Skateboarding Shoes | The Different Types of Skate Shoes, Brands and Styles
The benefits of skateboard shoes
A good pair of skate shoes are essential to be able to skate well and comfortably. So try a bunch of different pairs over your time skateboarding and find the specifics that you like personally. If you haven't previously bought a pair of skate shoes, this article should provide you with some guidance.
What to look for when choosing skateboard shoes
There are a few things to look out for which will impact the feel, look and durability of a skate shoe. Don't stress, we'll concisely cover all grounds.
Materials of the shoe
There are 3 main materials to look out for in a skate shoe:
Having a skate shoe that is primarily suede is what most skaters go-to. The suede grips your board well, looks great and most importantly, is very durable. The rubbing of griptape will eventually cause a hole in any shoe, but going with suede will mean you have sufficient protection with more flexibility and durability than a leather pair.
Quite frankly... suede is the undefeated boss and you can't go wrong with a suede skate shoe.
Canvas is undoubtedly less durable than suede, so if you plan to skate your shoes for a long time, canvas shoes are not value-for-money. However, they are light, breathable and grip your board fantastically. You'll find skateboarding has a lot of trade-offs like this.
Do not write canvas off completely, they provide a noticeably different board feel and some shoe companies have innovated their shoes to have rubber protection behind the canvas to increase the durability of the shoe.
Leather's got a lot of pro's. They're often the most durable choice for a skate shoe, they are easy to clean and perform well. However, leather isn't very breathable, so if you're lucky enough to be somewhere warmer than England, you might wanna consider your feet getting too hot. Leather also comes with less aesthetic scuffs and creases. So, if you're a fashion icon, don't skate leather.
Any of the 3, or a mix of them, will be a fine choice for skating. Try to buy a shoe built and designed for skateboarding, but if you can only access a non-skate shoe:
A shoe with a thin sole, as this will have poor foot protection
A shoe with a mesh upper (poor durability and performance)
Vulc vs Cupsole
Vulcanised Skate Shoes
Vulcanized shoes are produced by chemically heating the outsole (hard material on the bottom of the shoe), which molds the rubber together. Once the outsole is attached to the shoe a second heating procedure takes place. After that foxing tape (a thick rubber band) is added to the shoe to hold it together.
Foxing tape is added later because the outsole don’t bond very well without the extra thick rubber band. The fox tape is easy to spot and a strong visual cue that you’re looking at a vulcanized skate shoe.
Vulc shoes They wear faster than cupsoles and offer less support/protection in comparison to a cupsole. However, they are the better for boardfeel and flexibility, making them the preference for a lot of technical skaters.
Cupsole Skate Shoes
Cupsoles can be spotted fairly easily. A U-shaped rubber sole is sewn to the top section of the shoe. Due to the extra cushioning, arch support, and heel support that cupsoles provide, cupsoles help to reduce injuries and can be noticeably more comfortable due to the additional structural support.
Due to the lack of flexibility, breaking in cupsoles can feel like you've got bricks on your feet. So if you get a chunky skate shoe and it feels lame on the first day, don't stress. Walk it out and they'll feel like clouds in 3-5 business days. As well as the hefty break-in period, they often have less board feel than vulcs.
If you're skating big drops or just prefer to have the added protection, cupsole's are the way to go.
Break In Period
Any skater will tell you that you're shoes aren't gonna feel great fresh out the box. New shoes can make you skate way worse and with less control for the first few days. They're breaking in.
As shoes get used in any situation, the materials become more flexible and adjusted to your foot. We suggest you wear your shoes for a few days before skating them. This helps them become flexible, whilst minimising the chances of injuries. It will also save you a lot of frustration... you haven't lost all your tricks, you've just got new shoes.
Lakai, New Balance Numeric, Adidas Skateboarding, Vans, Last Resort.. the list is endless. There are loads of skateboard shoe brands that are loved by many.
HERE's OUR RANGE
Different brands have different teams. The legacy and team of a skate shoe brand might help you pick out your new shoe, as video's like Lakai 'Fully Flared' live rent-free with legendary status in many skaters' minds.
You may find that you find one brand that makes your favourite feeling shoe. But don't get settled too quickly, try some different shoes over a period of time. Finding what you like is a fun part of being a skateboarder.
If you want to get an opinion before you buy, ask your local park skaters or your local shop about different brands. You'll find some useful and opinionated replies.
Skate shoes have been through a lot of phases over the years. If you watch a skate video from the 90s, you'll most likely see giant spaceboot-looking cupsole's that you could knock someone out with. Turn forward time to the mid 2010's, the majority of skaters were fronting very slim vulcanised shoes.
As times change, new innovation comes. Companies will give your favourite pro skaters the freedom to develop their own pro model shoe, as well as find ways to improve the performance and technicality of their skate shoe range. Many Pro's like Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Paul Rodriguez and Stefan Janoski have classic skate shoes.
We hope covering the basics has helped. Skate shoes all feel different. It's a whole culture and hobby to explore. YouTube's also a great place to find shoe reviews and skate shoe videos.
If you wanna chat to with us about what shoe we recommend or anything else: Message us on Instagram. We're always up for a chat.