School Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Back to school brings a new opportunity to renew old friendships and start the year off in style. Though back-to-school shoes need to be stylish and comfortable, they also need to survive the grueling day-to-day of a great school year. From middle school through senior year, we have you covered for the best back to school shoes. Whether you are out on the playground playing one on one with friends or walking to class with your best friends, the perfect shoe can amplify any situation. Athletic shoes come in many comfortable and stylish varieties, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort with style.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Suitable For Basketball
Air Cushioning Unit
- Air Jordan 1 Retro
- Vans Sk8-Hi
- Keen Chandler CNX
- Merrell Jungle
- Adidas Superstar
- Skechers Go Walk 3
- Vans Classic Slip-On
- Nike Roshe Two
- Adidas Baseline
- Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best School Shoes
1. Air Jordan 1 Retro
Suitable For Basketball
Air Cushioning Unit
Air Jordans have been popular with young folks for long enough that these retro kicks are now classics. Nike has put a lot of quality into this shoe in its design and its performance. The Air Jordan 1 Retro is a great combination of durability, comfort, and breathability all in the same shoe. They are also very light for such a sturdy looking shoe. 2 on 2, anyone?Read more
Nike could have called these Jordan’s and they would still be popular. They are Air Jordans though because of their air cushioning inside. Similar to gel, these shoes can take a lot of shock absorption, especially in the heel.
This shoe has a thick rubber outsole that is very durable and comfortable. The traction provided by the outsole will serve you well on the court or off. The sole may be thick but its also surprisingly light.
Cost and Value
These shoes are among the highest priced on our list. For that investment though, you are getting a durable, lightweight and well-engineered shoe. The air cushioned soles will keep your feet comfortable all day and you’ll look great too!
2. Vans Sk8-Hi
Sizes Run Large
Vans are a very popular shoe among young people. Vans’ Sk8-Hi design is young and fashionable. These shoes offer comfort and flexibility while providing support for your ankles. They are breathable, have great traction and an EVA insole that will keep you comfortable all day.Read more
Vans’ waffle (or honeycomb) designed outsole offers great traction on smooth floors, can take a lot of walking on hard surfaces and still offer a great amount of flexibility and shock absorption. All in a shoe you can take to the skate park.
Contoured EVA insole
The EVA insoles in this shoe are made for comfort and contour nicely to your foot. The insole has antimicrobial properties which will help prevent unpleasant smells from building up in the shoe as well. Happy, odor-free feet!
Cost and Value
These Vans are on the lower end of shoes on the list which is remarkable given how popular they are, how comfortable they will make you and how well they are built. You get a lot of great features for the money!
3. Keen Chandler CNX
Breathable Mesh Build
Laces May Break
A perfect sneaker for school! This sneaker has a lightweight, high-performance mesh for breathability and movement. A breathable mesh lining and a rubber sole for durability and traction will make your school day a comfortable one! The secure fit laces are easy to use, especially for younger kids and the school will be happy with the non-marking outsole!Read more
The rubber outsole on this sneaker provides lots of grip and will leave no signs of every skidded across the gymnasium floor. You will outgrow the shoe before the sole wears out.
These sneakers offer a breathable mesh lining and a high-performance mesh upper that is also very breathable. Your feet will stay cool and comfortable all day long, and if you happen to step in a puddle, they’ll dry out before you know it!
Cost and Value
These sneakers are in the lower range of shoes on the list. For a very reasonable price, you will have a shoe that will last until your next growth spurt. They are cool and comfortable and come in so many color combinations that you’ll have no trouble finding one to fit your style.
4. Merrell Jungle
Soft, Suede-Like Finish
FRESH Tech Control Odor
Sizes Run Small
This shoe has a lot of comfort features including the slip-on design, padded collar, and the removable EVA footbed. They look great and if you need a black shoe for your school uniform, they are available. The thick, well-carved outsole provides for superior durability and grip. Built for comfort and durability - how can you go wrong?Read more
You just slip into this shoe and immediately your foot fits nicely onto a removable EVA footbed. The extra padding around the collar offers additional comfort without adding weight. And the M-Select FRESH technology will leave your shoes smelling like new.
Merrell is known for tough, durable soles and these shoes fit that reputation. As well as being durable, the M-Select GRIP technology also provides a lot of traction.
Cost and Value
For a very reasonable price, you get a durable, comfortable shoe that will keep your feet happy all day. The EVA footbed offers cushion but can be removed for a custom insole or orthotic. The soft, suede-like finish of the upper is also a favorite. They do come in black to suit schools that have uniform dress codes but they come in a number of other stylish colors too.
5. Adidas Superstar
Sizing Runs Large
Adidas is a brand that has been loved for generations due to their top-quality construction, style, comfort, and functionality. The Adidas Superstar has the iconic look that everyone loves plus many other features that make it truly great. These include a rubber sole, easy to clean synthetic upper, durable rubber toe, and sweat-wicking liner. Overall these shoes are a great addition to any wardrobe.Read more
Due to the fact many don't like to change their shoes throughout the day, a rubber outsole is a perfect solution. From slippery sidewalks to highly-polished gym floors, a rubber outsole will keep you firmly planted on your feet. In addition, they won't leave ugly scuff marks on the floor.
Stretch Knit Lining
Keeping your feet cool and dry as well as keeping your shoes smelling great is a very difficult task. Adidas has added a stretch knit lining that is not only comfortable but moves sweat away from your feet with ease. Keeping your feet dry will be easy, which in turn will help your feet feel and smell better.
Cost and Value
With a huge brand name like Adidas, you can expect to pay a bit more. When you look at all the great features you get when purchasing this shoe it is easy to understand why. While you may need to adjust your budget slightly you will get a durable pair of school shoes that are sure to make the pickiest happy.
6. Skechers Go Walk 3
Sizes Run Narrow
These are a walking shoe that makes a great school shoe. They are lightweight, breathable, comfortable and supportive so you can walk the halls all day and play your favorite sport in the afternoon. They’ll last through all that too because they are built to be durable. This shoe will also meet any school’s dress code and the slip-on, slip-off style is convenient for students on the go.Read more
The insole and heel are both equipped with Ortholite memory foam technology that mold to the shape of your feet. The insole offers a better fit and greater comfort as well!
These shoes look like they could be heavy but every detail was engineered to be lightweight. From the mesh upper to the soft insole and super lightweight midsole, there is nothing here to weight you down.
Cost and Value
These shoes are in the low range of prices for this list. For the price you are getting a lot of features including the lightweight construction, extra cushioning, antimicrobial sock liner, cushioned and shock absorbing midsole, and GOimpulse sensors that offer sensory feedback to your foot.
7. Vans Classic Slip-On
No Arch Support
The second Vans on our list, the Classic is one of the most popular shoes of its type on the market. This slip-on is practical and durable. The padded collar and footbed leave your feet comfortable while the breathability leaves them dry and cool. You’ll be comfortable and in style throughout your school day.Read more
This is an original skater shoe, meant for comfort and grip on a skateboard but it will perform well at school as well. The pattern on the outsole makes the shoe very flexible as well
Vulcanized rubber enhances the natural qualities of rubber. They resist abrasion better than regular rubber and because they are stickier, they also provide improved grip on smooth floors or the skateboard.
Cost and Value
These shoes are in the lower range on our list which is great for such a popular, in style shoe. For a reasonable price though, you aren’t sacrificing quality. You get high-quality material, comfort, breathability, and flexibility in a shoe that will last.
8. Nike Roshe Two
Modern, Youthful Style
Cushioned Sock Liner
Sizes Run Small
Nike is known for performance athletic footwear, and these shoes will perform well on the court, in the schoolyard, and at school. These shoes are the ultimate in comfort and cool too - shifting between two colors as you move around. These are lightweight for movement and to prevent fatigue. A great shoe for after school fun too!Read more
This Nike sneaker features a three-layer midsole with foam of different densities to provide a great cushion. The bootie construction makes for a comfortable fit that hugs the foot. The padded collar provides that extra comfort. But wait… there’s more. The sock liner is made from slow-recovery foam for even more cushioning and comfort all in a sneaker that is very lightweight..
These shoes are cool. There’s no denying it. They are a sleek built sneaker that actually changes color as you move, shifting between one and the other for a style that stands out.
Cost and Value
These shoes are mid-range for the shoes on our list but worth every penny. The lightweight, ultra comfortable design will make you feel like you’re walking the school’s halls in your favorite slippers. On the track, you’ll feel faster because the shoes will not weigh you down.
9. Adidas Baseline
Extra Padding In Upper
Run ½ Size Large
These casual sneakers are very practical for school, the schoolyard, the gym, or any other place you might yourself during the school day. This is a low-top that is very lightweight. It features a cool, retro design and leather upper. It has a padded tongue and collar for extra comfort.Read more
Comfort All Day
Adidas offers a lot of comfort in this stylish, retro shoe. It features extra padding in the collar and tongue for comfort. The low cut design allows for a lot of flexibility of movement and comfort around the ankle
Retro Adidas Style
Adidas stands out with their classic three stripe design. These shoes take you all the way back to Adidas’ formation with a sleek, leather upper.
Cost and Value
These shoes fit nicely into the low range of shoes on the list. A very affordable shoe with a lot of styles, comfort and great traction from their build for the court design. The shoes are lightweight and you can add to the style by doing what young people have done forever. Customize the shoes with your own pick of cool, colorful laces.
10. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Built To Last
Sizes Run Large
This is one of the most iconic sneakers in the world. The Chuck Taylor All-Star is recognized for its silhouette, its authenticity, and the star patch on the ankle. This shoe has been around for generations of young folks and comes in a variety of classic colors and styles. Built for basketball players and worn by the world, it’s a shoe that’s everywhere and still somehow allows you to express your own personal style.Read more
These Converse sneakers have lasted through generations of wearers for a reason. The clean, iconic design never goes out of style. With a wide variety of colors and styles to choose from, you will find your look easily.
Canvas uppers offer a lot of benefits including breathability, durability, and the ability to clean these classic basketball shoes easily. They will soften with wear making them even more comfortable.
Cost and Value
These classics are in the lower end of prices on our list. You get a classic style, great traction, comfort and breathability in the canvas upper for a great price. They are also very durable, so these shoes will last a long time.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
School can be hard on your feet. You walk more than you might think at school, on concrete in the schoolyard, on hard floors in class. Wearing shoes with little support or little cushioning can easily lead to pain and stress in the feet, ankles, and legs. That is why cushioning and support are so important.
Without good cushioning in shoes, you will have sore heels and arches – the areas of our feet that take the most stress. Your feet may feel achy and tired but you could also hurt your feet. Foot injuries can mean pain for quite some time and it can take the fun out of a lot of activities that you normally enjoy. If your shoes have good cushioning, you can walk a lot without suffering from pain or possible injury. You can have fun in the schoolyard, you can walk between classes and with your friends, and most importantly you can spend your whole day comfortable. Cushioning can make such a big difference.
Cushioning comes from a few places in the shoe. One is the midsole, which is usually made of a soft material that can absorb shock. It also cushions the foot somewhat. Next, there can be cushioning in the footbed (that is the insole and sometimes the material directly underneath the insole – think of it as everything the bottom of your foot might touch inside the shoe). There may also be cushioning around the tongue of the shoe and around the top (which is called the collar). Some shoes even have a little extra cushioning in the heel. Look for a shoe that has, at least, a good shock absorbing midsole and a cushioned insole to make your walk, play, and hang out school day far more enjoyable.
Shoes also need support. Shoes are meant to protect your feet and a shoe that is not supportive just won’t do that job very well. Think of a supportive shoe as a safety platform for your feet, between you and the ground and anything that might stub, fall on, or otherwise hurt your foot. Having a supportive shoe also improves your posture and your gait (the way that you walk).
You should look for support all around the shoe:
The sole you choose is very important. That’s true for most types of shoes but it is especially true for school shoes. You will be walking on concrete, on hard floors in hallways, on gym floors and maybe even on wood or carpeted floors in some areas (libraries usually have carpets because they like quiet in there). Both the insole and the outsole play a role in the grip.
First, the insole helps your foot grip the inside of the shoe, so it doesn’t slip and slide around inside, causing friction, abrasions, and sores. Secondly, the outsole has material and features that help to improve traction and grip:
You’re in those shoes all day. Okay, hopefully, you swap them out for gym class, but otherwise all day. You want a shoe that is comfortable so that you can go about enjoying being a student and not spend the afternoon worried about your feet. Putting more emphasis on the way a shoe looks rather than their comfort sometimes means you are going to have to return shoes and make another purchase. Don’t worry though; you can have comfortable shoes that look great!
For school you want a shoe that will be comfortable while you’re sitting in class, standing and walking. If they look great with your outfit but have your toes smashed into the toe box, that’s not going to work out too well for you. If they’re great for sitting but they cause pain when you’re walking, that’s also not going to work. But what makes a comfortable shoe?
So many features of a shoe contribute to comfort. Some of them are:
Ventilation: A shoe that makes your feet hot will not be comfortable. Look for a shoe that has mesh in the upper (the part of the shoe that is everything except the sole), canvas, or has cut holes in it to allow air in. This is especially important if you have sweaty feet.
Don’t sacrifice comfort and you will have happy feet all day long.
Flexibility helps you get through your busy student life with a smooth, efficient movement. While your feet need solid support, they also need to move. Take a close look at your ankle to remind yourself of just how well your feet are designed to move. That ankle joint moves in nearly every direction and has one of the biggest ranges of motion of any joint in your body. That is because you’re designed for all sorts of movement. Your shoes need to keep up with that!
A shoe needs to be flexible enough to walk in (sadly there are shoes that inhibit the way you walk, it’s true) but not so flexible that they provide no support at all. The sole should bend readily under pressure, to give your foot its full range of movement. However, if you have flat feet, you are going to want a stiffer sole because support is really important for your feet and if you have high arches, you are going to need slightly more flexibility to prevent strains from flexing.
The forefoot should be flexible enough that you can raise your heels off the ground for a short time and balance well on the front of your feet. The materials in your shoe should be flexible enough to adapt to the shape of your foot. Your foot should never have to adapt to the shape of the shoe. Flexible materials for uppers include mesh, synthetics, leathers that are not too thick, canvas and synthetic leather. Flexible materials for the soles (including the midsole) include rubber, EVA, synthetic rubber, and some leathers.
If your shoes are not flexible enough, you may feel it in the tops of your feet first, but eventually, you will feel it in the heel, forefoot, ankle and even in your knees and hips.
While branding isn’t everything, it can be an important aspect to consider, especially for those wanting to stay on trend along with their friends. Certain brands are notorious for crafting high-quality pairs that are long-lasting and stylish by design. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Converse, and Vans are big names that kids love to wear. There are many other brands that are equal in design and offer comforting features with every pair. It’s always advisable to research a brand before purchasing one of their pairs to get a feel for how satisfied wearers have been in the past. The best way to do so is by reading user reviews from verified consumers, that way you have a better shot at reading real reviews.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Whatever it is you wear to school, most times you'll want something you can take into the classroom, and quickly run to the next one, or head off to work or sports. Sneakers or casual shoes are best suited to this kind of versatility, easy to wear, and comfortable for those early morning classes!
Wherever you are, chances are that your schoolmates have the know for what's in style each school year. Some options however, are classics that never seem to tire, like a solid pair of Chucks.
When looking for your next pair, and you're not sure what in trend at the moment? Opt for a classic look or style!
Frequently Asked Questions
The best shoe for school will be one that fits you well, has good traction and grip, is comfortable, can stand up to a lot of walking, has good flexibility and one that you like. Our top three in this list are Vans, Air Jordans, and Converse but any of the 10 in the list is going to serve you well. No matter your fit, how far you walk to school or your preference, everyone will find a shoe that works well for them on our list.
You could own multiple pairs of shoes if you want to, but it’s not necessary. Each of the shoes above has multiple purposes. All are great for school but they’re also good for walking, some are good for a casual game of hoops with friends, for that after-school job, for hanging out with friends, for bicycling or most other activities. However, you should definitely have a separate pair for specialized activities – like football, soccer or baseball, which may require cleats, track where track shoes may be required, etc.
School shoes do not have to be expensive; however, keep in mind that you will get more out of multi-functional shoes and that high-quality shoes will last longer, so they may end up saving money.
That will depend on the school but most schools require a black or dark blue shoe with a closed toe, most often oxford or moccasin style. You should check with your school’s dress policy before you buy.
The shoes on this list should last a year or more when used for normal school activities. If you’re going to run track in them, or other heavy activity, they’re going to last less time. In addition, you will also be able to prolong the life of your shoes with proper care. Ensuring your shoes are well taken care of will make them last exponentially longer, this can be as simple as wiping away dirt or as complex as cleaning and conditioning 100% genuine leather.
Some of these will work for you, yes. But you are probably going to be on your feet much more than students are, you’re going to probably be working long shifts, and depending on where you’re working, you may need to run on those same floors (remember that is not allowed in schools). We recommend you purchase shoes that are suitable for your job. You can check out our list of the best shoes for nursing here.
Wrinkling and creasing around the outer edges of the sole is a sign that your shoes have worn out in the midsole and it’s time to replace them. Wearing out is normal, the midsole compresses over time. Think of it as your shoes’ way of telling you it’s time for them to retire. Wearing shoes will collapsing midsoles will become uncomfortable while a new pair will make your feet comfortable again (see our criteria above for comfort tips).
We sure do. If you can afford it, you should have a separate pair of shoes for gym class. Also, be sure to shower (if you can), dry your feet and change into a fresh pair of sock after gym class. A fresh pair will help prevent sweaty socks from leaving sweat loving microbes in your shoes and its the waste from those microbes that cause the smell. You could also try underarm deodorant on your feet, specialized foot sprays, and talc. Air out your gym bag to prevent odors from transferring and if the smell is really stubborn, you can throw most sneakers in the washing machine with regular laundry soap and wash the smell out. Just let them dry in an open, airy spot.