Best Skate Shoes
If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best skate shoes are, then I recommend the DC Men’s Pure Shoes as the best pair for men and the Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes as the best pair for women.
Skate shoes were first designed to cater to the values and sub-culture of skaters, but soon enough, non-skaters began wearing skate shoes as well. They are, after all, comfortable, reasonably priced and durable.
Today, it doesn’t matter if you skate or not, but if you should still look for the support and flexibility that a skate shoe provides if you want to keep your skating skills at maximum.
The best skate shoes currently available are:
- DC Men’s Pure Shoes
- Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes
- Etnies Men’s Marana Skateboarding Shoe
- Vans Sk8-Hi Unisex Casual High-Top Skate Shoes
- Etnies Jameson 2 Eco Skate Shoe
A Buyer’s Guide to Skate Shoes
Here are some helpful pointers to picking out a good pair of skate shoes for yourself.
Low-Tops, Mid-Tops and High-Tops
There are three major styles of skate shoes available based on the ankle protection and freedom of movement afforded by the designs.
Low-tops allow for maximum freedom while providing minimum protection to the wearer. They don’t pad your ankles but are far lighter than the other two variants. These are often worn by professionals who are very confident in their skateboarding game.
Mid-tops offer the best of both worlds, providing just enough ankle protection without interfering with your movement and rhythm. They’re best worn by intermediate-level skaters who are quietly confident in their skills but would rather have some protection for their ankles.
High-tops offer full protection for your ankle, but this comes at the cost of your full mobility. These shoes are heavier than the others but are just what you need in case you want to prevent anklers—getting hit on your ankles while skating. These are perfect for beginners who need the protection while training.
All About the Soles
Cupsoles Vs Vulcanized Soles
These are the two major sole types to consider while picking up a pair of skate shoes.
A recent study that examined the frictional requirements of skater shoes during a push-off showed that the styles and techniques of skaters tend to vary dramatically from one another.
It’s evident that every skater has an individual style, but to know which sole style works best for you, it makes sense to learn about both before you decide.
Cupsoles were designed to help prevent the bruising of heels. They comprise of multiple layers stacked on top of one another for maximum cushioning.
The base layer is a solid firm layer that offers a steady foundation, with a level of cushioning between the base and a rubber layer. Cupsoles often use EVA or TPR cushioning foam that’s often placed inside a rubber cup within the shoes.
The overall design offers more space, and these shoes tend to feel a bit roomier in general. Cupsoles are also known to be more durable than vulcanized soles and tend to last longer. Their primary strength, however, is to absorb impact and try and prevent any injuries while you skate.
All of this comes at a price, though, as shoes with cupsoles are known to be quite pricey.
Vulcanized shoes, in comparison, consist of two separate pieces of material that are taped around the body of the shoe. You’ll know if you’ve had vulcanized shoes before since the two pieces tend to come apart after extended use.
These shoes are perfect for skaters who prefer to have a board-feel while they skate. Those who like the technical side of skating prefer these shoes as they’re thinner and more flexible.
Due to their relatively flimsy design, though, they offer less impact protection than cupsoles. They’re also less durable and less expensive in comparison.
Outsole and Midsole
Most skate shoes have an outsole and a midsole that are often compressed and pasted together to offer heightened support. The outsoles should ideally be made of a lightweight and flexible foam, and the midsoles should feature an even more durable surface like polyurethane.
Insoles are the layers inside the shoes that come off, and these are added in to provide an additional layer of support. While cheaper insoles tend to be made out of a thin foam, an expensive version features a gel or an air pocket.
If you aren’t happy with the insole of your shoe, you can always purchase a quality one separately.
The cushioning is vital because it prevents injuries and blisters from occurring while you skate. Make sure that there’s enough cushioning on your shoes; otherwise, you’re bound to pick up an injury.
Look for dedicated cushioning, ideally with custom technology designed for each shoe, although this will hike the price up somewhat.
Choice of Materials
There are three major options available in terms of materials when you pick out a skater shoe:
Some shoes use a combination of two of these materials, but these are the primary ones you’ll see.
Leather shoes are tough but bulky. Suede tends to be the best material because they’re light, breathable and flexible. Canvas is the choice of material for budget brands, and they’re lightweight but more flimsy.
Best Skate Shoes Reviews
Here are my top picks for the best shoes to wear while skating.
This is one of DC’s most popular skating shoes of all time and is certainly popular among non-skaters, too. There are many design features built into the shoe that are aimed at maximizing comfort and durability.
The tongue construction, for example, includes a foam padded tongue and collar to improve the support. The sole uses DC’s trademarked pill pattern tread to increase the grip, while the outsole is made out of an abrasion-resistant sticky rubber material.
DC only uses high-quality materials on their shoes, and this particular model is made entirely out of leather, barring the rubber used on the sole. The wrap cup construction used on the design of the shoes allows your feet to breathe easily while you take on some high-energy stunts with your skateboard.
You can find these shoes in sizes 5 through 18.
- Completely made out of leather.
- Flexible rubber sole.
- Foam padded tongue and collar for support and added comfort.
- Features a wrap cupsole design.
- Sticky rubber outsole is abrasion-resistant.
- Treading follows the pill pattern.
- Strong mesh lining.
- Users report poor airflow.
The Old Skool series launched by Vans in 1977 is practically sneaker royalty at this point, as it was the first model to showcase the iconic Vans side stripe.
These are highly durable shoes that have become popular among the skateboarding community over the years thanks to their ability to last forever.
With a canvas exterior and a rubber sole, these skate shoes are lightweight and flexible. Vans has opted for padded cuffs to add a layer of protection to the product, while the uppers are made using suede and canvas.
A waffle-textured, vulcanized sole provides ample grip when you want to spend some quality time on your skateboard.
You can find these shoes in sizes 5 to 13.5 for women.
- Lightweight since made out of canvas.
- Rubber sole.
- Signature style.
- Waffle-textured sole.
- Padded cuffs for extra protection.
- Can be difficult to clean.
The Etnies Men’s Marana Skateboarding Shoe is an economically priced model with some high-end features. A rubber sole provides stability to the overall design. At the same time, the outsole is made out of a special Michelin performance rubber compound that provides three times more durability than other similar shoes.
An STI Evolution Foam midsole has been specially designed by the brand to add an extra layer of protection and comfort for your feet. This is doubled up with a padded tongue and collar to help prevent any injuries during extended usage.
Also, the Pro Foam 1 polyurethane insole, and the cupsole design, help keep your feet relaxed and well-cushioned at all times. There’s also a fused-on, rubber toe cap to top off what is an impeccably designed piece of footwear.
You can pick these shoes up in sizes 6.5 to 14.
- Comfortable rubber sole.
- Outsole is three times more durable than other shoes.
- Polyurethane insole for maximum comfort.
- Padded tongue and collar to prevent injuries.
- Matte finish tends to scuff easily.
While most of the selections are low-top skate shoes, this high-top pair could be perfect for the beginners out there.
This is the legendary Vans lace-up high-top model that includes the option of having a printed canvas to go with the suede uppers. It has reinforced toe caps to help you withstand any minor accidents or extended use, while the padded collars provide ample support and flexibility to the overall product.
It also has a signature rubber waffle outsole and a vulcanized sole for extended durability and support.
This shoe is available in sizes 4 through 14.5.
- Suede uppers.
- Reinforced toe caps.
- Support and flexibility offered by padded collars.
- Signature rubber waffle outsoles.
- Legendary series.
- Not ideal for wide feet.
This is an eco-friendly Etnies model that’s made using natural canvas and recycled rubber, and I particularly like that the shoelaces are made with recycled plastic bottles.
An internal EVA midsole, along with a cupsole construction using 400 NBS rubber helps imbibe this shoe with tremendous levels of comfort. Even the tongue provides extra padding with the help of an STI foam Lite 1 footbed.
The added arch support and simple, clean aesthetics make this a great purchase for all levels of skateboarders.
You can pick up this pair in sizes 5.5 through 15.
- Made using recycled materials.
- Internal EVA midsole and 400 NBS rubber outsole.
- Added arch support.
- Well-padded tongue.
- Size tends to run small.
Whether you skate or not, my research has revealed that the DC Men’s Pure Shoes are the best men’s skate shoes in the market today. They’re well-balanced with the right use of leather and rubber in the right parts of the shoe.
The wrap cup construction offers immense comfort whether you’re spinning some sweet moves in a skate park or just taking a regular walk in a park. This shoe works for everyone!
The Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes, on the other hand, are the best skate shoes for women. The classic style, coupled with the padded cuffs, waffle soles and Vans’ proven track record, make this the shoe to beat.