There’s no denying that skating is hard on your feet, which is why choosing the right shoes is important. You’ll want to consider quite a lot of factors before you just slap on any old trainer. The way you skate, the quality of the materials, the comfort of the shoe itself, how much traction it offers, and how well it protects your toes, are all key factors in the best shoes. And that doesn’t even cover your budget and style preferences, which are both also important
We’ve rounded up 15 of the best skate shoes on the market, and compared them here in this easy guide. First, let’s take a look at a quick snapshot of each shoe’s major features:
Table of Contents
Our Best Skateboard Shoes
1. Lakai Griffin
We kicked our list of top skate shoes off with something that has a pretty classic skate shoe style. It is a bit slimmed down compared to the chunky Etnies you grew up with, but the Lakai Griffin still has that padded look for comfort and aesthetics. It’s also a very lightweight shoe, which is great for beginners, but don’t expect it to offer much more than that. It only meets the most basic of skating needs in terms of protection or support, and it also doesn’t offer a wide version for bigger feet. However, it’s a solid choice for a basic, every-day skate shoe at a lower priceNo products found.
2. Supra Stacks Vulc II
If we had to pick one shoe off this list to showcase as the example of modern styling meets classic skate shoe features, it might be the Supra Stacks Vulc II. It’s got a sleeker profile with a casual look that modern riders want but includes impact resistant padding, arch support, nice flexibility, durable suede upper, and grippy tread. It also offers toe protection and padding around the heel and tongue for comfort. The only real issue is that it’s a low top, which means you might lose some ankle support if you prefer it.No products found.
3. DC Trase TX
A quick glance at the DC Trase TX might not reveal anything special, but this sleeker skate shoe actually has a lot to offer. Like a lot of the more stylish options on the market today, this shoe can run pretty narrow, and is made of simple fabric, so it’s not quite as durable. But it does have a nice grippy tread and a rubber outsole to protect your toes, as well as metal eyelets for a bit more durability. It’s also got a lot of mobility compared to some of the meatier skate shoes out there.No products found.
4. Fallen DOA
If you’re looking for a more modern styling that will still work for wide feet, the Fallen DOA is a good place to start. But this shoe’s main draw is how structured it is. It offers a lot of stability for kicks and tricks, and the impact-absorbing padding makes skating much easier on your joints. Made of very durable leather, you can expect this shoe to give you a bit more in the way of weatherproofing as well. The only drawback that we can see is that it’s a heavier shoe, so it may take some time to get used to the added weight when doing tricks.No products found.
5. Etnies Jameson 2 Eco
The Etnies brand is known primarily for comfort, usually offering a ton of padding and breathable mesh on all their shoes. The Jameson 2 Eco is just a little different. This one is made of recycled materials and is part of the company’s giving back program that plants trees around the world. Beyond the eco-friendly design, though, this one doesn’t lose any of the comfort usually offered by an Etnies, even if it does have a sleeker design than the brand’s usual styles. It makes a great replacement for something like a classic Chuck Taylor – no bells and whistles, but a solid choice overall. However, one problem we found with this shoe is that the sizes can differ from a standard Etnies, so be sure to try before you buy.No products found.
6. Etnies Kingpin
Styled like the classic Etnies sneakers that many skaters grew up with, the Kingpin is a chunky, well-padded shoe that features the brand’s signature breathable mesh for the most comfort. It also has a very grippy outsole for plenty of stability, perfect for skaters who are out there doing difficult tricks. Etnies are known for being a little bit difficult to size on your first time, so it’s better to try these on before you buy. However, the brand has a great reputation for durability, so once you find the right shoe, you’ll typically be wearing them for years.No products found.
7. HUF Classic Low
Featuring one of the most robust toe caps on any shoe we reviewed, the HUF Classic Low is perfect for skaters who aren’t taking chances on foot injuries. In addition to the rubber toe cap, this shoe also has a heel counter, and grippy herringbone tread for stability. The low-top style is sleek and simple, with just enough padding for comfort, but not enough to get bulky. The shoe is made of durable leather that will keep your feet a bit drier than the standard canvas shoe. We kept comparing these shoes to a classic Chuck Taylor with a bit of a meatier toe cap, and what feels like better craftsmanship overall. But be aware that like that classic skate shoe staple, there’s no arch support in the HUF.No products found.
8. Globe Tilt
If you are looking for a puffy-tongue skate shoe with a more distinct focus on professional skating needs, the Globe Tilt makes the cut. This one features stabilizing laces, padding all the way around, tons of flexibility, and some serious grip. The leather material keeps your feet dry, and the insole helps absorb the shock from jumps and tricks. All in all, this is a shoe that is totally focused on supporting the act of skating, without attempting to be an all-around casual shoe. That doesn’t mean you can’t rock the style anywhere, but it lacks the modern sleekness that many of the others on this list boast.No products found.
9. NIKE SB Zoom Dunk Low
If we had to choose a second shoe on this list that combines modern styling with pro skater features, the NIKE SB Zoom Dunk Low could be it. Like the Supra Stacks, this shoe has a bit of a slimmer profile without sacrificing any padding around the collar and tongue area. It’s also got breathable mesh at the toe box and tongue for more comfort when riding. The midsole manages to be both lightweight and comfortable, something that we found difficult to find in the others on this list. Unlike other puffy-tongue skate shoes, this one does offer some arch support, and the suede material of the shoe is nice and durable.No products found.
10. Osiris D3 2001
If you are looking for an athletic shoe that supports your skating, and don’t care about the aesthetics, this is your shoe. Made to last, this shoe features reinforced uppers, padded tongue and collar, abrasion-resistant toe protection, flexible arch, and tons of grip. The reinforced laces offer support to the sides of the feet and ankle, and the shoe comes in a ton of colors. This shoe is all about performance – just don’t expect to win any style competitions.No products found.
11. DC Evan Smith
One thing that we found with many of the shoes on this list was a tendency to break down after a few months of heavy skating. So we went looking for a shoe that could really take a beating, and we found it in the DC Evan Smith. This shoe has a unique style, with a more visible rubber toe cap, contrasting colors, and high-top profile. The padding around the collar and tongue is slimmer but exaggerated by the quilted stitching. If you prefer to skate in something like a classic Converse, you’ll probably love the feel of these shoes, and they get major points for great durability.No products found.
12. NIKE Stefan Janoski
This is a classic skate shoe with a streamlined look that has made it popular as an all-around choice. The padding at the heel and tongue keep it comfortable, but it’s got a slimmer profile than something like the Etnies line, which allows it to keep a lot more flexibility while you ride. You can’t beat the brand for quality and recognition, but be aware that many riders find this shoe pretty narrow. The shoe is made from canvas similar to a classic Chuck Taylor, so don’t expect it to be particularly waterproof, either.No products found.
13. Globe Motley Mid
Another classic skate shoe with a sleeker design for a modern buyer, the Globe Motley Mid stands out from this crowd for offering a bit more ankle support. Other than this one feature, it also has the brand’s standard slip-resistant lining and a few features that make the shoe more durable – like metal eyelets and heavy-duty stitching. One issue that we had with this particular shoe was a lack of padding around the heel and tongue, which made it a little less comfortable than other options.No products found.
14. Adidas Originals Seeley
The Adidas Originals Seeley stands out for one reason: superior board control. These are the grippiest shoes we reviewed, with a vulcanized rubber outsole that will not stop. Otherwise, this shoe offers a pretty basic, but solid, construction. Simple low-top sleekness, minimal padding, and only a small amount of support could make these shoes less comfortable to some – but they are lightweight and easy to wear in other contexts as well. They also come in a range of colors, and all feature that classic three-stripe logo that makes Adidas instantly stylish.No products found.
15. Vans Sk8-Hi Core Classics
Offering skaters a different sort of aesthetic style from a lot of the boat shoe styles out there right now, the Vans Sk8-Hi is a little more spunky and youthful looking. It’s also made of durable suede that can withstand a bit of damp and has Vans’ signature waffle sole that makes it nice and grippy. Depending on what your feet are like, you may find the non-supportive insoles and narrower design to be more comfortable – but those with wide feet and high arches, beware. Obviously, this shoe is backed by an industry standard name, so the quality is surprisingly great for the price.No products found.
Choosing the Best Skate Shoes
While many skaters want a shoe that can go from the skate park to school or work, and back again, don’t let your hunt for style slow you down. Most modern skate shoes have that slimmer profile that you want, and you can still find excellent skating features within that category. Use this guide to the best skate shoes on the market right now to help you find the shoe that will be your new go-to.
Style is one of the first things people think about when buying skate shoes. However, it’s not just the aesthetics that need to be considered. While you certainly want to have shoes that appeal to your personal style and personality, you also have to think about the soles, the height of the shaft, and more. Let’s take a closer look at some of the shoe features you will want to consider when you are making your choice.
- High-Top Shoes – These types of skate shoes have a higher cut than other styles. The shaft ends above the ankle, and this can allow for some additional support and padding. The shoes provide some added warmth, too, which can be good when skating in winter. However, you should know that they don’t breathe well, and this might make them less comfortable for some skaters.
- Mid-Top Shoes – Those who may not want to have a high-top skate shoe, and who also don’t want low-tops could find these mid-top shoes to be the perfect compromise. They add a decent amount of support and stability.
- Low-Top Shoes – These shoes are common and popular among skaters. They tend to be lightweight, which is a nice benefit. Even though they may not have the padding higher up on the ankles as you will find with high-top and mid-top shoes, they often have high-quality insoles. The insoles ensure that you still have enough cushioning and dampening for comfort and performance.
In addition to the cut of the skateboarding shoe, you will also need to consider the soles of the skate shoes when making your decision. First, we will examine the different elements of soles on skate shoes, and then we will learn more about the difference between vulcanized soles and cup soles.
The outsole is one of the most important elements of a skate shoe. It needs to be capable of providing the stability, flexibility, and grip you need. You also want a quality outsole that is resistant to abrasion, as this is the part of the shoe that will come into contact with the board, the road, and other surfaces when you are walking. You will often find that some form of cushioning is added to the outsole, as well.
The midsole of the shoe is between the outer and inner soles. Typically, this part of the shoe is made from ethyl vinyl acetate, commonly known as EVA. It may also contain phylon, which is a heat-resistant plastic. Quality midsoles should always be a factor when you are choosing your next skateboarding shoe.
Insoles are just as important. In some models of skate shoes, the insoles are removable, so you can change them out and choose an option that works best for you. However, if you choose a pair of shoes that doesn’t have a removable insole, make sure that the insoles are high-quality and can provide you with the level of comfort you need.
Of course, many different features are available with different models of skate shoe. Consider all of the different features that you feel would make the ideal skateboarding shoe for how you plan to use them. It will make it much easier to narrow your choices.
The construction of the sole can typically be broken down into two different options: cup soles and vulcanized soles. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
One of the main advantages of choosing cup soles is stability. The outsole, midsole, and separate insole of these skateboarding shoes are geared toward skaters who like to perform tricks. The midsoles of the shoes are typically made from an elastic and lightweight foam. The outsole is made from a single piece that’s glued to the midsole and then sewn. The insole could be glued in or inserted depending on the model. These soles are stable, and they do a good job at damping, which is helpful for those who are riding down stairs, performing tricks in pools, and who may have some large drops when they are riding. However, you will find that they don’t provide the same amount of control for the skater.
Vulcanized soles appear more like casual footwear than a traditional skate shoe. The sole is thinner than what you will find with a cup sole, and this provides a substantial amount of flexibility. These shoes tend to be more maneuverable than those with cup soles, and they provide an excellent grip on the board. While cup soles are great for drops and stairs, the vulcanized soles are a good option for those who are performing flip tricks.
However, the vulcanized soles do not have the same level of cushioning and shock absorption as the cup soles. You will feel the hard landings more when you are wearing these shoes. Choose your sole style based on the way that you plan to skate most of the time.
The Durability of the Skate Shoe
Once you have considered the sole of the skateboarding shoe you plan to buy, you must also consider the durability. Naturally, you want to choose an option that will be capable of handling the type of riding you are doing and that will last. You don’t want to be looking for another pair of skate shoes in a couple of months. If you are choosing a cheap option that’s made from low-quality materials, it won’t last. Your shoes will show wear and tear quickly, and you will end up needing a new pair. Ultimately, it means you will be spending more on shoes than you would have if you had just chosen a durable option in the first place.
Your shoes are exposed to the elements whenever you are out whether you are walking or skating. They have to deal with different environments and different terrains. However, because these shoes are also in contact with grip tape, and because skaters put them through a lot, they need to be more durable than a typical shoe.
When you are looking for durable skateboarding shoes, consider the material from which the shoes are made, as well as the quality of the stitching, and the overall construction. Never look at just the aesthetics of the shoes you are considering for skateboarding.
Comfort and Breathability
It’s also important to check the overall comfort that the skate shoes can provide. In addition to the soles, the cushioning and padding in the shoes help to reduce the impact that you would normally feel when performing tricks. Many shoes today will have some extra padding in the heel areas, the sidewalls, and even the tongues. Try to learn more about the amount of padding and cushioning available in the shoes to see how much additional protection they can provide.
Additionally, you want to consider the breathability of the shoes. The amount of ventilation the shoes offer is more important than you might realize. Nobody likes to have sweaty feet, especially when you are skating. Look at the design of the shoe. Some of the options have breathable mesh and other designs that help to improve the ventilation in the shoes.
The Shoe Laces
One of the elements of skate shoes that many people never even consider is the laces. Consider the types of abuse that the laces on a skate shoe have to handle. Not only will they be subject to the same terrain and environmental conditions as laces on regular shoes, but they also have to deal with grip tape and a host of other issues. Without quality laces, you will find that they tend not to last long. Fortunately, the laces that come with shoes from quality manufacturers tend to be durable.
However, they will still need to be replaced at some point. It’s always a good idea to choose laces that are made specifically for skateboarding. Choosing leather shoelaces or waxed laces can be a good option. They tend to be more durable and capable of withstanding the skating life.
Ideally, you will also have plastic or metal eyelets in the shoes. These provide more durability for the laces. You could also choose to add some shoelace protectors, which can add to the longevity of the laces.
Don’t Choose Just Any Type of Sneaker for a Skating Shoe
When skating, your joints, feet, and ankles are undergoing stresses that you don’t experience when walking or even jogging and running. The types of movements that you do while skating are different from the norm, and that means you can’t simply choose just any pair of sneakers to use as skate shoes.
While people in the past may have used the sneakers that they had in the closet, technology and design have advanced substantially. Today, skateboarding shoe manufacturers work to create shoes that are ideally suited to skating.
Why can’t you just use the shoes you have for skateboarding? There are several reasons you don’t want to do this. The sneakers that you have for basketball, running or hiking aren’t built for skating. Remember, those shoes are built for other types of activities. They will not have the same type of support and cushioning that you need while skating.
You will find that they do not provide you with the same amount of grip that you need when skating. They don’t have the stability you need either. They won’t be able to handle the tricks that you might want to do. Because they aren’t built for skateboarding, they aren’t going to last as long as a skate shoe. They simply don’t work as well, and they may even be what’s holding back your skating skills. If you want to have the best time skating, and if you want the best results, choosing quality skate shoes is essential.
Why You Need the Right Size
Let’s take a moment to talk about getting the right size skate shoe. When you are choosing a shoe for any type of activity, you must have a size that fits properly. When you are choosing shoes for skating, make sure that it fits perfectly when you have on socks that are the same thickness as what you will be wearing when skating. If you buy a pair that doesn’t fit properly, return the shoes, and get the appropriate size rather than trying to make them work.
If you try to skate with shoes that are the wrong size, you are going to have some serious problems. If they are too tight, they will not be comfortable to wear for long periods. If they are too loose, there is the risk of the shoes being the reason you wipe out or fail a trick miserably. Take the time to ensure you have the right size shoes, so you do not have to worry about those problems. It is one of the simplest yet most important things you can do.
Skate Shoe FAQ
Below, we will be looking at some of the most commonly asked questions regarding skate shoes.
- Can You Use Skate Shoes as Walking Shoes? Many people want to know whether they can use their skate shoes as their regular everyday shoes. While you can walk short distances in them without any issues, you might find that they are not as comfortable when you are walking for hours in the shoes. The nature of these shoes doesn’t provide the arch support that you will find in other shoes. They are built for the flat surface of the skateboard. You will also find that skate shoes tend to be heavier than other shoes, which can make them harder to wear when you need to walk long distances.
- How Can I Increase the Longevity of the Shoes? Naturally, you want your skateboarding shoes to last as long as possible. There are a few things that you can do to help with this. Keeping the shoes laced tightly helps to reduce stress on the seams of the shoes. When you are taking the shoes off, you will want to unlace them first. Don’t just slip them off, as it can cause issues with the sole and the padding in the shoes. You should also make sure to change out the shoelaces whenever needed. Ragged shoelaces will make it more difficult to keep the shoes on tightly. They could also interfere with your tricks.
- How Can I Keep the Shoes Clean? You can wash the shoes by hand, but not in a washing machine. Putting the shoes in a washing machine will cause the padding to deform, which will make the shoes useless. Also, make sure you are only using mild detergent/soap when you wash them, otherwise, the colors could fade.
What Shoes Are Right for You?
Now that you have a better understanding of skate shoes and what you should be looking for when you buy your pair, it should be easier to find a solution that will work well for you. Above, we’ve collected the best options on the market today, which should make it even easier for you to find the solution that’s best for your skating needs. Not only are the shoes high-quality and durable, they also happen to be stylish. Take your time and sort through the options, and you will be happier with your purchase.