Ranking The Best Non-Jordan Doernbecher Releases


Ahead of tomorrow’s official drop for the excellent DB Nike Air Max Penny 1 LE, we look back and rank the 20 best non-Jordan Doernbecher releases.

If you’re not aware, the Doernbecher Freestyle program dates back to 2004 and aside from the obvious positives of raising money for the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland and bringing awareness for particular diseases and disorders, the yearly collections always present a nice range of Nike models.

While sneakerheads are always pumped and excited for a new Jordan makeup within a Doernbecher collection, we shine the spotlight on the best Nike models that kids have created over the years. Take a look and feel free to let us know in the comments section below which ranks as your all-time favorite!

20: Nike Dunk High

Year Released: 2009

Whether intended or not, many DBs often remind us of other classic Nike bangers, which may be why we love these loud Dunk Highs from 2009. Sure, we’re usually about that simplicity. But on occasion, we love loud colors on our kicks. And with the crazy multi-color basketball pattern, these Dunks are a great way to stand out. And sure, looking a bit like the legendary “Miro” Jordan VIIs doesn’t hurt either.

19: Nike Shox Bomber Low

Year Released: 2006

A dope thing about the Doernbecher Freestyle program is that it sets some trends we often see ripple into future Nike releases, like this Oregon Ducks-themed Nike Shox Bomber Low from 2006. Of course we love that they used an nontraditional silo, and we’ve always had a thing for the Shox tech. But the “Oregon” colorways hadn’t been released to the public at this point, so this was really a first in that respect. These are so awesome.

18: Nike WMNS Dunk Sky High

Year Released: 2013

The beauty of these Doernbecher drops (aside from the awesome charity, of course) is that it gives equal shine to both men’s and women’s silhouettes. It’s not just the fellas that get all the love. That was evident in 2013’s WMNS Dunk Sky High. Sporting a super-clean lace and stripe colorway, these were certainly unique.

17: Nike Free Run+

Years Released: 2010, 2013

We get that many of the Doernbecher designs, like the vibrant Free Run+ from 2010, aren’t shoes a traditional, non-sneakerhead would wear on the daily. But we love them. In fact, Nike heads loved them so much that the Swoosh released them twice. Originally dropping in 2010, these Free Runs were retro’ed in 2013, as part of the program’s 10-year anniversary.

16: Nike Air Force 1 Low

Year Released: 2010

Unsurprisingly, a staple of the DB Freestyle has been the timeless Air Force 1. But 2010’s low top AF1s were special. They came in a premium, neck-breaking orange leather, trimmed with gold foil hits throughout, and wrapped with a purple icy sole to set them off.

15: Nike SB Dunk High Pro

Year Released: 2012

The most interesting part about the DB Freestyle program are the stories. While seemingly every collab nowadays tells a story that supposedly “means something” to the shop or designer, the Freestyle program stays true to it’s designer’s story. One of our favorite instances of this is 2012’s SB Dunk High. Designed by a young boy with a heart condition, the loud colorways and “Thump Thump” word marks perfectly embody the action sports roots of the sneaker itself.

14: Nike Air Force 1 Low "Brandi"

Year Released: 2008

The DB Freestyle collection from 2008 included not one, but two Air Force 1 Lows. We know the kids design these sneakers, but with the use of that university blue and debossed graphics, these look like they were done by a pro. Someone get this girl some more design work!

13: Nike Air Force 1 Low "Colin"

Year Released: 2008

The other Nike Air Force 1 Low from 2008’s DB collection was this clean, laser-etched makeup from the creative mind of Colin Couch. Boasting a white upper along with laser etching’s of Colin’s doodle patterns, this iteration was completed with a brightly-colored inside lining and an icy outsole locking in more art on the bottom of the shoe.

12: Nike Huarache 2K5

Year Released: 2006

Oh Huaraches…is there anything they can’t do? These Huarache 2K5s from 2006’s Freestyle collection are especially cool because they look like something Nike would actually design themselves. A lot of folks forget the Doernbecher program goes back this far, and reliable info is scarce on some of the early designs, but these 2K5s are clean.

11: Nike Air Force 1 Low Supreme I/O

Year Released: 2012

While a little less obvious, 2012’s Air Force 1 Low also pays tribute to the designer’s favorite sports team, the Oregon Ducks. With carbon fiber accents, a speckled midsole, and a dope glow in the dark outsole, these AF1s are excellent. We’re particularly fond of the rope laces they used as well.

10: Nike SB P-Rod III

Year Released: 2009

Hailing from the 2009 Freestyle collection, these P-Rod IIIs are so rad. Not only do they feature an excellent use of blue camo (seriously, even the outsole is camo – that’s tight), but they also reflect the designer’s love of motorcycles without being overbearing or tacky. We were a little bummed that these P-Rods didn’t make the cut when Nike was retroing DBs last year. But, here’s hoping these come up for re-release soon.

9: Nike Air Max 95 "Daniel"

Year Released: 2011

You already know the Air Max 95 is one of our favorite legacy Nike silhouettes. So anytime they include a pair in the Doernbecher program, we’re all ears. And 2011s white/red-gold joints are fantastic. While the heavy use of red throughout the upper, midsole and outsole may be too much for some, we think it’s set off really well by those hits of gold trim. And we love the placement of the gold lightning bolt on the heel. That’s a nice touch.

8: Nike Zoom FC 'Royal'

Year Released: 2004

We mentioned this before, but perhaps more than any other collabs, the designs that emerge from the Doernbecher Freestyle program tell stories your local shop could only dream of. One of our favorites are these seemingly simple Zoom FCs from Nike’s first DB collection. Designed by a leukemia-stricken 12-year old boy name Michael, who’s “glowing” disposition was rooted in his desire to never let his mother and grandmother down. Initially, Michael wanted to make an entire shoe that was glow in the dark, but settled for this super clean black and royal blue colorway, set off with a ‘glow in the dark’ outsole. Starting to get dusty in this office!

7: Nike SB Zoom Angus

Year Released: 2004

What do you know about THESE? With it’s hefty makeup, the Nike SB Zoom Angus is an oft-forgotten silhouette in today’s performance driven sneaker scene. But this colorway, from 2004’s first Doernbecher collection, is a true gem. Sporting green elephant print and plush suede accents, this Zoom Angus makeup is wild.

6: Nike Dunk Low "Lance"

Years Released: 2007, 2013

So nice they released them twice. Many of us were relieved when these heaters retro’ed last year, but the originals dropped back in 2007. A lot of people aren’t fond of all-over writing on their kicks, but these are really well done. We’re particularly fond of the combination of earth tones on the black outsole. These are dope.

5: Nike Zoom FC "Aloha"

Year Released: 2004

You know we had to include these OGs. Another classic from the Freestyle program’s inaugural year are these beautiful “Aloha” Zoom FCs. Sure, the Hawaiian floral print is a design trope in today’s sneaker game. But these dropped way back in 2004 and are STILL fire to this day. We’d love to see the Zoom FC make it’s return, along with this excellent colorway.

4: Nike Air Max 95 "Mike"

Year Released: 2007

Have there ever been a pair of sneakers more patriotic than these awesome Air Max 95s? Seriously, they practically play Star Spangled Banner when you look at them. And, while a lot of USA-themed kicks over play their hand, and go all out with the ol’ Stars and Stripes, we love the modest use of both, as well as that fetching bright blue outsole. Oh, say can you seeeeee….

3: Nike Free Run 2+

Year Released: 2012

Though certainly not the most publicly popular non-Jordan Doernbecher, we absolutely love 2012’s Free Run 2+ (hence their high ranking on this list). If we’re judging on sheer wearability and cohesiveness of colorways, these Frees take the cake. These just look like an official Nike All-Star colorway. Bravo.

2: Nike Air Max 90

Year Released: 2008

The Air Max 90 DBs from 2008 are just so dope. With a crispy clean white leather upper, paired with bright orange accents and a multi-colored outsole, we can’t help but think of the “Fruity Pebbles” LeBron IVs. And, while we’ll likely never get our hands on those, these AM90s would make a perfectly acceptable substitute.

1: Nike Foamposite One Premium

Year Released: 2013

For the 10th anniversary of the Doernbecher Freestyle program, Nike really swung for the fences with their designs. Not only did we get a slew of highly anticipated retros, but we got several silos that had never been included in the program. Along with Roshe Runs, Janoski’s and of course, the fire Jordan Xs, Nike also had sneakerheads foaming at the mouth for these crazy Foamposite Ones. And while we usually have some pithy comment about how Foams are over-hyped, the more we re-examine these, the more we get it. These are just banging.


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    Foams at number 1? Those may have very well been ine if the worse DB! Jordan 3s gotta at least make the list


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