Best Skate Shoes Reviewed and Rated
If you’re a regular skater you know performance relies on key factors such as grip, durability, and protection. Provided by your footwear, all of these can contribute to your development as a skater, or they can take away from it. That’s why having quality shoes is key in doing the best you can. Whether your footwear is stitched or glued, canvas or suede, padded or light can make a huge difference, so shopping for the best pair of skate shoes is an important task you need take seriously.
- Vans Sk8-Hi
- Extremely durable
- DC Graffik
- Pill patterned outsole
- Vans Old Skool
- Padded Collar & Tongue
- Waffle Outsole
Skating is one of the most strenuous things to put your feet through, so you want a shoe that will hold up to the constant pounding. You also want to consider your foot’s orientation when performing certain “tricky” maneuvers. For example, when performing an ollie, your foot will be dragged sideways up the sand-paper-like surface of the board in the motion. Therefore, having extra rubber on the side ensure they can hold up through time.
You don’t want to wear just any shoe when skating, that’s why these shoes have characteristics specifically designed for skateboarding. You wouldn’t get the kind grip you need if you’re wearing a regular tennis shoe made with ordinary materials. Skate shoes are designed with “gummy” rubber to ensure a good grip on the board, good lacing systems, as well as added padding in key places.
If you’re struggling to find the best possible model for you, this article is sure to help. We’ve done all the research, rounding up the ten best skate shoes you can purchase. From minimalistic styles to those that are well-padded and ultra-protective, you’re sure to find a winner among our top choices below. And for even more tips and tricks, read the Criteria and FAQ sections that’ll provide you with all the info you need for making a well-educated purchase you’ll be happy with.
10 Best Skate Shoes
1. Vans Sk8-Hi
Strong stitching, cool designs, lace holes with reinforced metal, what more do you need? How about one of the most known logos there is? Or the unique stitch patterns with a hidden quality. Did you know that the stitching isn’t just for looks, but also durability? This shoe shows a lot just by looking at it but has hidden aspects behind this special design for topmost style and toughness.
This shoe features a supportive and padded ankle, laced up for a perfect fit and a comfortable sole. The sk8-Hi was made for durable construction and to last a very long time with keeping its comfort aspects. The ankle support in this shoe is fully-focussed to be worn without limitations.
Cost and Value
This sneaker is reasonable in price. Most budgets will be able to afford it. It’s definitely worth the cash when buying a durable shoe like the Vans Sk8-Hi. It's an excellent style both for skateboarding, but you may also be tempted to wear it for everyday use as well.
Perforated for Breathability
Exceptional Ankle Stability
Can Get Hot In Summer
Lengthy On & Off
2. DC Graffik
DC’s pill patterned tread is a trademark of the brand and provides just enough grip on the board to accomplish your best tricks, without tying your foot down or creating too much weight. That 720 kickflip is nothing to you.
The DC Graffik features a padded tongue and collar for comfort and good support. The leather upper is made even more breathable with a couple of vent holes above the sole, as well as the mesh tongue that allows moisture to escape the shoe. With the added cushion and ventilation, your foot will be cool, dry and comfortable.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced at the mid-range price wise. They are worth the money for their style, comfort, and performance. It is a shoe that suits the skateboard park as well as school or any other location a young person may want to be.
Leather, Suede or Canvas Upper
Pill Traction Pattern
3. Vans Old Skool
Made with vulcanized rubber, the outsole on these Vans is perfect for skateboarding which can be so hard on regular shoes. The waffle pattern gives an exceptional combination of grip and flexibility, and it’s just the right thickness to allow a good feel of the board, making those kickflips so much easier to master.
If you’ve ever owned a pair of Vans, you know that their canvas uppers are made to last. Not only are they durable and resistant to scruffs, they also hold on to their color for a good amount of time, and even feature some much needed padding in the collar area. Another advantage this type of canvas has that it allows for a good amount of air flow, preventing overheating and excessive sweat from clinging to your feet.
Cost and Value
The Vans Old Skool is one of the cheapest skateboarding models you are likely to find, that will still give you the required traction and protection. It’s an excellent investment, especially for those looking for something to wear on a daily basis, to school or casual outings in addition to kitting up the skate park.
Flexible Rubber Outsole
Waffle Traction Pattern
Laces May Rip
4. C1rca AL50
The sandpaper surface of your skateboard will be hard on any type of footwear, which is why, if you want to allow yourself the best possible traction, you need something that's going to last. The outsole on the AL50 is abrasion resistant, giving you a fair amount of durability that'll allow you to wear these shoes for months or even years.
This shoe is superior in padding from the tongue to the collar, which is important not just in terms of fit, but also in terms of protection for when the board hits your feet.. It features a little extra toe room for those wide-footed skaters, which surprisingly isn’t uncommon. Another part to this classic shoe is it’s vulcanized construction to maximize flexibility.
Cost and Value
With a price that's one of the lowest on this list, the C1rca AL50 is the best choice of footwear for those who prefer a bulkier style and need something budget friendly. Made specifically with skaters in mind, it has all the necessary features to protect your feet from taking too much of a beating, all while offering a classic, easy to wear style.
Padded Tongue and Collar
Vulcanized Rubber Outsole
Wide Toe Box
Limited Color Options
5. Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski
This is a sneaker with a low profile vulcanized rubber outsole, which means that although you get excellent board feel, you will need a bit of added protection. The sockliner does this with an added Nike Zoom Air heel cushion, which will not only make walking a more pleasant activity, but will also absorb the shock from hard landings, saving your joints and muscles from fatigue and injury.
First released in 2009, this shoe changed the game with its low collar that required a heel band just to keep it in place. But one of the reasons for this drastic design innovation was mobility - with less material around your ankles, you have more freedom to perfect those tricks without feeling any constraints.
Cost and Value
In terms of cost, the Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski comes at a price that’s slightly above average, but overall acceptable in terms of affordability. You can choose between a suede and canvas upper, or can even go with one of the limited editions that are more colorful and stylish than your regular pair of skateboarding shoes.
Perforated for Breathability
Nike Zoom Air Cushioning
Low Profile Vulcanized Rubber Outsole
Can Get Hot
6. Osiris NYC83
This style features a high ankle that's padded, as well as a tongue that will cover the top of your foot. Not only does this make the NYC83 a good choice for cold weather, but it also contributes to the padding you get, making skateboarding so much easier on your feet.
This shoe is comfy inside and out. There is a soft padded PU insole with full latex covering for longer periods of standing, as well as an exposed EVA midsole for maximum mobility, support, and comfort. This means that this model is great at absorbing shock, which will decrease the joint and muscle pain you feel at the end of a day full of skating.
Cost and Value
Selling for a reasonable price, the Osiris NYC83 is a great option for those who do not want to sacrifice style for functionality. With plenty of features made to protect skaters and help them become better at their sport, this sneaker is a stellar choice that'll fit most budgets.
Unique Lacing System
Great Ankle Support
Padded Collar and Tongue
Vulcanized Rubber Outsole
Shock Absorbing Midsole
7. Emerica Romero
Your feet move a lot while you’re on the board, flexing side to side and front to back, which can cause the tongue on many sneakers to twist and become uncomfortable. The wings on the tongue of the Romero feature stabilizing wings which ensure the tongue is always held in place.
Low-profile Cup Sole
The sole in this shoe is low and cupped for a secure, stable fit. Your foot will not slide back and forth or from side to side within the shoe while you’re skateboarding, leaving you with less irritation and far more control and comfort.
Cost and Value
This shoe is priced in the mid-range which is a good value given the performance of the shoe on the board. It is also a versatile model which can be worn to school or other occasions. It is a breathable, stable style that will give you a lot of life for the money.
- Suede Upper
- Gum Rubber Outsole
- Single Piece Toe Cap
- Tongue Stabilizing Wings/li>
- Triangle Tread
- Low Profile Cut
8. DC Trase TX
The Trase TX can look like an ordinary shoe but really it has some specific qualities that may not meet the eye. One of these fantastic characteristics is that DC has branded their star logo on the heel. Another is, it has a higher foxing tape for a distinct look and feel. The higher foxing tape also helps with the overall life of the shoe because many tricks will have you dragging your foot at some point and this will help protect the material underneath.
This shoe was made with extra padding for the utmost comfort and the low-rise style may not fully support the ankle but it gives it more flexibility when it needs to and the collar also has extra padding. Overall this shoe was built to be strong and meet the needs of long periods of movement.
Cost and Value
With the very unique aspect of having a higher foxing tape, and carrying an exceptionally reasonable price tag. You can’t beat this kind of quality at that low price so why not? They are versatile and comfortable. Choosing this option gives you a new solid option in your skate shoe collection.
- Metal Eyelets
- Vulcanized Construction
- Abrasion Resistant
- Pill Pattern Tread
- Low Ankle For Mobility
- Canvas Upper
- Unsupportive Arch
- Runs Narrow
9. Etnies Jameson 2 Eco
Classic, profound and simple. This shoe is perfectly simple in our modern environment. Knowing that it’s partly recycled makes the feel that much better. Be proud of wearing these eco-friendly kicks. It has a low top style and can be worn and look fantastic doing pretty much anything.
The Jameson 2 Eco features faux-vulc cup sole construction with an STI foam lite 1 insole for total comfort. The flexibility features include thin padding in the tongue and collar. This is the shoe to get if you’re looking for a simple modern look but a comfortable feel.
Cost and Value
This shoe falls into the affordable category. You definitely would not want to lose the deal you get when deciding to purchase these. The plus side is how eco-friendly these shoes are so it’s worth every penny. In addition, they are stylish and durable.
- Made With Recycled Materials
- Padded Upper
- Foam Insole/span>
- Faux-Vulc Cupsole
10. Adidas Seeley
This shoe features an abrasion resistant sole and a smooth, abrasion-resistant upper. Both of these features will stand up to the abuse that you hand them and come back for more. These shoes, barring outgrowing them, will last for several summers for fun.
The shoe features a comfortable insole and a lightly padded collar, which helps to avoid blistering and sores around the ankle. It also provides a comfortable, supportive fit.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced in the higher end of the range but given that they will last for years of abuse, they still represent a very good value. Built specifically for skateboarding by Adidas, they come with all of Adidas’ century of athletic shoe building experience.
- Vulcanized Rubber Outsole
- Canvas and Synthetic Upper
- Padded Collar
- Abrasion Resistant
- Pivot Point on Outsole
- Runs Narrow
If you’re looking for one of the best skate shoes of this year you found them. Now, grab your awesome kicks and skate like the legends. This year will be as successful as you make it, and the best place to start at is what you put on your feet. So what are you skating on today? Whatever you choose, you’ll know that your special kicks will provide the performance needed out there.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Skate Shoes
One might think skateboarding shoe builds are just like any other casual shoe. However, this type of footwear should be made of specific materials to stand up to the rough sport. Each part of the sneaker should work towards giving you a durable product that’s provided by all three elements working together: outsole, midsole, and upper.
If you’ve worn this type of footwear before, you probably know that these three elements simply won’t wear at the same rate, which comes from the fact that they’re all made from different materials. Each of the parts serves a different purpose, which requires different production methods. Nonetheless, due to the nature of skateboarding, the part in which you will want the most durability is the sole (midsole + outsole).
If you’ve found a pair that provides the required ruggedness in the sole – meaning that it’s made with a good quality rubber, preferably vulcanized, and has a traction pattern made specifically for skateboarding – you can move on to look at the rest of the shoe. Because the tricks you’ll be performing will require contact between the upper of the sneaker and the rough surface of the board, you’ll want this part of your shoe to be made well too.
Your best bet would be to look for materials that are as abrasion resistant as possible, but that still provide a good amount of flexibility, and aren’t too heavy. Tough canvas is an excellent choice, while suede is even better. Made out of leather, suede has many benefits for skaters – it’s flexible and comfortable, but protective and tough, so you’re less likely to develop any tears from regular use.
Still, with many technological advancements that have been made in recent years, you might find that a synthetic, leather or even reinforced canvas style will work better for you. Or, you may even go with several pairs that you’ll alternate between depending on weather conditions and the type of skating you’re planning on doing.
Board & Pavement Traction
A skating shoe that can’t grip to the board is as good as no shoes. The outsole is the ultimate element that determines the quality of the contact between the shoe and the board. The greater the traction, the better control the shoe has over the board. This enhances your ability to twist the board and cross while going fast.
The traction also plays a role when impulsing yourself from the pavement. A decent skating shoe delivers a lot of traction, which results in a firm and vigorous impulse. Cheap skating shoes, on the other hand, offer reduced contact with the surfaces. As friction increases, you’re able to get a better grasp of the surface you’re taking impulse from. Traction is an important part of tricks as well. As you enhance contact with the board, you’re able to gain better handles on it. This makes lifting the board and controlling it in the air significantly easier.
The traction influences other aspects of a skating shoe. For instance, the stability of the board while in motion is decreased or increased according to the grip. Maintaining yourself the board stable while moving is much harder if your shoes don’t grip to it firmly. On the opposite case, lacking traction leads to a loose control of the board.
The grip works in combination with the shoe stability to deliver an improved landing after a jump. This is the most important moment for these two elements to be present. It’s significantly harder to control the board right after a high drop; the higher you fall, the harder it is. If your shoe fails to grip properly to the board, the chances of the board slipping away from your feet are greater.
At first hand, it may seem like skating shoe outsoles are just like any casual shoe’s one. In fact, many people wear skateboarding shoes for daily activities, most of them not being skaters. However, these shoes serve a particular function in the sport, increasing or decreasing performance depending on the quality. Multiple elements determine whether an outsole is fit for skating practices or not.
If you’ve read any of our other guides, you’ll know that the quality of the grip pretty much depends on the quality of the outsole. The latter will mainly rely on the materials that compose it. While standard rubber was the best option for a long time, there are now other more efficient synthetic compounds. For instance, polyurethane has become the most widely used outsole material on modern sports shoes. This material is not only lighter, but also a better impact absorber.
Though, there’s an even better option for skateboarding specific shoes:
- Vulcanized rubber:
This material is traditional rubber that has been vulcanized. The process of vulcanization consists of enhancing the qualities of natural rubber by adding accelerating compounds (sulfur). This process makes the rubber’s polymer form cross-links, giving it a greater resistance, durability, and shock diminishing properties. Vulcanized rubber is unquestionably the best material for skating outsoles. The vulcanized material is less sticky and has superior mechanical qualities. It’s currently used for sport shoes outsoles, car tires, and many industrial applications.
The sole should have minimal tread patterns or no patterns at all. Lastly, the sole height can’t be too large. As your feet get further from the ground, stability decreases. Adequate skating shoe outsoles should include all of the qualities mentioned here.
Unlike some other features, stability is something shoes can’t provide you 100% of. This is because, in skateboarding, stability is more related to technique than any other factor. Regardless, there are ways in which shoes can improve (or obstruct) stability while performing.
One of the contributing factors to the stability is ankle support. The amount of ankle support can increase or decrease according to the shoe build. Parts such as the heel notch, top line, stitch seam, collar, and collar lining work in combination for this. This combination determines the amount of support the ankle has to move and twist freely while skating. However, if the collar is too tight and these elements obstruct the ankles, the performance is affected.
Like we previously mentioned, the most important moment for the stability is landing. After jumping, especially from high distances, the impact is expected to affect the stability of the board. This same impact can also influence the stability of the shoes if there’s not enough cushioning. If the midsole fails to deliver enough shock absorption, your ankles will pay the price. In a similar case, if your outsole fails to provide enough grip, you’ll also lose stability and probably the control of the board too.
The stability also depends on the grip of the shoe. Thus the outsole plays a significant role too. When leaning forward or backward, your posture is ultimately responsible for the stability. However, the grip is also a determining component when it comes to maintaining stability while crossing. The sandpaper texture of the board makes it hard for any rubber in general to miss the grip. But, after some degrading on both the board and the outsole, things won’t be that smooth.
The upper build may not seem like a functional part of the shoe. Most skaters just think of the upper build as the part responsible for making the shoe look good. In reality, there’s much more behind the upper build than just style and design. The superior part has a role in functions such as durability, flexibility, and stability. It also spans secondary feats, including comfortability and breathability, which may not seem critical until you’ve got them against you.
The excellent build of skating shoes is made of suede or composition leathers. These are the most optimal materials for skateboarding footwear regarding durability and resistance. Suede and composition leathers are also flexible enough to allow smooth motion and performance. To have an upper even more durable, we recommend looking for double or triple stitched builds.
Comfortability is often underrated in all types of shoes. Customers rather look good than feel good. It’s understandable to look after style; at the end of the day, no one wants ugly shoes. Instead of sacrificing comfort for style, look for a shoe that incorporates both. There’s nothing more annoying than a tight shoe, or a compressed toe box, or materials that provoke irritation. Even walking becomes difficult when wearing uncomfortable pieces, let alone performing sports.
There shouldn’t be any uncomfortable areas in a good skating shoe. Cheap models are made of materials that cause irritation when they rub against the skin. We don’t recommend forcing yourself into any uncomfortable sneakers, let alone performance ones. There’s no better feeling than smooth shoes that fit comfortably.
An ideal upper build should be made of the materials we mentioned above, insole and tongue padding, and internal cushioning.
Impact Absorption & Cushioning
These two elements are unquestionably amongst the most important in any skate shoe build. You want to make sure they’re not missing in your footwear, as without them, you’ll be dealing with some bad heel bruises after a skating session. Even those who don’t plan on performing high jumps must have adequately cushioned shoes that can deal with the impact. Like we previously said, most skating shoes look casual, but they still have functional features present.
The midsole is the part of the shoe responsible for impact absorption. Any technology to reduce shock, either internal or external, is usually placed there. The heel is the part of the foot that undoubtedly deals with the most pressure in all sports. As you can probably guess, skating is no exception. Most brands include unique features around the heel area, which considerably reduces any shock or pain. For instance, heel air pockets have become a favorite feature.
Some big brands, such as Nike, know cushioning is not to be taken lightly. This is why their Nike SB’s count with insole cushioning. We’ll provide you with some basic information about insoles:
The softer the insole, the less torsional stability the shoe has. Stiffer ones, on the other hand, provide more structure and stability. When striking the floor, the impact ascends in a vertical direction. At the moment of the impact, the midsole is the closest element to the ground. At this point, the only thing standing between your foot and the shock in the midsole is the insole. Having a quality-cushioned insole makes a huge difference in maintaining you comfortable during impact absorption.
As for the midsole, EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) structures are king. The more firm it is, the stiffer and bulkier the shoe will be. Steady ones are recommended for cases of excessive pronation. Soft midsoles, on the other hand, deal better with shock absorption. However, due to their exposure to shock, they tend to last shorter. The latter type of midsole is better for shin splints.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does a pair of skateboarding shoes usually last?
A: As long as they’re not directly damaged, they should last at least over a year. Depending on how often you wear them and what else you are wearing them for, this could add or subtract from the overall lifespan of your shoes. Investing in a top quality pair and taking care of them properly can also extend the life of your favorite kicks.
Q: Are bulky skaters better than flat ones?
A: The only difference between them is design and weight. Some users prefer lighter shoes, but the weight isn’t that important in terms of performance. We recommend both as long as they follow the criteria above. What works for one person may not be the best for another and finding what you prefer can take some trial and error. Think about shoes you have worn in the past and what was the most comfortable compared to the least when making this decision.
Q: How to wear skate shoes?
A: Tighten the laces until the fit is firm. Any hanging laces should be placed inside the shoe to avoid stepping on them. In addition, you certainly don’t want extra long laces getting caught up in your wheels. This could lead to a serious injury and a lot of time off your board.
Q: What are good brands to look into?
A: Some of the most remarkable skating shoes manufacturers are Etnies, DC, Osiris, Fallen, Vans, Nike, Circa, and Supra. You can always expect quality from these brands.
Q: Should I tie the laces on my shoes?
A: Some people do, some people don’t. As long as you tighten the laces to get a firm fit, it’s all good. Do remember to leave the laces on the inside to avoid stepping on them. Your individual preference and style is what matters here. Keeping laces tucked in is important but how you feel about your overall look is equally important.