7 Best Vans Sneakers in 2024

Judith
Judith on
7 Best Vans Sneakers in 2024
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Vans shoes are all over the place, getting much love and attention not only from skaters but anyone who loves sneakers. Most of today’s silhouettes are revamped versions of Vans’ flagship skate shoes and casual styles. 

Whether it’s your first time buying a pair of Vans shoes or you’re building a sneaker caboodle and prefer some classics to add up to your list, we are here to help you with our top picks.

We wear-tested and lab-tested Vans sneakers and pooled the best ones into different categories that will address your need for style and function. 

How we test sneakers

To give you an unbiased take on the shoes, save you time and effort, and help you simplify the process of choosing the BEST Vans sneakers, we evaluate them in an in-depth manner.

We start by buying the shoes using our money. This is to give us complete freedom to anything we have to say. We wear-test each of the pairs and wear them like crazy. We expand our movements and the conditions they are subjected to. Every pair is exposed to a month-long, thorough grind test, wherein we dedicate each day of the week to wearing Vans for practically multiple activities.

We also do regular rounds of flipping, sliding, grinding, and dropping at the skate parks and rate each Vans sneaker based on durability, support, flexibility, and comfort.

Finally, we crack the shoes open and slice them into pieces to acquire all our needed measurements related to their 30+ parameters. 

Best Vans sneakers overall

Vans Old Skool
93
Great!

What makes it the best?

After countless hours in the lab and testing the sneakers around the town, we found that the Vans Old Skool is the best Vans sneaker! All thanks to its heritage, its breathable upper, quick break-in period, and skate-ready sole.

The Vans Old Skool was one of the shoes that were there for skaters as they transitioned from skating barefoot. While we felt how breathable its canvas is from skating in them, we wanted to test it in our lab to confirm the fact. When we poured water over the sneaker, it seeped through the sneaker’s upper, falling straight into the shoe’s interior. This tells us that while the sneaker isn’t waterproof, it lets air flow right in. From our experience as well, its upper isn’t just useful for keeping feet sweat-free; it also lets the sneaker break in quite easily.

The Vans Old Skool’s soles also amazed us from our hours of skating in the sneaker. We noticed how responsive they were on foot, and how they allowed us to brake so well. In addition, we also noticed minimal wear on the Old Skool’s sole even when we used it for skating. This showed us that it can clearly handle being roughed up.

When we applied chalk and wet dyes to see how easy the sneaker was to clean, we observed that while dry marks came off well, wet ones were almost impossible to remove, even with proper cleaning products. Because of this, we don’t recommend the Vans Old Skool for people who want to be able to keep their sneakers clean at all times.

Pros

  • A classic silhouette deserving of any wardrobe
  • Easy to wear in
  • Super comfortable
  • Fits true to size
  • Incredibly breathable thanks to the all-canvas upper
  • Clean aesthetics
  • Very durable outsole
  • Brakes well on the board

Cons

  • Not very durable in comparison to other modern skate shoes
  • Collect stains easily
Full review of Vans Old Skool

Best high-top Vans sneakers

Vans SK8-Hi
92
Great!

What makes it the best?

Our thorough testing and analysis of Vans high-top kicks brought to light that Vans Sk8-Hi outshone other sneakers. The ankle reinforcement this sneaker offered left us profoundly impressed. We also found this shoe to be a superb foot and ankle protector because of its superior quality that couldn’t be invaded by scrapes and cuts.

We examined Sk8-Hi very carefully in our lab and we were welcomed by a heavily padded collar that supported our ankles whether we were walking or skating. We discovered that the adjustable shoelaces also helped in anchoring our feet firmly. And although we went hard in using this sneaker, we were never let down by its solid durability. 

We also felt comfortable inside this kick, thanks to the well-ventilated upper. In spite of its high-top design, our toes got great airflow. The downside is when we poured water over it, we discovered that water could also easily penetrate the upper. Due to this, we advise avoiding using this in damp conditions.

Pros

  • Classic silhouette that works with any wardrobe
  • Fits true to size
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Comfortable when broken in
  • Padded collar for ankle support
  • An easy silhouette even for a hi-top

Cons

  • Takes time to put on
  • Can take time to wear in
  • Not good in wet weather
Full review of Vans SK8-Hi

Best Vans sneakers for skating

Vans Era
90
Good!

What makes it the best?

No sneaker comes close to the Vans Era as the best Vans skate sneaker. We rigorously tested the sneaker in the lab and out in the park and discovered that its ultra-durable canvas and grippy waffle soles hold the secret to why it stands in a league of its own. Regarded as the grandfather of true skate shoes, the Vans Era also boasts outstanding comfort and breathability.

From the moment we put them on, we immediately noticed the sneaker's gentle ankle support, thanks to its padded collar. The snug fit also kept our feet secure and in place. While skating, we experienced excellent airflow through the canvas upper, keeping our feet cool and comfortable throughout.

But the real kicker is the upper's durability. Even after days of intense skating, it showed remarkable resilience and lived up to its legendary status. In the lab, we further examined the canvas by scratching it on purpose using a Dremel drill fitted with a metallic brush. The upper continued to impress us with its toughness, showing only minimal signs of fraying.

However, it's important to note that the kick is prone to staining. We've concluded this in our lab after applying chalk colors to the upper. For individuals seeking a stain-resistant skate shoe, we do not recommend the Vans Era.

Pros

  • A classic silhouette that works with any wardrobe
  • Fits true to size
  • Durable canvas construction
  • Padded collar
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable once worn in
  • Still a supportive skate shoe
  • Part of sneaker history

Cons

  • Takes time to break in
  • Not suitable for winter wear
  • Hard to clean stains out
Full review of Vans Era

Best Vans sneakers for summer

Vans Authentic
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

As we searched for the best Vans sneaker for summer, we looked for a shoe that does amazingly well on bright sunny days. After extensive testing in the lab and on the streets, we decided to award this to the Vans Authentic, with its neat combination of breathability, ease of use, and durability.

After hours of pounding the pavements in the Vans Authentic, we found it to be super breathable even in hot weather. To really put this to the test, we even went sockless with it. To our surprise, it was still comfortable. Its breathability was apparent even in the lab when we conducted our weatherproof test. When we poured water over the shoe’s upper, it went straight through the canvas. This showed us that while the sneaker isn’t waterproof, it is extremely breathable.

When it comes to ease of use, few do it better than the Vans Authentic. We found that wearing the shoe was a snap, as we chucked it on our feet effortlessly and went on our way. It also proved it’s an easy shoe to style, matching several of our outfits because of its simple silhouette.

We also performed an abrasion test on the Vans Authentic by pressing a wire brush (attached to a power drill) to see how its upper holds up. We found its canvas to be surprisingly strong, looking stylishly beat up rather than damaged after the test. This makes for a shoe that handles daily wear and tear quite well.

Although its canvas is sturdy, it isn’t impervious to discoloration. We applied a chalk stain to the Vans Authentic’s upper to see how well it could be cleaned. The blemish stayed on even after our best attempts to remove it. Because of this, we don’t recommend the Vans Authentic for those who want to keep their sneakers clean.

Pros

  • Eternal silhouette
  • Fits true to size
  • Durable canvas upper
  • Breathable
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Perfect lifestyle shoe

Cons

  • Could use some more padding
  • Vans' canvas shoes always attract stains
  • Not a great year-round sneaker
Full review of Vans Authentic

Best lightweight Vans sneakers

What makes it the best?

After spending countless hours testing shoes on city streets and in our lab, we found the Vans UltraRange EXO to be the best among all lightweight Vans sneakers. This lifestyle silhouette boasts a sleek design with a thin synthetic and mesh upper, supported by an equally lightweight midsole. Despite its featherlight construction, the soles of the UltraRange EXO offer unparalleled cushioning and grip too.

Based on our database, the UltraRange EXO weighs 10 oz or 285g which is 28% lighter compared to the average weight of all Vans sneakers (13.9 oz or 394.6g). Additionally, the mean mass of all lifestyle sneakers on the RunRepeat database is 12.7 oz or 359.4g, 26% heavier than the UltraRange EXO. 

The use of light materials such as mesh and synthetic fabric made UltraRange EXO an extremely versatile lifestyle sneaker. Its slim silhouette exudes a modern and sporty aesthetic, despite diverging from the hefty soles that Vans skate sneakers are known for. However, we noticed during our walk test that the outsoles are still grippy as ever. We also love that the UltraCush midsole is so light on the feet. They are so plush and comfy that it felt like we are walking on pillows of clouds the entire time!

However, our lab testing revealed that the kicks are not durable. We scuffed the upper using a wire brush attached to a power drill, and we saw how quickly the mesh fell apart. Even the foam midsole easily chipped off due to the abrasion. Therefore, we do not recommend the UltraRange EXO to enthusiasts seeking a highly durable Vans sneaker.

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable sock-like construction
  • Fits true to size
  • Lightweight
  • The athletic silhouette is versatile and modern
  • Still keep Vans heritage details
  • Grippy outer sole

Cons

  • Vans seriously need to work on the durability of this shoe
  • Stains stick to it
Full review of Vans UltraRange EXO

Vans sneakers with the best puffy aesthetics

Vans Knu Skool
92
Great!

What makes it the best?

Walking with the Knu Skool gave us a unique experience, with its bold and daring tongue hugging our feet snugly. Our lab confirms its massive nature, leading us to award it with the best puffy aesthetics among Vans sneakers. It gives off a nostalgic vibe and a high level of ground connection with its minimal cushioning. Further adding to the pleasant in-shoe experience is its breezy upper despite all the padding.

Visually, we could already see the plush tongue’s massive nature and our caliper confirms it’s 38.4 mm, a whopping 326.7% thicker than average! It’s even plusher than the sneaker’s cushioning system.

Despite all the padding, Knu Skool gives enough ventilation to feel comfortable even in the summer. Our smoke test in the lab awards it with an impressive 4/5 breathability, even with the real suede material.

Originally made for skateboarding, the platform stands 18.2/10.6 mm thin, giving us better control over our footwork and more connection with the board. However, we find that it lacks the cushioning for all-day wear. Those who prefer a plusher ride can check other options.

Pros

  • Late '90s skater vibes through and through
  • Mind-blowing durability for $75
  • Surprisingly breathable
  • Grounded underfoot feel
  • Extra padded and cozy interiors
  • Flexible, bends well with the foot
  • The puffiest tongue you can get!

Cons

  • Not for all-day wear
  • A bit heavier than average
  • Non-removable insole
Full review of Vans Knu Skool

Best all-weather Vans sneakers

Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2
94
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2 triumphed over various weather conditions with finesse, which is why it is our grand choice among all the Vans kicks. Our feet received a maximum level of defense against environmental elements while feeling all cozy and comfy. 

When viewed under a microscope, the upper of the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2 displayed no vent holes. This illustrates that the sneaker is impervious to water. Surprise, surprise, when we went out in the rain, our feet really did stay dry. While it’s true that this kick is water-resistant, it’s also true that it still lets our feet breathe. The amount of smoke that escaped from the upper of the sneaker yielded a 3/5 breathability score, proving that as long as the weather’s not too hot, we could sport the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2 without any snag.

We sliced the sneaker open to get a better feel of the cushioning. Based on our observations, the interior is really padded, aligning with the comfort we felt all over our feet. With our caliper, we measured the thickness of the sneaker’s tongue, and at 10.4 mm, it’s 70.5% more padded than others!

However, this abundant padding has got to reflect on something. It did and it’s on the kick’s weight. With a 19.89 oz (564g) construction, the Sk8-Hi MTE-2 went over the average by 39.2%. We recommend seeking lighter pairs if this is too heavy for you.

Pros

  • Top-notch weatherproofing
  • Supportive foothold
  • Real suede
  • More flexible than it seems
  • Grippy
  • Super plush insole
  • More than 10 colorways

Cons

  • Heavier than average
  • Not for wide feet
Full review of Vans Sk8-Hi MTE-2
Author
Judith
Judith
If Sneakerology exists, Judith’s close to earning her Ph.D. She owns not stacks of kicks, but hundreds of published sneaker content online, headlining grails, greats, GRs from over 30 global brands. She’s a natural creative wordsmith, a hype monster at times, who writes and edits lifestyle articles professionally for over two decades now. If you're lost in a sea of popular or undervalued sneaks fishing for that best catch, she’ll gladly help out between sips of coffee or lemony mojito.