Skate Shoes Buyers Guide

Skate Shoes Buyers Guide

In the early days of skateboarding the only options were basic plimsoles but as skate culture grew, new companies were formed to manufacture footwear specifically to meet the needs of skateboarding. 

Considering your feet are the most essential part of your body for skateboarding, it’s no shock that you’ll wear out more pairs of shoes than any other item in your wardrobe. Grip tape, metal and concrete all take their toll on your kicks so most skate shoes are constructed to be a more durable nature than your average sneaker.

Route One have over 500 pairs of skate shoes online – from skater owned companies such as Lakai, Globe, Fallen, Emerica, DC and Etnies to skateboard specific divisions from athletic giants including Nike SB, Adidas Skateboarding and Vans “Off The Wall”.

What Do I Need?

When choosing your new pair of skate shoes think about what you want from them:

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Board Feel / Grip
  • Cushioning

What To Look For?

Sole:Cupsole or Vulcanised? The sole of your shoes are very important, as they are the connection between you, your skateboard and the ground.

Vulcanised soles are glued and melted onto the shoe. These soles are thinner, and flexible, which provide great board feel. Vulcanised shoes generally aren’t as durable as cupsole shoes, but they feel great to skate in.

Vulcanised skate shoes include Vans Old Skool, Adidas Eldridge, DVS Daewon 13, Nike SB Janoski, Lakai Griffin, Emerica Provost and the Etnies Barge.

 Vulcanised Footwear at


Cupsoles are stitched to the outside of the shoe, rather than glued. Generally, cupsole shoes provide extra protection, more durability and will take more impact from skating larger drops such as stairs and gaps.

Cupsole skate shoes include Supra The Hammer, Nike SB P-Rod 7, Etnies Marana, DC Ignite, Adidas Busenitz, Converse Cons Skate Pro and Emerica The G6.

Cupsole Footwear at


If you're a beginner to intermediate skater, we suggest a cupsole, as it will last longer and provide better protection while learning. Once you're improving, try on some vulcs and see if you like how they feel.

Upper: Suede/Leather or Canvas? The next aspect to consider when choosing your skate shoes are the material of the upper, which is the part of the shoe that holds your foot to the sole. A lot of this is down to personal preference but the key elements are that canvas is lighter and more flexible whereas suede or leather are more durable and grippier on the board. With all the dragging of your feet on the griptape, the upper will be one of the first parts of your shoes to wear out. Suede tends to wear out in layers whereas canvas will tend to rip from heavy use.  

Cushioning & Technology: Many skate shoes are now taking technology from athletics and basketball footwear and adapting it to suit the needs of skateboarders. Extra cushioning and hidden padding are designed to ease common skaters’ problems such as heel bruising and ankle pressure.

Skate shoes are usually the most important, and considered soft goods purchase for most skateboarders, so try out a few styles and you’ll soon find your feet!