Vans Rowley Solo Review

Vans Rowley Solos, fresh out of the box and on our feet.

Vans Rowley Solos, fresh out of the box and on our feet.

Any model from Geoff Rowley’s catalog of skate shoes is undoubtably on any skater’s list of favorite shoes of all-time. He’s modified his models to fit with the times and then went against the grain to skate vulcanized models when everyone else was stuck in the puffy skate shoe era. With that in mind, his latest model from Vans holds true to that groundbreaking mentality of skating thin & boardfeel-enhanced models.

Review Information
The review was done using our month long format. The shoe was skated for a total of 20 hours (with a fresh sheet of Mob grip for all you nerds out there). Check below for each grading. We base our rating from 1 – 10, “10” being the best and “1” being the absolute worst.

Disclaimer: We unintentionally skipped the 15 Hour photo. Sorry 🙁 <3

Sizing & Support
Every shoe from Vans that we’ve ever skated falls in line with being True To Size and the Solos are no different. This vulcanized model is as lean as a skate shoe can get unless you’re thinking of how bare the Rowley SPV’s were. With the Solos, everything from the insole to the design were all about bare necessities. A Duracap Ollie guard, the trusty Vans waffle outsole and one-piece toe bring you one of Vans’ most basic-yet-sufficient models.
Short Answer: True To Size

Comfort & Cushioning
In terms of comfort, if you’re on the heavier side you might want to replace the insole to Vans pro insole or any other insole that fits your preference. While the PU insole feels good, it isn’t as thick or supportive as their pro insoles are. If you have the opportunity, swap them out and drastically improve your Rowley Solo experience. There isn’t much arch support within the stock insole, which depreciating the comfort value of this shoe, but given its vulcanized construction, you shouldn’t expect to hit a 10 stair in these without feeling sore. The Rowley Solos are ideal for low-impact skating, ledges, manual pads and any other obstacle that is somewhat easy on the knees.

Comfort & Cushion: 6 – As a thin and boardfeel-enhanced model, the Solos will be comfortable enough to skate in, but we can’t envision wearing them every post-session. The PU insole does feel good, but isn’t substantial enough to provide all day comfort. 

From 5 (top) to 20 Hours (bottom) of skating with the Rowley Solo's

From 5 (top) to 20 Hours (bottom) of skating with the Rowley Solo’s

Boardfeel & Grip
As you’d expect, the boardfeel is about a level up from the SPVs if you don’t opt to swap out the insoles. It’s the traditional boardfeel that you’ve come to expect and love from Vans. The same can be said with the traditional waffle grip – although, as we’ve pondered in the past, it seems as though Vans has improved the quality of their rubber outsole, as the durability is a bit better than what we normally experience (and we’re using MOB grip so that says a lot).

Boardfeel: 10 – You won’t have nearly as much boardfeel as the SPV’s (those rank as practically skating barefoot) but these Solo’ are probably lower to the ground than most skate shoes in today’s market.
Grip: 8 – If you’ve skated any of Vans traditional waffle sole shoe, you know that the grip is prime quality. Honestly, while they’ve been known to bald fairly easily in the past, it looks as though Vans has improved their rubber quality.

Durability & Flick
Since our FG of the Solos, we stand by the shoe’s narrow toe but that didn’t necessarily equate to a favorable flick. The kickflip groove that we come to enjoy for its limited time wasn’t as satisfying as it normally is because the Solo’s vamp isn’t rounded enough to have it play a part once the foxing tape is worn down. In fact, with the Solos, it felt best flicking once they were fresh out of the box. Normally, Vans has a pattern of creating straightforward foxing tape that almost has an edge to it, but the Solo’s sole rounded around the toe of the shoe and flicks perfectly for those same reasons.

For such a thin suede model, the durability was surprising. As mentioned above, this probably has more to do with the construction of the vamp more than anything else. The sole on the Solo’s will take the blunt of the abuse while the suede will later come into play.

Overall Durability: 7 – While we all skate shoes differently, we can all agree that Vans aren’t the most durable shoes. To counter that point from a negative to a positive, those who favor Vans do so because of their superior boardfeel, instant break-in and comfort. The outsole lwore out last, which was strange, and even though the Duracap side panel didn’t come in handy for us, we can only imagine that it’s drastically extending the Solo’s lifespan on other people’s feet.

This is a kickflip friendly shoe. From 5 (top) to 20 hours (bottom) with the Rowley Solos.

This is a kickflip friendly shoe. From 5 (top) to 20 hours (bottom) with the Rowley Solos.

Final Thoughts:
The Solos fill two important categories in skate shoes- great boardfeel and a comfortability that lets you skate with all the confidence of its endorser’s name. While this shoe isn’t the most supportive in terms of a sturdy insole or midsole, with the simple swap of the insole, the Solos drastically improve to another level of comfort. The shoe’s construction allows for many, if not all insoles.

The best benefit of getting the Solos for any loyal Vans consumer is that it picks up where the timeless Era falls short. The Duracap Ollie pad, along with a narrow toe makes the Rowley Solo’s a favorable shoe amongst anyone who’s willing to pick them up.


  1. Mayor Grimble

    September 10, 2015 9:58pm

    Just started skating the Olive colorway (even though they’re goldish-yellow). I’m glad that you suggested using the Pro insoles instead of the ones that come with the shoe. That definitely added a lot of comfort for me on and off the board. Overall, I’m really impressed with the shoe. I’ve had to mess around with the laces to find an ideal tightness so that they don’t feel like a Dylan shoe (super narrow) but also so they don’t fall off when I push.

    The softer foxing tape is also something that takes some getting used to, especially if you are used to the original stuff that Vans uses on most other models. I found my kickflips turning into Dolphin flip-to-benihana attempts because the tape is so much softer and grippier than what I’ve previously used. I’m still a few sessions in with these shoes, so I’m hoping that effect subsides so I don’t have to alter my flick. Other than that, the canvas on the ollie/duracap area has held up surprisingly well, which is a step in the right direction as far as durability is concerned. In the same regard, it’s encouraging to see that the waffle sole is still surprisingly intact after 20 hours of skating. I don’t think many competitors will have an answer to a waffle sole that offers the best grip to begin with and then durability that can possibly outlast the upper of the shoe. Really exciting stuff!

    Overall, I’m stoked on the shoe. It is a good feeling to look down at my board and see a sick looking shoe. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I feel confident that I look dope in a shoe, it translates into confidence in my skating. I think Vans hit the mark on a functional low-profile shoe with this model.

  2. Mike C

    September 18, 2015 10:46pm

    As i read this article, one question seems to be popping into my head repeatedly; what makes these any different/better than the era pros?

  3. MIKE

    October 13, 2015 1:55pm

    Hey, I have some old shoes (Vita manufacturing, genetic, etc.) that I was wondering if you guys would want maybe reviewed for like a look back at what skate shoes used to be, like the big bulky shoes. I wouldnt mind messing em up for the site, just let me know, thanks 🙂

    • Ripped Laces

      October 14, 2015 12:53am

      Hey bud, feel free to email us at info AT Ripped Laces DOT com. (Spelled out for spam reasons) 😀

  4. Vin Noe

    October 17, 2015 4:34pm

    And Geof Rowley knows better too. Even the XLTs were better than this.

  5. allaner

    December 31, 2015 7:14pm

    Just re-issue the Vans Salman Agah shoe.

  6. Isaac Wathieu

    March 10, 2017 12:05am

    Can I get some ripped laces stickers?


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