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Picture this: It’s a Saturday night and everyone’s headed to the bowling alley. The year? Nope, not 1955 — it’s the present day. Because even though it may not top the charts as a date night activity, bowling is still a $10 billion industry, with 67 million people who bowl at least once a year, according to Bowlers Journal.
And while a recent trend report revealed the number of people in bowling leagues has been on the decline in the past five years, it’s being replaced by individuals who prefer participating in the sport on a more casual basis. If you consider yourself among them, you may want to consider buying your own pair of bowling shoes rather than renting them (in addition to being more hygienic, owning your own pair may save you money in the long run if you’re an avid bowler).
Surprisingly, bowling shoes can be quite affordable, with many priced under $50. But of course, the cost depends on the styling: The more bells and whistles there are, the more expensive the shoes are.
Just like in many other sports, the right shoes can take a player’s bowling game to the next level. While most shoes have soles with a certain level of grip to prevent slips and falls, they’re not for bowling on polished wood floors. Shoes with grippy rubber soles like sneakers will cause you to abruptly stop as you run up to launch the ball. Bowling shoes are specially designed with sliding soles that allow you to approach and release the ball smoothly without making you slide too far that you’re past the foul line.
When shopping for bowling shoes, consider your skill level. Shoes for beginners and intermediate players typically feature sliding soles on both shoes to accommodate a right or left-handed bowler. Meanwhile, performance shoes for more advanced bowlers will have one shoe with a slick leather sole that provides a smooth stop during delivery and another shoe featuring a rubber sole that works like a brake. So if you’re a right-handed bowler, the sliding sole will be on your left foot and the braking shoe will be on your right. This provides bowlers with more swinging power and enhanced traction.
Styles for more advanced players also often come with interchangeable soles and heels that let you adjust the amount of slide you get.
Ahead, we rounded up some of the best bowling shoes on the market for men.
Why Trust Our Recommendations
When compiling our selection, we looked to trusted bowling shoe and apparel brands like Dexter, Pyramid and Brunswick. The options on our list all boast performance-driven features including lightweight soles, OrthoLite cushioning and special technology for added stability. We included styles with sliding soles on both shoes for entry-level players and pairs offering an interchangeable sole and heel construction designed for more advanced players.
Read on to shop our picks and choose the best pair for your needs.
Dexter Bowling Men’s T.H.E 9 Bowling Shoes
Dexter Bowling’s T.H.E. 9 offers an interchangeable sole and heel construction so you can customize the shoes based on your technique and skills. T.H.E. Toehold Hyperflex Technology, an interlocking toe hold system, helps keep your interchangeable soles from peeling back and sliding while in use, and dual Hyperflex Hinges add flexibility and durability. The Symmetrical outsole system allows for soles to fit on the left or right shoes with no trimming required for a perfect fit. Ultra-soft leather, added mesh in the tongue and a notched thumb grip for removing the soles and heels make this shoe complete.
Pyramid Men’s HPX Right-Handed Bowling Shoes
Pyramid Men’s HPX Right-Handed Bowling Shoes also come with interchangeable soles and heels for customization. They feature genuine Clarino microfiber slide soles, a graduated rubber heel that allows for a controlled slide and a traction sole for deliberate and controlled braking. Equipped with Ortholite cushioning underfoot, the HPX is also biomechanically contoured to meet the curves of your foot. What’s more, a soft full-grain leather upper adds breathability while H-Bar technology locks the heel into place and a fixed toe guard enhances durability.
Brunswick Men’s Vapor Bowling Shoes
More affordable and better for players that are just starting out, the Brunswick Men’s Vapor Bowling Shoes are designed with Pure slide microfiber slide soles on both shoes. Comfort features include a foam-padded collar and tongue and featherlight EVA outsoles.
KR Strikeforce Men’s Flyer Wide Bowling Shoes
Also ideal for those who play regularly but don’t want to spend a lot of money, KR Strikeforce’s Men’s Flyer Bowling Shoes have non-marking rubber outsoles with traction and microfiber pads on both feet featuring FlexSlide Technology for smooth movements. The style also features a soft and sturdy upper and padded lining along the tongue and collar for comfort. Note: They deliver a wide fit.
Strikeforce Men’s Aviator Bowling Shoes
Offering an athletic design, Strikeforce Men’s Aviator Bowling Shoes have a soft, breathable knit upper, open-cell foam footbed and Bubble Rubber CMEVA outsole. These also boast FlexSlide technology and a microfiber slide pad for smooth sliding.