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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best Vans shoes

Known for their classic look and skateboard-friendly waffle soles, Vans shoes are a mainstay of casual and active footwear.

Since their introduction in the 1960s, Vans shoes have been popular among skateboarders and those wishing to make a statement with bold yet simple sneakers. Most shoes in its line are fairly affordable, and unisex designs make it easy to find a shoe that fits your style. Some shoes place an emphasis on everyday wearability and style, while others are made for skateboarding with grippy outsoles and padded collars. The huge selection of shoes in a massive range of colors, prints, and designs means it’s easy to express yourself. Vans also produces sandals for hot summer days at the shore.

While Vans shoes aren’t for everyone, their wide range of sneaker options can be intimidating when choosing the right sneaker or sandal.

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Known for their bold look and variety of designs, many enthusiasts collect Vans both old and new.

How to buy the best Vans shoes

The collections of styles offered by Vans is vast, ranging from beach-friendly sandals to skate-ready high-tops. Understanding how you wear your shoes and what your day-to-day activities are can help you make the right pick. You may even want a couple of pairs for different activities.

Shoe sizes

Because Vans are gender-neutral, you can choose from their entire selection without worrying about fit.

Sizes are listed in men’s and women’s for each shoe, so finding your size is easy.

Vans offers shoes specifically sized for kids, though some adult shoes are also available in kids’ sizes.

Choosing a Vans shoe

Vans shoes work well for completing outfits, making statements, riding skateboards, walking, and spending a day at the beach.

If you’re looking for an everyday shoe that pairs well with your outfits, opt for shoes like the Authentic or Old Skool. For casual wear, a slip-on is easy to wear and makes for comfortable walking. If you plan to skate in style, Vans has a selection of supportive shoes made just for that.

Types of Vans shoes

Authentic shoes: It all started with the Authentic. Today’s Authentic shoes remain true to their original intent — a sneaker designed to be affordable and comfortable. While these usually feature a dual-tone design, some models offer more expressive and colorful uppers. The canvas upper makes for a flexible and comfortable fit, while the ubiquitous waffle outsole offers reliable grip.

Old Skool shoes: This shoe introduced the iconic Vans side stripe and is a mainstay of skateboarders. Its padded collar provides extra support and comfort, and its classic look makes it well suited to casual wear.

Slip-on shoes: These extra-low-cut shoes are made for flexibility and day-to-day wear. Elastic connecting the tongue to the side panels makes slipping in and out easy, and the padded collar is comfortable. Fans love this shoe for its ability to pair with a range of outfits.

Sk8-Hi shoes: Designed with skateboarding in mind, this high-top shoe features extra ankle support and sturdy materials to keep your feet safe. The more rugged toe box prevents crushing or stubbing.

Era shoes: With a similar look to the Authentic, the Era stands out with its padded collar, making it a mix of comfort and style.

Ultrarange shoes: As its name suggests, this is a shoe made for durability and long days on your feet. The UltraCush midsole provides arch support, while the breathable upper keeps your feet cool. Though this is a sportier choice, it can pair well with casual outfits.

Platform shoes: Vans platform shoes come in a handful of familiar styles with some added height, including Old Skool, slip-on, and Authentic. The platform height varies significantly, allowing you to choose how much boost you need.

Sandals: From flip-flops to slides, Vans sandals range in their designs but are always made with casual wear in mind. These are typically more affordable than their closed-toed counterparts.

Vans shoes come in half-sizes, making it easier to find the right fit for you.

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What features do Vans shoes have?

Colors and prints

Vans shoes come in a wide range of colors, from black-and-white two-tone designs to pastels and bolder colors.

Prints include classics like checkerboard patterns as well as unique designs ranging from floral prints to colorful illustrations.

Whether you’re looking for something eye-catching and expressive or a more basic style, Vans has a massive offering of color and print choices.

Uppers

Vans uppers are usually made of canvas, suede, or leather. Because most Vans shoes are made with vulcanized rubber, a process of heating rubber for durability, synthetic materials cannot be used without melting.

Canvas uppers are durable and easy to clean, and the breathable quality of the material makes it suited to warm weather and physical activity. Many original Vans designs — as well as those with eye-catching and vibrant prints — use this material.

Leather uppers have a distinctive look and tend to stay clean longer. While they aren’t as breathable as canvas, they are more likely to keep moisture out. However, they can also take a bit more care and may require leather conditioners to prevent cracking.

Suede uppers are durable and offer a different look from traditional leather Vans. However, like leather, suede still requires a bit of care to keep clean.

Vans Sidestripe

To Sidestripe or not to Sidestripe? The familiar Vans Sidestripe appears on Old Skool, Sk8-Hi, and Ultrarange styles, as well as their platform shoes. If this is an essential feature for you, be sure to consider these styles.

Vans shoes technology

Several proprietary technologies make Vans shoes comfortable and durable. While there are several technologies and materials featured in its line of sneakers and sandals, there are a few that stand out as the most popular.

UltraCush is a type of insole made of lightweight foam that provides plenty of cushioning, making it a popular pick for skaters.

PopCush is an updated version of the UltraCush that features a thinner, lighter design. While it isn’t as soft, the firmer design provides good support and shock absorption.

ComfyCush shoes combine a soft and flexible outsole with a cushioned insole. For those who find Vans shoes a bit stiff and uncomfortable, their ComfyCush models are a good option.

RapidWeld is a method of attaching panels to one another without stitching, resulting in a seamless look that’s highly durable.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Like any sneaker, Vans require a break-in period. You can wear them around the house for a few days, or bend the toes of the shoes up gently a few times to limber up the soles.
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How much do Vans shoes cost?

Inexpensive

Vans sandals start around $35 to $50 and include styles like slides, flip-flops, and strap sandals. You won’t find many athletic or everyday shoes in this range, but you can pick up a good pair of shoes for the beach.

Mid-range

For $50 to $75 are a wide range of sneakers, including styles like slip-ons and Eras. For a reliable and stylish walking shoe, there’s a lot to consider in this reasonable range.

Expensive

Unique designs and athletic shoes fall between $75 and $95, offering a meeting point of affordability and durability. These shoes tend to have more supportive insoles and grippy outsoles for traction.

Vans is also known for their snowboarding boots, which sport the classic side stripe and a thin, flexible sole that provides a similar feel to their skateboarding shoes.

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Tips

  • Beware of knockoffs. Buy from a well-known retailer when possible, but look out for shoes without waffle outsoles or suspiciously poor quality. You can also scan the barcode to verify the product.
  • Clean your shoes carefully and by hand. According to the official website, you should clean the inside of your shoes with baking soda and gentle detergent. White rubber parts can be cleaned with white vinegar and a brush.
  • Consider your wardrobe while you shop. Flashy sneakers are a lot of fun, but if they’re difficult to pair with your day-to-day wear, you may not use them as often as you hope. Blacks, whites, and blues are much easier to match with outfits.
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Vans regularly partners with professional skateboarders to bring unique and collectible designs to their customers.

FAQ

Q. Is Vans an independent company?

A. While it began as a small company in Anaheim, California in 1966, Vans is now owned by the VF Corporation, which also owns JanSport, The North Face, and Timberland.

Q. How long do Vans last?

A. If worn casually, they can last around two years. If you use them for skateboarding or other sports, they’ll usually last around a year. Regular cleaning and care can extend their lifespan.

Q. Can you wear Vans shoes without socks?

A. You can, but the fabric and insole will become dirty and worn faster as you sweat and rub against the inside of the shoe. Low-cut socks are a better option and will keep your foot from slipping around in the shoe.

 

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