Whether you are pursuing skateboarding as a profession or just for fun, having the best footwear for the job is essential.
The right skate shoe could mean the difference between landing the perfect trick, or slipping off your board and hurting yourself.
There are certain design elements that can make one skate shoe a better fit over another, and there is never a one-size fits all.
To make your decision easier we’ve put together a buyer’s guide which can help determine what to look for in a skate shoe.
Let’s first look at the 5 best skate shoes currently on the market in 2020. Then we’ll look at important things to consider before purchasing.
5 best skate shoes on the market in 2021
DC Men’s Court Graffik Skate Shoe
DC skate shoes are a popular brand, and are offered at an affordable price. These skate shoes have cushioned panels for maximum support and low-top for maximum maneuverability. They have a pill pattern tread for grip, a lightweight mesh tongue and features leather uppers.
- Extra padding makes them ideal for tricks as well as casual cruising
- Variety of colors available
- Long lasting
- Great value
- No lace protectors on the shoe
- Rather stiff until fully broken into
- Size runs on the small side
If your style of skateboarding involves tricks needing maximum freedom, and support when landing then the DC Men’s Court Graffik Skate Shoe is ideal. It is attractive for casual wear, but also durable when skateboarding.
Adidas Originals Men’s Seeley Skate Shoe
Inspired by the iconic Gazelle, the Adidas Original Seeley Skate Shoe has a low-top profile to give you maximum ankle freedom. It also features vulcanized rubber for flexibility and for grip. The synthetic strips for improved durability when friction is involved. This skate shoe is designed for comfort, high performance and attractiveness.
- Easy to break in
- Variety of colors available
- Nostalgic retro look
- Comfortable fit
- Low-top means limited ankle support
- Tends to run on the small size by ½ a size
- Canvas material stains easily, although you can take extra measures to protect the material
If you plan to continue skateboarding with ease after your last pair is beyond repair, with no deterrents then Adidas Originals Seeley Skate Shoe is ideal. Although it offers limited protection to your ankle, if you’re a simple skateboarder doing simple tricks or just casual cruising then this skate shoe is easy to break in and affordable to purchase.
Etnies Men’s Jameson 2 Eco Skateboard Shoe
If you want a skate shoe which is eco-friendly then consider the Etnies Jameson 2 Eco Skateboard Shoe. For every shoe that is purchased, they plant a tree as part of their reforestation program.
The skate shoe features a recycled rubber outsole and shoe laces from recycled plastic. The fabric used is breathable for sweat and moisture control.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Highly durable mid and outsole
- Padded tongue for comfort
- Laces are shorter than normal
- Sizes are o the smaller side
- Upper folds make a noticeable line
If you need a functional shoe that is durable but also made with the environment in mind, Etnies Jameson 2 Eco Skateboard Shoe is ideal. It’s rubber sole offers great grip, padding for extra protection and is lightweight.
Heelys Launch Skate Shoe (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)
Not just teenagers and adults skateboard, even the little ones are getting involved too. The Heelys Launch Skate Shoe is available in sizes from toddler to big kids. They have a unique feature of a wheel, which can be removed. They have a synthetic sole, low-top round the ankle and come in a variety of colors.
- Comfortable and well-built
- Durable and removable wheel
- Easy to clean
- More expensive than other shoes
- Limited sizes
If you’re looking for a skate shoe for your little ones with a unique twist, then Heelys Launch Skate Shoe is ideal. The removable wheel is of high quality, and adds an extra element of fun and balance for children and big kids.
Globe Men’s Fusion Skate Shoes
Though the design may look bulky, the Globe Fusion Skate Shoe offers a combination of comfort, durability and performance all in one. Its leather and synthetic uppers give the shoe maximum strength whilst skateboarding, an integrated inner sock to absorb moisture and add comfort and top ollie reinforcement for added ruggedness.
- Offers good support
- Integrated tongue
- Comfortable with adequate padding
- Inner sock wears easily
- Some inconsistencies with quality
Overall the Globe Fusion Skate Shoes performs well as a skate shoe for someone who is constantly on their feet doing trick after trick. With its integrated tongue for added comfort, and the support, it helps you prevent injury and keeps you skateboarding for longer.
How to choose the best skate shoes
Although skate shoes are universal, some have features that others don’t, and the key to buying the best skate shoe for your skateboarding style is understanding how skate shoes are constructed, and what each part of it means.
If you’re mainly casually cruising to your friends house, getting a pair of skate shoes that have extra padding and protection will be overkill.
Let’s go through the factors that’ll help you decide which skate shoe is best for you.
Understanding the layers of a skate shoe
Surprisingly, skate shoes are very different to your average pair of trainers for the outdoors. Due to the diverse nature of skateboarding, your skate shoe is the only protection for your feet.
You want the best no matter where you’re skateboarding, whether it’s doing a kickflip on a level surface or blazing down a 20ft ramp ready to perform a ‘World’s First Trick.’ Each layer of your shoe has to be considered.
Let’s look at each layer starting from the bottom of the skate shoe:
- Tread – Although skateboards have grip tape, the tread pattern on your skate shoe can affect how much grip and flexibility you have.
- Heel cushioning – If you’re doing tricks which involve a lot of air, landing safely and comfortable is your first protocol. Therefore, a skate shoe with adequate heel cushioning is essential.
- Midsole – This is positioned just above your outsole, and can be made of a variety of materials such as EVA foam, PU foam or polyurethane.
- Insole – The final layer on the inside, positioned on top of your midsole. It can be made of foam, gel or a mixture of both. It is common for insoles to be removable, and changeable if you want more or less cushioning.
What sort of rubber outsole do you prefer?
A rubber outsole is the material of the bottom of a skate shoe, they can either be vulcanized or cupsole.
Let’s go through each one:
- Vulcanized – These soles are softer, flexible and easier to break in. However, as a result they’re not as durable.
- Cupsole – Their impact absorption is greater than vulcanized soles, however they’re stiffer to wear therefore boardfeel is not as good.
Both rubber outsoles have their benefits, as well as their negatives, so it is down to you to decide which in the long run will be best suited to you and your skateboarding style.
Which material is the best for a skate shoe?
The outer material of your skate shoe makes the most contact with your skateboard (apart from the outsole), so choosing a material which is durable, comfortable and flexible for your skate shoe is essential.
Let’s look at the most common materials used for skate shoes:
- Suede – The most common and most popular material used for skate shoes. It is durable, comfortable and can handle scuffs and scraps you may experience from skateboarding.
- Synthetics – A popular choice for those who wish for the leather look. It is highly durable, however not as flexible when quick skateboarding maneuvers are involved.
- Canvas – Incredibly light and flexible, however not very durable. Their best use is for skateboarders who just casually cruise, and are not into tricks.
- Leather – The most durable material for a skate shoe, however not popular with skateboarders due to its lack of grip and flexibility.
How do you prefer your shoes to sit around your ankles?
The next thing to consider when deciding on the perfect skate shoe is, how much freedom do I want for my ankle? This is referred to as the ‘top’ which is the part of the shoe which is near your ankle. There are 3 skate top styles: low-tops, mid-tops and high-tops.
- Low-tops – Offers the least support to your ankles, however gives you the most freedom of movement.
- Mid-tops – A middle ground style as it offers more support than the low-tops, however are not as constricting as the high-tops.
- High-tops – This style sits above your ankle and offers the most protection, however as a downside your movement can be limited.
The best style to choose will depend on the style of skateboarding. If you’re casually skating down the path as a quicker means of travel to your friends house, then either will suit you fine. However, if you plan to learn difficult tricks that involve a lot of ankle movement then a high-top will be more difficult to use.
However, it is usually based on personal preference.
What other factors should I consider?
- Toe caps – This is an extra layer of rubber on the nose of the skate shoe. Not everyone is a fan of toe caps because they can hinder your boardfeel, however if you’re one who loves kickflips, or any tricks involving a lot of friction on the nose of the skate shoe then you’ll find a toe cap will extend the durability.
- Stitching – The stitching of your skate shoe is highly important, as it keeps your shoe in one piece. Bad stitching can lead to it falling to pieces just after a few weeks. Look for double, or even triple stitching patterns for increased durability.
- Laces and lace protectors – Laces will eventually wear, and luckily it is the cheapest and easiest item to replace. Have a look at the aglets at the end of the lace, and see if the shoe has lace protectors. These will increase their lifespan.
How should the skate shoe fit my feet?
The same rules apply when you buy shoes in general.
When you try on the skate shoes you check for how they feel on your feet. Ask yourself:
- Do the skate shoes feel tight? Can I slip out with the laces done up?
- Can I wiggle my toes slightly or a lot?
- Am I in any discomfort when I move around?
- Do I prefer the feel of a low, mid or high top skate shoe?
If you are unsure, the best advice is to go for a skate shoe which is snug. Remember, you still need to ‘break in’ the skate shoe. After that you’ll find it loosens up.
A few tips for when you’re trying on new skate shoes:
- Always wear socks because you’re not going to wear your skate shoes sockless.
- Try them on in the afternoon, as your feet tend to swell throughout the day.
- Try on both skate shoes, not just one foot.
- Stand, walk around a little with the shoes on, stretch your ankles etc.
- Pay attention to ‘feel,’ in other words how sensitive are your feet to the ground or bumps in the floor. Most skateboarders prefer skate shoes that allow them to feel curves and bumps in the movements to allow them to skateboard better.
Choosing the perfect skate shoe doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you know the type of skateboarder you are, then you can find the perfect skate shoe to meet that need.
The easiest way to achieve this is make a note of what you want from a skate shoe such as:
- Rubber sole (vulcanized or cupsole) – Do I want more or less flexibility?
- Which material do I prefer?
- How much cushioning do I need?
- How much support do I want for my ankle?
- Do I want a toe cap?
- Is the stitching double or triple?
There are so many affordable skate shoes on the market as this sport becomes more accessible, and there are a lot of choices and options available.
We’ve listed the top 5 skate shoes on the market, but there are so many more you can check out.
Image Credit: Envato Elements