Are all skate shoes the same?
There are many shoe companies out there that make skate shoes, notably the big brand companies such as Vans, DC, Etnies, Nike, etc. There’s also smaller skate shoe companies like Cariuma, who make an excellent pair of skate shoes. As we walk through the stores, we notice all of these shoes have quite a similar design and some may wonder, why? Skate shoe companies are not exactly copying each other, but at the same time, they must respect a similar design if they want to stay ahead of their competition. Starting from the bottom we see two common tread styles across most shoe brands: the herringbone pattern and the waffle pattern. Next, we see a rubber surround around the sole which is good for gaining traction on the grip tape when performing a trick where naturally your feet are not level. For the bottom or “outer sole”, we tend to see a flat contour. This is different from a running shoe or tennis shoe, since with those the outer sole of the shoe isn’t entirely on the ground. The balls of the feet and the heel often known as the “contact points” are usually the only parts of the shoes that are making contact with the surface of the ground. Going back to skating shoes, we can see a constant similarity that has remained the norm for decades, that being the flat outer sole. This design allows the full surface area of the outer sole to make contact with the board or the ground, depending on what the skater is standing on. While this design may not be the most ergonomic for walking or running, it has proven to be the most beneficial for skateboarders and longboarders.
Moving on to the midsole, or the outer lip adjacent to the outer sole, we can also notice some similarities when comparing brands. For example, the rubber midsole serves as another point of grip, while also protecting the canvas, leather, or suede outer construction of the shoe. Skateboarders are athletes, and these specifications allow the skater to be prepared to encounter any environment and any terrain with ease. Grip and traction are two of the most important things for skateboarders and longboarders. When the rubber outer and midsoles make contact with the griptape on a board, a secure bond is created while maintaining significant grip. The last part of the shoe’s construction that matters most to skaters, is the insoles. The insoles will vary based on feel and support. Foot doctors recommend certain materials for insoles over others based on the contact points within the foot. Overall, skateboarding shoes vary and must be vetted by the individual skater for ultimate performance. Regardless of the similar designs, no skate shoe is created equally. As every skateboarder is unique in their own way, these shoes too have a sense of purpose in a large market making every brand special.