“The best ever, with tougher canvas and an extra layer of comfort.”
That’s how Converse describes their new-but-old Chuck 70, which is both an upgrade to and a reversal from the world famous Chuck Taylor All Star. With one hundred million pairs of All Stars are bought every year, the All Star might be the most popular sneaker of all time. So why does it need an upgrade — especially after Converse’s latest attempt to do so, the Chuck II, failed so disastrously?
The Chuck II may have damaged the brand, but that was an attempt to modernize the All Star. The Chuck 70 is an attempt to… “vintage-ize” the All Star, to make it more old fashioned, to bring it back to its roots. While the Chuck II had neon green, tons of padding, and other bells and whistles, the Chuck 70 tried to revert the sneaker’s recipe to the way it was made in the 1970s: thicker canvas, better support, fewer bells and whistles, no frills.
So did they succeed?
In this review we’re going to compare the All Star and the Chuck 70 by assessing:
- Chuck 70 vs All Star Aesthetic
- Chuck 70 vs All Star Material
- Chuck 70 vs All Star Sole
- Chuck 70 vs All Star Fit & Sizing
- Chuck 70 vs All Star Price
- 5 Reasons You Might Prefer the All Star
Let’s get started.
[Prefer the Chuck 70? Shop it here!]
[Prefer the All Star? Shop it here!]
Chuck 70 vs All Star Aesthetic
- Thicker canvas = more structure
- Real leather patch
- Smaller toecap
- Thicker laces
- Higher foxing
- Glossier, tinted sole
- Extra stitching on midfoot
Some say the Chuck 70 modeled after the way All Stars were made before Nike bought them in 2003, but I owned Chucks before 2003 — my first pair was burgundy — and they were nothing like the Chuck 70. Indeed, it actually was in the 1980s that Converse changed a lot about their flagship shoe in response to increasingly high production costs.
That’s why it has much thicker canvas, but there are other differences that you might miss.
At first glance, they both look like the classic toe capped basketball shoe that was popularized in the 1920s, but the Chuck 70 is a little chunkier for several reasons: the canvas is thicker and more structured, the leather heel patch is real and three dimensional (unlike the screen printed patch on the All Stars), the toecap is a tad smaller, the laces are thicker, and the foxing is higher. The higher foxing is important. The term refers to the way sole extends up and onto the upper, providing more lateral stability.
The higher foxing is important. The term refers to the sole extending up and onto the upper, providing more lateral stability.
In addition to all these bulk-adding properties, the Chuck 70’s sole and toecap are also glossier and tinted ever so slightly off-white for an aged, vintage feel.
Adding to the vintage-ness is this more old fashioned “license plate logo” on the back of the heels and a name tag on the tongue of the Chuck 70’s right shoe.
Finally, the Chuck 70 has an extra line of stitching along the midfoot, which you can see below:
There are a few competing theories as to what it’s for:
- To keep the sole from splitting at the toebreak — something All Stars always do after a few months of wear.
- To keep the two layers of canvas together, because Chuck 70s are actually comprised of two thick strips stitched together.
- To provide lateral support and rigidity to improve performance on the basketball court.
Personally, I’m positive that the stitching is just to keep the separate layers of canvas together.
[Don’t miss my other All Star comparison of Converse vs Nothing New]
Chuck 70 vs. All Star Canvas
- Cotton canvas
- Under 12 ounces
- Unstructured, light
- 12 ounce canvas
- More structured
Both shoes are made with canvas, which is densely woven cotton, but they differ significantly in thickness.
All Star’s upper is light like a tote bag, lighter than any pair of jeans you’ll buy.
Chuck 70s, at 12 ounces, have much thicker canvas.
You can tell just by looking at them: the All Stars are floppy, while the 70s have more shape to them.
Chuck 70 vs. All Star Sole
- One piece of rubber
- Glossy faux patina
- Foxing runs over top of canvas
- Better arch support
- 3 pieces of rubber
- Both shoes made from vulcanized rubber
- Harder and flatter; better for lifting
Both soles are made with vulcanized rubber, although the Chuck 70’s outsole is one piece of rubber whereas the All Star’s outsole is actually comprised of three.
As mentioned above, the 70’s siding runs a full 5 millimeters over the top of the canvas, which should reduce the odds of holes forming at the toe break and provide extra lateral stability.
[Don’t miss my full review of the original Converse Chuck Taylor All Star!]
If you know much about powerlifting, you know the All Star is the most famous shoe for squats and deadlifts because the base is so hard and stable, which is ideal when you’re holding heavy weight. The All Star is better for lifting weights because the Chuck 70 has a lot more cushion to it — meaning the average non-lifter will probably prefer the Chuck 70.
The All Star is better for lifting weights because the Chuck 70 has a lot more cushion to it — meaning the average non-lifter will probably prefer the Chuck 70.
The Chuck 70’s extra softness comes from an Ortholite insole, which is made from a kind of open-cell polyurethane that both absorbs shock and has built up arch support. If your feet get sore without much support, pick the Chuck 70s. They’re the most comfortable construction of the classic design to date, and they’re more comfy than the ill fated Chuck II, which was almost too squishy.
[Looking for a luxury sneaker? Check out the very Italian Koio Capri]
Chuck 70 vs. All Star Fit & Sizing
- True to size
- Side down half a size
Sizing is controversial with Converse. My true size is 11.5; I used to size up to 12 with my All Stars, now I wear them true to size, and some guys size down half a size for a more secure fit. (I’d recommend this if you’re wearing them to work out.)
With the Chuck 70, I’d actually suggest sizing down half a size. My own are 11.5, my true size, and they fit fine, but there’s a crucial difference between the Chuck 70 and the All Star: heel slippage.
There’s a crucial difference between the Chuck 70 and the All Star: heel slippage.
The All Star is much stiffer around the heel, whereas the 70 has a little extra canvas on the heel but it’s not as good at gripping the heel as the All Star. So it’s more important you have a secure, correct fit with the Chuck 70. Both shoes run a little big, but that matters more with the Chuck 70.
Chuck 70 vs. All Star Price
A thirty-dollar difference is more than fine with me. Almost every single thing about the Chuck 70 is better than the All Star, although…
5 Reasons the All Star Is Better Than the Chuck 70
- The Chuck Taylor All Star is the most iconic sneaker in the world. It’s the sneaker. Over a billion of them have been sold. Then again, I might argue that if you’re attracted to the rich history of the shoe, the Chuck 70 does a better job of embodying that heritage, given that’s the way the shoe was made when it made its bones.
- The All Star is $30 cheaper. But the Chuck 70 will last longer than the All Star, more than making up for the price. (With regular wear, I’ve found the All Star falls apart after a year or so.)
- The All Star is lighter.
- The All Star is better for lifting weights. Again, this is because of the harder, more stable base. If you prefer arch support, go for the Chuck 70.
- The All Star has a wider range of colors and patterns. There are literally thousands of colors and patterns available for the All Star, from covered-in-glitter to the American flag. Combine that with the fact that the sole is whiter on the All Star and you’ve got a shoe that some feel is better for expressing their creativity.
Chuck 70 vs All Star: The Verdict
The Chuck 70 has thicker canvas, higher rubber foxing, better cushioning, improved arch support, and greater durability.
The All Star is cheaper, available in more colors, lighter, and better for lifting weights.
Those are the most important takeaways. For my money, the Chuck 70 is far and away the better shoe and it’s more than worth the extra money.
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