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Sneakers VS Shoes: 7 Significant Differences Between Them



You will hardly notice anyone confusing sneakers with shoes. Everyone knows they’re different. But, how much? If we create a comparison between sneakers vs. shoes, what will we find?

Even though everyone knows sneakers differ from shoes, the specific differentiation may be unknown to many. That’s why I’ll discuss 7 significant differences between sneakers and shoes to clarify any confusion you may have. 

Sneakers VS Shoes

Shoes refer to a very generic term when compared to sneakers. Think of shoes as an accessory people wear in general. In other words, any footwear men, women, and children wear come under the term shoes. 

Sneakers, in comparison, is a more specific term. Sneakers are athletic shoes, meaning that they’re made for a particular purpose. However, all sneakers are athletic shoes, but not all athletic shoes can be labeled as sneakers. 

We’ll dive a little deeper and evaluate the significant differences between sneakers and shoes. For now, let’s look at the comparison table below for a better demonstration. 

Sneakers VS Shoes: Comparison Table 

Topic Of Comparison Sneakers Shoes
Material Rubber and synthetic materials Nylon and polyurethane 
Purpose Providing comfort and flexibility Fulfilling casual and professional needs
Cushioning  Comparatively less Comparatively more
Motion Control Comparatively higher motion control Comparatively lower motion control
Stability Comparatively more stable Comparatively less stable
Durability Comparatively less durable Comparatively more durable


Sneakers VS Shoes


Sneakers VS Shoes: 7 Significant Differences 

Now that you’ve taken a look at the comparison table, let’s get to clear differentiation between sneakers and shoes. 


The most significant difference between sneakers and shoes may be the materials. Even though shoes can be made using various materials, sneakers are only made of rubber and synthetic materials like canvas. 

The material difference plays a significant role in differentiating shoes and sneakers. Shoe materials have evolved over the decades. However, the materials used for making sneaker remains the same. 

To get into some more details, shoes are mostly made of Nylon and Polyurethane. These materials are responsible for making the shoes more comfortable. There’s another perk of using these materials. They’re very convenient to maintain and keep clean.

Sneakers serve athletic purposes, which is why they need to have rubber soles. Rubber also provides better traction, comfort, and stability, which is compulsory in sneakers. 


Shoes serve all kinds of purposes. If you ask around among people in general, you’re bound to get all sorts of answers. For instance, someone may answer that they wear shoes for comfort and warmth. 

Some people, in comparison, wear shoes for style, comfort, and stability. It’s a generic foot accessory. That’s why shoes come in all shapes and designs. 

You’ll notice that shoes made for specific purposes have unique features. For instance, let’s take a pair of training shoes for comparison. There is extra rubber padding on training shoes, most of the time. Because these shoes need comparatively more traction when training. 

For the same reason, training shoes come with more cushioning to control your feet movements and increase stability when you’re training at the gym. 

As for sneakers, even though they’re athletic shoes, you can’t use them for everything. They feature a lightweight rubber sole that can’t support much weight. That’s one of the reasons why you can’t wear sneakers for running. We’ll get to that later. 

Sneakers also offer comfort, style, and traction due to the rubber sole feature. Nowadays, sneakers have become a lot more popular, and youngsters are choosing various sneakers to get trendy. That’s why sneakers are also launching chic designs regularly to keep up with the marketing environment. 


Comparing the comfort level of shoes and sneakers are a bit controversial. None of them can be considered better than the other because it depends on many determinant factors. The comfort level depends a lot on the user. 

If we’re comparing the typical materials of shoes and sneakers, they both offer a sufficient amount of comfort, given that the user is using the right size. However, some shoes are made of different materials that make the shoes heavy and can cause discomfort to the user. 

Sneakers are on the safe side on this one. There’s almost zero possibility that a pair of sneakers won’t be comfortable. 


Shoes have the upper hand when we’re comparing cushioning. Sneakers feature thin but hard rubber soles. Shoes come with thicker soles when compared to sneakers. 

However, some high-quality sneakers successfully merged the rubber soles with ample cushioning. But generally speaking, shoes offer more cushioning than sneakers. 

This works as a significant factor when people get confused about whether to get a pair of shoes or sneakers. Those who value cushioning over everything else will undoubtedly go for shoes. 


Sneakers are better for superior traction due to the rubber soles. But that doesn’t mean that shoes are out of consideration. Depending on what shoe you’re getting, you can expect to have superior traction in shoes too. 

For example, some shoes come with extra rubber padding to make it easier for users to get a better grip on the ground. However, sneakers naturally offer better traction, which is why they’re so suitable for sports. 


Which one do you think will grant you more stability- sneakers or shoes? Most people will go with sneakers for obvious reasons. For instance, sneakers feature laces on top that keep the foot stable and secured inside. 

Not only that, but sneakers can also stabilize your foot using the rubber sole. As for shoes, it depends on whether the shoe has laces and rubber padding or not. 

In general, sneakers are a better choice for stability. 


Because sneakers are made of lightweight materials, they tend to be less durable compared to shoes. If you compare a pair of shoes and a pair of sneakers, the shoes will definitely win the game of durability due to their materials. 

Polyurethane is highly flexible, robust, and can withstand higher pressure than sneaker materials. 

Sneakers VS Shoes: Similarities 

Of course, the similarities between these two can’t be denied either. Bot sneakers and shoes are made with the same basic purpose. They provide warmth, comfort, stability, cushioning, style, and traction. 

Unless you compare the level of an attribute, they can’t be differentiated. For example, you can’t say that a shoe offers to cushion, but a sneaker doesn’t. Nonetheless, when you ask which one offers better cushioning, that’s where the difference begins.  

The dissimilarities don’t appear until you consider performing a specific activity. For example, if you consider a pair for running, a burning question will arise to determine which one is comparatively better. 

On the contrary, if you want a pair of shoes for casual wear, both will be equally suited. Shoes and sneakers offer a variety of styles, designs, and structures to meet the user’s needs. Because of this, none of them can be declared more popular or better than the other. 

Editor’s Note: New Balance Vs Nike Sizing

A Few Things About Sneakers VS Shoes 

  • Sneakers are suitable for casual wear, whereas shoes can be worn in both formal and informal environments. 
  • Shoes are comparatively more durable than sneakers due to heavier materials. 
  • Shoes are made of nylon and polyurethane, whereas shoes are made of rubber and synthetic materials. 
  • Shoes are diverse and can be worn for almost all activities, given that they’re specifically made. The uses of sneakers are somewhat limited due to their lightweight feature. 
  • In the United States, the name “sneaker” is commonly used, whereas, in the United Kingdom, they are referred to as “joggers.”
  • All athletic shoes aren’t sneakers. 
  • The name ‘Sneakers’ was given because these shoes didn’t make any noise while walking due to the rubber soles. 


Sneakers VS Shoes: Which One Is Better? 

This question entirely depends on the user and the purpose. You can’t expect a pair of sneakers to perform well if you’re into heavy and intense exercise. However, flexibility, stability, and comfort are praiseworthy. 

In comparison, shoes work better when you choose specifically made shoes for specific purposes. Note that neither of the footwear will work efficiently if you don’t get the size right. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I wear sneakers for running? 

Sneakers are not so well-made for running. You put a lot of pressure on your shoes when you run. A sneaker’s sole isn’t strong enough to endure that kind of pressure. 

That’s why it’s better to stick to running shoes, which are particularly made for running and can withstand comparatively higher pressure. 


Q. What are sneakers good for?

Sneakers are excellent for casual wear. They are super comfortable and lightweight. In addition, sneakers offer stability for exercises like walking. 

You can style a pair of sneakers with almost all casual outfits. However, sneakers are not suitable to use professionally. In a formal situation, you may want to wear shoes that suit your attire. 


Final Words

As you can see, there are multiple aspects in this ‘sneakers vs. shoes’ comparison. Even though both of these are made to serve some basic features to the user, there are significant differences between them.

They’re somewhat similar because they both offer stability, cushioning, comfort, and style. However, if you want something casual to wear, a pair of sneakers are better. In comparison, activities that require withstanding pressure will work better with a pair of shoes specifically made for that purpose.

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