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LAST UPDATED:  December 23, 2020

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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PUBLISHED 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.

Best Overall
Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes
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Summary
Summary

Reinforced against wear and tear, with extra support and flexibility for every maneuver.

Pros
Pros
  • Footbed and collar are padded for shock absorption and comfort
  • Lined with cotton for great breathability
  • Waffle rubber sole offers a solid grip
Cons
Cons
  • Lacks arch support
  • Takes time to break in and soften the shoes
Best Overall
Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes
Best Value
Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker
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Summary
Summary

Sporty and designed for active skating, yet stylish for everyday wear.

Pros
Pros
  • Cushioned insole offers support and comfort
  • Vulcanized rubber outsole is durable
  • Soles are flexible yet grippy in all the right places
Cons
Cons
  • Firm for the first few wears
  • Can cause discomfort with thin socks
Best Value
Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker
Honorable Mention
Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers
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Summary
Summary

A simple, straightforward, and lightweight skating shoe with great flexibility.

Pros
Pros
  • 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
Cons
Cons
  • Cushioning can be a bit too light for proper support
  • Initially stiff and potentially uncomfortable during the first wears
Honorable Mention
Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers
Young Men Wearing Best Vans For Skating
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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

Era

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.

Authentic

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. 

Old Skool

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.

Slip-On

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.

Top Brands

Vans

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.

Key Features

Reinforced Toes

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. 

Waffle Sole

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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

Best Overall

Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes are a fantastic pair of shoes for any skateboarder — and that’s why they’re our top pick. These are truly classic shoes, featuring the trademark Vans side stripe and several benefits that’ll keep you on your feet for a long time. These low-top sneakers are constructed specifically for durability in the areas skateboarders need it most. They have reinforced toe caps that can withstand repeated wear from various tricks and a padded ankle collar for extra comfort and support. The cushioned, die-cut EVA foam footbed offers superior shock absorption as you hit the pavement and your board. And the vulcanized rubber sole in the trademark Vans waffle print is flexible yet provides you with incredible grip, strong traction, and solid boardfeel.

Best Overall
Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes

Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes are a fantastic pair of shoes for any skateboarder — and that’s why they’re our top pick. These are truly classic shoes, featuring the trademark Vans side stripe and several benefits that’ll keep you on your feet for a long time. These low-top sneakers are constructed specifically for durability in the areas skateboarders need it most. They have reinforced toe caps that can withstand repeated wear from various tricks and a padded ankle collar for extra comfort and support. The cushioned, die-cut EVA foam footbed offers superior shock absorption as you hit the pavement and your board. And the vulcanized rubber sole in the trademark Vans waffle print is flexible yet provides you with incredible grip, strong traction, and solid boardfeel.

Best Value

The Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker, which is also known as the Atwood sneaker, is a shoe that’s designed for active wearers. Built to survive walking, running, skateboarding, and so much more, this Vans shoe is a great option for skaters who want excellent durability at a good price. It offers good value for your money. Each pair is constructed out of a canvas upper, a vulcanized midsole, and a gum rubber sole. A padded ankle collar and tongue offer extra cushioning, and a lightly cushioned footbed keeps your soles protected. As you wear the Atwood sneaker, it’ll loosen and conform to your foot to keep you perfectly comfortable. It’s even designed with street style in mind, making it a bit more fashion-forward than many other basic skating shoes.

Best Value
Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker

The Vans Men’s Vn-0tuy187 Sneaker, which is also known as the Atwood sneaker, is a shoe that’s designed for active wearers. Built to survive walking, running, skateboarding, and so much more, this Vans shoe is a great option for skaters who want excellent durability at a good price. It offers good value for your money. Each pair is constructed out of a canvas upper, a vulcanized midsole, and a gum rubber sole. A padded ankle collar and tongue offer extra cushioning, and a lightly cushioned footbed keeps your soles protected. As you wear the Atwood sneaker, it’ll loosen and conform to your foot to keep you perfectly comfortable. It’s even designed with street style in mind, making it a bit more fashion-forward than many other basic skating shoes.

Most Comfortable

Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers are perhaps the quintessential Vans shoe for skating. As one of the very first shoes created by Vans, it’s a classic among skaters — and for good reason. The Authentic is a show that combines light weight with maximum flexibility so you’re never held back on your board. Made with a canvas upper and a cotton lining for breathability, you can keep your feet cool without adding extra weight. A die-cut EVA insert cushions and adds comfort for your feet. The sole features a slimmed-down profile and vulcanized rubber, with a gum rubber outsole and the signature Vans waffle tread for superior grip. You’ll feel your board under your feet while you ride, and you’ll be able to perform tricks with the right balance of stability.

Most Comfortable
Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers

Vans Authentic Core Classic Sneakers are perhaps the quintessential Vans shoe for skating. As one of the very first shoes created by Vans, it’s a classic among skaters — and for good reason. The Authentic is a show that combines light weight with maximum flexibility so you’re never held back on your board. Made with a canvas upper and a cotton lining for breathability, you can keep your feet cool without adding extra weight. A die-cut EVA insert cushions and adds comfort for your feet. The sole features a slimmed-down profile and vulcanized rubber, with a gum rubber outsole and the signature Vans waffle tread for superior grip. You’ll feel your board under your feet while you ride, and you’ll be able to perform tricks with the right balance of stability.

Best Classic Design

If you’re searching for Vans for skating that have a stamp of approval from pro skaters, you won’t want to miss the Vans Unisex Era Skate Shoes. When the Era shoe was first released in 1976, it was instantly famous among skateboarders — and it was designed by Tony Alva and Stacey Peralta, two skating legends. Today, these shoes still feature the same function and design, and they’re wonderful for skaters of all experience levels. They feature a low-profile silhouette, have an extra grippy waffle-patterned sole made from vulcanized rubber, and come in a vast array of colors and materials. When you wear these Vans for skating, you’ll have the right balance of board control and feel under your feet on all types of terrain. A padded collar supports your ankles, and double stitching offers extra durability.

Best Classic Design
Vans Unisex Era Skate Shoes

If you’re searching for Vans for skating that have a stamp of approval from pro skaters, you won’t want to miss the Vans Unisex Era Skate Shoes. When the Era shoe was first released in 1976, it was instantly famous among skateboarders — and it was designed by Tony Alva and Stacey Peralta, two skating legends. Today, these shoes still feature the same function and design, and they’re wonderful for skaters of all experience levels. They feature a low-profile silhouette, have an extra grippy waffle-patterned sole made from vulcanized rubber, and come in a vast array of colors and materials. When you wear these Vans for skating, you’ll have the right balance of board control and feel under your feet on all types of terrain. A padded collar supports your ankles, and double stitching offers extra durability.

Honorable Mention

While most Vans for skating are designed to be unisex and fit any wearer, some are designed just for specific genders — and that’s what the Vans Women’s Old Skool Core Classics offer. With a slightly different, more feminine design and styling, these shoes feature all of the benefits of skating shoes made just for women. Each pair is decorated with Vans’ signature curved stripe and colored trim. The shoes feature a canvas upper, with double-stitched toe caps for extra durability and a die-cut EVA midsole for extra comfort. A gum rubber outsole gives you the right amount of grip, and molded TPR side trims cushion the ankles. You’ll be able to easily feel your board beneath your soles, and the slim profile of these women’s shoes will help you maintain your flexibility.

Honorable Mention
Vans Women’s Old Skool Core Classics

While most Vans for skating are designed to be unisex and fit any wearer, some are designed just for specific genders — and that’s what the Vans Women’s Old Skool Core Classics offer. With a slightly different, more feminine design and styling, these shoes feature all of the benefits of skating shoes made just for women. Each pair is decorated with Vans’ signature curved stripe and colored trim. The shoes feature a canvas upper, with double-stitched toe caps for extra durability and a die-cut EVA midsole for extra comfort. A gum rubber outsole gives you the right amount of grip, and molded TPR side trims cushion the ankles. You’ll be able to easily feel your board beneath your soles, and the slim profile of these women’s shoes will help you maintain your flexibility.

Honorable Mention

The Vans Unisex Classic Slip-On is one seriously simple shoe. It doesn’t feature any laces or fasteners, and you can easily slide it on and off at any time. But that simplicity is part of what makes the Vans Classic Slip-On such a great shoe for skating. With a low profile and light weight, you won’t feel weighed down by these shoes. The canvas upper is breathable yet tough enough to survive every trick and every ride. Padding around the ankle offers extra cushioning and comfort, while padding in the footbed and die-cut EVA foam insert offer excellent shock absorption. Elastic accents on the sides help the shoes stay secure and comfortable. And you can’t forget about the vulcanized sole, which is flexible yet grippy. That signature waffle-patterned sole provides great traction and solid boardfeel.

Honorable Mention
Vans Unisex Classic Slip-On

The Vans Unisex Classic Slip-On is one seriously simple shoe. It doesn’t feature any laces or fasteners, and you can easily slide it on and off at any time. But that simplicity is part of what makes the Vans Classic Slip-On such a great shoe for skating. With a low profile and light weight, you won’t feel weighed down by these shoes. The canvas upper is breathable yet tough enough to survive every trick and every ride. Padding around the ankle offers extra cushioning and comfort, while padding in the footbed and die-cut EVA foam insert offer excellent shock absorption. Elastic accents on the sides help the shoes stay secure and comfortable. And you can’t forget about the vulcanized sole, which is flexible yet grippy. That signature waffle-patterned sole provides great traction and solid boardfeel.

Honorable Mention

If you want something a bit different with extra support while you skate, the Vans Men’s Sk8-Hi Core Classics Hi-Top Trainers are a fantastic pick. These take the classic low-cut Sk8 shoe from Vans and add a high-top with increased ankle coverage and support. The upper of each pair is made out of canvas, suede, or leather — the choice is up to you. Perforations in the upper offer breathability, along with a cotton lining. The high collar is padded for extra cushioning and comfort, and despite the extra material, these shoes still feel lightweight. The under heel of each pair is cushioned, and the toes are reinforced to specifically withstand the wear and tear that comes with skating. You’ll maintain optimal flexibility and be able to achieve boardfeel under your feet in these cool, unique high-tops.

Honorable Mention
Vans Men’s Sk8-Hi Core Classics Hi-Top Trainers

If you want something a bit different with extra support while you skate, the Vans Men’s Sk8-Hi Core Classics Hi-Top Trainers are a fantastic pick. These take the classic low-cut Sk8 shoe from Vans and add a high-top with increased ankle coverage and support. The upper of each pair is made out of canvas, suede, or leather — the choice is up to you. Perforations in the upper offer breathability, along with a cotton lining. The high collar is padded for extra cushioning and comfort, and despite the extra material, these shoes still feel lightweight. The under heel of each pair is cushioned, and the toes are reinforced to specifically withstand the wear and tear that comes with skating. You’ll maintain optimal flexibility and be able to achieve boardfeel under your feet in these cool, unique high-tops.

Honorable Mention

A spin on the classic Vans Authentic, the Vans Women’s Authentic Lo PRO Skate Shoes are an excellent all-around option for women who love skating. They mimic the style of the Vans Authentic, with a low profile and canvas upper — but these shoes are specifically designed to comfortably fit women’s feet and shoe sizing. Each pair of these low-top sneakers are made out of 20 percent canvas and 80 percent rubber. That rubber gives the shoes grip and flexibility, keeping you on your board whether you’re simply skating or mastering tricks. The signature Vans waffle sole flexes while you move, and it still allows you to achieve the right balance and boardfeel under your feet. And thanks to the sleek styling of these skate shoes, you’ll also be able to wear them with absolutely anything.

Honorable Mention
Vans Women’s Authentic Lo PRO Skate Shoes

A spin on the classic Vans Authentic, the Vans Women’s Authentic Lo PRO Skate Shoes are an excellent all-around option for women who love skating. They mimic the style of the Vans Authentic, with a low profile and canvas upper — but these shoes are specifically designed to comfortably fit women’s feet and shoe sizing. Each pair of these low-top sneakers are made out of 20 percent canvas and 80 percent rubber. That rubber gives the shoes grip and flexibility, keeping you on your board whether you’re simply skating or mastering tricks. The signature Vans waffle sole flexes while you move, and it still allows you to achieve the right balance and boardfeel under your feet. And thanks to the sleek styling of these skate shoes, you’ll also be able to wear them with absolutely anything.

Honorable Mention

If you have young skaters who are just getting started in the sport, you can get them their very own skate shoes too — and the Vans Kids Old Skool Skate Shoe is a perfect choice. Made just for kids, this shoe is a smaller take on the traditional Vans Old Skool for adults. And it features all of the very same benefits, making it a great shoe for young skaters. Each pair has the iconic Vans side stripe, a low profile with laces, and an upper made out of canvas and leather or suede. Reinforced toe caps will withstand frequent wear and tear whether your kids are skateboarding or playing on the playground. Padded collars around the ankles offer support while keeping kids’ feet flexible. And the trademark Vans waffle sole is made with the same durable and grip-enhancing rubber that offers traction on any board.

Honorable Mention
Vans Kids Old Skool Skate Shoe

If you have young skaters who are just getting started in the sport, you can get them their very own skate shoes too — and the Vans Kids Old Skool Skate Shoe is a perfect choice. Made just for kids, this shoe is a smaller take on the traditional Vans Old Skool for adults. And it features all of the very same benefits, making it a great shoe for young skaters. Each pair has the iconic Vans side stripe, a low profile with laces, and an upper made out of canvas and leather or suede. Reinforced toe caps will withstand frequent wear and tear whether your kids are skateboarding or playing on the playground. Padded collars around the ankles offer support while keeping kids’ feet flexible. And the trademark Vans waffle sole is made with the same durable and grip-enhancing rubber that offers traction on any board.

Honorable Mention

The Vans Men’s Bearcat Skate Shoes are a newer addition to the Vans lineup, but they make for some seriously tough shoes. If you’re tired of dealing with shoes that simply don’t stand up to the wear caused by skating frequently, these are a great option to consider. The Vans Bearcat is made with an upper of suede and canvas, with reinforced stitching and extra reinforced toe caps for long-lasting durability. Designed specifically for skating performance, there are also extra layers of comfort built into each pair. The midsole is made with supportive die-cut EVA foam, and a multi-layered rubber sole gives you support and cushioning against shocks and impacts. You’ll be able to properly grip your board with the strong waffle rubber sole surface, and you’ll have all the flexibility you need from your ankles to the soles of your shoes.

Honorable Mention
Vans Men’s Bearcat Skate Shoes

The Vans Men’s Bearcat Skate Shoes are a newer addition to the Vans lineup, but they make for some seriously tough shoes. If you’re tired of dealing with shoes that simply don’t stand up to the wear caused by skating frequently, these are a great option to consider. The Vans Bearcat is made with an upper of suede and canvas, with reinforced stitching and extra reinforced toe caps for long-lasting durability. Designed specifically for skating performance, there are also extra layers of comfort built into each pair. The midsole is made with supportive die-cut EVA foam, and a multi-layered rubber sole gives you support and cushioning against shocks and impacts. You’ll be able to properly grip your board with the strong waffle rubber sole surface, and you’ll have all the flexibility you need from your ankles to the soles of your shoes.

Tips

  • 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.

FAQs

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.

Final Thoughts

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.