Nike is a brand that does not need an introduction - it is one of the most, if not the most, well-known brands in the world. Sure they make activewear and accessories, but one of the things they are most famous for is shoes. Nike shoes came into being in 1972 in Oregon and have gone from strength to strength, with so many options for every outing or occasion for all people, no matter where they are. So, what about the Nike SB Solarsoft Portmore II you may ask? Well, it is a pretty cool shoe, if I do say so myself. It poses a stylish yet casual silhouette, meaning it can be worn comfortably and confidently during the day (and even at night!) and comes in some pretty awesome colors too. It’s also very affordable, which is a welcome change considering some of the way out prices that casual shoes like this can fetch sometimes, and it’s lightweight whilst still being pretty supportive and comfortable. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the features it has to offer - it is a skateboarding shoe after all!
The illustrious comfort aspect - something that can be a little tricky when it comes to skate shoes that can double as casual shoes. The Solarsoft Portmore II can be a little rough, to begin with, feeling rigid and stiff especially when you’re wearing them in, but once you move past that they are pretty darn comfy. Despite their lightweight construction, they still have a decent Solarsoft foam cushioned footbed which is designed for comfort (and great boardfeel!) and the low-top style allows for your foot to continue with its natural range of movement without being hindered by the shoe - just watch your ankles getting nipped whilst skating! The breathable mesh lining also adds that extra level of comfort on a hot day, which is a nice touch - this shoe is just a pretty comfy option
Considering the sneakers classification as a skate shoe, boardfeel is a big component to consider. Sure, if you are using it as a casual shoe it’s not so important, but the components which make up good boardfeel also make up a good shoe, so don’t stop reading! Good boardfeel equates to skateboarding confidence, as you will have good control over your board with a flexible shoe… however, padding and cushioning are usually the first to go to achieve this. The Solarsoft Portmore II however still manages to have a level of impact cushioning (through Solarsoft foam) and be a lightweight shoe, whilst being supportive and comfy, all without affecting boardfeel
. The shoe also looks really good too - what more could you ask for!
A skating shoe requires support, that goes without saying. It also goes without saying that a casual, everyday shoe requires support too - maybe not the same as a skating shoe, but still, a level of comfort is needed for a shoe to become a staple piece in your wardrobe. For this model, it ticks all the boxes as both a casual shoe and skate shoe, which is a pretty impressive feat. The shoe has a slightly padded collar for support, as well as a padded tongue for some extra pep and punch. To deal with the impact a foot can suffer in skating, there is Solarsoft foam which offers cushioning underfoot (but is low profile so the shoe doesn’t become bulky!). A lot of support also affects boardfeel, but the Solarsoft foam still allows superior boardfeel, meaning your foot will feel cushioned whilst still having complete control over your board.
Whether you’re skating all day long or running around completing chores, the breathability of your footwear can mean the difference between a slippery, sweaty foot (which is pretty gross) and a nice, clean and dry foot (good foot hygiene is important, people!). It may not sound like much, and you may claim it doesn’t mean that much to you unless you’re talking running or hiking shoes, but the breathability of your everyday shoes, skating shoes included, are a big deal. When you look at it, it has a breathable mesh lining offering positive ventilation to the wearer's foot. The canvas upper also offers a surprising level of breathability, given its lightweight nature and durable construction - it also looks awesome too. The fit of the shoe does negate a few of the good points in this category though, as the narrow fit and fixed tongue mean there is limited room for air to pass around the foot - there is enough room though, it could just benefit in a little more on those sticky days
The versatility is actually pretty impressive, considering its marketing as a skater shoe. Skater shoes tend to be a little typecasted, and for good reason - when you see some skater brands, they have a very particular style of shoe that only fits with a particular type of outfit. These shoes, however, offer an awesome versatility in style, meaning they are both a stylish casual shoe, everyday shoe, and skater shoe all wrapper into one. For example, the black on black pair could be used to wear to work, to go out skating or to go to a concert or casual dinner - considering their price tag, that’s some pretty awesome flexibility for a pretty low price
The outsoles of skate shoes are pretty important - they need to offer traction and grip to the wearer, without affecting boardfeel (see above about boardfeel!). In this case, they own their sticky gum rubber outsole in a pretty impressive manner. It offers a level of grip and traction that is perfect for skating, and offers a level of comfort to the everyday wearer knowing that a lot of common terrains are safe to venture into. The herringbone outsole pattern just adds to the stylish appeal, as well as offering superior boardfeel and some evitable grip - all perfect additions for a skate shoe or one for everyday wear.
The delicate balance that is skate shoe uppers - you want the shoe to be stylish and on-trend, but you also want the upper to offer more than a pretty face. You’d like it to offer some comfort for a long day on your feet, as well as some durability and toughness when it comes to a rough day (we have all been there). And, considering the Solarsoft Portmore II’s versatility as a great casual shoe, this also needs to be taken into consideration when looking at their shoe uppers. So, how do they shape up? Well, irrelevant of the colorway chosen, the tough canvas upper offers a level of durability and resilience that is good for both skating and everyday life. It is also very lightweight, giving the shoe a level of comfort which a lot of skate shoes don’t possess, however some view this lightweight nature as a little cheap - in this instance, the material around the toe area can feel a little like thin suede, and other sections resemble thin vinyl. The breathability of the upper is pretty impressive though, despite these points, meaning those long days running around or skating won’t result in a sweaty foot
. And let’s not forget the great colorways available, which are a well-deserved bonus in the shoe upper department.
Now, when it comes to casual shoes, in particular, skate shoes, quality can be on many different levels. Given the amount of wear and tear a skate shoe generally has to suffer through, you’d want it to be of pretty decent construction or a really cheap price… and you’ve hit the jackpot if you can get both (or even great construction, which is even a bigger win). When it comes to these, Nike has done a pretty good job at balancing the price and quality of the shoe. It is not the best quality, and it wears out with use, however, it is a low price and is practically affordable for a lot of people. The material covering the toe can feel a little thin at times, as well as the uppers, leading some people to say it is ‘cheap’ but, considering its price, you can’t expect the best of the best materials and construction. And, a sneaky tip, these can get dirty really quickly (and no one likes dirty shoes!) so make sure you spray some protector on them as soon as you take them out of the box - this will help out with their longevity considerably
Colorways for skate shoes are a bit of a funny topic - some brands really strive to offer cool color schemes with a variety of patterns, styles, and on-trend prints for the wearer to enjoy. On the other end of the scale, some brands offer the bare minimum - white, black, and maybe brown if you’re lucky. One of the highlights of the dual-density Solarsoft Portmore II is the colorways available. The outsole, upper and iconic Nike ‘tick’ are all centerpieces in the color schemes offered, whether it be all black, white/blue/brown, black/brown/white or blue and white - the combinations just work. The thick outsole also adds a pop to the shoe, whether it’s all white, all black or all brown (it sounds kind of boring but, in person, it looks really cool) and gives it some character
. And, tip for all you online buyers out there - the colorways on your computer screen tend to differ to those in real life, especially the grey (which looks closer to dark blue) so keep this in mind when purchasing!
The fit of a lot of casual shoes, especially skate shoes, can be a bit of a ‘guess and hope’ scenario. Some are really big and bulky, even though the shoe itself might be quite a small, narrow fit and, on the other side, some skate shoes just engulf your feet without a logical structure to their sizing choice. When it comes to the Solarsoft Portmore II, they are a funny fit, there’s no denying it. They run large, meaning you will likely have to buy down a size or so and they also run narrow, even though their marketing says medium width. Now, a contributing factor to this may be the shoe’s tongue - it is fixed in place, meaning the ability to slip the shoe on and off, and adjust the width, is very limited and can give the shoe a rigid feel. Granted the tongue material is quite stretchy, which helps, but the fact it is fixed to the sides of the shoe can pose some issues for the wearer, especially if they have a high instep. They can also take a little time to break in, but don’t give up! The lace-up closure on the front of the shoe means there’s some room for adjustment - just not as much as some people prefer. And, once you find a size that fits well, these shoes really are a comfy choice for a casual shoe, with the dual-density Solarsoft foam offering some awesome supportive cushioning all around
After all of that, what is the verdict? Well, they are a narrow fit and they run large - which aren’t great attributes to have in a shoe, you’ll agree. However, they also lightweight, come in some great colors and are a classic shoe with timeless style for everyday use, especially considering they are classed as a skateboarding shoe. With this in mind, you should definitely consider buying a pair or two for your shoe collection, as they are worth the money considering the low-end price tag. No, they won’t last you until the end of time but they will last you long enough to get some pretty good wear out of them (and they’ll continue to be on-trend for years to come). They are versatile, stylish and comfortable, making them a pretty handy shoe to have in your repertoire. So, in short, yes you should buy them probably in more than one color, and you should wear the heck out of them. Enjoy!