What makes the perfect skateboarding shoe? It may seem like a simple question, but there are actually several different things to consider.
So, before you purchase your first (or next) pair of skateboard shoes, take a look at this guide.
How to Choose the Best Skateboarding Shoes
A skate shoe is not simply an urban footwear brand that looks cool.
The fashion aspect is certainly important, but the following factors are arguably just as important (if not more so) when buying skateboarding shoes.
What Skateboarding Shoes Are Made Of?
Elvis made a pretty big deal about people stepping on his blue suede shoes, but The King need not have worried, as suede is a very durable and hard-wearing material.
The most durable skate shoes are often made from suede.
Suede is thin, it’s breathable, it’s stylish, and it’s highly resistant to abrasions and tears that are bound to be at play when skating.
Suede shoes do have a tendency to hold water, though, and your feet may get a little soggy after extended sessions.
Other skate shoe materials to consider include leather, which is even tougher but also even more prone to overheating, and canvas, which is more common but also less durable.
Some of the best skateboarding shoes actually use a blend of different materials, aiming to create something that is durable, light, breathable, and strong.
The difference in materials is one of the reasons why it’s so important to get shoes that are actually designed for skateboarding.
If not, you may end up with some flimsy material that falls apart as soon as you perform a heel brake or rip when you ollie.
A Summary of Skateboarding Shoe Material
|Leather||Strong, durable, & hard-wearing.||Very rigid and not breathable.|
|Suede||Very durable and cost-effective.||Not very breathable.|
|Canvas||Breathable and lightweight.||Not very durable.|
|Textile/Mixture||Varied benefits depending on the material used||Could cost a lot more.|
How Much Are Good Skate Shoes?
Many of the best skateboard shoes sell for around $50 and if you stretch your budget to $100, you’ll have your pick of the best shoes on the market.
A high-quality, sought-after sneaker for skateboarding can cost upwards of $200.
If you’re buying limited editions, you could pay 2x or even 3x that amount.
With skate shoes, however, you shouldn’t need to pay that much.
Heel and Toe Protection (Toe Caps)
Most skate shoes now use top caps to protect high-wear areas of the shoe.
These rubber strips are placed over or under the shoe and provide some additional protection.
Not only does it cushion the blow to your feet, ankles and knees when doing tricks, but if the cap is placed underneath the shoe, it means your foot is not exposed in the event that the material wears away.
Heel support is also important, if not more so.
The heel is an area that the best skate shoe brands have focused on more than any other, creating their own proprietary blends or cushions to deliver extra comfort.
A good heel support on a skate shoe will prolong the life of the shoe when you perform heel brakes and it’ll also take some of the shock away when you land your skating tricks.
Grip and Support
Grip is a basic function and one that you can find on most skateboard shoes.
It helps you to stick to your skateboard and gives you more control.
Comfort and Style
Although the best skateboard shoes are designed for practicality, you also need to think about comfort and aesthetics.
After all, no one wants to wear a pair of skateboard shoes that look drab and feel like ill-fitting clogs.
Cushions inside the shoes can offer some of these comforts, as can the material used to construct the shoe in the first place.
Height and Style
Skateboarding shoes are available as low-tops and high-tops, as well as shoes that sit somewhere in the middle.
High-top skate shoes offer some ankle protection, but they may also feel more rigid.
Low-tops are more common and provide additional mobility, but your ankles won’t be protected when skating and will expose them to injury when fall and you lose your skateboard.
Slip-ons show should also be considered.
Sli-ons tend to provide a better board-feel as they are very thin and light, but the result is that you will lose some protection.
Some of the best skate shoes are slip-ons, but as with everything else, it all comes down to what you prefer.
Which Skateboarding Shoes Are Best For Beginners?
If you are new to skating you may be wondering what skateboard shoes should you buy, which ones offer the most durability and affordability, and where do brands like Converse and Adidas fit into that?
Let’s find out.
Is It OK To Skateboard In Converse?
Converse shoes are classics and have been worn and adored by several generations.
They can also make the perfect skateboarding shoes, although if you want durable skate shoes, it’s best to stick with the CONS range.
All shoes in this range are made from CONS Traction Rubber, which provides more grip, durability, and flexibility.
They are thicker and more hard-wearing than classic Chuck Taylors and there are also models that feature additional cushioning for comfort and shock absorption.
However, not all Converse models are skateboard shoes, and so you will have to choose wisely.
Best Nike SB Shoes For Skateboarding
Nike knows how to make high-quality footwear and the Nike SB range continues that tradition.
Nike SB are some of the best skate shoes on the market.
They have been manufactured with skateboarders in mind and include features such as reinforced toes and heels.
We recommend looking at suede Nike SB skateboard shoes, including the Nike SB Charge.
Best Adidas Skateboard Shoes
The Adidas Campus Vulc is a classic skate shoe that has been around for a long time now and still holds its own against newer models.
The Campus Vulc is a suede skate shoe that features a reinforced heel and double-stitching for extra support.
As with Nike and other brands, the average Adidas shoe isn’t suitable for skateboarding.
You can still wear them for that purpose, but they’ll wear quickly.
Best Skateboard Shoes From Vans
Vans are iconic skateboard shoes, but some are better than others.
Slip-ons tend to be the most popular with skaters and they feature the Vans Pro Vulc construction to keep them strong and ensure they last for years to come.
Our personal favorites, however, are the Sk8-Hi Skate Shoes.
These hi-tops are durable and will also protect your ankles.
They’re stylish, available in a variety of colors, and you can usually pick up a pair for around $60 to $90.
Other Top Skateboard Shoes For Beginners
In addition to all the big brand skateboard shoes highlighted above, the following are worth checking out when you need a durable skate shoe that won’t break the bank or your ankles:
- DC Shoes Plaza: One of the best skate shoes ever made, as well as the most iconic. The brand is not as well-known outside of skating circles, but old-school skaters will definitely recognize this brand.
- Emerica Romero Skate Shoes: A skateboard shoe that features a very low profile and is designed to prevent the tearing and stitching issues common in skateboard shoes.
- Lakai Manchester: A good skate shoe that has been around for close to 15 years at this point and offers many of the features you need in a strong and stylish sneaker, including heel padding, vulcanized construction, and a design that helps with shock absorption.
- Etnies Jameson 2 Skateboard Shoes: Made from a blend of synthetic materials and canvas, this eco-friendly skate shoe is durable, breathable, and comfortable.
- C1RCA AL50 Skateboard Shoes: Although they are not the most classic skate shoes, these sneakers are super cheap and surprisingly high-quality. You can pick up a pair for less than $40, and the suede construction means they’re also very durable. The perfect skate shoes for beginners on a budget.
What Beginner Skateboarders Should Keep in Mind when It Comes to Skateboard Shoes
Remember, skateboard shoes are about much more than style.
Don’t drop several hundred bucks on the latest pair of Nike or Adidas just because it’s limited edition or has been modeled by your favorite skater.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing expensive sneakers but skating with them will almost certainly ruin them.
You’ll look cool cruising around town and flipping tricks at the skate park, but after a few weeks, you’ll be leaving a trail of rubber and canvas behind you like some urban Hansel and Gretel.
Look for shoes that are within your budget, made for skaters, and tick most of all of the following boxes:
- Enhanced durability
- Flexible sole
- Extra cushioning
- Excellent grip
- Abrasion resistant
- Arch support
- Foam padded collar
- Ankle support
Most vulcanized shoes with additional heel support will be fine, but as with any other type of shoe-from running shoes to cleats-the quality of the build and the materials used can vary significantly from one brand to the next.
Skateboard Shoe FAQs
If you still have any questions about skate shoes, including whether they are necessary and what skate shoes you should buy, just take a look at these skate shoe FAQs.
Do I Need Skateboard Shoes?
If you are going to skate, get yourself a good pair of skateboarding shoes.
Normal shoes and sneakers lack ankle support, thick soles, top caps, heel protection, and extra cushioning that will protect your feet and ankles when skating.
Also, shoes that are not designed specifically for skateboarding won’t protect you as much and they will break down very quickly, potentially leaving your feet exposed to injury.
At the very least, you’ll destroy those casual sneakers.
If you’re going to be skating a lot, we recommend looking into purchasing some new skate shoes.
If you’re a skater who needs new sneakers, you should also look for some skating shoes.
But if you’re just looking to pull a few tricks or cruise for a few miles and you have some old sneakers lying around, just use them.
Should I Get High-Top Or Low-Top Skate Shoes?
High-top skate shoes provide some ankle protection but low-tops will give you more flexibility and freedom.
There is no “better” solution, but most skaters prefer low-tops and some of the best skate shoes on the market are low-tops.
The only way to know for sure is to try them on and see which ones are more comfortable.
How To Fix Holes In Skate Shoes
Shoe Goo is a great product to keep on standby if you’re a skater.
It’s an adhesive designed for sneakers and can help you to quickly repair your shoes when the lining starts to fall apart.
How To Wear-In & Break-In Skate Shoes
New skate shoes can feel a little stiff and awkward.
You will get used to them eventually and the more you skate in them, the more comfortable they will feel.
But if you have a big event coming up and you don’t have much time to waste, there are a few other ways that you can break them in.
Try wearing the thickest socks that you have and leaving the laces loosely tied.
That should help to stretch them and ensure that they expand with your feet and movements.
You can also try walking or running in them for an hour or two. Jumping may help, as well, as will wearing your shoes when you’re in the house.
What Makes Skate Shoes Different?
Skate shoes are often made from hard-wearing materials like leather and suede, as well as canvas.
Many manufacturers also use toe caps and heel supports, which means you won’t suffer if your skateboard rolls over your toes and you won’t feel the impact of landing tricks as compared to sneakers.
Should I Use Skate Shoe Patches?
Of course! Patches can help you to fix worn parts of your shoes and they may also prevent those patches from appearing in the first place.
They are not needed, but if you want to fix some of your skate shoes or support some non-skate shoes, check them out.
How To Make Skate Shoes Last Longer
The easiest way to prolong the life of your skate shoes is to stop using them to brake.
You can also use suede patches and leather patches, as these hard-wearing materials wear much slower than canvas.
A little Shoe Goo will help, as well to help keep your shoes from wearing thin too fast.
Shoe Goo is cheap and takes just the occasional squirt to reattach, support, and ensure those skate shoes last for a few more months (or years).
What Is The Difference Between Vulcanized and Cupsole Skate Shoes?
Cupsole shoes are harder to break-in than vulcanized shoes.
They are also more expensive.
At the same time, however, they are more protective and supportive and should last a lot longer.
Summary: What is the Best Skate Shoe?
If we take all of the above into account, the best skateboarding shoes are probably skate-specific sneakers made by brands like Vans, Adidas, Emerica, Nike, Converse, and DC Shoes.
But it’s a broad spectrum and everyone’s needs are different.
Your budget, preference, and skating style will ultimately determine the best skateboard shoes for you.
Just keep the above recommendations in mind to make sure you get some good skate shoes that will actually last, and not crumble to dust like so many fashionable sneakers.