Etnies shoes and Ryan Sheckler have been synonymous over the past 25 years, with Etnies sponsoring Ryan at eight years old and their partnership marking one of the longest running ones in the skate shoe industry. In this day and age with the influx of corporate athletic brands pumping money into skateboarding and snatching riders left and right, the core skate shoe brands that our generation grew up with have dwindled, and seeing Ryan and Etnies stand the test of time deserves a nod of respect. Over the years, Sheckler has played a significant role in the development of Etnies’ footwear line, releasing multiple signature shoes such as the Sheckler 1, 2, and 3; all models were designed to meet the needs of skateboarders and offer both comfort and durability. It’s also undeniable that Ryan’s level of skating has propelled him into a category of heavy hitters that demand high-performing gear and peak physical training that can help mitigate the risk of injury as they get older. The newest Estrella shoe is a reflection of Sheckler’s needs in his current stage of life: as he puts it, “I wanted to be able to workout in a shoe, skate in a shoe and hang out in a shoe – pretty much everything I do on a daily basis I can do in this shoe.” This isn’t the first time a skate shoe has been designed with training in mind, but it does pique our interest in how Etnies’ product development team integrated two high-performing needs into one sleek looking shoe. Luckily, we got a pair of the recently released Estrella’s to weartest, with an in-depth review below.
The Etnies Estrella fits true to size.
Overall, the Etnies Estrella demonstrated impressive durability during the our 10 hour wear test, with no significant signs of wear that would compromise its longevity.
Looking at the upper, it features a one-piece toe area that stretches to the midfoot where it is stitched to the rest of the upper. This critical suede piece proved to be very durable showing minor signs of wear in the Ollie- and Kickflip-area. If you look closely to the cross-section picture, you can seen Etnies added even a thin rubber layer under the suede to expand the lifetime of the shoe once the suede would develop a hole.
The shoe’s thick sole, especially in the toe area, protects the upper from griptape damage and provides excellent flick. The sole showed actually most signs of wear but did its job well in protecting the upper. Additionally, the shoe offers a hidden lacing system.
A minor negative impression left the durability of the collar around the ankle which showed signs of wear, but this was judged more from an aesthetic point of view.
The Estrella’s cushioning performance was all in all good. There are two main elements in the sole construction to create cushioning. The first one is a full length, rather stiff EVA foam cushioning layer to provide impact protection and the second one is Etnies’ removable Pro Foam 1 insole which creates a soft step-in feeling. As a result, the Estrella can be recommended not only for low impact skating but also for tougher landings as it manages to cushion bails quite successfully.
The Etnies Estrella boasts a clean and classic silhouette that is both stylish and functional. Its multiple foam padding elements, including the tongue, heel, and forefoot area, give it a bulkier cupsole profile. The shoe maintains a consistent width from the heel to the midfoot section before narrowing towards the toe, which ends in a distinctive peak.
The first half of the shoe from the toe tip to the arch is mainly responsible for the boardfeel. The Etnies Estrella offers two key advantages in this regard. The first benefit is a thin front area, reducing material between the foot and the skateboard. The second benefit is the flexibility of the shoe which developed fully after 2-3 sessions and stayed on a high level due to the cut outs on the sole profile as well as sole’s side. Both features helped to feel maximum surface area contact between foot and board while skating.
The boardfeel and the grip are balanced; you can feel the deck for feet positioning while feeling confident with enough cushioning, which helps make bails bearable when you’re trying a trick. Etnies keeps it classic with the Estrella’s herringbone sole pattern which performed solid in our 10-hour wear test.
The most important features for a comfortable skate shoe include weight, ventilation and a well-crafted inner shoe area. Despite the appearance, the Estrella is actually quite lightweight and the inner area is crafted very well with lots of padding. A very positive feature is the fixated tongue which helps keep everything in place and your feet secure. The only disappointment of the shoe is it’s below average breathability.
As far as stability goes, the shoe has pros and cons. On the positive side, the padding, as well as a close cut to the feet, both create a secure and comfortable feeling. While skating, the heel area made a very stable impression due to the higher cut sole (the feet sit below the sole) and multiple outer and inner reinforcement layers. The downside was that the design entrance area around the ankle and achilles heel is cut quite low and sometimes feels like your feet may slip out. Nevertheless, the overall comfort and stability of the Estella were good.
The Etnies Estrella, Ryan Sheckler’s most recent pro model shoe, convinces us with an excellent durability as well as good cushioning and boardfeel. However, the grip could be improved as well as the low cut ankle and heel area both take time adjusting to.