You can use sneakers for skateboarding if you only push and ride. However, if you want to learn tricks, sneakers aren’t the best choice. Sneakers wear fast, have thicker midsoles, and don’t offer enough support like skate shoes do. Often sneakers also fail to provide board feel and offer less stability.
If you’re the type that wants to learn how to skateboard in the sense of just riding, you don’t need to buy expensive skate shoes. Sneakers will work given that the midsole isn’t too thick and the soles offer enough grip.
Let’s see why sneakers aren’t the best choice for skateboarding and if you should consider skate shoes or not.
Why Sneakers Aren’t Great For Skateboarding
In general, sneakers offer little board feel because often they have a rather big midsole which makes it hard to feel how your skateboard deck responds. It’s much harder to perform a trick when you can’t feel your board and can cause injuries.
Second, sneakers aren’t always made of quality suede. Some are made of plastic or partial leather, which also takes away from board feel. Suede is more predictable and offers more consistency when doing kickflips or ollies.
Sneakers made of canvas are probably the worst choice. Canvas can’t withstand grip tape for long and your grip will chew through your shoes in a matter of hours. Now, if you only want to ride, this isn’t a problem. When you want to learn tricks, it becomes expensive. You don’t want to replace skate shoes every week, skate shoes should last for at least 60 to 80 hours of skateboarding.
Difference Between Skate Shoes and Sneakers
Nowadays sneakers are designed for casual wear, or become collectibles and go for outrageous prices. Anything that comes from StockX is not a shoe for skateboarding, wanna tre-flip those $1k Jordans?
Sneakers are for everyday use, where skate shoes are specifically designed for skateboarding. Sneakers don’t have reinforced toe caps, grippy outsoles, extra suede around the upper, or laces further removed from the upper.
Often sneakers are made of fake plastic leather that aren’t great for flicking your board. Suede gives you much more control and last much longer. There are way more differences but this is the gist of it.
Some can’t walk on skate shoes all day in because of the thin midsole, but that also depends on your type of feet. I can’t walk on basic Vans skate shoes for a long time because I need more cushioning and support, but others have no issues.
Do You Need Skate Shoes to Skateboard?
Every skateboarder will tell you really need skate shoes for skateboarding and dump those sneakers. While sneakers are fine for cruising on a skateboard, anything beyond that will result in a bad experience.
Skate shoes are often made of quality suede near the upper and toe cap, depending on the brand. They offer more cushioning to absorb part of the impacts and come with thin outsoles which allows you to feel your board.
Often skate shoes also have a few extra layers around the toe box to make them last longer. Ollie and kickflip holes can be fixed, but some extra suede around these parts helps to increase their durability.
Skate shoes are flexible, some more than others (cupsoles vs vulcanized skate shoes). A flexible skate shoe helps you to flick your board at the right spot while a non flexible skate shoe will make it harder to find the exact spot.
Can You Wear Running Shoes to Skateboard?
I can answer this question right away because I tried and failed. Running shoes are terrible for skateboarding. The midsole and heels make it hard to balance in your board and provide zero board feel. It’s actually risky to skate on runners because landing slightly on the side of your shoe can cause a rolled ankle.
The reason I skated on runners was because I had a nasty heel bruise and needed maximum impact protection. While runners offer a lot of comfort when you have to bail, I was hardly able to feel my board. It just felt really uncomfortable and it took away some of my confidence, which makes skateboarding even harder.
Running shoes aren’t designed for skateboarding, just check the upper and toe box. You’ll get holes after a couple of ollies or flicks, seriously don’t do this if you want to do tricks. Even just riding a skateboard in runners feels awkward. While it’s doable, it just isn’t worth the effort and results in a frustrating ride.
Picking Shoes For Skateboarding
This is tough because there isn’t a single shoe that outshines others, there is no best skate shoe. When you shop for skate shoes, you better just hit your local skate shop and fit several shoes.
This will give you a much better understanding if your feet are suitable for a certain type of skate shoe. Another benefit is that you support your local skate shop, though not everyone has a skate shop around. Ask yourself a couple of questions before you hit the shop:
- Do you need long-lasting shoes at the expensive of board feel?
- Do you need extra support and lots of cushioning?
- Are you a technical skater and looking for the most board feel?
- Do you mainly ride the street and only do basic stuff?
In my experience, there are a couple of skate shoe brands that offer great skate shoes, make sure to check them out and see if there are a few that suit your style.
I know some beginner skateboarders aren’t even aware and base their decision only on looks, brand, or price. I recently bumped into a beginner skateboarder at my local park who was skating in Vans Classics, but the canvas version.
I asked him why he bought them and his decision was based on the brand name, not the construction of the shoe. Waste of money obviously, we talked a bit more and he had no idea what makes a great skate shoe (he does now).
Buying the wrong shoe can make skateboarding difficult, avoid classic sneakers and get some real skate shoes.