When purchasing my first pair of Vans over 15 years ago one of my biggest concerns was whether Vans are non slip or not.
After wearing a range of Vans styles for many years now I decided to put together this guide to the slip resistance of Vans to answer once and for all if they are non slip shoes, including my own slip resistance test for Vans on four different surface types.
Learn how they fare at work, in different weather conditions and on different surfaces here.
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Are Vans Non Slip?
Vans are non slip shoes thanks to the diamond and rhomboid pattern design on the vulcanised rubber outsole. The outsole is designed with slip resistance as a factor, as Vans are popular shoes for skateboarders and those who work on their feet all day in slippery environments (like restaurants).
Here’s what Vans themselves have to say about the grip ability of their vulcanised rubber sole design:
‘One of Vans’ shoes signature features is their vulcanised rubber construction, which is praised by skaters for its superior grip and support while on the board.’
The rubber that Vans use is of excellent quality, making it an ideal material for slip resistance. It is cured by heat in the vulcanising process, toughening it up, but leaving the slightly gummy texture that helps the shoes stick to the floor.
Vans actually add sulphur into the rubber mix before they vulcanise it, which makes it even tougher. The soles are then pressed to create the iconic ‘waffle’ style sole that features a mixture of diamond and rhomboid patterning.
The pattern itself adds to the slip resistance of Vans as the grooves help the shoes grip better to the floor. A grooved sole is much better than a smooth one, as it creates traction when walking.
The outsole pattern is designed this way to help water and oils run off the outsole, by dripping down the grooved design. Due to the pattern Vans make for great shoes to wear on even wet surfaces. Oils, grease and water simply won’t stick to the design.
The midsole adds to the grip factor as it is made with three layers of foxing tape rubber. A gummy, rubbery midsole adds grip when walking, climbing steps, skating or even running.
The rubber soles of Vans are so well designed, they have a high dry friction coefficient value. This is a value test of dry materials and friction that results in a score, which we can use to measure the slip resistance. It is ‘the ratio of the maximum static friction force (F) between the surfaces in contact before movement commences to the normal (N) force.’ (source).
In simple terms the friction ratio score is great for Vans, meaning they grip well to surfaces (even wet, rained on surfaces).
Are All Vans Non Slip?
All classic Vans styles feature the distinctive non slip tread design that is unique to the Vans brand. The classic styles include: Old Skools, Slip On Vans, Sk8-His, Eras and the Authentic Vans. All classic Vans are non slip.
My favourite classic Vans styles are the Old Skools and Slip Ons and with each I’ve never had a problem with slipping.
Are Vans Non Slip For Work?
If you work in a restaurant and you want to wear your Vans to work you may be wondering if they are non slip enough to be a safe footwear choice.
In my personal experience I find Vans to be slip resistant enough to wear to work. I wore Vans for many years whilst working shifts on my feet on laminate floors, and I didn’t have a problem with them slipping.
The best non slip vans for work in my opinion are the slip on Vans, or any of the classic range. Check out the classic range on vans.com or see if they are priced better at the official Vans Amazon store here.
For restaurant workers, baristas, janitors, salon staff and others who work on their feet on slippery or sometimes wet floors, Vans are a great footwear choice. They are also comfortable for standing all day and feature cushioned sneaker collars.
Sometimes I’ll wear my slip on Vans whilst I’m mopping the floor in my house, to provide me with safety and good grip during cleaning.
It should be noted however it is worth double checking with your place of work that Vans are acceptable as a footwear choice. Different dress codes and rules may be in place. Make sure you are okay to wear them.
If in doubt about what footwear to wear to work, asking your employer directly for advice will always be best. After all, they’ll know how slippery their floors can get, and what they like to wear themselves.
A Slip Test
To see first-hand if Vans are truly non slip I decided to run my own non slip test. I wore and skidded my Vans on four different surfaces types, to see how their slip resistant tread would perform.
I took pictures, so you can see the results for yourself.
Here is what I found.
I have no issues with wearing Vans on concrete in dry conditions. I find the grip is great, even when trying to skid or run in my Vans.
In wet weather however I would be a little more cautious when running around in Vans. They are still slip resistant on wet concrete, but as concrete is quite a smooth surface I would recommend still being careful.
If the concrete has moss on it I’d suggest walking cautiously. Moss is supper slippery, even when your shoes have great traction. Similarly if there is any oil or grease on the concrete, I’d take care to step mindfully. Overall if the concrete is dry and free of moss or oils, then running about in your Vans shouldn’t be a problem.
On tiles Vans work great as slip resistant shoes. If you work in a place with tiled floors Vans are a good footwear choice for you.
That being said I would still take care when walking on tiles, and avoid puddles. Cleaning the floor should be fine as long as you tread carefully and don’t run in your Vans.
When I tried scuffing my foot hard against the tiles in my Vans they held up great. With the strong scuffing motion the soles stopped my foot short. If there was any liquid spilt like oil however I’m not certain even gum rubber soles could prevent a slip. Just be careful and keep an eye out.
On Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring can be quite slippery if it is wet from cleaning or has anything spilt on it. I find Vans slip resistance holds up great on dry laminate, and pretty good on wet, as long as you aren’t running or skidding on it.
I clean the laminate flooring in my house whilst wearing Vans, and I worked long shifts on laminate flooring for years in my teenage years. Vans were my footwear of choice as they stuck well to laminate. Even when running. Of course I wouldn’t recommend running on wet laminate whilst wearing Vans, just to be safe.
Vans slip resistance is great when walking on tarmac. Tarmac naturally has some traction, making it a pretty safe surface to run on.
I find walking in my Vans on tarmac feels great, without any slipping at all. Often I will walk my dog on tarmac whilst wearing my Vans without issue. Even after it’s been raining. I would still take care to avoid oil or grease spills even when walking on tarmac however, just to be safe in my Vans.
I will wear my Vans in winter on tarmac whilst walking to my car or on short errands, if the tarmac has grit salt down.
How To Make Vans Even More Non Slip
Increasing the slip resistance of Vans is in the interest of shift workers and skaters, if some extra slip insurance is necessary.
If you work or run/skate on slippery surfaces with your Vans you may want to use some of the below tips for extra safety.
- You can purchase an additional slip on sole for the bottom of your Vans that is designed for maximum slip resistance. This is a neat item to use if you are mopping floors or skating on wet ground.
- Scuffing the soles of brand new Vans is a great way to add grit to them and break them in for non slip purposes. The easiest way to do this is to take them outside and scuff them against a brick wall. Alternatively you can use sandpaper to achieve this.
- Slip resistant sprays are a great product to try if you want a quick fix that works. These sprays add an adhesive coating to the soles of your Vans, which increases their grip significantly. If you choose one that is designed for rubber, you don’t need to worry about the spray damaging your Vans at all. The traction increasing spray shouldn’t wash off easily in rain, and will be weather resistant and long lasting. Give a slip resistant spray a try if you really need to ensure your safety when wearing Vans to work.
- If you are planning to wear your Vans in icy conditions make sure to fasten ice grips onto the outsoles. Ice grips will puncture the ice as you walk, preventing you from skidding and sliding across the top. Ice and snow grips are a great add on for shoes in the winter months.
- You can also attach non slip pads to the soles of your Vans. Non slip pads are a great option for restaurant workers if you need some extra traction on your Vans when dealing with spills or liquids. They work great on wet floors too, if you have mopping duty.
Are Old Skool Vans Non Slip
Old Skool Vans are non slip thanks to their patterned, vulcanised gum rubber soles. Their soles have great grip on a range of surfaces in different weather conditions.
In my experience Old Skool Vans are excellent for slip resistance and comfort. They are my go to Vans and I have owned several pairs over the years. I wear them for walking my dog, running errands and walking on wet concrete.
Here is what the soles look like on my Old Skool Vans:
I have never slipped whilst wearing Old Skool Vans. I’ve worn several pairs year-round over the last 15 years, even in winter. Whilst I take care not to wear them out in rain and saturate the material, I will wear them on rained on surfaces once the rain stops. I find they aren’t slippery at all.
Are Checkered Vans Non Slip
Checkered Vans are non slip due to the vulcanised rubber soles the sneakers are made with. The soles feature a waffle style pattern that provides excellent grip when walking or running.
Sometimes I wear my slip on checkered Vans around the house when I’m mopping tiled or laminate flooring, as the grip is great. My oldest pair of checkered Vans have been resigned to my official cleaning shoes.
Here are the soles of my checkered vans:
Checkered slip on Vans are a great option for the summer months, to slip on walking by the pool or even as boating shoes. Wearing them in these circumstances is fine, as they aren’t slippery and have good traction. Whilst I do prefer Vans with laces for foot security, the soles of slip on Vans are as excellent as those on the laced up Vans. Overall they are a great choice for quick slip on footwear.
Thank you for reading this post on the slip resistance of Vans. I hope you now feel confident to wear your Vans to work, or out and about. It’s important to still take care when wearing Vans on ice, or around oil and grease spills.
For more Vans related content check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).