Are Nike Good Skate Shoes? Review After Skating 30 Pairs

used nike skateboarding shoes

Nike introduced Nike Skateboarding in 2002. After an initial flop, Nike SB popularity quickly climbed back up with the creation of the Nike SB pro-team; and the signatures of skateboard stars Paul Rodriguez in 2004 and Eric Koston in 2009.

With their tremendous liquidity on advertising Nike could invest, the shoe sells exploded. Nowadays, Nike SB is still on top of the skateboard shoe industry. Implementing new technology into their shoes and sponsoring more skaters than any brand ever had.

Nike SB makes great skate shoes. Although, aside from the pro-shoes, they are on the thinner side of skateboard shoes and don’t offer the best foot protection. They allow a great board feel while skating and come at a reasonable price depending on the model. That’s why they’re popular among both street skaters and new riders.

I have probably skated close to 30 pairs of Nike SB shoes. Dunks, Blazers, Janoskis, Charges, I have tested most of the big models. Thus, you will find my honest opinion on the different Nike SB skate shoes out there and how they perform skating-wise.

Nike SB Skate Shoe Review

Nike SB released lots of models since 2002. Many of which Nike doesn’t produce anymore. I included only pairs you can actually get. If you’re looking for older Nike SB shoes, just wait for the next section.

1. Nike SB Dunk – Best Comfort and Protection

The Dunk is the first shoe Nike SB ever released back in 2002. After its original flop, the shoe came back in 2004 with a brand-new design. Directly aimed towards skaters, it became a staple in the skateboarding section of the company.

The Dunk Low mixes perfectly the old school style of puffy, comfortable and protective shoes while still offering some responsiveness. It’s a great hybrid between thick and thin shoes that will protect your feet and toes from truck knocks.

2. Nike SB Charge: Affordable and Light

Great compromise if you don’t have the budget for a pair of Janoskis, but really like the design of the shoe. With reinforced toe and heels pads, and a decent sole, the suede models are the ideal entry-price skate shoe. All the Nike expertise at a price similar to what you would find in retail stores’ skateboarding section.

I’d recommend switching the stock insoles for some thicker ones if you like skating gaps and handrails. I used to put two insoles in each shoe to have a proper impact protection.

3. Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski: Best Board-feel and Style

If the Janoski wasn’t so expensive, it will be the perfect skate shoe. It already looks like a stylish sneaker while benefitting from everything you might look for in a skate shoe. The sole of the shoe is thick, the insoles benefits from the zoom technology. The original laces used to be in leather, which resist better to grip-tape. You might still find some online.

The shoes were a major success on the market. It led to the new era of thinner skateboarding shoes and actually sold amongst the entire population, men and women combined. It became an “essential” shoe to have for both skaters and fashionistas out there.

Are Nike SB Stefan Janoski Good for Skating?

Nike Janoski skate shoes

Stefan Janoski’s pro shoes polarize the skate world. Either people love the board-feel and responsiveness the shoes offer, or they dislike how little protection it provide. It doesn’t stop the new generation of kids jumping down enormous gaps in Janoskis.

Every single pro Nike SB riders have ridden them at some point, some still do. Want some examples? Check out footage of Cory Kennedy, Luan Oliveira, Aurelien Giraud, Ishod Wair, Shane O’Neill or Nyjah Huston. They were all Janoski lovers at one point in their career.

Should You Ride Low or Mid Nike SB Skate Shoes?

Nike Skateboarding has released no high shoes this year. Although some of their models come in Mid, like the Blazers and the Janoskis. The Zoom Stefan Janoski Mid has cushioning around the ankle to protect your Malleolus from board hits.

The Mid Blazers, whether the Premium, Edge or Classic model, are despite their name what you could call high shoes. They’re similar in high to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star.

Low skateboarding shoes let your ankles move more freely than higher shoes. It gives you maximum mobility and flexibility. Mid Shoes strap your feet up to the Malleolus to provide better protection than only your pants and socks.

In some situations, they can prevent you from mild sprained ankle. It’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to give out a bit of ankle mobility for a better protection of the foot and ankle.     

Types of Nike SB Skate Shoes 

Not all Nike Skateboarding shoes are actual skate shoes. After the tremendous success of the Stefan Janoski’s pro-model among the general population. Nike SB expanded its sneaker collection, conserving the design and key features of the shoes, but removing unnecessary materials and padding for the average person. I’ve made sure not to include any.

Nike SB Blazers 

The Blazer is another classic model that’s been around for over 10 years. With its vulcanized sole and its suede contour, the shoe offer both flexibility, stability and durability when you step on your board.

Although the Blazers Mid are the most popular among the population, the Blazers Low are my favorite for skating. You get the thickness of the Blazers while having the mobility of Low shoes.

Nike SB Alleyoop

The Alleyoop is the successor of the Nike SB Dunk. One of the best-selling shoes from Nike. The shoe is the puffier Nike SB model. Designed to last long, the shoe combines suede and foam fabrics, while having extra heel and toe padding to make sure you don’t tear it apart.

The padded shoe tongues help hold your feet tight in place. All-in-all, wearing Nike SB Alleyoop will be like riding your board in slippers.

Nike SB Nyjah Free 1 & 2 

Named after the 25 times Street League Skateboarding winner, Nyjah Huston, the Nyjah Free had two iterations in two years. The Nyjah Free 1 was an all-white slip-on shoe that looks and feels like riding in socks. The second model looks nothing like it and directly takes inspiration from another Nike shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon.

First off, they come with laces and special Ghillie loops eyelets – which make your laces last longer. They also have mesh contour that lets your foot breath. The rubber sole makes the shoe super reactive. You don’t have to wait multiple sessions before feeling it. On your first kick flip, the shoes feel already broken in.

Nike SB Shane

Designed by the tech wizard himself, Shane O’Neill, the Shane is his first pro shoe. As previously mentioned, Shane has worn Stefan Janoski’s shoe for a long-time before he got to design his own.

That’s exactly why the Shane might look like an evolution of the Janoski. His shoe has two types of loops so you don’t rip out your shoelaces doing tricks and comes with all-around thicker padding than Stefan’s shoe.

How Good are Nike SB Soles and Insoles?

nike janoski insoles

Until some time ago, most Nike SB’s, aside from pro-shoes, had a poor stock insoles. For instance, I’ve ridden some Charge and Blazers that had the thinnest insole. Absolutely 0 impact reduction, it was like skating barefoot.

From now on, every Nike SB shoes come with Zoom Air Technology insoles. An insole designed to reduce the vibration and impact caused by the practice of skating.

They are a definitive improvement compared to the previous insoles, but they still don’t hold up against high-end skateboarding insoles you can find in other skateboard shoe brands.

How Long do Nike SB Shoes Last?

ripped nike skate shoe

On average, Nike SB shoes last 2 to 3 months before showing signs of fatigue. Although it may vary depending on a lot of factors :

  • The Nike SB shoes you chose
  • The state and brand of your grip-tape
  • The number of hours you ride a week
  • The type of skateboarding you do

For instance, if you don’t do flip tricks and ride occasionally, they may last you years. And if you ride hard, all day every day, they might only last you a week.

DO NOT SKATE Nike SB sneakers. If they aren’t made of suede, chances are they won’t make it past 3 sessions. Don’t waste your money.

How to make your Nike SB Skate Shoes Last Longer?

Like any skate shoes, your Nikes will eventually start tearing apart, and holes will appear. You can increase the lifetime of your Nikes by using some of these techniques:

  • Protect your laces – if you haven’t Slip-on like the Nyjah Free or some Janoski model. Use a drop of glue on each eyelet. I swear, you won’t be ripping your laces kickflipping anymore.
  • Cover the major areas of flick on your shoes with a layer of glue or shoe-goo. You can add more once you see it deteriorate. Although, it might mess with your flick if you’re not used to it.
  • Add black tape padding on your shoes. I have seen lots of kids at my local do it to prevent holes from appearing. Seems like a stretch, but who am I to judge?  I used to strap box cartons around my foot in order to keep skating my beat-up shoes.

Final Thoughts

If you have a Nike Factory store nearby, take the habit of checking the Skateboarding section, you might get lucky and stumble upon some gems for half the retail price.

Last thing, be aware that the “core” skaters might hate on you for wearing Nike. Skateboarding is all about supporting your local industry and brands made by skaters. Brands like Nike, Adidas or Reebok are outsiders. If you are looking for the best skate shoes, check out my article about the best shoes you can get (tested!).

Seen as the reason other traditional skate companies go bankrupt. Although it’s less and less the case. Nike SB invaded skate parks, worn by many riders across all disciplines.

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Ruben Vee

I'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can. Insta @skateboardershq

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