Vulcan was the Roman god of fire. Vulcanization is a process for making rubber more durable by using sulfur to create links between the rubber's polymer chains. Vulcanized (vulc) shoes are made when that rubber sole is glued to the upper and then a layer of foxing tape gets wrapped around it. When it comes to skateboarding, vulc shoes are extremely popular because they usually don't have midsoles, making them lighter than and much easier to feel your board with than cupsoles, so they skate really well.
Some of the best shoes of all time didn't make this list, so don't be too surprised. The Half Cab isn't here and neither is the Era or Authentic. You won't find the Nike SB Zoom Janoski here either. You'll find them
No. 10 - Puma S-Vulc
I used to skate in Puma's in the mid 1990's and back then they hadn't made any footwear that wouldn't rip right away when skated. Today they have a few people riding for them, namely pro Joey Brezinski, who put this shoe back on the map. So now there's the Puma S vulc which is a tougher version of the shoe I used to skate, because it is made for skateboarding and not for Clyde Drexler. Fitwise the S Vulc is slim and thinly padded to emphasize boardfeel. The lacelets have multiple stitching close to the ollie area so that they last longer. The insole isn't spectacular but it gets the job done.
No. 9 - Vox Pat Duffy
Vox is one of the smaller skate shoe brands but they are core, and they made Pat Duffy a better-than-average pro model, so give them some credit. The Duffy features a suede upper that looks fun to skate, because it is cleverly designed and doesn't come off as flimsy. A stitchless toe box and really beefed up ollie areas that still give you good boardfeel won't go unappreciated. The side panel is perforated for breathability and there is light padding on the collar and tongue. There's an EVA shocksorb insole that features IRS gel and the outsole is made of gum rubber. With Vox paying serious attention to key areas to ensure production of a quality shoe, there's no excuse for overlooking the Duffy.
Guru Khalsa's first shoe had three versions and it seems like his second one is mostly based off of the Exolyte, a low top vulcanized model of his first shoe. The difference is instead of having a separated toe box and a stitching-defined ollie area as his first shoe did, the second shoe has a toe box that is more wide open like a Vans Era. The core support polyurethane footbed and thin padding in the tongue and collar provide stability and a nice fit. The outsole is made of natural gum rubber and it was assembled using water-based glue.
Osiris is changing the way they make shoes inside and out. In some of their work people may find slight resemblances to Supras, but in the Bingaman VLC, Osiris has a model they can truly call their own. The upper is made of suede, mesh and synthetic nubuck and aside from looking cool it has two useful features. There's a combination lacing system that gives you the option of protecting your laces, and it has a velcro strap across the top. They've also reinforced the ollie areas and the vulc sole is abrasion-resistant.
No. 6 - Nike SB Salazar LR
Omar Salazar shreds, and his last shoe used outdated Nike technology like flywire that didn't really work in skateboarding, so they made him a better performing edition made with suede and canvas, in the Salazar LR. I often thought of the Salazar LR as a relative of the Blazer, because they kind of look alike, but this midtop is much better. The toe box has greater maneuverability and a toe cap that's double-stitched. Its thin fit isn't as bulky as a Dunk and the medium padded tongue is comfortable. It's got great board feel and impact shock protection via a drop in Lunarlon sockliner.
No. 5 - Converse KA One Vulc
Some vulcanized Converse pro models I used to skate were the Trapasso's and Pappalardo's; essentially they both were pretty tough shoes I had fun beating up. They seemed like they were made to take a beating.The KA-One was cool as a cupsole, but a series of upgrades over the years really took it to the next level. The first upgrade was making a vulcanized edition, because now with that change they were equipped to do damage. Don't believe me? The marketing slogan Converse aptly came up with for it was "Engineered for Destruction." Another progressive step was implementing insole technology that wasn't their own, beginning with Ortholite and currently settling on Nike's Lunarlon. So when considering the shoe's flexibility-oriented slimmness, in conjunction with the abrasion-resistant suede and all-star traction rubber, the KA-One vulc is a steal.
No. 4 - Globe Sabbath
I wasn't a fan of David Gonzalez's last shoe because it didn't appeal to me visually, but I love the way his second shoe, the Sabbath, looks. The important thing is that it skates well, and Gonzalez's skating should indicate that this shoe will withstand his brand of break-neck, all-out aggressiveness. He actually designed and tested the shoe, so durability won't impede performance. Wear and tear was addressed by embossed, synthetic-coated panels on the lacelets and heel. It's worth pointing out that there's very little stitching on the shoe and none on the panels. This is because of a fusion weld manufacturing method that makes it tougher to rip through than panels assembled with regular stitching. The polyurethane shockbed insole protects you from harsh landings and doesn't wear down as fast as conventional insoles. The S-Trac outsole is grippy due to its small, groove-like traction lugs.
No. 3 - Emerica Westgate
The Westgate is another one of Emerica's vulc triumphs because it is ready to go right out of the box. Previously there was the Hsu which was a hit, but this is a higher profile mid top with a rugged design that actually is as tough as it looks. The toe cap has triple stitching and the ollie area is triple-reinforced. Everywhere else on the shoe has double stitching. This means it won't rip in a day and blow out on you. The insole is from Ortholite, while the midsole has Sole Tech's level 3 foam running throughout the entire shoe, as another layer of protection. You'll enjoy the outsole which has a triangular tread pattern for better grip.
No. 2 - Lakai Marc
We all know that Marc Johnson is a super-genius on a skateboard, yet he is the type of person whose genius transfers to things he does off his board like giving input on his shoe's design. Only he could come up with a shoe like this. The Marc resembles so many different skate shoes, while simultaneously retaining its own identity. The upper's mix of fabrics is intended to give the shoe a low top look, despite being a mid top. The insole is more ergonomically shaped than what you'd find in other skate shoes. Remarkably, the polyurethane they use absorbs impact well while maintaing shape and functionality. So even after all that abuse it remains comfortable. The deep herringbone pattern on the sole creates flex points that improve boardfeel and grip. If it works for Marc Johnson, chances are you might enjoy it too.
No. 1 - adidas Busenitz Vulc
Busenitz sure has been accommodating to the hard-to-please, by giving skaters various options of his pro model to choose from. Recently he followed up his cupsole with a vulc version. The upper's design is influenced by adidas' Copa Mundial soccer cleat, which has a snug toe box that allows soccer players to really move their feet and control the ball better. The Busenitz has the same effect and the vulc sole has a tough exterior due to a solid, yet flexible rubber toe bumper. The outsole features vector traction and that has made it grippier than the cupsole. As far as your feet are concerned, the molded sockliner and Geofit collar make them very comfortable.