In my years of skateboarding, I have tried many types of skate shoes: from bulky Osiris shoes to lightweight Janoski’s. There’s no definitive “best” shoe for skateboarding; it all depends on your style and personal preference.
If you’re new to skate shoes and uncertain about what’s best, consider where and what you’ll be skating. Do you primarily skate on flatground? Are you more into transition skateboarding in skate parks? Or are you aiming to get gnarly on the streets improving your technical tricks?
Understanding your preferences brings you closer to the perfect shoe. Need more impact support? Opt for a cupsole. Looking to improve your flick tricks? A vulcanized skate shoe with ample boardfeel might be your best bet.
Either skip straight to the recommended shoes or continue reading to fine-tune your choice.
- For street skating and boardfeel: Nike SB Shane, Nike SB Janoski, Vans Pro and Classics
- For transition skateboarding: Nike Ishod Wair, Nike SB Janoski, Vans Pro, Convers Loui Lopez
- For high impact and durability: Adidas Tyshawn and Busenitz Pro, Etnies Marana Michelin, New Balance Numeric 306.
- Most comfortable skate shoe: DC Legacy Slim 98, Etnies Joslin II, and Vans Pro models.
- Wide feet and toe box: eS Silo, eS Accel, DVS Comanche II, Nike Dunk Low, and Alleyoop.
- Vegan Skate Shoes: Cariuma Vallely Pro
The shoes we recommend work for most styles of skateboarding, I also included alternatives for added convenience.
- What To Look For in a Skate Shoe?
- Skateboard Style and the Right Skate Shoes
- What Shoe Offers The Most Boardfeel?
- What’s The Best Skate Shoe Brand?
- Which Shoes Are The Most Durable?
- How Much Do Skate Shoes Cost?
- Do Insoles Make A difference?
- Skate Shoes We Recommend
- How To Prevent Your Skate Shoes From Ripping
- How To Break in You Skate Shoes
- Final Words
What To Look For in a Skate Shoe?
A good skate shoe should be flexible and lightweight, made from quality suede. It should also have reinforced layers in high-wear areas. The sole needs to provide good grip and be thin to keep you close to the skateboard for the best boardfeel.
- The quality of the suede is a key factor in durability.
- Some shoes like the Vans Pro (DURACAP) offer rubber-backed suede which is an extra layer beneath the suede layer and ads extra life to your shoe when the top layer is gone. This lines the inside of the high-wear areas of the shoe with rubber, making it harder to blow a hole.
- Double or even triple stitching around the flick area offers an extra layer of durability. Some shoes lack stitches entirely which also prevents shoes from ripping.
- Those who are looking for more comfort should look for shoes with a gusseted tongue. They come with an elastic band to keep them in place making your feet feel more secure.
Skateboard Style and the Right Skate Shoes
Ask yourself what type of skateboarding you do most. Depending on your style you can narrow down the options. Some skaters prefer boardfeel, while others might look for maximum durability or cushioning for comfort.
- Technical skaters (street and transition) require a flexible lightweight vulcanized shoe for optimal boardfeel. This type of shoe offer the most control and you want the toe area to be reasonable enclosed for flip tricks.
- Transition skateboarders that mainly skate bowl and mini ramps will benefit from a shoe that offers support and flexibility. A cupsole-vulcanized hybrid shoe would allow you to still have lots of boardfeel but more impact protection when you need to bail.
- Skate park skaters that focus more on medium high objects should go for a vulcanized shoe for optimal control.
- Flatground skateboarders also require vulcanized skate shoes for optimal board feel. You need a lot of control to perform technical tricks. Shoes that offer the most control are:
- High impact skateboarding requires a shoe which offers support, your options are a cupsole skate shoe or a vulcanized skate shoe with after market insoles.
Skaters with wide feet that have fewer options. Often a more bulky shoe offers enough room to prevent painful feet. Let’s look at a couple of skate shoe brands and a few shoes that go well with your personal style of skateboarding.
- Longests lasting skate shoe
- High quality suede
- Cupsole but flexible
- Decent board feel, great impact support
- Needs some time to break in
- Most board feel, very flexible
- Break in fast
- Quality suede
- Impact support could be better, average durability
What Shoe Offers The Most Boardfeel?
If you do lots of technical tricks and need tactile feedback for control, look for a vulcanized skate shoe.
Technical (street) skating, flatground skating and transition skateboarders have lots of options. A couple of examples of shoes that offer the most boardfeel are:
- Vans – Especially the classic models like the Authentic, Era, and the Old Skool Pro. The signature waffle sole design of Vans provides great grip and boardfeel.
- Nike SB – The Janoski and Shane line, in particular, are known for their optimal; board
- Lakai – Known for models like the Manchester and the Fremont that provide great boardfeel without sacrificing cushioning.
- Converse – Louie Lopez offers a thin design and low-cut silhouette of the Louie Lopez CC brings a unique boardfeel for an almost barefoot-like experience, similar to what you would feel skating certain Nike SBs such as the Stefan Janoski.
- New Balance Numeric: New Balance’s skateboarding line, Numeric, has produced several shoes that are popular for street skating due to their comfort and durability.
What’s The Best Skate Shoe Brand?
There is no best skate shoe brand. All brands offer budget and high quality skate shoes. Focus on the shoe that works for you and ignore the brand.
Which Shoes Are The Most Durable?
Durability often means you have to sacrifice boardfeel. In general cupsoles skate shoes last longer than vulcanized shoes. Cups offer more cushioning and often have more suede near the flick area. They are also stiffer and feel heavier on your feet.
After extensive testing we found out that one of the most durable skate shoes are Adidas (Tyshawn and Busenitz Pro). Second are the Etnies Marana Michelin, third is a vulcanized shoe; the New Balance Numeric 306.
How Much Do Skate Shoes Cost?
Skate shoes cost betrween $30 USD and $120 USD. Prices vary based on factors such as brand, model, materials, and store type. Established brands and pro-models often cost more. The quality of materials, store type, regional factors, sales, and shoe functionality can also influence the price.
- Budget skate shoes: $40 – $60
- Mid-range skate shoes: $60 – $90
- High-end or limited edition skate shoes: $90 – $120+
Do Insoles Make A difference?
Insoles are great for those who want a flexible shoe with great control, but need some extra support. The standard insoles from most brands don’t offer much support in general. It would compromise board feel, though some brands should reconsider their insoles as they are downright trash. The solution could be an aftermarket insoles, prices vary, alternatively you could look for a hybrid vulc-cupsole.
Skate Shoes We Recommend
We narrowed down a few skate shoes that should fit your style. Because every skateboarder has it’s own preference we added alternative options. The shoes here are to illustrate what works and just a selection of the hundreds of options available.
Pick a shoe you like and compare them to similar shoes to make the right choice. Remember that deciding the best skate shoe for you can take a long time. As you progress in skateboarding you might have different needs. At some point you’ll find a shoe that just clicks, once that happens skaters usually stick to their preferred shoe.
1. Street Skating and Boardfeel: Nike SB Shane
The Nike SB Shane is a durable, true-to-size skateboard shoe that comes with a one-piece toe cap with seamless suede construction.. Its shape features a long, slimmer toe box and double-layered vulcanized construction. The design shields the laces well.
The cushioning is fair, with a slightly thicker foam insole and a Nike Zoom Air pocket in the heel of the insole. Its boardfeel and grip are the highlights of the shoe, with a thin vulcanized construction and deep groove sole pattern that offers great boardfeel, responsiveness, and flexibility.
The shoe’s only weaknesses are the heel collar and top lateral part of the mesh tongue, which wears rather quickly. The SB Shane offers a snug fit for those with regular feet but the narrow front isn’t for everyone.
This shoe is designed for technical skaters and isn’t the most comfortable for high impact skateboarding. They offer superior boardfeel and are a great choice for skateboarders that love rotational tricks and complex slides/grinds. After roughly 50 hours, the shoe will start to lose its shape but they hold up between 60 and 70 hours on average.
The shoe stands out for its excellent boardfeel, grip, and flexibility, making it ideal for technical skating and tricks. However, it has a narrow front, and could use better impact protection. It’s great for those who need boardfeel and flexibility.
Alternative skate shoes:
- Nike SB Stefan Jansoski, Nike SB Charge
- Vans Pro and Classic Models
- Converse CONS Louie Lopez
- Lakai Griffin
2. Transition Skateboarding: Nike Ishoid Wair
The Ishod Wair is one of the best skate shoes for transition skateboarding. The React insole offers a lot of support and resists the impacts which prevents your feet from flattening out on impact. So you get a combination of boardfeel, impact protection, and flexibility.
The cushioning is extremely comfortable, though the shoe runs a bit narrow near the front. This gives it extra board control for flick tricks, but some of you might need to loosen the laces a bit.
The suede is of good quality though the meshing tends to rip. The plastic meshing on the sides is an odd choice but gives a lot of flexible and breathability. If you live in a warmer climate, the Ishod Wair is a good choice.
While skateboarding is not a fashion show, good looking while skateboarding doesn’t hurt your ego. The shoes look even better in real life, better than the pics I shot.
Alternative skate shoes:
- Nike RSBR, Janoski, Charge, Shane
- Vans Pro and Classic Models
- Lakai Griffin, Fremont (vulc)
3. High Impact and Durable: Adidas Tyshawn
The Adidas Tyshawn is the most durable skate shoe we tested, both pairs we bought lasted for ages. Even though it’s a cupsole, it feels very flexible and offers enough board feel to perform technical tricks. It’s a bit stiffer in the heel area but also makes your feet feel secure. The suede near the high-contact areas still holds up after 70 hours of skateboarding.
The Adidas Tyshawn is a comfortable skate shoe that fits snugly, if you are in between sizes, pick the bigger size. It features a padded tongue, a cup sole with Adidas Cloud foam technology, and a normal fit. Despite its thick sole, the shoe provides good board feel and grip, as well as protective cushioning.
The shape holds remarkably well, but the suede will last longer. After extended periods of skateboarding there is still enough support and hardly any noticeable extra wiggle room. The outsoles are indestructible yet very flexible.
The grip is great and stays that way because of the high quality materials used. They require some time to break-in and the heel area can feel a bit stiff. Overall, the Adidas Tyshawn is a highly recommended skate shoe for its comfort, durability, impact absorption, and technical ability.
Alternative skate shoes:
- Adidas Busenitz Pro
- Etnies Marana Michelin (stiff)
4. Transition and Street Skateboarding: New Balance Numeric 306
Looking for a durable, flexible skate shoe that offers lots of control and looks great? Look no further. The New Balance 306 Jamie Foy Pro is about everything you want from a skate shoe. It offers decent impact support (could be better), is lightweight, and really makes you feel connected to your skateboard.
It’s a durable shoe because of the high-quality suede upper and reinforced sides with an extra rubber layer near the flick and ollie areas that further reinforce the shoe.
The shoe has a basic foam insole for cushioning, which provides a good balance between cushioning and boardfeel.
The shoes feel secure and stable, with additional padding around the ankle area. The cushioning could be improved, and the grip is not as effective as some other shoes.
Overall, the New Balance Numeric 306 is a great option for those looking for a durable, stable, and comfortable vulcanized shoe with good boardfeel.
They place the mesh areas in the parts of the shoe which offer great ventilation. The strategic placement keeps it from being exposed to grip contact and won’t affect your skateboarding.
The shoe offers a secure fit in the heel, excellent breathability, durability, and great boardfeel. However, it comes with a basic insole, needs better impact protection, and its grip could be improved.
Alternative skate shoes:
- Lakai Cambridge, Lakai fremont Vulc
- Etnies Veer
5. Most Comfortable Skate Shoe: DC Legacy Slim 98
Despite that the shoe looks bulky, it really doesn’t feel that way. It’s actually surprisingly flexible for a shoe that looks like a solid brick. Again this shoe is a cupsole and offers decent support because of the thicker outsoles, though the insole is nothing special.
The UniLite midsole provides proper cushioning and comfort combined with the Ortholite insoles for added comfort. These insoles are designed to support human foot and absorb impacts. The cushioning will support your arch when you’re ollying a set of stairs, or just basic ollies.
As for durability, in our experience an average skilled skateboarder could get 70 to 80 hours out of the shoes, where a more technical skateboarder probably chews through the suede sooner.
Most important is that they hold their shape for a long time and offer the support you need. They might feel a bit cramped at first depending on your foot shape, but the shoe will adjust its shape to your feet. The DC Legacy Slim fit true to size.
Alternative skate shoes:
- Etnies Joslin 2
- DVS Commanche II
6. Wide Feet: eS Silo
The eS Silo skate shoes are wide, especially around the mid-foot and toes. They don’t offer the best board feel and might feel bulky and stiff initially. If you have very wide feet, especially toes, these shoes could be a good option.
They’re not the most attractive shoes but are comfortable and its decent padding around the heel offers the needed support. They’re not very flexible at first, but with time, they loosen up. These aren’t the best for technical skating, but good for casual park and bowl skating. The main reason to get the eS Silo is for the extra room and comfort, not for board control.
Wear them for a few weeks to break them in to speed up the process. They do allow for some basic skate tricks but don’t offer as good board feel as some other shoes. Overall, they’re comfy, good for impacts, and are decently priced. If you need a wider mid-foot but less toe room, consider the eS accel as an alternative.
- eS Accel
- DVS Commanche II
- Nike Dunk Low
How To Prevent Your Skate Shoes From Ripping
Pre-emptively adding shoo goo to the stitches which will suffer the most friction will make your skate shoes last longer.
- Choose Suede Shoes: Suede is more durable than other materials like canvas.
- Pick Reputable Brands: Get shoes with reinforced spots, especially around kickflip and ollie areas. Some shoes even have double layers.
- Use Shoe Goo: This glue can fix holes and tears, extending the shoe’s life. You can also glue stitches to prevent rips.
- Use Suede Patches: Instead of duct tape, glue suede pieces from old shoes over tears or holes.
- Sand Your Grip Tape: Smoothing down grip tape, especially in ollie and flick spots, reduces wear on shoes. The type of grip tape you use also matters, with some being rougher than others.
- Avoid Extreme Weather: Too hot or cold temperatures can damage the shoes.
- Store Shoes Right: Keep them in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Adding paper inside can help maintain their shape.
How To Break in You Skate Shoes
- Wear Before Skating: Use new skate shoes for daily wear until they’re broken in. Once old ones wear out, start skating with the broken-in ones.
- Microwave Method: Some skaters microwave shoes for 90 seconds, wear them to mold to the foot, then microwave again for 20 seconds to break them in. Be careful of metal parts!
- Hair Dryer: Warm shoes with a hair dryer, then wear them to mold. Repeat until comfy.
- Double Socks: Wearing two pairs of socks can stretch new shoes faster, making them comfier.
- Freezing Technique: If a shoe is too tight, put water bags in shoes and freeze overnight. The expanding ice stretches the shoes.
- Twist & Fold: Manipulate shoes to loosen them. Works better with flexible shoes.
- Run in Them: Running in new shoes helps them mold to the foot faster.
There are tons of great skate shoes out there these days and many last for a long time and offer decent board feel. There is no such thing as the best skate shoe, it really depends on what you personally like.
If you are a beginner and have no clue where to start, check out my selection of skate shoes for beginners or consult the included buying guide.