Totally wicked! If you're reading this article then you're either an intermediate to advanced skater who's been in the game for a minute, or you're a complete novice getting introduced for the first time. Either way, you need a gnarly new skate shoe and we're here to help you. The same way there's a specific set of shoes meant for basketball, soccer, pickleball, etc., there's also shoes designated for skaters. Today we'll be looking at the best skate shoes to rock this season and beyond, but first let's answer a few questions that might be top of mind.
The 18 Best Skate Shoes to Rock in 2023
What Makes a Skate Shoe Different From Others?
The difference between skate shoes and regular sneakers lies within the sole, which is traditionally thicker and flatter to ensure you are able to get a good grip. Skate shoes are also crafted with an emphasis on comfort and agility—important factors needed for a performance sneaker of any kind.
How to Choose the Best Skate Shoe:
Choosing the right skate sneaker requires some research as you'll want comfort to be at the top of your list as not being comfortable can ultimately result in an injury. The same can be said for a shoe that lacks a good grip. Here's some additional factors to consider:
Comfort: Imagine skating with shoe that isn't comfortable—that's no good! If a skate shoe is too tight you won't have any breathing room, which will also impact your maneuverability. The ideal shoe is one that fits your foot in a snug manner while not being overly tight.
Breathability: Breathability is an essentially the same thing as comfort. If there's no room to move your foot at all, that's obviously going to have an impact on breathability which harkens back to the way shoe fits.
Board Feel: If you can't feel the board beneath you then something is wrong. If you are new to skating, then this might be a factor you have to test in person, so it would be wise to make note of any shoes you like on this list if going in for an in-person tryout so you can know what worked and what didn't.
Price: As we always say, this is completely dependent on your preferences. We can't tell what's too much or too little to spend, but what we can tell you is that sometimes a bigger investment means you are getting a great quality shoe that will last you a long while (which in turn results in less money spent over time as opposed to having to your replace your shoes regularly). We'll have all price ranges listed on this article.
The Best Skate Shoes, at a Glance:
- Pros: Nice design, affordable, durable
- Cons: Runs small according to some users
- Key Features: Autoclave Construction, Zoom Air Unit
Blazers are an absolute classic. These kicks were initially released in 1973; they were literally the third shoe ever released by Nike. Initially intended to be basketball shoes, Blazers have taken on a role in a myriad of sports since their conception, including skating. A ton of skate shoes were initially intended to be basketball shoes, for obvious reasons. The Blazers provide great ankle support and—especially if you cop the suede version—are pretty durable, so you won’t rub through the toe immediately.
They’re also an indubitable classic off the deck (the Supreme and OFF-WHITE versions in recent years have certainly upped their clout), so they’re great sneaks to rock during a session or while you’re just living your life.
- Pros: Comfortable, nice fit, affordable
- Cons: Can be hard to get your hands on
- Key Features: Foam midsole, leather upper
Nike SB Dunks have long been a go-to sneaker for skaters. Their meteoric rise to mainstream prominence in the past year or so has been a bit polarizing in the skate community. A sneaker that was once an affordable, ubiquitous skate shoe has become an unbelievably hyped status symbol. Even general releases are hard to get your hands on. From a technical perspective, they live up to the hype. Dunks are one of the most comfortable skate shoes around and their cushioning does a good job of keeping your feet secure.
Their chunkiness does reduce board feel a bit though, so keep that in mind. You probably won’t be out there thrashing in a pair of Chunky Dunkys (unless you’ve got $1,500 to waste), but there are great second hand options and general releases floating around, so keep your eyes peeled.
Side note: Nike SB Dunks are designed for skating, Nike Dunks are more lifestyle. You can read about the distinction here.
Most Breathable Shoe
- Pros: Nice design, rare sneaker, comfortable
- Cons: Runs small according to some users
- Key Features: Zoom Air Unit
Shane O’Neill is still a GOAT-level skater and so we trust him to make an immensely skatable shoe. The perforations around the toe give you some additional ventilation (skating can be sweaty business) and the sole was literally designed to take a beating. There’s an extended rubber sole in the front, which improves the longevity of the soles—a much needed addition for your flip tricks. The little Nike check keeps them minimal visually, but their performance potential is anything but minimal. Cop a pair and go fire off a nollie backside heel of your own.
Best Slip-On Shoe
- Pros: Versatile, durable, affordable
- Cons: Hard to keep clean according to some users
- Key Features: Iconic style, padded collars
Some people like to hate on the Vans slip ons and I understand where they’re coming from. They’re not particularly supportive or durable, but their low profile allows you to feel the board incredibly well. They’re also super cheap and easily replaceable; your toe might wear out pretty quick, but you can cop a new pair and get right back out there. For technical skating, these are definitely still one of the best options around. Consider one of the pro models with an extended rubber sole or additional leather around the toe for increased durability.
Most Comfortable Shoe
- Pros: Nice fit, comfortable, affordable
- Cons: Arch support can be too high according to some users
- Key Features: Vulcanized Outsole
New Balance’s whole line of skate shoes is entirely performance oriented. The shoe relies on a lot of mesh, increasing the overall ventilation and breathability of the sneakers. The rubber sole is reinforced so you know they’ll last a while and the suede upper should stand a good amount of wear and tear. Jamie Foy’s signature shoe is a Numeric 306, and he’s one of the best rail skaters in the game. These aren’t particularly flashy or stylish necessarily, but they’re one of the best options on the market from a purely performance standpoint.
- Pros: Cool design, classic shoes
- Cons: Runs narrow according to some users, outdated soles
- Key Features: Classic design
Jordans have had a storied past in skateboarding. There was a period in the 80s before they were ultra hyped when they were one of the most ubiquitous sneakers of choice for bowl skaters in California. Their hype throughout the past 30 years has decreased their accessibility, making them a less and less widespread skate shoe. Nonetheless, they provide great ankle support and come in lots of materials (especially suede and traditional leather), so if you’re able to find a good beater pair of Js, they may still be a great option.
- Pros: Comfortable, nice grip, classic design
- Cons: Hard to get on/off according to some users
- Key Features: Duracap and SickStick Materials
The Sk8-His are one of the skate shoes that has permeated the most outside of skate culture. Nonetheless, they’re still a great option for actual skating. The toe is known to bust open though, so that’s why a Pro model may be your best bet, because it has increased padding around the toe, making it much more durable and useful for more sessions. It’s a hi-top, so once you lace it up tight you’ll have some ankle support, while the overall minimal quality of the construction allows for great board feel.
- Pros: Nice design, solid fit, affordable
- Cons: Runs big according to some users
- Key Features: CX Foam Cushioning
Louie Lopez is one of the best young skaters in the game and, rightfully so, he deserves a great sneaker. They’re constructed of a premium suede, so they won’t tear easily. They’ve got a CX Foam insole for added comfort and the low profile makes them easy to manipulate for all of your techy flip tricks. I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to skate quite like Louie (nobody can), but cop a pair and you’ll certainly get a boost.
- Pros: Solid grip, comfortable
- Cons: Runs small according to some users
- Key Features: EVA Midsole
Tyshawn Jones is arguably one of the best skaters in the world right now. He was Thrasher’s 2019 Skater of the Year, a position which he absolutely deserved. His iconic cover image of ollieing over an entire subway entrance in NYC is already one of the most iconic images in skate history. With that said, he’s also got one of the freshest signature skate shoes on the market. I especially love the FA collab (the yellow is so great), but even the general release iterations are awesome.
They’re mids, which means you get the best of both worlds—hi top and lo top. Tyshawn is known for his pop, so why not cop a pair of his signature shoes to work on getting your ollies up?
- Pros: Solid grip, comfortable, affordable
- Cons: Runs small according to some users
- Key Features: TPR Jeweled Logos
This is an absolute classic. They were definitely more popular in the early 2000s, but the recent reemergence in the popularity of chunky sneakers has given these kicks a bit of a revival. They’re super chunky which means it’s less likely that they’ll tear/bust a toe, but it does reduce the board feel a bit. It’s an absolutely ridiculous shoe aesthetically, but with the explosion of shoes like Tyler, the Creator’s Gianno and ASAP Rocky’s Under Armor collab in the past few years, chunky shoes are all the rage.
They’re arguably the most comfortable pair of kicks on the list, so they’re a great option for long rides.
- Pros: Nice design, classic shoe, affordable
- Cons: May have to order a half size up according to some users
- Key Features: DURACAP and SickStick
The Vans Half Cab is a great middle ground for those who want something in between the Sk8-Hi and the slip on. Mids, by nature, provide some of the best of both worlds. They provide a bit more ankle support than a traditional hi-top, but the relatively thinner sole still allows for some great board feel. Half Cabs are also just such a tried and true model that there’s absolutely no shortage of colors and options available.
- Pros: Beautiful design, comfortable, versatile
- Cons: May run large according to some users
- Key Features: Sticky grip outsole, side traction
This collaboration between sneaker brand Carriuma and legendary skatepark the Berrics is an unbelievable addition to any roster of skate shoes. They have a reinforced flick point (on the toe) and a memory foam insole, making them both durable and unbelievably comfortable. They also have a super sticky outsole, meaning that you can maintain great board feel and control over the board. The outsole even has some diagonal stripes, adding to the grippy nature of the side of the shoes.
- Pros: Nice style, cool price, nice technical features
- Cons: Shoe runs large/heavy according to some users
- Key Features: Vulcanized rubber outsole
These aren’t a signature shoe for any particular skater, but they’re a great all-around skate shoe for Adidas heads. It’s all in thew construction. Between the Adituff toe box and the molded Adiprene sockliner, you’ve got yourself a reliable, comfortable pair of skate shoes. The reinforced toe will last through tons of technical skating, and the sockliner will keep you comfy through the most grueling sessions. They come in a couple of very sick colorways, making them both a great lifestyle shoe and skate sneak.
- Pros: Nice shoe box, good grip, affordable
- Cons: Shoe runs tight according to some users
- Key Features: Classic model
I just couldn’t write this list without including the Osiris D3. Although they’ve fallen out of favor a bit in recent years, a skate sneaker list wouldn’t be complete without this classic. Osiris’ 1999 video “The Storm” is a classic, and heavily features the gargantuan kicks. Although their oversized nature restricts board feel a bit, they’re immensely comfortable. They’ve got to nab a place on the list because of their important position in skate history. These are the blueprint. The renaissance of chunky shoes in the past few years couldn’t have happened without the chunkiest shoes of all time, the Osiris D3.
- Pros: Great cushion, iconic model, thicker
- Cons: Runs small/big according to some users
- Key Features: CONS Traction, CX Foam Liner
Chuck Taylors aren’t necessarily the most technical skate shoes in the game, but they’ve just been worn ubiquitous for so long, so they have to take a spot. Converse has obviously become a huge name in skate shoes (“CONS” is the name of their skate line), but even their original basketball shoe can provide some great skate opportunities. They’re not necessarily durable (the traditional canvas upper can burst), but they’re just so minimal that it’s almost like riding barefoot. You can feel the board so well in a pair of Chucks, so the sacrifice of durability might just be worth it.
16. Lakai Cambridge
- Pros: Combination of materials keeps the shoe breathable
- Cons: Some skaters might prefer a shoe without a built in arch
Key Features: PARA-MOUNT™ outsole, DELUX-LITE™ footbed
Lakai makes some of the best skate shoes on the market right now. You can tell by looking at the Cambridge that it was built to thrash. The DELUX-LITE™ footbed is comfortable, while the grippy outsole gives you good control over the deck. Lakai's 2007 video, "Fully Flared", which was directed by skate-photographer turned Oscar-winning director Spike Jonze, is an absolute classic in skate history. Lakai is a beloved skate brand for skaters of all skill-levels, so they're a great option if you're looking to get into the sport.
17. Last Resort AB
- Pros: Designed specifically for skateboarding
- Cons: Some skaters might desire a flashier design
- Key features: "Cloud Cush" insole
Last Resort AB is one of the lesser-known brands on the list, but they make one of the best minimalist skate shoes on the market right now. From an aesthetic perspective, they're just so sick and effortlessly cool. The upper is made of suede and the soles are grippy, which is pretty much all you need for a strong all-around skate shoe. The VM001 SUEDE LO is my personal favorite, but all of their entries are definitely worth checking out.
18. Emerica Pillar Mid
- Pros: Incredibly supportive, durable, great board feel
- Cons: Heavy, not super ventilated
- Key Features: Vulcanized sole, G6 Foam Insole
If you're talking about pure comfort, durability, and support, the Emerica Pillar Mid is second to none. It's a true skater's skate shoe that provides solid board feel coupled with some of the best support on the market. The only potential downside is their heaviness and lack of ventilation, so they may not be the best summer skate shoe. Otherwise, an A+ shoe.
How We Conducted Our Research:
I co-wrote this article with our Senior Editor Charlie Kolbrener, the culmination of months of research and speaking with skaters about their favorite shoes to wear right now. Charlie is also a former skater, and included his personal experience to conduct proper product reviews to make our selections. Additionally, we interviewed skaters that have worked with ONE37pm for more insight into their favorite shoes to skate in 2023 to properly vet all the entries, and read numerous user reviews for each entry selected.
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