Vans Sk8-Hi Review

9.8 score
[Editors rating (9.8)] = (WalkJogRun) score (9.8)/10

Editor rating: 9.8 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
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Can you believe there are more than 20 million skateboarders internationally with 16 million of those residing in the United States? Well, the company, Vans, sure can and they have been contributing footwear to the cause for years. In fact, they even built their first skatepark in 2010, but that's not even the best part. The appearance of the Sk8-Hi is befitting to nearly anyone, and as such, you don't need to be a skater to enjoy this retro style. If it's a trip to the mall or hanging out with friends and family, these allow us to showcase our favorite jeans, shorts, and etc. But the looming question is whether or not this pair remains comfortable off the board, as they are on it. After all, not everyone can handle a 50-50 grind while rounding the edge of a bowl at the park. So, let's dive in and see!

Editor's Pros & Cons

Canvas/Suede Options

Lace-up Closure

Signature Logo

Signature, Waffle Outsole

Vulcanized Construction



Insole Durability


Let's face it, not everyone is going to enjoy the retro look. But for those of us who do, these are gorgeous with a pair of jeans or shorts. They do well at providing a casual feel with a subtle hint of attitude on the horizon. Depending on the choice in color, the stitching in the upper can be utilized to blend or to contrast the general appearance. We can take full advantage of this sub-feature by choosing our wardrobe, accordingly. Will we decide to match our clothes to the color of the upper or the stitching, as it were? In addition, the signature logo inlines a flowing desire to showcase who we are. But more than this, the overall feeling of this footwear helps us to mentally venture back to the places where we have been and, moreover, into the new havens of where we are yet to explore. These radiate with casual adventuring and the moments in which we feel free. Whether we are hitting the board to dive into the half-pipe or setting our sights to go somewhere with our friends and family, the design enhances these heartfelt notions. As a result, we are left with holding tightly our sovereign independence while embracing that which we love the most.


The first thing we must consider when evaluating airflow within a product is to examine its primary usage. For example, a pair of snow boots made with a mesh upper would be highly breathable but it would be an absolute disaster, in terms of remaining applicable as snow boots. In other words, our feet would freeze. This item, however, is made to consider various times of the year. We need airflow which prevents overheating in the summer months but still is minimal enough to help us remain warm in the cooler times. After all, generally speaking, skaters ollie and grind in the out of doors. So, does this pair stand up to the challenge? Yes, they certainly do! Airflow falls into the midrange of what we consider to be breathable. For running shoes, we expect high breathability. For snow boots, not so much. This product falls in between those two extremes, as it should.


This is an area where this product shines brightly. There are a plethora of colors and variations available. Everything from black and white to white on white, it is all there. What does this mean? It means there is no shortage of options when it comes to dressing to our individual preference and style. We can buy a pair to look good with various outfits, or purchase multiple items, in order to change to a more specific look, respectively. We can match to our board or our clothes, or even both for that matter. More importantly, this item does allow us a wide range of choices. So, no matter what your individual taste is like, if you enjoy the retro styling, the color ranges available caters to nearly everyone; at least, on some level.


Okay, these are created with skaters in mind. The comfort levels, definitely, hold up within this regard. Comfort remains high whether tricking out on a shortboard or gliding easily with a longboard. So, with comfort, this style does extremely well under that type of pressure. But, do these handle a walk at the park or times when we are hanging out with our friends? The short answer is, "yes." This product falls into the medium category for overall comfort within a casual style. This means they are not walking shoes, per se, but you can utilize them off of the board for short periods of time. Furthermore, if you will be 'hanging out,' as it were; then, this pair will be more than sufficient for that. At the end of the day, comfort is ideal for skating and remains in the upper-medium range for casual applications.


Durability, for the most part, holds up with the pricing value. The upper is thick and the outsole is made to handle a board having grip tape. In fact, the vulcanized construction lends its hand at keeping this product within the well-developed scenario of footwear. With that being said, the insole is not on par with the rest of the product. Under the normal stresses, we find in day-to-day skateboarding, the insole begins to fail at around twelve months or so. There is a lot of foot action going on with this type of sport, but the insole should hold up a bit longer. It doesn't. Thankfully, however, it is the insole and not another part of the item in which we would, otherwise, consider to be a disastrous attribute, in terms of durability. A simple replacement of the insole can rectify this particular problem, as the rest of the footwear will still be in good shape.


The overall fit is wonderful. These are made with the notion of becoming part of your foot; that is, they become an extension, as to make tricks a bit easier while boarding. With that notion being understood, not everyone wearing these will be jumping on a skateboard anytime soon. For most people, the canvas upper design fits as expected. The suede uppers, however, fit a bit tighter. A half-size change may be needed to accommodate this subtle difference between the two. When it is all said and done, once you have chosen the correct size for you, the fit will be snug. This is not at all a bad thing, but rather, it is an expected outcome from footwear which we consider to be safe for skateboarders. With this in mind, the fit works perfectly. For casual wearers, it may feel tighter than what you are accustomed to, but then again, casual wearing is second to skateboarding with this particular setup.


Here, we need to examine whether or not these remain flexible enough to perform tricks while, also, holding onto a bit of rigidness, in order to prevent injury. The flexibility factor must adhere to the attribute of allowing our ankles and feet to move fluidly through each trick. In this, this product performs superbly. There is an ample amount of movement in the upper that we expect to be present. Likewise, when it comes to the rigidness factor, our ankles and feet must remain fully supported while, also, not becoming subjected to unnecessary rubbing and blistering. Thankfully, these do pass this test, as well. After the minimal break-in period, this pair does perform as we anticipated. Blistering remains an exception rather than the rule, and both flexibility and rigidity work hand-in-hand to provide a nice experience on and off the board. Overall, this item has a decent amount of flexibility and board performance increases, as a result.


The SK8-Hi model carries within it submodels. We have access to the vintage Sk8-Hi, which is portrayable here. For those in need of more cushioning, there is the ComfyCush Sk8-Hi. We can find Core Classics, waterproof versions, and even a more feminine look within the Sk8-Hi Slim model. At the end of the day, not only do we have access to many color choices and varying uppers within the main model and its subsets, but we have access to the different ways that each can make us feel. Overall, we find that each has its own purpose, yet it still is made with the same general construction. This means we do not lose the overall value of a great model when switching to something more prevailing to our taste. And at the end of the day, isn't that what matters?


The signature, waffle outsole is a defining feature of the Sk8-Hi series. It has the design to allow the correct amount of slipping while, also, grabbing to our satisfaction when grip tape is present on a skateboard. It is the right amount of both slip and grip when applied to the realm in which it is created. But what about traction outside of the sport? Well, this particular design works well on road type surfaces. It is too shallow for offroading and furthermore, the flat feature is just not an ideal attribute outside of malls and pavement. With that being stated, the overall traction lasts longer on a board than it will without. This does not mean that it isn't okay for casual wear, but rather, it is better suited to that which it has the design for. Casually, these work just fine. But for serious walkers, a pair better suited to the genre is more desirable for traction longevity.


There are two available uppers with this particular model. The canvas upper remains the most popular. It carries the right amount of flexibility and rigidity, which we consider to be most desirable for skateboarding. The suede uppers, on the other hand, are a bit more rigid than their canvas counterparts. This changes the way in which the board will feel underfoot; at least, within the area of tricks. For those who do not perform tricks, however, either upper will suffice. At this point, individual preference comes into play, as both uppers feel good after their initial break-in period has ended. Both types have acceptable longevity numbers associated with them and the overall durability is more than adequate, as well. So, outside of tricks, the decision in which upper to choose is solely based upon your preference.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this is a pair which excels in the area for which the item has been created. Performance remains high, as does longevity, durability, and traction; at least, within the realm of skateboarding. For casual wearers, this product, also, excels in these areas; except with traction. Traction has a slip-and-grip build to it. As such, this should be kept in mind when utilizing this item for casual wear. But at the end of the day, this pair exceeds our expectations for the pricing. In other words, the price is a great value for the overall product's build. Comfort remains high for skateboarders and in the upper-middle range for casual wearers. This, of course, can be increased with changing out the insole to one more suited to your individual foot or switching to another style like the ComfyCush Sk8-Hi (a subset of this same model). We love the retro appearance! More importantly, we love the satisfaction levels from those who wear them!