Skate Shoes vs Sneakers: Which One to Wear?



skate shoes vs sneakers

When skateboarding, you can either go for regular smears or specifically designed skate shoes. While they might look similar at first glance, several differences between them make the latter an ideal choice for the sport.

In this skate shoes vs sneakers guide, we will compare them in terms of design, durability, and cost. To give you a general idea of how these two types of footwear differ, here’s a brief comparison table.

Skate Shoes vs. Sneakers – A Short Comparison

  Skate Shoes Sneakers
Soles – Feature flat soles that provide better stability – Feature non-flat soles that offer arch support
Laces – Positioned higher up and away from the part of the shoe that flicks
– Sometimes not included
– Positioned lower down and does not avoid the part of the shoe that flicks
Durability – Made with durability in mind
– Sturdier uppers
– Durability is not as emphasized
– Less-sturdy uppers
Design – Include protective features
– Toe caps
– Lace protectors
– Padding, cushioning
– Thick, wide soles
– Deeper grooves
– Lack features for protection
Variation – Mostly vary on style – Mostly vary on sole type
Cost – Typically more expensive – Typically less expensive
Usage – Sports wear – General purpose
– More versatile

​Skate Shoes vs. Sneakers – A Detailed Comparison


As you can guess from the name, skate shoes are shoes created for skateboarding. They are a form of sportswear, while sneakers are considered a casual wear option. They can be worn for daily walking and running.

That being said, sneaker manufacturers primarily strive to deliver comfort and functionality, but skate shoe brands have the additional task of making their products suitable for skateboarding. This leads to a number of other differences, namely in durability, design, and cost.

1. Soles


The first difference between skate shoes and sneakers lies in the soles. The former has flat soles, while the latter does not.

Flat soles provide skateboarders with better stability. But, in exchange, they lack arch support. This means that they can cause pain and discomfort if worn for walking or running for a long time.

2. Laces


Typically, the laces of skate shoes are higher up and away from where the shoes are being flicked. This ensures that they do not get tangled in the wheels of the skateboard. Some skate shoes do not even have laces and are designed to be slip-on instead.

On the contrary, sneakers have laces that are positioned lower down, and they do not avoid parts of the shoes being flicked because there are no concerns of them getting tangled into wheels.

If skateboarders wore normal sneakers, the laces can be pulled into the wheels and get shredded. Not only is this dangerous, but it can also render the shoes useless, as the laces can be ripped, tearing the uppers.

3. Durability

The design of skate shoes allows them to be more durable than normal shoes. This is because skaters use them in ways that encounter more burdens, resulting in more wear and tear.

The toughest skate shoes are made of heavy-duty material and cross or triple-stitched. Many also feature added protective features, like reinforced toe caps and lace protectors, which make them more durable than sneakers.

Most types of skate shoes have suede uppers. These are sturdier and more fitted for resisting impact and abrasion. In contrast, regular sneakers are made of materials like mesh. They are not as durable as the shoe material for skateboarding.

4. Protection

Skateboarders can easily topple over and sustain serious injuries, such as broken toes and heels and snapped ankles. As such, their shoes include components that offer additional support. For instance, they have extra padding in vulnerable areas.

Skate shoes have wider tongues than sneakers to ensure optimal stability. They also have wider and thicker soles for better control, balance, and ease of jump tricks. Their grooves are typically deeper than those of sneakers to offer more grip.

Some brands go beyond with their skate shoes. They might provide wearers with innovative add-ons, like shock-absorbing insoles, stash pockets, sock liners, etc.

5. Purpose


Skateboarders use skate shoes because they are precisely designed for skateboarding. On the other hand, sneakers are general-purpose. They can be worn casually for day-to-day activities.

You do not have to be a skateboarder to include sneakers as part of your outfit. Thus, these shoes are more versatile. They are not limited to being sportswear.

6. Variation

Sneakers mostly vary in style. They come in different colors and prints, so buyers have plenty to choose from. Meanwhile, skateboarding shoes are split into two types by their soles: cupsoles and vulcanized soles.

  • Cupsoles: These are thick soles fixed into the shoes. They are heavier and provide more support. Hence, they are ideal for skateboarders who like doing jump tricks. But they feel stiffer and restrict flexibility.
  • Vulcanized Soles: These are thin soles made of small components fixed together. They are more lightweight and not as supportive. They are also not as durable. However, these soles offer wearers more flexibility. In addition, they tend to be cheaper as well.

7. Cost

There are cheap and expensive options for both skate shoes and sneakers, and the specific prices depend on a variety of factors, such as material, brand, etc. However, the latter is usually more affordable because it does not include additional features like toe caps and lace protectors.

8. Pros & Cons

Skate Shoes


  • Fitted for skateboarding
  • Durable and protective
  • Provide more stability for skating


  • Typically more expensive


  • Can be worn for many activities
  • Typically less expensive


  • Not as durable
  • Lack additional protective features

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Can I wear sneakers to skate?

You can wear regular sneakers to go skateboarding, but do not expect them to provide you with the same support and protection. They might also go through wear and tear quicker because you are using them for rigorous skating.

In short, dedicated skate shoes will give you peace of mind while skating, and they will be able to serve you for a longer time.

Can skate shoes be used for walking? Are skate shoes good for walking?

A lot of people wear skate shoes for walking. However, we do not recommend this because shoes for skateboarding have flat soles. These are excellent for the sport’s balancing requirements, but they do not offer the same arch support.

So, if you wear skate shoes to walk for a long time or distance, your feet will be worn out and feel sore. You might get other problems, such as plantar fasciitis and tendonitis as well.

Can I wear skate shoes casually?

Skate shoes, like those from Vans, are trendy. So, it is not uncommon for people to sport them as casual wear. However, as we have said above, they do not supply the same support as sneakers. They might not be comfortable after extended periods, so for your feet’s comfort, stick with sneakers.

What are some reasons why skaters wear skate shoes?

Skate shoes are created for skateboarding, so there are obviously solid reasons for skateboarders to wear them. Here is a list of the key ones:

  • Flat Soles: Skate shoes have flat soles, which provide more stability. This is essential to skateboarders as they maneuver on their boards. In addition, the flat soles offer skaters a better grip, which makes boarding tricks possible.
  • Durability: Skate shoes are made to be more durable than sneakers, effectively resisting the impact and abrasion associated with skateboarding. Without this durability, they will go through shoes quickly and risk injuring themselves.
  • Added Protective Features: Skate shoes are equipped with added protective features, like toe caps and lace protectors that skateboarders can rely on.

What makes a good skate shoe?

A good skate shoe is durable, fitted with decent protective features, and can serve skateboarders effectively. Ideally, it would be also be affordable. Its wearer should be able to skateboard safely, comfortably, and efficiently with it on.

Are leather shoes good for skating?

Many good skate shoes are made of leather. This is a tough material that gives the shoes a robust and durable build. However, it is important to get leather skate shoes, and not just leather shoes in general.

Why are skate shoes so big?

Skate shoes are large because they have thick and wide soles. The thickness is to offer additional support for skateboarding jumps and tricks, while the width is for an increased surface area that promises better control.


Now, you know the essentials to skate shoes vs sneakers. You will not have to scour through Reddit threads to get an idea of the differences anymore.

Designed specifically for skateboarding, skate shoes are more durable and fitted with additional protective features, like toe caps and lace protectors. However, because of their specific purpose, these shoes are not as versatile as sneakers. They can also be more expensive.

Which is the better shoe for you? Let us know in the comments down below.

5/5 - (2 votes)

Content Writer - Marsh Harrison

Harrison is a skating enthusiast who picked up the sport during her student exchange years in Canada. She has been a skating coach for children and teens for 3 years and now holds classes as a freelancer. Harrison entwines her experience leading skating classes in the content published on Cora to help readers fall in love with skating, just like she did.

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