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Skate Shoes vs Sneakers: What Makes Them Different?

Fact checked by Michael Derosier

skate shoes vs sneakers

Before leaving the house for an appointment, we always want to have the right outfit. This includes complementing tops and pants and some accessories on the side. And to complete the wardrobe, we pair clothes with fashionable shoes.

This idea also applies to skateboarding. When planning to hit the skate park, we need the appropriate skateboard footwear. But sometimes, we feel tempted to use other sneakers.

So, skate shoes VS sneakers, what shall we wear? Keep reading as we identify the differences between these and help you pick the correct footwear from now on.

Defining Regular Sneakers and Skateboard Shoes

Whether it’s regular sneakers or roller skate shoes and skateboard shoes Decathlon contestants love, each has its bright spot. Let’s first identify both skate and regular footwear by their strengths and what makes them fit for their purposes.

1. Skate shoes


To what extent can we use our skateboarding shoes? Will it make sense if you wear skate shoes casually?

We use skate shoes when riding a skateboard, whether on the streets or on ramps. Some of the most noticeable attributes of these shoes are paddings and cup or vulcanized soles.

Another salient feature of shoes for skateboarding is a durable upper, commonly in leather or suede. All these aspects do not come without a purpose. Often, these parts aim to add comfort and ensure the shoe lasts longer.

2. Sneakers


Sneakers could be almost anything you could wear to a coffee shop or school.

Often, these shoes fit a fusion of sporty, casual design and semi-formal styles, making them a go-to pair on many occasions. Before, people would find it awkward to wear these below a dress because of their sporty finish.

But today, they are already part of the norm, and many people view them as semi-formal. They are versatile and comfortable and come in various styles that suit everyone’s taste.

Differences Between Normal Shoes and Skate Shoes

We have identified both shoe types by how people wear them. Let’s know more about skate shoes and sneakers difference by comparing them on common grounds.

1. Durability


Whether it’s Nike skate shoes or another brand, we need a pair of skateboard shoes that can withstand tricks and consistent grinding against grip tape. Similarly, we should get quality sneakers that can support our daily walks.

So, what would be more durable, a pair of sneakers or skate shoes?

As mentioned, skateboard shoes with suede or leather aren’t made of those materials for no reason. These layers are inherently more durable than knitted or woven textiles.

Manufacturers incorporate suede or leather with other elements to give the shoes a more durable finish. These elements allow the footwear’s layers to counter impact, grinding, and even water from skating in wet weather. 

Besides the material composition, skate shoe brands like Vans skate shoes reinforce their models with double stitches that allow these parts to hold up firmly at the height of the activity. Ultimately, some shoelaces even have protectors to keep them scratch and tangle-free.

2. Purpose


Just because a sneaker could be slightly less durable doesn’t mean it’s useless. Various durability levels exist among shoes, some of which fit specific purposes only.

We have seen the challenging and thrilling nature of skateboarding as a sport. And brands like Nike, Vans, and Adidas skate shoes worked with suede and other innovations to face this challenge.

Thus, these names produced lines of products with superior durability to support skateboarding activities. And true enough, quality skateboard shoes live up to their role of keeping skaters comfortable and safe on their feet.

On the other hand, with the growing global acceptance of tennis or sneakers as footwear that doesn’t only fit sports, we can say sneakers are for something else outside of skateboarding.

Sneakers could be a part of your day’s outfit, a running buddy, or casual wear for errands. These shoes are versatile in that they are present almost anywhere.

Read more: List of top-rated skate shoe brands you should try.

3. Protection


It’s not only through knee pads and helmets that we get protection from skateboarding. A significant factor in our overall safety also relies on our footwear. Imagine spraining your ankles because of unfit skating shoes. Unfortunate, right?

The first manifestation of protection in skate shoes rests on their toe caps. Some brands work with plastic and other elements like rubber to reinforce footwear with added safety. Another protection feature is also prominent on the shoelaces, which we have already discussed.

What else besides the toe caps and shoelaces? Do you notice thick, wide tongues and padded collars? These are your primary support and stabilizer while doing tricks. Also, well-padded or thick skate shoes help reduce the risks of injuries.

Do you value control? Rubber skate shoes often earn an advantage here because of their broader soles. And with a wide shoe contact surface also comes better footwear grip on the board. In effect, the rider controls and balances the skateboard more easily.

On the other hand, regular sneakers often have less cushioning and a curvier sole, so they’re not cut out for stunts like ollies. It’s harder to maneuver the board with these designs, and they’re also less protective against impact.

Pros and Cons of Regular Sneakers and Shoes for Skating


You already know some positive and negative aspects of skate shoes and sneakers. Here is a summary of those points plus a few more.

Skateboard shoes

  • Skate shoes make you feel the skateboard better
  • Optimum grip and control
  • Added comfort from the cushioning
  • Slightly heavy for working out
  • Minimal heel-to-toe drops


  • Sneakers fit almost any exercise or physical activity
  • Lower risks of sore feet
  • Versatile footwear
  • Sneakers could leave you with stinky feet during hot weather
  • Sneakers could be less durable than skate shoes

Cost of Skate Shoes and Sneakers

Skate shoes and sneakers have the same average price ($70 to $200), so you can find affordable options in both categories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wear sneakers for skating?

Will wearing running shoes or tennis work for skateboarders? It depends on a few factors.

If you are a beginner to the sport, trainers or running sneakers can help you. However, as you progress with your board and try new skills, you will notice that you need appropriate skating footwear.

Can skate shoes be used for walking?

Whether a skate shoe fits any purpose besides skateboarding will still depend on the type of shoe and activity.

So, are skate shoes good for walking? Yes, but only in the instance that you use cupsole types. Why?

These shoes have better support on the ground. Unfortunately, if we review a vulcanized shoes definition, they don’t offer that much arch assistance and are virtually flat.


Shoes are one way to show our style and character. But just because we want to display our fashion doesn’t mean we should compromise comfort and safety.

There are shoes fit for skateboarding, and there are those that work for anything else under the sun. Now that we know the differences between skate shoes VS sneakers, we’ll finally be able to spot the right pair for skateboard parks and casual errands.

Remember, each type has an advantage and a drawback. Thus, always choose pairs appropriate for the occasion.

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