A while ago I decided to buy a ton of skate shoes to find out which are the most durable. I got some help from my local skateboard community who gladly wanted to participate. Free shoes for everyone! And it wasn’t even Christmas.
After months of testing, lots of the shoes didn’t make the list. Not that they are bad, Nike’s or Vans for example are great skate shoes but rip rather sooner than later.
Skate shoes might be the most expensive part of skateboarding, and buying quality shoes can save you a ton of money. Some shoes last for a couple of weeks and others don’t show wear for months.
It all depends on the type of shoe and the quality, canvas is the worst material, suede is superior. But even suede varies in quality and I haven’t even addressed the design yet. Stitching and the location of seams make a huge difference. Another factor is grip tape, the grittier your your grip tape is, the faster your shoes wear.
Lastly, some shoes loose their shape faster than others, the suede might still be in tact but it makes it harder to feel your skateboard.
Let me give you a few details up front:
- Most durable cupsole skate shoe: Adidas Tyshawn
- Most durable vulcanized skate shoe: New Balance Numeric 306
- Least durable skate shoe brands: Nike, DVS, and Vans (depending on the type of shoe)
- Longest Lasting Skate Shoes
- Picking The Right Skate Shoes
- Skate Shoe Brands That Last the Longest
- Least Durbale Skate Shoes
- How to Repair Skate Shoes Once They’re Destroyed
- How to Fix Every Type of Hole on a Skate Shoe
- How to Fix Skate Shoes with Duck Tape
- Preventing Skate Shoes From Ripping
- Final Thoughts
Longest Lasting Skate Shoes
Here are out test results from longest lasting skate shoe to least. I will not be reviewing all of them, but I made a small selection of a few great durable skate shoes I recommend. There’s even one pair that lasted for over 170 hours! Here a are the shoes we tested so far:
|Skate Shoe name||Shoe type||Material||Hours Lasted|
|Etnies Marana Michelin||Cupsole||Suede||140|
|New Balance Numeric 306||Vulcanized||Suede||110|
|éS Accel Slim||Cupsole||Suede||90|
|Etnies Joslin 2||Cupsole||Suede||70|
|Nike Stefan Janoski||Vulcanized||Suede||60|
|Nike SB Zoom Blazer Low Pro||Vulcanized||Suede||50|
|DVS Commanche 2||Cupsole||Suede / canvas||40|
|Lakai Riley 3||Vulc||Suede / canvas||TBD|
There are a couple of drawbacks to durable skate shoes that you should be aware of.
- All of these shoes are cupsoles or a vulcanized-cupsole hybrid, only a few shoes are vulcs.
- Some of these shoes require quite some time to break-in.
- In general cupsoles provide less board feel but offer more support, it’s a trade-off.
- Durable skate shoes are more expensive in general, shop smart to find some good deals.
Here’s the list and our findings. This is not by any means scientific, but at least we actually tested the shoes. Durability depends on many factors and I’m sure the circumstances play a part.
1. Etnies Michelin Marana
|Wear||the usual ollie and kickflip holes, but outer sole is indestructable|
|Notes||The rubber toe cap increases durability|
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 might 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
It’s no surprise that Etnies Marana’s are one of the most durable skate shoes you can get. It takes a long time before they rip which has to do with the quality suede and rubber toe caps.
I still owe you a couple of wear pics, coming soon!
Not everyone will be a fan of the toe caps and it takes some time to get used to but they make a difference.
The Michelin soles are almost indestructable and there’s hardly any wear from pushing long after ollie and kickflip holes start to appear. After 140 hours we felt that they needed replacement, on average a technical skater can skate these shoes between 120 and 150 hours depending on the grittyness of your grip tape.
They keep their shape for a long time, only after about 80 hours of skateboarding the new shoe feel slowly goes away.
How They Skate
The Marana Michelin offers lots of support but like many cupsoles, less boardfeel. It’s not that bad, once you break them in they are actually quite flexible for a cup. The days of non flexible skate shoes are over and the Marana offers enough board feel for technical tricks but can’t compete with Nike Janoski’s in that regard.
The shape holds up pretty well over time and the shoes are suitable to wear on your daily activities. Maybe wear them first for a couple of days before you start skating, this will help to make them more flexible. If you decide to skate them right out of the box you really need some time to break them in.
The Michelin sole is insane and you’ll have a hard time eating through the rubber from pushing or braking your skateboard. They also offer lots of impact support for those who ollie huge stairs or sore feet.
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 when it comes to durability. With the Michelin sole, it is long-lasting and a lot more grippy than your usual skating footwear. Absolutely recommended when you want a long lasting shoe but be aware that it takes time to break them in.
Lastly they don’t offer as much boardfeel like vulc shoes do, but outlast them by far. Available on Amazon.
2. Adidas 3st Tyshawn
Looking for a flexbile shoe that lasts forever, looks good, absorbs impacts, and even provides boardfeel? Adidas nailed it with the 3ST004 shoes and this is our top recommended shoe. We skated this shoe for 170 hours and could have made it to 200 but the shoe lost its shape after 160-ish hours.
|Wear||ollie holes, kickflip holes, outer sole is very strong|
|Notes||Our top recommended shoe!|
- Upper exterior that is made of durable high quality suede
- Paneled overlays and herringbone tread
- Geofit tongue with an S-curve heel clip
Somehow Adidas made a super durable shoe that last for ages. The first 80 hours of skateboarding there was hardly any wear. A few ollie and kickflip spots, but the suede really is from another world.
After 100 hours of street skateboarding some holes started to appear. Nothing serious, just the usuall wear from griptape.
After 130 hours it is pretty much down hill with the Adidas Tyshawn’s but they still lasted for 40 hours before we finally managed to completely destroy them. Very impressive!
We did test them with Jessup grip tape, which is less gritty but pretty standard. Skating them on fresh Mob griptape will probably make a difference.
I think the secret here is the quality of the suede and the lack of stitching on the vamp and toe box. If yont durable skate shoes, this is usually a good sign they will last for a long time.
How They Skate
This low profile shoe feels pretty comfortable but not for those with wider than average feet. I do have that problem and they felt a bit tightand had to return them twice before I got the right size. It takes a couple of hours to break them and will feel comfortable once you do.
They give you quite a confidence boost because the elastic grip stick to your board and despite being a cup, it provides great boardfeel. They feel very stable and absorb impacts like no other, no need for special insoles!
My first impression of the outer sole threw me off a bit. I expected them to feel heavy and bulky when skateboarding. I was pleasantly surprised that this isn’t the case.
You’ll feel comfortable flicking your board, primos are less painful, and ollieing big stairs won’t hurt your feet. Unless your name is Aaron Homoki and you’re planning on ollieing 25 stairs.
The Adidas 3ST.004 is a by far the longest lasting skate shoe that also looks good. They feel comfortable and sturdy, but are still very flexible.
The suede high quality suede and durable outer sole makes this our top pick for those who don’t want to throw away shoes after a couple of week. Even those who prefer vulcs will be pleasantly surprised by the provided boardfeel.
Those with wider feet should get a size bigger because of the narrow fit. Sometimes they are on sale and you can get as much as 40% off, so shop smart! Amazon offers this shoe in all sizes.
3. New Balance Numeric 306
Time to look at a vulcanized shoe for those who don’t want to sacrifice boardfeel for durability. The New Balance Numeric 306 are worth considering if you really want to skate vulcs.
|Wear||ollie holes, kickflip holes, the thin sole is less durable|
|Notes||Our top recommended vulcanized skate shoe|
The New Balance 306 are incredible, the high quality suede didn’t show wear after 25 hours of skateboarding. The laces seem to rip quickly but that also has to do with technique and type of tricks.
The reinforcement band on the side offers a double protective layer. Once you chew through the first, the second will stay in tact for quite some time.
No signs of tearing on the upper toe box because the strategicly placed stitches.
The outer soles offer great grip but you will notice some wear on the soles after 60-70 hours of skating. The rubber around the toe area will wear eventualy after 70 hours if you do lots of flip tricks.
It feels like they are indestructible. After 80-ish ours the shoe starts to loose its shape meaning less boardfeel. Still skateable until we hit 110 hours and we had to say goodbye.
Consider replacing the insoles, they offer little protection honestly. They lasted me 3 times as long as my nikes and despite the pain that comes with ollieing 7-stairs, they are one of the best skate shoes out there.
How They Skate
New Balance Numericis a classic vulc shoe; thin where it shoe be but with a lateral outsole. It’s great for kickflips, and flip tricks in general because of thin outer sole.
The shoe is super flexy on the front and offers lots of grip, though in time they grip slowly becomes less. The thicker lateral outsole offers some cushioning but you will feel your feet when you ollie bigger objects.
The rather high cut feels comfortable around the ankle, overall a very stable shoe which keeps its shape for quite some time. The insoles aren’t great and ollieing bigger stairs is less comfy compared to cups.
Jamie Foy’s vulcanized New Balance Numeric 306 pro model exceeds in durability, stability and boardfeel. Probably the most durable vulcanized skate shoe we tried so far and definately worth considering. Check for prices on Amazon.
4. eS Accel Slim – 90+ Hours
One of the few shoes listed that last for quite some time despite the stitches on the toe box. I didn’t expect much of them to be honest but they actually hold up for at leaast 90 hours. Not bad at all.
|Wear||ollie holes, kickflip holes, heelflip holes|
|Notes||It takes a surprisingly long time before you tear the toe area|
The eS Accel Slim are improved version of the Accel OG. Still owe you a wear pic but let’s look at what we found out. After skating them for about 40 hours we noticed that the ollie area started fading, no signs of tears or anything to be concerned about which is a good sign.
After skating them on the streets for about 60 hours ollie holes start to appear and loses a bit of its shape.70 hours and the holes become bigger and also the kickflip area starts to wear significantly.
80-90 hours is where they start to rip, this is where you either repair them or replace them entirely. After 90 hours they are done for, which is impressive for a shoe with a stitched toe box.
How They Skate
These sneakers allow you to control your skateboard with precision and despite being a cupsole, the soles are very flexible. The sole is thin enough to provide you the needed board feel, but decently padded in order to prevent injuries from impacts.
They keep their shape for a long time but start to stretch after 50 hours of skateboarding. Still pretty skateable for at least 30-40 hours after that.
Compared to a vulc they are less flexible and offer less boardfeel, it takes some time to get used to them and break them in.
The eS Accel Slim is a very decent skate shoe that may not last as long as the the Adidas ST.004 but also won’t break the bank. Great shoe for smaller ledges and flat, but less suitable for very technical stuff. Check Amazon for availability.
Picking The Right Skate Shoes
Shoes are about personal preference, just make sure you know the difference between vulcanized shoes and cup soles. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need lots of impact protection, like ollieing 7-stairs
- Do I want to sacrifice board feel for durability
- Flat feet and arc support, do you need it? If so go for cupsoles
- Are you a large person? Taller and heavier riders need some extra support (usually).
- Your budget, always buy shoes on sale! You can get up to 50% discounts if you shop smart!
Skate Shoe Brands That Last the Longest
So far Lakai, eS, Adidas, and Etnies seem to offer skateboarding shoes that last for a while but that doesn’t mean all their shoes are durable. eS Silo’s for example are very fragile dispite their beefy appearance, it really depends on the shoe and not so much the brand.
Least Durbale Skate Shoes
In general vulcanized skate shoes wear the fastes but offer the most boardfeel.
The least durable skate shoe award goes to DVS Commanche 2.0, after 40 hours they were unskateable. This was a bit of a surpise because of its bulky design. Very comfortable shoe though!
Nike Stefan Janoski shoes also don’t last very long. All of the Nike vulc shoes we tested didn’t make it to 60 hours. Their cupsoles (like Nike Dunk) last a lot longer but at the expense of boardfeel.
Vans also is notorious for their wear. While Vans are fine for skateboarding, they just don’t last very long in general. The classics are gone within weeks though the pro models last for quite some time. Still not as long as the shoes we tested.
In the end skate shoes are expensive and destroying your gear is an inherent part of the learning process. That said, being aware of it doesn’t make less painful the fact of tearing a hole in your last purchased pair of shoes.
If you skate regularly, you’ll go through shoes rather quickly. That’s when knowing how to fix your shoes could save you quite some money. Either by prepping them beforehand or repairing them after hand.
How to Repair Skate Shoes Once They’re Destroyed
You didn’t take preemptive measures to make your shoes last longer? Don’t worry, there are plenty of way to fix them to ride them a few more sessions. If you do it right, it’s totally worth it.
Tip: Never throw away your old skate shoes. You can use them to cut out suede patches and fix your skate shoes. Not aesthetically pleasing, but it works like a charm.
Cardboard Piece and Tape
The good old combo of cardboard and tape is the cheapest way to fix his shoes. Quick and easy to set-up, this technique doesn’t require patching up the shoe directly.
Instead, you want to wrap up a piece of cardboard over your sock around the area of the shoe that teared up. However, as it is the cheapest way of skating with beat-up shoes, you’ll have to repeat the process before, and sometimes in between, every session.
Pro Tip: Always take a piece of shoe box with you so you have an easy fix in any circumstances — when you’re tired of ripping your socks and skin.
Shoe-Goo/Hot Glue/RipCare and Suede
A better and more cost-efficient way of patching a hole in your shoes consist of using shoe-goo — or any type of hot glue, really — coupled with a piece of suede, that you can cut out from old pair of shoes.
- Apply a thin layer of shoe-goo over and around the area to fix
- Put a piece of an old shoe over the hole
- Cover the patch with yet another layer of glue
This can last a few sessions depending on the application of the patch. Pro Tip: Do this in the evening so that there’s enough time for the glue to dry out before riding them the next day.
If the shoe has large tears try to combine RipCare, a suedw patch, and shoe Goo. Fill the hole with RipCare and let it dry, 12 hours later you can patch it up with shoe goo and suede. Use a spatula (comes with RipCare) to prevent the sticky stuff getting all over your hands.
Adhesive Shoe Patch
Adhesive shoe patch is a great ready-to-go method to fix up sneakers and skate shoes. The brand TrickTape even commercialized shoe patches specifically designed for the practice of skateboarding. Made off 100% recycled synthetic suede, the sticky patches will last quite a few sessions without messing up with your flick — which is a big plus.
There’s no particular technique here. Apply the patch at the horizontal and let it stick for a few minutes before you can ride free.
How to Fix Every Type of Hole on a Skate Shoe
There are three principal areas of the shoe that interact with the grip tape when doing skateboard tricks. One will rip out before the other two depending on the type of skating you do and the tricks you’re working on.
How to Repair a Kickflip Hole
The kickflip area is by far the most used and stressed part of the skate shoe. Situated right before the toes, on the external part of the shoe, a hole there usually means the end of the shoe.
Indeed, despite its name, this area involves not only kickflip tricks, but any trick involving an ollie such as grinds, manuals, rails, stairs…
Not fixing it means eventually ripping out your socks and skin —if you wait long enough. Despite being the more common hole, the kickflip hole is the easiest one to patch, with plenty of options available.
- Use Glue and a piece of suede to cover up the area.
- Use Adhesive shoe patch
- Strap cardboard around your foot to avoid tearing in your sock and skin.
How to Repair a Heelflip hole
The Heelflip hole is probably the least common one. Appearing right at the junction between the heel reinforcement of the shoe and the logo, this hole only appears if you mainly do heelflips most than any other ones.
Less debilitating than the Kickflip hole, the heelflip one is however harder to patch because of its localization. See, most skate shoes have reinforced paddings around the heel, making it harder to rip out. However, once you’ve teared up a hole in this area, it will be harder to fix.
The only solid way to fix a hole in the heel part of the shoe is to use a mix of shoe-goo and suede:
- Apply shoe goo both around the hole of the shoe, and on the back of the suede piece to make it stick.
- Place the suede patch between the reinforced padding and the first layer of the shoe.
- Apply yet another layer of glue on top of the suede. Cover the piece with the reinforced padding, using it to make the patch stuck in place.
How to Repair a Sole Hole
Tearing up your sole is a quite common thing. Especially if you do loads of transition, constantly wiggling and adjusting your feet on the deck. Most time, the sole will give up right before the toes area.
Once the hole goes through the sole, the grip might tear up your insole too. That’s exactly why you want to patch it up as soon as possible.
For this one you’ve got two options.
- The Lazy Option: Place any protective material (piece of cardboard, extra-insole…) between the sole and the insole to prevent the grip tearing in the insole. This won’t repair the hole but at least you can somewhat ride your shoes serenely.
- The Long-lasting Option: Fill up the hole with shoe-goo or glue and use two pieces you’ll still need a patch on the inside of the shoe to avoid your insole and sole sticking together.
As a side note, you can’t re-sole skateboard shoes. Even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth the price. You’re better off investing in a fresh pair when you see signs of a hole in the flat of your shoe. It’s the only thing really protecting your feet when skating.
How to Fix Skate Shoes with Duck Tape
Duck-tape is the cheapest and quickest alternative to cover up your beat-up shoes. Now, there are two ways you can repair these holes.
The first method comprises simply covering up the hole by tapping layers of tape going from the cup sole to above the hole. This probably won’t last the longest but will provide a solution ready on-the-go, as long as you carry duck-tape with you.
The most durable technique comprises cutting thin pieces of tape to make it match the form of the shoe perfectly. Once the first layer covers the hole, put a larger band on top of the first layer to solidify the patch. This should last you 1-2 sessions depending on the roughness of your grip.
Preventing Skate Shoes From Ripping
As the old saying says: “Prevention is better than cure”. Even if your shoes are brand new, you can still prop them up in order to expand their lifetime. These common hacks are useful if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to switch shoes straight away.
Reinforce the Laces
Laces are usually the first part of the shoe that will give out. If you’re a flip trick type of skater, chances are, you’ll go through laces almost weekly. Luckily, they aren’t expensive, nor difficult to replace, but there are a few tricks to know in order to increase their lifespan.
Some skate shoes come with specific designs to counter this problem. Metal eyelets, suede reinforcement or ghillie mounts are some of the most common technologies to keep your laces intact.
However, if you picked a standard pair of shoes and don’t want to rip your laces off after only one session, you can use shoe-goo, or any kind of hot glue, to reinforce them.
Put a single drop on each eyelet so that you have a thin yet protective layer over your laces. Once you see it deteriorate, reiterate the entire process. Just make sure you stick to one drop so that you don’t seal your laces to the eyelets.
Pre-Patch the Main Flicking Areas
If you feel like your shoes have almost reached their breakpoint, cover up the areas at risk to gain some extra-sessions skating them. To do this, you’ve got three viable options: shoe-goo, glue or adhesive shoe patch.
All three of them add an extra layer of protection on the shoe. Although glue and shoe-goo will leave stain on the shoes whereas shoe patches can be removed, letting the shoe intact.
I would argue that shoe-goo is the best solution, value-for-money wise. Adhesive shoe patch is a great option if you want also want to wear your skate shoes going to work or school.
Durable skate shoes have their pros and cons, overall they offer less boardfeel with a few exeptions we covered here.
Shop smart and look for deals, sometimes you can get 50% off so using price monetoring tools might be a good idea.
Always check the quality of the suede and perhaps the best idea is to visit your local skate shop. You really can’t feel the flex or quality online though online shoping might be a bit more convenient.
If you rip your shoes faster than normal, the problem might not come from the shoe itself, but from the grip-tape: fresh grip-tape is crazy abrasive. It’s the moment where it damages your shoes the most. Always sand down new grip with leftover grip tape before riding the deck, it really makes a difference.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it, this was one of the most time consuming (and expensive) posts I ever made.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.