When it comes to skate shoes, the difficult task is to find a perfect balance between cushioning, »boardfeel «, durability, and, above all, style. What types of skate shoes are there? Which materials are the most durable?

The Sole

When you purchase a shoe, you should make sure that it actually is a skate shoe. Skate shoes have a rubber sole, a requirement for maximum grip.

Various cushioning technologies offer comfort, flexibility, and ensure a great boardfeel. Various materials guarantee durability.

Soles are available in two different versions.

CUP SOLE (> Fig. 01 left)

A cup sole is made of a single piece and is glued and sewn onto the shoe.

The advantages of this kind of shoe are high durability, stability, and good cushioning. Unfortunately, a cup sole also limits your boardfeel.

VULCANIZED SOLE (> Fig. 01 right)

In contrast to a cupsole, a vulcanized sole is only glued to the upper shoe and consists of several parts. A good boardfeel is an advantage for the vulcanized sole, but you sacrifice stability.

Fig. 01 Cup and Vulcanized Sole Cross-Section
Cup- and Vulcanized Sole Cross-Section

The Upper

The materials which are used most often for skate shoes are suede and canvas. Suede shoes, in most cases, have a rough and sturdy leather upper. Canvas shoes have a better breathability but aren't as durable as suede shoes.

Seams and care

In a way, the seams on footwear are the Achilles heel of skateboarders. Due to the abrasion caused by the rough surface of the griptape, the threads on the sew joint are usually the first things to go.

Although there are shoes that are double-stitched, it makes sense to protect the seam before you go skating with your shoes. If you want to avoid trouble with seams altogether, you should consider shoes with a seamless toecap.

Low, Mid or High?

Most skateboarders swear by low-top shoes (> Fig. 02 C). The reason for that is that the ankle lies free and is therefore able to move freely and perform any flip-motion properly.

Mid-range or medium versions (> Fig. 02 B), which only reach up to the ankle, offer a compromise between protection and freedom of movement.

High-top shoes (> Fig. 02 A) have the advantage that they not only protect your ankles but stabilize them as well. The disadvantage, however, is limited freedom of movement.

Fig. 02 Shoe Silhouettes
Shoe Silhouettes