Best Skateboard Shoes in 2021
Grab your longboard or electric skateboard and flip on Blink and Avril, because we’re slipping into the ten best skateboard shoes currently on the market. Proper grips, traction, comfort, and above all else, keeping it close to that California 80’s/90’s style. We’ve done full guides on Converse shoes and Vans shoes, two notably iconic brands in the skateboard shoe space, but for this guide, we’re taking a look across the aisle to find the best of the best. Whether it’s for function or for style, you’re in for a wild ride. Stick through to the buying guide to find out everything from the insole to the eyelets, what makes it all work together, and how to find the best skateboard shoes for your needs.
The Best Skateboard Shoe
You just can’t beat Vans when it comes to men’s skate shoes. From the top to the bottom, these drip quality, and that classic 1992 design that we’ve all been infatuated with. You get a comfortable, durable rubber insole that’s perfectly contoured to the unique shape of this Vans shoe, and some added support from the skeleton heel case along the back. It’s there to help keep your posture, while also reducing wear and tear from thumbing your shoes on without undoing the laces. Vulcanized canvas upper, waffle outsole, and a diamond pattern along the bottom for added board grip. There’s always a bit of hesitation when you’re buying high top skate shoes online, but Vans boasts a high fit-as-expected rating on Sk8-Hi and add a whole bunch of flair to your walk-in as well.
Vulcanized canvas adds comfort and hlds durability
Vans signature waffle exterior keeps a great grip on your board
Skeleton heel for advanced support
- Weight12 ounces
Adidas has a unique look, even when they’re going for a cult classic-style sneaker, they still manage to put their own unique twist on it so they’re unmistakable. Seeley is no exception. Our favorite part about these men’s skate shoes is the unique bottom: there’s not only a zig-zag design for added traction but circular designs to lock onto your pressure points and provide extra dexterous movements when you’re on your board. Adidas threw in a high-quality rubber insole, as well as a synthetic construction which is nice and simple to keep clean. If you’re not a fan of the basic black, there are half-a-dozen different styles that these Adidas shoes come in, and a high fit-as-expected rating as well.
Primary synthetic fiber construction
Vulcanized rubber outsole grips to your board; excellent traction while walking as well
Ridge and circular design along the bottom puts extra dexterity at key pressure points
- Weight3 pounds
DC likes to keep their prices on the low side, and we couldn’t be happier about that. With a notoriously long lifespan, Court Graffik Skate Shoes are the best skate shoes for gents on a budget who want to see extended use. Some users have even reported seven full years before needing to replace them. From the collar to the outsole, everything is on-point. You get a padded tongue and collar to keep it nice and comfortable throughout your ride, accompanied by a rubber insole for added support. You’ll notice a few holes punched into the leather exterior: that’s intentional, they’re compression vents to help keep it cool and reduce foot stink. Last but not least, the bottom is a beaded rubber design (which kind of looks like the DC logo is you squint) to keep you in full control of your board and movements. Be sure to also check out our list of the best Under Armour shoes for more great items like this.
Padded collar and tongue
Compression vents for breathability
Beaded rubber support grips along the bottom
- ModelCOURT GRAFFIK-M
- Weight2.5 pounds
You know Nike: they like to keep it simple and strong. Slipping into their canvas skate shoes for men puts you a world apart from any other pair you’ve tried because they shined the spotlight on mobility. It isn’t just about the skate shoe style for them, they wanted you to get the most out of your run. With Zoom Stefan Janoski Skate Shoe you get a comfortable rubber insole as well as a Nike Zoom sock liner, which contours to your feet quite nicely and reduces sweat stink. You’ll notice the classic triple lace setup (with one additional eyelet near the tongue), but what you don’t see is heel padding or a cupping strip along the back. They left that wide open for you to gyrate as much as needed, bending and sweeping with the lay of the land to retain your footing on your board. Our handy guide to the best Nike sneakers features more great products like this.
Nike Zoom sockliner included, contours to your foot
Canvas construction w/ classic three-lace setup
- Weight3 pounds
You can’t escape the fact that Vans was built for this sort of thing. Not only did they claim our top spot for the best skate shoes for men, but they’ve stolen our hearts one more time with their Classic Checkerboards. Simply slip them on and head out the door, drop the board and you’re ready to roll. Vans has, of course, thrown their waffle outsole for the best board traction in the industry, and made these out of durable canvas for a quick and easy clean. Diamond weave along the bottom helps mount your movements to stay in place, even when your board is trying to slip out from under you. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the top Puma shoes.
Canvas construction w/ classic outsole stripe along the edge
Vans signature waffle outsole for maximum board grip
Classic checkerboard design w/ rubber insole
Slip-on design for fast action
- ModelClassic Slip-On
- Weight2.09 pounds
We’re suckers for the classic skate shoe look, and this is packing every bit of style you could ever hope for. If you don’t dig the basic black, there are over twenty styles to choose from, each with a subtle element that’s been swapped out to make it dapper as hell. You get a predominant synthetic construction with some leather accents, keeping it durable yet comfortable enough to move with you. Depending on your preference when riding, you might go for no padding on the tongue and collar. Etnies Fader Skate Shoe is versatile as an everyday set of kicks, thanks to the padding along the tongue and ample cushioning system built into your heel. Durable, very tough against dirt, and cleans up like a dream. For these Etnies shoes, we’d recommend getting some shoe waterproofing spray as well.
Available in over twenty styles
Leather and synthetic construction; durable, easy to clean
Durable rubber outsole grips your board
Padded collar and tongue for increased comfort
- Weight3.2 pounds
Globe has been a worldwide phenomenon, and it’s clear to see why. Not only do they land a perfect ten in terms of that true skateboard shoe style, but they really make it their own at the same time. You get a durable midsole that’s built to withstand the shock and awe that comes with sudden movements and drops on your board. Pair that with the form-fitting and solid leather and synthetic construction, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for swagger and skating success. Globe threw a one-of-a-kind S-Trac grip system on the bottom of these, making them the best skateboard shoes for those who are light on their feet. Last but not least, with Globe Tilt Skateboarding Shoe you get a supple padded tongue and firm cushioning along the collar and heel, avoiding all blisters and aching from a long day on the half-pipe. Make sure you also check our selection of the best inline skates for more great items like this.
S-Trac gripping system keeps you strong and steady on your feet
Leather and synthetic construction
Padded collar and comfortable tongue
Durable midsole reduces shock and impact
- Weight1 pounds
You’re on a bit more of a budget, and we respect that. So does Lakai. They’ve gone to excessive lengths to ensure that you’re still equipped for that grip on the board without burning a hole through your wallet. You get the basics that everyone needs in a skateboard shoe: rubber insole, wide outsole, but the real trick is in the base grip. They’ve included a zig-zag design to really grip the board, but these also work wonders simply walking on the pavement as well. If you’re a skater with a wide foot, Lakai accommodates to your needs, fitted to work with you through every maneuver. Padding along the tongue and collar keep you in full comfort, whether you’re grabbing these for all-day use or not, you’ll appreciate the sense of walking on air after extended use. Love this product? Check out our review of the best New Balance shoes for our top picks.
The perfect solution for a wide-footed skater
Stretchable construction w/ suede elements
Zig-zag pattern on the bottom for proper board and pavement grip
Padded tongue and collar
- Weight3 pounds
Osiris puts some luxury into their skateboard shoes, and trust us, these will spoil you rotten. First and foremost, you’ve got a ruggedly reinforced outsole that withstands road rash and some serious wipeouts. That protection transcends into your collar, where you’re provided with excellent padding and comfort. If you’re not a fan of the style we’ve picked out, that’s cool: you can click through and find over fifteen different styles, all with the same great skate shoe build. Quickly lace up, hit the road, and the day is yours to command. Osiris developed Men’s D3 Skate Shoe out of synthetic components for the exterior, making them extremely simple to clean and maintain. For more durable shoes, check out our Gore-Tex running shoes.
Outsole is designed to resist scrapes and wipeouts
Synthetic exterior w/ rubber insole
Padded collar w/ reinforced heel for better posture
Quick lacing system gets you on your board faster
Available in fifteen different styles
- ModelD3 2001
- Weight1.6 ounces
Last but not least, C1RCA comes at us with this stylish and classic AL50 Adrian Lopez Skate Shoe. Gentlemen, they keep this budget low and have a wide range of sizes and styles available to you. If you’re trying to get in on the ground floor and learn how to care for your skate shoes before you ante up to grab a pair of Nikes or Vans, this is the way to do it. Similar styles and construction to the most expensive options, padded collar and tongue for additional support, and a leather exterior to stand up against the test of time. Whatever you have in store for your skate shoes, they’ll be able to handle it. If you still aren’t certain what you’re looking for in a pair of skate shoes, take a peek below at our buying guide to get a better idea of the prime features that will ensure you get the most out of your purchase. They would make an ideal gift for skateboarders as well.
Leather exterior w/ rubber insole
Mesh tongue provides padding and breathability
Certified signature Adrian Lopez skate shoes
- Weight3 pounds
Skateboard Shoes Buying Guide and FAQ
You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you? We showed you the ten best skateboard shoes for men, but now it’s time to talk about what makes them tick. Keep reading to figure out what we’ve done to make this selection, as well as information on cleaning and caring for your skate shoes.
How We Chose Our Selection of Skateboard Shoes
Brand - Brand is a biggie here, especially in the style department. There are a million department store knock-off versions of skateboard shoes, but there’s only a certain amount of quality brands that really hit the nail on the head. You’ll see Nike, Vans, DC and other great brands on this list because they truly know what it means to make an amazing skateboard shoe.
Quality - Quality and brand are associated, and while we’re telling you that brand matters, it doesn’t mean you should blindly follow a brand’s history. You have to take a look under the hood and the quality of your shoe, and determine if it’s going to be worthwhile to snag it. This all relies on materials, user reviews, the expected lifespan and more.
Reviews - User reviews help us determine what we should be looking for in order to narrow our scope. We buy and test all these shoes, and if we didn’t have hundreds or thousands of reviews to scan through, it would be a blind process. User reviews are the preliminary round of how we determine what’s worth our time, and worth your readership.
Durability - The age-old worth of any footwear. Your skate trainers need to hold up against the harsh and unforgiving world, otherwise, you’ll just burn through your skateboard sneakers in a matter of months, and not have the proper capital lined up to grab a new pair. Durability, lifespan, however you want to put it, is a matter of materials and proper sizing (wide feet plus narrow shoe equals a recipe for disaster).
Design - These wouldn’t be men’s skate shoes if they didn’t follow the formula, the iconic look that all skate shoes have to fall into. The best skate shoes come with a classic design, and a few aesthetic elements that really turn heads, and showcase just how dynamically different a specific pair can be.
Price - When hasn’t price impacted your purchase decision? When it comes to quality men’s skate shoes, sometimes you have to ante up if you have any hope of getting the right pair that’s going to last a lifetime. We’ve mixed in higher quality brands that come with a bigger price tag, but also some budget-friendly options to keep your wallet stacked with cash.
Features to Look for in Skateboard Shoes
Materials - You’re going to run into a lot of leather and synthetic materials. That’s a good thing: it’s what these skateboard shoe companies should be aiming for. High durability materials hold up against wipeouts and incorrect footing. If your skate shoes develop some battle scars, that’s awesome, just so long as those scars don’t tear through the material entirely.
Stitching - Ever paid attention to the stitching on your shoes before? You will now. You can easily spot shoddy stitch work on a pair of inexpensive department store kicks, and the even, thorough stitches of a prime skate shoe. It seems insignificant, but if they can’t get the stitches down (you know, the things holding your shoes together), then what else did they skimp out on that you can’t see?
Sole Type - You’re going to withstand some impacts, at least more than an average Joe would while just walking around. Your board can be brutal on your feet, which is why you’ll see a lot of rubber insoles on most of these shoes. They give you shock absorption, while also keeping your heel nice and comfortable at the same time.
Fit - Buying shoes online always have that one fear: what if they don’t fit? Because of their unique design, skate shoes have a bit more room to swim than traditional sneakers, so even if you’re half-a-size off, you should still be good to go. Most of these brands have had enough item returns that they’ve ironed-out the sizing charts.
Types of Skateboard Shoes
High-Cut - The old-school Converse look that everyone rocked in 90’s punk rock. You remember, right? High-cut or high-top sneakers give you less mobility around your ankles, but also provide you with more coverage in case of a nasty spill. Yeah, you have socks, but cotton thread versus leather colliding with pavement? Give me a break.
Mid-Cut - Somewhere in between high and low, mid-cut or mid-top sneakers are the perfect blend between ankle protection, and retaining mobility. You have to display your dexterity when you’re zipping down the road, you have to be up for anything. Mid-cuts are a great way to achieve a balance.
Low-Cut - Low-cuts, low-tops, call them whatever you want. These are a fan favorite for their epic look, and give you the most mobility for your ankles. If you’re pulling some sneaky maneuvers, you’ll want as much movement as possible. Just keep in mind that you’ll have the least amount of leg protection.
Differences Between Skate Shoe and Standard Shoes
They’re not just titled differently, they’re built differently. Skateboard shoes come with a few differentiating features that really give you an entirely different feel while wearing them.
For one, you have padded collars and tongues which you don’t find as often on standard trainers. Your ankles are undergoing some quick jerking motions, and when they’re bending forward, the padding helps to cushion any joint damage you might incur. As for the collars, that adds comfort, and when you’re grinding on the board for three-and-a-half hours, you’ll take every bit of cushioning you can get.
Next, we get onto the bottom grips that help you maintain proper contact with the board. Most sneakers have this weird, not-really-helpful series of grips underneath that work on pavement, and not much else. Skateboard shoes are designed to remain on grip tape with little to no problem, but also help with traction on pavement so you can come to a stop instead of skidding on the asphalt. If you wipe out, you want to get back on your feet and stay there. Standard shoes will have you slipping around from the momentum.
The last major difference between skateboard shoes and standard shoes that we want to talk about is the outsole. You’ll notice that our top pick, Vans, has a unique waffle exterior on the outsole. If you take a look at our guide on the best Vans shoes, you’ll see that they’re on just about every pair. They stick to their skating roots. It helps keep contact with the grip tape, but also concrete if need be.
Skateboard Shoes FAQ
Q: What Are Skateboard Shoes?
A: Skateboard shoes are sneakers designed with nothing but skateboarding in mind. You might find some pairs that are also great for walking, but they’re primarily used to skate. Skate shoes come with specific grips along the bottom, as well as a thicker, more stuck-out outsole to help keep your stance on the grip tape of your skateboard. They also have a style all their own which is far too often emulated in dollar-store brands, making genuine brands really stand out.
Q: Are Skateboard Shoes Good for Walking?
A: They’re not built for it, but when you look at the features in skate shoes, they actually make decent walking shoes. That is if you’re solely sticking to the city.
Skateboard shoes help to keep major traction and retain your stance when you’re on rough concrete. They often have vulcanized rubber along the outsole, which basically means they’re going to hold up very well against contact with man-made materials.
So in short, if you’re going on a nature walk or up a dirt path, your skate shoes are going to get stuck-up with dirt and not be very useful at all. They’re best in their natural environment: on grip tape, and on concrete, and that’s about it.
Q: Do Skateboard Shoes Make a Difference?
A: If you’re actually a skater, then yes, otherwise you’re just trendy. Skateboard shoes help you keep your center of gravity on your board, which is absolutely huge. You’ll see the best pro skaters in the world wipeout because they doubted themselves for a half-a-second. Why did they doubt themselves? They felt their center of gravity being thrown off.
If you were to walk from one end of your house to the other, you’d be pretty confident, with a clear path, that you wouldn’t trip. You’re mentally prepared to walk, not to trip or fall. When you make that walk and you trip, you think “Oh no, how could this happen to me?” and you lose your footing. Whether you hit the ground or recover doesn’t matter, that’s you losing your center of gravity, if only for a moment.
Now picture that while you’re grinding or you’ve just launched from the half-pipe. It’s a lot scarier, and you need every bit of help you can get. We talk about vulcanized rubber, outsole designs, all that good stuff, but they all play back into your center of gravity, and retaining control and grip on your board. You’re not going to get that with standard trainers.
Q: How Should I Tie the Laces on my Skateboard Shoes?
A: You’ve got a couple of options. Your main goal is to keep the laces out of your way while skating, but you also don’t want to look like a dork and duck them into the collar of the shoe. Besides it looking bad, it usually doesn’t hold up very well.
You’ll want to stick to three different lacing methods: cross lace, zipper lace, and straight lace. We’ve provided a video below to show you the best way to lace up.
Q: How Long Does a Pair of Skateboard Shoes Usually Last?
A: Well, that’s up to you. You can find average life expectancies and all that good stuff, but it’s all about how much you use them, and how rough you are on your footwear.
If you’re skating every single day (big up from us, respect) then you’re going to burn through them faster. Even though they’re better for contact with the grip tape on your board, you still have to imagine that grinding against it for hours on end is going to begin to wear down the rubber.
A good quality pair of skate shoes, ones that you use for about ten hours a week on your board, should be able to last you between three to five years. That means proper care, giving them a little rinse and scrub every now and again, and not letting bacterial growth eat away at the interior. Grab odor eaters, use the baking soda trick, but do not let them fall out of sorts.
Q: How do I Make Skate Shoes Last Longer?
A: One way to keep them for longer is to ensure they’re properly protected. You’ll need to get a high-quality waterproof shoe spray to withstand unexpected puddles and rainfall that you endure before you’re able to get indoors.
You should also be airing them out instead of letting them sit in a cubby. Well, ventilated areas are essential to preventing massive bacterial growth. One of the most common reasons that you have to retire your skate shoes is that bacterial damage has burned through the insole, and then worked its way into the midsole. Combined with inevitable wear and tear from the bottom of your shoes versus grip tape and concrete, it’s not something you want.
Lastly, you should be stuffing them when they’re dry and not being used. Some balled-up newspaper (who has a newspaper lying around anymore, or more practically, a brown paper bag from the grocery store. Stuff the shoes to help maintain their shape. Drooping toe boxes and skewed heels, even if they’re just sitting in an odd shape when you took them off most recently, will slowly bend and damage your materials.