Van versus Converse is a battle that has been raging on for decades. Both of these shoes are tried and true classics for casual wear, streetwear, and lifting.
More than likely you’ve seen lifters wearing Vans and Converse at the gym when doing things like squats and deadlifts. Originally, Vans and Converse were not designed for lifting, however, their 0mm heel-to-toe drops and fairly firm outsoles make them prime contenders for supporting heavy weight training, especially deadlifts.
As someone who loves both Vans and Converse for casual wear and lifting, I wanted to put together an article discussing all of the key details between these shoes. If you’re on the fence between Vans and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, then hopefully, this article can help you make the best decision for your needs.
For additional context, I’m a powerlifter that regularly trains in both shoes and I’ve deadlifted well over 500 lbs in each model and have competed in both shoes. In this Vans vs Converse article, I’m going to discuss multiple key categories for each shoe and talk about how they compare.
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Vans Vs Converse, Which Is Better?
When it comes to the question of which is better in regard to Vans versus Converse, there really isn’t a definitive one-size-fits-all answer.
Instead, I think it’s more productive to identify the similarities and differences between Vans and Converse so you can select the shoe that is better for your individual wants and needs.
In this article, when I discuss Vans, I’m specifically talking about the Vans Authentic, Vans Sk8-Hi, and Vans Classic. For Converse, I’m referencing the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star. These are some of the core models for each brand.
Vans and Converse Similarities
The first similarity between Vans and Converse is that both deliver a 0mm heel-to-toe drop. If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to Vans and Converse as zero drop shoes, then this means that they deliver a 0mm heel-to-toe drop.
When a shoe has a 0mm heel-to-toe drop this means that there is no difference between the height of the forefoot and heel in the shoe. Basically, both of these shoes will have your feet sitting in a relatively flat position.
Another similarity is that Vans and Converse shoes both utilize rubber soles as their main means for delivering their fit, stability, and feel. The soles of the core Vans and Converse models have remained relatively unchanged over the last couple of decades.
On top of similar sole constructions, the Vans and Converse models referenced in this article also have relatively similar upper constructions. For example, generally, you can expect canvas uppers with double-stitching in the core Vans and Converse shoes.
The final similarity that is worth noting about Vans and Converse is that their price points are all somewhat similar. Generally, for the Vans Authentic, Classic, Sk8-Hi, you can expect to pay between $50-70 USD, and for Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star low-top and high-top shoes, you can expect to pay between $55-60 USD.
Note, these price points are in reference to the standard models for each shoe and not special edition models or limited drop series.
Vans and Converse Differences
The first core difference between Vans and Converse is obviously the branding of each shoe. The branding of each shoe will change based on the model you go with.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High-Top models have the classic Converse patch, while the low-top shoes have minimal branding. This is similar to the Vans Sk8-Hi and Classic which feature a prominent Vans stripe down the sides of the shoe, while the Authentic features minimal branding.
Another core difference between Vans and Converse is their outsole constructions. The Vans models feature the signature rubber waffle outsole patterning while the Converse has a full rubber outsole with different tread patterns on the forefoot and heel.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes also feature metal eyelets, while only the Vans Authentic utilizes them. The Vans Sk8-Hi and Classic both feature standard eyelets through their upper constructions.
The insole construction for Vans and Converse is my final subtle difference between these shoes. Both models feature non-removable insoles, however, the Converse insole is a lot easier to remove.
If you’re someone with custom orthotics or insoles, then this could be an important point to consider when investing in these shoes. The Converse will be a better option for this context and the insoles can be tough to remove in some of the Vans models.
- The core Converse and Vans shoes have multiple construction similarities and price points.
- Both shoes deliver a somewhat similar fit and feel with their 0mm heel-to-toe drops and rubber soles.
- The branding and outsole construction is both core differences between each model.
Vans Vs Converse for Lifting
To gather a full understanding of Vans and Converse in the gym, I’m going to break this performance section into a few key categories. I’ve worn and tested Vans and Converse for a variety of training sessions.
I’ve also competed in powerlifting with both shoes and regularly wear them for my recreational lifting sessions.
Best Shoe for Powerlifting
Both Vans and Converse work for powerlifting-focused training and this is due to their 0mm heel-to-toe drop and firm outsole construction. For powerlifting, you need to excel in three exercises, the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Vans and Converse’s zero-drop construction make them great contenders for deadlifting specifically as they help provide a flat surface to pull from. A flat and firm outsole allows you to root the feet better and really drive into the ground, hence why each of these models fair great for powerlifting-focused athletes.
Personally, I do think the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes have a slightly firmer insole construction compared to most Vans models. This can make them a marginally better pick for anyone training with maximal loads.
In addition, some Vans models have a slightly higher stack height compared to Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, so when breaking down granular differences, Converse has a slight edge when it comes to powerlifting.
Winner: Converse, but not by much. However, powerlifting is a game of inches and little details can matter.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star
- Heavier Strength Training
- Recreational Lifting
- For Versatile Training
- Long-Term Durability
Best Shoe for Overall Lifting Performance
From a recreational lifting point of view, Vans and Converse are fairly neck and neck. The general Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars feature a canvas upper which is fairly durable across the board and will usually last a few months before breakdown issues are experienced.
My Converse typically lasts 6-8 months before I notice any signs of upper construction breakdown. Most Vans models come with either a canvas, suede, or leather upper.
The canvas upper is the most commonly used in Vans’ shoes in the gym and is similar to the Converse in regard to long-term durability. My Vans last about 6-8 months before the upper stretches from lifting or the stitching starts to fray.
As for stability, I think both of these models will perform fairly equally for the general lifter. The Vans do have a slightly more cushioned insole, but overall, I don’t think this will impact the recreational lifter in a negative way and may actually be more comfortable for regular wear.
Winner: Tie. Both models have similar upper durability for recreational training and the Vans may be a more comfortable option overall.
Vans Vs Converse Durability
When it comes to durability, it’s tough to select a true “all the time” winner between Vans and Converse.
Each model has very similar core construction features and neither of these shoes is technically designed for lifting-focused wear, so in this context, their durability can be slightly skewed compared to those who wear these models on a day-to-day basis.
The most common Vans and Converse models that are worn in the gym generally feature canvas uppers. Canvas is fairly durable on a daily basis, but in the gym, it can be prone to ripping and stretching. If you’ve ever worn a pair of Converse for a while, then you’ve likely noticed how the medial upper material starts to collapse from constant stress and daily wear.
When squatting and deadlifting a lot of weight, the canvas that surrounds the boots of these shoes can be prone to stretching and ripping. I’ve had a pair of Converse rip at the boot and a pair of Vans start to rip around the upper part by the big toe. In both of these cases, this was around the 8-month mark of religious wear with the shoes.
Winner: Tie. Both models are good for about 6-8 months which makes sense when you consider their price point and that they’re not really designed for the gym.
Vans Vs Converse Sizing
For performance and durability, both Vans and Converse are fairly similar, however, for sizing this is not the case. If you’re buying these shoes for primarily lifting and daily wear, then you’ll want to get the sizing right for comfort and performance purposes.
Before buying, I also suggest checking out what Vans and Converse say in their product details about sizing as this can also help you decide what size to go with.
Vans Sizing Thoughts
For the general pair of Vans, most should be safe going true to size. Most Vans fit fairly true with their length and typically have a medium width throughout the toe and mid-foot.
That being said, if you’re new to Vans, they may feel a little narrow through the mid-foot, so expect that when grabbing a pair. Generally though, the canvas upper will stretch a bit and break in so this is usually not the biggest deal for most.
Sizing Thoughts: Go true to size, but if you have a wider foot, then you may want to up a half size.
Converse Sizing Thoughts
Converse can be a pain to get right when it comes to sizing especially if you’re new to wearing them. For most folks, you’ll want to size down a half size to a full size. This will help you not feel like you’re swimming in the toe box, and you won’t look like you’re wearing clown shoes.
Converse can feel fairly slim through the mid-foot similar to Vans, but they do stretch out over time, so give them a few sessions and they’ll likely start to form fit your foot a bit better.
Sizing Thoughts: Size down a half to full-size. If you generally have a good amount of room in the toes in your normal shoes, then go a full size down.
Vans Vs Converse Comfort
Overall, both of these shoes are okay from a comfort standpoint. They’re obviously not going to be the most forgiving for long-duration wear due to their firmer outsole construction and low heel-to-toe drops, but they do okay.
Plus, over the last few years, Converse, which is now owned by Nike has had their insoles slightly reworked to provide a bit more responsiveness and comfort for longer-term wear.
Converse can be worn to run errands in and for lifting sessions and they’ll be decently comfortable. I would not recommend them for long walks or all-day wear though.
Similar to Converse, the Vans Authentic shoes have a decently responsive insole. In my opinion, the Vans insole is a bit more cushioned than the Converse, so they do have a slight edge for comfort. Still, though, I wouldn’t recommend wearing Vans for long-term wear or standing all day in.
Winner: Tie. Both models are okay for shorter duration wear and lifting but fall short for all-day wear.
Vans Vs Converse Price
The positive about rocking Vans and Converse in the gym is that their price points are fairly similar. For this article, I chose a few of the most popular Vans and Converse shoes that are used in the gym.
The Vans Authentic, Classic, and Sk8-Hi, along with the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star models all range between $50-70 USD. If you plan to wear these shoes for daily wear and lifting, then this price range is fair for what these shoes deliver.
- Heavy Weight Training
- Recreational Lifting
- For Versatile Training
- For Long-Term Durability
The Vans Authentic shoes and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars are both popular training shoes for lifters everywhere. Truthfully, they’re both very similar and if we want to get granular, then I do think the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars take a slight edge for stability.
If you have any questions on these two models, please feel free to drop a comment below or reach out via Instagram (@jake_boly)!
I buy and test the products featured on That Fit Friend using a regimen of training tests that I’ve developed over years of testing training shoes and gear. I may earn commissions on sales made through the links on my site.