woman doing skateboard trick

How to Choose the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes

April 4, 2022


Skateboarding has come a long way since it started in the 1950s. Back then, boards didn’t have the grip and grooves they do now. Nor did skaters have shoes that could help them maximize their grip on their boards and prevent falling off.

Proper skateboarding shoes are a key part of anyone’s gear. Regular tennis shoes won’t cut it when you’re trying to grind a sick line across the street rails. So, how can you choose the perfect shoes for your next epic run? Here’s what you need to know.

Understand Your Rubber Skateboarding Soles

Skateboarding shoes have 2 types of rubber soles, each tailor-made to improve your grip and stability on your board. The two types are as follows:

How to Choose the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes
man riding his skateboard

Cupsole Soles

Cupsoles don’t tend to feel as flexible, as they’re a one-piece rubber sole. This makes them more durable and gives you better heel support, which is crucial for those flip tricks you want to pull off. However, it comes at the cost of taking longer to break in and reducing the “feel” of your board through them.

Vulcanized Soles

Vulcanized soles tend to have a smoother rubber finish. They’ll have foxing tape across the front and feel more flexible than their cupsole counterparts. They have amazing grip on your board but don’t tend to offer the heel support you need. So, if you go with vulcs, they’ll get broken in faster, but you will have to purchase a good insole.

Top It Off: High, Middle, or Low

When buying shoes in general, not just skate shoes, you’ll see high-tops, middle-tops, and low-tops. What do these concepts mean for someone in the skating world?

High-tops offer the most protection with the least mobility, as they sit above the ankle. If that’s your jam, you can shop High Dunk Pro SB from Kickscrew.

Mid-tops straddle the middle ground between mobility and protection sitting right at the ankle. Low-tops sacrifice protection but maximize mobility by sitting below the ankle.

Whether you should prioritize protection or mobility depends on your skill as a skater and your comfort level.

Peeling Back the Layers

Let’s take a moment to peel back the layers of our most-used piece of skateboarding gear to understand what you should look for. The main things that can affect your skating experience with a shoe are:

How to Choose the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes
shallow focus photography of longboard

Sick Treads

Believe it or not, the tread pattern on the outsole of your shoes can really affect the way it grips the board. The same principle that affects how cars grip the road applies here.

Most skateboarding shoes will use either a Herringbone or Waffle Sole tread, though the latter is most common in Vans shoes.

Insole Support

The insole of your shoe is the part that’s most important for both support and comfort. Skating is hard on your feet, and if you don’t have the right materials to protect yourself, you can end up injuring them.

Don’t believe us? Think of all the harsh impacts that happen when you come back down from some serious airtime at the ramps. Or even when you hop down off of a grind.

Your feet will feel the brunt of those impacts without foam or gel insoles. Fortunately, most shoes come with removable insoles, so you can purchase something that’s formulated for skaters.

A good set of insoles should be considered a part of your list of skating essentials alongside other safety gear like helmets and kneepads.

Midsole Comfort

The shoe’s midsole rests between the insole and the outsole, and can also provide you with the comfort and support you need while skating. This area usually gets made from EVA foam or polyurethane.

Choose Your Materials

We’ve spent enough time talking about the basic construction of your skateboarding shoes. Now, let’s talk about the visible part: The materials. Aesthetics tend to play the largest role here for many skaters, and that’s all well and good.

However, you should know the benefits and drawbacks of the three main types of materials used in skate shoes.

How to Choose the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes
road person sand sport


Canvas is the Casual Friday option of the skate shoes. It’s light, thin, and breathes well. This makes it comfortable, but not the most durable. So if you’re cruising down the street or going transition skating, they’re workable.

Anything heavier than that, you’re going to need a different material.


Both suede and full-grain leather are popular material choices for skateboarding shoe options. Suede is the most popular of the two since it flicks well and provides exceptional grip. However, full-grain leather is the most durable material for skateboarding shoes tends to have a velvety feel on the inside.


Manmade simulations of leather are the best material for the eco-conscious skater. These fabrics offer the durability and comfort of leather without the potential for animal cruelty.

Traps to Avoid When Buying Skateboarding Shoes

When perusing your skateboarding shoe options, there are many traps that you should take care to avoid. These traps include, but are not limited to:

  • Getting caught up in star sponsorship
  • Not checking the fit of the shoe to ensure comfort
  • Not accounting for the way shoes loosen as you break them in

Remember, just because XYZ brand works for Tony Hawk and Bam Margera doesn’t mean it will work for you. Always ensure that your skate shoes aren’t too tight or loose and that they don’t cause you pain.

How to Choose the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes
man riding on skateboard deck

Let’s Review How to Find the Perfect Skateboarding Shoes

So, how do you find the perfect pair of skateboarding shoes? First, decide what kind of soles and tops you want. Second, figure out how much support your feet will need and what materials will work best for the type of skating you enjoy doing. Third, avoid common buyer pitfalls.

Follow these steps, and above all else, honour your personal style. That’s what being a skater is all about, after all. Enjoying the streets and being true to yourself. And if, you’d like to learn more about buying shoes that work for your needs, check out the Lifestyle section of our blog for more details.

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