Choosing skate shoes

In this article, we'll explain how skateboarding shoes are different from ordinary shoes and help you choose the right pair so that you can get the most out of your skate sessions!


Since its creation in the 1950s, skateboarding has experienced significant evolutions.

The first skateboards have roots in the surf scene and were made from a thick wood deck and steel wheels. At first, the idea was to reproduce the experience of surfing on concrete and slalom moves and turns were the most common manoeuvres.

Today skateboarding is a global phenomenon that is practised in a variety of styles, like street skating (skateboarding through courses that replicate the urban landscape or directly in the street), half-pipe, bowl, downhill, cruising, dancing and many more. Skateboarding has even become an Olympic sport and debuted at the 2021 games in Tokyo!

For some skaters, slalom skateboarding is more than just weaving between cones. It's about racing down mountain roads at speeds over 70 km/h or even jumping down a set of 20 stairs! That's why the evolution of skateboarding has necessarily led to an evolution in the sport's gear to meet the changing needs of skateboarders. Skate shoes in particular have evolved greatly over the last few years to make the sport easier, more comfortable and safer.


The design of skate shoes differs from that of ordinary shoes in terms of the materials used and the manufacturing processes. We'll explain the main differences below:


Vulcanised sole or cupsole

The outsole is probably the most important part of the skateboard shoe. It's the part responsible for grip, comfort and board feel (the very precise feel of the board under your feet that certain skaters appreciate). The two main soles in the skateboard world are vulcanised soles and cupsoles.


Vulcanised sole

The first vulcanised sole made its appearance in 1966 in California. Paul Van Doren, the founder of Vans, used this technique on shoes for the first time. This chemical process was previously used primarily in the automobile industry to make tyres. Vulcanization is a process in which a small amount of sulphur is added to the rubber and then bonded under heat. It optimizes the rubber by making it more flexible and durable. There is therefore no seam between the fabric and the sole of the shoe.

There are multiple advantages of this technique: flexibility, grip and lightness. It provides a better feel of the deck and much better accuracy and freedom of movement, which can be very useful when doing technical tricks. A skateboard shoe needs to be broken in, meaning that it will deform slightly to hug the shape of your foot. It's much easier to break in vulcanised soles than cupsoles.

The advantages of the vulca come with the inconvenience of a thinner sole that is less cushioned and wears out faster. Because the vulcanised shoe is heated and then bonded under heat, there are certain materials that cannot be used on the rest of the shoe. Therefore, some very cushioning foams can only be used on cupsole models.


Design backstory: vulca 500 v2

After skating in the VULCA 500 for 2 years and listening to skaters' feedback, we started to get a good idea of what was good and what could be even better on this shoe.

We made it our mission to develop a new version, more suitable for skateboarding. In this article, you can read the (re)design story of these shoes.



The cupsole is made up of 3 parts: an outsole, midsole and insole. Cupsoles are not heated but instead stitch bonded, which makes them sturdier than a vulca sole. This process results in a more durable sole with better cushioning and resistance to wear. Cupsoles also provide better support than a vulcanised sole. However, it will be heavier, stiffer and it will take longer to break in the shoes. The board feel is also worse than a vulcanised shoe.

So those are the biggest differences between the vulca sole and cupsole. But we can't simplify their differences to just flexible and rigid. There is a range of variables that factor into your choice of foams and that can help you balance the advantages and weaknesses of each sole.

Choosing skate shoes


The advantage of canvas sneakers is their lower weight and better breathability. They're also an environmentally-friendly alternative. However, canvas is much less robust and durable than suede or polyurethane shoes. Consequently, if you street skate, I recommend passing up this option for a suede or PU model. On the other hand, canvas shoes are a comfortable choice for cruising.



Leather uppers have proven themselves on the skate scene and have since become the gold standard of skate shoes. For street skating, split leather shoes will be your most durable option.  For example, the Vulca 500 model has a tearproof leather upper paired with a rubber layer on the toe cap to provide excellent durability against skateboard grips.


Polyurethane (pu)

Polyurethane is a very common material in the skateboarding world. For example, wheels are made from polyurethane. It is so widely used because it is able to withstand abrasion and is easy to maintain. This material is also easy to mould, which lets designers get creative and experiment with details like the texture and grain much easier than with leather and for a much better price.


Slip-ons and shoes with laces

The slip-on is a laceless shoe that slips on your foot like a sock. This design provides maximum flexibility for maximum board feel and freedom of movement. Beyond flexibility, a "Slip-On" is a classic style of skate shoes. By combining the slip-on with a vulcanised sole, you get a precision feel for the board that many skaters love. Plus, a lace-free design eliminates a wear zone. With slip-ons, you don't have to remember to pack a spare pair of laces in your bag in case they break in the middle of a skate session!~Some skaters prefer shoes with laces because they like to control how much pressure is on their feet.


We hope this article taught you something and will help you find the right pair of skate shoes! It's best to try several models so that you figure out what you like and find the right shoes that suit your skate style. If you still have questions after reading this article, feel free to get in touch! 




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