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Drumming Shoes: 4 Factors to Consider & the Best Options

Drumming Shoes: 4 Factors to Consider & the Best Options

“What are the Best Shoes for Drumming?”

This question is often asked by beginners and intermediates alike on forums.

And the answers to these questions usually fall in one of three categories:

  1. “It doesn’t matter, whatever works for you!”
  2. “NEVER wear shoes, play in socks or play barefoot!”
  3. “I live and die by THIS shoe!” (whatever it may be)

In my experience it definitely matters.

I once went for a promo shoot wearing leather boots and then shot a music video immediately after… let me tell you something, it wasn’t easy or comfortable.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

I’m not saying buying a certain type of shoe is going to make you into Buddy Rich.

But there are benefits to certain types of “drumming shoes”.

Sidenote: This forum post recounts a story about Tony Williams and shows you how amazing he played… in military boots!
Now, think how much more comfortable and faster Tony would have been able to play in some lightweight trainers!

So what should you consider when looking at drumming shoes?

  1. Grip: Decide whether you want slippery shoes for speed or grippy shoes for power!
  2. Weight: Lightweight shoes are better.
  3. Material: Go for canvas in general. Leather / suede sneakers are fine but might need to be worn-in before they become comfortable.
  4. Sole profile: Go for flat soled shoes and avoid heels.

1. Pedal grip

How much grip you want on the bass drum pedal is a big deciding factor when choosing footwear for drumming.

The more grip you have means more power in your stroke as your foot won’t be sliding up the footboard so ALL the power is going down into the pedal.

This comes at a cost, if you use the slide-double technique, this can make the sliding motion a little tricker to nail down.

2. Weight

There’s a reason why quite a few drummers prefer to play in socks or barefoot, it’s because it’s as light as your foot can be.

This means playing intricate techniques and playing fast is easier as you don’t have to move the weight of a shoe.

Granted, it’s not the biggest factor as shoes aren’t going to weigh a lot.

But it can make a difference when you’re spending a day tracking drums for a record.

3. Material

Imagine playing in a stiff, restrictive shirt compared to a softer t-shirt – which would be more comfortable?

The same consideration applies to your drumming shoes. Having a nice, natural feel will aid to your comfort when playing.

Any material that’s too restrictive or stiff can be a distraction and hinder your playing.

Fernweh Editions Candles

For this reason when selecting the best shoes for drumming, choose flexible materials that wear in easily. Canvas and thin leathers/suede are the best options here.

4. Sole profile

If you do want to wear shoes when you play, you’ll want to avoid heels as it changes the fundamental shape of your foot when playing.

Consider when you’re standing barefoot, your heel, toes and the ball of your feet are all making contact with the floor evenly. (Unless you’re flat footed).

You want to keep the relationship between these parts of your foot constant by wearing flat bottomed shoes. Tennis / basketball and skate shoes are generally great choices for drummers because they tend to be flexible, lightweight and flat.

Running shoes, although lightweight and flexible have a tapered shape which will likely translate to a funky feel when on the kit (and not in a good way!).

What do the pros use for their drumming shoes?

Now you’ve heard my factors on what makes the best shoes for drumming, let’s dive into some of the popular brands that he pros use! (If I’ve missed anyone out, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in!)

PUMA - BMW MMS Drift Cat 5 Ultra II - 30642101

Puma Drift Cat


  • Thin sole
  • Light
  • Made from suede so they’re hard wearing!

As used by:

  • Thomas Lang
  • Mike Mangini
  • Virgil Donati

Converse Chuck Taylor Sneakers

Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars


Fernweh Editions Candles

  • Iconic in the music scene
  • Flat sole with good grip
  • Slimmer “Lean” version available
  • Available in loads of colours

As used by:

  • Tré Cool
  • Jojo Mayer

adidas Originals Men's Superstar Black

ADIDAS Superstars


  • Flat sole with good grip
  • Available in different styles

As used by:

  • Joey Jordison

Vans Men's Sneaker

VANS Authentic


  • Iconic in the music scene
  • Flat sole with good grip
  • Available in “Lo pro” which has a slimmer sole
  • Available in “Lite” which are lighter than the regular shoes

As used by:

  • Travis Barker

The Bottom Line

Choose the shoes you feel comfortable in but these shoes are tried and tested by the pros, choose light and grippy shoes to keep you feet feeling fine while you play.