Our verdict

We conclude that the Vans Half Cab is a hot item among skaters because it offered an amazing board feel that made us feel safe as we did those crazy flips and leaps. Like most vulc shoes, we did not feel any thick cushioning underneath, allowing us to enjoy a superb board connection.

Pros

  • Great board feel
  • Thickly padded tongue
  • Super grippy
  • Spacious toe box
  • Versatile style
  • Tank-like durability
  • Interchangeable insole
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Really heavy
  • Issues with stability

Audience verdict

89
Good!

Who should buy

After seeing the results of our lab assessments and wear tests, we now believe that the Vans Half Cab is a good match for the following:

  • wearers who want shoes with prominently thick tongues
  • sneakerheads who are OK with suede, leather, and other animal derivatives
  • skating enthusiasts who want flat and stable shoes
  • buyers who want kicks that are big on durability

Vans Half Cab buy

Who should NOT buy

The heaviness that we felt while wearing the Vans Half Cab was so real. Even the slightly heavy Adidas Campus 00S feels lighter. The Vans Slip-On is also a good alternative.

Based on our experience, the shoe's stability was a source of major concern. The sidewalls weren't so stiff, the torsional rigidity was low, and the platform was narrower than usual. The Vans Old Skool offers much better stability.

Vans Half Cab spread out

Breathability

Breathability was not an issue for us. The shoe was able to deliver as much ventilation as the other sneakers that we tried. This is quite a feat considering that the Vans Half Cab is made of poreless materials throughout.

The New Balance 57/40 got a 4 out of 5 in our breathability test and as seen in the video above, the Half Cab from Vans performs quite similarly. The only difference is that much of the smoke could only escape through the tongue. The 3 out of 5 that this sneaker got from us is quite warranted.

The light test that we did is captured in the video above. This test confirmed that the material that composed the upper did not have pores for smoke or even light to pass through.

Vans Half Cab upper microscope

We examined the upper material, which we verified as suede in another test, and it just showed as one solid block under the microscope. Without the tongue and its non-gusseted design, it would have been difficult to get any air.

Vans Half Cab Breathability
Test results
Half Cab 3
Average 3
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Leather/Suede quality

To ascertain if the upper is made of suede as claimed, we did a fire test on the shoe. We then probed the burnt area using our awl. The results are convincing: the material was quite resistant to burning and it's safe to conclude that it was indeed suede. The smell of burning hair during the test was also unmistakable.

Test results
Half Cab Real suede

Toebox durability

Being made of suede, we expected this shoe to be quite sturdy. 

We were not disappointed. We accidentally and intentionally bumped this shoe or hard surfaces and it successfully weathered through all of them.

Our experience of durability was confirmed when we performed our standard Dremel test on the toebox of the Vans Half Cab. High-pressure drilling only made a faintly noticeable dent. It never got through the suede.

This sneaker was better than the New Balance 530, which ended up with a glaring hole after the same test. The Half Cab deserves a perfect 5 for toebox durability.

Vans Half Cab Toebox durability
Test results
Half Cab 5
Average 3.7
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Just like the toebox, the heel padding displayed commendable durability. It never looked disheveled even when we were rubbing on it quite aggressively.

After our Dremel test on the heel padding, the damage that we observed was way less than the damage seen on the New Balance 237 (which only got a 1 out of 5, by the way). We gave the Half Cab a 4 out of 5.

Vans Half Cab Heel padding durability
Test results
Half Cab 4
Average 3.4
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

When it came to the hardness of the outsole, we felt that the Vans Half Cab did not perform any better or any worse than many of the shoes that we wear-tested. With proper care, this shoe should be able to hold its own even when used on rough outdoor surfaces at times.

Our HC durometer in the lab gave it a rating of 82.5, a figure that is just around the average.

Vans Half Cab Outsole hardness
Test results
Half Cab 82.5 HC
Average 85.1 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC

Outsole durability

The hardness of the sole seemed indicative of its eventual durability.

We pressed the Dremel against the outsole, and the damage that we saw was 1.4 mm deep. This number is just around the average.

Vans Half Cab Outsole durability
Test results
Half Cab 1.4 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The thickness of the outsole is just around the average, as well. Based on our caliper measurements, it is 6.1 mm thick.

Vans Half Cab Outsole thickness
Test results
Half Cab 6.1 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.2 mm

Weight

The weight is indeed a waterloo for this shoe. It surely felt so heavy at 17.4 ounces or 493 grams. We had to be engrossed in whatever it was that we were doing so that we wouldn't feel the Half Cab's weight on our feet.

Vans Half Cab Weight
Test results
Half Cab 17.39 oz (493g)
Average 14.18 oz (402g)
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
8.54 oz (242g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Given its weight, we were surprised to see that the Half Cab had way thinner midsoles. At the heel, it was only 21.8 mm thick based on our caliper readings. This number is way less than average; there's a 30% reduction!

Now, how did it feel on the feet? Fortunately, it was not at all disappointing. The lower profile afforded by the thin midsole gave us more control over our steps, which was helpful considering that the shoe was heavy.

Vans Half Cab Heel stack
Test results
Half Cab 21.8 mm
Average 29.8 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
18.2 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot is thinner than average at 13.7 mm. We loved how it brought us closer to the ground, allowing us to feel quicker on our feet.

Still, we think that people who love cushioning would find the Vans Half Cab lacking. They might be happier with the Adidas Alphaboost V1, especially since this shoe is already on sale these days.

Vans Half Cab Forefoot stack
Test results
Half Cab 13.7 mm
Average 18.9 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
10.6 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

The Vans Half Cab feels flatter than usual with a heel-to-toe drop of 8.1 mm. Not everyone loves the heel elevation, so this sneaker was a very welcome alternative.

Vans Half Cab Drop
Test results
Half Cab 8.1 mm
Average 10.9 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Even though the vulcanized sole and rubber outsole add a lot of firmness to the Half Cab, there is still room for comfort in this skate sneaker.

An ultra-thick insole plays a key role in this Vans shoe's underfoot experience. We found it to be amazingly plush at 15.0 HA which is a whopping 100% softer than the average sneaker midsole!

It made long periods of wearing the sneaker much more pleasant.

Test results
Half Cab 15.0 HA
Average 28.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 37 trainers
Number of shoes
15.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
46.4 HA

Insole thickness

We found that the shoe's insole is more than twice as thick as the average at 11.5 mm. It is one of the thickest removable insoles we've ever seen!

Vans Half Cab Insole thickness
Test results
Half Cab 11.5 mm
Average 5.4 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.9 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The medial sidewalls were a bit of a challenge when we were wear-testing the Half Cab. Being made of suede, they were indeed on the softer side. The softness surely had its (negative) effects on the shoe's overall stability.

Torsional rigidity

Given its vulcanized sole design, it's a surprise that the Vans Half Cab isn't so resistant to twisting. We did not even have to exert so much effort when we tried to manually twist this shoe in the lab.

It only got a 2 out of 5 from us for torsional rigidity.

Make no mistake, though! This flexibility also had its advantages, especially when we had to move or pose at peculiar angles.

Test results
Half Cab 2
Average 3.5
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter gave a moderate amount of security to the forefoot. We would describe its grasp as just right. The 3 out of 5 that it got is pretty much commensurate to its performance.

Test results
Half Cab 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The platform felt slightly narrower than usual. When we measured it using a caliper, the forefoot registered only 100.4 mm, a number which is less than the average.

Vans Half Cab Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Half Cab 100.4 mm
Average 108.5 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The discrepancy in the heel area was even more pronounced than the difference in the forefoot. The 69.4 mm width is way less than the average on record.

Though the much narrower footprint did not lead to slips, it did affect our confidence to make bold movements. Sneakerheads who are concerned with stability might be happier with the Vans Old Skool

Vans Half Cab Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Half Cab 69.4 mm
Average 82.8 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Despite its low twist resistance, the Vans Half Cab still had the typical amount of flexibility overall. After performing our standard flexibility test on it, we learned that it needed 22.6N of force to bend at 90 degrees. This number is almost equal to the amount of force the average sneaker would need.

Test results
Half Cab 22.6N
Average 23.0N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N

Grip / Traction

We did not have any serious issues with the traction. It worked as it should, and that's all that should matter.

Vans Half Cab grip

Size and fit

Internal length

The internal length of the Vans Half Cab is about the same as average at 272.7 mm.

Vans Half Cab Internal length
Test results
Half Cab 272.7 mm
Average 272.2 mm
Compared to 43 trainers
Number of shoes
265.3 mm
Internal length
280.1 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

Even though the platform is narrower than usual, the footbed however felt more accommodating. Our caliper measured the widest part of the toebox to be 107.7 mm. This number is significantly higher than the average.

We could recommend this shoe to those sneakerheads who have slightly wide feet.

Vans Half Cab Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Half Cab 107.7 mm
Average 99.1 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The opening at the big toe was almost as wide as the average at 75.1 mm. 

Vans Half Cab Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Half Cab 75.1 mm
Average 74.8 mm
Compared to 46 trainers
Number of shoes
63.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
82.7 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Both sides of the tongue are semi-connected to the rest of the upper. This setup allowed the tongue to remain securely in place. It also provided leeway for flexibility and even breathability. In fact, a good part of the shoe's ventilation was through the tongue. 

Vans Half Cab Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Half Cab Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

When we say that the Vans Half Cab was big on tongue protection and comfort, we seriously mean BIG! The tongue is 20.4 mm thick, making it 129% thicker!

It felt nice on top of the foot, and it helped in improving the fit.

Vans Half Cab Tongue padding
Test results
Half Cab 20.4 mm
Average 9.3 mm
Compared to 47 trainers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
38.4 mm

Heel tab

This Vans sneaker does not have a heel tab, and it shouldn't be a problem because the on-off with this shoe was quite easy.

Vans Half Cab Heel tab
Test results
Half Cab None

Removable insole

The thick and comfortable insole that comes with the Vans Half Cab is removable.

Vans Half Cab Removable insole
Test results
Half Cab Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The shoe does not have any reflective elements on it to enhance its nighttime visibility. It would be best to use this shoe in well-lit conditions.

Vans Half Cab Reflective elements
Test results
Half Cab No