So many brands, so many skate shoes but which skate shoe brand should you consider. The truth is that it depends on your type of skateboarding and your feet. Some brands aren’t great for wide feet while others feel bulky and uncomfortable.
There isn’t a single skate shoe brand that’s the best, it all comes down to personal preference. Once you find out which brands offers you the best skateboarding experience, you probably stick to it.
The best shoe brands for skateboarding include:
- Nike SB
- New Balance
16 Best Skate Shoe Brands To Consider
Let’s dive a little into the history, controversy and general reception of several skate shoe brands. Skateboarders opinions about brands are entirely subjective, in the end it comes down the type of shoe that you as a skateboarder need.
Some brands offer more comfort than others, and some are highly overrated. Skate shoe brands come and go (Fallen for example) and other are fairly new on the market. Most of these brands contribute to skateboarding in a way, though the more corporate brands aren’t received well by everyone. This list of skate shoe brands is in no particular order.
Adidas is generous with suede, which helps their shoes to last long. Their unique torsion support system design adds much comfort and flexibility compared to other skate shoes.
Adidas started making skate shoes in 1989, but they weren’t received with much enthusiasm. Pretty much expected from a bunch of corporate guys up in Germany that don’t know much about skateboarding. Skateboarders like shoes from skater owned companies, and take a dislike to brands to don’t contribute to promoting skateboarding.
It was not until Adidas brought in pro skaters such as Mark ‘the Gonz’ Gonzalez to improve their models when things took off.
When you check out their shoe offerings, you’ll notice that they try to combine classic Adidas styling with technical qualities that skaters need. Many models are simple and straightforward, with some familiar Adidas-style silhouettes. You will notice the heavy use of high-quality suede as well.
The biggest difference between Adidas’s skate shoes is the torsion support system design. The design allows the front of your foot and the heel to move independently while still maintaining overall foot support.
Vans are great for those that want a good skating shoe but do not want to deal with laces. The elastics are durable, and cup soles give you a great board feel.
Vans shoes have been around since 1966, founded by the Paul Van Doren. Vans is the most known brand, though over time the quality of the shoes suffered when it was taken over by a large corporate firm.
This has caused some serious skaters to stay away from the brand, but that is an image issue. Structurally, Vans make some of the best skate shoes you can get, especially if you pick their pro models.
Vans have since made their way into surfing and snowboarding as well. Vans have also exploded in popularity and even have fans that wear them as fashion pieces.
Also don’t forget to check out their Vans’ Suede Slip On shoe. They come without laces, so you do not worry about laces ripping when you skate. If you go with the all-black model, the shoe will be extremely dirt-resistant and look fresh even after you have spent hours in the skate park.
The tops are suede for excellent water repellency and rip resistance, with the elastics on the tongue being reliable and durable. The cup sole design allows your feet to sit deeper, giving you a good board feel. Stay away from the classic canvas model, as they won’t last more than a week.
I think many skateboarders associate Converse with inferior quality canvas shoes, but Converse actually makes great shoes for skateboarding.
Converse shoes have been around for a while and have survived many ups and downs. It also made shoes for soldiers during WW2. It was a dying legacy shoemaker on its last legs before Nike acquired the company in 2003. Its fortunes have been reversed since then.
Converse started relearning hhow to design proper skate shoes in 2009 and has been aggressively improving their shoes and marketing them. Their CONS line of shoes was released with major fanfare. It featured many pro skaters like Nick Trapasso, Kenny Anderson, Kenny Molinar, and many more.
Converse is perhaps not the most popular skate shoe but, their signature classics will never go out of fashion. Their suede models are known to be able to take a beating, though their canvas shoes are to be avoided.
The brand also tried to rework classic styles such as the Chuck Taylor All-Star and the One Star, which was reveived well. They have also released models such as the Alexis Pro, which have become an icon in its own right.
This made Converse one of the more recognizable brands in skate shoes today, with that logo featuring the letter C and a star commonly seen on the streets and on TV.
DC is a popular brand that makes durable shoes that can take a beating. DC’s puffy shoes are also iconic and may give you a different look than common skater shoes.
DC is popular as a brand, even non-skaters know them. DC makes apparel and shoes for not just skaters but also BMX bikers and many extreme sports, such as snowboarding.
Their skate shoes exploded in popularity when they released a line of puffy skate shoes in the late 90s. In fact, the puffy look is so iconic that modern shoes still have such designs. Not the most popular type of shoe, but overall they feel very comfortable but often lack board feel because of the bulky design.
DC seared its brand into the minds of skaters forever when it organized a series of super skate stunts. First is when they set up Danny Way’s jump over the Great Wall in 2005. DC repeated the helicopter stunt from 1999 again in 2012, setting up Danny Way to execute a 10ft jump out of a helicopter into a half-pipe.
These stunts were so successful that many non-skaters started buying their shoes. This resulted in some skaters moving away from the brand and calling the brand a sell-out. However, the shoes are still of excellent quality but might feel a bit too bulky for technical skateboarders.
The DC Kalis Skate Shoe is a good example of one of the more popular DC shoes. It features a full suede toe cap with an extended rubber outsole in many parts of the shoe that may come into contact with your skateboard. The heel cups are made of leather for further abrasion resistance.
While it’s not the most durable skate shoe, it is one of the most comfortable shoes to wear. Lots of support for heavier riders and taller skateboarders.
DVS is a brand that makes uniquely styled shoes. Puffy and boxy, it may take some time to get used to skating shoes, especially if you are used to Chuck-Taylor style shoes. It may also be a great alternative to DC’s puffy shoes.
DVS skate shoes have been around for a long time and were dead in the water for a while. It was later revived and is now a small but growing brand.
DVS was founded in 1995 by Tim Gavin and the Dunlap Brothers before filing for bankruptcy in 2012. It was later restarted after being acquired by Torey Pudwill.
When you look at them for the first time, DVS shoes can be easily mistaken for bulky running shoes. This is because they are puffy and boxy and have a huge outsole. However, the puffy and boxy shape may make DVS good for walking or daily use.
DVS may also make a good alternative to DC since DVS’s puffy and boxy shape are quite similar to what DC is offering. DVS are very comfortable skate shoes, but lack board feel.
If you are used to wearing Chuck-Taylor-styled skater shoes, you may find DVS slightly harder to get used to. But if you manage to, they make excellent shoes with great comfort and a good board feel.
As a start, check out the DVS Comanche 2.0+. The shoe has an OG shoe look with heavy-duty leather. The outsole has high abrasion resistance and double cup rubber for extended wear. The molded TPE insole is made with DVS’s Vaporcell+ technology for comfort and a great board feel.
We noticed that the suede doesn’t last very long, and from an economic perspective could be considered a waste of money.
C1rca was a relative newcomer in the world of skate shoes, founded only in 1999 in San Clemente, California. However, it didn’t take long for C1rca to pick up steam and become recognized in skate shoes.
One reason the shoe became popular was that it was founded by Chad Muska, Jamie Thomas, and Adrian Lopez. They are legendary skaters in their own right.
Another, and should be the more legit reason, is that these guys brought their experience in designing and making the best skating shoes from a pro skaters’ point of view. C1rca is also known for keeping its skate shoes sensible and affordable.
C1rca skate shoes have special sole construction; some areas are softer, and some are harder. The hard areas absorb much of the impact and abuse, while the softer areas increases board feel. Not bad for a budget skate shoe.
C1rca shoes are uniquely designed with great and durable material. The soles are where C1rca becomes special, as their shoes feature soles with different densities in different areas. The idea is to have the soft parts improve the board feel while the harder ones take in the impact and beating.
The shoes are simple and to the point. The shoes are comfortable and give you a good board feel.
Emerica mainly creates apparel and shoes for skaters. However, it has also expanded into many extreme sports, such as BMX, motocross, and surfing.
Emerica was originally brought into the US as ‘Etnies America,’ but due to trademark issues, Pierre André Senizergues rebranded to Emerica. However, it has not stopped the brand from growing and enjoying a legion of skater fans who swear by their shoes.
Emerica has shoes that are clean and simple. The focus is on making comfortable shoes with great performance. Some models also combine a variety of patterns on the outsole, which may help with a better grip and board feel.
For example, take the Emerica Pillar. It is a mid-top shoe, which means it can offer you good ankle protection. The uppers are made of suede, and the ollie guard is made of rubber. This further adds to the toughness and durability of the shoe.
The sole is made of vulcanized rubber with double wrapping. The sole also has two different read patterns, which meet in the middle. This should help with grip and help you to execute flip tricks better.
Etnies launched at the end of Pierre André Senizergues’s skate career, starting out as a new brand in the European market in 1986. Later Etnies entered the US market and finally became the parent company of Emerica and éS footwear.
Etnies can be another brand you can seriously, especially if you want more eco-friendly shoes. Every shoe you purchase will contribute to planting a tree in Costa Rica or Brazil. This program has planted over 2 million tries since 2011.
As a skate shoemaker, Etnies know their stuff. The shoes often feature generous use of quality materials for longevity and reliability. They are also known to partner with the great tire company Michelin to improve the rubbers they use on their cupsole skate shoes. These soles are virtually indestructible but also feel a bit stiff if you’re used to a more flexible outsole.
Take, for example, their most popular shoe, the Etnies Marana Michelin. The upper features a fused-on, injected rubber toe cap with hidden lace loops to protect your laces. It also prevents the lace from interfering with your skateboard tricks.
The insole features Etnies’ Pro Foam 1 technology for excellent comfort and support for your feet without compromising the board feel.
Mike Carrol and Rick Howard founded Lakai in 1999 as a way to contribute to the skate shoe industry. Rather than taking sponsorships, they prefer to just create their own which resulted in one of the most respected skate shoe brands.
They marketed their shoes by first partnering up with Podium Distributions which helped to build their brand. Secondly, they released a lot of skate videos. One of the best is ‘Fully Flared,’ released in 2007 directed by Spike Jonze, Ty Evans, and Cory Weincheque.
Their Paramount outsole technology helps with board feel and grip. The brand is also rather underground. If you see someone wearing a Lakai, you know the person is deep into skating.
Lakai is well known within the skateboarding scene, but not a shoe you will find in any store. If you walk around in a pair of Lakai’s, skateboarders will know you are serious about skateboarding.
Lakai’s shoes are made with full input from pro skaters, which means they cater to the need of a skateboarder.
Check out the Lakai Cambridge, for example, which is one of the most popular skate shoes mand for good reasons. The top is a combination of suede, mesh, and perforated leather. As a result, the shoe looks modern, yet keeps a large dose of a vintage feel.
The lack of seams near the toe box should be a sign that this is a durable shoe which is great for technical skateboarding.
The Cambridge is also made with Lakai’s own Paramount outsole technology, which is Lakai’s take on using vulcanized rubber for maximum grip. The insole is made with Lakai’s own Deluxlite footbed for great support and insane board feel.
10. Nike SB
Many skaters initially disliked Nike SB for one simple reason – they came into the scene late and didn’t contribute to the scene like other brands do (and still don’t). Buying out pro skaters from other brands also angered the skateboard community. They looked more like a bunch of execs trying to cash out on the popularity of skating.
Nike can use their technology and R&D to improve skating shoes, making them much better. If you are okay with being judged for wearing such a popular brand, Nike SB is excellent for skating.
The first pairs of Nike SB went out in 1997. They were so rejected by skaters they stopped making new models and laid low for years to recollect and strategize.
It took Nike SB until 2002 to stage a comeback, this time with the Nike SB Dunks. Nike also worked with many pro skaters to build their shoes. The biggest coup is by signing Paul Rodriguez.
They soon collaborated and released the Paul Rodriguez Zoom Elites in 2005. Nike SB finally cracked the code into becoming a respectable skate shoe maker. Nike SB would also achieve another level of success from its partnership with Stefan Janoski (probably one of the best skate shoes you can buy).
Nike SBs may not give you that ‘deep insider’ vibe as a pair of Lakai’s, but they are well-made. As a large corporation, Nike can invest a lot to improve its skate shoes. When you add in the input from pro skaters, this explains why they are successful.
Take The Nike SB Chron 2, for example. You can see a mixture of suede, canvas, and thick rubber sides, giving you a sense that this pair will last long and do very well for you. The suede and canvas combinations also allow good breathability.
The vulcanized rubber sole contributes to the grip and board feel. The foam cushions inside help with support and should allow you to get a good feel of your board. Check out our other Nike skate shoes we tested.
11. New Balance Numeric
New Balance started entering the skate shoe market in 2013 with their Numeric line, making them the newest well known ‘skate shoe’ brand. Despite being a real latecomer into the scene, they are well received by many skaters.
William Riley founded New Balance in 1906. Their first shoes came with arch support for factory workers. 55 years later, they released their first athletic shoe. In 1972, Jim Davis purchased the company riding the popular wave of runner shoes.
Their secret? Making really durable skate shoes and keeping them lightweight at the same time. New Balance was open to experimenting with new materials, such as using bonded thermoplastic polyurethane instead or rubber. You’ll notice that the suede last for a long time, and if you chew through your first layer, there’s another one (or two) to take over.
They also have their own foam technology, the REVlite. New Balance’s soles also come with nitrogen-enriched foams for much better cushioning and protection.
As a start, look at NB Numeric’s Brandon Westgate 508, an awesome skate shoe that is durable, offers lots of board feel, and has a system that makes this shoe very breathable.
The shoe’s suede is high quality, which makes them very durable. The mesh is foam backed, meaning you will get a snug fit.
Osiris shoes have unique looks which you either hate or love. If you like bulky, puffy, blocky shoes from DVS or DC, you will like Osiris. It is also very colorful and attention-grabbing.
If you like the puffy, chunky, and boxy-styled skate shoes from DC or DVS, you will love Osiris. It was founded in 1996 by Tony Magnusson, Brian Reid, Tony Chen, and Doug Weston. Osiris is also a brand active in sponsoring skateboarders, snowboarders, and BMX cyclists.
Osiris is known for its puffy and bulky shoes under the D3 line. These shoes may look like crossovers from snowboarding shoes, with their puffy uppers and elaborate midsole designs. Osiris aren’t great for technical skateboarding and don’t offer much board feel. Great for those who need lots of support or are a bit on the heavy side, but flick tricks are more difficult.
If you are used to wearing thin, smaller skate shoes that look Chuck Taylor-ish, then you may feel a bit awkward when trying to skate wearing a pair of Osiris.
Check out Osiris’s most popular shoe, the D3 2001. You’ll instantly notice the puffiness of the shoe, which may remind you of DC or DVS shoes, even snowboarding boots. However, also notice the textured toe cap and suede side linings on the upper. These should make the shoe much sturdier and more durable.
The mesh uppers are foamed, meaning you will be snug but a comfortable fit. The tongue is also thickly padded, which may help with comfort.
The outsole has air pockets, which may help with weight reduction, and help manage the impact from jumps and tricks.
Founded in 1994 by Peter, Stephen, and Matt Hill. They were pro skaters in 1984 and decided to build their own skate shoes after getting tired of the cheap shoes they got from their sponsors. In fact, Globe is one of the largest skate distribution companies in the world.
Coming from Australia, the brand has its own take on what makes a great skating shoe. The use of oiled suede helps with durability.
As we look at US-based skater shoemakers, let’s not forget what the Down Under can bring. Aside from brands such as Quiksilver or RipCurl for surfers, check out Globe shoes, Australia’s answer to how skate shoes should be.
Their skate shoes are pretty solid as well. Coming from three pro skaters, you should have a sense of how good they are. In fact, some of their designs may be what you call a sleeper skater shoe.
They do not look like skate shoes, but more like casual sneakers you wear on your daily walks. However, It performs admirably on a skateboard and will be able to help you execute great tricks and flips.
Check out the Globe Mahalo Plus as a start. It was designed with Mark Appleyard and is designed to look stealthy and classic. It features oiled suede and coated ripstop for additional durability.
The shoe also features Globe’s own Shockbed insole for impact control. The outsole is also made with input from Mark Appleyard, with Globe’s own Super-V technology for enhanced grip and board feel.
Supra’s shoes are lightweight and simple. They look great and provide a great grip and board feel. They also have a unique outsole pattern that helps with grip.
Supra shoes were first launched in 2006 by Angel Abada. Abada launched the shoes with partnerships with professional skaters such as Jim Greco, Tom Penny, Chad Muska, Erik Ellington, and Dennis Martin.
Supra’s shoes were met with great enthusiasm by their fans, and Supra became a household name for skateboarders.
Supra achieved further success with Tom Greco’s second signature shoe, The Hammer, in 2013. The promotional video for the shoe was made by Dennis Martin and caused the sale to boom.
Supra is known for simple shoes focusing on grip, performance, and lightweight. Supra achieves this by meeting the design, shaping simplicity, and focusing on materials and weight reduction.
Take, for example, the Supra Stacks II Vulc. The whole front part of the shoe is made of a single piece of suede leather, meaning you get great durability and rip resistance. A piece of suede also lines the heel to handle friction well.
The vulcanized rubber cup sole provides better durability. It allows your foot to sit deeper into the shoe, increasing the board feel. The outsole comes with Supra’s unique pattern, which helps with a better board grip.
The shoe is also lightweight by keeping the top low and the foam light and snug.
Cariuma cares about the environment, which only further complements their already quality shoes. They are generous with high-quality materials and are fashionable as well.
Suppose you are looking for good skating shoes and are a bit of an eco-warrior. In that case, you have to check out Cariuma.
Cariuma sustainably makes premium skater shoes. They also have a recycling program for their shoes, which is a way to reduce their environmental impact. These are things that not many skater shoe makers care about.
When you look at their shoe collection, you will notice that the shoes are well built. Using suede, robust stitchings, and great materials will give you the confidence that the shoe will last long.
But the most important thing about buying a pair of Cariuma is knowing your purchase will go towards conservation projects. This means you are getting your shoes and also improving the environment.
Even though Cariuma is generally disliked by the hardcore skateboard community, they offer pretty solid shoes and even offer shoes for vegans. Keep in mind though that vegan skate shoes are usually made of canvas and don’t last very long. I wonder how sustainable it would be if you have to replace your skate shoes every 2 weeks.
This was the last one, but there are many other great brands like éS (part of Etnies), Hours, Last Resort, and even Reebok.
Last but not least is éS, a skate shoe brand that shouldn’t be left out. éS Footwear launched in 1995 to fill the need for a new type of skate shoe. With shoes specifically designed for technical skateboarders in mind, Don Brown started to work on a team.
éS is known for the Accel, a vulcanized skate shoe for highly technical skaters that offers supreme board feel and durability. The brand also introduced Chad Muska’s first pro model the Muska in 1997, which was the first skate shoe with rubber lace loops and a stash pocket hidden in the tongue.
A few other serious names involved with the brand over time are Eric Koston, Sal Barbier, Tom Penny, Bob Burnquist, John Rattray, PJ Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, Justin Eldridge, Rodrigo Teixeira, Arto Saari, Nyjah Huston, Lavar McBride, Tom Penny, and many more.
éS was built around a team that matched the style, personality and skateboarding progression which was much needed at the time. Some time ago the brand took a big hiatus because éS was doing a little too well according to the head-company of éS, Sole Tech. With the comeback in 2016, they picked up where they left and continue to be one of the best skate shoe brands in the industry.
While there is no such thing as the best shoe brand for skateboarding, there are some that stand out from the rest. Whatever brand you’re interested in, make sure the shoe fits your style of skateboarding. Highly technical skaters need something different from casual skateboarders.
Often skaters choice of a particular brand is subjective. Let’s say you’ve been skating Nike for years, switching to another brand doesn’t seem appealing. Just stick with what you like as the best brand is highly subjective.