Best Skate Shoes
After testing 24 products, we found the Adidas Busenitz Vulc 2 (men) and DC Court Graffik (women) to be the best skate shoes.
Finding the right skateboarding shoe can be tough. So we spoke to skaters and skate shop owners to find out which models are most popular. We shortlisted their top picks, asked them which features matter most, and started testing.
We looked for comfortable shoes that performed well for skaters. We paid special attention to the sole construction, focusing on how much board feel and control the shoes offered. Durability was another important aspect. A tough skating shoe needs tough overlays, toe caps and reinforced stitching to last. To learn more about important features, make sure to read through to the Buyer’s Guide section.
Our top choice for men was the Adidas Busenitz Vulc 2. Adidas isn’t known as a skate shoe brand, but this model is outstanding. It has quality padding, a grippy rubber sole and an athletic foam insole. The upper is premium suede, breathable thanks to perforations. Skaters told us the shoe is tough and durable, good for months of regular use.
For women, we picked the DC Court Graffik. The model has quality padding inside the shoe and in the tongue. This means it holds the foot softly but firmly. Testers also loved the waffle-print cupsole. It has excellent grip and is flexible around the middle. The leather upper is durable and perforated for breathability. Most importantly, the shoe fits the female foot well. It’s not just a remake of a male model.
On top of our #1 overall picks, a few other shoes stood out. Want a shoe that looks like an old-school Vans Authentic or Old Skool, but has modern tech? Get the Supra Stacks Vulc 2 (men) or Lugz Flip (women). Want high-top shoes for ankle support? The Converse WP Hi Boot (men) and the Vans SK8-Hi (women) are our top picks.
Keep reading to find the right skate shoe for you.
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Table of Contents
Best Skate Shoes for Men
The best skate shoe for men is the Adidas Busenitz Vulc 2. Made in collaboration with pro skater Dennis Busenitz, these shoes are his signature shoe. They are built for performance, comfort and longevity.
As the name suggests, the Geoflex outsole is made of vulcanized rubber. It offers a high level of sensory feedback, delivering great board feel and control. It’s flexible and requires very little breaking in. The tread pattern provides excellent multiway grip for enhanced board control.
The suede upper is tough and long-lasting. It provides an exceptional balance of grip and slide – perfect for pulling off flips and tricks. Lace eyelets are recessed to protect your laces from undue wear and tear. The toe box is reinforced with Adidas’ abrasion-resistant Adituff material.
They also feature an external heel counter which grips your heel, providing extra stability. Working in tangent with this is the Geofit padded collar. It gently grips your ankle for increased support and also acts as protection should the board flip round into your ankles. Finally, there’s a soft foam insole for added impact protection.
Our testers were delighted to find so much tech in a shoe that looks so simple. Adidas Skateboarding shoes aren’t always good, but the Busenitz towers over the competition.
There are no reinforcing overlays or toe cap. While the Adituff material is abrasion resistant, it was initially designed to reduce damage to tennis shoes. As such, it will degrade more quickly on skate shoes due to the amount of wear and tear they receive.
The shoes can feel a bit narrow out of the box. It does break in a little bit. Still, it’s an Adidas – so if you have a wide foot, size up and use a custom insole. Alternatively, check out the models below.
- Outsole provides multiway grip for great board control
- Suede upper provides both grip and slide
- Geofit padded collar supports and protects ankle
- Soft foam insole adds impact protection
- No toe cap
- Narrow fit
Best Skate Shoes for Women
DC Court Graffik
Why this product?
This cupsole shoe offers plenty of support and stability. The trademarked pill pattern tread offers more flexibility than a traditional cupsole. A tough overlay on the upper protects the shoe and doubles as an ollie pad.
The best skate shoe for women is the Court Graffik by DC Shoes. Thanks to its large profile, stunning looks and super-comfortable padding, this skateboard shoe has been a skater favourite for over a decade.
As a cupsole skate shoe, the Court Graffick offers plenty of support and stability. Especially if you’re looking to pull off huge tricks or big drops. But because of the trademarked DC pill pattern tread, it’s more flexible than a traditional cupsole shoe.
The upper is made from abrasion-resistant nubuck or leather, depending on which colour you opt for. Both are durable and offer excellent board control. Speaking of colours, these shoes are available in a wide range of designs- here at Shoethority, we fell in love with the Black/Black/Pink option.
There’s a tough overlay around the eyelets. This protects the shoe from wear and tear. It extends down towards the sole where it acts as an ollie pad too.
Both the tongue and collar are well padded. By hugging the top of your foot and ankle, they offer a lot of support. They also protect you from the board when things go awry. The tongue is held in place with spandex straps to ensure it doesn’t move or twist out of position.
Because the padding is so thick, we found these shoes got a bit warm. There are ventilation holes in the sides but these are not adequate if you’re skating in hot weather.
- Padded tongue and collar offer support and protection
- Tough upper is durable and offers excellent board control
- Cupsole ensures support and stability
- Pill patteron tread maintains flexibility
- Bad ventilation
Best Vans Style Skate Shoe for Men
Supra Stacks Vulc 2
Why this product?
This classic shoe has a lightweight vulcanized rubber sole that provides great board feel and grip. The Suprafoam insole absorbs impact and keeps feet well-cushioned. The classic look makes these a great choice not only for skate shoes, but also for office or casual shoes.
The best Vans style skate shoe for men is the Supra Stacks Vulc 2. With the timeless style of a classic Vans shoe, it utilises modern materials and construction methods. It’s comfortable, breathable and most importantly, looks great on your feet.
The vulcanized rubber sole delivers a ton of board feel. It’s lightweight, flexible and has an excellent level of grip. A patented Suprafoam insole ensures almost instant comfort – there’s very little break-in required. They also act to absorb impacts and protect your joints from the rigours of skating.
The interior mesh lining is breathable and moisture-wicking. It prevents the build-up of sweat, ensuring your feet are secure and stable while skating.
The upper is a mix of suede and canvas. The toes, vamp and lace areas are all sturdy suede. The back half of the shoe, including the sides and heel, are all canvas. There are tough suede overlays around the laces for increased durability. The tongue and ankle collar are padded for increased protection and support.
These skater shoes are available in a range of colours and designs. They’re suitable for use as skate sneakers, office shoes or even casual shoes for a chilled night out. If you’re looking for that classic look and vulcanized shoe rubber, can’t go wrong with the Supra Stacks.
The Supra Stacks Vulc 2 are slimmer fitting than most skate shoes we tested. If you usually wear wider shoes, we advise you go half a size up.
The shoes also have no toe cap or overlays around the toes. It means they’re less durable than shoes that do. Not a big deal given their price point, but still. The heels are tough – we wish the toe section was, too.
- Vulcanized rubber sole offers great board feel
- Moisture-wicking mesh lining
- Suede and canvas upper is durable and stylish
- Suprafoam insole ensures almost instant comfort
- Narrow fit
- No toe cap
Best Vans Style Skate Shoe for Women
The best Vans style skate shoe for women is the Lugz Flip. A relatively unknown brand, Lugz create comfortable, lightweight shoes that appeal to classic Vans lovers everywhere.
They have a vulcanized sole which offers plenty of flexibility and board feel. The tread pattern differs in each section of the sole. This increases grip, manoeuvrability and board control at all times.
The upper is made from lightweight canvas. It’s breathable and moves naturally with your feet. Reinforced canvas overlays around the toes, vamp and heel increase durability and stability. These overlays are secured using tough double stitching. The ankle collar is nicely padded to aid stability and offer a small level of ankle protection.
Inside the shoes, the breathable lining keeps your feet cool while skating. This is rare in skateboarding footwear – and welcome here. There’s also a padded insole which is comfortable out of the box and delivers good impact protection for flat ground skating.
Finally, these shoes are incredibly budget-friendly, low key and blend in nicely both at and away from the skatepark.
Canvas is not our favourite material for skate shoes. Even with the reinforced overlays, it’s less durable than suede or leather. There’s also less impact protection than we like to see in skate shoes. Tech skaters will love the board feel but these shoes aren’t suitable for bigger drops.
- Budget friendly
- Breathable lining
- Padded insole offers impact protection
- Lightweight canvas upper is breathable and flexible
- Vulcanized sole provides flexibility and great board feel
- Canvas doesn’t offer much durability
- Lacking impact protection
Best Tennis Shoe for Skating (Men)
The best tennis-style skate sneaker for men is the Adidas Seeley. Available in more than 20 colour options, it’s the perfect blend of capable skate sneaker and timeless Adidas style.
The vulcanized outsole offers excellent board feel and flexibility. It features a fine herringbone tread pattern to ensure maximum grip when you need it. The pattern changes near the ball of your foot for enhanced board control.
The sole also features pivot points at the heel, ball and outside edge of each shoe. These offer maximum manoeuvrability, making it easy to twist your feet into the correct position while riding.
Impact protection is offered by the tactile rubber midsole. It remains flexible while providing a cushioned layer with excellent shock absorption properties. The insole is lightly padded for a final layer of comfort.
The interior has a textile mesh lining. It’s breathable, helping to keep your feet cool as you skate. The ankle collar has a light padding that grips your foot for extra support. It also offers an element of protection.
The upper is different depending on which colour option you go for. There’s a suede, canvas or even synthetic nubuck model. We suggest opting for the suede as it delivers the best durability and board control. However, the synthetic nubuck isn’t far behind in either regard.
These shoes are slimmer than we like to see in skate shoes. We suggest ordering half a size up – unless you require wide shoes, then you’ll need to go up a whole size. It’s best to try them on in store or via Prime Wardrobe.
If you want a similar but wider shoe, check out the Etnies Barge LS. It was the runner-up for this category and is an outstanding tennis shoe-style sneaker.
- Rubber midsole offers impact protection and shock absorption
- Collar padding supports and protects foot
- Pivot points on heel, ball, and edge of shoe offer maximum maneuverability
- Vulcanized outsole provides excellent board feel and fleibility
- Narrow fit
Best Tennis Shoe for Skating (Women)
The best tennis shoe for female skaters is the Adidas VI Court. This shoe combines classic Adidas styling with skate shoe features. Our testers and others skaters like it for its form-fitting comfort. As the name suggests, this model is a retro tennis sneaker modified for skating. The suede upper not only looks fantastic but performs well. It delivers an excellent level of grip, board control and durability. There are suede overlays on the toe cap and around the laces to increase the shoe’s lifespan.
The heel also features a suede overlay. This helps the shoes grip your heel, creating a stable platform while you skate. The padded tongue and ankle collar help cradle your feet too, enhancing the overall stability. They also provide an element of ankle protection.
The cupsole is thick and durable. It provides excellent shock absorption and stands the test of time. It takes longer to break in than a vulcanized sole, but once ready it remains comfortable for a much longer period. In fact, due to its incredible thickness and durability, we believe that this shoe is perfect for hard-working nurses.
Inside, the shoes feature a textile lining. It’s moisture-wicking and breathable. It works in conjunction with the Ortholite Float insole to keep your feet cool and sweat-free. The insole delivers responsive, supportive cushioning. It’s excellent for skaters taking on gnarly drops or big sets. And it’s antimicrobial, so your shoes won’t smell, even after a long hot day of skating.
These Adidas tend to fit quite large. This is rare for the brand and appears to be a result of the shoe’s tennis heritage We suggest ordering half a size down.
At the same time, some of the Shoethority team reported that the shoes felt tight in the middle. For some, it feels like a wraparound midsole shoe and gives improved board control. For others, it’s a little too tight. We recommend trying these on in store or via Prime Wardrobe to ensure you get the sizing just right.
- Thick and durable cupsole grips heel
- Padded tongue and ankle collar stabilize foot
- Suede upper provides board control
- Moisture-wicking and breathable inner lining
- Ortholite Float insole cushions and keeps foot cool
- Runs large, sizing down may be necessary
- Tight middle is supportive for some, uncomfortable for others
Best Men’s Skate Shoe for Casual Wear
The best men’s skate shoe for casual wear is the DC Trase TX. Ideal for a day on the ramps or a laid back day in town, these shoes offer the comfort and style you’d expect from a skate shoe.
The canvas upper is lightweight, flexible and breathable. It bends and moves with your foot to ensure you retain full range of motion. It features overlays around the laces, sides and heel. These are double stitched for increased durability.
The abrasion-resistant outsole is home to DC’s trademarked Pill Pattern design. This provides excellent grip and board control while ensuring maximum traction on paths and roads. The sole also features a pivot point at the heel for increased manoeuvrability. Flex groove near the ball of your foot ensure your feet can bend and flex without being constricted.
The tape wrapped around the vulcanized sole is higher than we are used to seeing in skate shoes. This durable rubber tape acts as an extra layer of protection for the canvas upper. Around the toes, it features the same Pill Pattern design as the sole. This provides more grip, protection and board control.
There’s no toe cap or overlay around the toe area of these shoes. They’re certainly not the most durable skate shoes we’ve tested. We suggest using them for casual wear more than skating – although they certainly perform well enough for a small session every once in a while.
- Durable and lightweight upper
- Abrasion-resistant outsole provides excellent grip and board control
- Rubber tape around the midsole adds an extra layer of protection
- Flex groove and pivot point work together for maximum flexibility
- No toe cap
Best Women’s Skate Shoe for Casual Wear
The best women’s skate for casual wear is the Propet Aris. Known for their supportive footwear, Propet have created a casual sneaker that’s comfortable, good looking and performs well as a skate shoe.
The cupsole is thick and comfortable. It offers high-level impact protection but still provides good board feel and control. It works with the orthotic EVA insole to create the most supportive skate shoes we tested.
The canvas upper is lightweight and flexible. It features overlays around the laces and along the sides. These are double stitched, with extra stitching in areas of high wear. There’s also a rubberised toe cap to extend the life of the shoes. The toe box is roomy too. This – a roomy toe box with a toe cap overlay – improves comfort and durability.
A rigid overlay on the back of the shoes increases stability by cradling your heel. The padded tongue, ankle collar and elasticated panels also play their part. All these sections work in parallel to prevent your feet from sliding around inside the shoes.
Inside, a breathable mesh lining helps keep you cool. It’s moisture-wicking, reducing the build-up of sweat. Ventilation holes in the sides of the shoes increase airflow to your feet, further limiting the chance of overheating.
Due to the canvas material used in the construction of these shoes, they are some of the least durable skate shoes we tried. While they performed well, we cannot recommend them for long-term skating use. Instead, we suggest using them as a casual sneaker that can be used for skating in a pinch.
The non-slip sole also takes some getting used when used on a skateboard. It reacts very differently to most skate soles we tried.
- Breathable mesh lining and ventilation holes
- Canvas upper is lightweight and flexible
- EVA insole is padded and supportive
- Thick cupsole offers high-level impact protection
- Rubberized toe cap and roomy toe box
- Not durable
- Non-slip sole reacts differently to most skate soles
Best High Tops for Skating (Men)
The best high top skate shoe for men is the WP Hi Boot from Converse. This shoe makes our list not just for its stunning looks but also for its excellent comfort and performance. Most people don’t know this, but this is a Converse with Nike SB tech (Nike owns Converse). The original Nike SB shoe has become more of a fashion shoe, but this model is functional. It’s specifically designed for skating.
As high tops, they offer unparalleled ankle support and protection. The leather upper is robust enough to stand the test of time, even for skaters who are very hard on their shoes. It features reinforced stitching near the laces and in areas of high water. There’s also the classic Converse toe cap.
A thick cushioned mesh layer inside the ankle collar and towards the top of the tongue increases breathability without compromising protection. The cushioning helps keep your feet secure in the shoes and protects you from an errant skateboard flying into your feet.
The vulcanized rubber sole allows plenty of flex and movement. It means your feet can move naturally without being restricted. It allows for greater board feel, which in turn means better control. The tread pattern ensures you can move your feet freely along the grip tape and features pivot points on the heel and ball of your foot.
The insole is made using Nike’s Lunarlon technology. This soft, responsive and supportive footbed excels at absorbing impacts – ideal for big drops and massive sets.
The tape around the edges of the sole is thick, creating another layer of protection. It has a raised pattern around the toes which offers maximum control of your board during flip tricks.
Due to their waterproof nature and heavy insulation, these boots can get too warm. We found that skating long sessions in them, especially in the summer, became quite uncomfortable.
- Thick mesh in the ankle collar protects and cushions
- Leather upper is tough and durable
- Vulcanized rubber sole allows for great board feel and flexibility
- Soft, supportive insole absorbs impact
- Heavy insulation can be too warm
Best High Tops for Skating (Women)
The best hi-top skate shoe for women is the Vans SK8-Hi. This classic skate shoe has been around for generations. And for good reason. The basic design has changed little but you can still rely on it to deliver top-rated comfort, board feel and style.
These Vans are available in a range of colours and designs. Each model has a different upper construction but they’re all made of a combination of canvas and suede or leather. Whichever option you decide on, the uppers are durable with a reinforced toe box. They also feature overlays along the laces and a rigid overlay at the back for enhanced heel support.
The vulcanized rubber outsole is lightweight and flexible. It features Vans signature waffle tread pattern for unrivalled board grip and control. Around the ball of your foot, the tread pattern changes to allow maximum manoeuvrability as you ride.
EVA insoles add a layer of cushioning and protection to your feet. This helps protect your joints from the heavy impacts involved in skating.
While we’re discussing protection, these hi-tops deliver a ton of ankle support and security. The collar is well padded and the lace eyes come up to the top of the shoes. They prevent your feet from moving, support your ankles and keep you safe from flying skateboards.
The break-in period for these shoes is much longer than we expected. Hi-tops always take longer to break in but be prepared for a couple of painful sessions before these are well moulded to your feet.
- Padded collar and high laces offer great ankle support
- EVA insole provides cushion
- Vulcanized rubber outsole is lightweight and flexible
- Durable upper features reinforced toe box
- Break-in time
Buying Guide - What to Look for in Skate Shoes
Sole Construction: Cupsoles vs Vulcanized Rubber
Skate shoe soles come in two varieties. Cupsoles and Vulcanized Rubber Soles. Each uses a distinct rubber compound and construction method and comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
A quick and easy way to tell the two apart is to look at how they are attached to the upper. Cupsoles will usually have a stitch near the top of the sole. Vulcanized soles will be wrapped in rubber tape, with no stitches visible.
Traditionally, vulcanized soles offered a higher degree of board feel and take much less time to break in. They’re thinner and more flexible but this means they’re also less supportive and not as durable as cupsoles.
Cupsoles deliver less sensory feedback. Meaning you get limited board feel. They also take longer to break-in. However, they’re more supportive, offer much better impact protection and are far more durable. They’re also much firmer, holding their form more effectively.
Generally, vulcanized shoes are more suitable for technical skaters who like to keep their tricks low to the ground. Think small rails, ledges, manuals and flat ground. Cupsoles are more suited to gnarly skaters who are taking on big gaps, large sets and massive drops.
Skateboarding is tough on your shoes. The abrasive grip tape will wear through the sole, upper or vamp fast. This is exaggerated if you’re doing a lot of technical tricks.
No matter which type of sole you opt for, ensure that it has been created with skateboarding in mind. Everyday sneakers will not last long if used for skating.
As for the upper, the most commonly used material suede. It’s durable and holds the board well during tricks.
But there are other materials used in skate shoes too.
Canvas is less common but still a popular choice. It’s lightweight, flexible and breathes well. However, it’s much less durable than other options. We don’t advise spending a lot of money on canvas skating shoes because their lifespan is so much shorter. But, if you can find a pair for a good price, they’re a good option for skating on hot days.
Leather is very durable. But it’s slippery which can take some getting used to. Plus it takes a long time to break-in.
Synthetic materials can be a good option but avoid any that are mesh or knit. These are even less durable than canvas. Certain rubber or TPU materials are a sturdy choice albeit less common.
You’ll want to keep an eye out for overlays, toe caps and ollie pads. These reinforce areas of high wear and dramatically extend the lifespan of your shoes. Ensure they are held in place with good quality stitching. Double or even triple stitching is preferred.
You’ll also find that some skate shoes have an under layer. This means that the shoe remains functional, even after you’ve worn a hole through the upper.
But not all damage to skate shoes is instantly visible. While skating, you spend a lot of time kicking and flipping and hard board around. You’re always doing this on hard surfaces like concrete or metal too. This means the cushioning can take a real beating.
You want to ensure your skate shoes have a good, durable insole/midsole combination. If the cushioning is cheap, or unreliable, it won’t protect you from impacts and won’t stay comfortable for long.
Skateboarding puts a lot of strain on your body. To avoid injury, you want as much impact protection as you can get away with. Bear in mind though, the more cushioning you have, the less sensory feedback you’ll get from the board.
Cupsoles offer better impact protection than vulcanized soles. They’re usually thicker and absorb shocks more effectively.
However, a well-cushioned insole will also play a huge part. If you are taking on bigger tricks, we suggest opting for more cushioning and less board feel. Extra heel cushioning is also a good idea, especially if you plan on tackling large sets or massive drops.
If you’re more of a technical skater, cushioning isn’t vital but is still worth considering. Most big skate companies will have proprietary insole technology, so keep your eye out for it.
Aftermarket insoles, specifically designed for skating are available if your shoes do not provide you with enough support.
It’s also worth getting shoes with a padded ankle collar. When tricks go wrong, it’s all too common for the board to spin into your ankles at high speed. A nicely padded collar can offer a lot of protection from this. Mid-top and high top shoes offer even more protection as well as a good level of ankle support.
While skating you need good control of the board. If your shoes don’t provide adequate grip, this becomes much more challenging. Soles that are made for skating will interact well with your grip tape, giving you maximum control.
But it’s not just the sole traction that you need to consider. When it comes to most tricks, you need to scrape your toe cap or upper along the grip tape. If it doesn’t provide good traction, then your foot will just slide off the board and you’ll bail. Suede is the most reliable upper material but some skaters swear by leather or synthetics.
While skating, the toe box of your shoes will take a large amount of abuse. Make sure your skate shoes have a reinforced toe cap to significantly extend their life.
Toe caps come in a variety of forms. The most common is a thick overlay, usually suede or leather, depending on what the upper is made from. These should be stitched into place with double, if not triple stitching.
Sometimes you’ll find shoes with rubber toe caps. These are more durable than leather or suede but can take some getting used to. They’re bulkier and offer a lot more grip – if you’re not used to the grip levels, it can feel like learning to skate all over again.
Printed or welded toe caps are lighter, usually have a similar grip level to leather or suede and just as durable. They’re a great choice but not as common.
The Busenitz is lighter with a better board feel. It has a premium suede upper that’s stylish and comfortable. It has an excellent outsole that’s both grippy and durable. The only downside to the shoe is that it has no reinforced toe – and can run a bit narrow.
The DC Court Graffik is an old DC classic. It’s well-padded, grippy and durable. Unlike most skate shoes, it’s available in a variety of exciting styles. It has a relaxed fit and an extra-wide base, plus plenty of padding – so it’s very comfy. The double stitching and tough sole mean the shoe lasts. Its downside is that it has limited breathability. Not optimal for hot climates.
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