April 2023

With the Zahba skate shoe, Vans introduces the ImpactWaffle technology: a three-piece cup sole construction designed for improved impact protection and boardfeel. We’ve tested the Zion Wright-inspired Vans shoe for you!

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A cup sole performing like a vulcanized sole? What’s behind ImpactWaffle?

When it comes to skate shoes, there are basically two types: vulcanized and cup sole constructions (and a few in-between experiments). Vans shoes are popular for their vulcanized soles. Many skaters are loyal to Vans for providing superior boardfeel and grip. However, some vulc shoes might lack impact protection and stability – the traits a lot of cup sole shoes do provide.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

The Vans Zahba has been designed to cater to both needs. Therefore, Vans created the ImpactWaffle sole. It contains two molded layers of VR3Cush™ foam placed in a SickStick™ rubber outsole. Zion Wright is currently one of the most versatile skateboarders in the scene. Let’s find out if his shoe is as well.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

Vans Zahba fit, unboxing and first session

The Vans Zahba can be described as true to size, so I would recommend ordering the Zahba in your usual size. For me, it felt slightly wider at the balls of my feet and rather narrow in the front. Due to the flat insole, I found the Zahba didn’t have as much arch support compared to other Vans skate shoes i.e., PopCush insoles.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

During my first steps in the Zahba, I noticed that the shoe was not very flexible but much lighter than most Vans shoes I’ve skated. The outsole is a bit harder with deep grooves and several different tread patterns, which is supposed to give the sole more durability where it is needed.

The shoes had a great flick straight out of the box. Usually, I have to break Vans shoes in and “shape” the foxing tape with a few tricks. The ImpactWaffle, however, offers the perfect amount of grip for a powerful flick. The shoe’s outsole didn’t feel as grippy as a vulcanized sole but I don’t think this is because of the material but more due to the initial stiffness of the sole. The Zahba became much grippier over time.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

Performance & durability of the Vans Zahba – Wear Test

For my review, I skated the Vans Zahba with a fresh board. After mostly skating street, in particular ledged and flat bars, I must admit that the shoe offers more impact support than I was expecting.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

The shoe has a unique feel compared to other Vans skate shoes and I have skated a lot of cup sole skate shoes in the past. The boardfeel of the Vans Zahba reminded me a little bit of the Busenitz from the brand with the three stripes. You have a significant amount of control in the toes in the Zahba which makes Kickflips feel awesome.

The Vans Zahba after 10 hours of skating

The damage in the ollie area was minimal. I was surprised that most wears were located where the Vans Side Stripe is placed on the shoe. In a way, it serves as an additional layer of upper and contributes to the shoe’s durability. Moreover, the shoe showed hardly any signs of wear. The outsole still looked as good as new.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

Skating the Vans Zahba for 20 hours

When I was skating a bit of transition, I could directly feel the ImpactWaffle foam midsole as it offers responsiveness – I felt the concave of my board very well. Of course, the Zahba’s boardfeel doesn’t mirror the boardfeel of vulcanized Vans – but there’s not much missing.

After a while, I recognized more and more wear at the lace bar. When I had been skating the Zahba for about 20 hours, the laces started to rip. This might be an effect of the low-profile SickStick outsole. If you ride a deck with a very steep nose, I could see this becoming a problem. However, at this point, no significant damage was visible yet beside the top of the lace bar and the Side Stripe.

The prime time of the Vans Zahba: 30 hours of skating

Apart from the noted wear, the Zahba is very durable. After 30 hours of skating a brand-new board, the outsole shows minimal wear and a surprising amount of grip. Quality materials and know-how by Vans give the shoe a very durable design. For me, the most important aspect of the shoe is its consistent firmness and stability. It maintains its form and structure to offer protection, impact absorption, and stability when skating.

Vans Zahba skate shoe review

The next 20-30 hours with these shoes will be the best they have to offer.

Downsides of the Zahba

The shoe doesn’t offer much ventilation. To be fair, this is hard with any shoe that has a single material top cap and underlying rubber cap. For me, the perforations in the toe cap simply didn’t do their job.

The padding around the heel was a bit too soft for me. I feel there could have been more material used here. The collar of the shoe feels rather thin compared to the well-structured front of the shoe.

Conclusion: Is the Vans Zahba skate shoe made for you?

The Zahba is a great all-around shoe that will work for all types of skating. The street skating advantages are just about perfect thanks to the ImpactWaffle sole technology. Most importantly the sole and the DuraCap reinforcement maintain their structure for a long time and offer lasting support and stability without sacrificing boardfeel. If you need a pin-point flicking skate shoe, the Zahba is your new best friend. If you tend to roll your ankle regularly, I think there are more suitable models for you out there.


  • Fantastic mix of impact protection & boardfeel
  • Perfect flick from the start
  • Minimal stitching in high-wear areas
  • Durable outsole


  • Laces ripped fast
  • Insole has little arch support
  • Thin padding around the ankle