Just like there’s no board specifically designed for new skaters, there aren’t any skateboard shoes made for beginners. They usually wear the same shoes as professional skaters.
Although, new skaters might not have the same needs in shoes that more advanced riders. In the early days, street skaters spend most of their time repeating the same motion in order to learn their first tricks. Every skater has had the famous hole in the shoe. Right before the toes. After spending hours flicking the deck left and right to understand tricks.
This training can become very pricey, and dangerous, if you don’t invest in proper skateboarding shoes. Hence, I’ve made this quick list to guide you through buying your first skate shoes.
8 of the Best Beginners Skateboard Shoes
There are many skate shoes that are great for beginners, these are just a few suggestions. For a very detailed list of the great skate shoes, check out my best skate shoes article (tested over 100 hours). We’ll keep this list short for now because there are more shoe articles coming. We’re still testing them to show you the wear and find out how long they last.
1. Lakai Manchester
First introduced in 2007, the Lakai Manchester quickly became one of the most praised skate shoes in the industry. 14 years later, the now famous pair of shoes is still on top of the sales in shops. Recognizable through its clean yet sober design, the Lakai flare gives the shoe an iconic and timeless look.
Its classic vulcanized construction, reinforced heel padding and low-cut silhouette make for a durable street shoe. On the comfort side, the shoe has a rubber outsole with hex tread pattern to reduce vibrations and an amazing molded footbed to protect the sole of your feet. Great all-around shoe sold at a very honest price, the Lakai Manchester is an excellent entry shoe into skateboarding.
2. Adidas Dennis Busenitz
Denis Busenitz pro-shoe has been an Adidas best-seller for over 15 years. During its lifetime the shoe has had 20 iterations, growing hand-in-hand with skateboarding. Undisputed legend of the discipline, Denis’ shoe wears as smooth as he skates.
The shoe features a grippy cup sole, and a thick yet flexible sole. The reinforced suede contour makes the shoe resist the trial of time, and more specifically, the repetition of scrapping your feet against grip tape. I had a great time skating these shoes in my early days as a skater, and I’m sure you’ll have to.
3. Nike SB Stefan Janoski
If the Janoski wasn’t so expensive, it will be the perfect skate shoe. It already looks like a stylish sneaker while benefitting from everything you might look for in a skate shoe. The sole of the shoe is thick, the insoles benefits from the zoom technology. The original laces used to be in leather, which resist better to grip-tape. You might still find some online.
The shoes were a major success on the market. It led to the new era of thinner skateboarding shoes and actually sold amongst the entire population, men and women combined. It became an “essential” shoe to have for both skaters and fashionistas out there.
4. Vans Half-Cab
The Vans Half-Cab is the only mid shoe on this list. I’m not too fond of mid shoes for skating -they usually limit your feet mobility- but the Half-Cabs are the exception to the rule. Despite their imposing look, the Half-Cab accomplishes what many mid shoes can’t, in finding the perfect mixture between flexibility and sturdiness.
The shoe comes with all Vans’ signature features: vulcanized gum outsole with hexagon tread pattern, removable Ultra Cush HD insole and refined classic style. Its mid profile strap your ankle enough to prevent injuries and chocs, but not too much, so that you don’t loose in mobility. Although on the expensive end of the list, the Half-Cab is a brilliant choice for transition skaters that can’t afford to get injured.
5. DC Shoes Plaza
In my opinion, the Plaza is the best skate shoe DC has ever made. They come at a very reasonable price and have everything you can ask for in a skateboard shoe. Their thick suede shoe liner will appeal to old school skaters as much as beginners who want to keep their feet intact.
But the number one asset of the shoe is its elastic system surrounding the tongue of the shoe. Which prevents it from budging when you skate -which happens a lot with skate shoes that don’t have such a design.
6. Adidas Campus Vulc
The Campus Vulc has been around for a while and for good reason. It comes in full suede and distinguish itself with its low cut design and three apparent stripes. The shoe is super durable because of its reinforced rubber heel cup, and its double stitches on the ollie area.
It’s my go-to model for Adidas shoes. Affordable if you buy them directly in Adidas stores, yet as resistant as the pro models. If you’re looking for a cheap skateboarding shoe, that could definitely be the one. I’d recommend wearing for a week before riding them. They might stiff at first.
7. Nike SB Charge
Great compromise if you don’t have the budget for a pair of Janoski, but really like the design of the shoe. With reinforced toe and heels pads, and a decent sole, the suede models are the ideal entry-price skate shoe. All the Nike expertise at a price similar to what you would find in retail stores’ skateboarding section.
I’d recommend switching the stock insoles for some thicker ones if you like skating gaps and handrails. I used to put two insoles in each shoe to have a proper impact reduction.
8. Converse Cons Louie Lopez
This model of converse makes for a solid choice of skate shoe. With a similar design and feel to the Janoski, the shoes will appeal to skaters with wider feet that aren’t comfortable wearing Nikes or other thin shoes. They’re sold at a very affordable price compared to most skate shoes.
However, the best feature about the shoe lies in the sole, and its overall high flexibility. The sole is incredibly resistant -you barely feel landing primo- and comes with the Converse signature stripe patterns. The outsole, covered in rubber, last long and break in easily which will be a brilliant choice for street skaters.
Do You Really Need Skateboard Shoes to Skate?
Whether you plan on taking skateboarding casually or more seriously, you absolutely need to wear adequate shoes to skateboard right from the very first time you step on a deck. We’ve all witnessed this scene. Someone casually steps foot on the board for the first time in their sneakers and gets send flat brutally.
Traditional sneakers all have a curved sole made to support your foot better and give you a better posture when walking. Well, for skateboarding, you’re looking for the exact opposite. Skateboard shoes should marry the deck, even before your feet. They provide a better ankle and feet support, preventing you from rolling your ankles so easily.
What Makes a Good Skateboard Shoe?
As mentioned in the introduction, new skaters will spend a lot of time flicking their feet across the grip tape to learn new tricks. You want your first skateboard shoes to be super resistant. This can translate into many factors depending on the type of skating you do and the regularity of your training. But here are the 5 principal things to look out for when picking a new skateboard shoe.
Unlike conventional sneakers, made in various materials, a good skate shoe is always made of suede. Most fabric and textile shoes won’t hold up long against grip tape. They can end up showing holes after only a session or two. Whereas suede material resist the best against harsh skateboard grip. Providing a highest lifespan, which can typically go up to 3 months or more.
I won’t teach you that skateboarding can be very hard on your feet. From hitting the nut of your axles to rolling over your feet, there are uncountable ways you can hurt your toes and ankles. Hence, you’ll absolutely need a shoe that has extra padding to both protect you and increase the lifetime of your shoes. Look out for extra padding around the heel and toes areas at the very least.
Skateboarding makes your feet stretch in all kinds of way. The high stresses put upon the shoes wear out their form quicker than usual. You want a shoe capable of keeping a consistent shape throughout its lifetime. Basically, you want them to rip before they become all loose.
One of the major differences that set apart skateboard shoes from the rest is their sole. See, your traditional sneaker has an curved sole made to marry the arch of your foot. Skate shoes have a flat sole to provide the best balance on the board and reduce the risk of injuries.
Although the sole of your shoes plays a big part in protecting your feet when skating, the insoles provide the main impact and vibration reduction. You want a thick yet flexible insole molded to fit your shoes and feet. Particularly useful when skating anything that involves impact, like gaps or big transitions, an adapted insole will save you from common injuries such as heel bruises or hot pockets.
Where to find Cheap Skateboard Shoes?
Despite their limited lifetime, skateboard shoes aren’t the cheapest. If you’re on a tight budget, or broke even, here are three places where you can find skate shoes at the best price.
Brand Factory Stores
If you’re looking to buy shoes from one of the big brands (Nike, Adidas, Converse, DC…), you can always check out if they’ve got a factory store nearby. With enough luck, you can get brand-new skate shoes at a retail price.
End-of-series at the Skate Shop
Most skate shops have discount shelves where they display end-of-series products. It can be an amazing way to buy new shoes at a cheap price as long as you can find your size. It works better if you wear an uncommon shoe size and aren’t seeking a specific model.
I won’t introduce you to Vinted. We’ve all heard about it by now. But the notorious app, specialized in second-hand clothes and accessories, can be an amazing way to find any skateboard shoes at an unbeatable price. As long as you know what model to look for, finding a pair -whatever your budget is- should be a walk in the park.
Either people barely wore the shoes and disliked them, or they didn’t even wear them. Sometimes it’s contest prizes that don’t fit the winner -or he’d rather convert it into money. A friend of mine even got 3 pairs of Lakai for only $70, and thus, from a single guy.
BONUS: The Good Old Regular-Goofy Shoe Swap
Switching shoes with your friends. An unusual, yet common, practice in skateboarding since god knows when. This simple trick amounts to switching shoe with a skater who rides in the opposite stance. This way you can almost double the lifetime of your shoes.
Let’s say your regular once you’ve ripped out your left shoe -flicking the hell out of these kickflips- just switch the pair with a goofy rider. You’ll end up having an untouched left shoe for the price of a destroyed right one. It mostly works when you’re in the early days of skating, though. Once you learn switch tricks, the whole thing become pointless.
I used to do this in my early high-school days, where I destroyed most pairs of shoe in less than a month. Being broke -as most student are- I (goofy footed) teamed up with one of my pals who is regular and we bought the same shoe every time.