Every skateboarder has their own individual style and preference when it comes to their footwear. Different environments, climates, and terrain can be important factors in choosing the right shoe for skating in. After all, the perfect shoe for a skater in Los Angeles might not necessarily be the shoe of choice for a skater in Germany, Australia, or Japan. While there’s been a lot of global carry-over for trends in skate shoes, there can never be a definitive list for something like this—it’s just too subjective.
And yet, here we are. Because we do lists around here and because we want to push a few buttons, we hit up Brian Jones, a skateboarder, brand guy, and a writer who has been in the industry for years on all sides of the game, obsessing and bleeding skateboarding since 1985. Jones tapped a few of skateboarding's greats to assist in narrowing down this list a bit better and making it as unbiased as possible.
We picked through the good, the bad, and the ugly, looking back at different generations of skaters and influential designs that survived test of time. We can’t lie: Removing the rose-tinted spectacles at times was hard. Some fond memories from the past now look bizarre in the grand context of everything. Someone like Jovontae Turner might have looked fresh while skating Embarcadero in a pair of yellow Airwalk NTS, but could anyone else really have done them the same justice? There’s a lot to be said for someone’s individual style when it comes down to how good a shoe looks on-foot.
Our initial list of 50 options has been painstakingly narrowed down to just the top favorites, so join us as we reminisce about some of the most loved, most respected, and most memorable shoes ever created to skate in. These are the best skate shoes.