Bowling shoes aren’t made for the outdoors. They’re made to slide on a wood-synthetic hybrid floor that’s been treated with special oil to keep it slippery, and they’re not made with walking in mind.
Most bowling shoes are leather or vinyl and don’t have the protection of a sole, which means you’ll be getting wet feet if you walk through puddles or snow in them.
The other problem is that bowling shoes aren’t designed for outdoor use and can be damaged by mud, rain, snow, and anything else Mother Nature puts in your path.
There are exceptions to this rule though.
Read: Best Bowling Shoes for Sliding
Bowling Shoes Are Not Usually Good For Outdoors
Wearing bowling shoes outdoors is kind of like that thing where you’re supposed to stop wearing white after Labor Day.
Sure, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and more than likely you won’t be arrested for putting on your rented bowling shoes and walking out the door with them still on, but there are a few other factors involved to consider before doing so.
Bowling shoes are not rainproof (although some brands do have water-resistant uppers) and they usually can’t handle mud or other types of debris very well.
The common fabrics used in standard bowling shoe uppers include leather or synthetic materials.
What Is The Difference Between Bowling Shoes And Regular Shoes?
This is a question I’ve heard often, but the short answer is no. Bowling shoes are designed for use on the slick surface of a bowling alley; regular shoes are designed for outdoor surfaces.
The difference between bowling shoes and regular shoes lies in their soles, which are built to allow (or prevent) sliding on a bowling lane’s surface. A human foot naturally has limited traction on such a surface, so most bowling alleys have shoes available to rent that provide additional grip.
One shoe has a sole with increased grip and is referred to as the “sliding shoe”; the other has enhanced friction and is called the “braking shoe”. It’s important not to mix up which shoe goes with which foot, otherwise you can end up slipping more than you intended!
Why Are Bowling Shoes Different?
Have you ever noticed that bowling shoes are different from normal shoes? They’re not just a different style, they’ve got weird plastic on the bottom and aren’t as comfortable. Well, have we got news for you!
Bowling shoes are engineered to be as streamlined and aerodynamic as possible. The material on the bottom is designed to reduce friction, so your shoes don’t get caught in the carpet and slow you down while you’re running up to the bowl.
It also provides an optimal amount of grip so you don’t accidentally slide down the lane with your ball (and potentially break something).
Bowling shoes are also designed for stability and impact absorption. Wearing bowling shoes helps reduce your chances of turning an ankle or even just having sore feet after a long day at the lanes.
While bowling shoes aren’t exactly comfortable, they do offer a lot of benefits that sneakers or loafers don’t—especially if you’re planning on partaking in any bowling-related activities.
Why Should You Avoid Wearing Bowling Shoes Outside?
Wearing bowling shoes outside can be a serious fashion faux pas.
The first reason is that the soles of bowling shoes are built specifically to give you traction on the slick surface of a bowling alley.
That’s why, when you go to rent them, they’re always covered in a layer of what appears to be spit-up from a baby being held upside down.
These soles have absolutely no grip if worn on any other surface, so if you put on your pair and head out for groceries at your local Trader Joe’s, there’s almost certainly going to be some sort of issue with slipping and sliding around in their parking lot.
If you tried wearing them outside in inclement weather such as rain or snow, they’ll quickly become damaged through regular wear and tear—and doing so may also void the warranty.
Does Wearing Bowling Shoes Outside Hurt You?
Wearing bowling shoes outside is not a great idea. They’re smooth-soled and specifically designed for gripping the oily surface of a bowling lane — nothing else. You could slip on wet concrete, or injure yourself in some other way.
It’s also important to note that if you do wear them outside, they might get stolen! Bowling shoes are typically made of expensive leather, so they’re prime targets for opportunistic thieves. If your bowling shoes are stolen while you wear them outside, it’s possible that you might never see them again!
So as a general rule: don’t wear your bowling shoes outside!
Can You Wear Regular Shoes While Bowling?
No. Just no. For one thing, the shoes at a bowling alley are designed for sliding—which means, if you wear them outside, you’ll probably slip and fall, which will probably look not great on you.
The damage is done to your dignity aside, most bowling shoes are pretty cheap and not really worth wearing in public: I mean, think about it—who’s going to see these things? The people at the lanes will be facing you from behind as you bowl (if they’re very lucky), and the people in line for your lane will certainly have more important things to think about than what’s on your feet.
You don’t want to show up at a black-tie event with a pair of shoes that were designed not only for sliding but also for protecting people from splinters in case they end up on the wood flooring of a bowling alley between frames. (Lanes can get slippery.)
Wearing regular shoes while bowling is even worse. They have rubber soles that can make the lanes super slippery and cause accidents both small (tripping) and large (back injuries).
Why Can’t You Wear Street Shoes Bowling?
Bowling shoes are the only pair of shoes you can wear at a bowling alley. They have a slippery sole so that they slide perfectly on a bowling alley’s wooden floor. Street shoes are made of rubber soles, and they do not work well on slippery floors.
The second reason why you cannot wear street shoes in a bowling alley is that it will damage the wood floors. Bowling alleys use specially designed floors that cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace if damaged from too much foot traffic (especially from street shoes).
In conclusion, I hope that you’ve learned that wearing bowling shoes outside is a terrible idea. Bowling shoes are designed to slide, and they don’t do a great job of protecting you from the slippery surface of a bowling alley.