Skate Shoes

Skate Shoes

What makes a skateboarding shoe different from a sneaker, a trainer, or a tennis shoe? In some cases, very little. Many of the skate shoes today from brands like Nike SB, Adidas Skateboarding, and CONS Skateboarding (Converse) are shoes pulled from their archives and made more skate friendly. So the question becomes what makes a shoe skate friendly or "skateable"?

Just as a complete skateboard needs every component to be a skateboard, skate shoes need a few key features to be skateable. At the most basic level, a shoe needs a durable upper design and a grippy, rubber outsole to be considered skateable. Popular skate shoes like the Nike SB Dunk, Adidas Samba, and the Converse Chuck Taylor all filled these basic requirements well before they were marketed as "skate shoes."

Skate Shoe design has always been in response to the type of skateboarding that was popular at the time. In the 60’s and 70’s when skateboarders were mainly imitating surfing, a simple low top skate shoe with a durable outsole and canvas upper, like the Vans Authentic, was popular. In the 80’s when vert skating was all the rage, shoes like the Vans Sk8-Hi, Converse Chuck Taylor, and Nike SB Dunk all with lots of ankle support and padding were popular. But, the biggest shift in skateboarding came when skateboarding took to the streets. Durability, specifically in the high wear “ollie” area of the shoe (between a skater’s small toe and the middle of his foot), became the most important design feature. The 90’s and early 00’s saw a wave of reinforcements, rubbers, plastics, and triple stitches all in the name of beefing up a shoe’s toughness, a style that has not gone away. The DVS Comanche, and the Osiris D3 are both styles of skate shoes developed in this time where durability was king. Since then, skateboarders have opted for the balance of boardfeel and durability. Simple shoe designs made with durable suede like the Vans Kyle Walker Pro, Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski, and the Adidas Busenitz are excellent examples of shoes that are both durable and have great boardfeel.

So what is boardfeel? Or, better, how do I know if a shoe has good boardfeel without skating it first? Boardfeel has everything to do with the construction of a shoe. New skate shoes are made using either a cupsole construction or a vulcanized construction. The "construction" of a shoe refers to how the sole is attached to the upper of the shoe (the canvas/leather/suede/textile part of the shoe). Vulcanized skate shoes use heat, glue, and foxing tape to attach the bottom of the shoe (the outsole) to the upper. Cupsole skate shoes use glue and often times stitching to attach the outsole to the upper. Historically, vulcanized skate shoes, out of the box, have better boardfeel, while cupsole skate shoes have better support and last longer than vulc shoes. A great way to determine how a shoe skates is to watch wear test videos like the CCS Wear Tests. Another option is a shoe’s description. Typically, CCS skate shoes descriptions will address a shoe’s boardfeel, durability, flexibility, and support through the materials used or construction.

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. Some of our most popular brands include Nike SB, Adidas Skateboarding, Vans, Converse, Etnies, and DC.

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