Having new shoes that fit your feet is important when it comes to safety. Skate shoes have additional layers that are too stiff which is why skaters have to come up with ways to break them in fast and efficiently. This will prevent blisters, dabbing heels, and any other places where the stiff material will continually be rubbing off your skin.
Having a good fitting shoe for skateboarding is the same as having good snowboarding boots, and binders that fit. Quality equipment that is your size (and this cannot be emphasized enough) increases safety, provides durability, and increases mobility which every skater wants in the end. However, new shoes can be quite painful and some time is needed for you to break in them.
Some skaters opt to microwave their shoes to break in them faster. However, this myth holds more risk than gain and we advise extreme caution and gradual heating.
Even though it may seem bizarre, learning more about how to break them, as well as the specific purpose of skateboarding shoes, will provide you more insight into skateboarding as well.
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Why do good skateboard shoes matter?
Comfortable and quality skateboarding shoes come off as nearly the first on the list of the most essential items you need for skateboarding. Right after skateboarding, right?
Good skateboarding shoes will increase grip, board feel, shock absorption, and prevent injuries. As there is no same person, there is also no same type of foot, so it can be a challenge when it comes to choosing proper skateboarding shoes. Not to mention that people of all ages skate and they prefer different shoes.
Comfort is the first and last category by which skateboard shoes should be ordered, they also have to fit your skateboarding style and offer support for your feet on the board. Suede shoes are recommended, but the actual type of shoes depends entirely on the person wearing them.
Two types of soles
Deciding on whether you want vulcanized or cupsole shoes is a good start. The difference between them is in durability and board feel. In general, cupsoles are sturdier than vulcanized soles, provide more heel support and protection. Their downside, however, is that they seem to provide less feel on the skateboard, but that comes down to the individual impression.
Vulcanized shoes are taped around the body of the shoe, and consist of two separate pieces. After extensive use, it will start to fall off, but they do feel slightly lighter on the board. They are a great choice for skaters who want to feel even the slightest tremor of their board.
The thinner sole and flexibility of the shoe seem to be a great fit with technical skaters. But it does not mean you won’t be able to do any of those tricks if you are wearing cupsoles, some skaters even claim that there is no difference. The downside of vulcanized soles is that they provide less impact protection as they don’t really have heel support and are thinner. This also means that they are not as durable, but it depends on what type of skateboarding you prefer, as well as the amount of time you spend wearing them.
Spotting the difference is easy. Volc soles are usually recognized by the thin foxing tape on the edge, or by bending them in the local skate store. They are a bit cheaper when compared to other types of shoes, which is a great thing if you are starting with your skateboarding equipment on a budget. The downside however is that they will wear down faster than cupsoles (which are a better choice if you are an active skateboard jumper).
Cupsole shoes are designed for skateboarding and came in as an improved version of skating shoes after skaters started complaining about bruised heels. The sole of this shoe consists of several layers: a solid, cushioning, and a rubber layer to minimize the impact of jumping.
They use EVA or TPR cushioning foam that is placed inside a rubber cup. They are a bit bigger, which means that the board should be a bit bigger- this is also related to less board feel. But this is a completely individual sensation.
When compared to vulc shoes they are more expensive, and durable at the same time. Impact absorption is another thing, but they are not miracle workers. Meaning skaters need to be careful on their own, as there are no magic shoes that will do that type of work for them. Cupsoles are also stitched, implying more quality in the shoe itself, as it will stay longer together even with the increased pressure from skateboarding.
Protecting the part of the foot that attaches it to the rest of the leg is so banal to explain why it is important. It guarantees freedom of movement, and if you don’t have healthy ankles you should consider whether or not skateboarding is the right fit for you.
Doing any type of jumps and flips, you will sometimes trip and the edge of your skateboard will hit your foot. When you get hit in the ankle it can bruise and even swell, preventing you further from training. These injuries are also known as anklers, and the solution to that is getting extra padding and protection for the ankle. There is a low-top, mid-top, and high-top option.
In general opinion, low tops seem to be more comfortable, but high tops provide the most protection.
- Low tops liberate movement, are lighter, and come pretty standard when it comes to skateboarding shoes. There is a downside, as the lack of padding will expose the ankles, making them more vulnerable.
- Mid-tops are just right as they provide a bit more support and stability in the ankle area when compared to low-tops, but less freedom of movement. They are not as ‘restricted’ as the high tops, and they do protect the deck from hitting the ankles.
- High-top ankle protection is the top type of gear for beginners who will trip and keep ducking their deck in their ankle. It will not prevent anyone from getting a sprained ankle but will absorb some of the impact. Some models have extra cushioning for the sole purpose of that.
Composition of skate shoe soles
A sole is made from different parts depending on the type of shoe. Some provide more heel support, some have insoles like a herringbone or waffle tread pattern that will provide the extra grip.
A thin sole will feel like you are barefoot, increasing the ‘feel’ sensation on your skateboard. This means better board control, again, great for technical tricks. But cushioning is important to be able to absorb the impact and keep the feet safe and functioning for many years to come.
The material the shoes are made out of also plays an important role. Suede shoes are recommended because the material is more durable when compared to the cheaper canvas shoes. It is also the easiest to repair.
Be prepared that skateboarding will wear your shoes and feet down faster than some other activities and that you will need to invest in a new pair now and then. Get familiar with world-renowned or even local brands with a good product choice. If at any point you fall in love with a specific pair of canvas shoes and their aesthetic, try thinking of them as your fancy sneakers and use them when you are only cruising around on your skateboard. The thinner material offers less support to the foot and is therefore not as safe and more prone to damage tear.
How long do skateboarding shoes last
This depends on how much you wear them, it is as simple as that. Of course, and what type of tricks that you do, and what state your decks’ grip tape is in.
Street skating with bad shoes and a new deck grip can mean that the shoes will deteriorate in a week. And that is sometimes long. Doing ollies and flips will wear down the fabric, ruining them after only a few days. In the chance that your parents are in charge of financing your shoes and your life, try saving up some pocket money or talk to them about the importance of investing in proper shoes. But do your homework before presenting them with the case!
Do I really need skateboarding shoes?
Undoubtedly yes if you skate often. It is a piece of equipment, an extension of your feet and the skate. The quality of the shoes does directly impact the quality of your skateboarding skills and their development. Cheap shoes are a waste of money and a safety hazard. While the ones on the higher price range need to have specific characteristics (mentioned previously) to be taken into consideration to invest in safety.
Quality shoes are next to the first most important thing for skating. Shoes come after the skateboard, or rather consider them as its extension.
Truth be told, if you are a basic skateboarder and just love to cruise around the park without doing any tricks don’t waste the money. If you know how to balance and push on a skateboard, and love taking selfies and being present, there is no point in investing in pro shoes since you are not considering becoming more efficient in skateboarding anytime soon.
The microwaving of the skateboard shoe myth
Breaking in new shoes can be a challenging assignment. Avoiding blisters can take time and experience, but choosing the right material and model of the shoe as well. Keep in mind that either way vaseline or petroleum gel on the skin will prevent your skin from snapping until the new shoes fit your foot shape completely.
In some cases, the specific shape of our foot will have a red spot where it will seem tight or unnatural, but the rest of the shoe is snug as a bug. A great way to break them in fast is to up the old bigger socks method with some concentrated heat. Get your wide socks, new shoes, and an air dryer. Using concentrated heat will help you soften the material in a specific area, without disrupting the parts that already fit well.
Now, some extremes might think that it is a good idea to stick the entire shoes in a microwave for some time because they will get soft. The idea behind it is to take the changing stiffness of the plasticized materials and mold them to your feet accordingly. Even though this may seem like a good idea, think twice before doing it as it can hold more risk than gain.
The plastic from the shoes can melt and you only waste your money (and maybe even a microwave). Any metal compartments can cause a microwave to spark, and explode, while shoelaces might catch fire.
So why do skaters microwave their shoes?
People will do everything to try to avoid a painful process and speed up the result. However, this myth holds more risk than gain and we advise extreme caution and gradual heating. Every time you put the shoes in the microwave get them for a small amount of time, jump in them, wear them around and put them back in.
In all honesty, this process takes time as simple breaking in the shows by walking, but if it feels better let us know how it goes!