Nike's Dunk and Blazer models have been around since the company's early days, but how do these iconic sneakers compare today? In our guide, we'll examine the similarities and differences in their designs, pricing, and overall appeal, before revealing which model we think reigns supreme from one of the best sneaker brands on the market.
We'll also delve into the history of both shoes, which have followed similar paths over the years. Originally marketed as some of the best basketball shoes in the 80s and 70s respectively, both the Dunk and Blazer have transitioned to more casual wear and have even ventured into the world of skateboarding.
So, join us as we explore the evolution of these beloved models and uncover what makes them two of the best sneakers from Nike available today. Let's get into it...
The Nike Blazer was the first of the two to debut and, in many ways, has a similar origin story to the Dunk, making it one of the best shoes like the Nike Dunks on the market.
In the early '70s, Nike, who had not long transitioned from its previous name Blue Ribbon Sports, decided to go head-to-head with adidas and Converse for the first time on the court by introducing the Blazer.
The shoe was named after the regional NBA team, the Trail Blazers, and by 1977, really started to grow in popularity after George “The Iceman” Gervin, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, became the first NBA player to endorse the shoe and its performance on the court.
The Blazer didn't last long in the basketball spotlight though. So, Nike deployed a familiar tactic of moving the shoe away from basketball and more towards everyday wear, fashion, and even skating.
As a result, the shoes continue to be made to this day, with the '77 Nike Blazer still in production due to the popularity of its retro design.
As a result, there are a ton of similarities between the two Nike models. However, while the Jordan 1 was built for one of the hottest up-and-coming talents in the NBA, the original 12 Dunks were inspired by America’s leading schools for basketball and, therefore, built for collegiate athletes.
While the shoes came around in a "golden era" of basketball featuring the legend himself Michael Jordan, competing against the hugely popular Air Jordan 1 was tricky, especially with the additional technology it had over the Dunk.
However, the Dunk was by no means a failure and, over the years, has been modified and adapted for a more casual audience.
In 2002, it even became the flagship model for Nike's skateboarding line after a few adaptions which saw Nike add more padding and grip to improve the performance of the Dunk in the skate park. You can find out more about this in our Dunk vs SB Dunk comparison right here.
As you can see then, there are a fair few similarities between the Dunk and Blazer when it comes to their origins; however, what about their designs? Let's take a closer look...
Visually, the Dunk and Blazer come with several similarities; however, the shoes are definitely more distinguishable than the Nike Dunk and Jordan 1, for example, despite both being made for basketball.
Starting off with the Blazer, you'll typically find the shoes are made from leather and synthetic materials, with a suede-like texture just above the rubber soles which, underneath, still feature the same herringbone pattern from the original '70s design.
When it comes to the Dunk, you'll also find the shoes are mostly made from leather and synthetic materials although, like the Blazer, the uppers can sometimes feature suede or canvas cotton as well, particularly among the SB line.
You'll also notice the Dunk tends to feature more defined panelling and usually brighter colours to play off the original 12 colourways that featured the vibrant collegiate tones of America's best basketball colleges.
Technology-wise, the shoes are fairly similar. Unlike some of the best Air Force 1s throughout history, neither feature Air bubbles in the midsoles, with Nike, instead, opting for foam to provide the cushioning and support.
Ultimately, both shoes have remained relatively simple over the years, with Nike favouring integrating new technology into newer models rather than older designs such as the Blazer and Dunk sneakers.
However, their simplicity and their old-school aesthetic give both models more of a retro look that seems to still be incredibly popular despite it being over 35 years since the sneakers first hit the shelves.
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If you're now interested in picking up a pair of Dunks or Blazers, you're probably wondering which of the two models is the cheapest.
Well, at the time of writing, a typical pair of Blazers tend to be cheaper than a set of Dunk shoes. For example, the popular '77 Nike Blazer Mid costs less than a comparable pair of the "Panda" Dunk Highs. You'll also find there's a similar difference in price when you compare Blazer Lows to Dunk Lows as well.
However, the price difference is relatively small in most circumstances. Therefore, the cost of the shoes should only be one factor you take into consideration when trying to decide which of the two to buy.
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Nike Dunk vs Blazer: Which is best?
Picking which out of the Dunk and Blazer sneakers is best is pretty tricky because, in our opinion, they both look great and come with a ton of history which has helped them grow into the two iconic Nike models still available to buy to this day.
The Blazer is the slightly older of the two and, therefore, comes with a little more of a story behind it which dates back to Nike's origins as Blue Ribbon Sports.
However, its origin is not too dissimilar to the Dunk's and, when it comes to their designs, the two feature several similarities.
That being said, the Dunk tends to feature brighter colours and could therefore be considered the best if you're looking for a shoe that stands out a little more on feet.
This all comes down to personal preference though, with which you prefer coming down to your own style. Ultimately, if you're undecided about which to buy, we'd recommend trying on the two models at your local sneaker store to see which one suits you best.