guide to getting the right skate shoe

How to Choose the Right Skate Shoe

The first question you may be asking yourself is do I need skate shoes at all? Wouldn't trainers or fashion pumps do the trick? Well if you are intending to use your footwear for skateboarding then the right shoes really do matter.

Skateboarding exacts one hell of a toll on your shoes. Grip tape, stress, continual movement and the terrain will all combine to destroy some shoes very quickly. Skate shoes are constructed to stand up to the rigours of the sport whilst providing the appropriate levels of feel and comfort. That doesn't mean, however, that you face an easy choice because there are many shoes on the market, each with a different combination of benefits and features.

The right skate shoes for you will depend on your experience, your skill set, the condition of your feet and your personal taste. The shoes should be designed for boarding, flat soled, durable and correctly fitting but beyond this things get more complicated! There are several factors that you should consider.



There are two basic types of skate shoe - vulcanised and cupsole. Vulcanised soles are glued to the shoe and being thin and flexible, they offer enhanced feel but low impact protection. This type of shoe, like the Nike SB Janoski, is geared for greater board control and is favoured by skateboarders who perform a lot of flips and flicks or those who demand the maximum feel.

Cupsoles are stitched to the shoe and are thicker, offering more cushioning from impacts. These are a great choice for those who love aerials and boarders who suffer from painful feet.

The midsole of skate shoes, that is the cushioning section between the sole and the insole, can be fashioned from a variety of materials. Durability, weight and shock absorption varies and many brands are experimenting with new lightweight materials to achieve the maximum cushioning without compromising the weight and feel of the shoe. Nike's Lunarlon is one such development and offers a weight saving of 30% over conventional materials.

Skateboard shoes are fashioned with a variety of grips including zig zag, waffle, herringbone and circular column patterns. They all work well and are a matter of personal preference. Some shoes also feature cushioned insoles for greater shock absorption. Only you can decide if you need this additional protection.


Skate shoe uppers can be fashioned from suede, leather or a variety of synthetic materials. Suede is very soft and offers the best control for flicking. Nubuck leather is a top grain leather with a velvety feel that is also stylish. Nubuck is more durable than suede but provides less grip. Full grain leather is the most robust natural material but, like Nubuck, provides lower levels of grip than suede. Synthetic materials can be the most durable of all but are often less flexible that their natural counterparts.


Another question to address is styling, specifically in the ankle area. Should you go for standard shoes, mid tops or high tops? Well again this is a matter of personal preference but your choice could be made for you if you suffer from ankle problems. If that is the case then mid tops or high tops will provide valuable extra support for your ankles and could be the way to go. Perhaps you simply prefer the look of high tops but do remember that the additional support will mean that you have a little less manoeuvrability.

Boarder Wearing High Tops

Additional Features

We hope that we have given you some useful food for thought about skate shoes but at the risk of complicating your life still further there are some other features of skate shoes that warrant a mention. Some styles include additional heel protection in the shape of cushioning foam, gel or air pockets. These additions can be real life savers if you have painful heels, especially if you are fond of performing aerials!

Skate shoes take a major bashing and so generally feature double or even triple stitching but some styles also have extra layers of fabric and/or reinforcement in the toe area. If your previous shoes have worn at the toes then this could be a feature that is worth looking out for. Talking of wear, laces tend to degrade rather quickly too. Some styles include reinforced laces or lace protectors. Certain Nike SB shoes have Kevlar reinforced laces which sounds rather extreme but the idea certainly works.


As you can see you have some decisions to make but your choice doesn't have to be too much of an ordeal! If you are just starting out then any skate shoes from a great brand like Nike or Vans will serve you well. If you are choosing skate shoes for street wear rather than boarding then you have a free choice and can decide on the basis of styling and fit and if you are an experienced skateboarder then you probably already have a few ideas about what you are looking for. The big brands are constantly developing new technologies and materials in order to create better shoes so your wish list will probably be in a constant state of flux!

We hope that you enjoy the excellent range of skate shoes that we showcase here at Jean Store. There is something for everyone in the collection and the prices are impressive so enjoy!