There’s a lot to consider when going skydiving for the first time, and thinking about the best shoes for skydiving probably isn’t at the top of the list. But planning an appropriate outfit for your tandem skydive is actually more important than you might think. Proper skydiving footwear is a crucial part of putting together the best first jump ensemble. Skydiving shoes need to be safe, comfortable, and durable. It’s easy to forget about our feet when they’re way down there and our adrenaline-pumping heart is all the way up here, but they’re actually super important to a successful skydive.
Moving around the airplane, exiting the door, and landing are all key points in the skydive that rely on you wearing functional footwear. Read on to find out exactly what makes for good, and not so good, skydiving footwear.
What Makes for Good Skydiving Shoes?
It’s best to think of skydiving as a physical sport when planning what to wear, because that’s exactly what it is. You wouldn’t play football in a pair of loafers or go for a jog in your slippers, and the same can be said of skydiving. Certain activities require specific gear, and that includes footwear.
There are a handful of characteristics that make a shoe ideal for jumping out of an airplane:
- Secure Lacing – Losing your shoes in freefall could put a real damper on your jump. Freefalling at 120 mph is an exceptionally windy experience compared to anything your feet have done before. You want to make sure those shoes stay put
- Ankle Stability – A tandem pair – i.e. tandem instructor and tandem student – often slide across the ground on their butts when they land, which means your feet will be out in front of you. It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra support for those ankles.
- Closed Toe – Protect those little piggies! Even small bumps or brushes against the airplane or ground can hurt your feet and take you out of the moment.
- Flat Sole – Traction and grip are especially important when exiting the plane and landing. Set yourself up for safety and performance so you can enjoy your jump.
- Durability – Make sure they can stand up to the test of moving around in the plane, 120 mph wind, and sliding across the ground on landing.
- Comfort – You want to focus on the experience, not how much your feet hurt.
- Look – Let’s be honest, all skydivers like to look cool. Especially if the jump is captured on video!
If your shoes-of-choice check all of these boxes, you’re golden! If not, look around for something that would normally be used for working out and you should be good to go.
What Not to Wear on Your Feet for Skydiving
We covered what features make up the perfect skydiving shoe, but what about the no-gos? While there is some gray area around what will and won’t work in a skydiving shoe, there are certain things that are definitely not allowed on your feet when you’re jumping out of an airplane.
- Sandals/Flip Flops – The issue with flip flops is probably a bit obvious (hint: your feet will be in 120 mph wind and bare for landing), but really any type of sandal is off limits. Even the ones with straps aren’t the most secure, and those straps could get caught on airplane parts or skydiving gear and cause a real problem. They also violate the next rule on the list.
- Open-Toe and Open-Back Shoes – Any part of your foot that is exposed is unprotected from impact or abrasion. And anyone who’s stubbed their toe knows that it doesn’t take extreme impact to cause a bad day. Even just moving around in the plane or sliding in on landing could injure bare skin on your feet.
- High Heels – This one probably doesn’t need much of an explanation, but we will point out how difficult it is to do pretty much anything in high heels, let alone jump out of an airplane.
- Shoes with Hooked Eyelets/Speed Hooks – Hiking boots might seem like they check all of the boxes of a good skydiving shoe, but those little metal lace hooks can pose a real threat to safety on a skydive. They’re a snag hazard for all of the moving parts on a skydiving rig, especially the lines that connect you to the parachute.
- Boots – When it comes to skydiving, boots are another no-go. This includes hiking boots, as covered, as well as utility boots, riding boots, and knee-high boots. You need full range of motion for your feet.
- Cleats – Like the hooks on hiking boots, cleats are a major snag hazard and aren’t anyone’s friend on landing.
The Best Skydiving Shoes
Now you know the characteristics of good and bad skydiving shoes, but what specific shoes fit the bill? A few brands rise above the rest when it comes to being fit for flight, so much so that you’ll notice a lot of the same shoes on the experienced skydivers around the dropzone.
- Vans – These shoes have durability in their soul (sole? either way, it works). Vans were adopted by skateboarders for a reason, and that’s the same reason skydivers love them. They’re sturdy, comfortable, and have those sweet, smooth bottoms. And they look cool!
- Nike High-Tops – Nike High-Tops are the perfect blend of function and fashion. Nikes have a wide variety of looks to choose from that all offer ankle support, ergonomic design, and athletic function.
- Airwalk VIC – this one says it all in the name. Airwalks were actually designed specifically for skydiving! They’re a collaboration between skydiving manufacturer Firebird Evo and the action sports shoe company Airwalk. These shoes are made of the highly durable material known as NYCO, and even have shoelace covers to keep the laces from going wild in freefall.
What About No Shoes at All?
As fun as it sounds to let those puppies breathe the fresh air a couple miles up, it’s actually not a good idea. In fact, most of the time it’s not allowed. Even experienced jumpers will only ditch their kicks if they are going to be landing on soft, forgiving beaches. Otherwise, sliding and stomping your bare soles across the hard, rocky dirt of a grassy field is an unwelcome ending to an exhilarating experience.
Don’t think that you have to go out and get a special pair of shoes just for skydiving now that you know what to look for. Chances are something you have in your closet already will work just fine. Your old worn out lawn mowing sneakers are probably perfect for the occasion. Or really any lace-up athletic shoes that you feel comfortable in.
If you’re unsure about what you’re planning to put on your feet, get in touch and we can answer your questions! Ready to lace up and jump? Book your skydive – we can’t wait to fly with you!