous Angelsey circuit in North Wales. It was an endurance race consisting of two three-hour races in one day, and one of the races was at night. Let me reiterate that it was my first race, a baptism of infernal hell if you will. But it was absolutely brilliant. The racing shoes that got me through that insanity? These Sparcoi Slalam+ Race Boots.
They are as light as a feather, fully fireproof, and in line with strict FIA racing regulations (they will be checked by scrutineers pre-race). The upper is either full suede or suede with fabric inserts to help breathability. What’s noticeable when wearing race shoes is the thinness, not just of the upper, but the soles. This gives a maximum feel for the pedals, and therefore, you’re more in touch with your vehicle.
Size Range: 2.5-13 | Material: Suede | Style: Race Boots | Colors: 6
These PUMAs come to the list having been Porsche-approved. So you know they’re good for something.
I love the bright yellow tone (which will definitely make you drive faster) and the black mid-quarter swoop. The upper is synthetic, chosen for its featherweight feel and recycled content. The sole has a fine tread that molds around the sides and the heel. This ensures your feet are going to feel as nimble and grippy as they need to be inside the footwell.
While these aren’t race specifications, they are going to be ideal for go-karting, driving experiences on the track, and testing your own car to the limit on a track day. But equally, if you just want the full experience on your Sunday spin. This is for those who are serious enthusiasts and want to be enthusiastic in style.
Size Range: 4-14 | Material: Synthetic | Style: Driving Shoes | Colors: 1
What To Look For In The Best Driving Shoes
Avoid heavy materials on the upper. This can hinder rapid foot movements and make it more likely for your foot to get caught between the pedals. What you’re aiming for is a lightweight leather, suede, or synthetic fabric. Ideally, you what a suede or textured synthetic to ensure the utmost grip and control on the pedals.
In terms of style, first think about how you will be using these shoes. If you’re getting into track days with a mind for racing in the future, then opt for a race boot.
If you’re into road trips in exotic places, a driving loafer is a better choice for you. Or, if you want a good pair of shoes to go driving on the weekends in, perhaps a sleek pair of sneakers might work well in the cabin.
There isn’t much deviation in what sole is best. Aim for lightweight, minimal tread and the outsole stretching up the heel. If you find a sole with these three attributes, chances are the shoe will be great for driving in.
As you can see from the eclectic mix of shoes on offer here, the driving shoe concept is not one single tangible object. If it isn’t a race boot you’re after, then you’ll want a shoe designed for the particulars of operating pedals with your feet but also debonair when you step out of the vehicle.
Hence I crown Adidas Gazelles as the overall winner, and it certainly ticks the style box. But, I must mention the Swims waterproof and water-ready loafer, which might be the ultimate driving holiday shoe (especially if you’re a dad).
Klaxon. Siren. Alert. Warning. This is a myth. It is legal to drive barefoot in all US states. It is legal to drive barefoot in the UK. However, it is dangerous, and this causes a complication. If it is deemed you were driving the car dangerously in the event of an accident, then you will be prosecuted with potentially very serious consequences.
One definition of a driving shoe is that it’s a specific type of loafer. A loafer is someone who is feckless, carelessly wastes their life, and idles about. Oh… [checks notes] het-hem, sorry, no, it’s a slip-on shoe with a flat heel. A driving shoe loafer is a slip-on shoe with a flat heel that has a pebbled outsole that extends up the back of the heel for gripping the car floor.
In short, yes. But the extent of difference you will feel will depend on what you’re used to driving on before. Driving shoes are designed to give grip at the heel and have a thin sole and lightweight upper, all enhancing the ability to control your pedals.
In order of proficiency, the race boot comes top of the list. Then a road version of a race boot. Then a lightweight sneaker I would advise over a driving loafer due to the security of it on your foot. For casual, relaxing drives, the driving loafer is a great choice.