How Are Skate Shoes Different To Regular Sneakers?

Skate shoes (or skateboard shoes) have gone a long way since they first arrived in the 1960’s.

It was purely designed for skateboarders because back then, grip tape hadn’t been invented yet so traction between the deck, and the skaters were very important.

From the first skate shoes by the Randolph Rubber Company to its popularization by Vans, skate shoes are now being offered by a dozen different companies.

These different companies all try to give their skate shoes different flavors and such but they all stay true to what skate shoes should be.

Although skate shoes can be simply defined as shoes specifically for skateboarding, it has evolved to a higher purpose because now people are wearing them just because of the sleek, and trendy design.

What makes skate shoes different from regular sneakers?

1. Durability

Durability is one of the main differences between skate shoes and sneakers.

Skate shoes are purposely designed to handle a lot of stress as well as wear and tear. Not only is it common to see skateboarders do some sick tricks, there are also hundreds of hours of practicing and failing involved.

These shoes have to endure a ton of use as skaters push themselves to the limit to get a trick right, and master them. Durability in skate shoes can be attributed to a number of things. For instance, it can come from the material the shoes are made of.

Some shoes are made of super suede which is a synthetic microfiber fabric that can resist fraying because of its combination with polyurethane foam in a non-woven structure. The super suede comes really handy against abrasion as some skaters do a lot of falling in half-pipes.

Some shoes are made of action leather – suede cow leather that has a thin coat of polyurethane applied to it. The shoes also come with an internal reinforced plastic toe cap that specifically increases the stress tolerance of the shoe in the front, and also helps protect the wearers from breaking their toes in case of accidents or falls.

If you get the chance, inspect some skate shoes and you might be able to notice that most of them come double or even triple-stitched. Some skate shoes also come designed with lace protectors to serve two purposes: to protect the shoelaces from being shredded in the wheels, and to protect the user from having shoelaces tangle in the wheels.

2. Protection

One thing you should always consider, especially when it comes to sports, is safety.

Skate shoes are specifically designed to protect users from common skateboarding issues. They are designed with interior reinforced toe caps that protect the toes of the wearer. The shoes are also padded in certain areas such as the heels and soles.

The tongues in skate shoes are noticeably wider than the tongues in sneakers to help stabilize the shoes for the wearer because nothing would be scarier than grinding down a really long flight of stairs when you begin to notice your shoes loosening off.

Some skate shoes also come with thicker soles. These are for those who have a preference for jump tricks where they spend a lot of their time jumping up and down.

Skate shoes can come with lace protectors to keep the laces in check instead of tangling in the wheels, and pulling the skater off. There is even an option between low tops and high tops.

If you’re comfortable with low tops then by all means go for it but for those who have had ankle injuries, they usually go with high tops for the increased ankle support they provide.

Finally, one huge difference is that skate shoes have slightly wider soles for an increased surface area contact with the deck of the skateboard. Increased traction means that the soles of the shoes, and the deck will be in contact more and this also increases the skater’s control over his board.

3. Purpose

This may be an obvious one but it’s a solid difference. Just the fact that there are skate shoes is because they were specifically designed for a purpose: skateboarding.

All the designs that have come to play in making the skate shoes were purposely placed there with the sport in mind. It has increased protection due to the dangerous nature of the sport. It is made of sturdier materials, and designed to be durable to handle the wear and tear of the active sport.

If you want to go even further, skate shoes can be dichotomized into two categories that skateboarders passionately decide on: the soles. There are two big teams when it comes to this – cupsole and vulcanized sole. Skaters choose between the two with purpose in mind.

Cupsoles are thick soles that are glued and sewn into the shoe while vulcanized soles are soles made of individual components that are glued together, and produce a thinner sole. The thicker nature of the cupsoles make them better for jump-related tricks, however, their thickness comes with a price.

Cupsoles are heavier and less flexible than their counterpart, and this is where the vulcanized soles shine. They offer more flexibility to the wearer which gives them a better, and more comfortable range of motion.

However, the vulcanized soles being glued together, the rubber parts wear out way quicker than the single cupsole. These are little things that make skate shoes specifically different to regular sneakers.


Now you know the basic differences that set skate shoes and regular sneakers apart.

Skate shoes come from a rich culture, and if you look back, its design hasn’t changed that much since it was first released to the public.

Back then, it was more than just shoes for skateboarders. Skate shoes were shoes that helped set them apart from everybody else. It was their way of showing pride to their sport.

And by knowing a bit more about skate shoes, you have undeniably more respect for skate shoes than you did before reading this article.

Image credit: Envato Elements

Difference Between Skate Shoes And Sneakers
  • Save
Share via
Copy link