Wearing proper skateboard shoes can make all the difference. It’s important to wear skateboarding shoes because good skate shoes will increase your grip, board feel, absorb shocks and prevent injuries. Not all feet are the same and there’s a lot to consider picking the right skate shoe for you. so how do you choose the right skateboard shoes?
The best skate shoe matches your feet, skateboarding style and offers support without sacrificing board feel. Suede shoes are recommended, but the type of shoe comes down to your personal preference.
I never gave skate shoes much thought so I decided to dive into it. This is a lenghty post, and yes, I have a couple of recommendations at the end of this article. Here’s everything you can possibly know about skateboarding shoes.
What makes a good skateboarding shoe
In general, try to look for a shoe that has a little bit of everything. Suede material, heel support, toe caps, laces out of grip range, soles that can absorb shocks, and decent stitch work. It took me some time before I found good shoes that were perfect for my situation. In order to know what good skate shoes are you need to look for these features.
Good skateboarding shoes can take an impact, are sturdy but still allow you to feel your skateboard. The nose design needs to be a bit longer than the average sneaker. This will prevent your laces from tearing apart due to friction. Broken laces are very annoying but if you pick the right shoes that won’t be a problem. Think about how you skate, where is the wear and tear and go from there.
Vulcanized soles VS Cupsoles
First thing you need to consider if you want to wear vulcanized or supsole shoes. The difference between cupsoles and vulcanized soles is durability and board feel. What it comes down to is that cupsoles are sturdier than Vulcanized soles and offer more heel support and protection. The downside is that cupsoles provide less board feel (though this is debatable). So which one should you get? The one that feels right for you, there is no best choice. It all comes down to personal preference
Vulcanized shoes are taped around the body of the shoe. A vulcanized shoe consists of 2 separate pieces around the shoe which often starts to fall off after extensive use. Vulcanized feels slightly lighter and are a bit slimmer and offer more board feel.
Vulcanized skate shoes are great for skaters that prefer a lot of boardfeel. The thinner sole and flexibility of the shoes are better suited for skaters that like technical tricks. This doesn’t mean you can’t do any technical wearing cupsoles. Some don’t even feel any difference.
Vulc shoes offer less impact protection because of the lack of heel support and thinner soles. They are less durable than cupsoles but this also depends on what type of skateboarding you prefer. You can often recognize them by the thin foxing tape at the edge. Best way to know is to check online or by bending them when you’re in your local skate store.
They are a bit cheaper on average, but the downside is they wear down sooner compared to cupsoles. Great if you don’t jump down stair a lot, like pool skating and vert/ mini ramp. Also great if you are an aggressive skater, but you’ll lose out on feeling your deck a bit. I’m perfectly fine with that, but I’m not a street skater anymore.
- Provide better board feel
- Easy to break in
- Insole makes the difference
- Slightly lighter
- Often cheaper
I recently bought a pair of Vans Pros (Vulc) that have all the comfort of a cupsole shoe and have decent shock absorption. I wish I got these sooner, it’s like walking on clouds. The suede will mean they’ll last for a while and the shock sole is exactly what I need.
Cupsoles are designed for skateboarding after skaters started to complain about bruised heels. The sole consists of multiple layers, a solid layer, some cushioning and a rubber layer sprinkling. Cupsoles use EVA or TPR cushioning foam which is placed inside a rubber ‘cup’. Cupsoles are a bit bigger which means there’s more space between you and your board, so less board feel.
If you need shoes that will last you a while you could consider buying cupsole shoes. These are more durable compared to vulc shoes but provide less board feel. They aren’t as flexible but recommended if you often get heel bruises. They won’t prevent injuries but can absorb much more impact reducing the damage.
Cupsoles are stitched to the top part of the shoe and the shoe is embedded inside. Perfect to take an impact and way more durable than vulcanized shoes. If you’re into huge rails, big stairs or over manly jumps, cupsoles is what you’re looking for. Great choice if you’re just looking for something reliable which can take a beating.
- Offer more support
- More durable
- Offer less board feel
- Usually more expensive
High tops, mid tops and low tops
What’s the difference? Ankle protection and freedom of movement. If you get a lot of anklers (hit by your board in the ankles) you need these. They are extra padded and provide extra protection. There’s low tops, mid-tops, and high tops. Low tops are more comfortable and easier to move in but high tops provide protection and some ankle support. They won’t prevent you from rolling your ankle but wearing low tops will offer no protection against razor tails.
Low tops for freedom of movement
If you need freedom of movement, go for low top skate shoes. These are pretty standard and weigh less compared to mid and high tops, which really doesn’t matter. The downside is that the lack of padding exposes your ankles, making them more vulnerable. My board hits my ankles occasionally and I always curse myself for not skating high tops. I should try them out sometime.
Mid-tops for slight ankle protection and movement
Mid-tops as suspected, are in the middle. They offer a bit more support and stability in the ankle area compared to low-tops, but less freedom of movement. You don’t have your ankles exposed like low-tops and you won’t feel restricted (if that’s your preference) like high-tops. They still provide protection against your deck hitting your ankles!
High tops for ankle protection
High tops offer less freedom of movement but provide some ankle protection. They won’t stop you from spraining an ankle but absorbs some of the impacts when your board decides to go after your ankles. Some hight tops (like the Vans hk8 high) have some extra cushioning to increase impact absorption.
Guaranteed soggy and sweaty feet because they don’t allow your feet to breathe very well. You can get some runner socks to combat that, but from my experience skate shoes always cause sweaty feet. This could be just me though, my wife doesn’t allow me to store them in my house because they smell “disgusting!”.
Skate shoe soles
A sole consists of different parts and depending on the type of shoe. Some feature heel support, have special insoles and usually a herringbone or waffle tread pattern for extra grip.
A thin soul will feel like your low to the ground which makes it easier to feel your skateboard. Better board control. great for technical tricks! BUT you’ll need something that can absorb impacts and doesn’t hurt your feet. So go for the middle ground, a shoe that allows you to feel your board but can take an impact. Make sure you have some padding if you go for a thinner sole!
Not only do they prevent blisters, but the most important feature of cushioning is also preventing heel bruises and other feet injuries. Shoes that hardly have any cushioning should be avoided. Make sure you buy shoes that allow you to take the insoles out, you might need to replace them.
Outsole and midsole
Skate shoe soles consist of an outsole and insole which are compressed and glues together offering maximum support. Most skate soles are made of lightweight and flexible foam. Midsoles are often made of more durable foam or polyurethane.
Look for shoes with a removable insole that offers support. Cheaper insoles are made of thin foam and higher quality insoles offer more comfort using gel, air pockets, foam and or a combination. Thicker insoles will sacrifice a bit of board feel but it entirely depends on the design of the shoe. You can buy insoles separately if you need more support.
Some shoes offer extra support near the heels. It helps to reduce the shocks from impacts and they are often made of gel, rubber or air pockets. Recommended for heavy skaters or if you had heel injuries in the past. It makes a huge difference and offers extra comfort.
Outsole tread pattern and grip
Skate shoes have a bit of a flatter sole and a different profile than regular sneakers. Most of the shoes have either a herringbone tread, a waffle sole tread, or a bit of both. These patterns provide more grip which you’ll need to stay on your board. Your feet slipping of your deck can cause nasty injuries and too much grip also can be annoying.
Toe caps are the rubbery material wrapped around the nose to prevent holes. Perfect if you do a lot of kickflips! If you’re more of a heelflip skater you don’t have to worry about this too much.
Toe caps make your shoes last longer as they withstand the friction of your grip better. not everyone likes them though, mainly because it provides less board feel and slides different than suede. If you skate transition and slide on your knee pads and feet a lot, you could consider toe caps.
Single stitches will be destroyed in an instance. Look for double or even triple stitches especially on the spots most likely to wear down. Areas around the nose, your kickflip and heelflip side should have extra stitching. Consider applying Shoe Goo at the areas likely to wear out. Some shoes don’t have any stitching on the outside.
Laces and lace protectors
Laces are often one of the first to break, there are a couple of skate shoes out there who tackle this problem by having a longer noes and reinforced lace holes. The Vans pro series feature metal lace holes on top for example. aAces usually rip at the corner edges (bottom and top) so you could try to reinforce them with shoe goo. You almost always get a pair of extra laces though.
There is a brand out there called Immortal Laces who offer reinforced laces, I haven’t tried this myself but they guarantee a replacement pair if you break them within 14 days.
Lace protectors are somewhat old school but they’re still around. Some shoes have them built in which keeps them from snapping all the time. You can also consider buying a few or alternatively glue them so they won’t tear as fast. The downside of gluing to your shoes them is that you can’t adjust their tightness anymore. Flauge produces lace protectors and they really work.
We used to have something called lace protectors, it died in the in the early nineties and shoes with four lace holes made an appearance. Since laces may suffer from friction, think about where the laces are and where your flips are tearing down your shoes. Take them to your local skateboard shop and the staff can hopefully recommend you the shoes you need.
Shoe materials and why it matters
Technical skaters need suede shoes. It lasts the longest and provides great board feel. Canvas is the weakest material and should only be considered when you only cruise or do transition skating without ollies or flips. There are leather shoes out there but they are usually bulky and take away board feel.
Suede shoes are recommended
The number one skateboarders agree on is suede skate shoes. Skate shoes that’ll last you the longest are made out of suede. They can take much more than canvas shoes. At least make sure the parts when your ollie, kickflip or heelflip are covered with suede. Suede is also the easiest to repair once you get holes in them from wear and tear. No matter what shoe you buy, they will wear down at some point. The downside is that they attract dust and get dirty quicker, but you’ll destroy them anyway, skateboarding is not a fashion show.
Avoid canvas skate shoes
Canvas shoes usually are cheaper but they won’t very last long when you do technical stuff. The canvas layer can start to rip and tear after just an hour of skateboarding. If you’re more into cruising or like to take long rides on a longboard you can go for canvas shoes. The pros of canvas are that they cause less sweaty feet. Canvas material allows your feet to breath a little bit better.
Also, if you just skate transition like mini ramps, bowls, and verts, canvas is fine. If you like to do flips and ollies go with suede shoes.
Type of feet and skate shoes
So this is where personal preference comes in and I can help you to narrow down what exactly is the right type of skate shoe for you. Just a reminder, you really need to go to your local skate shop and put them on. Buying them online is only advised if you are familiar with the brand an know exactly which type of skate shoe you need.
Not all skate shoes fit every type of feet. Make sure to buy shoes that aren’t too big or too narrow. Just like running shoes, you’ll need a bit of extra room in front and the side of the shoe shouldn’t feel claustrophobic, but don’t overdo it. To much room will leave you with a very unstable feeling, sort of like your shoes will roll over, that’s bad.
This way your feet are able to move back and forward when you are shredding and it helps to avoid pain because the ide of your feet and your toes constantly are pushing against the inner side of your shoes. It’s hard to explain but I hope you catch my drift.
I’ll start with my own type of feet. If you have wide feet you obviously need a wider shoe. If your shoes are too narrow your feet will start to hurt. Make sure you don’t feel the inside of the shoe pushing against your foot, it should feel comfortable and to only way to see what’s right for you is by trying them on. Check out my post about skate shoes for wide feet, I know of a few shoes that might solve your problem.
Hey small feet, yup that’s me, but I also have wide feet. The most important thing here is to go with how your shoes feel. That’s right, don’t shop them online! Go to your shop and feeeeeeeeeeeeel. Don’t just walk around, jump, lean back and forward, sprint, stop and feel your shoes. No blog post is going to tell you which shoes are best for you. Consider low-top shoes but any shoe will do.
If you have flat feet you run more risk of cramps near the area your arch should be, some people even complain about lower back pain. Try to find shoes that provide extra support like cupsoles or consider insoles.
Good skateboarding shoe brands
There’s a lot of debate about brands and which one has the best skate shoe. Everyone has their favorite brand depending on personal preference. In general, go with brands like:
- Emerica (Reynolds)
- Etnies (Maranas)
- Emerica (Romeros)
All of these brands produce top quality skate shoes and most of them have been doing it for decades.
How long do skateboarding shoes last
How long skate shoes last depends on how often you skate and what type of tricks you do. Another factor that comes into play is the state of your decks’ grip tape. If you’re a street skate, wear bad shoes and have new deck grip, you’re shoes can deteriorate in a week. Ollies and flips will wear down the fabric so take that into consideration when you get new shoes. To sum it up, skateboard shoes wear down because:
- You have a new deck grip.
- You ollie and kickflip all day long.
- The sturdiness of your shoes’ fabric
Do you really need skateboarding shoes?
Yes, skateboard shoes are necessary when you skate often. There is some nuance here, just like you can run for miles in any shoe it still is very uncomfortable and bad for your knees in the long run. I’m sure there are pros out there than can kickflip a board with pumps but I guess that’s a little extreme.
Cheap shoes are an option, for about a week. You’ll shred them in days and when you ollie stairs I just hope your feet will survive. If you manage to get $30 skate shoes in a sale and use them for 6 months all the better!
Do skateboard shoes make a difference?
Skateboarding shoes make a difference, but not all skate shoes are equal. Skateboarding is more mainstream than it used to be so bigger brands started to sell skate shoes. I’m not saying all of them are bad but some of them or more like a fashion statement and not functional. When I injured my heel I found shoes designed for skateboarding from a brand, turns out they were horrible for skateboarding.
The best skateboard shoe provides protection, comfort and can take a beating
This post is not meant as the best skateboard shoe review post from someone who has never touched a skateboard before. This is to help you pick the right shoes that offer you comfort and support for your feet. The best type of skateboard shoe never really crossed my mind before I messed up my heel.
A few more tips when buying skate shoes
There are a couple of other things to consider when you go out there buying new skate shoes. You can save money on sale and need to think about your type of feet (wide, small, flat etc). Think about your body type, your weight and what type of skater you are. Is board feel important or not and have you injured your heel in the past? Make sure you get the most out of your shoe and get the best price!
What shoes to skateboard in depends on your style
What makes a great skate shoe is its ability to withstand wear and tear while you can still feel your skateboard. It depends on your style, how often do you hit the streets how many kickflips do pop or are you more like a heelflip skater? You see this stuff matters. If you master the kickflip your shoes will wear down differently from someone who heelflips all day.
Shoes for street skateboarding
If you do a lot of technical skating you’ll probably better off with Vulcanized shoes that provide more board feel. Make sure you get shoes that have proper cushioning, especially if you’re jumping stairs. Another option is to go with more sturdy cupsole shoes. Less board feel but they absorb more impact compared to vulc shoes.
Shoes for transition skateboarding
If you’re going to be doing a lot of sliding on your knee pads when you have to bail get shoes with rubber toe pads.
Skate shoes for cruising
You guys are lucky, no worries about durability, cupsoles, vulcanized, heck you can even use runners to cruise. Still, even if you love to cruise and don’t care about all the stuff I mentioned, make sure to get shoes that are comfy. Cupsoles are fine, canvas vulcanized shoes are probably the best as long as you have proper cushioning! Long rides will impact your performance, you’ll need shoes that are sturdy and some comfy insoles.
Buy them on sale
Often you can get skate shoes very cheap on sale. If you have a pair you really like consider buying 2 of them, they might not come back. You can get a pair for around $30 if you’re lucky. If you found the perfect shoe, get them again the next time. I’ve had many shoes that just didn’t quite skate like my previous pair and regretted buying them.
Sometimes paying a little bit more makes a big difference in durability. Make sure to read the reviews online from people who actually skated them. Depending on the brand, some shoes aren’t really suitable for wearing day to day. Cheaper shoes often lack proper cushioning which don’t provide enough support.
Heavy skaters and cushioning
make sure to buy shoes that have a lot of heel support. When you’re a little bit heavier heel bruises are more common and they can last weeks or even months before they heal. If you are heavy, don’t go for flat thing soles, you can also consider buying a pair of footprint insoles like KingFoam insoles. They offer great support and will prevent injuries. They won’t last forever and when you skate regularly they stop functioning after 3 months.
I’d advise spending a little extra on shoes that provide more heel support or get the mentioned insoles. Heel bruises are one of the most common injuries and very annoying because it takes a long time before the heal.
Why skateboarding hurts your feet
I still get foot cramps sometimes even after all those years, your feet might feel sore and that’s pretty normal actually. It has to do with your shoes and the shape of your feet. I have wider feet and really need shoes that give me some room. Even more so when you have new shoes, they need a while to break in. If you have flat feet you really should get shoes with proper arch insoles or get some insoles to support your feet. It will make a difference!
If you get cramps just make sure to stay hydrated!
Repair your skate shoes and make them last longer
Shoe goo your shoes’ stitches to make m last twice as long. No jokes, this works and If you’re on a tight budget you can consider buying shoe goo and apply it to your shoes’ stitches right of the shelf. I used to glue a chunk of rubber on my shoes to make them last a little longer once holes started to appear! This may sound great but it only helped for a week or two before it started to get worn down. I’m no Mcguyver. So there’s a couple of options you have here, there are some patchworks and glues which help your shoe last a couple of weeks more. Read my 10 tips to make your shoes last longer.
Board feel and freedom of movement
In general sturdy cupsoles shoes provide less board feel than vulcanized shoes. Not everybody has a problem with this but it’s very important that you can still feel your board. Thick soles will reduce the feeling which makes it harder to pull off technical tricks.
Socks to absorb sweat
You can use runner socks or skateboarding sucks to deal with sweaty and soggy feet. The won’t help absorb shocks but they offer extra comfort. It’s not really necessary but if you hate sweaty feet it’s something to consider.
Try them on in the afternoon
This may sound crazy but your feet swell during the day. the best time to fit shoes is in the afternoon. Your feet also swell during skating so fitting shoes at that time will help you decide on the exact right size.
Protect your ankles with high tops
Once you start learning shovits and flips, sooner or later the sidewall of your board is going to hit your ankles. Heel tops provide a bit of protection. The first time you hit your shins or ankles you’re usually okay, after a couple of times the pain becomes unbearable. You get these lovely discolorations on your shins and ankles. Be aware that they won’t protect you from spraining your ankles! There’s no cure for that and braces are out of the question.
If you have weak ankles consider high tops. They offer more stability than low and mid tops but like I said before, it won’t prevent you from rolling your ankle. It’s fair enough to say that skating high tops will remind you of your weak ankles and prevent you doing stuff out of your abilities. It’s just a thought, but when you get in the zone, you sometimes overestimate your abilities.
Can I use running shoes for skateboarding?
No! Would you wear pumps to run a marathon? I did wear runners for a while because all my other shoes were painful due to my heel injury. I loved my runners because they made me feel safe, but I lost all board control. My feet were all over the place and I couldn’t pop anything.
They are great for running but highly uncomfortable on a skateboard. My feet moved inside the shoes and the sole was too thick, I couldn’t hardly feel my skateboard. I worried about my ankles, but it was better than going back to my thin soled shoes. Great support for my painful heel but that’s about it. Don’t wear runners, period!
Breaking them in
Most skate shoes need some time to break in. This means you need to skate them for a couple of hours or days before they start to grow on you. The material is usually a bit stiff but after a few sessions, they’ll start behaving differently. It’s not a huge difference but something to keep in mind when you’re at your local skate shop trying out new shoes. If they don’t feel like they break in, you bought the wrong skate shoes. It sucks but it takes time to find the perfect skate shoe.
Patching up your shoes with Shoe Goo
To get the most out of your shoes consider getting a tube of Shoe Goo. Shoo Goo is used to patch holes and reinforce the stitching. If you treat them before you start skateboarding they will last you twice as long. Once they start to show cracks, tears and holes, grab your old shoes and cut out some suede to patch them up.
If you don’t have an old pair of skate shoes laying around you can try to get some suede in your local shop of by suede patches.
Skate your old shoes first
Before you start skating your new shoes make sure your old ones are completely destroyed. This way you can still wear them while they look good. I usually start skating shoes once they start to get ugly.
Prevent heel bruises
About 2 years ago I couldn’t find my skate shoes and used a pair of old sneakers, I’m a scatterbrain and am often surprised I’m able to find my house (where are my keys??!!). Usually, it’s perfectly fine to use old skate shoes, but not this time. I was skating a mini ramp and bailed my skateboard.
While I rolled (instead of sliding down) my right leg somehow made a swing resulting in my heel hitting the mini ramp. All the energy impacted my heel and it was painful, like really painful. Basically, I French fried when I should have pizza’d,
This isn’t the first time this happened so I figured I would be alright, I was very wrong. My heel was swollen and bruised I had to go to the hospital and get some X-rays. Nothing was broken but I could barely walk for 2 weeks. It took another 6 months to recover and I could have prevented this by wearing proper shoes. This was by far the worst heel bruise ever.
The shoes I used turned out to have a sole that was very thin and couldn’t withstand an impact. If I had worn a pair with a thick sole that absorbs shocks I would have been fine, maybe a slight inconvenience at most. Because of this, I decided to look for some proper skate shoes, preferably shoes that absorb impact. I found them but couldn’t wear them for almost a year, it took ages before my heal returned to ’normal’. I can actually still feel my heel today, old injuries come back like zombies in World War Z.
Don’t overthink but pay attention to the details and you’ll have the perfect shoes. I hope this ridiculous long article has helped you to pick the right skateboarding hoes.
Skateboarding shoes to consider
How do you know which kicks will best complement your 360 flips? I’ve compiled some of the popular sneakers you can buy and assessed them based on the following criteria: board feel, grip, form, style, padding, and durability.
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The 3ST.004 is the latest iteration from the much-hyped Adidas 3ST line. This skateboarding shoe is a product of the design collaboration of adidas team riders, which include young icon Tyshawn Jones and footwear designers, with Scott Johnston at the helm. Adidas made sure that this newest version meets the elevated standards in visual and technical aspects. As such, it proves to be the best one from its category.
- Upper exterior that is made of durable suede or leather, complete with the iconic “three stripes” branding
- Boost midsole and translucent Geoflex outsole
- Paneled overlays and herringbone tread
- Geofit tongue with an S-curve heel clip
Board feel and grip
The attractive qualities of these skater shoes are evident from the get-go. The 3ST.004 provides enough support and stability with the additional padding from the Geofit tongue, which is directed towards pressure points. The decision to add Boost technology after its much older cousin, which is the Adidas Dorado Adv, also contributes to its incredible comfort.
Let’s not forget that this footwear is designed for skateboarding. In spite of the Boost inclusion which absorbs the impact, it is only limited to the heel part. The front portion remains basic for that impeccable board feel. The improved elastic material of the sole accounts for its better grip such that it is perhaps one of the best there is.
Form and shape
The shape is a classic with its low profile, yet it has the high-tech elements that skaters will appreciate. The extra Boost padding provides a slightly bulky appearance on the midsole, which is perfect for those landing bolts. The 3ST.004 also gives some room towards the front where the toes are, so they are not pressing against one another.
With all the progression and new design it carries, this 3ST variant is truly one of the best looking out there. Staying true to the classic Adidas aesthetics, it’s sleek and sexy. And more importantly, it feels good to wear it.
Once again, the cushion gets an extra boost (pun intended) because of the innovative technology of Adidas. The Boost feature has created so much buzz for the company such that it lives to its hype, especially with the 3ST.004. It is only fitting to focus this cushioning where the heel rests because you don’t want to place it entirely on the soles where you will compromise that all “too important” board feel.
This shoe is a runaway winner in terms of durability. It was mentioned that the elastic sole gives a lot of flexibility but at the same time, it is virtually indestructible. You can rest easy that it will not tear apart like it normally would, given its bendable properties.
The suede material on the upper portion typically fades after just a few ollies, but this one seems to take a lot of beating pretty nicely. And with the tough sole it has, it would take a long time before it can do significant damage to the suede. Even the outsole and shoelaces are durable enough to outlive many skateboarding events.
By wrapping the Boost foam with rubber, it protects it from breaking easily. The lack of stitching on the vamp and toe box prolongs the lifespan of the shoe. As such, no thread will succumb to tearing even when you slam hard.
The Adidas 3ST.004 comes in 3 color schemes, namely: Collegiate Royal-Cloud White, Collegiate Orange-Core Black, and Cloud White-Core Black.
Fit and sizing
These shoes are great because they are exactly as they are described such that a size 10 for example, is what it really is. Fit is snug yet comfy, they perfectly grab your feet for better balance.
When looking for skateboard shoes that are durable, comfortable and stylish, this is your guy. It comes at a slightly higher price tag though. But this is easily justifiable as the 3ST.004 is more than just your average kicks, making it worth its price. You can compare prices at Amazon over here.
DC Kalis S
A skateboarding icon, DC shoes has recently released the Kalis S, which is a fresh interpretation of a “classic meets futuristic” theme. Paying homage to legendary street skateboarder Josh Kalis, this pro model bears the original semblance of his iconic shoe many years ago, yet amped up with modern elements.
- Upper portion made of super suede
- Bootie construction
- Ghillie lace pattern
- Detachable sockliner
- Long-wearing rubber outsole
- Low-cut form
- UniLite midsole
Board feel and grip
DC has been churning out footwear by maintaining retroactive qualities, bringing back the vibe of the late 90s to early 2000s. This sneaker will remind you a lot of the Legacy 98 Slim in terms of board feel. It may look bulky and cushy, making it comfortable to wear, but it does not disappoint with its excellent control and grip. The DC-trademarked pill pattern tread aids in its grippiness as it offers flexibility at vital areas.
The DC Kalis S earns more points in being flexible than the Legacy Slim 98, but you need to do a break-in for at least an hour. It would feel much nicer after a few sessions.
Form and shape
The bulky shape was mentioned, but this is focused on the back portion, slimming down towards the middle and front. However, the toe area is round-shaped, a bit wide, in fact, which is what one will notice upon seeing the Kalis S. No worries on this design though because you won’t have problems performing your 360-degree flips over a trash can in them.
The overall bulkiness of the Kalis S may not be for everyone. DC attempted to marry the bulky construction from early skateboarding with updated features that maintains its board feel. It can be stylish in its own right but the bulk can be off-putting for some. Although it is a sleeker Kalis OG, the tongue is just too wide for most skaters to consider wearing regularly.
The DC Kalis S currently comes in 6 color combinations such as Red-Black-Grey, Black-White-Red, White-Black-Gum, Navy-White, Blue-White-Blue, and White Camo.
With the Unilite midsole, it is lightweight and flexible, which allows it to move with your foot, providing cushion, support, comfort and impact protection. Unfortunately, it pales in comparison with the Boost padding present in Adidas 3ST.004. And considering that it almost costs the same as the 3ST.004, people would have higher expectations, especially on its cushioning qualities.
No doubt this pair is durable with its sticky outsole that is abrasion-resistant and super suede toe even if you’ve only worn them once, or many times over. Comparing it to the Legacy 98 Slim, however, this sneaker will wear a bit fast, particularly with a kickflip maneuver because of the less sole cover on the suede.
Fit and sizing
This sneaker is true to size with normal width and length. Despite the big and bulky exterior, it fits snugly to your foot.
The Kalis S is a highly durable skateboarding shoe that can appeal to skaters for its comfort and flexibility. It may not be on the same level with the 3ST.004 in the cushioning department, but it offers a good amount of padding without sacrificing the board feel. If this is your shoe, check it out at Amazon.
DC Legacy 98 Slim
The DC Legacy 98 Slims take cues from their 90s predecessors, albeit downsized to a slimmer silhouette and lightweight size. This footwear is updated with its OrthoLite footbeds and UniLite midsole for improved comfort and cushioning of a running shoe.
- OrthoLite insole
- UniLite cushioning
- Padded tongue with internal elasticity
- TPR jewel branding
- Holes for ventilation
Board feel and grip
Let’s get this word out: the DC Legacy 98 Slim is highly impressive in terms of board feel, grip, and flexibility. It doesn’t look like it has these elements at first glance, but it does. Based on many skater opinions, this sneaker that is reminiscent of the 90s skateboarding shoe, yet you’ll still be able to feel your board. It is also unbelievably flexible, especially on the first half of the shoe. You will appreciate it much more when used either for walking or skating for several hours.
If this shoe looks very familiar, your eyes are not fooling you. That’s because it is a revival of sorts from a DC model back in 1998, hence the “98” label. The original rounded toe shape, which makes it old-school does not deform even after several uses. The slight puffy appearance of the tongue provides optimal comfort for all-day wear.
The slim silhouette actually does compensate for the bulkiness that’s like the Emerica Reynolds G6. But the overall greatness of this product is what you will truly love. It’s aesthetic could be a matter of preference, although many will find it “dope”. And once you try them on, you’ll get over the bulky appearance and enjoy skating in them.
The midsole arch of the Legacy 98 Slim is UniLite while the insole is OrthoLite, making it very comfy while providing support. No complaints at all here.
This Legacy Slim sneaker is definitely high on the list when it comes to durability alongside Etnies Marana and Joslin skate shoes. The suede material that is usually exposed to a lot of wear and tear as well as the outsole hold up very well without ripping. You will not be disappointed by this tough pair, especially when you do your flips.
The Legacy 98 Slim shoes are available in multiple colorway options such as White, White-Blue-Blue, Blue-Blue-White, Black-White-Red, Black-White, Navy-Red, Black-White-Red, Red, and Black-Red-White.
Fit and sizing
These Legacy Slims are true to size, giving your feet a nice yet snug fit that allows your toes to be comfortable and pain-free. Sizes range from 7 to 13 while females who intend to buy a pair should go about 1 and a half size down from their actual shoe size.
The fusion of the past and present trends in the DC Legacy 98 Slim is what makes it a desirable footwear. It is notable for its relative appeal, durability and flexibility, offering many possibilities to skaters and non-skaters alike. It a lot cheaper than the other shoes making it very affordable (Amazon link).
eS Accel Slim
The eS Accel Slim has become quite popular among the new breed of skaters. It is said to be the improved version of the Accel OG, taking your skateboarding game to the next level.
- Open-cell foam
- Natural rubber outsole
- Upper made with premium suede
- Centralized foot wrap
Board feel and grip
These sneakers allow you to control your skateboard with precision, which is bolstered by the flexible soles. You can even use these shoes straight out of their packaging and they will deliver what you need. The sole is thin enough, giving you a proper board feel, but padded in order to prevent bruising of your heels.
The overall shape of the eS Accel Slim is maintained for a period of time, although it does stretch after getting a lot of mileage from frequent use. These shoes widen more on the tongue area, which would result in their eventual shape loss. But when they remain in their good condition, the nice shape of the toe area, in particular, aids in board flips, balancing their aesthetics and functionality.
The style of this shoe brings you back to the early skateboarding era because of its iteration of the eS Accel Og. The white colorway is simply a classic with its sleek sensuality. Its clean silhouette adds robust curves that can be strangely seductive. Many skaters will lean towards the ageless styling of this sneaker, especially with its quality stitching.
The eS Accel Slim is for the technical skater, hence cushioning would become secondary. While it has the standard level 1 STI open-cell foam, it’s only good for short walking. If you’re looking for comfort in them, don’t expect too much. Some reckon it’s adequate that it doesn’t call for a break-in period.
There is a good amount of durability that you will find in the eS Accel Slim, but it’s not as impressive as other high-quality skate shoes. When frequently used, you can anticipate noticeable wear and tear with the appearance of holes on the suede portion. The earliest for this shoe to give out is a month of regular skating. This won’t be the case for the leather version. However, suede is the much preferred material for technical skating.
The eS Accel Slim shoe comes in a multitude of colors such as Black-Gum, Tan, Black-Black, Dark Grey-Grey, White-White-Blue, Olive, Grey-White-Navy, Navy-Tan-White, Black-Grey-Gum, Black-Grey-White, Red-Grey, Red-Gum, Black-Gum, Black-Gum-White, Black-White, and Black-White-White.
Fit and sizing
When you try your actual shoe size with the eS Accel Slim, it will be a bit tight at first, but it will soon mold to your foot the next day. This way, your toes are not squeezed together, giving them ample room while wearing the shoe. The shoe may have a slimmer fit, which is more likely caused by the longer toe box.
The eS Accel Slim is a decent pair that won’t break the bank at considering its price at Amazon. It is great for smaller ledges and flatter grounds, hence it might not be ideal for you to take it to hand rails, stairs and gaps given its thinner insole.
The eS Contract is a reinforced iteration of its previous model, but made more whimsical this time with the inclusion of the images of street league icons of skateboarding such as Kelly Hart, Wade Desarmo, and Tom Asta printed on the tongue. Essentially, this footwear is designed by skateboarders for skateboarders.
- Double lace pattern
- Proprietary tread design
- 400 NBS rubber outsole
- Lycra Spandex tongue
- STI Energy Midsole foam
Board feel and grip
For eS footwear fans, they will be glad that this pair still bears some of the traits of its predecessor, but taking it several notches higher. While vulcanized types are preferred for their grip and board feel, this shoe will give it to you and then some. The eS Contract is one of those modern cupsoles that lets you experience both ample cushioning and adequate board feel. Grip is no longer an issue as well. You can be assured that these important aspects are covered.
The shape of the eS Contract is in between slim and bulky. It starts out with a rounded shape then tapers a bit towards the toe area, making it perfect for performing flips on the ramp.
Increasing its colorway options to five from the original three that are named after Kelly Hart, Wade Desarmo, and Tom Asta, this shoe is proving to be one of the stylish, if not the most stylish among the eS sneaker line. The STI Energy midsole form has a lot to do with it. The hidden lace setup makes it extra sleek as well.
You will immediately feel its comfort as soon as you wear it given its midsole that is made from STI Energy foam. It has a removable insole foam which would be a shame to get rid of because it does not deter you from having the right board feel. It also has a supportive cupsole build coupled with gum tread for that grippy contact.
The es Contract is durable in its own right, but it should be noted that it is not in the same league as the Etnies footwear such as the Joslins and Marana Michelins. It has an integrated heel counter to keep its rigidity, and dual stitching that adds to its prolonged lifespan. No more accidental slip ups on flat surfaces, thanks to its treading, which gives it more traction when you need it most.
These eS Contracts are available in White (Tom Asta), Black (Ronnie Creager), White-Light grey, Navy-White (Kelly Hart), and Black-Gum (Wade Desarmo).
Fit and sizing
This is a true-to-size shoe that has a fantastic fit and a good amount of cushioning.
The eS Contract skate shoes hold up pretty well and could fit right into your skateboarding lifestyle. They are a good buy at a great price. Here’s a link to Amazon but you will often find on a discounted sale in various online stores.
This trainer is yet another retro-styled skate shoe that has been updated with modern features to cater to rising stars on the ramp. And you cannot blame the eS company for thinking ahead of their time such that the same design is still apropos to the current setting. The updated eS Silo returns with the previous outsole, but with a de-puffed upper to allow technical skills to be performed with bravado.
- STI Energy midsole foam
- 400 NBS rubber outsole
- Thermothane quarter panel
- Herringbone tread design
- Breathable mesh on the upper
Board feel and grip
The eS Silo allows the wearer to have a sufficient board feel, which typically translates to better board control. The flexible soles and tread patterns aid your grip, giving you a sense of where your foot is on the board.
Don’t be fooled by its bulk because your foot will fit snug inside. It is inspired by the shape of skating shoes back in early 2000s. Comparing it to the models then, it’s more slimmed down, with a rounded toe box and an elevated midsole. It has ample arch support for your ankle.
These shoes have a chunky, but refined style that will look even more amazing whether you are on or off the board. The reason why their design is being revived is because the skaters themselves demand for them. Although it won’t be certain that the new breed of street skateboarders will consider them among the top of the list of their preferred footwear, which is mostly dominated by vulcanized soles, there are still quite a number of those that dig the old school styling of the eS Silo.
STI Energy foam is the technology used by eS Skateboarding and prides itself in providing utmost comfort and impact protection to the wearer. Truth be told, its molded properties tend to thin out the insole of the shoe, but this is probably because it still wants you to have a good board feel. Ultimately though, padding is about being comfortable and this brand will give it to you regardless.
The eS Silo may well be more durable when it is suede instead of nubuck leather. While both may be velvety and fluffy, the shoe tends to wear out fast in nubuck. The breathable mesh underlay may have something to do with this. The area which is intended for kickflips is prone to scuffing after extended use. When it comes to the soles, it does fare better with its well-constructed materials.
This throwback sneaker is offered in 2 basic colors such as Black and Grey, plus one colorway option of Navy-Grey-Orange.
Fit and sizing
These kicks run true to size that they fit like a glove, making you feel that they hug your feet. They may be puffy but they are quite lightweight, so they are comfy to skate in.
The eS Silo shoe is a decent choice when you opt for the suede material instead of the nubuck variant. This makes it more durable and last much longer. Compare prices at Amazon if this is the shoe that fits.
Etnies Michelin Marana
The Etnies Michelin Marana is an improved original by combining forces with French tire giant Michelin in creating what is touted to be the ultimate shoe outsole. If Chris Joslin swears by them, you can already assume it is high-quality footwear.
- PU rubberized toe cap
- STI evolution foam
- Suede upper materials
- Pro foam 1 insole
- 400 NBS gum rubber outsole
Board feel and grip
This Marana shoe has that classic but beefy cupsole build such that you might think less of it if you prefer vulcanized skate shoes. On the contrary, the board feel is excellent, which legit skaters will appreciate. You will not have problems with it even when it comes to its grippy qualities. The Michelin tread amps it up that you will surely enjoy your skating adventures. It has interlocking deep grooves and sculpted lines without compromising flexibility.
The wearer will be amazed at how the shape is maintained, even after a month of regular use, albeit becoming softer as a consequence. In any case, your backflips are more jaw-dropping with its thermothane rubber construction. This shoe could very well be the ultimate choice for cupsole fans; it might even change the minds of those who prefer vulcanized ones.
This is without a doubt, one of the most modernized and stylish skate shoes you’ll ever get to try while being comfortable to wear. The different neutral colorway variants of this low profile shoe are classic and very presentable. With its skate-inspired design, it’s good that you can even wear it casually.
Given the STI Evolution foam in its midsole, including the Pro Foam 1 PU technology insole, the Etnies Michelin Marana is capable of absorbing impact that can withstand the banger style of skateboarding. If you decide to wear it for walking, your feet will be comfortable in it.
The superior durability of this pair makes it stand out. The rubber made of Thermothane adds more lifespan to the sneaker such that the abrasion will take longer to get to the suede portion. When worn regularly, it’s only the area of the kickflip that is prone to slight ripping, otherwise, the shoe remains unscathed and is expected to have more skate time. The Michelin rally racing compound provides a stable foundation and protects it from abrasion despite constant impact.
The Etnies Michelin Marana comes in multiple colorways, namely: Dark grey-Black suede, Black-Gum, Black-Red-Grey, Black-Black-Black, White-Black, Navy-Grey, Black-Tan, Burgundy-Tan-White, and Black-Navy.
Fit and sizing
With its cushioning and heel stabilizer, this shoe is comfy yet has a snug fit. It can be a bit wider though if you have narrower feet but otherwise, it is pretty much true to its size. The tongue padding may be thick, which can be solved by lacing it tight, keeping your foot secure. The suede and canvas upper also contributes to its sturdiness.
The Etnies Michelin Marana is one of the best out there, which offers durability first, followed by its classic styling with modern upgrades. With the Michelin sole, it is long-lasting and a lot more grippy than your usual skating footwear. I can’t recommend this shoe more but it’s up to you. Here’s a link to Amazon.
Named after one of California’s secret skateboarding weapons Chris Joslin, the Etnies Joslin is a professional skate shoe that is based from the Etnies Marana, with the same Michelin outsole but more updated. As such, the fit will be very familiar to the Marana wearers.
- Elastic tongue straps
- Well-padded tongue
- Hidden lace system
- Michelin performance-rubber compound outsole
- Pro foam 1 insole
- STI evolution midsole foam
Board feel and grip
Just like the Etnies Michelin Marana, this Joslin variant bears a cupsole design with the Michelin rubber compound outsole that offers excellent grip and unbeatable performance. If you have seen Chris Joslin in action, hurling himself down gigantic gaps and staircases, thinking it can be gnarly, you must reckon that this shoe can keep up will all of that. The Etnies Joslin will, however, require some breaking in, but it will release its full potential, board feel and all, after about 3 to 5 sessions, and staying that way for quite some time.
This low-top sneaker is rather unassuming with its slightly bulky shape that gets narrower towards the toe box. It allows you to do those subtle moves of scooping, flicking, and popping the board. The shoe can retain its shape even after months of usage.
The Etnies Joslin may look basic yet sturdy, without any outstanding features, but many find it still stylish. It’s purely made to serve its purpose in skateboard with its massive tongue, durable suede and thick padding in the ankle.
The skate style is bolstered by the hidden lace system which helps protect the laces themselves. The logo of Etnies is plastered on the sides, including the back heel. Chris Joslin’s signature branding can be found on the insole and tongue. Lastly, Michelin’s logo is on the heel tab.
While the Etnies Joslin may have incorporated a slew of advanced technologies, its cushioning could use a bit more in the impact absorption department. It may come as a surprise to say that Etnies Michelin Maranas does better in comparison. The insole of the Joslins is your standard STI foam without any special quality. It would have taken this cupsole to greater heights, at least where impact is concerned. It is comfy to wear alright, but when you do hardcore skating, you would want better impact protection.
Etnies Joslin is almost synonymous to durability. You can skate in them for 20 hours or more, and it will look as good as if you just got it straight out of the box. It may take a while for you to be comfortable in it, but you will be assured of its lasting longevity than most.
You can choose your Etnies Joslin from an array of colors such as White-White-Gum, Bone, Grey-White-Gum, Black-Navy, Black-Brown, Burgundy, Black-Gum, and Black-White-Gum.
Fit and sizing
The Etnies Joslin sits nicely and firmly with its extra-thick ankle padding that provides ample support, and prevents displacement of your foot inside.
The Etnies Joslin (link to Amazon) possesses almost all the qualities you would desire in a pro model. It is sturdy enough to give you sufficient support. Although, it may take some time to break in, but once it’s gotten its groove, you will be rewarded with unparalleled durability.
Lakai Bristol is said to be the company’s most advanced vulcanized skate shoe to date. It boasts of being an overall skate shoe that has all the elements of flexibility, comfort, and durability.
- Low top silhouette
- Durable suede upper
- Breathable mesh inserts
- Para-mount outsole
- Delux-lite premium foam sockliner
Board feel and grip
This low profile skate shoe with a vulcanized sole easily translates to excellent grip and board feel. The hex design on the tread brought about the Para-mount sole provides great flexibility that aids in controlling the board. The vulcanized version such as the Lakai Bristol means it has a thinner sole, which allows the skater to jump on his board without the need for a break-in.
Performing flicks will not be a problem when you wear the Lakai Bristol. It can keep its shape even after two weeks of regular use. However, you shouldn’t be surprised with it becoming soft and flexible with prolonged wearing. After all, that issue is typical of vulcanized soles.
At a quick glance, you might assume that this model is no different from other Lakai skate shoes. There are some differences, albeit subtle, especially how the tongue is of the right length with enough cushioning. It is a contemporary sneaker that looks perfect with casual wear even off the ramp.
The proprietary Para-mount outsole is primarily responsible for providing the right amount of cushion that absorbs strong impact. At the same time, this padding manages to reinforce the sidewall. The Deluxe-Lite sockliner arch lends support and protection. You can definitely feel this either when you skate, or simply walk in it. However, if you prefer skating in massive gaps and more than 20 stairs, you will probably end up with bruises, especially with repeated attempts on the ramp.
We have mentioned that its sole construction results in an incredible board feel. Vulcanised soles have the individual rubber parts glued to each other, which adhere to the upper through a narrow rubber strip. The outsole will rarely have flat spots. The downside of this shoe though is that it can wear faster than a cupsole. It will also be more prone to abrasion. The fact that they’re thinner and softer makes them rather difficult to dampen, therefore it can cause damage sooner.
The Lakai Bristol comes in several colorway options, namely: Black-White, Burgundy, Black-Gum, White-Black, Navy-Gum, White-Charcoal, Black-Gold, Pine, Burgundy-White, and Rose.
Fit and sizing
This shoe bears an enhanced fit and shape, with the help of its dual-density rubber Para-mount outsole. In other words, it is true-to-size, and it helps keep your foot in place.
The Lakai Bristol is a great skate trainer with a sturdy construction and modern design. It is highly recommended for technical street skaters who will only wear vulcanized types, given its flexible and gummy feel. However, it may not last long enough, especially for those who will skate in it frequently. If your a Vulc type, go for it. Obligatory link to Amazon
Lakai Fremont XLK
Lakai has expanded its Fremont line with the release of the XLK category. This time, however, it focuses on styling, comfort and performance using technology from running shoes. Lakai puts their own spin with the inclusion of a neoprene collar and Lux-Lite sockliner.
- Suede upper materials
- Co-Bound vamp durable rubber
- Slip on neoprene collar
- Lux-Lite insole
- Flex grooves
- Compression-molded EVA midsole
Board feel and grip
The outsole of the Lakai Fremont XLK is so thick that you will virtually have no board feel. As such, it is stiff like a board (pun intended) quite literally. So if you’re a technical skater, you might cross this pair off your must-have list. As far as its grip is concerned, this shoe will ensure you have enough to maintain contact with the board.
If there is another benefit of having too thick outsoles, that would be its ability to retain the form of the shoe. Its lack of board feel may be a bummer, but if it’s any consolation, the pointy toe area will somehow enable you to do board flicks.
Another plus point of the Lakai Fremont XLK is its modern aesthetic. It looks stylish, but you’ll always wonder if it’s worth buying because of the missing board feel. The neoprene collar is a nice addition. Ultimately, this is one good-looking shoe.
We talked about how stiff this sneaker can be, no matter how it has ample cushioning, you might not overcome its weak point. The XLK sole provides a high density foam that supposedly increases its comfort while reducing weight. This is pretty much useless if the shoe has almost no flexibility.
The Co-Bound rubber contributes to the shoe’s durable quality while giving you the freedom to do your flick exhibitions. The ollie area however, can wear off after several sessions, although the rubber underlay can prevent it from further damage.
The Lakai Fremont XLK comes in a variety of colors such as Royal-Gum, Black-Grey, Grey-Charcoal, Navy, and Black-Charcoal.
Fit and sizing
This pair offers a decent fit. Your foot may slightly be displaced, but it’s something you can simply ignore. It stays true to your size so you don’t need to adjust either by going up or down in size when you buy it.
The Lakai Fremont XLK has traits you will like and some that you wish could be better. You will like its overall design which you might prefer using off the ramp instead because of its lack of flexibility.
Nike SB Dunk Low
This is the pioneering skate shoe from global heavyweight Nike, which debuted in 2002. Originally intended as a basketball sneaker, it has then been transformed into skate footwear by providing it with Zoom air padding and a bigger tongue.
- Nubuck leather upper with suede overlay
- Toe perforations
- EVA midsole
Board feel and grip
Here’s the thing, these low-cut cupsole shoes need breaking in. However, it remains stiff even after wearing it many times. When there is no flexibility, it’s almost safe to say that it also has no board feel. Unfortunately, these Nike SB Dunk Lows fail the board feel test. As far as grip or stickiness is concerned, the shoe has it because of its tread pattern.
Considering that this was supposed to be a basketball shoe, it veers away from the expected look of a skate sneaker. It may look like that this shoe is somewhat wide, but it actually has a toe box shape that is in between round and pointy. This form adds to the comfort of the wearer. When you compare it to other brands, this pair would be tighter and narrower. The low stitching on the outsole makes it look more rounded though. It also has a thin tongue and collar.
This footwear is an iconic model that looks more sporty than your typical skate shoes. It looks good no matter what colorway you choose.
In spite of the removable sockliner and EVA midsole foam that protects the shoe from impact, unfortunately, it falls short in flexibility. Without this flexible sole, the cushioning is rendered as useless.
The exposed suede on the kickflip makes it more prone to ripping, especially if you do a lot of skateboarding maneuvers. The outsole is pretty strong though, with a good amount of grippiness. While there is not much lace protection, it is the high cut of its interior, which makes the laces last longer.
The Nike SB Dunk Low comes in a variety of colors and models such as Pro and TRD, namely: Blue, Pigeon, Black, White, Orange, Tiffany, Black Pigeon, Green, Galaxy, among many others.
Fit and sizing
The Dunk Lows are true to size although they can be a bit narrow for those with wide feet.
This Nike SB Dunk Low shoe looks great such that it will appeal to most skateboarders. However, the lack of flexibility is a major downside which will make board control a bit of a challenge.