Men’s Casual Suede Shoes

May 13, 2016

  • by
  • Peter Reese

It doesn’t have to be sub-zero to slide on suede shoes.  With superior breathability along with quick clean-up using a stiff brush, these pairs were selected by Active Junky for their easy-going, warm weather good looks.  Now’s the time to flow from dock to desk and never miss a ray of sunshine – or a complement – along the way.

Ridgemont Crest:  Style on deck 

Ridgemont outfitters crest 2 Ridgemont Outfitters Crest Shoe

Somewhere between skate and sail is a beautiful place where all-surface traction walks the line.  Credit goes to Ridgemont’s pavement and deck-worthy 100%, “hi-density” lugged rubber sole.  Combining pure relaxation and all-day comfort, Crest is no slacker on build quality.  Worn in the Curry/Brown colorway, Active Junky rolled with the waterproof, oiled suede upper complete with a grit-repelling gusseted tongue.  A five-lace design and canvas heel pull sealed the deal (reminder to consider upping the grime protection with Scotch-Guard spray before wearing).  Here’s the big bonus:  The factory insole is comparable to aftermarket models costing $20 or more.  Shorts.  Jeans.  Beach wedding tux.  All good.

Tester Comments:  Care for Crest and you’ve made the right call.  Not for scorching on a moped’s exhaust or grinding rails, this Ridgemont model covers the casual life as well as we’ve seen.  Pricing is solid and color options allow each buyer to make it their own.  Take a look at the “hi” version for yet another choice.

Best For: All-day, all-week wearing, recognizing the off-white rubber vulcanizing is prone to scuffing

Altra Instinct:  Mellower miles

Altra instinct everyday 1 Altra Men's The Instinct Everyday Shoe $116.96 - $120.86

The running geniuses at Altra convinced us to swap toothy trail traction (say it three times fast) for the plush construction of Instinct.  What actually happened is that Active Junky was incredulous that this hard-core brand landed a style squarely in the land of mortals (non-runners).  The cushioned Zero Drop platform added energy to our step, now anchored by a 5mm sculpted insole and proprietary outsole.  Here’s a shoe that the rest of the world (boss included) will never realize feels better than a favorite slipper on Saturday morning.  At only 10.3oz, there’s little to slow you down while a generous toe box allows a natural-but-supported spread.  

Tester Comments:  Strategic cushioning adds to the overall comfort yet traction and control aren’t left behind.  Altra’s sensibilities, focused on in-motion mechanics, take a leap forward with a shoe capable of prolonged standing without back pain.  Gray-Brown is our pick for all-week wearing.

Best For: Active wearers including runners used to proper posture and energy transfer

Sam Hubbard Free:  No turning back

Bruce Katz, you’ve officially ruined us. How can we now wear suede lace ups in the absence of cradling, triple-density insoles that baby even calloused feet?  Why wouldn’t we stand up (in total comfort) and demand lightweight Kevlar shank supports that promote balanced, effortless walking?  Who will come between us and glove leather linings that give way to uncommon, full-grain leather uppers?  Despite the exceptional build – one that allows resoling – and a rocker profile, the tab is shockingly low.  By way of comparison, synthetic sports shoes often pass the $150 mark like its standing still, only to fade away with the next season.  Oh, and before we forget, your dearly-departed grandfather Sam would have to share the blame were he still with us.

Tester Comments:  A family-owned heritage reaching back to 1930 showed up with the Frees in every detail.  The Navy Nubuck with Light Grey Outsole hit the spot for a sense of humor thanks to canary yellow touches.  This is a better shoe than I’ve worn in – likely my life.  While running and cycling footwear commands most of my budget, its time to add a line item for suede shoes.

Best For: Casual and professional wear with jeans or slacks, exploring destination resorts and exotic locales 

Check Out the Sam Hubbard Free >

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