Skip to Content

Do You Really Need Skate Shoes to Skateboard?

By sharing you support this website

If you’re thinking about skateboarding on regular shoes, runners or basketball shoes, think again. To get the most out of your skateboarding session you should really consider skate shoes.

You need skate shoes when you ride a board often and want to learn tricks. The sole, insole, cushioning and grippy soles provide maximum grip to handle and feel your skateboard. Regular shoes won’t give you as much ‘board feel’ and give you less control over your skateboard. 

Now there are a couple of exceptions here, it also depends on what and where you plan to ride. It’s fine to use regular shoes for cruising but it will be less comfortable. Once you want to take on tricks you really should consider shoes.

Why Skaters wear skate shoes

Skateboarders wear skate shoes because they are more durable, flexible, offer more grip, and makes a skater connect to the deck. The thin soles and flexibility of the shoes allow for better board control.

  • Grip: Skate shoes are designed with flat, grippy soles, usually made from rubber, to provide a strong grip on the skateboard’s grip tape. This helps to maintain control while performing tricks.
  • Board Feel: Good skate shoes offer a balance between protection and the ability to feel the skateboard under their feet. A thinner sole can provide better sensitivity for more precise movements, which is crucial for technical skating.
  • Durability: Skateboarding is tough on shoes due to the constant friction against grip, breaking, and impacts. Skate shoes are designed to be durable, with reinforced areas like the toe cap and the side of the shoe to withstand this wear and tear.
  • Protection and Support: Skate shoes are built to provide protection to the feet. They often have padded tongues and sides to cushion the impact of jumps and to protect the feet during accidents. Additionally, they offer ankle support to reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Style and Culture: Skate shoes have become a significant part of skate culture and fashion. Wearing them is a way for skaters to express their identity.

The difference between skate shoes and normal shoes

pair of vans skate shoes

I once was forced to use running shoes because of a bad heel bruise. It hurt so bad that the only way to feel less pain was by using my running shoes. I was able to do most of my tricks but I had way less control over my board because of the thick sole.

It was actually a bit scary not feeling your board and I started looking for shoes that could provide me more comfort while still being able to skate.

Skateboard shoes are designed for skateboarding and are more durable, provide more grip but often not designed for every day walks. Vans, for example, came up with the waffle pattern sole to provide maximum grip.

Skate soles are thinner compared to regular shoes to provide maximum board feel and some shoes have insole technology that can withstand a lot of impacts. You’ll feel the difference right away. This also explains a bit why runners and basketball shoes take away a lot of board feel.

The thick soles make handling a board very difficult. Only experienced skates are able to deal with the cons of regular shoes, but why would you ride a board on normal shoes anyways (unless you only plan to commute).

What makes a great skate shoe?

New Balance Numeric 306 skate shoes on a skateboard

While the best skate shoe also depends on the shape of your feet there are a couple of things that you should look for. Not all skate shoes are equal and some are utter trash.

I already wrote a very detailed post about what makes a great skate shoe and I suggest reading out skate shoe buyers guide, if you want to educate yourself a bit more. Anyway here’s what to look for when buying skate shoes.

  • First of all look for suede skate shoes, this material deals much better with friction (grip tape) than other material such as canvas.
  • Make sure the shoe provides some heel support, the less risk on a heel bruise the better
  • Look closely at the seams, some shoes don’t even have seams on the nose of the shoe. This will make you shoes last longer and they won’t fall apart as easily.
  • If you have the budget get insoles that can absorb shocks. These are very comfy shoes and it feels like you’re walking on could.
  • Lace hole protection. Some shoes have metal or plastic rings that support prevent the lace holes from tearing.
  • Toe caps when you like transition skateboarding and wear knee pads. It will protect wear and tear when sliding on your knees.
  • High-tops for ankle protection. If your board has a bit of razor tail, high-tops protect your ankles and heels from sharp edges. Low-tops for more freedom of movement and mid-tops for something in between.

I tried many shoes but a couple really stood out, if you want the best shoes on a budget, check out the best skate shoes we tested over 100 hours.

Cupsole or vulcanized?

skateboard shoes cupsole vs vulcanized sole

Cupsoles are stronger than vulcanized shoes but feel a bit stiffer (less board feel in general). Go for Vulcs if you want maximum board feel and cups if you want the most durable skate shoe. It’s a trade-off but some don’t even notice the difference.

I really like Vulcs and the boardfeel they provide but they wear down sooner. I also like cups because they last longer and provide more support. It’s something you have to find out for yourself, personal preference and all that. Phatmanboardshop did a great piece on this subject if you’re interested.

How to get the most out of your skate shoe

One of the things that worried me when I was a bit younger was the durability of my shoes. When you’re on a tight budget you don’t want to pay a new pair every month. While skateboarding isn’t the most expensive hobby, at a young age getting the most out of your equipment makes a huge difference.

There are a lot of ways to make your skate shoes last longer. Shoe goo, trick tape or even a different kind of grip tape help you to get the most out of your shoes. Just a few simple tricks and your shoes last 30 hours longer.

Are skate shoes bad for your feet? They used to be but nowadays you can get skate shoes that offer a lot of support. They still aren’t made for long walks but wearing different shoes is something that’s always recommended.

Why do my feet hurt when skating? This usually has to do with either wearing shoes that don’t fit your feet properly. It can also be that you just need to get used to the shoes and movements. I sometimes still have painful feet after not skating for a while, usually at the beginning of the new season.

My feet have to get used to all the twisting, shocks and unusual movements you make on a skateboard. Nothing to worry about. If it keeps persisting try to change the insoles or buy different shoes next time. Your shoes might be a bit too narrow.

Can I use running or basketball shoes when skateboarding? While it sure is possible to use these types of shoes, it will feel really uncomfortable. The offer less stability and makes it harder to improve your skills. It’s actually a bit more risky as you won’t feel how your board responds resulting in eating shit more often.

By sharing you support this website

Our editorial process is dedicated to providing high-quality, fact-checked content, ensuring the best experience. If you spot any inaccuracies, please let us know (, and we will take immediate action.