The skater shoe, the icon of the 90’s, every punk musician’s best friend. Vans isn’t just a name that’s been pinned to Warped Tour; they’re one of America’s most iconic and cherished shoe companies to date. Of course, I’m preaching to the choir; you know that, that’s why you came here to find the best of the best. If there’s one thing we know, it’s men’s apparel, and how to add the right stylistic elements to completely shift a style, and complete your look. As Vans-wearers ourselves, we’re proud to say that we own most of these pairs, and have had others recommended to us by close friends. It’s a list of Vans shoes, by Vans fanatics; what could go wrong?
The Best Vans Shoe
We’re kicking it off with a classic, the shoe that’s out in over twenty-five styles, and the ultimate foot buddy to pop some flair in your day. One way or another, checkerboard designs have always resurfaced, and of the multiple options, these had to be our favorite. Their trademark slip-on shoes remove the fuzzy mess of frayed strings, while offering a nice comfortable fit. Vans are known for their waffle outsole, which adds a bit of traction, and gives you a nice bit of bounce in your step whenever you’re kicking up dust. The canvas construction makes it simple to clean, while the vulcanized fabric keeps this shoe moving even when you think it’s going to quit. Durable and hot as hell, the checkerboard slip-ons take the cake.
Signature waffle outsole, giving you the unique bounce in your step
- ModelU CLASSIC SLIP-ON
- Weight1.76 pounds
We couldn’t, in good conscience, not put the shoes of our childhood up on the list. The Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate was the original Vans shoe (and original shoe period) that began the stripe trend along exterior sole. It defined a generation, and gave skaters just enough breathing room to stay cool, but tight enough not to interfere with their moves. If you’re up for some nostalgia, you can check out just about any punk music video from the 90’s and see this pair on multiple musical icons. Apart from the signature look, you get the waffle outsole for durability, which was super important for traction on the top of a board, and a rubber sole for durability. Vans utilizes a vulcanized construction method to keep this durable and flexible, making it the only shoe you’ll need. Be sure to also check out our list of the best Etnies shoes for men for more great items like this.
Vulcanized construction for breathability
Durable beyond compare
- Weight2.09 pounds
Down for a bit of low-profile footwear? Up close, they’re signature Vans, giving you some representation of your favorite sneaker brand in North America. When you get under the tongue, they’re a superior build to many knock-offs that try to spot the same style. Made of durable canvas and dense rubber, Bearcat Vans Shoes won’t wear down on you anytime soon; Vans is about style and quality, or if you’re an avid GH reader, function and flair. They added a touch of suede up top to give you a textured look, and that unique Vans feeling – you know, the one you can recall right now on the tops of your feet.
Supportive midsoles; authentic EVA die-cut
Canvas and rubber construction
Touch of suede for a textured look and feel
- Weight2 pounds
You don’t much more of an elitist name, and completely immaculate shoe than when you go with Vans. Even the name gives you chills, and the pristine kicks (along with 2,300 customers who fell in love with these shoes), all agree: they’re a posh look that Vans has built part of their empire on. Sporting the low-cut look, this signature set of sneakers gives you ample support along your arch, while providing a comfortable heel rest that keeps fatigue at bay. Vans are notoriously lightweight and thinner shoes, which is why they only use the highest quality materials to prove that thin doesn’t mean fragile. It doesn’t matter where you’re goin, who you’re with, or how you get there; all that matter is that you take Vans Authentic along for the ride to dress to impress.
Synthetic sole material
Metal lace eyelets
Low-cut w/ supportive arch
- Weight2.43 pound
The unisex skate shoe never went out of style. Vans brought the perfect hybrid between skate and bass practice, emboldening these shoes with their signature midsole line, and flattering stitch shape to give your feet length, while the rubber outsoles give you a touch of height. If you’ve ever been ultra rough on your shoes, you can appreciate metal eyelets that keep your laces exactly where they’re supposed to be; you’ve got it covered with Low-Top Lace-Up Skate Shoes. Alternatively, you’re able to buy with confidence; nearly every single purchase review of these shoes state that you get the size you picked. In a world where buying online is convenient, but ultimately risky, Vans took the guesswork out of the equation.
Canvas and rubber construction
Padded collar for maximum comfort
- Weight12 ounces
Skating is still alive, but if it’s been a while since you retired your board, Atwood can help yuo get back in the action. You get thirty-one different style and color combinations to choose from, making this one of the most universally designed shoe models that Vans has ever come out with. The low-top style and synthetic sole make for a stylish look, and a nearly naked feel, while still providing you with the durable protection offered by the canvas construction. No skate shoe would be complete without Vans custom waffle outsole grip, keeping you stuck to the board like velcro, and offering a touch of slip resistance for your daily commute. If you’re all about casual Fridays at the office, it’s time to show your coworkers your true colors.
Available in 31 alternate styles/colors
Signature waffle outsole grip
- Weight12 ounces
Okay, this is where it gets tricky. I own these shoes, and absolutely love them. This pair has lasted for a little over three years so far, without too much wear-and-tear. Like the Atwoods, you’re able to select any of thirty-one different styles and colors, making Men’s Sk8-Hi™ Classics a truly versatile shoe. High-tops are just the way to go, especially when you’re trying to look professional, but still want to show who you really are. Vans threw their signature waffle design along the bottom, making these excellent for skating and parkour, while the solid construction keeps them nice and sturdy; not a stitching out of place. Vans are an investment in your style – are you ready to make the commitment?
31 different designs to choose from
- Weight2.87 pounds
You can never go wrong with all-black, especially when it comes to the perfect comfort sneaker like the Dockets. This blend of suede and leather give you a comfortable look, and an even nicer interior. If they were any softer, it would be like wearing slippers outside. One beautiful thing about this design, is that no matter how wide your feet are, they fit right in thanks to the comfortable construction. Instead of the regular rubber, you’ll be rocking gum rubber soles for additional shock absorption and impact control. Built for style more than for sport, the Dockets are a way to represent Vans, and add a new design element to your unique style.
Primary suede and leather construction
Gum rubber soles
Rep Vans with the embroidered logo
- Weight1 pounds
Remember when they came out with these little beauties? While they’re not issued for parkour, they’re excellent for it, as well as skating. Kyle Walker’s only official shoe comes from Vans, sporting some seriously unique features that you won’t see on any competitor’s shoes. From the UltraCrush HD impact absorption technology, right on down to the DURACAP reinforcement, this is one shoe that’s destined to outlive us all. You’re going to rock whatever the hell you’re wearing, and flaunt one of the most attractive and concise designs ever put out by Vans. You get a comfortable rubber sole and suede exterior, giving you comfort and grace with every step you take.
DURACAP upper reinforcement for advanced durability
Signature Kyle Walker shoes only sold by Vans
UltraCrush HD impact resistant sockliner
- Weight12 ounces
If you thought we were winding down to the less exciting pairs on this list, it’s time to think again. We chose to cover fifteen, because ten wouldn’t. Chukka Low has a blend of fabric and synthetic material for the construction, while also sporting a padded tongue and accompanying padded collar to give you the most comfortable sneaker you’ve ever worn. You even get an UltraCrush footbed to provide additional cushioning, making it a ripe pair to pick for skating and parkour. Vans tossed their signature waffle outsole onto this bad boy, while keeping inlign with the slimming shape to add definition to your feet. As one of the least expensive pairs of Vans on the market, they focused on comfort and style, and really drove the poin thome.
Available in over ten different styles
Fabric and synthetic design
Padded tongue and collar for added support
- Weight12 ounces
As one of their newer models, the Chima Pro 2” Sneakers haven’t been reviewed by many, but after personally testing these out, I really didn’t want to take them off. These median-priced shoes come with the signature waffle outsole, but really bring it in nice and heavy on the design element. These shoes come with inverted lace and tongue colors, giving you a completely zen, yin and yang aesthetic. Blending these into the appropriate clothes has a certain power to it, turning your look into a cohesive, well thought-out style. With the slimming white stripes along the exterior, as well as the ultra comfortable rubber insoles, you get the Vans quality you’ve come to know and love, and a look that practically nobody is rocking yet. Are you a trendsetter, or not?
Zen black-and-white inverted design
Comfortable rubber insoles
Signature waffle outsole
- Weight2.09 pounds
Sick of the signature look? Head into the more unknown side of Vans with a totally flipped design aspect that will quickly become one of your favorites in the lineup. With a raised edge around the tongue, you get an entirely different dimensional attribute to the norm. Three laces on each side, plus the accompanying laces running through the eyelets give you a flattering appearance, especially when put in contrast with the midsole stripe. They look good, feel better, and last even longer – these skate shoes come made of tough canvas and heavy leather, making it a little bit heavier than a standard Vans classic cut, while providing fortified durability. The elements have nothing on the Chauffeur SF skate shoes.
Slip-on design with heavy canvas and leather construction
- Weight2 pounds
There are some sneakers that are just built for function, but the Half Cabs were designed for those of you who prefer style above all else. Inexpensive and durable beyond compare, the Half Cabs focus on bold style, and tone down on the fancy footwork with stripes and slimming stitch lines. You get a solid white rubber midsole base, contrasting against the midnight blue canvas and snow white laces. Keep them tightly-tied, or let loose and leave the top two metal eyelets completely open. The choice is yours, but the notoriety isn’t; if you’re strutting your stuff in the Half Cabs, you can be sure to gain some positive attention.
Canvas construction w/ synthetic sole
- Weight12 ounces
Putting the spotlight on a few pairs of fashion sneakers just felt right, especially after rocking the Chukka Midtop sneakers like a champ. These suede exterior shoes seriously go along with just about anything in your closet, and amplify the suave effects of your slickest set of attire. With a comfortable rubber sole and self-tie closure, they’re as functional and comfortable as they are bad-ass. We’re big fans of the ebony-and-grey blend, though you can swap it out from the brown gum set if you’d prefer. Intricate stitching and metal eyelets add another layer of depth to these, but you’re going to add the finishing touch when you slip it on.
Suede construction for comfort and a cushy look
Last but not least, we have a new player to the game that’s fresh off the presses. The Alomar Suede Indo shoes come in spruce yellow, mimicking the style of Timberland’s famous boots, but in a cost-effective shoe (seriously, you’re spending a couple of Andrew Jackson’s here, at most). We were stoked to try a new product sporting all of the excellent Vans brand classics: a rubber sole, sturdy suede construction, and a style that adds depth to your personal unique look. You’re looking for custom elements to make yourself noticed? You got ‘em.
Spruce yellow style that resembles Timberland boots
Vans Shoes Buying Guide and FAQ
There’s a lot to love about Vans, but out of the hundreds of models they’ve made over the years, how did we whittle it down to just fifteen pairs? If you keep reading, you’ll find that out, and a hell of a lot more.
Which Pair do I Choose: What to Consider
Style - Everyone has a unique sense of style. We can’t tell you what style looks best on you, but we can point you in the right direction. We chose this selection based off of neutral colors and/or designs that are applicable to most situations and wardrobe preferences of our readers.
Design - If you’ve always wondered the defining differences between style and design, we’re about to lay down the law: style is aesthetic appeal, design is structural. The design of your sneaker should be optimal in supporting your arches, heels, and your back. Apart from that, if they’re not comfortable, then why bother wearing them? Design takes all this into consideration.
Versatility - From casual Fridays straight to the skate park, you need a design that doesn’t have to be hidden away like that awkward relative up in the attic. Versatility means you’re not going to embarrass yourself when you switch from one style to the other. We’re not saying to wear Vans to the red carpet, but they should contour to your lifestyle.
Material - Some of us just can’t handle certain materials. We know gents who can’t handle suede, and guys who think canvas feels cheap. At the end of the day, it’s about two things: preference, and our next topic, durability.
Durability - How long are they going to last? Some guys are just way tougher on shoes than anyone else, but even so, you’re making an investment. We took the time to make sure that these aren’t going to be four-month runners; Vans is built to last.
Fit - It’s tough as nails to figure out how it’s going to fit, when you’re sitting behind a computer screen. We get it, but have to say that Vans has done an impeccable job at ensuring that these sizes all follow a certain sense of consistency; it’s part of the reason that they’re still one of the leading brands sold both online and off.
Why Choose Vans: The Brand Story
Vans broke out in California in 1966, and sold a whopping dozen pairs on their first day. Those pairs are basically legendary among shoe aficionados, and it all took off from there. When the skating trend continued from the late 40’s right on through the 60’s, especially in Cali, Vans quickly became known as one of the most high quality skating shoes of the time. That reputation obviously stayed with them, because they were just as big in the 1990’s as they were back then, and still are today.
So why choose Vans? They’re durable, stylish, and jaw-dropping when you get the right pair that fit your unique style. Vans are the go-to for skaters and casual gents all across the globe, because they come with an identity, a brand that reveals a little bit about who you are, without giving it all away. Why choose Vans? Because they effing rock.
How to Clean Vans Shoes
You have a few different primary materials that Vans come with, so we broke it down into each shoe type, with the easiest way to clean each.
Suede - There’s such a thing as a suede cleaning brush, which makes it child’s play to clean. Seriously, just be gentle, and it’s a foolproof method to erase stains and lift dirt.
Canvas - Canvas is halfway resistant between leather and suede, but still encounters its issues. Don’t throw these in the washing machine, whatever you do. That’s the fastest way to deteriorate their quality, and fade the colors. Using a gentle bristle brush and 91% or more rubbing alcohol. It lifts stains, and actually sanitizes your shoes. Bonus info: this method works well to clean the insoles, and reduce odors.
Leather - Pledge works absolute wonders for leather, but so does Latson’s leather cleaning kit. Since Vans don’t traditionally have an all-leather build (at least none of the ones on this list), you’ll be using these products sparingly.
Vans vs. Converse
You’re talking about the two most desired shoes on the planet. It’s like a Sox and Yankees kind of deal; when you love one, you usually don’t love the other. These shoes have been competitors, but never rivals. We’re advocates of both type, but the key differences can be seen in a few bulleted points.
- Vans are the main skate shoe, while Converse are the musician’s shoe
- Whether you pick Converse or Vans, you’re going to get a mix of prices that mirror each other
- Converse usually have thinner walls and bottoms, while Vans are a bit thicker and plusher
- Vans have their custom waffle bottom for skateboard grip, while Converse are more suitable for indoor use
Vans Shoes FAQ
Q: Do Vans Shoes Provide Support?
A: Vans are notorious for having thick rubber soles. These both add to the durability of the sneaker bottom, meaning you get more steps out of them before your feet touch the pavement (it takes years to get them that worn-down). They provide support, but if you suffer from having flat feet, you can always add an additional gel insole to optimize your comfort.
Q: Are Vans Shoes Comfortable?
A: We would categorize them in two different levels of comfort: plush and soft, and then there’s economic. Both are comfortable, but the plush and soft are generally made of suede and rubber insoles, giving you a walking-on-a-cloud feeling. Economic comfort means you’re getting a little less material, they’re still comfortable, but you’re also paying a bit less. These ones are usually made out of canvas and bits of leather.