The 10 Best Skate Shoes Of 2016

Which debuting shoe of 2016 deserves the #1 spot for S.S.O.T.Y.?

The last few years have seen a mostly-industry-wide focus on singular aspects – durability, materials, boardfeel, etc. 2016 was a little different, in a good way.

This year we saw most companies pushing towards making the best overall shoe possible with equal emphasis on all parts, not just one or two. Gone are the days of the flimsy vulc with no support in exchange for almost-too-great boardfeel. Gone, mostly and perhaps more notably, are the days of each company regurgitating each other’s models aka everyone having their version of the same shoe. This year we saw risks from every company who released new models, some working out very favorably and some less so.

With such impressive designs in 2016, there’s no question that the models featured below were standouts in the most progressive year of skate shoe history. As a result, we found ourselves ranking the models of this year by looking for more of what’s wrong with them rather than what’s right. If anything, this was a “Simpsons did it” year, with each release having solid competition in all the areas it excelled in and brands trying their best to make their version different and better.

While you may disagree with the formation of this list, you cannot deny the significance of each of these models in 2016.

*Disclaimer – To be considered for this list THE MODEL MUST BE A 2016 RELEASE and PREVIOUSLY UNAVAILABLE. New colorways/materials DON’T constitute a new release.

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10. NIKE SB KOSTON 3

In the past, Nike SB’s big risks have had a decent track record (the URL/E-Cue era, for example), but nobody saw this one coming. Considering Koston and longtime designer Shawn Carboy’s history, they could have just as easily continued along a similar path as previous Koston models and made an undoubtedly fine-but-expected pro model. Instead, the dynamic duo went with something never before done in skating. Rather than playing it safe, the Koston 3 challenged each and every one of us in one way or another, and there is literally no other shoe on this list that can claim that. Not bad for someone who could just as easily be coasting at this point.

Honorable mention: Bruin Hyperfeel

 

9. CONS METRIC CLS

No one would be upset if Converse continued to put out nothing but the CTS and, in considering that, we must celebrate their efforts with the Metric CLS. The progressive team model is a formidable cupsole that’s gained traction with those looking for quality protection. With an impressive midsole that gives off superior boardfeel without sacrificing support and an endoresee via Jake Johnson, there’s no question that the Metric CLS should have been on your “must try” list this year.

Honorable mention: Deck Star 67

 

 

8. DC WES KREMER 2

To make a shoe that is appealing to all types of skateboarders is a rare thing; there are so many scenes, so many opinions, so many looks and aesthetic preferences – it’s a wonder any shoe sells. DC took the opportunity this year to really dig deep into what skateboarders want in 2016, releasing some of their best and most universally enjoyable models since the ’90s, but it took the beloved-by-all Wes Kremer to pull out their best offering. The Wes 2 is an extremely durable, well-cushioned shoe that functions just as well as a slip-on as with the minimal lacing, and came with some of the best colorway choices of which we’ve come to know from Wes’ models. The Wes 2 is a legitimately interesting shoe that skates exponentially better than you expect and is just as crusty as it is fly.

Honorable mention: Plaza TC

 

7. STATE MERCER

What struck us as the most interesting aspect of State, initially and still, is how standard and basic their shoes are. When a new company comes on, typically they try to develop their own aesthetic, but State knew what was good and made really good versions of it. Of all the models they debuted, the Mercer stood out as one of, if not the best, highs we’ve seen in a long while, as well as the most timelessly skate-centric. Aesthetically, State’s been pulling from the best of what vulc shoes had to offer from multiple eras, and the Mercer found the perfect meeting of looking, feeling and skating like a high-top should.

Honorable mention: Elgin

 

6. NB# 868

The most notable and progressive design of 2016 without a doubt goes to New Balance Numeric’s nod to technical skateboarding. Aside from its various advancements, the 868 makes use of NB#’s premium material; everything from the outsole and upper was brought out to make their most ambitious model yet. This blatant and unapologetic nod to the Kastel/early Circa era while being all its present-day own is something no other brand has even come close to doing. Our reservations regarding aesthetic and boardfeel were quickly and thoroughly assuaged, providing some over-30 types to up their impact level and get out of their comfort zone – something few shoes can claim.

Honorable mention: Pro Court 213

 

5. DIAMOND ALL DAY

Another debut shoe program for 2016, Diamond seemed like their goal was to create the cleanest skate shoes ever made to skate. Amongst their new models was the All Day, Brandon Biebel’s multi-functional pro model that found many of us divided. Some liked it, some raised an eyebrow, others loved it, but all took notice. Despite the small indifference, and considering his catalog of pro models, we all agreed the All Day is Biebel’s most impressive model to date. Paying homage to both the past and future of skate shoes has been big this year (several of the models on this list fit that description) and all it took was trying them on to understand why Diamond and Biebs went this direction.

Honorable mention: Torey

 

4. HUF SOTO

Despite the welcome technical uproar that we witnessed in 2016, HUF kept it simpler than ever to gain the fanfare of skaters everywhere. The sturdy and straightforward cupsole met the bulky vulc feel that’s been so prevalent the last couple years, resulting in a shoe that skates exactly as it’s supposed to. Bare bones yet incredibly thoughtful construction landed Huf with several winners this year, but the Soto reigned supreme in its universal skateability, regardless of any of our particular detail preferences. Straight up made to skate anything, anywhere.

Honorable mention: Cromer

 

3. LAKAI FREMONT

With their best output year in a few, we legitimately had a difficult time narrowing down which Lakai shoe we like the most; the fact that there wasn’t a blindingly obvious frontrunner is perhaps the best compliment we can give Lakai. What set the Fremont apart was how well it lived up to our expectations. When we first saw it at Agenda, it was high on all of our lists of shoes to skate as soon as possible, and throughout every release from every other company, it stayed there. The Fremont skates just like you expect – comfortably – and keeps it’s look clean throughout its durable lifespan.

Honorable mention: Owen VLK

 

2. VANS KYLE WALKER PRO

It should come as no surprise that 2016’s SOTY has a shoe in the top 5 SSOTY list. Vans made a valiant effort in stepping out of their comfort zone to bring us one of their most versatile models to date. Kyle Walker’s pro model has it all – comfort, stability, boardfeel and most remarkably, protection. The last quality isn’t one that many think of when skating Vans’ iconic sidewalk surfer shoes, but with the high-impact antics Kyle blew our minds with this year, there was no avoiding it. With a duracap infused toe and a wafflecup foundation, the Kyle Walker pro was a tank of a shoe without being a tank.

Honorable mention: Style 112

 

1. ADIDAS LUCAS PREMIERE ADV

If we were to ask what your ideal skate shoe would be, you wouldn’t have to think too hard. Most of us want the same things: durable, flexible, supportive, lots of feel, breaks in quick, protective, keeps its shape, ventilated, etc. Regardless of your cup vs. vulc feelings, we all have the same priorities and we want them in a shoe that looks good with anything. Rarely will a single model score an A+ across the board, and you need look no further than the Lucas Premiere ADV for Class of 2016 valedictorian. A perfect ecosystem of performance and style, it accomplishes so much in its lean body with precision tooling and simple design, finding itself as one of, if not the most sought after shoes of the year. Our pick for the top spot is as solid, stylish and well-rounded as the Frenchman himself.

Honorable mention: Busenitz Pro Mid

 

Previous S.S.O.T.Y. Posts: 2013, 2014, 2015

Comments

  1. Luis

    January 1, 2017 3:21am

    You guys really picked the best shoes of this year. I personally love the Soto the most out of this year’s releases , very simple , yet very stylish , and not to mention how great they perform while skating.

    Reply
  2. Lindsay Reid

    January 1, 2017 4:05am

    Not a single éS?! Fuck off.

    Reply
  3. matt

    January 1, 2017 4:08am

    its like the best of the worst list

    Reply
  4. s

    January 1, 2017 6:08am

    while I don’t entirely agree with this list, I think it does a fair job given rippedlaces’ self-imposed restraint of including 10 different brands. still, who had over $100 to waste on the nike and nb models?

    Reply
  5. Fat old school

    January 1, 2017 1:02pm

    Still waiting for some manufacturer introducing wider skate shoes. All those narrow, thin vulcs are killing the feet of quite a few older/fatter/old school people. And no, we don’t want retro/OG/reissue shoes as the only solution.

    Reply
  6. Dope

    January 1, 2017 1:37pm

    Koston 3 sb? You must be kidding

    Reply
    • uramark

      January 2, 2017 8:06pm

      As ugly as they are, they skated really good and were actually super durable. They said best, not best looking.

  7. Muad'Dib

    January 1, 2017 3:46pm

    .. so today industrie calls his offered skate shoes “clean”.. ummh, ..so nos skate shoes have to be very dirty, right? I think to >>clean<< a shoe made for skateboarding, is not an Evolution, ist simply very stupid. Wish you all a happy anclesplattertime..

    Reply
  8. Austin M

    January 1, 2017 7:21pm

    My local skate shop carries hardly any of these brands. Where is Es Swift, Etnies Marana XT , and Emerica Figgy ??? Those stripes and check marks are just a commodity to these online stores. Skater owned shops carry shoes that represent who is supported. At a lower price point, local shops can sell and make a buck. Msrp for skate shoes over 80 dollars is insane. I’m sorry but we as skaters need to put the money in the right hands. We will all need a new pair in 3 months tops. Go see your local guy, not these suit dummies. NH represent.

    Reply
    • Sandy

      January 1, 2017 8:13pm

      pretty sure most of the shoes you mentioned are from 2015. and as far as your advocacy for smaller, skater owned brands go, RL totally agrees. Seriously, read any of their opinion pieces, and you’ll see they are with you 100%. but the point of SSOTY is to pick the best shoes to skate in, not to stick up for the little guys

    • Mayor Grimble

      January 2, 2017 12:16am

      This list isn’t meant to represent the shoes that we think you should buy this year. Think of it more as the shoes that got the RL Team of Nerds all giddy because they showed us something new and exciting – whether due to an interesting design aspect or some groundbreaking technology, or just based plainly on how much we liked skating a particular shoe.

      The Nike SB Koston 3, like it or not, was the most controversial shoe to be released in 2016 BY FAR. Doesn’t mean it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s bad. It made the list because it sent shockwaves through the entire skate industry.

    • billtim

      January 2, 2017 2:01pm

      hey bingus half the list is skater owned/led sorry you live in fucking new england

  9. bob

    January 1, 2017 8:35pm

    The OG Accel wins the best shoe of 2016.

    Nobody will remember any of those shoes 10 years from now…except for the k3 which has the sock thing going for it.

    Reply
  10. Piri

    January 1, 2017 9:40pm

    Where’s the Kalis Lites? By far my picks for the year, so comfy. Most of these are rubbish and only serve to demonstrate everything that’s wrong with the stale state of current shoe design.

    There’s another word for “clean and simple”-boring.

    Reply
  11. Goo goo ga ga

    January 2, 2017 11:00am

    All you old ass crusty men need to quit bitching about shoe design, “goo goo ga ga in 95 everything was so much better” like stfu deal with it it’s fucking 2017

    Reply
    • Skateboarding needs to go underground

      January 31, 2017 4:18pm

      I remember when skaters were smart ppl and I actually learned something from them. Now all they do is insult ppl with different opinions, talk in baby talk, for some reason and tell you to ‘stfu’, if they don’t like what you say. There’s no culture in this subculture anymore, just a bunch of trolls and parrots.

  12. ADAMS

    January 2, 2017 7:10pm

    FUCK SOLE TECH

    Reply
  13. They look good tho

    January 3, 2017 3:03am

    Those beibels were obviously designed with the PacSun crowd in mind and not skateboarding. Do one heelflip and those literal strings holding your laces on are gone.

    Reply
  14. Fu

    January 4, 2017 5:15am

    This list is trash. RL is going down hill

    Reply
  15. George

    January 4, 2017 8:34pm

    Ah no hsu g6. For me the coolest were kwalks hsu g6 and the Owen vlk, although don’t have a pair of the Owens I really won’t a pair.

    Reply
  16. Simon

    January 5, 2017 2:17am

    cupsoles are gonna be big in 2017 anybody listen to that new chief keef mixtape?

    Reply
  17. Cory

    January 6, 2017 4:15am

    The Freemont is a great shoe.

    Reply
  18. tomisrad

    January 6, 2017 4:27pm

    Great picks, especially technology wise. Aesthetically some are lacking…but shit. Sometimes the ugliest shoes are perfect for skating. The New Balance. the Lucas and the Cons Metric really interest me. Might be i need to check these out!

    Reply
  19. Parkbench_J

    January 22, 2017 7:50pm

    I’m not sure oh biebles diamond shoe made the cut let alone #5 but all I’ve heard is terrible things about it. Bet you these dudes were paid to throw shoes on the this. On another note the Converse CLS Metric was a great shoe. Wish they were still making them

    Reply
  20. I push mongo

    February 15, 2017 8:24pm

    The all day is awesome. Only problem is that the pattern is shallow and the lace things. Mine blew out and used one of the holes. Really comfy shoe

    Reply

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