Connor Kammerer’s Top 10 Non-Skate Shoes To Skate

Before jumping into this list, consider watching Connor’s Tengu part (if you haven’t already). It’ll give you all the reference points you’ll need to understand the reasoning behind this list.

“I put together this write-up of the shoes that I used in the Tengu part. It’s hard to know where to draw the line with supporting skate companies. I definitely feel an obligation to support skateboarder-owned companies that make skateboards, trucks and wheels. And I think it’s important to support companies whose production factories are connected in some way to skateboarding. If there were a Chinese skateboard company whose factory was staffed by skaters in China, I would back it wholly. The trend of everything being produced abroad by workers who are taken advantage of for their cheap labor is disconcerting. Of course this problem is bigger than the skateboarding industry, but skateboard companies have become a part of it. Luckily, somehow, many good deck, wheel and truck companies still produce everything in the US despite the smaller profit margin. We should support them.

I don’t feel any obligation to support skate clothing companies. I doubt anyone really does. Consolidated isn’t going to come out with a smear campaign against Dickies. If skater-owned companies make nice clothes and do well, I’m really happy for them as a fellow skateboarder, but it’s not my duty to buy their products.

Skate shoes lie somewhere between the board and clothing. Literally, they’re directly between them. The only thing that makes them lean to one side is the fact that they’re all produced in factories abroad (China, Vietnam, etc) because the labor is cheap. Whether they’re Nike or Lakai, I’m pretty sure they were actually hand-made by someone who couldn’t care less about skateboarding. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the factory workers or the companies for doing what they have to in order to produce competitively-priced shoes. But I don’t know if I feel an obligation to support the skater-owned shoe companies either. Would I rather Mike Carroll and Rick Howard turn a profit off skate shoes made in China than Mark Parker? Certainly. Am I going to let that stop me from buying some $10 Nikes at Goodwill if they look good for skating? Probably not. Skaters have been trying out all kinds of shoes since skating started and there’s nothing wrong with that.

And if Vans is going to do this with my money, I’d rather give it to someone else anyway.”
-Connor Kammerer

10. Lugz Sparks

10. Lugz Sparks

These shoes were hands-down the worst of the bunch. The soles were felt, the footbed was cardboard and the glue came apart after a few days of skating in them. They were $19, but weren’t worth it. After this shoe’s trial and error, I should have known better.

9. Onitsuka Tiger Fabre BL-S

9 & 8. Onitsuka Tiger Fabre BL-S / Fabre DC-S

Asics also have a pretty long history as adopted skate shoes. The first person I saw skating in them was Alex Hansen, but I’m sure people have been using them a long time. Japanese God Takahiro Morita is even sponsored by them, and has been for years. I heard that they were working on a skate team in Japan, but I also heard it went off the tracks somewhere. Most people I know who skate Asics in Japan use the Fabre BL-S. As far as vulcanized shoes go, they’re amazing. The suede upper lasts long, the rubber is perfect and strangely long-lasting and the sole takes a long time to wear out. The Fabre DC-S is the cupsole version and they’re also great.


7.Tommy Hilfiger’s Elliot

These shoes, like the Timberland chukkas, had rubber that was a little harder than normal skate shoes. They lasted a long time and felt good but weren’t quite as grippy as skate shoes should be. The footbed under the insole was also made of particleboard or something, and came apart after a while. Well worth it at $19, but not ideal.
6. Airwalk/STPL The One

6. Airwalk/STPL The One

I got these at Unique on Fulton street in Brooklyn for 8 dollars. Apparently they were a horrible flop for Airwalk and Payless when they came out, but I don’t understand why. They were cheap and felt the same as the original Airwalk Ones, which are classics. A few years ago you could buy all-black Ones at Payless for $20, but those were terrible. They suffered from the worst thing you can come across when looking for cheap skate shoes, felt soles. This is what keeps Converse at Target, Polo shoes and many others from being decent skate shoes. It seems that the reason cheap shoes have felt soles is so they can be categorized as slippers and save companies on import taxes. Airwalk has reissued a lot of shoes now separate from Payless and they’re great. I hope that goes well for them and one day they reissue the Jason Lee’s or Tony Hawk’s.

5.Rockport's McCruiz

5.Rockport’s McCruiz

Another pair of shoes not to be messed with unless you find them on sale since they retail new for about 90 dollars. I found them for 40 at Marshalls or something. They felt great and lasted long. The laces are up high and never rip, the rubber is grippy and thick, and wingtips are coincidentally perfectly suited for toe and ollie area protection. The only downside is that there is no padding at all in the collar.

4.Vision's Suede Hi

4.Vision‘s Suede Hi

I got these at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. It’s a place where they sell everything collected from airline luggage that’s never claimed. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there, including the Hoggle puppet/suit from Labyrinth. Someone must have checked a bag with these shoes in it and never picked it up. They’re about as durable as vulcanized shoes get. There are rubber caps all over, and anything that’s not rubber is thick suede. They’re heavy, but have good board feel typical of vulcanized shoes and the sole will go before anything else.

3.New Balance Pro Court

3.New Balance Pro Court, as previously mentioned.

I got a lot of use out of these shoes not because they were very durable, but because they felt great. There’s a slight rubber toecap that’s really grippy and makes it so the toe area doesn’t blow out fast. You’ll probably have to superglue a patch of suede to the side because the canvas in the ollie area goes quickly. The sole went kind of quickly too comparable to Vans vulcanized shoes. The soles are also really thin, so you may need to switch out the insoles.

2.Timberland's Plain Toe Chukka

2.Timberland’s Plain Toe Chukka

Despite being canvas, these shoes were really durable. The canvas was thick and multi-layered, so it took a long time to deteriorate. The sole was really thick and outlasted the upper. They also have a thing like Adidas skate shoes where the heel is thicker than the forefoot so you can have some heel padding and still feel your board. I stopped using them after the ollie area got a hole in it and the grip at the toe wore down too much, but it took a long time. One complaint is that the rubber doesn’t stay very grippy for long. It may be that the rubber used in these shoes is a little harder than what is generally used in skate shoes, so it takes longer to wear down but doesn’t grip as well. Also, if you don’t find them on sale at 60% off like I did, they’re probably not worth it because they’re expensive at retail price.
1.Puma's Clyde

1.Puma’s Clyde

If I had to rate one pair of shoes the best it would be these. People have been skating in them for a long time, and they’re almost on the Adidas Superstar level of classic adopted skate shoes. The upper is durable suede, the rubber is grippy and they have a nice, thick cupsole. Those used to vulcanized shoes might think the sole is too thick, but the support is nice. Also, you can find them really cheap at discount stores all over.

If you haven’t already, buy a limited hard copy of Tengu.


  1. Ripped Laces

    June 18, 2014 9:30pm

    Added note: We’re well aware of Vision’s and Airwalk’s past as staple skate shoe brands but given their reputation of today, we have no choice but to consider them equals among the rest on this list.

  2. Street

    June 19, 2014 5:24pm

    What about chuck taylors? Ive skated like 3 pairs and got em for 14-30$ and skated good,one parir was black suede which was very nice compared to the flimsy canvas on other models.

  3. sroljokan

    June 19, 2014 5:56pm

    Airwalk shoe pictured looks more like Airwalk Jim shoe than Airwalk One.

  4. Stephen

    June 19, 2014 6:53pm

    Should have picked up some PF Flyers. They’re like Chuck Taylors but better in every way (the sole is kinda thick for a vuld but that’s subjective) and can be had for stupid cheap because no one wants them for some reason

  5. Ashtonion

    June 19, 2014 8:13pm

    surprisingly the Cesario low by creative recreation skates really good. the stitched cupsole is really grippy and takes a while to wear down, and the leather, canvas, suede, and synthetic materials on the shoe make it just as durable, even with the strap

  6. Adam

    June 20, 2014 12:47am

    I skated the Puma Clyde’s last year and they were the shit. They actually lasted a really long time and it took awhile before I tore a hole open in the flick area. I only really tried them thanks to Joey Brezinski. I agree though, I’m used to vulcanized, so it was a different transition into a thicker cupsole. Give them or any of the Puma suedes a try!

  7. James

    June 20, 2014 3:03am

    asics also makes the Fabre BL-L which is the hi top version, looks good but cant find my size anywere

  8. fifty8s

    June 20, 2014 3:36am

    I’ve skated in LA gears, asics and saucony when i first started skating back in 97…my dad didn’t believe in skate shoes. As long as the bottom sole ain’t shitty and the shoe fits snuggly I’m happy. Right now I’m skating some Mizunos and pretty happy with them

  9. Thomas Harding

    June 20, 2014 2:44pm

    If you’re really up for it, the felt on Airwalk’s cheapo payless models can be peeled and scraped off with a bit of effort, leaving a thin layer of gum rubber. A heat gun and some pliers really help the process.

  10. Satcheldockry

    June 20, 2014 6:24pm

    I skated a pair of Marc Ecko shoes called the Nado Troupe two years ago. They were all white leather but surprisingly skated very well. They ripped through a little too fast, but the flick was great which really surprised me for a full leather shoe that wasn’t even made by a skateboarding company.

  11. T.A.

    June 26, 2014 3:23am

    @STEPHEN: WINNER!!!! “Guaranteed to make a kid jump higher and run faster.” Love the P.F. Flyers. Points for not being lumped in with other Chuck-wearin’ lugheads, to boot.

    @FIFTY85: Same here. My brothers and I only got new shoes when we blew out the others. When we started skating, we really had to make ’em last; Mom wasn’t forkin’ over dough every other month. Some good shoes out there, though.

    I’ve always heard great things about the Pumas, but I never liked that logo. I know Kammerer’s not the only one out there like this, but it’s refreshing to see on the site/in video. The downside to sponsorship: limited variety. More power to him.

  12. magastowo

    June 30, 2014 4:31am

    I too skated the newbalance procourt. in fact I went back to the store i bought it from and bought another one as a back up. love skating in them… plus they are white!

  13. Kadir

    August 18, 2014 4:23pm

    I found thos pro courts in grey all suede can’t wait to try them out!

  14. Deez

    April 21, 2015 4:11am

    Airwalks are skate shoes, idiot.

  15. destro

    November 15, 2015 11:12am

    The Reebok Alperez is worth mentioning as well

  16. adam

    January 12, 2016 3:57am

    what’s up with the cardboard in the airwalk shoes? That should maybe be illegal! I just noticed it today after a walk to the store left me with a massive blister on the bottom of my heel. the rubber part is like corrigated, so it’s mostly air instead of rubber. Bastards!!!

    • Kyle

      April 20, 2017 7:30am

      Back in the day in the 90s they where the shit and good to skate with but nowadays they’re not made as well as they used to be not worth buying!¡!¡!¡

  17. Kyle

    April 20, 2017 7:27am

    I always used pumas to skate which were the best for me with them I was able to do a lot cleaner tricks with the Puma shoes because of the grips on the soles of the shoe and they are also very fashionable!¡!¡!¡

  18. M27 Hardcore Junglist

    May 13, 2017 5:10pm

    ive been rocking these ross pony lowtops…only $13..and they ride just like addidas
    to give into the for a shoe that works for you….youd be suprised what they might end up being.


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