Best Glow in the Dark Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Available in a huge variety of designs - from running sneakers, to sandals, to flats and even heels, this type of footwear can be a great addition to your collection. If you’re a sneakerhead, you will definitely want to check out the special editions listed below, and we can guarantee that you’ll be tempted to get two of the same model: one to rock, one to stock.
The list below features ten of the highest rated glow in the dark shoes currently available for purchase.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
How exactly do things glow in the dark, anyway? What kind of sorcery is that?
Well, as much as we’d like to believe in magic, this particular phenomenon has very little to do with the mystical and the occult, and yet everything to do with science.
Not only footwear, but all other objects which light up in the dark, such as toys and glow sticks and even some animal species, contain chemicals which store energy when they are exposed to light. These chemicals are called phosphors, which is why this event is called phosphorescence, or luminescence.
The thing about phosphors is that they have to be exposed to a light source for a while - sunlight, or lamplight for example, so that they can feed on the light, so to speak, and store that energy for later luminescence. This is true for your footwear as well - if you want your shoes to glow, you first need to wear them somewhere where there is a lot of light so that the phosphors in them can get energized.
Once they do, at nighttime these phosphors then release their energy in the form of a faint glow. Some objects glow weakly, and for a short amount of time; others can be quite bright, and keep on releasing energy for several hours even. Which group your footwear falls under depends on the chemicals in it, as well as their placement.
In this guide, we have encountered mostly outsoles outfitted with this feature, as in the Keen Newport H2. However, there are also designs which have luminescent laces (the Keen Uneek O2) and decorative patterns (Toms Classic).
It is completely up to you which style you go for. Do you like your footwear to have that sci-fi, vaguely eerie glow from below? Or do you want your luminescence to serve a purpose, to protect you from traffic and bicycles as you enjoy a run after sundown? Think carefully about why you’d like to get glow in the dark shoes - if it’s just for show or if you need it for its functionality - and choose the right style accordingly.
We can say with confidence that 90% of designs from this list are amazingly comfortable. This is largely due to the fact that they are mostly sneakers in style. (With the exception of the closed-toe sandal that is the Keen Uneek O2, the canvas slip-on in the case of Toms Classic and the ubiquitous Crocs clog.)
These sneakers are not only simple, lifestyle sneakers - they are designs meant to improve performance, to maximize energy return and to provide the smoothest, most cushioned of rides as you play basketball or take on the running trail next to your house. It is no wonder that they are outfitted with all the latest technologies focused solely on delivering the best type of comfort to the wearer.
We have systems such as the ASICS GEL cushioning technology which utilizes special foam and gel compounds in order to provide you with shock absorption. Cushioning is especially important in running and athletic footwear, so if you're shopping for something to use during your workouts, don't be afraid to spend a bit more - proper shock-absorption can go a long way.
Aside from fancy, innovative technologies like these, we also have designs that are less high-tech, and yet still doing well on the comfort front. Take the example of the Toms Classic - a simple, lowkey slip-on, which provides all the necessary padding you need to stay on your feet for extended periods of time. If you want solid support and all-day wearability, look for molded footbeds that fit the contours of your foot, for cushioned insoles, and for lightweight, breathable fabrics for the upper.
If you feel like you’d like to add a little flirtiness, a little sex appeal to your look, then heels are definitely the right way to go. However, in order to be as comfortable as you can in them, you need to look for a few key points: a thick, blocky heel - chunky or wedge in shape - is the best option for stability; a heel that is not above three inches in height, or one that has a platform in the front to help you better adjust to the height; and cushioning in the footbed, which will ease the strain off of the ball of your foot.
Given how there are comfortable options that are more sporty in design, and those which are less comfortable but far more fashion-forward, it is best that you take a moment to consider what you need. Would you like a new, technologically advanced pair of glow in the dark shoes to up your running game? Or a bold, badass heel to take over the dance floor in? The same as with the placement and type of luminescent material, this decision is entirely up to you and your personal preferences.
As we already established, most of the glow in the dark shoes we’ve looked at here are of the athletic, casual variety. Sneakers are great for both doing sports and for casual, everyday walks, for running errands, playing games with the kids and pets, and spending your leisure time outside.
Since luminescent features are considered more urban and streetwear - and sometimes even child-like - rather than classy, it is actually logical that these styles are geared towards a fun time out than towards a serious business gathering or a fancy dinner date. Glowing outsoles and laces don’t belong at the office, nor at a prom, wedding reception, or any type of semi-formal or formal outing.
However, they do belong in clubs. When you’re going out for drinks with your friends and/or your significant other and you want to party the weekend away, you can throw on as much glitter, sparkles, and luminescence as you want! There are no rules to how you should dress or what you should wear; this is why stunningly high platform heels that glow under blacklight are completely appropriate!
When choosing the right style with luminescent features, as in most other sections - think about where you’re going to wear this. If there’s a strict dress code, then sneakers and luminescence are a definite no-go. However, if you are in a more relaxed setting, hanging out with buddies, going for a run or a casual shopping trip, then you have nothing to worry about.
Make sure to always be aware of the occasion you’re going to, and what is appropriate to wear and what isn’t, and you’ll have no problems picking out a style which works the best!
Given how most of the items are from different brands, it stands to reason that all of them utilize different kinds of materials for the construction of their designs. Here we will take a look at some of those, analyze what their pros and cons are, and help you decide which material combination will be the right one for you.
First, let’s start by mentioning natural materials, such as leather. Genuine leather is always a good choice, as it ensures a healthy foot climate within a design, it lasts for decades in some cases, and it takes the form of your foot, providing you with personalized comfort. If you’re ever debating whether or not to go for genuine or synthetic leather, know that genuine leather is higher in quality; however, it is also higher in price and is definitely not beast-free.
After leather, we’re moving on to lighter, more breathable fabrics such as canvas and mesh. These we have in the Toms Classic and almost all running shoes we’ve looked at. The reason for this is that mesh materials are very soft and provide a sock-like fit that guarantees no blisters or chafing. They also allow air to easily pass in and out of the design, preventing your feet from sweating. Canvas and mesh are great if you want a lightweight style, one that you can enjoy even in the summer months.
Lastly, for the outsoles, there is hardly a material that is more widespread and more reliable than rubber. It is used all throughout this guide, not least because of its slip- and skid-resistance properties. Rubber can also come with various patterns in the bottom, which provide ample traction and decrease the likelihood of you losing your balance. Truly a golden standard when it comes to outsoles of all types.
A quality that is in direct relation to the type of materials used in a design’s construction is durability. If the materials are high-quality, then the shoe in question will likely last long as well. However, this also depends on how often you wear it, how well you take care of it, and the method of construction as well. Stitched designs, for instance, are far more durable than those which are glued together.
Genuine leather is a great choice but we have to emphasize that, even if a sneaker is made of leather, a lot of other factors go into determining whether or not it will last long. This includes its lining, how the upper is connected to the sole - if the sole is made of rubber or not - and how much you wear it and what for. If you are playing basketball or soccer or generally being hard on your footwear, you can’t expect it to last longer than a season. In the same vein, if you wear it occasionally and only for light activity, it is likely that you will be able to enjoy the design for several years to come.
Lightweight materials such as mesh and canvas are great for summer wear, but they are thin and not very durable. This is especially true in the case of running sneakers made out of mesh, as sooner or later you will be faced with a hole in your toe area that will effectively render the sneaker unusable. It is not something that you can fix, or something that you should be upset about - it is simply the nature of the material to wear out more quickly, especially if it’s used for high-impact sports.
And finally, what helps and adds to the durability of the design, is a rubber outsole. If there is also a rubber toe guard, such as with the Adidas Superstar GID, even better! This protective layer of rubber not only keeps your toes safe from harm, but also the sneaker from getting scuffed too easily.
Top 10 Glow In The Dark Shoes
1. ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21
One of the most advanced pairs of running footwear currently available for purchase, the GEL-Nimbus 21 by ASICS has got more than two decades of tradition and experience behind it. This neutral road runner is perfect not just for training sessions, but also for everyday use, mainly thanks to the comfortable upper, and the shock absorption system found in the sole. It also comes in a variety of color options, all of which include reflective detailing that is meant to increase visibility during night jogs.
The upper of the Nimbus is made with a jacquard knit mesh material that is not only highly breathable, but also form-fitting, so you can enjoy an amazing fit. The heel is held in place by an external heel cup, and additional stability is provided by printed overlays. The classic lace system is effective and durable, and includes additional eyelets that allow the runner to improve ankle stability.
However, what the Nimbus really shines at is cushioning, which was developed for long runs. There are GEL inserts both in the heel and forefoot, and they are held in place by a FlyteFoam midsole that has amazing energy-returning properties, while staying lightweight. The outsole utilizes AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) that works well on asphalt in both dry and wet condition. Another feature worth mentioning is the OrthoLite X-40 sockliner that is great at moisture management, ensuring a healthy and comfortable in-shoe experience. The price is higher than average, but that’s expected from flagship athletic gear such as this shoe.
2. Altra Timp 1.5
This pair of trail running shoes is ideal for those who love getting out in nature and working out. It’s made by a company known for its zero-drop footwear. This pair is neutral in terms of support and will work best for those with a higher arch. It’s also vegan, meaning it doesn’t use leather or other animal products, and you’ll find that the weight is surprisingly low, especially considering the comfort tech the Timp 1.5 offers. This model comes in a couple of color options, all eye-catching and fun to wear.
The upper of the Altra Timp 1.5 is made with a multi-directional flex mesh, which offers the best possible fit you can get in a pair of shoes. Couple that with the FootShape toe box which mimics the natural shape of the toes, and you’ll get a pair of sneakers that don’t squeeze or rub, allowing you to move completely naturally. The lacing system on these sneakers is asymmetrical for an anatomical fit, and support in the upper is provided by TPU overlays which are highly reflective and ensure visibility in dark conditions.
The midsole of the Altra Timp 1.5 is highly cushioned, with a stacking height of 26mm. Still, you’ll get a good feel of the surface underground, and flexibility isn’t sacrificed, which means that this is a great model for longer runs and recovery days. To prevent debris from entering the foot chamber, you can use these sneakers with the brand’s gaiters, and you also get the benefit of a 5mm contoured insole which follows the arch of the foot, ensuring a good amount of support for most runners. As for the outsole, it utilizes DuraTread rubber in high-wear areas, coupled with TrailClaw lugs placed in the metatarsal area, allowing for a secure grip when you’re moving both uphill and downhill.
The cost of the Altra Timp 1.5 is considerably higher than most of the other shoes listed in this guide. Nonetheless, it’s a pair of footwear made for athletes and enthusiasts who are ready to invest a bit more into a great pair of shoes made with performance, comfort, and protection in mind.
3. Reebok DMX Run 10 X PREDATOR
If you want something that is truly unique, why not check out this pair of collectibles from Reebok? Inspired by the 1987 classic Predator, the sneaker is the perfect way to stand out. It is based on Reebok’s own DMX Run 10 model, and it borrows aesthetic features from the movie - from the print on the upper, the glow in the dark details, even to the packaging that’s inspired by the creature’s thermal vision.
The upper of the Predator is made with a combination of synthetics and textile. The interesting features include the yellow goring in the tongue that gives a nice pop of color, as well as the shimmery camouflage print that is in line with the movie’s looks. There’s plenty of padding in the tongue and the collar, and you’ll definitely be surprised by the glow in the dark skulls that are printed on the insole.
As for comfort and functionality, the sneaker uses Reebok’s own version of air cushioning, with each sneaker featuring five air pods in the heel, and five in the forefoot. These absorb shock and give you a softer feeling when walking. The outsole is also iridescent, and has aggressive traction lugs that will definitely work well on all surfaces. Another cool feature of this model is the “spine trophy” souvenir tag that you get attached to the laces. Now, the price of this shoe is quite high, and it is one of the most expensive models on our list, but if you want something truly different, this is definitely the shoe to buy.
4. Crocs Fun Lab
You are probably aware of the fact that Crocs clogs are incredibly comfortable and are thus the perfect choice for kids. Not only are they water-friendly, easy to clean (just hose them off), easy to put on and off and supportive, but they also come in a huge variety of designs, including their Fun Lab line which has plenty of glow in the dark models, inspired by monsters, minions and more.
This clog is made with the brand’s Croslite material which has a number of benefits. First of all, it’s shock absorbing and doesn’t flatten with wear. It is odor-resistant, can be washed very easily, and is non-irritating, so it’s great even for sensitive children. The footbed features generous arch support, a deep heel cup and a roomy toe box that won’t constrict.
The outsole is slip resistant, and additional security is provided by an adjustable heel strap. This particular model does not have cutouts for breathability, which may be a problem for some, but it’s still a solid choice. The shoe is extremely lightweight, and is even buoyant, so it can be used at the beach. The price is low compared to the other models listed, and seeing how reliable the brand is, it makes it a stellar choice for most parents.
5. Adidas EQT Support ADV Primeknit
These lifestyle sneakers by Adidas were inspired by a running shoe made in the early 90s, but focus on appearance instead. The EQT Support ADV Primeknit is ideal for everyday wear, as well as travel and running errands, thanks to its lightweight construction and comfortable upper. The shoe comes in several color choices, but only a few of them include glow in the dark details, so if this is the look you’re going for, you’ll want to go with the Energy Aqua color choice.
The upper of the Adidas EQT Support ADV is made with a material called Primeknit. This is a knit material that’s highly breathable and flexible, yet it offers enough support to prevent in-shoe wobbling. The low profile collar will protect the ankle from rubbing or irritation, while a traditional lacing system connects the top of the foot with the midsole.
The midsole of these sneakers is made with standard EVA foam, topped with an OrthoLite footbed on the inside, and a rubber outsole on the outside. Thanks to the stretchy materials, these sneakers are very easy to slip on and off, and they offer a feel that’s supportive. Another notable feature of this model is its durability, as well as the fact that the Primeknit can be worn with or without socks, without having to worry about irritation.
As for cost association, these shoes rank average. You may even be lucky enough to get them on sale, for even more bang for your buck.
6. Keen Newport H2
This protective summer sandal is ideal for those tykes who need a pair of footwear that’ll offer all the features needed for an outdoor adventure. This water hiking model is a great choice for those who want to make an investment in a quality pair of shoes. While there’s a huge variety of available colors you can purchase, only one which has glow in the dark features, so if that’s what you’re after, go with the steel grey color option.
The things to look out for on the Newport H2 include the raised toe bumper that protects from obstacles on any trail, a tractioned rubber outsole that does a great job at gripping difficult terrain, including both dry and wet surfaces. The footbed has a metatomical design that supports the arch and heel, and aids proper alignment, preventing overpronation.
The upper of the Newport is made with a washable polyester upper that repels water and dries very quickly. The sandal is treated with an eco-friendly anti-odor coating that discourages bacterial growth and odor. To top it all off, it is machine washable, making maintenance very easy. The price point, however, is slightly high for children’s footwear, but it’s definitely a good investment for most.
7. Native Shoes Jefferson
This classic model by Native Shoes is the ideal choice for the family that wants to coordinate their looks. With models for little and big kids, as well as adults, the Native Shoes Jefferson definitely makes for an excellent investment. These sneakers are perfect for warm weather, and can even be worn around water, thanks to the numerous perforations in the upper. And although you could go with a single-colored option, we highly recommend checking out the latest release of Glow Block colorways which offer interesting new looks to a well-known silhouette.
The entire Jefferson sneaker is made with two materials. The outsole, rand and toe areas are constructed out of rubber for maximum durability and protection, while the upper is made with injection-molded EVA foam which is extremely lightweight and pliable. What this means is that you’ll get a pair of slip-on sneakers, perfect for active children who need as much shock-absorption as possible.
What’s great about the Jefferson is that it’s completely odor-resistant. Thanks to the antibacterial treatment of the upper, it won’t cause feet to become smelly, and the perforations greatly contribute to a breathable foot chamber that’s cool and dry. If you find that these sneakers are starting to show signs of wear, you can easily wash them by hand for a fresh look and feel.
You’ll find that the glow in the dark heel section of this model gives it a great appearance, and it can even serve a purpose in ensuring visibility in low-light conditions. If you’re after a model with these properties, the Native Shoes Jefferson is an excellent investment, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that it’s one of the cheaper options on our list.
8. Adidas Superstar GID
A model that started out as a basketball sneaker in the 1970s, the Adidas Superstar has since gained fame and popularity as a streetwear must-have. There is no urban fashionista who doesn’t embrace the casual, laid-back silhouette of the Superstar, complete with its iconic three stripes in the side and a rubber shell toe.
In fact, these three stripes are exactly what landed this version of the Adidas Superstar in our guide, since they are luminescent and all about that retro glow. The upper of the sneaker is made out of reflective mesh materials which promote air flow, allowing for breathability, and there is a heel loop in the back for easy entry.
The signature rubber shell toe in the front was first meant to protect athletes’ toes from getting hit on the court, and now it can also protect you while you run your errands, especially if you’re a clumsy type of person. Not only that, but this reinforced area also reduces the wear and tear of the sneaker itself, prolonging its lifespan.
The outsole of the Adidas Superstar has a herringbone pattern at the bottom, providing you with traction no matter what type of surface you find yourself on.
This is truly a sneaker which won’t have any problems finding a place in your wardrobe. It is casual, it is timeless, and you will love wearing it for years to come.
9. Toms Classic
We all know Toms. One of the most popular silhouettes in shoe stores, nowadays we’re having a hard time picturing a nice summer day without our trusty Toms slip-ons. Now you can enjoy them even more during a warm evening stroll, as they come in colors and prints that glow in the dark! One of them is this cute moon and stars print which makes you feel cute and spacey at the same time.
What makes this design so loved is its undeniable comfort. The Toms Classic comes with a canvas upper that is gentle on your feet and won’t leave any indentations or lacerations. It has an elastic insert at the top which accommodates feet of all shapes, so that even we who have high insteps can easily fit into these beauties.
The insole of the Toms Classic is molded to fit the contours of your foot - seriously, it’s like walking on clouds! - and it is also easily removable, if you decide you need more space inside the shoe. At the bottom, there is a rubber outsole for good traction.
The Toms Classic is a completely environmentally-friendly, vegan choice. Investing money in a pair of these also ensures that a child in need receives a pair of new footwear, so by purchasing a pair of Toms, you are also making a charitable contribution. You get stylish, lightweight summer kicks, and you do a good deed as well!
10. Keen Uneek O2
The ultimate closed-toe sandal now comes in a version with an outsole and laces which glow in the dark! The Keen Uneek O2 is that perfect design when you don’t want to expose your toes to the world, but still want to be cool, light and free in warm summer months. It represents a perfect combination of protection and breathability.
The upper of the Uneek O2 is made out of cord material that fits like a glove and adapts to the shape of your foot. It has a bungee lace system which is easily adjusted in one go, and the inside of the sandal is treated with Cleansport NXT. This formula ensures that no unpleasant odors develop while you’re wearing this design, and that you are safe from itchiness and potential foot infections that may result from bacteria growth.
The inside of the Uneek O2 is a real treat. The sandal has an EVA midsole, a fully enclosed heel with quick-dry lining, and something that is called a metatomical footbed. This is an engineered footbed which gently cradles the natural contours of your foot and provides ample arch support at the same time. Arch support is essential in minimizing foot fatigue and protecting you from medical conditions such as flatfoot.
If you’re not comfortable with uncovering your toes but would like to avoid sweating in confined footwear, the Keen Uneek O2 is that compromise you need. It is lightweight, amazingly breathable and moveable at the same time, and it will keep your toes wiggling and your feet happy.