I remember a time when Converse shoes we’re fashion and if you didn’t have them you sucked. When it comes to skateboarding, you need a shoe that is lightweight, durable, and flexible. Let’s take a look at what converse has to offer and if they are solid skate shoes.
Converse shoes are a good choice for skateboarding, as long as you are particular about which ones you buy. Converse has a wide range of shoes on the market, but they have an entire line dedicated to skate shoes, Converse CONS. These shoes are designed specifically for skateboarding, with many features that make them a perfect choice.
While many shoe brands make shoes that would work well for skateboarding, Converse are one of the classic brands and have been found on the feet of skateboarders for decades.
What Makes Converse Shoes Good for Skateboarding?
The Converse CONS line offers classic Converse style rebuilt with skateboarding in mind.
Across the different models you’ll find a rubber backing and rubber soles made of Converse’s proprietary CONS Traction Rubber. This rubber offers increased durability, grip, and flexibility, allowing the skater to feel the board beneath their feet.
CONS models also have more cushioning inside the shoe for better shock absorption and distribution. While the old-fashioned Chuck Taylor All-Stars were extremely thin, these newer models protect the foot better and offer increased comfort while still retaining the Converse style.
Many shoes in the CONS line offer other options ideal for skateboarding, such as an elasticated tongue, rubber toe-cap, and coming in mid- or high-top varieties for better ankle support and protection.
While not all Converse shoes are ideal for skateboarding, the CONS line is a good choice as long as you stay away from the canvas models, suede is what you need.
Canvas is likely to rip after a few ollies and holes will start to form sooner than later. Canvas is fine for the less demanding cruiser rider but technical skaters will rip it apart on day one. The grip tape on your deck will eat through the material, especially if it’s new tape. Keep this in mind when shopping for shoes.
History of Converse Shoes in Skateboarding
Converse got their start with basketball shoes. These shoes were made of canvas and rubber, which made them lightweight and flexible, while still providing grip and traction for basketball players on the court.
In the very early days of skateboarding, skaters rode barefoot in an attempt to emulate surfing. Being barefoot allowed them to really feel the board, giving them a lot of control.
As skateboarding gained popularity with non-surfers, skaters looked for a shoe that would allow them a similar degree of control.
They borrowed the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star from basketball players, and found a shoe that fit the bill perfectly. The same qualities that made the Chuck Taylor a good basketball shoe made it a good skateboard shoe.
When the skateboarding boom of the 1980s happened, several shoe makers catered toward skaters specifically, and Converse fell out of fashion with skateboarders.
Vans and Airwalk, two of the most popular skate shoes of the time, offered more durable shoes that took the good qualities of Converse shoes and introduced improvements, such as leather or suede instead of canvas, and more cushioning.
In 2009, Converse finally introduced a skate-specific line, known as Converse CONS. The CONS line was actually resurrected, as the original CONS were basketball shoes Converse produced in the 1980s.
The new CONS have the style associated with classic Converse shoes, but with many features that makes them a much better skateboarding shoe than the classic Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
What Makes a Good Skate Shoe?
While you can certainly skateboard in any old tennis shoe, in order to maximize comfort and reduce the chance of injury, picking a shoe designed with skating in mind is recommended. I once skated my Nike runners because I got a nasty heel bruise but it felt very unstable. Lots of support but no board feel. So what are the qualities that make a good skate shoe?
When it comes to skateboarding, you need a shoe that is lightweight, durable, flexible, support. Imagine trying to skateboard in a clunky boot. You’d likely trip over your own feet repeatedly!
A heavy shoe will slow the skater down, and can also contribute to fatigue in some degree. It also would make it much harder to feel the board beneath your feet, which means you’d have less control.
Since you need to use your feet to control and steer the board, you also need a shoe that allows you to feel the board beneath you. In addition, flexibility makes it easier for the skater to stay on their feet when they do slip. The shoes need to provide protection and comfort while more or less staying out of the way.
The outer sole, which is the bottom layer of the shoe, must be durable against scrapes and scuffs, yet still offer flexibility and stability to the skater.
For this reason, many skate shoe manufacturers use vulcanized rubber, which improves the durability of the sole. Using vulcanized rubber can also reduce the amount if rubber needed, resulting in a lighter, thinner sole.
These days it’s not uncommon for shoe manufacturers to have their own proprietary rubber that has been engineered for durability, flexibility, and thinness.
Skateboarders’ feet are going to take a beating, so it’s important to have some level of shock absorption and distribution built into the sole. This is usually found in the middle and inner soles, where cushioning around the heel and various pads can be found.
A well-cushioned insole is especially important for skaters with flat feet, who will need more support than those with higher arches. Affordability is another key factor when deciding on a skate shoe. There’s no way around it: skate shoes are going to wear out fairly quickly.
While you may want the most durable shoe you can find, it’s important to consider the cost in relation to the durability. If a shoe costs twice as much but will only last another month or two, it may be smarter to go for the more affordable shoe, even though you’ll need to replace it sooner. Check sales frequently, I once got a pair of Reynolds for only 30 bucks!
Ankle Support: Low-tops, Mid-tops, or High-tops?
When choosing a skate shoe, ankle protection could on your list of considerations.
There are three options to choose from when it comes to how the ankle will be protected: low-tops, mid-tops, and high-tops. You’ll need to weigh your individual needs to decide which style is right for you.
Low-tops offer the greatest range of motion, but provide little to no ankle protection. The ankle is completely exposed, and with no direct support. Bruises and abrasions from the board slamming into your ankle while doing tricks are more likely. Ever hear of shark bite? It’s when your razor tail hits your ankle or heel. I’m sure you know the feeling.
But since there is literally less shoe, low-tops are going to be the lightest option. To many skaters, the lighter weight and greater range of motion is a fair trade-off for the loss of ankle protection. Unfortunately, it won’t prevent rolled ankles.
On the other end of the spectrum are high-tops, which completely surround and support the ankle. While they won’t totally prevent sprains or breaks, they do offer more protection from impact. They also feel completely different, it might take some time to get used to but I really like the extra support my Vans Highs offer for example.
Often times extra cushioning is included for added protection. But this protection means you’ll have reduced board feel (which isn’t an issue for many riders). Your feet might get more sweaty since your feet won’t be able to breathe as well. You just need to find the right shoe for you and once you found it, stick with it.
In the middle are mid-tops, which many skaters feel are a great compromise. They offer some degree of ankle protection, yet still have a decent range of motion as well.
There are so many great skate shoe brands like Emerica, Etnies, Lakai, DC, etc. All offer great skate shoes which makes it even harder to make a choice.
Vans are a mainstay in skateboarding and have been on skaters feet for decades. Their lightweight skate shoes use their own proprietary rubber in the characteristic waffle-patterned sole, and have cushioned insoles.
Vans also offers a ton of styles, including the ability to design your own custom style. Vans combine form and function, which is why they’ve been associated with skateboarding since the 1980s.
Adidas offers a wide range of athletic shoes tailored to almost any sport you can imagine. They started to become a more popular option for skateboarding in the 1990s when skate fashion began to collide with hip-hop fashion (where Adidas had been popular for many years).
Like Converse, they now have a line of shoes specifically for skateboarding that include a vulcanized rubber sole and lightweight cushioning in the sole.
Though not usually associated with skateboarding, Nike actually makes a great skate shoe as a part of their Nike SB brand, which launched in 2002.
They’re stylish, lightweight, and comfortable, and they feature the iconic Nike swoop logo. Additionally, Converse has been a subsidiary of Nike since 2003, so they definitely know a thing or two about skate shoes at this point.
Skateboarders have specific needs in a shoe that other sports may not. Some have even greater needs, like skaters who are tall or skaters who are heavy.
We need a shoe that is durable, yet lightweight and flexible. Comfort and foot protection must go hand-in-hand, so that impact is absorbed, but you still need to feel the board beneath their feet.
There are many great skate shoes on the market, and Converse, which has been associated with skateboarding practically since the beginning of the sport, can be a great option.
Their (suede) CONS line, in particular, has many shoes that offer comfort, protection, and moderate durability, while adhering to the classic Converse style.