Do Vans Run Big or Small? No Answer Fits All

do-vans-run-big-or-small

Vans are Perhaps the most quintessential street culture brand beloved by skateboarders, musicians, teenagers, and so many more. But when it comes to sizing, do Vans run big or small? I hear you ask.

In terms of sizing, Vans are tricky and most of their styles have inconsistent sizing and fit.

While some people find their Vans to run small and then need to size up, others do find them slightly big or loose.

Well, I hate to tell you that, but everybody’s right!

To clear up the confusion, I’m going to tackle each Vans separately and tell you whether that specific shoe runs true to size, big or small.

If you’re like me, you must have some Nike, Adidas, or Converse sneakers and you would love to know how your Vans compare to those in terms of it.

So, I’m going to be talking about:

  • Old Skool
  • Slip-On
  • Sk8-Hi
  • Authentic
  • UltraRange Exo
  • EVDNT UltimateWaffle

Then, I’m going to compare Vans to Converse, Nike, Adidas, and Hey Dudes.

  • Converse
  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Hey Dude

After that, I’m going to review three Vans separately and finally wrap things up with some frequently asked questions.  

Sounds interesting?

Let’s dive right into it…

Related:

Do Vans Run Big or Small?

Generally speaking, Vans shoes tend to run on the smaller side, especially those that fall into the category of performance shoes like the Sk8-Hi.

Please remember that this applies to most Vans styles I’m going to discuss below…

If you have narrow or regular feet, order your true size and true width. If you have wide feet, you might need to size up.

If you have super narrow feet, your feet might swim inside and so you have to size down a bit.

If you find that your Vans fit slightly snug but are still bearable, they are canvas and canvas does stretch over time. So, you might need to stick to your true size and wait for the shoe to form to the shape of your foot.

Related:

Vans Old Skool

vans-old-skool

The Old Skool was released back in 1977 and it was originally called the Van Style #36. It was the first real skateboard-specific shoe designed from the ground up by Vans.

It was a real step up from the previous Vans Era which was really just a more cushioned version of the Vans Authentic.

The Old Skool was a real game-changer back then. The more durable upper made it popular with skateboarders, and the shoe still continues to be popular and cool today.

In terms of sizing, the Old Skools are pretty consistent with most Vans. For me, the Old Skools fit true to size with a comfortable snug fit.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans Old Skools have a similar fit to:

  • Converse Pro Leathers (although a bit looser)
  • Adidas Busenitz
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Nizza
  • Nike Blazer Low Tops

The Old Skools fit smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor (half size bigger)
  • Converse One Star (pointed toe makes One Stars longer than they really are)
  • Adidas Superstar
  • Nike Air Max

Related:

The Old Skools fit bigger than:

  • Nike Cortez

The Old Skools fit shorter than:

  • Adidas Gazelle

Related:

Vans Slip-Ons

vans-slip-ons

First debuting in 1977, the Slip-On was originally called the Vans style #98.

The Slip-Ons fit pretty much similar to most other Vans and they have a comfortable, snug fit.

In terms of sizing, the Slip-Ons are true to size for regular and narrow feet but run a bit small for wide feet. These don’t have a lacing system for you to be able to cinch them down.

vans-slip-on-ankle-collar

The problem we have with the Slip-Ons, in general, is they would constantly slip off your heels if they are a bit loose on your feet. I guess this is why Vans designed the Slip-Ons to fit a bit snug to stay on your feet securely. 

vans-slip-on-heel-counter

So, make sure you get a size that feels comfortably snug to make sure they won’t constantly slip off your feet.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans Slip-Ons have a similar fit to:

  • Nike Cortez
  • Nike Blazer
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Gazelle (Gazelle is just a tiny bit looser)
  • Adidas Busenitz
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Nizza
  • Converse Pro Leather (Leather is slightly looser)
  • Hey Dudes (although Hey Dudes are a bit stretchy and more forgiving for wide feet)

The Slip-Ons fit smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor (Half size bigger)
  • Converse One Star
  • Nike Air Max (slightly looser)
  • Adidas Superstar

Related:

Vans Sk8-Hi

vans-sk8-hi

First released in 1978, the Sk8-Hi shoe was originally called style #38. Much like the shoe before it, the Sk8-Hi was built upon its predecessor, the Old Skool.

The Sk8-Hi became only the second shoe to rock the iconic Jazz stripe and upgraded the Old Skools by including padded ankle protection.

I really dig this shoe and would recommend it. It’s definitely an important shoe for Vans, and the performance of the shoe still holds up today.

In terms of sizing, generally speaking, high-performance skate shoes tend to fit on the snug side to provide better support.

The Sk8-Hi fit exactly the same as the slip-Ons above. They are true to size for narrow and regular feet and are a half size smaller for wide feet, especially around the big toe.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans Sk8-Hi fits similar to:

  • Converse Pro Leathers (although these are a smidge too loose)
  • Adidas Busenitz (performance shoe)
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Nizza
  • Nike Cortez (although SK8 fits a bit looser)
  • Nike Blazer Low Tops

The Sk8-Hi fits smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor
  • Converse One Star (Looks longer but only because of the pointed toe)
  • Adidas Superstars (although Superstars are padded through the collar and heel)
  • Nike Air Max

The Sk8-Hi fits shorter than:

  • Adidas Gazelle

Related:

Vans Authentic

vans-authentic

This is the shoe that started it all.

Originally called the #44 Deck Shoes, the Vans Authentics were the first shoes that Vans released back in 1966. 

The Vans Authentic fits similar to most performance Vans shoes which are supposed to have a snug fit to provide better support for your foot. So, although the Authentics run true to size, they have a snug yet comfortable fit.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans Authentics fit similar to:

  • Adidas Gazelle
  • Adidas Busenitz
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Nizza
  • Nike Blazer Low Tops
  • Converse Pro Leathers (a smidge looser)

The Authentics fit smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor
  • Converse One Star
  • Adidas Superstar
  • Nike Air Max

The Authentics fit bigger than:

  • Nike Cortez

Vans UltraRange Exo

Vans-ultrarange-exo

In fact, the idea for this concept came from one of Vans’ surfboarders who wore their pairs of Vans everywhere and wanted a pair that they could wear in any environment.

From there, the Vans UltraRange was born, and at the time, this was a completely new style of sneaker for Vans because it featured a cold-molded midsole.

The foam that was used in the midsole had to be both comfortable but also incredibly durable.

In terms of sizing and fit, the UltraRange Exo have more of a standard fit.

Compared to other Vans shoes that are true to size yet fit snug, the UltraRange Exo fits true to size without fitting as snug.

While the UltraRange fits slightly bigger than the Old Skools, Slip Ons, Sk8-Hi, and Authentics, they are by no means wide-foot-friendly shoes. If you have wide feet, you still need to size up.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans UltraRange Exo have a similar fit to:

  • Converse Pro Leather
  • Converse One Star
  • Adidas Superstar
  • Adidas Gazelle
  • Nike Air Max

The UltraRange Exo runs bigger than:

  • Adidas Busenitz
  • Adidas Samba
  • Adidas Nizza
  • Nike Cortez
  • Nike Blazer

The UltraRange Exo runs smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor

Vans EVDNT Ultimate Waffle

vans-evdnt-ultimate-waffle

Although they look similar in design to Vans skate shoes, the EVDNTs are designed for lifestyle wear. These have a standard fit meaning they don’t run loose, snug, or tight.

Compared to other popular models, the Vans EVDNT UltimateWaffle fit similar to:

  • Converse Pro Leathers (EVDNT is a hint bigger)
  • Adidas Superstar
  • Adidas Nizza (EVDNT is a hint bigger)

The EVDNT fit bigger than:

  • Adidas Gazelle
  • Adidas Busenitz
  • Adidas Samba
  • Nike Cortez
  • Nike Blazer Low Tops

The EVDNT fit smaller than:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor
  • Converse One star
  • Nike Air Max

Overall, I found most Vans styles to fit pretty much the same except for the UltraRange Exo which tends to have more of a standard fit.

Next, I’m going to be taking a quick look at the Vans Old Skool, the Sk8-Hi, and the Era…  

Vans Sneaker Reviews

Vans Old Skool

The Old Skool retail for $60 and they’re pretty much beloved by just about everyone. The simple silhouette of the Old Skools makes the shoe very versatile.

I would definitely recommend this shoe to just about anyone unless you’re just not a fan of Vans. But other than that, it’s a really good shoe.

Sizing & Fit

On feet, these fit true to size for me, and to my surprise, they were actually pretty comfy.

I mean the bottom of these feel just like any other classic Vans shoe because they pretty much use the same outsole/insole, but because these have some suede, I thought that the upper would feel a bit uncomfortable and stiff, but they felt pretty good.

They weren’t stiff at all. You could slip them on and go and there’s no real break-in time required.

However, if you have wide feet, you might find your true size to feel a bit snug and so you may want to go a half size up.

Related:

Upper, Inside, Outsole

vans-old-skool-upper-laces-tongue

The upper is made out of canvas with suede overlays. The suede overlays include the toe cap, the eye stays, and the heel overlay. The tongue and the side panels are made out of canvas.

vans-old-skool-toe-cap

At the side, we also have the iconic Vans stripe which is actually called the Jazz Stripe. The stripe is actually made of leather, not canvas or suede, which I found interesting just because that’s the only piece on the shoe that is leather.

Inside the shoe, we have a faux leather lining with padding similar to the Vans Era. The insole is also glued in just like every other Vans shoe that uses this outsole.

vans-old-skool-heel-counter

I really like how they look on foot because they really have that classic sneaker look to them, which is very cool.

The Old Skools use the same vulcanized diamond outsole as pretty much every other Vans shoe.

Overall, we have a slim low-top silhouette and you can immediately tell that these are a big upgrade over its predecessor.

Vans Sk8-Hi

This shoe retails for $75 dollars.

Even though the Sk8-Hi just seemed like a high-top version of the Old Skool, they actually have a very different construction.

The biggest difference between the Sk8-Hi and the Old Skool is the lack of a single toe cap piece on the Sk8-Hi.

vans-sk8-hi-toe-cap

The Skate High also look good on foot just as nice as the Old Skools in my opinion.

Sizing & Fit

Sizing-wise, the SK8-Hi do fit true to size for narrow and regular feet and are a half size smaller for wide feet, especially around the big toe.

Related:

Upper & Inside

vans-sk8-upper-tongue-laces

The upper is still made out of suede and canvas. The suede pieces include the toe, the tongue, the eye stays, and the rear piece while the canvas parts include the two side panels. The jazz stripe also continues to be the only leather piece on the shoe.

The Sk8’s also have perforations on the toe and some stitching details on the ankle for better ankle support. The padding on the upper definitely feels good around the ankles.

vans-sk8-hi-ankle-support

Speaking to sneaker freaks, Steve Vandorian stated that, “The Skate Hi had padded sides so when the board flew off the pool and into their ankles, they didn’t kill themselves. That was a big thing that saved lives for skaters. They loved them.”

Tongue

Another notable upgrade that the Skate Highs have over the Old Skools is that it features a padded tongue. They reinforced the canvas lining by including a nice good-sized pad to help protect your instep.

I also noticed that the Skate Highs are the only shoe out of the original classics, which include the Slip-Ons, Authentics, Arrows, and Old Skools, to have a nice little Vans logo tag on the tongue.

On the inside, we have a canvas and faux leather lining similar to the Old Skools, and of course, it also holds that ribbed padding.

Outsole

vans-outsole-pattern

The shoes obviously share the same outsole as the Authentics, Eras, Slip-Ons, and Old Skools. It’s the same old vulcanized diamond outsole, which is essentially just hard rubber.

On feet, like all the classic Vans, the Skate Hi’s feel very similar since they obviously share that same outsole.

Overall, the Sk8-Hi was a big upgrade in performance for Vans. The high-top silhouette provided much-needed ankle support not just for skaters but also for BMX riders as well all while still using the same outsole platform as the original Vans classics.

vans-sk8-hi-heel-counter

Vans Era

The Vans Era retails for the low price of $50, which makes it a shoe that pretty much anyone can get.

The Era was released back in 1976 and it was originally called the Vans #95. It was the first shoe from Vans to be designed for skateboarding.

It was derived from the Vans Authentic, but they added a couple of features to make it more skateboarder-friendly. The rest is history from there.

I don’t think too many people skate in these anymore since there are better options, but I think these still have a place and are great for anyone who’s looking for a low-budget summer sneaker.

The Eras definitely still hold up well today even with all these crazy new shoes coming out. I still see these having a place with the masses and I really don’t see these falling out of favor anytime soon, especially with that classic timeless styling.

Sizing & Fit

As for sizing, the Era feels very tight. If you like that, go true to size. If not, I would definitely recommend going half a size up. I definitely wish I did.

On feet, the Vans Era feels a bit rough because the canvas is very sturdy and stiff.

Related:

Are the Vans Eras comfortable?

Obviously, these aren’t going to be the most comfortable shoes, especially not at first. There’s not much of a distance between your feet and the floor and the canvas is very sturdy at first.

However, after breaking them in, my feet got used to them. These are kind of like Converse which feel pretty uncomfortable at first, but after wearing them for a while, they don’t feel too bad.

Some people can never wear Converse or Vans because they find them super uncomfortable, but I think for most people, they don’t find them too bad and they really end up getting used to them because I believe if that wasn’t the case, they wouldn’t be as popular as they are.

Related:

Upper & Insole

vans-era-upper-tongue-laces

The shoe has a very simplistic canvas upper. The canvas does feel sturdy though and durable, which is definitely something you want in your shoe.

On the side, we do get a nice Vans tag just in case it wasn’t obvious enough already that you’re wearing a pair of vans.

Around the collar, to my surprise, we do have some padding. The Era has a leather texture to it, but it’s definitely not leather.

The insole is completely glued down and I couldn’t remove it to inspect it. But feeling it, it definitely felt like high-density memory foam. Pushing it down, it made a firm indentation that took a little bit to return to its original shape.

Midsole & Outsole

The midsole is also very simplistic. At the rear, we have that red rubber Vans tag as well as that kind of rubber overlay that I think is very Vans-like.

vans-era-heel-counter

I don’t know if Vans is the only company to do this, but I think they’re definitely the ones to popularize it. Every time I see that kind of rubber overlay, I instantly think Vans.

On the bottom, we have that signature Vans gum colored crisscross tread.

In combination with that rubber overlay at the rear, the crisscross tread and the toe box shape all really kind of give away that their Vans. I think it’s pretty cool that Vans has kind of a signature little details because there are so many imitation versions of the Vans.

Overall, the Vans Era is a pretty cool and simple shoe from Vans. It’s the first skateboarding shoe from Vans, which I think is pretty cool historically speaking.

I can see why these were and probably still are popular with the young folks just because they are inexpensive, simple, and they go with everything.

vans-era-heel-counter

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Vans come in wide sizing?

Yes, you can order some Vans styles in wide, but you won’t be able to see the wide sizes available when you click on the sizing drop down. So, to get a wide Vans, you’ll need to go to the “Custom” page which includes the option to buy wide.

Do Vans run a size smaller?

Vans advertise their shoes as true to size. The fact is most of their styles are true to size yet have a bit of a snug fit for people with narrow and regular feet. However, people with wide feet do find most Vans narrow and need to size up.

Do Vans run big or small compared to Converse?

Compared to Converse Chuck Taylor and One Star, Vans do run a little bit smaller. The Old Skools, Slip-Ons, Sk8-Hi, and Authentics all run small compared to Converse.

How are Vans supposed to fit?

Like every other shoe in the world, Vans shoes are supposed to fit true to size, not loose, not tight. But Vans performance shoes are supposed to fit a little bit snug to provide more support for skaters and BMX riders, for example.

Do Vans run smaller than Nike?

Compared to Nike, the Old Skool, Slip-On, Sk8-Hi, Authentic, and EVDNT UltimateWaffle all run smaller than Nike Air Max.

Should I size up in Vans?

If you have regular or narrow feet, you won’t need to size up in Vans. But if you want more room in your Vans, you can always go half a size up. And if you have wide feet, you definitely need to size up, especially with Vans performance-oriented shoes like the Vans Sk8-Hi.

Should I size down in Vans Authentic?

Similar to most performance-oriented Vans, the Authentic runs small and you need to size up if you have wide feet. If you have narrow feet, you might find it true to size after the canvas stretches with wear.

Is Vans Old Skool true to size?

Consistent with most Vans in terms of sizing, the Old Skools fit true to size with a comfortable snug fit for narrow and regular feet but a bit tight for people with wide feet.

Do Vans stretch out?

Yes, Vans do stretch with wear because they’re made of canvas. If your Vans are tight on your feet and you want to stretch them but you don’t want to buy a shoe stretcher, you can stuff your Vans with some thick socks and lace them pretty tightly to gently stretch out the canvas upper overnight.

Of course, don’t overly shove things inside your Vans to the point where it’s going to damage the upper or the stitching.

Are you supposed to wear Vans with socks?

You should never wear your Vans without socks. Some people are able to pull off that sockless look using these amazing no-show socks. With no-shows, you can have that sockless look while still protecting your feet.

Again, do Vans run big or small?

As I have demonstrated, Vans shoes do tend to run true to size for most people with narrow and regular feet. However, Vans do run a little bit smaller for people with wide feet.

It all comes down to your foot type and shape.

This pretty much wraps up this whole article. If you already own some Vans, please tell us how they fit you. Do they run small, big, or true to size for you?

Until then, stay safe and see you in the next one 🙂   

About Jamal Tasmamat

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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