Most people have had the experience of walking into a shoe store and being almost instantly overwhelmed by the number of choices in front of them. What’s unique about shoewear, differentiating it from other items of clothing, is that it finds itself at the intersection of functionality and style. That translates into an almost infinite number of choices.


One of the more common choices to be made is between high top shoes and low top shoes. This choice usually surrounds sneakers but can also be found between high top boots and low top boots as well. So, what are the benefits of each and is one better than the other? That is a seemingly complicated question with a fairly straightforward answer.

Extra large and wide high top and low top dress shoes on rack Extra large and wide high top and low top dress shoes on rack

A brief history of high tops

The mid-1800s saw a huge turning point in the shoe industry when Charles Goodyear first developed vulcanized rubber and the product started to be utilized in the soles of shoes. Initially used predominantly in athletic shoes, the shoemakers of the time began to design shoes specifically with sport in mind. This is where the high top begins to emerge.

By the early 1900s, Keds and the Converse All Stars (Chuck Taylors) were being worn by top athletes of the time. Soon thereafter, the Dassler brothers split from working with each other and started Adidas and Puma at the dawn of the athletic shoe revolution. But why were high top shoes a dominant force and what has kept them relevant through today?

Supposed benefits of high top shoes

The strength of high tops comes down to a simple idea of supporting the ankle in all of its movements. The desire for ankle support in not only athletic shoes, but also a hiking boot or work boot makes a lot of sense. In athletics, basketball shoes have often been associated with needing ankle support due to the players frequency of jumping from and landing on the court.

Up until recently, it was common knowledge that high top shoes helped to prevent ankle injuries. Unfortunately, studies over the last few decades have shown that there is no statistical significance in preventing rolled or sprained ankles with the use of high top sneakers. Because of this, low top sneakers are now being used by basketball players around the world.

Extra large and wide mens foot getting measured for right fit Extra large and wide mens foot getting measured for right fit

XL Feet helps to find the right shoe

Ultimately, the choice between high top shoes and low top shoes comes down to preference. If future activities or work will require a bit more ankle support, high top shoes might be the better option. On the other hand, if freedom of movement is important, a low top shoe might be desired. XL Feet has options for both and an ExpertFit® Consultation will help find the best shoe.


The other main difference between low tops and high tops is that of style. Although the function of comfortable feet is paramount, the desire to actually wear the shoes is equally, if not more, important. XL Feet prides itself on a huge selection of large shoes and extra wide shoes in both high top and low top versions. If unique style is key, XL Feet has a lot of that too.

So, when choosing between a low top shoe and a high top shoe, it comes down to potential need and stylistic choice. Need some ankle support? Maybe go with a high top. Want more freedom of movement? Try a low top. Hoping to make an impression? Let the styles of either show off that individual personality. Regardless of reason, XLFeet has the selection you need.