Skateboarding shoes or skate shoes are shoes specifically designed for riding skateboards in parks, in the street, or in secret underground skate dungeons. Maybe not that last one. Skateboarding shoes generally have a flat sole, standard lacing, and often a reinforced outer fabric for protection against wear.
There are two types of sole construction in skateboarding shoes: vulcanized and cupsole. A vulcanized consists of 2 essential pieces: a flat rubber sole and a strip of rubber stretching around the shoe’s bottom perimeter to which the sole is bonded. A vulcanized sole skateboarding shoe is extremely flexible, and allows a rider to feel his/her skateboard as well as possible.
A cupsole is one piece of molded rubber, which includes the bottom of the shoe and the strip of rubber surrounding the shoe’s bottom perimeter. A cupsole skateboarding shoe is thicker and generally more durable than a vulcanized sole skate shoe, which allows greater impact protection.
Within these two types of skateboarding shoes, there are different adaptations that each uses to compensate for its relative shortcomings. Vulcanized sole skate shoes will often include an extra padded insole to make up for what it lacks in impact protection. Cupsole skateboarding shoes will sometimes include a tapered insole to give them the feel of a vulcanized sole.
If you’re just starting to wear or shop for skate shoes, your best bet is to try both out. Get out and skate a pair of each and see which style you prefer. All skateboarding shoe brands will offer a variety of both cupsole and vulcanized shoes, so pick your favorite and start experimenting.