Do‌ ‌You‌ ‌Need‌ ‌Skate‌ ‌Shoes?‌ ‌

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Skateboarders are usually always on the move. They’re either skating around town to find new spots or grinding rails at their local skate park. Either way, their feet take a lot of wear and tear! That’s why many skaters need to invest in skate shoes because they can help protect the feet from pesky foot injuries like blisters and calluses.

There are plenty of options out there, so don’t worry about finding the perfect pair for you; just think about what styles will work best with your lifestyle and style of skating.

If you’re a new skateboarder with questions about skate shoes, you’re in the right place. Our guide covers why you need skate shoes, when you don’t need skate shoes, and which ones are suited for various riding styles.

Table of Contents

What’s the Purpose of Skateboard Shoes?

A skate shoe is a vulcanized shoe consisting of rubber soles made of using a process with the namesake. Most skate shoes have soles with little to no tread on the bottom. Skate shoes are made to stick to the grip tape on your board, making them more efficient for performing tricks.

The special ingredient in a skate shoe is vulcanized rubber. This is what sets skate shoes apart and makes them so accommodating for skaters. What is this material, and how does it help skaters?

Vulcanized Rubber

Vulcanized rubber is different than regular rubber in several different ways. First, this special form of rubber is grippier than its normal counterpart. One of the first things you notice about the former is how much harder it is than regular rubber.

A chemical change to the initial properties of rubber is what makes the difference. The type used in skate shoes is heated, normally using sulfur, and goes through a special curing process to give it the characteristics needed for skate shoes. How else do skate shoes and normal shoes differ?

Differences Between Skate Shoes and Normal Shoes

What separates skate shoes from other styles like running shoes or other forms of sneakers? Skate shoes tend to have a thinner sole than normal shoes. This design gives skaters more board feel, which ends up leading to better control and stability.

It’s recommended that you don’t use regular shoes when you skate because the thick soles diminish the board feel. This is why it can be harder to control a skateboard when you’re wearing a regular pair of kicks.

Skate shoes also have a waffle pattern that provides maximum grip and is much different than the sole of regular sneakers. You’ll find that skate shoes also have better heel support to prevent riders from certain foot-related injuries.

The triple stitching in skate shoes also makes them more durable. When a skater uses regular shoes, they’re prone to blowouts because of the lack of reinforcement that helps protect their design.

With all that being said, what should a skater look for in a good skate shoe?

What to Look For When You Buy Skate Shoes?

Picking the right skate shoes is indeed a matter of personal preference. However, there are certain characteristics you should look for when you’re in a skate shop making a decision. Next time you buy shoes, keep these points in mind. 

1.    Suede

Generally, it’s a better idea to purchase skate shoes that are made from suede. The reason for this is because suede does better on concrete and grip tape, mainly because it holds up to the friction more efficiently than canvas or leather.

2.    Toe Area

A quality skate shoe will have plenty of room for your toes. More durable pairs of skate shoes won’t have seams on the tip of them, either. This ends up making them last longer because they don’t fall apart as easily. Toe caps are also made into good skate shoes that protect your feet when you transition skate.

3.    Shock Absorbers

The skate shoes you pick should also have insoles that are efficient at absorbing shock. There will be more padding inside the shoes which ends up being more comfortable, but the main purpose is to cushion your feet for the beating they take.

4.    High Tops

The high-top design of skate shoes is made for ankle protection. The extra padding on the upper section of the shoes also pads the ankles, making constant contact to keep them more stable.

5.      Protected Lace Holes

The lace holes on skate shoes will be more protected than typical shoes. Normally, there is some type of metal or aluminum surrounding the holes that stops them from tearing.  

All good skate shoes should sport most or all of the characteristics listed above. There are also two primary types of skating shoes you can choose from.

Cup Sole Shoes vs. Vulcanized Shoes

Normally cup sole shoes are stronger overall than vulcanized shoes, but they can be much stiffer. There are several pros and cons to each type of shoe. You’ll need to decide which characteristics are more important to you as a skater.

Cupsole Pros

·         Cupsole shoes are more durable and won’t rip as easily. They stand up better to wear and tear.

·         Normally these shoes have more ankle support and cushioning.

·         Overall, cupsoles end up lasting longer.

Cupsole Cons

·         Sometimes, the larger feel of the shoe makes it harder to move the board around. You won’t feel as flexible, and the shoe can be restrictive

·         They can get hot, especially when the weather is warm.

Vulcanized Shoes Pros

·         Vulcs have more board feel overall, giving you more control of the board.

·         They grip the board better, allowing you to perform tricks easier.

·         These shoes are much lighter, giving you more range of motion.

Vulcanized Shoes Cons

·         They don’t provide as much ankle support, and it could be easier to injure yourself.

·         They’re not as durable as the alternative.

Getting the Most Value Out of Your Skate Shoes

Skate shoes aren’t the most expensive on the market, but they’re not the cheapest either. Some will cost upwards of $100, and you’ll rarely find a pair less than $70. You must get the most value possible out of each pair.

You can use shoe goo when you have to make repairs on them. These are great at sealing rips and providing a protective layer that can prevent damage in the future.

Consider making your own repairs to your skate shoes whenever they are damaged. You can get them back in good working condition with very little money and hardly any time. This is much better than breaking the bank on a new pair every time they get damaged.

How to Get Cheaper Skate Shoes

Sometimes there are ways to get skate shoes a little cheaper than the prices we mentioned above. It will take some extra work, but it can be worth it if you end up saving money.

Check online for sales going on at skate shops and retail spaces. Sometimes discontinued versions of shoes will sell for much less than the retail price.

Check stores like Marshalls and Gabes for defective shoes. They might have a stitch off or a minor imperfection, but these shoes end up being sold for 60 and 70% lower than the suggested price.


Is it mandatory to wear skate shoes? Not always, but it certainly helps. If you’re cruising or doing more light styles of riding, you can probably get away with wearing regular sneakers.

However, if you’re a diehard skater that’s into a more extreme discipline, you’ll want to get a good pair of skate shoes. The extra support and special soles are what make skate shoes so special. You’ll skate more efficiently and have a much lower risk of injury.