Maybe you and your buddies recently watched Kingpin vs. The Big Lebowski or regularly watch Nerdist’s Celebrity Bowling on YouTube. Have you been visiting your local bowling alley and having fun trying not to throw gutter balls?
If you’ve been renting your shoes – stop.
You’re not only wasting your money but also making yourself open to disease, as bacteria, fungus, and virus that causes warts are most likely to thrive on rented bowling shows, according to Dr. Thomas Vail.
|Women's KR Strikeforce Capri Lite||$|
|Brunswick Men's Frenzy||$|
|Women's 3G Classic Pro||$$|
|Men’s KR Strikeforce Men’s Raptor||$$|
|Women's KR Strikeforce Starr||$$|
|Men's Brunswick TPU X||$$|
|3G Bowling Tour Ultra||$$$|
|Dexter SST T.H.E 9||$$$|
Ladies, if you’re just getting into bowling and don’t want to spend too much on your bowling shoes, these shoes are perfect. They look like regular running shoes and are better than the ones you’d rent at the alley. Plus, they won’t have that weird smell or “cooties” from anyone else using them.
These are universal slide shoes, that is, both soles have sliders, just like the ones you’d rent at the bowling alley. When you’re starting out, these shoes are great since you should be focusing on your form instead of trying to use too much power. Without proper form, you can really hurt yourself.
It is made of man-made synthetic materials and comes in black/orchid and white/blue color variations. It also aims to offer maximum comfort with its Komfort Fit construction, and CMEVA outsole for low-profile, lightweight, flexible and uniform cushion with FlexLite technology.
To cater to more people, it comes in sizes 6 to 11 with half sizes available.
In bowling, men’s usual tendency is to overuse power when first starting to bowl then develop form later. Brunswick understands this and provides a raised rubber heel to help you control that slide while you’re still getting into the swing of things. The universal slide soles prevent you from developing too much power since you can’t get maximum traction with your pushing foot.
Buying your own shoes saves you money especially since rental fees might be higher because of people stealing the rental shoes. Shirley Leung of the Wall Street Journal says that bowling alleys across the United States continue to experience the rise of incidences involving rental shoes theft. before this incident happened as some sort of a high school or college prank, in 2001, it seems that people steal the rental shoes because it is considered chic.
It also boasts of its athletic mesh upper with EVA for your added comfort and durability while bowling. You can choose from its black/red or navy/green color variations to suit your style. Moreover, it comes in a variety of sizes to make sure that there is a fit for everyone (sizes 7 to 11 with half sizes and 12 to 14).
After you’ve spent a few months on universal slide shoes, getting a pair of these intermediate shoes will take your game to the next level.
One thing you might notice if you play at different bowling alleys is that not all approaches feel the same. For those of us who are serious about the game, we can feel a change in the amount of slip approaches. Changes in temperature and humidity and many other factors can affect the amount of slip on approaches.
These shoes have replaceable slide soles that are held to the shoes with Velcro. Being able to change this to suit the amount of slip your approach has can really change your game and make each frame repeatable.
The hardened rubber toe cap on these shoes allows you to slide with more confidence because you know your shoes won’t be torn to tatters from regular use. Its ventilation also keeps your feet cool under pressure.
The women’s 3G classic pro comes in only one color option, which is the only real downside I can see with this shoe at this price point. The design looks like an amalgamation of a dress shoe and sneakers, giving it a somewhat classic bowling shoe look. But if the color is not to your fancy, you might want to look elsewhere.
The shoes are made of synthetic leather and you can get it in sizes 5 to 9 with half sizes, and sizes 10 to 12.
First off, these shoes’ colors are completely polarizing; it’s either you’re really into that black and lime color or you’re not. Sure, this shoe looks like it belongs in one of Ken Block’s Gymkhana stunt driving videos on YouTube but you can’t ignore the performance it delivers at this awesome price.
If you’ve already started to develop your form and want to up the ante on your power, these shoes will help you deliver hot strikes with more ease than universal slip shoes. Like the women’s shoe above, these have replaceable soles and heels to suit your needs.
The H-Bar heel is really a stroke of genius. The problem that bowlers have with replaceable heels is that getting them lined up and keeping them that way is always a challenge since the heel delivers most of the energy generated through a slide to the ground. The H bar is simply two channelled indentations in the heel of the shoe where a replaceable heel’s matching ridges secure it in place while Velcro holds everything together.
If you’re ok with the energy drink/zombie apocalypse color scheme of this shoe and you’re right handed (sorry lefties, you guys get a gutter ball on this one). These shoes are great. They breathe well and have a lot of bang for the buck.
The shoes come with STA-DRY open mesh tongue and collar for breathability, and an Ortholite 3D deluxe insole for comfort. It also comes in sizes 7 to 10 with half sizes, and sizes 11 to 13.
Ladies, if you’re looking for the bowling shoes with the most bang for the buck, look no further.
With any competing products on the market, there will always be some that are cheap but lack key features. On the other end of the spectrum, there are products that are at the top of the price bracket with all the bells and whistles for professionals and enthusiasts looking to squeeze as much performance out of the gear.
What we have here is the “Goldilocks Zone.” If you’re an intermediate bowler who doesn’t play with too much power, these shoes are a perfect choice. If you don’t generate a lot of power, spending more for a pair of bowling shoes will just give you diminishing returns for what you actually need.
The STA-DRY technology really lets your feet breathe when you’ve been playing all day and the Ortholite 3D deluxe insole keeps your feet from fatigue so you can keep your mind on the game.
The H-Bar interchangeable heels and interchangeable flex slide soles let you change how much slip and grip you get depending on the changes to the approach.
But of course, there are some caveats. They only come in (the almost cliché) black, white and pink colors. If this fits your taste, then you have a match made in heaven. If you don’t like the color but it meets all your requirements, you might need to think long and hard if you really want to spend more money for features you might not need just for its looks.
Once again, sorry lefties; they only have these in right-handed models. It also comes in sizes 6.5 to
Honestly, these shoes look and feel like expensive running shoes, but if you really want to give it your all and push yourself to the limit, these shoes will deliver. If you play with a lot of power and you’ve had a “sole tearing event” (pun intended), you know how frustrating it can be to finish a game in someone else’s shoes.
It is incredibly difficult to be consistent when you change your shoes out since you there will always be differences between two pairs of shoes, even if they are the same model due to the wear on them and the temperature of the material.
Don’t expect these shoes to last a lifetime since there are no replaceable kick pads, but they will stand up to a lot of abuse from power players. The TPU outsoles can take the punishment and will never tear or break like conventional materials. The replaceable flex slide soles have a ridge or crease built into them to conform to the flex of the human foot that allows them to bend instead of break.
Another great feature on these shoes is the almost excessive amount of ventilation it has. It’ll keep your feet cool and dry even when you’re trying to pick up a spare on that 7-10 split.
Really, the only thing missing on these shoes are replaceable kick plates so they can last you a lifetime, but it would be pretty difficult to integrate it with the softness of the TPU. The only other negative might be the look of the shoe. If you’re looking for more traditional-looking shoes, you should look elsewhere.
These shoes come in sizes 8 to 11 with half sizes, and size 12.
When you get to a level where you start competing in sanctioned events, you really need to take your gear seriously and make sure you’re practicing with equipment you can compete with. Kim Terrell-Kearney, A USBC (United States Bowling Congress) coaching specialist, emphasized that buying you shoes from a company that is not product-registered will be a waste because the shoes cannot be worn during PBA play.
As the name of these shoes implies, these are tournament-grade shoes that are approved by the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) and can be seen being worn by men and women at sanctioned tournaments all over the United States.
The kangaroo leather uppers are extremely flexible for comfortable play and are extremely durable. It may seem like an exotic material for bowling shoes, but after trying out these “Roo shoes,” I have no complaints.
The black classic look and design of these shoes give them a very formal look which belies the fact that they are high-performance bowling shoes. Much like James Bond in a tuxedo, these shoes have some features that seem like they were issued by the Q branch, namely the Kevlar and rubber traction soles and toe caps. They might not be literally bulletproof, but they can really stand up to wear and tear.
Unfortunately for the ladies, these shoes only come in black/pink. For the left-handed ladies, even if you like the color, they don’t make a version for southpaws.
These shoes are available in both men’s and women’s models and come in varying sizes. It comes in black or blue/black/metallic for men, while only the black/pink combination is available for women.
These shoes may not be new by any stretch of the imagination, but they are still great. The reason they are still around and used by serious bowlers is because they just work. Many 300s have been played on these shoes in the past and many more will be delivered in the future.
The classic stitch down construction is reminiscent of quality work boots which immediately tells you something about their durability. The protruding toe kick panel is meant to absorb a lot of the wear from toe dragging while protecting the sliders from peeling upward.
Now, there have been extreme cases where bowlers who play with a lot of power and use excessive toe dragging have literally broken the soles of these shoes. But for 95% (my rough estimate) of competitive bowlers out there, these shoes will work perfectly fine.
These shoes can be configured for either left or right-handed bowlers. The soles and heels of both shoes can be removed and exchanged. Instead of needing to hunt down a left-handed version of a bowling shoe, these can be simply configured for lefties.
The Dexter SST-8 offers shoes for both men and women. It is available in white/black/gold or black/gold for men, while women have the option to choose between white/black/red or black/purple color combinations.
If you’re looking for shoes that will come in the color and size you want with no buts, the only way to do that is by ordering customized shoes. Linds offers this semi-custom arrangement and will make the shoes the way you order it. From the color to the height of the heels, you have complete reign over what you can order.
This service is great for bowling teams that really want to look professional. Having a team in complete uniform suggests organization and power which can give your team an edge in psyching out the competition. But aside from just looking good, they are built for performance.
These custom shoes are used by bowlers like 2011 PBA World Championship winner Chris Barnes. These shoes provide the comfort and support that champions require.
The first and foremost problem with these shoes is the cost; semi-custom shoes are going to be more expensive than off-the-shelf models. In addition, if these aren’t fitted properly, you’re really going to be up a creek without a paddle since there is no return policy for these custom orders.
For those of us who want same-day or next-day delivery, that’s simply not possible. You need to order 12 weeks before you expect them to be delivered. On the bright side, if you are looking for something to test your patience, this just might be the ticket.
The shoes have a classic look and you choose from the following colors: navy, black, brown, white, natural, yellow, wine, green, hot pink, royal blue, light grey, orange, red metallic gold, metallic silver, and metallic bronze.
Imagine if you put together the great flexibility and breathability of the Brunswick TPU-X and the durability and interchangeable design of the Dexter SST-8. Well, that’s pretty much what the Dexter SST T.H.E 9 is.
These shoes feature soles and heels that are symmetrical for both feet, meaning that you can literally peel the soles and heels off of one shoe and put them on the opposite foot.
You might be wondering, “Well, who would stand to benefit from this? Ambidextrous bowlers?” and it’s not really that. Having heels and soles that can be used on either foot is great for manufacturing and stocking these items.
This means that shops don’t have to guess how many left-handed sets they need to keep in stock. This also means that manufacturing them is a bit cheaper which passes savings down to you.
These shoes can last you a lifetime. The toe kick panels are built into the removable soles and can be easily replaced when worn down from some serious toe dragging. Its notched thumb grips make it easy for you to remove and replace its heels and soles.
Dexter learned their lesson from the breakages of their SST-8 and have taken a few cues from Brunswick’s playbook. But instead of one flex point, they created two articulation points that allow for flexibility. This keeps the sole from breaking while holding the soles in place in a fashion similar to the H-Bar system.
It comes in black/crocodile, black/orange, black/red, or white/crocodile variations for me, while women get the white/silver/crocodile design.
For bowling shoes to properly work for you, they need to fit correctly. If you are buying bowling shoes online and aren’t completely sure if the shoes you’re ordering will fit, go ahead and spend for the shoe size protection plan. It’ll cost a little extra but at least you can have them replaced if they don’t fit.
Like my grand pappy always say, “If it’s free, it’s for me unless it’s a kick in the keister.” Check around and see what offers come with the shoes; sometimes they come with different sets of slide soles, bags, and shoe covers. Some shoes can also be made to be part of a starter’s bundle complete with a ball, bag, wrist brace, or other bowling accessories.
As with any other product, always know what you are looking for and what you need. Don’t buy something just because it’s the cheapest thing and don’t buy something because it has the most features. Get what’s right for you and your skill level and you’ll be happy with your purchase.
And if you’re into bowling and you haven’t watched All Star Celebrity Bowling on the Nerdist’s YouTube channel, you should really check out their episode with the cast of The Walking Dead. They might be TV stars, but they’re regular everyday bowlers, and you can learn a thing or two about bowling while being entertained.