Can’t you just skate in just any old pair of shoes?
You could, but it would be the equivalent of say running a marathon in tennis shoes. They may do the job, but it’s still not really a great idea.
Skate shoes provide cushioning to support your knees and other joints from impacts. They are designed to perform consistently in a variety of situations that arise in skating such as ollies, flip tricks, pushing, and breaking.
They are also designed to be reinforced in high impact areas, such as the part of the foot that slides up the grip-tape during an ollie.
A standard pair of shoes will be torn to shreds skating in them for a few days, while a decent pair of skate shoes should last a good year or so with medium use.
After the summary table below, we discuss the key things to consider when buying skate shoes, followed by reviews of the best products on the market in Australia.
Our top pick: Nike Sb Zoom Stefan Janoski
Designed to withstand the wear and tear of all types of skating, this shoe is also durable and provides great grip to assist with a wide range of manoeuvres.
Another great plus with this shoe is its classic clean silhouette means it looks great and can be easily worn as a casual shoe.
- Great grip
- Not suitable for wide feet
- Canvas can be less durable than suede
Emerica Andrew Reynolds G6
One of the few cupsole shoes on this list, the Reynolds G6 signature model is designed and made to specifications of the legend himself.
A Pour in G6 polyurethane mid-sole provides maximum support and protection while a heel anchor system reduces foot movement and improves precision and control. A 100% suede upper provides solid durability.
These are also one of the most affordable pairs of skate shoes on this list.
- Good support and cushioning thanks to cupsole design
- Very durable
- Andrew Reynolds signature model
- Cupsole leads to a small sacrifice on boardfeel
Vans Old Skool Pro
Skate shoes don’t get much more iconic than this. The Vans Old Skool Pro delivers excellent board feel and control thanks to its lightweight construction and snug foot support.
These shoes are also a good option for skaters wanting cushion and impact protection, thanks to Vans Duracap Reinforcement Rubber Underlays providing an additional layer of protection in the midsole.
- Iconic design
- Original Vans Waffle outsole
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Good impact cushioning in midsole
- Canvas can be less durable than 100% leather or suede
A true vulcanized shoe with pulling in the best design features from Lakai’s past releases and combining them with the latest in modern shoe tech.
A suede upper provides impressive durability while a mesh tongue and new breathable mesh window and on the inside helps you with overheating and sweat during those long sessions on summer days.
A medium level of cushioning makes this shoe more suitable for technical skaters.
- Suede upper for grip and durability
- Elastic tongue band
- Laces hold up well
- OK for wider feet
- Medium level cushioning makes these less suitable for big gaps
DC Shoes Vestrey
A great offering from skate shoe legends DC, the Vestrey is a solid high-performance skate shoe with a budget-friendly price tag.
Lightweight, comfortable, and complete with a super grippy outsole, this shoe will be at home on the feet of beginners and pros alike.
An OrthoLite midsole provides good cushioning for big landings while a suede and leather upper is designed to withstand the wear and tear caused by ollies and flip tricks.
- Suede and Leather upper for durability
- OrthoLite footbed for cushioning
- Dynamic Grip Technology rubber outsole
- Metal eyelets should provide some lace protection
- Cheaper than other options
- A fairly new addition to the world of skate shoes and has yet to prove its reliability and popularity amongst the masses
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What Makes A Great Skate Shoe?
Types Of Skate Shoes
Skate shoes typically come in one of three styles: Low, Mid, or High.
Low-top skate shoes resemble your typical casual sneakers and are the most common variety of skate shoes.
Advantages include being lightweight and having maximum freedom of movement.
High-tops come up above the ankle providing additional support, comfort and protection. Mid-top skate shoes fit in somewhere in-between these two.
They offer some additional support over low-top varieties but without the restricting feeling that some people find comes with high-tops.
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Vulcanized Vs Cupsole
You may have seen the term Vulacanized, or simply “Vulc” being thrown about in skate shoe discussions, but what does this mean exactly?
As explained in this article, Vulcanized soles are constructed by heating the rubber sole and adhering it to the upper part of the shoe, resulting in superior strength and durability.
While they do sacrifice slightly on cushioning, their low-profile design makes them light-weight and flexible, and favourites for skaters who prioritise board feel.
Those who prefer more support will often opt for cupsoles, which utilise more traditional stitching to fix the sole to the upper of the shoe.
This design generally provides enhanced support and comfort. Aside from reduced board feel, cup soles can also weigh a bit more than vulcs.
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Support And Cushioning
As discussed above, different types of shoe construction will contribute differently to the level of cushion you get.
If you enjoy big gaps, stairs and drops, cushioning and support will likely be a priority for you.
Try and find a pair of cupsoles that includes EVA or TPR foam in the midsole which provide long-lasting impact protection without sacrificing too much on boardfeel.
You may, however, find that the cushion that comes with factory skate shoes just doesn’t cut it. That’s where skate insoles come in.
For more information check out this insole guide from Tactics.
So what makes a great skate shoe?
Depending on your personal style and preferences, you’ll need to make a compromise between board feel, cushion and support, grip, durability, and of course price.