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Best black trainers 2023: The most versatile, understated all-black options

Step into stealth mode with our pick of the best black trainers

Do you like to keep your footwear low-key? Then black trainers offer an understated alternative to the brashness of bright white. They’re simple, versatile and easy to keep looking clean.

White trainers are great in the summer months, but their black counterparts really come into their own when the weather takes a turn. They stay looking fresh for longer because they tend not to show the dirt. This is particularly true for black leather trainers, which can simply be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Styles vary from simple tennis shoes to teched-out waterproof trail sneakers, but what’s important is that they’re comfortable and versatile enough to wear every day.

You’d struggle to find a pair of trainers we haven’t had our hands on over the years. From the biggest sportswear brands to the most exciting independent footwear labels, we’ve drawn on years of trainer testing to bring you the tightly curated selection below. You’ll also find answers to some of the most common questions about this type of footwear to help you pick the right pair.

The best black trainers: At a glance

How to choose the best black trainers for you

What material is best for black trainers?

The most common materials for black trainers are suede, leather and nubuck. Synthetic materials are also prevalent when it comes to the sportier, more performance-orientated end of the spectrum.

The best material for you depends largely on how and when you intend to wear your black trainers. If you’re looking for a casual everyday shoe, then leather or suede – or their vegan alternative – would be your best bet. However, if you plan to wear them mainly during the winter, then smooth leather definitely has the edge as it’s easier to clean. You could go even further and opt for a black trainer that’s made using Gore-Tex as this will keep your feet bone dry, even in heavy rain. For more active pursuits, synthetic materials offer the best balance of comfort, breathability and durability.

Are black trainers better for winter?

White is the most popular colour for trainers, but it’s not the most practical in the winter months. It gets dirty easily and can take on a yellowish tint, even when cleaned. Black is a much better option as it does a more effective job of camouflaging the dirt. This is why a lot of winter sneakers are black.

READ NEXT: The best trainers you can buy

How much should I spend?

The pricing spectrum is as broad for black trainers as it is for any other type of footwear. There are extremely expensive, handmade options, and there are more wallet-friendly versions that are mass-produced using cheaper materials. There are also plenty of mid-range options that offer a good balance of performance, comfort and value.

Generally, spending a bit more will get you a better shoe that will last longer. It’s a bigger upfront cost, but it will pay off in the long run. Around £50 and upwards can get you a good canvas trainer, £90 and up for a popular model from one of the big sportswear brands, and you can expect to pay upwards of £250 for a premium black trainer made using high-end materials.

How we test trainers

We’ve worn all the trainers we reviewed extensively to get a feel for how they fit, how comfortable they are, and how they look – and our list only includes those shoes that provide all-day comfort and offer good versatility in terms of styling. With regards to the latter, if a pair of trainers can only be worn with one or two outfits, they won’t make the cut. We also take note of any potential concerns with fit, highlighting any major issues with sizing that might mean you would be better opting for a size up or down.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best running jackets

The best black trainers you can buy in 2023

1. Reebok Club C: Best-value black trainer

Price: £70 | Buy now from ASOS

British brand Reebok may not have the same gargantuan heft as brands such as Nike and Adidas, but what it does have is a core selection of footwear classics with timeless style and reasonable price tags. King among them is the Club C.

This simple tennis shoe is a solid everyday option, with a fuss-free design that enables it to blend with almost any outfit. It looks as good with jeans as it does with joggers, and it’s one of those rare shoes that seems to look better the more beaten up and battered it eventually gets. For a fully winterised version, it’s also available with a grippy Vibram outsole.

Key specs – Upper: Leather; Sole: Rubber; Closure: Lace

Buy now from ASOS

2. Salomon XT-6: Best trending black trainer

Price: £155 | Buy now from End Clothing

Fashion’s fixation with outdoor performance gear has turned Alpine sports brand Salomon into an overnight sneaker sensation. The French brand’s trail running shoes have been co-opted by the fashion crowd and, instead of rejecting this, Salomon has leaned into it and set up a dedicated arm of its company to cater for the more casual customer.

One of the key indicators of this is the success of the XT-6. It was Salomon’s flagship running shoe around a decade ago, and was relaunched a few years back, much to the delight of style-conscious shoppers. It’s a sporty-looking shoe with an aggressively rugged tread, and it’s available in an ever-changing array of bold colour options. In fact, one of the only colour options that doesn’t change is the all-black version, which is a firm staple in the brand’s footwear offerings. Buy this shoe if you’re after comfort, modern looks and knowing sideways glances from the cool kids.

Key specs – Upper: Synthetic; Sole: Rubber; Closure: Pull cord

Buy now from End Clothing

3. Nike Air Max 95: Best chunky black trainer

Price: £170 | Buy now from Nike

The chunky sneaker trend has been the biggest thing to happen to footwear in a long time. Minimalist trainers have been eclipsed by maximalist styles with oversized silhouettes and excessive detailing. But this type of trainer is nothing new – just look at the Nike Air Max 95 for proof of that.

This beefed-up shoe features wavy stitched layers to the upper and visible air bubbles throughout a tall sole unit that gives the wearer an extra inch or so of height. It’s been around since – you guessed it – the mid 1990s, but it’s aged remarkably well and is every bit as relevant today as it was back then. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a sporty yet stable trainer with a durable build and distinctive look.

Key specs – Upper: Mixed; Sole: Rubber; Closure: Lace

Buy now from Nike

4. Common Projects Achilles Low: Best minimalist black trainer

Price: £290 | Buy now from Mr Porter

Common Projects’ Achilles Low flipped the script when it first launched back in 2004. It reimagined what a trainer could be, using premium materials and traditional shoemaking techniques more commonly found in dress shoes. The result is a sneaker you can legitimately pair with a suit – or with anything else, for that matter.

In black, the Achilles Low is perhaps even more versatile than its more popular white counterpart. It’s sleek, stealthy and a great option for the winter months. It features smooth Italian leather uppers, a weighty Margom sole unit and a low-profile silhouette that works with anything and everything.

Key specs – Upper: Leather; Sole: Rubber; Closure: Lace

Buy now from Mr Porter

5. Vans Authentic: Best black canvas trainer

Price: £57 | Buy now from Vans

Californian skate brand Vans has been making grippy canvas shoes for many decades. The Authentic is basically a stitch-for-stitch recreation of the original shoe that catapulted the label to success back in the late 1960s, and it’s still a great option today.

The shoe is reasonably priced, simply designed, and features Vans’ trademark waffle sole for excellent grip – skateboard or not. Its understated looks make it impervious to the chopping and changing of trends, and it works with everything from jeans and chinos to shorts and joggers. Buy it if you want an affordable black trainer with a rich history and a no-frills design.

Key specs – Upper: Canvas; Sole: Rubber; Closure: Lace

Buy now from Vans

6. Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2.0 Gore-Tex: Best black winter trainer

Price: £200 | Buy now from Adidas

If you want to completely winterproof your feet, these black trainers from Adidas Terrex are just the ticket. They’re an updated version of the outdoor brand’s best selling Free Hiker trainer, featuring a mid-height design, a springy foam midsole and a Gore-Tex membrane to completely seal out the rain and snow.

The Free Hiker is marketed as a hiking boot, but, having worn it extensively, we’d say it performs best as an everyday winter trainer. It’s super comfortable, looks great, and allows you to stomp through puddles without a care in the world. In black, we’d argue it’s the perfect winter trainer.

Key specs – Upper: Gore-Tex; Sole: Continental rubber; Closure: Lace

Buy now from Adidas

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