The Best Vans For Skating (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
The best Vans for skating will level up your riding, your tricks, and your kicks
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON December 23, 2020
You likely spent a lot of time choosing your skateboard. From carefully selecting the trucks and wheels to comparing different boards with unique designs and construction, choosing your board is absolutely critical when it comes to riding. It’s even an expression of your style. But the shoes you wear can be another critically important piece of your skating setup.
While there are plenty of different skating shoes to choose from, Vans are some of the best of the bunch. Known for their uniquely grippy rubber soles and a favorite of early skateboarders, Vans shoes have become the go-to shoe for skaters of all ages and experience levels. No matter how — or what — you ride, Vans makes quality skate shoes you can depend on. Check out our picks for the best Vans for skating right here.
Reinforced against wear and tear, with extra support and flexibility for every maneuver.
- Footbed and collar are padded for shock absorption and comfort
- Lined with cotton for great breathability
- Waffle rubber sole offers a solid grip
- Lacks arch support
- Takes time to break in and soften the shoes
Sporty and designed for active skating, yet stylish for everyday wear.
- Cushioned insole offers support and comfort
- Vulcanized rubber outsole is durable
- Soles are flexible yet grippy in all the right places
- Firm for the first few wears
- Can cause discomfort with thin socks
A simple, straightforward, and lightweight skating shoe with great flexibility.
- Die-cut EVA foam inserts add comfortable cushioning
- Slim profile and light material won’t weigh you down
- Cotton lining helps keep feet cool and makes shoes breathable
- Cushioning can be a bit too light for proper support
- Initially stiff and potentially uncomfortable during the first wears
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Benefits of Vans For Skating
- Highly durable shoes built for rough use. These shoes can stand up to serious wear and tear, as they’re designed to support you while walking, running, bailing, flying through the air, and so much more.
- Especially grippy soles. Designed with a unique waffle sole made out of rubber plus a Vulcanized rubber outer sole, these shoes can help skaters achieve the grip they need on any board.
- Flexible and breathable. All Vans skating shoes are made out of materials like cotton to keep feet cool and breathable, without restricting your movement and ability to flex while riding.
- Choose your comfort level. Different styles of Vans shoes come with different amounts of padding, cushioning, and ankle support. From basic styles with no padding to high-tops with cushioned ankles, there’s an option for every skater.
- Available in a wide array of styles and designs. Vans shoes come in an almost unending rainbow of colors, patterns, and designs. From simple, solid colors to bright patterns and designs with classic characters from TV, movies, games, and more, there’s a pair of Vans that’ll allow you to express your personality — just like your board.
Types of Vans For Skating
The Era is the original Vans skate shoe. As the very first shoe created by Vans, this is a true staple for skateboarders. Designed back in 1976 in partnership with skateboarders Tony Alva and Stacey Peralta, the Era is a low-cut shoe with clean lines and simple design features. It features padding around the collar of the ankle for added support and better shock absorption. Built with increased sturdiness and durability in mind, the Era can take hits and last throughout many rides.
The Authentic is another classic shoe style from Vans. While it wasn’t originally designed with skating in mind, these Vans shoes have been a favorite of skaters and surfers since the 1960s. This low-profile style is comfortable for everyday wear, but it’s durable and flexible enough to survive the wear and tear — and needs — of skateboarding.
If you’re looking for skate shoes that are a bit more stylish, a bit more unique, and a bit more comfort-focused, the Vans Old Skool is the type to consider. These shoes were the first to include the iconic Vans side stripe along the arch, and they typically combine dual colors in each pair for a unique bit of flair. Featuring extra padding and reinforced toe caps, these shoes are tougher and more well-cushioned.
The Vans Slip-On is a truly iconic shoe. While plenty of simple skating shoes exist, the Slip-On is a style that’s been synonymous with skate culture since the late 1970s. Introduced to skaters everywhere in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the Slip-On is a laid-back and effortless shoe that doesn’t feature any laces or fasteners. You can rely on their casual comfort no matter what you’re doing throughout the day.
Vans first created shoes with its unique waffle rubber sole back in 1966. Early on, skateboarders flocked to the brand because of those grippy soles, and Vans worked with skateboarders to design shoes made for skaters’ needs. Today, those shoes — like the Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes and the Vans Unisex Era Skate Shoes — are still favorites.
Vans For Skating Pricing
- $50 to $65: Most of the classic Vans shoes for skating fall between $50 and $65 in price. From slip-on styles to high-top styles, here you’ll find Vans’ staple shoes.
- $70 to $90: Vans offers its classic shoe styles with “enhanced comfort” and “enhanced durability” at this price point. Newer shoes with more unique styling are also within this range.
- $95 and up: The hottest and most unique Vans skate shoes are priced at $95 or more. These include capsule collection shoes, shoes featuring limited-edition designs, and shoes with characters or images from big-name brands.
One of the biggest perks that Vans shoes offer skaters is reinforced toes. Each pair features special reinforced material from the tip of the shoe’s toe up to the laces. This helps the shoes better withstand repeated wear, and it guards against the issue of holes right around the toes.
Vans shoes became iconic because of their unique waffle sole. Every pair of the brand’s shoes features a vulcanized rubber sole that leaves behind a waffle-like pattern imprint. The rubber on the soles is baked once during the manufacturing process to cure the rubber, then baked a second time to make the soles springy and grippy.
Padded Foam Insoles
Cushioning and padding are critical when you’re skating, especially when you’re mastering tricks. Vans shoes feature padded foam insoles, and you can choose the level of padding you need. Some pairs and styles feature extra cushioning, while others feature removable inserts. Either way, you can customize the padding inside to make your shoes extra cushioned or comfortable.
- The “Pro” models are Vans’ most durable shoes. If you want some seriously tough and capable skating shoes, you’ll want to consider Vans Pro styles. These shoes are extra sturdy, extra supportive, and can take a beating. They feature specialized details like rubber toe caps, thicker ankle padding, and extra cushioning.
- Grip tape can be hard on canvas shoes. Many Vans for skating are made with canvas uppers, While this makes the shoes lightweight and very breathable, it can cause them to wear out faster — especially if you have newer grip tape. If you’re worried about your grip tape’s harshness, you may want to choose shoes made out of suede.
- Keep your board nearby when trying on Vans. When you try on different Vans shoe styles, make sure you have your board with you. You can get a feel for how different shoes will feel on your board, and you can better assess the grip from the soles. You may even be able to feel how well-cushioned your feet will be.
Best Vans For Skating Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Vans can be stiff when you first buy them. To break them in without blisters or discomfort, make sure to wear thick socks at first for extra cushioning.
- Most Vans shoes are unisex — particularly all of the core styles like the Era, Old Skool, and Authentic. This means the majority will fit anyone, and the fit will be consistent across different styles.
- Canvas Vans are easy to clean. You can wash them by hand or spot-clean any marks with warm water and mild detergent; just don’t throw them in your washing machine.
Q: How long do Vans last for skating?
Vans shoes typically last about a year to two years. The more wear and tear your shoes see, and the harder you skate in them, the shorter the lifespan will likely be.
Q: Are Vans good for skating?
Vans offer several benefits that are ideal for skating. These shoes are lightweight, flexible, durable, and offer great grip at the soles. Most styles in the Vans lineup have even been designed in collaboration with skaters, so you can trust in their performance.
Q: Which Vans are best for skating?
Most Vans shoes are fantastic for skating. However, if you want a seriously tried-and-true pair, the Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers are your best bet. Designed by skateboarders for skateboarding, this style is designed to withstand every trick and many miles on your board.
The Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes are our pick for the best Vans for skating, with reinforcements that help each pair withstand repeated wear from riding of any kind. If you want another quality style that offers great bang for your buck, the Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker is a fantastic value buy. Let us know what your favorite Vans for skating styles below.