Featuring the classic Vans hi-top silhouette, but boasting a number of design elements that step up its performance, the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE has earned a pretty solid reputation for itself as one of the best models to have been released by the brand. So naturally, I took this as my cue to get my hands on what information I could find to discover whether it really was worth the hype.
With everything I’ve learned, I can confidently recommend the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE to anyone who wants a pair of trustworthy boot-sneaker hybrids that they can use on a variety of terrain and in a number of different weather conditions. But if you’re still on the fence about shelling out that hard earned cash, I’ve listed all the reasons why these shoes are worth more than you pay for.
Some of the Best Looking Shoes You’ll Find
First off, I want to talk about the Sk8-Hi MTE aesthetic. The brand basically took the classic Vans hi-top design and revamped them to come up with a better looking, more fashion-forward shoe. The design comes in a variety of colorways with the most popular one boasting a rugged, lumberjack appeal. Its rich tan colored uppers and plaid collar have become a hit among lots of buyers simply because it goes well with virtually any casual outfit.
Some other colorways include solid hues like blue, gray, red, and black. The design is also available in a number of different upper material variations, including leather and suede. Of course, a change in material entails a difference in overall performance, but more on that later.
Designed for the Elements
Aside from revamping the general aesthetic of the classic hi-tops, the brand also upgraded the shoes’ performance all together. For the most part, the company focused on weather-resistance and durability, which explains a lot of the different features that the Sk8-Hi MTE brings to the table.
The first, and most notable of its features in my opinion, is its 3M Scotchgard coating. This revolutionary tech makes the material completely resistant to any sort of moisture. So they make a great pick if you often find yourself having to lug around wet or snowy terrain. This also makes them particularly resistant to mud and stains, so you can keep them looking fresh and new with little effort.
Another notable design element incorporated into the shoe to make it ideal for different weather conditions is its heat retention layer. Right smack between the sockliner and the outsole, a unique layer retains heat to keep your feet warm and toasty in cold weather. In a lot of ways, the MTEs even outperform a lot of snow boots in terms of maintaining comfortable interior climate. So if you’re not particularly keen on wearing a bulky pair of boots to protect your feet from the cold, then the Sk8-Hi MTEs can be a very reasonable and stylish alternative.
A Steady Grip on Slippery Surfaces
It’s no easy feat to walk around surfaces that are wet with snow or rain. But the Sk8-Hi MTEs seem to make even the most precarious of surfaces easy and effortless to navigate. This is mainly thanks to the shoes’ unique outsole treads which takes cues from the ever popular and efficient waffle pattern that Vans has used throughout the years.
Most of the outsole uses an embossed diamond pattern which covers the entire heel and forefoot. Around the mid-foot region though, the pattern changes to tightly spaced, embossed hexagons, giving the shoe greater bite against a variety of different surfaces.
Other than the tread patterns, the shoe also owes its impressive grip to the material used for the outsoles. Basically, the outsole takes inspiration from 20 years worth of snow boot history by using vulcanized rubber as its main material. This is what’s commonly used for work boots as well because they’re much more efficient at maintaining their grip on the ground.
Achieving Optimal Comfort Could Take Time
Designed to withstand the elements, the Sk8-Hi MTEs are made with some of the toughest materials there are. So you can expect them to feel pretty stiff, resisting a lot of those natural movements especially when they’re fresh out of the box. Of course, they’re not technically the most comfortable if we’re talking about responsiveness and flexibility. The leather variations are particularly resistant to movement, but that can improve over time the more you wear the shoes.
Other than that, they’re pretty standard in terms of comfort. Plush padding and a relaxed fit make them easy on the feet for extended periods of time. For that reason, they make a suitable everyday footwear choice, especially for those who do a lot of walking and standing throughout the day.
I also want to mention that a lot of the people who have purchased the MTEs have used them for hiking. Of course, with such a great combination of comfort, traction, and weather-resistance, it’s not hard to see why the shoe has become a popular choice for outdoor activities like trekking and hiking.
Standard Support Keeps Your Feet in Place
Vans has been known for designing some of the most efficient shoes when it comes to support. Mostly, this is because the brand specializes in footwear designs that are made for precarious sports like skateboarding. With the Sk8-Hi MTE, the brand was able to maintain the same standard.
The high-cut silhouette prevents a lot of the lateral movements that could cause injury. That’s why they work great for demanding types of terrain. Inside, the responsive cushioned insoles contour to your feet’s gentle curves just enough giving you comfortable support that retains its density and shape even after months of use.
Lastly, the robust lacing system uses friction-free round laces. These make them a lot easier to adjust to achieve optimal fit. So with nothing more than a solid tug here and there, you can keep your feet locked in to prevent discomfort, pain, and injury associated with loose fitting shoes.
Some Complaints About Construction
When it comes to the durability of the materials, there really isn’t anything I can say other than the fact that they are exceptionally hardy. But if we’re talking about how these elements were combined through the shoe’s construction, there are a few possible improvements the brand could have made.
The main issue lies in the way that the soles attach to the uppers. Stitching is pretty subpar upon closer inspection. It also seems that in a lot of areas, the shoe simply uses adhesive to keep the soles in place. So while most of the shoe is ‘weather resistant’, these weaker regions could be susceptible to moisture damage. So users who confidently expose their MTEs to challenging conditions often find the soles peeling away from the uppers after just a few months of use.
The only work-around I can think of is to limit the shoe’s exposure to rain, snow, and moisture. But then again, that completely defeats the purpose of having a weather resistant shoe all together.
What I Like About the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE
- Super stylish shoes can match with almost any casual outfit.
- Designed for some of the most challenging weather and environmental conditions which most other casual shoes fail to withstand.
- Solid grip prevents injuries on wet, snowy surfaces.
- Comfortable interior keeps your feet cradled and warm for extended periods.
- High cut silhouette eliminates lateral movements of the ankles.
- Durable materials can survive lots of wear and tear without showing the slightest signs of abuse or damage.
Possible Points for Improvement
- Outsole construction might not be the best. They may rip away from the uppers after just a few months of use.
- Takes some time to break-in, so don’t expect them to feel too flexible straight out of the box.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot to love about the Vans Sk8-Hi MTE shoes. From their hardy weather-resistant design, to their superb grip, to their unrivalled aesthetic appeal, these shoes bring a lot of great functionality and performance to the table despite its budget-friendly price tag. So if you’re not too much of a boot fan, but you want to enjoy that burly boot performance, then the Sk8-Hi MTE shoes are definitely worth checking out.
So yes, they might have their flaws, but these shoes get two thumbs up from me. They’re hardy, reliable, and efficient. Plus, if you take care of them well enough, they might just serve you well for many years to come.