This list of the 25 most skateable shoes of all time showcases the similarities between basketball sneakers and skate shoes, with a focus on technology and new materials throughout the last six decades. We called upon the shoes that left historic impressions on skateboarding and popular culture or the classics that were copied again and again. With only 25 to choose from not every brand made the list, but we're sure you'll agree with The 25 Most Skateable Shoes of All Time.
Reggie Altema is a Haitian writer from New Jersey who grew up obsessed with music and skateboarding but despised east coast winters, so the former
No. 25 - Nike SB Koston 1
Year Released: 2010
No skater has released more prolific skateboarding footwear than Eric Koston. Part of this is because he is someone who is always trying to make things better and another reason is that he just has a knack for knowing what works in footwear and what doesn't. So that means when he's designing a shoe it's as if there are two talented designers working on it, instead of one. His move to Nike meant that he'd have access to all of Nike's materials, and because he's a sneakerhead, he was able to point out some technology from Nike's running shoes that he felt belonged in skateboarding. This is how Lunarlon cushioning found its way into skate shoes. Lunarlon cushioning is more comfortable, more lightweight and is more responsive than Zoom Air.
No. 24 - Supra TK Stacks
Year Released: 2009
Before Nyjah Huston was riding for DC he was without a shoe sponsor, and was trying out different shoes to skate in. During the 2009 Street League Skateboarding season Huston was skating in only the Supra TK Stacks. He won three out of the four stops that year, earning $450,000 in winnings. When asked why he wore he wore them, he said that they worked for him and he didn't want to change shoes. Once he signed to DC in January of 2010 he was never seen wearing the Stacks again, but they haven't lost their luster because of this. They are still an economical and eco-friendly choice because of the kinds of adhesives Supra uses. The Stacks are very lightweight, breathable and flexible and become even more comfortable once they mold to your feet.
No. 23 - Nike SB Zoom Janoski
Year Released: 2008
It's been over four years since the Janoski came out and Nike is still releasing new colors monthly. They even included it in their customization ID line, so you can design it to your satisfaction. What I'm saying is they're making the most of this release which took off like a wildfire. It's stylishness is undeniable. The upper's design is simple. It appears based off of a boating shoe or a moccasin, but with a vulc sole. It feels like there isn't much in the form of cushioning aside from the Zoom Air insole. The outsole is fused to the upper, making it more durable and lighter. The upper also has a one-piece heel to midfoot overlay for a unique kind of support. The toe box has small perforations for breathability and the outsole has a herringbone pattern that lasts long and provides durability and grip.
No. 22 - DC Brian Wenning
Year Released: 2007
The Wenning was the first pro model shoe released by DC since 2005 and it was heavily influenced by the Lynx which came out in 1998. The Wenning featured a rubber outsole made specifically for grip and boardfeel. The rubber they used featured a Thermoplastic rubber (TPR), which is a very grippy material. The upper is made of Super Suede, with TPR reinforcement. Heel gel was also incorporated for comfort and sock absorption.
No. 21 - Nike SB Zoom Tre
Year Released: 2006
Technologically speaking this shoe is the best shoe I've ever skated in. Inside and out I have no complaints about the design whatsoever; I'm just bummed everybody else wasn't as into it, and Nike phased it out of their line. The funny thing is it was based off the Nike Zoom E-Cue which I found repulsive. My favorite part of the Zoom Tre is the toe box where you will find miniscule, almost microscopic hooks that respond perfectly when they slide on griptape. These hooks made the toe box functional, breathable and flexible. The Zoom Air cushioning and full length phylon midsole provided great shock absorption and bounce. Anytime I hurt my knee or ankle while wearing these shoes, all I had to do was walk it off for a few minutes and I was back to normal.
No. 20 - Nike Dunk SB
Year Released: 2002
The Dunk first came out in 1985 as a high top shoe geared towards college basketball programs. It was designed as an improved version of the Air Force 1, but constructed to weigh less and be lower to the ground. In 1998 Nike started making dunks again and In 2002 the dunk was rereleased under the Nike Skateboarding line. The new dunk had a thicker tongue and a zoom air insole. It was extremely popular among skaters for its great boardfeel, flexibilty and good looks. Soon after a dunk mid was released with a velcro strap. In 2009 the dunk was reworked again with the help of new Nike Pro Eric Koston, whose ideas changed it for the better, specifically the tread on the sole.
No. 19 - Osiris D3
Year Released: 2001
Looking at the D3 makes me reminisce about that era in skateboarding that featured "fat shoes." I got the same nauseating response from my stomach when I look at it. It resembles something from another planet, and not in a good way, but behind all that ugliness was a shoe that sold so well, its endorser Dave Mayhew was able to retire from the royalties alone. You most likely had a pair, or knew someone that did. Most people raved about the fit which included double-layered mesh panels and an anatomically true-fit heel cup. The D3 was known for its wide lace holes with covered eyelets featuring 3M reflective material. It also had a double-lacing system similar to LA Gear's. Fans remember it for its rugged, rubber toe cap and visible air pocket cupsole construction.
No. 18 - DC Williams
Year Released: 2000
Stevie Williams joined DC Shoes in 1999, the year before his first shoe was released, and five years later in 2004 he left for a multi-million dollar deal with Reebok. While he was with Reebok rumor has it he was still getting royalty checks from his first shoe on DC, so that should tell you how well it was received. DC is known to be that sport-athletic company and in this shoe there are so many enhancements like the synthetic suede and mesh upper, the hidden laceletes and the extra cushy collar. The triple stitching on the toe cap and reinforced ollie area made it extra sturdy. It would take a while to destroy this shoe.
No. 17 - Vans Rowley
Year Released: 1999
In 1999 the majority of the skate shoes on the market were cupsoles. Geoff Rowley designed this vulcanized shoe in a way that made it skate as good, and in some cases, better than a cupsole. The Rowley was lightweight and it was known for having a great fit as well as incorporating the right materials. It performed fantastically and was a hit among skaters until it had to be pulled from the shelves due to production issues.
No. 16 - Axion Mariano
Year Released: 1998
Though he started with Duffs, Axion became Kareem Campbell's vision for sport specific footwear. In the late 1990s he had major players riding for him in Brian Anderson, Caine Gayle, JB Gillet, Gino Ianucci and Guy Mariano. At this time footwear companies in the skate industry were beginning to experiment with varieties of synthetic materials to achieve technological advantages. During its heyday Axion exemplified this. The Mariano had a synthetic rubber layer around the toe cap along with synthetic leather lacelets in a prime abrasion location. The rubber sole had a tread on the bottom in addition to performance-specific heel and toe accents that were intended to make the shoes last longer.
No. 15 - éS Koston 1
Year Released: 1997
This shoe fit so well I wore it and skated in it frequently without socks. Unfortunately I stunk them up rather quickly, but these shoes were so good, they're exempt from exaggeration. The shoe's upper featured a synthetic material eS developed specifically for Koston that was lighter than leather and more resistant to stretching. The entire upper was surrounded by mesh to keep the foot cool and comfortable, which explains why I felt I didn't need socks. The grippy rubber sole added to the shoe's durablity and flexibilty while being resistant to cracking and chipping. The midsole was made of a layer of polyurethane and that combined with a crash pad in the heel, provided ample impact protection. The airbag in the heel added additional protection and the double-padded tongue and collar made for a fit that was unparalleled.
No. 14 - éS Muska
Muska's first pro shoe with eS was wildly successful. Designed by Muska himself, this shoe was both technical and functional. It was technical in the sense that it was the only shoe on the market that had rubber lace protectors, but it also had double padding throughout the upper, and side mesh ventilation. The toe cap and ollie area featured double-stitched, one-piece molded rubber. It had a heel pull for easy entry and a stash pocket in the tongue. All these specs made it expensive but also durable, thereby making it one of the best selling models from eS of all time.
No. 13 - Duffs KCK
Year Released: 1995
In 1994 Steve Rocco and Rodney Mullen formed Duffs Shoes. Kareem Campbell's pro model the KCK (Kareem Campbell's Kicks) was the best shoe they ever put out. It featured a gum rubber sole with leather uppers. Another thing that made it great for skating was its multiple lacing options. Also the toe box was clean and flexible and the collar kept your foot secure. It took a great deal of wear and tear to stop the KCK from looking good, and that took a lot of work in itself.
No. 12 - éS Accel
Year Released: 1995
This simple low top is easily the most popular shoe éS ever put out, which isn't surprising considering how picky skateboarders are. Skateboarders want a simple-looking shoe that will skate; nothing more, nothing less. This cupsole was all of that. On top of having a clean look, the Accel was well-constructed. The toe cap had triple stitching and the ollie and heel areas were tough. The tongue was comfy too, providing just the right amount of comfort. Pushing this shoe through Penny made it even cooler.
No. 11 - Etnies Sal 23
Year Released: 1994
This was a shoe that sold well in the mid 90's because it just exuded cool and skated great. You had to be living under a rock in this era to not know what number Michael Jordan wore, but those two sequential digits embroidered on the heel made all the difference when it came to standing out. And it's funny that the idea came from the Jordan 5, which may have signaled the beginning of skate brands spoofing major corporations designs and logos--a popular trend of the 90's. What made this shoe amazing was that it was very simple. The sole had a flat grip and there was no defined ollie patch except for a thin strip of rubber. Elements of this formula are still in use today.
No. 10 - Airwalk NTS
Year Released: 1993
This shoe with a rugged toe box was another model skaters were cutting down to enhance performance. The letters NTS should for "Not the Same." It was advertised as "the most durable and functional skateboarding shoe to date. The molded and reinforced rubber toe and ollie patch area and thicker outsole walls provide unsurpassed ollie durability and grip. The soles are extra thick rubber with bidirectional flex grooves. These allow maximum outsole flexibilty while providing the greatest surface area for optimal board contact. Notice the asymetrical topline of the suede upper: lower on the outside for greater ankle mobility and higher on the inside for protection."
Year Released: 1992
His first shoe, the Cab, was being cut down by skaters worldwide to make lower profile versions, so Caballero put out the Half Cab. No other shoe has had the impact on skateboarding like the Half Cab. This is without a doubt the most copied skate shoe in history.
No. 8 - Etnies Natas
Year Released: 1989
in 1989 former Vision rider Pierre-Andre Senizergues took over Etnies and the first pro model they put out was the rugged Natas shoe, for Natas Kaupas. The shoe's design actually came from Kaupas himself and he was paid a royalty of two dollars per pair. Giving him his own shoe and a royalty on top of that was seen as crazy for several reasons. Natas backwards is satan, and some schools and shops banned his gear for this reason. Also at the time giving a skateboarder his own shoe with a royalty was seen as being too similar to sports like baseball and basketball, but it all worked out. Steve Caballero's shoe came out a few months later.
No. 7 - Vision DV9 15000
Year Released: 1989
The DV9 15000 was the result of Vision's desire to one-up the other popular skate shoe companies of the time like Airwalk, who was focused on making tough and technically-advanced shoes. It followed the DV8 14000, an alternative to most skate shoes back then, which is why it was literally named "deviate." With the DV9 Vision incorporated aesthetics influenced by the Air Jordan 1, and it was no surprise this was a popular choice with skaters at the end of the 1980's. The strap provided support and the durable rubber bottom was grippy. It featured a heavily-padded tongue and collar in addition to a leather, suede and synthetic upper.
No. 6 - Airwalk 540
Year Released: 1988
If looks could kill...you'd be dead via this Prototype 540 from Airwalk. Visually this shoe never appealed to me, but I knew it was functional. Made to fit the performance needs of vert skaters at the time, it was a high top which happened to be in-style. It featured that velcro lace cover to protect vert riders from ripping their laces when they slid on their knees. The upper was designed to be lightweight by using less layers of material and the sole had an improved tread pattern for grip and flexibility.
No. 5 - Nike Air Jordan 1
Year Released: 1985
Sometimes there's something good that comes out of a bad situation. The 80's were a tough time in skateboarding financially, and shoes believe it or not, were hard to come by for some of the pros of that era. CR Stecyk, Powell Peralta's art director at the time, had a friend at Nike who he reached out to for some help providing shoes for riders in the "Search for Animal Chin" video. Thankfully that friend came through with the Jordans or who knows what shoes they would have been skating in in that video. Consequently Jordans became a hit with vert skaters, and it's not hard to understand why. With a design featuring what looks like an ollie patch, one might think it was designed for skateboarding. Sometime later in "Police Academy 4," some Bones Brigade members could be seen skating in the film wearing these same Air Jordans. The rest is history.
No. 4 - Vans Sk8 Hi
Year Released: 1977
Vans was beginning to make changes to its line for safety purposes so they released a mid top followed by the SK8 Hi, their first high top. The idea was to create some kind of athletic boot, and that's just what happened. Not only popular with skaters, the Sk8 Hi has been worn by people in all walks of life. Due to its combination of suede and canvas it didn't last long when it came to skating, but it still remains a favorite for many, both young and old.
No. 3 - Vans Authentic (1966) and Era
Year Released: 1975
The Authentic was the first shoe made by the Van Doren brothers' company Vans, and it is still a hit with skaters and non-skaters today. The Era which was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, looks similar but has more padding and more stitching than the Authentic. In my opinion I never felt like either was a great skate shoe because they ripped easily, but there's never been a time where I haven't seen someone skating in them. In fact both shoes are favorites of today's Vans team riders. One of my favorite skaters, Chima Ferguson, is often seen doing some ridiculous trick in these shoes. If you've seen Ferguson skate, you know what I'm talking about. Nearly 50 years later the Authentic and the Era aren't going out of style anytime soon.
The first skateboarding shoe ever came from the Randolph Rubber Company, who at the time employed brothers James and Paul Van Doren, who left a year later to start Vans. In the 1960's skateboarding emerged from surfing, and surfers rode their skateboards barefoot too, which often led to injuries. In this case, cuts and scrapes were creating the need for suitable footwear, not the need to maneuver through tricks. The tricks at the time were few; if you weren't doing wheelies, you were carving. All you needed was something to protect your feet and that's what the Randy 720 was.
No. 1 - Converse Chuck Taylor
Year Released: 1949
Chuck Taylor played on a basketball team sponsored by Converse, and then inspired by their "All-Star" model, he joined the sales team. After traveling the country hosting clinics, coaching teams and providing input on the "All Star" for 11 years, his name was added to the round patch on the ankle. In 1949 the high top Chuck Taylor we know today was introduced, with a low top version, the Oxford, following 8 years later. Today they're still a favorite among skaters for their simple design, thin upper and superb grippiness.