Best Bowling Shoes For Women & Men Reviewed
If you’re a serious bowler, you need the best bowling shoes out there and If you constantly find yourself at the bowling alley, it´s probably a good decision to get a pair of your own. Using the shoes offered by bowling alleys is far less hygienic considering they’ve been on countless feet. Plus, with rentals, what you see is what you get. You don´t have an array of choices. Time to give yourself some of the best quality options for bowling footwear. We have you covered!
Picking the right bowling shoe depends on many factors, such as if you´re a professional or an amateur, or how hard you bowl, for example. Adequate shoes are going to help you elevate your game. Having the best shoes comes in handy for casual bowlers, but is critical when it comes to tournaments and competing.
- Dexter Jack
- Defined Horseshoe Heel
- Dexter Vicky
- U-Throat Upper
- BSI #651
- Light EVA Midsole
You can also play with your cronies and, unless you play for charity it´s usually better if your name is on the top of that scoreboard, right? Believe it or not, the right shoes will assist in that. You don’t need to put in hours doing research. We’ve done that for you and comprised a list of the best bowling shoes for men and women. Technique, strength, and concentration make up a huge part of the game, but the right equipment is just as important. So if you´ve made up your mind and have decided to go for quality, you’re in the right place.
10 Best Bowling Shoes
1. Dexter Jack
The style of this shoe is going to be alluring to you considering they are not flamboyant or unusual. You will notice that these shoes are comfy the very first time you wear them. They need no time adjust, and they deliver incredible levels of comfort and stability.
The support of a bowling shoe is vital considering you spend lots of time on your feet when bowling, and Dexters delivers just this. You don’t want your feet aching while you are trying to do an accuracy shot.
Cost / Value
They come at a moderate price, and they are well worth what they cost, as a matter of fact, we these shoes are comfier than many regular shoes. Their classic style is also very appealing to many users.
- These shoes also have a microfiber sole for sliding
- Outstanding comfort
- Appealing style
- Some users reported stiffness
2. Dexter Vicky
The upper is human-made and has a U-throat pattern, which improves quality and durability. These are shoes that are lined with fabric, and also incorporates plenty of padding on the collar and tongue.
They come with an outsole made of rubber with a distinct horseshoe heel that adds stability and protection. Another one of the features of these shoes is the "slide" sole on each side.
Cost / Value
You can find them at a reasonable price, given the comfort and protection they provide in the arch. Laces have a suitable length, and the shoes are nicely made overall.
- Quite comfortable
- Very durable
- Quality upper
- A bit narrow and tight according to some users
3. Dexter Turbo II
Their classic non-marking outsole with a raised heel will do a lot for those moments you need a precision shot, and the Fixed S8 microfiber slide sole on both shoes will boost your game to a whole different league.
Comfort / style
The upper has a U-Throat pattern, which is typical in Dexter bowling shoes. They're fully fabric-lined with a padded tongue and collar which provides added comfort and style to your approach.
Cost / Value
You´ll find them at an accessible price and will love how comfortable they are the very first time you wear them. Their size and fit is extemely accurate.
- They are comfortable and fit very well
- Great sliding for enhanced technique
- Quite durable
- Some reports on limited breathability
4. Dexter Ricky III
These shoes are practical and affordable. If you go with these, the chances are, you will be glad about your decision.
Comfort / style
They look like regular street shoes, and they are as comfortable as them. You´ll make better shots, and you better believe it.
Cost / Value
Many reviewers have said that these shoes are an excellent buy at a decent price. Even if you recommend these shoes to a friend, they will most likely share the same sentiments about their comfort and style.
- Very comfortable
- Neutral style that matches beautifully
- They help to enhance your technique
- Some users reported they don´t have enough grip
5. Brunswick Flyer
They are textile coated and have an embellished tongue and hue. These also have a non-marking rubber outsole. These shoes also have a microfiber coating that helps to enhance the Flex Slide Technology.
These shoes will make you triumphal with the way you perform while wearing them. The Flyers are better than most others. They are the ones that convince you that proper footing and stability make all the difference.
Cost / Value
You spend a lot of time on your feet for this sport, and that is why these shoes have embedded comfort and provide it regularly for a nifty price.
- Increased comfort
- Flex slide technology for a better technique
- Excellent stability
- Some users found them cumbersome
6. BSI 651
They have a sports leather upper. The slide and glide offered are unmatchable. In a few words, these shoes are suitable for beginners and pros alike.
Comfort / style
They also have a padded tongue collar, a stitched and glued slide sole and a lightweight EVA midsole for increased comfort and protection. Get a pair of these, and you will strike, strike and strike again.
Cost / Value
Additionally, these shoes bring the comfort and tidiness of not having to pay for a pair of rental shoes they probably clean once a year. They come at an affordable price, and they are worth more than every penny spent on them.
- Affordable price
- Increased comfort
- Adds protection to the midsole
- Some reports on the loudness of these shoes
7. Brunswick TPU X
The upper is made up of soft full grain leather, and the material of the outsole is very flexible. Little to no break-in time is necessary, and they incorporate and interchangeable outsole and heel.
Comfort / protection
Their biomechanical contouring delivers increased comfort and quality. These shoes also have features like their innovative heel locking system and an insole that provides more airflow.
Cost / Value
The superb craftsmanship behind the Brunswick TPU X shoes and the affordable price make them the ideal shoe for your bowling needs. They look and feel wonderful.
- Excellent craftsmanship
- They look and feel good
- Extremely comfortable and stable
- Not durable enough for some users
8. Dexter SST 8
One of the great features these shoes have is their interchangeable soles, which means they are shoes for both lefties and righties.
Protection / style
They come with a leather toe drag protector and a full grain leather upper that adds a bit of fashion to functionality. You're going to wish you had ordered them sooner, according to the massive amount of positive feedback they have.
Cost / Value
They are so comfortable that they make walking the lane feel like walking on clouds, according to wear-testers. The price is higher than other models, but their design and quality are worth what you fork up for them.
- Excellent materials
- Great comfort
- Technology that protects feet
- Some users reported limited breathability
9. KR Flyer
If you are looking for shoes that will keep the germ exchange to a minimum, and also improve your game, then these will do the job perfectly. They´re textile lined with a padded tongue and collar that provide great style.
Comfort / protection
They also come with a non-marking rubber outsole that delivers safeguard for your feet. The #8 microfiber slide pad on both shoes with FlexSlide Technology will keep those strikes coming.
Cost / Value
You can get these at an average price, and you have to admit that having your pair of bowling shoes is ideal and these shoes have the style to back you up.
- Increased protection
- Decent price
- Some users found the slide to be inconsistent
10. Dexter Ana
The design of these shoes will catch your eyes every time. They are unique, and they provide a snug fit along with incredible comfort. They are bigger and bulkier than you would expect so prepare for that.
Comfort / style
They will help you dominate the lanes with precision and power. Besides, these shoes look nice and come at a quality price. This product guarantees comfort with a cozy fit and an embellished outsole. Let your friends know who´s boss with these shoes from Dexter.
Cost / Value
Once you get the hang of them, you feel comfort like no other. Also, these bowling shoes are crucial if you want to win a tournament. You can also get them at a decent price.
- Reasonable price
- Ideal for enhancing technique
- Formidable technology that provides protection
- Some users found them stiff or tight
We’ve reviewed the very best of the best, with the most positive user feedback, tested and tried. Aspects to consider in a great shoe include stability, grip, flexibility and support, and we’ve included every significant metric in finding the top 10.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Bowling Shoes
The approach is the process of walking up to the foul line before releasing the ball. Walking up to the line is also known as building the approach. Some bowlers argue that the approach is the most important technique in the whole bowling process. While a good approach alone won’t make you a decent bowler, it is very important considering it’s the first step. If you get the approach wrong, things will most likely just go worse from there.
Building an appropriate approach indeed requires practice. However, a good pair of shoes makes a huge difference. And likewise, a low-quality pair of bowling shoes will mess up your approach. Multiple elements in a bowling shoe have an impact on the quality of the approach. For instance, the outsole quality and materials are crucial to an efficient approach, as this is what mainly differentiates a bowling shoe from a regular one.
You’ll require shoes of which you can have total control over. You don’t want them to drag nor to slip during the approach. While building that momentum, keeping stability at the top is a must. Any undesired motion or the slightest inclination can and will alter your release. The more stable you are, the more precisely you’ll be able to approach the line.
Cushioning is one of the elements that can provide you with the added stability you need. You may be thinking that a bowling is not the kind of sport that needs cushioning on its performance shoes. However, when you’re seeking for the most optimal performance, some cushioning can prevent those slight tilts that may put your aim off.
The best bowling shoes will count with a cushioned midsole. However, the cushioning in this type of shoe is not the same as the one you’ll find within a running sneaker. Bowling shoe’s midsoles are much thinner in comparison to most other sports, and they don’t deliver as much absorption. Instead, they aim to stabilize each gait by acting as a platform.
If you can’t find the right cushioning in a shoe, or you suffer from foot irregularities (high arch, flat foot, etc.), you can always recur to custom insoles. Personalized insoles are an ideal solution for what you can’t find in a shoe. For instance, if you feel your shoe lacks some heel cushioning, a custom insole can make it happen without having to acquire a new pair.
Lastly, stiffness is a key point in stability when it comes to bowling shoes. If you’ve ever owned a pair – or tried rental shoes at the alley – you noticed they are stiffer than your average pair of shoes. The upper build features a hard material that isn’t too flexible; this is to provide a more solid structure. Because of this, it’s harder for your feet to swing laterally while building the approach.
The outsole is the key element in a bowling shoe and is what distinguishes bowling shoes the most. Usually bowling outsoles are completely flat, however, some designs may feature a heel that’s slightly raised. The outsole surface varies from model to model, and in professional performance, they’re often different from one another (right outsole and left outsole).
This is because the outsole surface of your dominant foot features a different build than your opposing foot. Your dominant foot’s shoe aims at sliding, and the opposite one aims at braking. We’ll enter into further detail about sliding and braking later into the guide. Keep in mind that regardless of what your dominant foot is, the sliding and braking ability depends on the outsole design.
For instance, outsoles equipped with a raised heel provide slightly more sliding than that of flat outsoles. This is because the heel provides inclination to the outsole, making momentum and impulse help you slide forward. Keep in mind that going for too much slide is not the ideal thing to do either – you want to maintain control of your motions as much as possible.
Your foot dominance is also something to take into consideration while looking for the best bowling shoes. If you’re a dedicated player or a professional performer, you’ll want to make sure you count with optimal footwear. This means that your shoes should have opposing outsoles like we explained previously. One foot will slide, while the other outsole will be responsible for stopping the slide, thus it’s called brake.
This comes in considerably costlier, of course. Hence, you might reconsider this feature if you’re just looking for a casual kind of thing. In this case, you can get a universal type of bowling shoe. This design has matching outsoles, and depending on the manufacturer they may feature a brake on the back of the heel of both shoes.
If you’re getting started in bowling, but eventually want to take the leap to professional shoes, we recommend getting used to universal designs first. Once you’ve got a good grasp of the motions and practices of the approach, the slide, the brake, and the throw, you’ll be ready for professional performance shoes. Making the switch too soon may make it harder for you to learn the proper practice.
The outsole materials in most cases consist of materials such as rubber, synthetic rubbers, and certain types of fiber. The materials that cover the outsole surface prevent you from moving any more than you actually want to. They are specially engineered to deliver accurate and firm steps, preventing any form of slippage or drag while building the approach. This type of materials delivers unique traction.
A bowling shoe is mostly judged by the quality of its outsole. However, there’s a lot of controversy regarding the “ideal” outsole design. This is because the topic is very varied due to personal preferences and the many different styles of bowlers.
Slide & Brake
We previously mentioned these two terms in the approach section of our criteria. The sliding and braking are features of the outsole that allows you to, well, slide or brake. Although these two features are separated from each other on professional shoes, some universal designs make soles with no particular structure. This latter is mostly used by beginners and is considerably less optimal than the professional design.
Sliding consists of the motion posterior to the approach. Once bowlers built their approach and lean forward to release, they slide. There’s a great variety of preferences when it comes to the amount of sliding desired, but we’ll get to that later. Think of sliding as swinging the bat in baseball; once you hit the ball, you don’t stop the bat. You continue to swing in order to not break momentum, allowing you to perform a much stronger swing. Something similar happens when sliding at the moment of releasing.
For instance, after approaching, some bowlers like to slide as close to the foul line as possible. Professional shoes make this much easier, as users can apply the brake to regulate their sliding. Keep in mind that sliding is not easy, and it’s important to remain in control of your slide. The slide, if any, should be very brief – over sliding will cause you to either decrease balance or cross the foul line.
If you’re a slider, you should be picky when it comes to your bowling shoes. Not everyone goes for the same amount of slide – or the same style. It’s important that you look for a shoe that’s comfortable for you to slide with. Although they may all look the same, the design of bowling shoe outsoles can vary greatly. Depending on the manufacturer (and model) you’ll be looking at more slide, less slide, or no slide at all.
On the other hand, if you’re a planter you should be looking for a flat outsole. Like we previously explained, any inclination makes you more likely to slide. Additionally, the best bowling shoes include a planting feature, which usually consists of small slugs on certain zones of the outsole. When applying pressure to this zone, you’ll instantly stop the current motion with no sliding at all. Keep in mind that the shoes will do the functional part for you; however, maintaining proper balance and technique is a matter of practice.
Lastly, regardless of the type of technique and shoe you employ, there’s one huge factor to considerate: obstacles. Bowling shoe outsoles are extremely easy to disrupt, as the materials, as well as surface, can get dirty with almost anything. For both sliding and planting, it’s very important that the outsole is properly polished and totally free of any objects on it. Likewise, the approach has to be adequately treated in order to achieve the most optimal performance.
Bowling shoes are more delicate than you would normally think. The only place to wear them is the alley. The outsole of these shoes is not made for any other surface, and not only will it degrade on other surfaces, but they will also get dirty. The dirt that obstructs the outsole is not always visual, any kind of oil or grease absorbed by the outsole will mess up your sliding ability.
This is a very important aspect when it comes to professional-level practice and performance. Once you’ve obtained a good grasp of regular bowling shoes, as well as the basic skills and techniques, you should opt for customized bowling shoes. Customization is constantly underestimated by players who are looking to transition to professional bowling. It’s important to remember that once you go pro, you’ll need to be equipped like a pro.
Although some bowlers may have similar preferences, they all have a unique style and technique. Thus, everyone has different tastes when it comes to professional bowling shoes. These preferences apply to both the comfort side as well as the performance side.
On the comfort side, it’s a matter of how you feel on your shoes. Some players like to insert a personalized insole for better heel cushioning. Others prefer a flat shoe with a thin sole to be as close to the ground as possible for better balance. While this looks unnecessary, and even silly at first sight, customized comfort is something that can, and will, affect your performance.
If you think of it for a moment, the greatest athletes in all types of disciplines had their equipment custom made. Manufacturers would make shoes according to their exact feet size, their material preferences, and their style of performance. There is a reason why Muhammed Ali had his boxing shoes designed for him, or why elite football players do the same. It’s because it makes a huge difference.
You may not be looking after shoes with your exact feet length and width, and that’s fine. Our previous example is just to highlight the importance of customization. You can, however, optimize your practice by using equipment that fits your performance style. One very common example of customization is the foot-dominant design. Most manufacturers offer their models based on designs for both lefties and right-handed players. Every professional bowling player purchases equipment based on their dominant hand and foot, and so should you.
Some players don’t have one specific technique – they play differently depending on the circumstances. Thus, being tied with one pair of shoes for all scenarios isn’t practical for them, and buying multiple pairs of customized shoes isn’t cheap. Instead, they use shoes with interchangeable outsoles. Basically, they consist of outsoles that can be removed and replaced with another. This also serves the purpose of exchanging the left shoe outsole with the right shoe outsole.
Although this technology is considerably costlier than the average bowling shoe, it improves your performance considerably over the average bowling shoe, too. Interchangeable outsoles allow you to fully customize your strategy and practice for pretty much any scenario. It also makes the shoes much more durable, as the outsole is the element that degrades that fastest. Normally, you would have to obtain a new pair of shoes or send your pair for a sole replacement. Instead, you can just replace your sole.
Know Your Equipment
So far we explained the variety of equipment, techniques, and preferences there are in bowling shoes. In order to acquire the pair of bowling shoes that suit you the most, you need to find out what works best for you. Is it extra space on the toe box, or is it a raised heel that provides an inclined slide? It’s really up to you.
Once you have figured this out, there’s only one thing left on the list: finding which shoe suits those needs. Aside from knowing yourself and your preferences, you need to know your equipment; especially when there’s such a variety of it. Let’s see some of it:
These are the pairs of shoes bowling alleys set you up with during rental games. They usually don’t feature any specific design, but rather a generic outsole following bowling shoe standards. Rental shoes count with the basic features needed for bowling performance; a somewhat stiff upper build for support, a bowling outsole design, and a flat build.
Some alleys may present you multiple options when it comes to rental shoes; you may opt for a raised heel or a totally flat one. Although, this is not always the case and it’s completely up to the alley. Usually, the only preference you’ll get while picking rental shoes is the size. Don’t get us wrong though – for people who visit the bowling alley two or three times a year, these pairs will suit them just fine.
Renting bowling shoes usually costs $3 to $5 depending on the alley. This may or may not be affordable depending on the frequency with which you play bowling. The main issue with rental shoes is that they aren’t affordable once you become a regular player.
Universal bowling shoes can be purchased for around $35 with no special features. This is the type of shoe you’ll generally find in bowling alleys. At $5 per rental, you could buy your own pair of shoes after with the money you spend on 7 visits. You can imagine how much money you could be saving, especially if you play bowling once or twice a month.
By buying your own shoes you not only save money, but you also get to choose your style of build. Like we previously mentioned, you don’t get much access to any feature in particular when using rental shoes.
Bottom line: Acceptable for very occasional players. Not affordable if you’re a frequent bowler, and also not too good performance wise.
This is the ideal pair of bowling shoes for beginners and occasional players. Athletic bowling shoes, also known as universal shoes, feature sliding outsoles on both feet. This covers both left-hand dominant users and right-hand dominant ones. The aspect is very casual and often looks like a normal sneaker. As for the fit, the upper build is slightly firmer than a regular shoe.
Athletic bowling shoes are often the ones you find at bowling alleys (rental shoes). Most of them are fairly affordable, prices ranging from $25 to $40 for an average pair of these. The features on this type of shoe aren’t too detailed; they follow a rather standard design instead. They’re not manufactured aiming at optimal performance; instead, athletic bowling shoes focus on comfortability and support.
Universal shoes are a great option while you’re learning the proper bowling form. We recommend that your first pair of bowling shoes are universal ones. These will help you get used to the approach, as well as the basic bowling motions and techniques. Once you’re fairly familiar with bowling in general, you may eventually transition to professional shoes.
The main downside to this kind of build is that it’s pretty plain. It counts with the necessary features for the basics of bowling. Aside from that, they don’t offer much enhancement towards performance. The build is one piece altogether, not counting with removable soles or adjustable heels. Because of this, players would have to purchase different pairs if they wanted to experiment with alternate styles. By having two sliding soles, these models lack a braking shoe.
Bottom line: The best option for introductory bowlers. These are essential while learning the basic techniques as well as a proper approach. You should be fairly familiar with these before acquiring performance ones.
The last and best type of shoe when it comes to professional performance. This build offers anything you could possibly seek in a bowling shoe. However, there’s no standard to what performance shoe should look like. Like we previously mentioned on our criteria, customization plays a huge role when it comes to professional sports shoes. Bowling isn’t an exception.
If you’re a consistent bowler or looking to take the leap to professional-level bowling, you’ll need performance shoes. Performance shoes usually consist of two different shoes: a braking shoe, and a sliding one.
The braking shoe features a thick rubber compound and might have short slugs as well. This is to enhance friction between the shoe and the approach, reducing friction and thus preventing further sliding. Its counterpart, the sliding shoe, is the whole opposite. The sliding build usually goes on the dominant foot and features a very smooth sole that slides easily. Additionally, some sliding shoes include a raised heel to increase sliding. Keep in mind that the amount of slide depends on the user’s preference.
Professional performance shoes offer interchangeable outsoles. This functionality allows bowlers to switch their sliding foot with their braking one. It also makes outsole replacement much easier when an outsole comes to an end. Because of this feature, bowlers can accommodate their tactic and their lay-down based on the circumstances. It allows them to use the same pair of shoe for multiple occasions, rather than owning a bunch of pairs.
Bowling performance shoes feature top-notch materials made to obtain the most optimal slide and performance in general. Because of this, they’re utterly durable and rarely need early replacement.
Bottom line: Once you’re serious about bowling, and you’re confident about your skills, it’s a must that you transition to performance shoes. Prices fluctuate amongst manufacturers, depending on what kind of model you’re looking for. The replaceable heels and soles are very much recommended.
Aside from the ability to exchange soles, it’s important to know which sole to use on determined occasions. For this, you’ll need to learn what the different types of soles are, how they’re different from each other, and how each one works. Exchangeable outsoles are of very little use if you don’t make good use out of them. Having the right sole at the right time will boost your performance. Wear a wrong one, however, and you’ll watch your performance decrease.
The soles are categorized based on their ability to slide. They are graded from 1 to 10 based on this; where 1 is the lowest value, and 10 is the highest. Depending on the type of lane, the game mode, and the weather, you should adjust your shoes for more or less sliding. In most cases, it is the lane condition which determines the amount of slide you should use.
For instance, in circumstances where the weather is warm, you should be opting for more slide. Typically, warm weathers make the surface of the lane drier, and thus less susceptible to sliding. Hence, under this circumstance, it’d be wise to increase slide considerably, perhaps up to 10.
Cold weathers, on the other hand, make the lanes much more slippery. The colder the environment, the less slide your shoes should have. Always keep in mind the amount of slide you as a bowler are comfortable with. For example: on neutral circumstances where no factors affect your sliding, you would set your sliding to 3. If the environment is mildly cold, you might switch it down to 1, as the weather will provide you with the other 2-3 grades of sliding.
The physical state of the approach lane has a big impact on sliding. The smoother the lane, the better the sliding. While competitive bowling alleys properly prepare their lines prior to a competition, regular alleys may not. Deterioration and degrading of the lane will interfere with sliding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I bowl in normal sneakers?
A: Technically, it’s possible. You could bowl in any shoes for that matter – but it’s nowhere near good for your performance. However, bowling alleys won’t allow you to use normal shoes.
Q: How to choose bowling shoes?
A: Depending on your level of practice you may use athletic (universal) shoes, or performance ones. You should also consider your personal preferences. Refer to the “Knowing Your Equipment” section above for more information on this.
Q: Why do I have to use bowling shoes at alleys?
A: Regular shoes are not only impractical for bowling, but they may also make the lane dirty. Normal sneakers tend to have a considerable amount of dirt on the soles, dirt which would remain on the lane and obstruct performance shoes.
Q: How much does it cost to rent bowling shoes?
A: Depending on the alley, it may be a fixed price or an hourly one. Most alleys will charge you a fixed price that goes from $3 to $5, regardless of the amount of hours played.
Q: Why are bowling lanes slippery?
A: The approach is cleaned with a special product to increase the performance of bowling shoes. Additionally, the lane is oiled further to maximize the ball’s spin and speed.
Q: How to clean bowling shoes?
A: Bowling shoes are not like casual ones – cleaning is not optional. You MUST clean the outsole of your bowling shoes to make them as smooth as possible. Use a soft cloth and an adequate shoe-cleaning product for this.
Q: How heavy are bowling balls?
A: Bowling balls have a number on them somewhere around it, it’s very easy to find. This number represents the weight of the ball in pounds.
Q: How much are bowling shoes?
A: Depending on the quality of the shoe, as well as the type (universal, performance), a bowling shoe can go from $25 to $90 and beyond.
Q: Can I use bowling shoes without socks?
A: You shouldn’t. Unless the shoes are really tight, you should always wear socks to improve the fit. Additionally, the stiffer materials of bowling shoes aren’t made for barefoot performance. Rental shoes may contain a considerable amount of bacteria, and it’s a must to use socks with them.
Q: How to make bowling shoes slide?
A: If you count with interchangeable soles, you’ll be able to adjust the slide and heel to make it slide more. Additionally, cleaning your shoes regularly will improve their sliding ability as well. Keep in mind that applying substances to the outsole may be illegal on certain competitions.