Vans are great for skateboarding but they’re notorious for causing blisters. Nike, on the other hand, is known for their amazing cushioning technologies.
What if there are Nike shoes that look like Vans? Here are some of the best Old Skool Vans look-alikes from Nike that are better and more stylish to consider.
1. Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski
When it comes to Nike shoes that look like Vans, everybody seems to be talking about the Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski, including every other website writing about the same topic.
It’s easy to see why this shoe has become a staple in the Nike SB line. Not only does it have a clean look and sleek profile, but it’s also designed by the great Stefan Janoski himself.
In fact, the Nike Janoskis are well-known among skaters for their amazing board feel because the soles are not too thick but still good enough for higher gaps and support.
Skate shoes like Vans are always tough to wear during the first session (because of the break-in period), but I had no problem – not even with flip tricks – with the Nike Stefan Janoskis.
Similar to Vans, the Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski is made with vulcanized construction, double-wrapped foxing tape, and herringbone tread, but has Zoom Air Unit in the sock liner.
The Zoom Air unit in the back of the shoes really helps to cushion the impact and I think these sneakers are far superior in terms of comfort compared to the Old Skool Vans.
Unfortunately, the Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoskis are hard to come by these days. I couldn’t find them on Nike’s official website. If you’re lucky enough to find them, please get a pair.
2. Nike Court Legacy
Out of all the Nike shoes that look like Vans, the Court Legacy might be my favorite even though it’s not actually a skate shoe. Rather, it’s a shoe that honors its history in tennis culture.
The reason why I love this shoe so much is because of its versatility. It literally looks good with everything and I can’t help myself from wearing it every time.
Is the Nike Court Legacy a great pair of skating shoes? No. It’s not a skate shoe. But I love this sneaker not because of its board feel and grip, but rather due to its classic and sporty look.
If I’m in the mood for some skating, I’d don my Vans – no doubt. But when I want something casual to wear with jeans, I’d go for this Nike shoe rather than a pair of Vans.
The color options you’ll find on Amazon are extensive. I’d go for black or white, but there are colors of sanded gold and dark beetroot that look nice on many different outfits.
3. Nike SB Charge
If I had to choose just one shoe from Nike that looks the most like Vans, it would be the Nike SB Charge. It’s basically a versatile pair of skateboarding sneakers with a simple style.
These look gorgeous and feel well-made.
Similar to Old Skool Vans, the Nike SB Charge is constructed with a canvas upper, round toe, and vulcanized rubber soles. You couldn’t tell them apart easily.
The difference, however, is that the Nike SB Charge is fitted with a pair of comfortable Solarsoft insoles which are not too thick, but not too thin where you feel every stone you walk on.
I previously bought the Comfy Cush Vans slip-ons but felt like they were a little expensive. These are less expensive, yet are more comfortable in my opinion.
Although I never wore them for skating, since I merely bought them to wear as a casual pair of sneakers, I can see how they’re good enough to provide a fantastic board feel and grip.
4. Nike SB Bruin React
Another great alternative to Old Skool Vans is the Nike SB Bruin React.
It’s basically the upgraded version of the popular Nike SB Bruin. Perhaps the most important upgrade from the older version of the shoe is the cushioning in the soles.
Instead of vulcanized soles (like Vans), the new-and-improved Nike SB Bruin React uses a completely redesigned cup sole construction with a React insole.
According to Nike, Nike React is 11% softer and offers 13% more energy return than Nike’s previous softest and bounciest cushioning. It’s also more durable and more lightweight.
I’ll admit, the shoe is quite durable. After the first 25 hours of skating, the shoe is still far from getting any holes (although minor wear and tear can be seen in typical places on the forefoot).
Overall, I think the Nike SB Bruin React is more squishy than Vans, which is great for walking, but it might not be for you if you’re a skater who likes thinner shoes for maximum board feel.
5. Nike SB Portmore II Solar Canvas
Just like a pair of Vans, the Nike SB Portmore II Solar Canvas has a stiff canvas on the upper that has a tendency to make the first few hours of wearing them a bit uncomfortable.
They fit a bit on the smaller side similar to other skate shoes.
The black and white version looks nearly identical to a pair of Vans, especially because of the foxing tape that runs along the sides of the shoe and seals the upper to the sole.
One issue I have with these sneakers is that when I longboard, these Nikes feel a little bit stiff every time I would use my feet to push, or when I bend them to turn or make a curb.
I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since I’ve only worn these for a day so they probably need some time to break in. Other than that, these are really nice Nike shoes that look like Vans.
Even if you’re not planning to wear these sneakers for skating, I think they are an excellent pair of casual shoes that you can wear with jeans, shorts, or even business casual outfits.
6. Nike SB Chron 2 Canvas
The SB Chron 2 Canvas is a Nike shoe that looks like Vans. Often considered a sequel to the SB Chron Solarsoft, the Nike SB Chron 2 Canvas gets a reinforced outsole wall.
I noticed the first layer of foxing tape that runs along the sides of the shoe and seals the upper to the sole (through a heat process) comes with stripe-designed rubber.
As a result, the shoe is much more durable. I touch mine up with Shoe Goo after every 3 sessions and they’ve been going strong for over 4 months, which is quite long for me.
Compared to other Nike SB shoes equipped with React cushioning, I really like the SB Chron 2 because it can take an impact, holds its form, and is more rigid.
Don’t get me wrong, the shoe is comfortable for strolling around town, but it strikes the perfect balance between solidity and cushioning, making it a great walking/skating shoe.
The design of the shoe is also very versatile, especially if you get black with white midsoles. Not only does it look like Vans, but the SB Chron 2 is great for skating.
7. Nike Blazer Low ‘77
The Nike Blazers are some of the most popular Nike to date. It’s also one of the rare Nike shoes that looks a lot like Old Skool Vans although it’s basketball-inspired.
I’m not going to talk about how good Nike Blazers are for skating since I’ve written an in-depth review about the shoe. However, I’ll touch upon the design of the sneaker.
The low-profile style and heritage b-ball looks are two things that draw people in, although some people wear the Nike Blazers for lifting heavy weights (because of the flat soles).
It also features luscious suede details, a retro Swoosh design, and a super-soft collar, making the Nike Blazer a must-have wardrobe staple that goes well with just about any outfit.
To keep things short, the Nike Blazers are very stylish but they’re for going out, not running or skateboarding. As long as you wear them for walks around the city, they’re comfortable.
8. Nike Killshot 2
The Nike Killshot 2 is a gum-soled pair of sneakers that look like Vans. Although the entire profile is not completely identical, it does share some resemblance to Old Skools.
I actually love this style (Nike shoes that look like Vans). Usually, I wear my low Blazers but thought I’d try changing it up by buying the all-white Killshots with the gum bottoms.
It was a good decision. I seriously get compliments all the time from random people asking about them, maybe because it’s not the same old Nike Blazers everyone wears.
The shoe fits as expected (true to size). I think the Killshots are pretty durable, especially because of the suede around the spots where people usually see the most wear and tear.
I never wore these sneakers for skating because I like them too much. Also, I think the Killshot looks better as a casual pair of shoes to wear with jeans rather than skating at the skatepark.