10 Best Skate Sneakers in 2021

Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin on
10 Best Skate Sneakers in 2021

Aside from known skate brands like Vans and DC, sneaker giants like Nike and Adidas have also introduced their own lines of skate kicks. This makes choosing the RIGHT one grueling.

We have reviewed over 100 skate shoes to save your time and help you get the best one. Whether it’s a more performance-oriented sneaker you’re after or you just want the style, we’ve got them both in our top picks. Slip-ons, high-tops, or chunky ones - we have selected the best skate shoe in each category.

And if you’d like to know what makes the best skate shoe for tricks or how to make it last longer, scroll down to the guide section below.

How we choose the best skateboard shoes

An ad- and pop-up-free site, we are here to give you not just the most popular skate shoes, but the best skateboard shoes based on reviews from actual skaters. Each model receives a CoreScore ranging from 0-100 to let you see at a glance how liked a shoe is.

Best overall

Yes, you read it right. For us, Adidas Busenitz tops the list when it comes to the best overall skate sneakers!

For one thing, this kick rocks both on the city streets and on the skate park. Looking all clean and retro, average Joes and Janes, as well as thrill-seeking skaters, won’t have any problem when it comes to mixing and matching this with their outfits - that’s because this one looks good with everything.

And since this is the best overall, you can expect the Busenitz to also rack up some points when it comes to its in-shoe feel and quality. Long walks and cruises have never felt better with these bad boys on.

Well, you might feel a bit intimidated and annoyed with its extended tongue, but after some time, you get used to it (as we did!). If you don’t, you can always cut it! A win-win situation, right?

Now, you’re probably wondering how this shoe fares when it comes to skateboarding. After all, THE BEST SKATE SHOE should indeed skate well. Good thing, this one sure did!

Equipped with a suede upper and a rubber cupsole, jumping over railings and staircases won’t hurt much, thanks to its shock-absorbent sole and supportive construction. And like most suede-covered shoes, this one is also hardwearing. It might fade a bit, but who cares? The more rugged it looks, the better.

See our full review and facts

Vans Old Skool is a skate veteran’s choice since 1966 that almost needs no introduction. After countless hours testing it on concrete skate parks, from stair sets, mini ramps, quarter pipes, and a whole caboodle of obstacle setups, we can confidently say this Vans shoe with a trademark squiggly side stripe rocked it!

It’s almost an all-square fight between another game-changer Adidas Busenitz when it comes to the all-time best skate shoe. But seriously, it seems hard to beat a good Old Skool down. It got even better with the upgraded footbed cushioning, making those hard landings a lot bearable.

There’s no denying that its grippy rubber waffle sole can withstand the abrasiveness of griptape. It’s even twice as thick as before, so we can safely swear by its durability. No doubt!

Doing a series of flips with this is almost a breeze as its vulc sole makes everything light. Did we say that its low-top style gave us full maneuverability even though our boards sometimes smack us hard on the ankle?

Though most canvas skate options are prone to get ripped sooner than expected, this is where Vans Old Skool cuts above the rest. We gave the upper a run with a saw drill to see how it fare plus hours of grinding at the skatepark. And though there were scuff marks across the ollie and other high wear zones, it fairly held up well without getting our feet blistered and toasty.

If you’re perfecting those kickflips and wanting to gain momentum with a series of ramp tricks, we recommend this skate shoe to help you get in the groove. It’s the cheapest skate kick from Vans classic skate performers that’s certainly not a letdown.

See our full review and facts

Best high top

What can be more pleasing than performing your kickflips, ollies, and power slides while enjoying all the comfort and ankle support you could ever imagine? After extensive research and trials on a hundred products, coming on top of the best high-top skate sneakers is the Vans Sk8-Hi.

We are highly impressed that the Vans Sk8-Hi continues to dominate the skate scene after four decades since it was launched. WeOur skate experts spent countless sessions in these and concluded that it is among the best high-top models for comfort, board feel, and durability. This kick amazingly held up well after numerous test fleets, thanks to its robust make!  

And since this is a high-top, we are spellbounded on how this pair provides extended coverage of protection and support. Thanks to its well-padded collar that also keeps you warm and cozy when the colder season arrives. 

On top of these, Vans Sk8-Hi kicks are readily available on the market with a plethora of hues to choose from, making it easy as pie to pick whatever your personal style happens to be!

Coming from the pedigree of one of the best skate sneaker brands, shredding every single day in the Vans Sk8-Hi will definitely amp up your skating caliber. It is a surefire gem when you’re looking for a legendary skate sneaker or simply an all-rounder kick that has a perfect mixture of style and energy.

See our full review and facts

If you think the Vans SK8-Hi is already over the place and you want something more unique, the next best thing would be DC’s Pure High-Top.

Offering the same supportive construction and hard-to-miss looks as the Sk8-His, the Pure High-Top will surely give you PURE satisfaction. Since comfort trumps looks, dare we say that this is damn comfy -  as long as you’re not the type who needs extra arch support. In case you do, you can always replace its insoles with your custom orthotics. 

Now, on to the more serious stuff. How does this shoe perform in the skate parks? 

After months of cruising and a couple of ollies and drop-ins, this kick sure performed. Its grippy rubber cupsole won’t only keep you stuck on your board, it would also keep you protected from crappy landings. 

And, one last thing. This one is made to last (maybe for a few months). Just enough time for you to save up for another pair of kicks.

See our full review and facts

Best slip-on

Surprise, surprise! It was unexpected that coming from a relatively new player in skateboarding, Emerica killed it with the Wino G6. After scrutinizing and playtesting a huge haul of slip-on skate shoes from 14 brands (and counting!) we find this the best among the rest.

This vulcanized shoe surpasses other time-honored slip-ons in the market in terms of function and durability (let’s add style in the equation)— that includes shoes from major skate-specific brands.

Here's what you're getting in exchange for less than a $70 budget. Aside from covering the basics like comfort and ease of wearing it, this skate shoe is a sure wino! It made us fly and grind with our boards while getting the needed sure-footed grip. Emerica simply nailed it on this one!

After subjecting it to over 100 kickflip tests, it barely got busted. It made us slide, flip, and glide without suffering from heel slippage. Big thanks to the heel system that kept our foot anchored in whether we take rounds on the handrails, vert ramps, or half pipes. The G6 cushioned insole doesn't only offer comfort but makes us love the shoe's secure fit even more

A caveat though, since it's fully covered in suede, it needed a bit of breaking in to get used to the mold. Now, if you're up for an all-rounder skate shoe, a beater that's priced for less, we guarantee you the Emerica Wino G6 performs wonders. Let it surprise you too

You can have it on days you’re off your board as it offers all-day comfort too. Given its versatile style, you can wear it any day and anywhere. You’re not only getting the best but everything for less too.

See our full review and facts

Slip-on skate sneakers may not be popular, but once you have tried the Nike SB Charge Slip, you will definitely ask for more!

Landing not far behind the Emerica Wino G6, we found the Nike SB Charge Slip as the next best option when it comes to slip-on skate sneakers. 

Boasting its soft and lightweight construction, the SB Charge Slip will let you experience more enjoyable and breezier street skating sessions. Quickly slide your feet in, and it will instantly cuddle your trotters for a homey feeling. 

More than that, we are over the moon on its versatility that looks divine when matched with countless attires! We highly recommend this sneaker if you’re on a hunt for footwear for your daily shredding or a go-to kick for your day-to-day errands. 

Concerned about the lockdown feel? Don’t fret as Nike packed it with features that will keep your feet secured as you perform your flip tricks, ollies, and shuvits! 

On top of all these impressive features, we are astonished to find out that the Nike SB Charge Slip is one of the cheapest in Nike’s arsenal! How great can that be! Enjoy all these and more with the Nike SB Charge Slip!

See our full review and facts

Best chunky sneaker

In the skateboarding realm, chunky sneakers don’t necessarily equate to loud colors and triple soles. When it comes to skate sneakers, chunky means puffy. If you want to know the best, the best chunky skate sneaker for us is no other than eS Accel OG.

A kick that has been around since the 90s, expect this to exude a retro vibe like most dad shoes out there. If your dear old man is a skater, then he’d know what we’re talking about.

In terms of performance, don’t think that this would leave you injured after a sketchy landing. After numerous wear tests, this shoe’s puffy suede upper and solid rubber cupsole proved that it still has something to boast about. Impact protection and support are guaranteed, all thanks to its added cushioning.

Durability-wise, the Accel OG’s amazed us. Despite the absence of tech seen in newer models, for the price of around $75, these kicks held up well after weeks of gnarly, downright crazy skate sessions. 

So, if you dig chunky skate kicks, the Accel OG is worth trying. True, you’ll have to break it in since it’s made of suede. But once broken in, you’d want these to stick to your tootsies until they’re all beaten up.

See our full review and facts

It’s no surprise that a skate shoe from DC ends up among our top picks in the chunky category. When it comes to fat, beefy skate shoes, this brand has been the go-to by riders who needed that extra padding all over. 

Before this shoe landed among the best in our chunky skate sneaker lineup, we wear-tested it for several weeks. After some serious rounds of beating along banked ramps, pools, handrails, quarter pipes, and vertical ramps, it validated why this shoe deserves the spotlight! Oh, boy, it gave us astounding shock absorption, especially during those big drops! 

It’s almost hard to bid this shoe goodbye if you’re a first-timer transitioning from a slim skate shoe to a beefy, massive one. The cushioning it gives is far from amazing. While it looks bulbous with a fat tongue and extra padded collar, this shoe is surprisingly light! 

How about grip, you ask? It’s phenomenal! Its rubber outsole adhered to the board making those jumps and flight of stairs miraculously less difficult. The only major downside is having its tongue slip to the sides on certain occasions. In exchange for this, we got a secured fit even on demanding and challenging spins. 

Oh, and one more thing, it’s one of the best options during cold months. Those foamed sides do offer a bit of insulation. You’ll never know how great it feels unless you give it a shot. For an MSRP of $75, there’s really nothing much to lose.

See our full review and facts

Best budget sneaker

Stylish? Check. Cozy? Check. Durable? Check. Board feel? Check. Enjoy all these  mind-blowing features without overspending. Meet our top pick in our list of budget-friendly skate sneakers - the Vans Sport. 

After meticulously testing hundreds of products, we have concluded that the Vans Sport tops our list of best skate sneakers found under $90! Having roots in a brand known for its stellar skating shoe iterations, we can’t contain our excitement to share how the Vans Sport can definitely give you the most bang for your buck. 

We are dumbfounded how these skate sneaks were able to remain intact after subjecting it to daily ollies, shuvits, and heelflips! Thanks to its premium construction, a daily ride with exceptional speed and enthusiasm is possible with these skate kicks.

Plus, this beast quickly boosted up our confidence the moment we decided to amp up our street style. Showcasing a fashion similar to the legendary Vans Old Skool, Vans Sport is the easy choice whenever the mood to dress up or just slob around kicks in. 

Though it doesn’t have any groundbreaking features, the Vans Sport offers basic elements indispensable in any street shredding session. It surely deserves its spot as the best budget-friendly skate kick to date!

See our full review and facts

For only $65, the Adidas Seeley sure is budget-friendly and is not in any way cheap. 

An Adidas Originals skate kick favorite, this shoe comes with an abrasive-resistant suede upper that can withstand the wear and tear of skateboarding. And when we say wear and tear, we mean downright gnarly skate sessions on curbs and half pipes.

Apart from its hard-wearing upper, its vulcanized sole has also proven its sturdiness. It does not only keep the shoe light, grippy, and flexible, but it also makes tranny skating easy breezy. The hours we spent on cruising and flat ground maneuvers are way more fun with these bad-ass sneaks. 

Comfort-wise, we give these 5 stars because these are damn comfy on feet. Despite its minimal cushioning and arch support underfoot, walking on these all day didn’t equate to pain. You might have to break these in, but who cares? Any suede shoe requires that.

So, after all the long walks and sketchy landings, the Adidas Seeley is indeed a keeper given its affordable price!

See our full review and facts

What are skate sneakers?

Skate shoes, unlike lifestyle sneakers, will not only keep you looking stylish all day. These kicks are purposefully built to improve skaters’ performance whether they’re into cruising, tranny skateboarding, or street skating. 

So, what differentiates a skate shoe from your everyday sneaker? 

Sneakers vs skate shoes.png

Compared to casual sneakers, good skateboard shoes need the following:

Enhanced durability. Skaters are known to push their limits. The same is expected from their shoes. Skate shoes are engineered to withstand the abrasive nature of this high-impact action sport.

Grippy soles. Expect most skateboard shoes to have flat and wide rubber outsoles with minimal treading. This increases the friction effect letting you hold onto your board.

Better boardfeel. Skate shoes are often engineered with thin cushioning. This makes the shoes less comfortable but maximizes board feel, allowing the skater to have better control of their movements.

PRO-TIP: Skate sneakers are now street staples because of their in-style look and functionality. There are, however, sneakers that carry a skate shoe look but lack the three characteristics stated above. These shoes are categorized for everyday wearing but will not perform well on the board.

5 easy steps to get the best skateboard shoe

These 5 simple steps will help you pick the shoe that provides the right amount of boardfeel, protection, and durability in no time.

  • Cup sole vs Vulc sole
  • Leather vs Textile
  • EVA vs PU
  • Keep an eye on these 5 special features
  • Pick your style

1.Pick a sole based on your riding style

How you shred will dictate the type of sole construction that will work best for you. For skate shoes, it’s a choice between cupsole and vulc sole. 

If you’re a beginner, try vulc-soled skate shoes since these types of kicks offer excellent grip and boardfeel (two must-have things that a newbie skateboarder needs).

Cup sole vs Vulc sole

  Cupsole.png Vulc sole.png

Sole-type

Cupsole

Vulc sole

What is it?

the upper is glued and sewn to a one-piece outsole unit

a foxing tape is wrapped around the shoe to connect the upper to the outsole

Benefits

-better impact protection and support

-hardwearing sole

-lasting traction

-more cushioning

-enhanced boardfeel

-lightweight

-cheaper

-quick break-in time

-better maneuverability

Drawbacks

-reduced boardfeel

-longer break-in time

-bulkier and heavier

-less control

-less impact protection and heel support

-less durable

-lacks cushioning

Great for

-big drops (involves jumping on railings, large gaps, and a flight of stairs)

-cruising (using the skateboard for traveling or commute)

-transition skating (skating mini ramps, half pipes, and quarter pipes)

-flat ground maneuvers

 

See cupsole skate sneakers

See vulc sole skate shoes

2. Select your preferred upper material

When it comes to upper material; it’s an option between breathability and durability. However, watch out for shoes that are made of both leather and textile like the Vans Old Skool and Adidas 3ST.004. These ensure to give you both in one package.

 

Common Materials Used

Pros

Cons

Upper

Leather (Suede/ Nubuck/ Full-grain)

+ Durable

+ Stable and supportive

+ Comfortable overtime (it molds to the shape of the foot giving skaters a customized fit)

+ Abrasion-resistant

+ Easier to clean

- Longer break-in time

- Full-grain leather shoes are heavier on the feet

- Less breathable

Nice to know: Full-grain is the most durable. Suede is top-rated when it comes to skate shoes for its maneuverability and consistent flick. Keep an eye on shoes made with Super Suede or Action Leather. These are coated with polyurethane (PU) to boost its durability.

Textile

+ Breathable

+ Lightweight

+ Cheaper

+ Feels softer on the get-go

-Less durable

-Limited support and stability

-Tends to absorb water

See canvas, mesh, knit, etc. skate shoes

3.Choose your midsole

It’s a choice between durability and flexibility when it comes to choosing your midsole material. 

 

Common Materials Used

Pros

Cons

Midsole

EVA

+ Cushioning provides mild impact absorption

+ Flexible

+ Lightweight

-Less supportive

-Compresses over time

PU

+ Hardwearing

+ Supportive

-Longer break-in period

-Heavier

See EVA skate shoes

4.Look for these 5 special features if you want your skate shoes to last

Given the added tech and top-notch materials on some of the longest-lasting skate shoes, expect these to have a higher price tag. Aside from the usual suede or leather upper, these shoes would also have at least one of the features below:

5 features to look for in skate shoes 2 copy.png

Heel protection 

Heel bruising can’t be helped after a session of shredding. This type of injury can be avoided by using skate shoes with heel-saving tech or dual cushioning. Try checking out CONS and Nike skate kicks that are equipped with Zoom Air insoles. Adidas also features skate sneakers with Adiprene insoles that are known to effectively absorb impact and provide cushioning.

Reinforcements in high-wear areas

The collar, front, and sides of your shoes wear out quickly due to constant rubbing. Enter toe caps, double foxing tapes, padded collars, and ollie bumpers. If you’re the type who does a lot of heelflips, kickflips, or ollies, these reinforcements are capable of protecting your heels and toes from bruising and lengthening the life of your shoes. 

If you’re someone who is into skate shoes with a sleek look, you can opt for shoes with rubber underlays or printed toe caps. Nike’s Hyperfuse or eS STI Thermothane both provide added durability while giving a seamless look. Hidden reinforcements like Adituff and Duracap will let you grind even with unwanted blowouts.

Gusseted tongue

Skate shoes with tongues attached to the sides of the upper is another neat feature to look for. Aside from giving the shoe a snug, bootie-like fit, this also keeps the tongue centered.

Extra stitching

Double or triple stitching on areas that get the most abuse will maximize the shoe’s longevity by reducing seam splitting.

Lace protectors

Expect the laces to be the first to break with constant shredding. In fact, some skaters rip their laces at least once a week. Built-in lace protectors do wonders in minimizing the occurrence of lace breakage. While this is something you would find on older models, there are skate shoes that are engineered with hidden lace loops and metal or plastic eyelets. 

5.Select the style that suits your taste

Apart from performance, good skate shoes have to look badass. Brands, nowadays, provide multitudes of options. Choices range from retro to chunky to minimalist, and a whole lot more. But before you go through that, you will need to choose between low-tops, mid-tops, and high-tops.   

Rating based on top.png

Bonus topic: 4 genius hacks to make your skate shoes last longer

Let’s face it, even the top-rated and most durable skate shoes are prone to wear and tear (all thanks to the all-rebellious grip tape). So, shredders, over the years, have come up with a couple of genius tricks to extend the lifespan of their kicks. 

Note: Most of these hacks are made to lengthen your shoe’s life and will not improve the way your shoe looks (it may just do the exact opposite). 

1. Apply super glue on the stitching. You can do this on brand new shoes. Make sure to only apply a thin layer on the stitches that usually rub against the grip tape. To know which areas are the most prone to tearing, check the holes on your old shoes. If it’s your first time to skate, consider applying glue on high-contact areas, the most common of which are found below: 

  • toebox
  • heel
  • sides of the shoe (ollie area)
  • stitching around collar
  • shoelace area

2. Learn how to properly lace your skateboard shoes. Laces ripping can’t be avoided. Adding Shoe Goo or super glue on your laces will help but this would stop you from adjusting the fit of your shoes. If this option won’t work for you, here are a few lacing techniques that you can use to prevent skate-related injuries as well as keep your laces from snapping.

In case you have toe problems or high arches and the like, we’ve compiled a good number of neat knots and lacing methods that you can try out. 

3. Repair blowouts using Shoe Goo. Shoe Goo is an adhesive or sealant that is made specifically to repair shoes. A skater’s BFF when it comes to patching holes up, you just need a cube of ice to smoothen it out. In case you don’t have on hand a tube of Shoe Goo then you can always use superglue, trick tape, or even pieces of suede from your old shoes to cover up those holes.

4. Sand down new grip tape. One other way to delay the extinction of your kicks is by confronting the cause itself - Griptape. While grip tape is needed for you to stay on your board, this sandpaper-like sheet will puncture your shoes in no time. You can either buy a non-abrasive grip tape that costs around $50 or use regular grip tape and sand it down.

Author
Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.