Vans vs Keds – Things You Should Know

Vans vs Keds

Vans vs Keds what’s the difference? Vans and Keds are some of the most popular shoe brands and have become a staple in multiple people’s closets. From the boat deck to the streets, both brands are advertised as durable, versatile, and stylish. However, it seems there’s a shared confusion as to just how different each shoe is from the other, so today we take a look at the topic of Vans vs. Keds.

What’s the Difference Between Vans and Keds?

The main difference between the two comes down to sole design, durability, and price. Keds soles are thinner and don’t have nearly as much indentation at the bottom for traction as Vans. Furthermore, Vans are a bit bulkier and have less variety in color. Keds are also cheaper than traditional Vans which go upwards of $80.

If you were to look up Keds and Vans online and click on Google’s definition of each one, you would find something a bit confusing. Both are described as quality canvas shoes with rubber soles that are sure to grip onto any surface. So what’s the difference? To anyone doing a brief search, they both seem like the same thing. Now, to any of you out there with a passion for shoes, you may already know the difference, but even for those not as passionate, there is also the question of quality, durability, and even versatility.

For one thing, Vans are usually made with a heavier build and structure, meaning the sole is quite thick and designed with a ‘waffle sole’ made popular by the Nike brand shoes for runners to achieve higher speeds in less time. The waffle sole mold that Vans uses is intended for a similar purpose; it is meant to provide sturdy traction, without detracting from the actual functionality.

Interestingly, many might think of the two shoes as fit for exploring the open seas as a deck shoe, and while Vans were originally produced for use on boats, the brand very quickly transitioned to shoes intended for skateboarding, which is primarily why there was so much consideration put into the traction of the shoes, as the sole has to grip the board as much as possible. Therefore, the overall design of Vans makes them more robust than Keds.

Keds on the other hand were originally made and stayed branded as deck or boat shoes. Their sleek and lightweight design makes them the perfect shoe for an on the go day or even as a portable pair to tuck into your backpack. They are typically considered to be minimalist sneakers and since they are so well known as a staple shoe that comes in a variety of colors, they are generally marketed more towards women.

However, it should be noted that Keds have an extensive men’s shoe line as well. Unlike the durability of Vans, which are intended to hold up against the ruggedness and intensity of skateboarding and physical activity in general, Keds are meant more for streetwear and casual activities.

Which is Better? Keds or Vans?

Vans Slip-on(tm) Core Classics Trainers, True White, 9 Women/7.5 Men
Source: Amazon

Public opinion about which shoe is better differs, but it honestly depends on the needs of the wearer. As previously stated, Vans usually have a sturdier structure and as a result, are usually longer lasting. Keds are lighter and easier to transport by actually wearing them or throwing them in a bag as a change of shoes.

If you are looking for something that will withstand the elements and take on the tough scuffs and wear that come with skateboarding and other high-intensity activities, Vans are truly the way to go. Plus, they provide more than enough grip to make you practically slip-proof.

However, Vans has its downsides. For one thing, Vans tend to fade with wear and even more so when you put them in the wash. The brand is also more expensive than Keds, with a price difference of around thirty dollars, but perhaps the biggest negative is the shoe’s foot support. For all of Vans’ well-deserved reputation as a durable shoe, they fall flat in arch support…literally.

If you’re someone with relatively flat feet, Vans may not be the best fit for you, but if you’re dead set on getting a pair, the addition of insoles would be beneficial. Despite the lack of foot support though, Vans still allow for wider-set feet unlike Keds, which are notorious for their narrow structure.

While some say Keds are a knock-off of Vans, they most definitely aren’t. They are quality shoes in their own right. In fact, Keds may be most well known for hanging out on the deck and sailing the open seas, but they are still recommended for certain sports to be played casually, such as basketball and even tennis.

Even though they don’t have as much traction as Vans and lack the waffle indented soles, this makes Keds lighter. A lighter sole enables the wearer to jump higher, faster, and for those playing tennis for example, or even a game of frisbee, making quick movements in different directions is a breeze when your feet aren’t seemingly getting caught on the pavement.

Overall, Vans and Keds are both quality shoe brands that may look similar at first glance but can wind up serving very different purposes. By definition, many would say, that Vans are a stronger shoe that will last longer (assuming you properly take care of them) considering the thick sole and heavy-duty canvas and/or suede material. If you’re judging by strength and longevity, go with Vans, but if you’re looking for something light, flexible, less expensive, and something that moves with you, rather than grounds you, Keds are the way to go.

Are Keds Comfortable?

Keds womens Kickstart Seasonal Solid Sneaker, White, 7.5 US
Source: Amazon

So are Keds comfortable? Based on reviews, they are slightly more comfortable than Vans. The main difference when it comes to comfort is that Keds include an Ortholite insole that provides the plush arch support needed to get through the day and keep the feet stable. If you’re someone who’s prone to blisters, there’s no need to worry with Keds, since most models are fitted with a terry cloth lining to protect the skin from any rough seams.

Are Keds True to Size?

It’s always best to see if you can try them on in the store to get an actual feel for the shoe, but in case you don’t have the option, Keds sizing tends to run pretty big, so we suggest going a half size down. In addition, Keds run a bit longer and are slightly narrow on the sides and the toe box.

Do Keds Run Big or Small?

As previously mentioned, Keds do run big. You can pretty much assume that whichever model you choose, it will always run half a size too big, but since Keds also tend to be narrow, you may want to see if getting the larger size will help for anyone with a wider foot.

Are Converse or Vans Better or More Comfortable than Keds?

Converse Low TOP Black, 11.5 Women/9.5 Men
Source: Amazon

Converse, Vans, and Keds are all direct competitors of each other. We already know that Keds are for the most part comfortable, but what about Converse or Vans?

Converse is the classic and original ‘cool kid’ canvas sneakers, perfect for the gym and made to mold to the foot and move with it. Plus, Converse uses a lightweight canvas that’s breathable and the rubber soles underneath are simultaneously durable and rather plush in comparison to Keds thinner soles and Vans denser and thicker soles. Just like Keds, Converse features an Ortholite insole for support, but also lack the smooth inner lining of Keds.

Vans on the other hand lack any arch support whatsoever. Some recent models have been upgraded to have a slight cushion inside, but most reviewers, especially those with flat feet, are still not satisfied. Furthermore, Vans don’t have an inner lining, meaning lots of blisters and annoying friction burns.

Admittedly, Vans and Converse are considered to be fantastic for a much larger range of intense physical activity than Keds in terms of sole strength and durability. However, the question as to whether Converse or Vans are more comfortable than Keds really comes down to Converse vs. Vans. Both brands feature arch support and flexible designs, but ultimately, the terry cloth lining in Keds makes them the ultimate comfort sneaker out of the three.


So in our long discussion about Vans vs. Keds, we’ve found some interesting differences. To be honest, it’s probably worth it to have one of each in your closet, but the ultimate decision as to which one you should pick really depends on personal choice and needs. As long as you consider what you’ll be using the shoes for beforehand, whatever you pick is sure to suit you perfectly.

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