Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at some Nike shoes technology in 2020. Nike has introduced some amazing technologies through the years and some maybe not so great ones like the Nike Shox and Nike Pumps.
Nike Shoes Technology
Nike Cushioning Technologies
Through trial and error and just doing it, Nike has six cushioning technologies that appeared to be a mainstay on consumers’ feet. Let’s go ahead and discuss these six technologies.
Starting off with Nike Air, I’m going to go ahead and just focus on the Max Air as part of the Nike Air technology family.
The Max Air was designed to provide maximum impact protection during repetitive landings. Shoes with Max Air technology feature less midsole material and larger volume Air bags for lighter weight and maximum cushioning.
The Vapor Max is the greatest featuring a full-length Air unit as the midsole and the sole of the shoe. You’re literally walking on air with these shoes.
As I mentioned, it’s very lightweight. The Max Air displaces heavier midsole materials reducing the weight of the shoe without sacrificing the performance.
The Max Air cushioning absorbs impact forces when the foot strikes on the ground protecting muscles, joints, and tendons.
This cushioning immediately returns to the original shape to protect the body from the next impact force. Also, the Air Max design is actually really durable surprisingly.
It’s supposed to give you enough cushioning to last the lifetime of the shoe. But how many of you guys actually have blown out an Air Max bubble before in your lifetime?
Leave a comment in the comments section.
I know I’ve done it and I’ve stepped on nails here and there, but it’s still really more durable than you would expect.
A couple of fun facts, the first shoe with Nike Air was actually the 1979 Air Tailwind and the first visible Air unit was a Nike Air Max, and the first basketball shoe with Nike Air was the Air Force One.
The Nike Air can absorb impact and walking on air really just never gets old.
Nike Air is not the most comfortable cushioning or the most shock absorbing product on the market.
This cushioning system was originally called Tensile Air. It is actually part of the Nike Air family. Like its siblings, Nike Zoom is a lightweight and durable material.
Because Zoom cushioning is incredibly thin, it brings the foot closer to the ground and enhances the stability especially during quick cuts and multi-directional movements.
The first shoe with Nike Zoom was the Nike Air Go LWP released in 1995.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
I would say that the fit of these shoes is true to size. It does feature a full-length Zoom Air unit in the bottom of the shoe.
This is a great all-around sneaker. It’s extremely versatile and something that you can wear for running short and long distances and also something that you can go to the grocery store in on a busy or slow day.
You can also work out in the Pegasus just because it has pretty good stability in the shoe, which is another reason why this is a pro.
The traction on the bottom is actually really good and the shoe is quite breathable.
The Pegasus 36 features full-length Zoom encased in the Cushlon midsole. After impact, the tightly stretched fibers inside the pressurized Air unit quickly bounce back into shape and provide a super-responsive feel and improved awareness of the surface you’re walking, running, or playing on.
From a lifestyle point on view, it just looks like an average shoe and it is subject to creases.
However, from a performance perspective, the Pegasus is one of the best running shoes out there. It’s very versatile and many runners refer to it as a workhorse running shoe. It has a lot of energy return that you won’t even feel if you wear it casually.
All in all, if you want the most bang for your buck and the most versatile shoe for the cheapest price point, the Air Zoom Pegasus 36 is a great way to go because it is so versatile.
Even better, if you want to get the Pegasus 35 version, you can get it at a great price as well.
Made for quick cuts and for high impact, you do get a lot of responsiveness with Nike Zoom cushioning. It’s very thin and it’s very light.
The idea behind Nike Free is very simple. It’s supposed to improve your athletic performance by allowing your body to perform naturally.
Nike Free shoes offer the proven benefits of barefoot training. Since you’re allowed freedom, your toes will flex and grip exercising muscles in a natural chain neglected by traditional footwear.
Exercising these muscles allow athletes to achieve smaller performance benefits adding millimeters to vertical leaps or shaving milliseconds off of a race time while exercising key stabilizer muscles that prevent injury.
The outsole of the Nike Free shoes features siping, which are the deep slices and reverse flex grooves that encourage flex and extension in both directions with a lightweight seamless upper to top off a flexible outsole.
Nike Free shoes merged the natural healthy motion of barefoot with the protection of traditional footwear.
But what is the difference between Nike Free 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0?
In the Nike Free continuum, the lowest number of the shoe’s name, the closer it is to barefoot running. So, on that continuum, a 10 represents conventional footwear while zero represents barefoot.
The first shoe with Nike Free was actually the Nike Free 5.0 V1 in 2004.
To recap some of the pros of the Nike Free technology, it is very flexible as expected and provides firmer cushioning for those that like a barefoot feel and they’re definitely lightweight.
The upper is very snug to maximize the flex of the sole and might be too snug for some people.
Runners should break in the shoe before a long-distance run to avoid shin splints.
Personally, the Nike Free technology is my least favorite out of all the other technologies that I mentioned in this article from a performance standpoint.
Lunarlon is basically the fusion of lightweight Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, also known as EVA with a bouncy ball-like spring of NBR.
Lunarlon cushioning features a soft yet resilient foam core that is encased with a supportive foam carrier for lightweight ultra-plush cushioning, springy responsiveness, and support.
The innovative Lunarlon foam was invented by Nike and is 30% lighter than the traditional Phylon foam and also allows the force of the impact to be more evenly distributed, which helps reduce painful pressure points on the feet.
For the longest time, I did not know that Lunarlon was actually encased in a carrier foam, but that is what you’re looking at.
What were the first sneakers with Nike Lunarlon?
It was a 2008 Lunar Racer.
It is tried and true and was very innovative for the time. It’s an extremely comfortable technology and the Lunar Chukka Flyknit was actually one of my favorite shoes to wear.
They were actually the most comfortable shoes I ever tried on my feet before Adidas Boost came along.
Lunarlon is sort of a dated Nike technology in shoes because there are newer technologies that we’ll get to in just a second.
Also, people say that the Lunarlon feels like it bottoms out if you wear them a ton, and that is true.
The Nike React foam is something that was developed in-house. This unique composition gives runners foam that is lighter, softer, and more responsive than ever.
Historically, it was really difficult to deliver these elements in one package, but Nike React technology delivers them all in one.
With no carrier foam or glue, you stand directly on the foam. It’s exaggerated in size for a specific reason and that is to absorb more impact.
What was the very first shoe with Nike React?
Not the Nike Epic React. The first shoes were the Hyper Dunk and the Jordan Superfly from 2017. Both shoes had encased React, however, the Epic React Flyknit was the very first one that we saw with the React foam in its raw form in 2018.
React provides tons of cushioning. It’s very soft, very responsive, and very light.
Some of the cons definitely would be the visible durability of the shoe although they say that these can go for a long period of time.
Nike Zoom Fly 3
These do fit true to size although they are a bit on the narrow side of the spectrum. The cushioning technology is actually Nike React. Even though this is called the Zoom Fly, it has a 100% React midsole.
The Zoom Fly 3 does have a really soft React midsole. It does also have a full-length carbon fiber plate in the middle of the shoe that helps propel and rock you forward a bit as you’re running or walking around.
It does feature a VaporWeave upper which is extremely durable, which is also a plus for those people that like that.
The tongue is actually really soft because of this neoprene material which rests on your foot pretty nicely.
The Zoom Fly is narrow and it’s definitely not for everyone’s feet. Also, the fact that there is no tongue makes it a not-very-stylish shoe to wear casually.
So, if you’re looking for something that you could really wear all around, this one might not be the one for you if you have wider feet.
It isn’t the heaviest but definitely not the lightest. Also, I don’t know why Nike is calling it the Zoom Fly since there’s no Zoom unit in it, but it is what it is.
The Nike ZoomX cushioning is a newly designed ultra-lightweight foam that delivers Nike’s greatest energy return yet.
Inside the foam, there’s actually a carbon fiber plate that springs up under your heel as you stride forward giving you a propulsive feel.
I can definitely say that it’s 100% true.
The Nike VaporFly 4% has been stripped down to the most essential parts. It’s light and it’s fast as hell.
In Nike’s own words, these are perfect for road races up to and including a marathon. I think this is a new wave of Nike.
It seems like shoes with React and ZoomX are actually going to be super high-performance shoes and super high-performance technologies.
I think that this technology is something that I am most excited about in sneakers because the midsole has so much potential and I just really can’t wait to see what they do with this.
The weight of the shoes is 6.5 ounces in a men’s size 10 and the offset is 10mm.
The first shoe with ZoomX technology is the Nike Zoom VaporFly 4% which released in 2017.
These are extremely comfortable like pretty much the best ever that I’ve ever tried on my feet. It’s insanely comfortable and feels like you’re rocking forward with propulsion as they say and is extremely responsive as well as cushioned.
They’re mega lightweight shoes as well and so it feels like you’re wearing nothing but getting maximum amounts of energy return on your feet.
The durability of the foam is not the greatest, but it’s a race-day shoe and not a training shoe. You can also wear it casually, but try to rotate it with some other shoes that you have.
Nike Zoom VaporFly Next%
You might have seen is neon-colored shoes in marathons and other competitions, but they’ve been causing controversy ever since they were introduced back in 2016.
Nike’s VaporFly shoes have allowed athletes to break record after record and certain critics say the shoe gives an unfair advantage to runners calling it equivalent to mechanical doping.
So, how does Nike VaporFly work?
The VaporFly features a very thick sole made out of a special lightweight foam called Pebax which Nike has dubbed ZoomX. Hidden in the sole is a carbon fiber plate for extra stability.
Combined, they result in an increase of up to 5% in running economy, which is a metric used in competitive running that measures how efficiently energy is utilized.
This patented Nike shoe technology prevents competitors from outright copying the design giving Nike contracted athletes an edge until competitors invent their own equivalent technology.
Desiree Linden, 2018 Boston Women’s Marathon winner says “… it’s not just the athlete anymore, it’s not just the conditions, it’s what shoes are used.”
Nike didn’t stop there. Using a new prototype shoe with an even thicker sole, Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge managed to run an unofficial marathon in less than two hours, which is almost 2 minutes faster than his world record.
But with the Tokyo Olympics approaching, calls to regulate shoe designs have increased.
In January, the International Track & Field governing body introduced new regulations to limit a shoe sole to a thickness of 40 millimeters and a maximum of one plate embedded in the sole.
However, shortly after the new regulations were introduced, Nike has already announced a new line of shoes called the Alpha Fly Next% which fit the new regulations and are reportedly capable of increasing the running economy by up to 8%.
So, will the upcoming Olympics be another event dominated by Nike’s revolutionary shoe technology?
I actually really like the style even though it’s kind of massively aggressive, but it’s just pretty crazy-looking.
The durability of the foam is definitely going to be in question. ZoomX definitely wears down a lot more than React does.
Also, the fit is narrow and the upper does not stretch.
The VaporFly Next% does wonders for runners seeking that forward rocking propulsion, but for walking or trying to stand still, it constantly rocks you on the toes of your feet.
Again, the whole purpose of this shoe is for crazy performance and only game-day runs basically. So, it’s for a very small niche group for usage and not really worth the money if you don’t fit that category.
Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2
The Turbo 2 is true to size. It actually features ZoomX cushioning on the top layer and then React on the bottom layer of the midsole for a dual-density foam.
ZoomX and React have an amazing match. They’re super soft cushioning with the dual-density foam, which is really great on feet.
Also, because of this combination of ZoomX and React, the Turbo is super lightweight because ZoomX is definitely lighter than React
These are really great if you want something that’s minimal and light.
A trend that continues is the upper is really breathable, which is cool. Also, the tongue is neoprene like the Zoom Fly.
One other thing I do like about this tongue is that it has some extra lace holes that you can poke through to help the tongue hold up and hold its structure, which is a huge step up over the Zoom Fly, in my opinion, because the overall look of the Turbo is better.
The Pegasus Turbo 2 is a very versatile shoe. It is marketed as a long-distance runner and I could see why because if you have foot fatigue, the cushioning in this shoe is just really amazing.
Casually, the Turbo is also amazing as well. It’s super comfortable and it’s one of my favorite shoes that Nike has released thus far.
The widow’s peak on the heel has to be the worst part about this shoe because this has been splitting for a lot of people in between the two foams.
Nike has to have a way to be able to marry the two foams together without the splitting. If Nike could do that, I think more people would appreciate this shoe.
Finally, I wouldn’t lift weight in the Turbo because it might feel unstable because of how soft the cushioning is. So, it’s definitely not as versatile as the Pegasus 36.
All in all, if you want max cushioning and a really soft feel on your feet to stand and walk around or even long run in, the Turbo is absolutely amazing.
Nike Self-lacing Technology
In this section, we’re going to get a little taste of the future. When Marty McFly traveled 30 years into the future (2015), this is what they imagined shoes would be like.
Nike Self-lacing Mag
Now, thanks to Nike, they’re kind of a reality and they are awesome.
The Nike Mag is the self-lacing high-tech sneaker they imagined come to life.
The technical magic is in the sole of this shoe, there’s a sensor and on the back, there are motors that are actually connected to the laces.
So, when they sense your weight in the shoe for the first time, they automatically tighten so that they’re just snug enough to get up and go.
But in case it doesn’t get perfectly right every time, which is doesn’t, there is a green button to tighten it a bit more, a red button to loosen and it’s also how you take them off, and a yellow button that can turn the lights on and off. The yellow button also serves as a battery check.
If you leave the lights on all day, you will kill them and you have to plug them into a wall and charge them at night just like your phone.
Once you actually get them on, the funny thing is the Mags aren’t that heavy. They’re very big, and when you hear there’s a motor, sensors, and batteries in them, you’d expect them to be really heavy, but they’re not. They’re actually kind of lightweight and comfortable.
I don’t know how many people would actually wear these day to day if they got them, it’s more of a collector piece.
Unlike the Adapt BB below…
Nike Adapt BB
This is the company’s first self-lacing app-controlled basketball shoe.
As you might expect, the Adapt BB is loaded with a bunch of tech including a smart motor that senses the tension needed by your feet and automatically adjusts this shoe to fit perfectly around your foot. That happens as soon as you step inside it.
Nike says that over the course of a basketball game, a player’s foot can expand almost half a size, which can affect their comfort level and ultimately have an impact on their movement and performance.
So, one of the cool things about the adapt BB is, of course, that you can control it with an app pretty instantly, maybe within five seconds.
And if you want to go back to your kind of loosening up after you’re done playing a game, you can just tap a button and then both shoes will loosen up and you can just slide them out like any other regular shoe.
Of the things I liked the most about the new Adapt BB is that I can change the LED colors on my shoes in real-time and I can do it right from the app.
What you can also do with the app is tap a button and then you can go to your modes. What this does is you can save your current fit and if I go to that fit, it should take you back to that one.
Naturally, since these are battery-powered, you’re going to want to check your battery life every now and again.
The app will show for example that your left shoe has 59% and your right shoe has 62%. The BBs do have support for qi wireless charging and they come with a pad included in the box.
App or No App
Nike says you can get about 14 days per full charge, which is pretty good. To be perfectly clear though, you don’t need the app to use the adapt BB, but it does come in handy if you want more customization options.
It’s great to have the ability to adjust the shoes manually or with the app, which will probably depend on where and how you’re wearing the shoes whether it’s playing a basketball game or just taking them out for a casual stroll.
Who is it for?
You might also be wondering who actually needs this product and are people so lazy that they can tie their own shoes?
Well, when you think about what Nike is trying to do here which is to sort of bring the perfect custom fit to every athlete, that’s when Adapt BB really kicks in.
Beyond that, think about people with disabilities who will benefit from this technology. It might not be the use of Nike’s touting with the Adapt BB, but it’s definitely a nice byproduct of the design.
Of course, the Adapt BB wouldn’t be possible without the Hyper Adapt from 2016 which showed that Nike could in fact build a self-lacing shoe for consumers.
The Hyper Adapt, however, was outrageously expensive while the adapt BB will be about half that.
Nike says its goal is to create an entire platform out of Adapt so you can expect the technology to make its way to other sports aside from basketball in the near future as well as lifestyle.
What’s inside the Adapt BB
Adapt BB – App issues
There’s also a recently released self-lacing shoe from Nike called the Automax.
Nike Upper Technology
The Nike Flyknit is a very unique way that they’ve revolutionized how they make footwear. Nike has taken something as simple as knitting and re-engineered that to be a performance product.
It gives a really unique sense of fit and comfort, and athletes are actually giving Nike amazing feedback.
Within the innovation kitchen, when they work on any new product or a new project, Nike’s ultimate client is athletes.
So, it’s extremely important for them to be working with them one-to-one figuring out what’s the best combinations for the athletes for their performance needs.
With Nike Flyknit, there’s four key benefits:
- sustainability and
… Those ultimately are at the core of our Nike DNA.
Every runner would love to have a lighter product. It’s less weight that they have to carry to the finish line.
With the Flyknit Racer, Nike claims it’s 19% lighter than the previous marathon shoe.
Lightness when paired with form-fitting becomes an amazing experience. The more a company can allow the upper to fit one-to-one with the foot, the better that lightweight experience can be amplified.
So, with Flyknit, Nike has engineered the fabric to have cables, which is very similar to their FlyWire technology, wrapping nicely around your foot.
So, when an athlete laces into the shoe, it becomes an amazingly enhanced experience.
With this new technology, Nike has utilized just what they needed to make the upper. So, instead of cutting and stamping shoes out and having excess material, they knit everything out and this is what ultimately comes off of the machine.
Related: Best Sustainable Running Shoes
With performance, Nike looks very much at how their products interact with the athletes, how they can use Flyknit to work much more closely with the athletes moving directly with how their foot moves.
The more that they’re able to complement their actions and their movements, the more that they allow them to perform much better.
Nike Shoe Selection Chart
Also, for those wondering, Nike has this interesting little chart that has a bunch of information like:
Are you training for a race? Yes.
What is your goal? I just want to finish.
Then the shoe for you is going to be the Nike Pegasus 36.
Do you want the podium? Yes.
You’re going to go with the Pegasus Turbo, the VaporFly 4%, or the Next%.
Do you want a persona record? Yes.
Then go with the Nike Pegasus Turbo. And so.
It’s a nice little tree chart if you are interested.
At the end of the day, you just really got to try the shoes, see how they fit for you and see how they feel.
Even though the intent is for maximum performance, that may not be the only usage for that shoe.
Nike Shoe Size Technology
Outdated Nike Cushion Technology
In this section, I want to cover 5 outdated Nike cushioning technologies that don’t really fit in today’s day and age.
This section might ruffle a few feathers because I feel like it’s controversial a little bit.
But let’s go ahead and get into it anyway.
As I said earlier, this is actually one of my favorite Nike cushioning systems of all time. The Nike Lunarlon look and feel is a little bit dated today especially because of Nike React.
Nike React is a single density foam which allows you to have a light, responsive, and well-cushioned ride on your feet.
In my opinion, Nike React is basically like Lunarlon 2.0. Lunarlon was a dual-density foam that had a softer foam on your footbed but it was bound together by a harder carrier foam on the outside for added durability.
This was revolutionary back in 2008. It was a lightweight shoe and it was really comfortable, but the cushioning system did have a couple of flaws in it.
One, the Lunarlon just felt like it bottoms out after a while.
The other thing is that there was a really weird squeak in the middle of the shoe, as well and it’s something that couldn’t get rid of.
I don’t know if it was because of the pairing of the two materials and just having a gap there or what, but it just made it really impossible for me to wear the shoes because of the creaking every single time that I took a step.
I do like the Nike Lunarlon name better than React, but it may be just nostalgia.
I really like that technology, but unfortunately in this day and age, I guess it’s a little bit outdated.
I know these just came out and the sensation on feet is actually pretty nice when you put them on feet, but the thing is they do have a couple of design flaws that I think really make these a no-go.
What is Nike Joy Ride?
If you don’t know what Nike Joyride is, it’s basically like a hacky sack bean bag full of really small rubber beads. The beads kind of move around as you take steps and overall, the sensation is pretty good.
The downside of this technology is that tiny pellets of the foam that is encased in the midsole are not safe from water.
You’d have to basically submerge your shoes to really have an issue with this, but if you do step in river water or step in the water on the beach or get pushed into the pool like at somebody’s house, the beads will actually get soaked through the midsole, which if the water is not clean, then you’ll get the dirty water trapped, which can also lead to some pretty terrible smells.
So that is one reason why I think these are pretty badly flawed.
But the main reason why I think that these are a risk for wearing is if you wear these things to the bouncy bones, you’ll have tiny little balls leaking out of your shoe causing a potential environmental issue.
It’s not like somebody drops their pocket change and you can go pick them up one by one. They bounce everywhere and there’s a lot of them.
So, it really could be an environmental hazard and I don’t see too much longevity with the Nike Joyride technology unless they evolve it and make it so these pods are like actually 100% cased and can’t break.
Nike Pump Series
Actually, Nike had three different pairs of sneakers on the market that featured Pumps, which is pretty crazy.
I know everybody thinks of Reebok when you talk about the Pumps and rightfully so because they were the first ones to the market.
The Reebok Pump is one of those shoes that are still used in this day and age, however for Nike they fell into this wave and they released these three sneakers with the Pump feature.
The first one was the Nike Air Pressure which was a really interesting one. It actually came with a pump device that you had to connect to the shoe and then fill it up but not very convenient if you asked most people.
Then Nike also released the Nike Air Command Force and then also the Nike Air Force 180 Pump.
The Command Forces were actually seen on the movie White Men Can’t Jump and worn in-game by the San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson.
Out of these three shoes, the 180 Pump is actually the one that has not retroed yet. The other two did retro, but the Command Force didn’t actually have a pump feature when they brought them back.
These had a nice little stand from 89 and 91 so it’s safe to say that these didn’t really have too much long-term stay on Nike shelves. As of now, the Pump has been dead and probably not going to be surfacing back up.
From the year 2000, you get an athlete like Vince Carter to dunk over a 7-footer and you’ve got yourself a bona fide gimmick that worked.
I personally loved the Nike Shox when I was younger. Regardless, the Nike Shox had their wave and basically, it was supposed to be able to catapult you forward.
It was a concept from years and years earlier that finally came to fruition in the 2000 era.
It was actually pretty impressive. It did a lot of things, got a lot of people buying the shoes, but at the end of the day, it really didn’t work.
Nike Shox actually is back right now and you can buy some Nike R4s.
Again, Nike Shox was pretty gimmicky and it didn’t really propel you forward the way it was supposed to.
They tried to revamp it in 2018-2019 with some different versions, but it just didn’t work very well.
I think that most people are actually on to the foam type cushioning systems instead.
I’m not going to discredit the impact that Nike Air has made to the sneaker game in general to basically everybody’s feet in one form or another or what most people strive to be able to have on their feet.
I get it. It is definitely like an identifiable technology and one that people strive to get. I love Nike Air way more than the average person and I have a lot of pairs of Nike Air.
But let’s face it, it’s definitely outdated. The Nike air 720s and the 270s are okay, but they’re for a casual perspective and they’re not something that people wear for performance.
To be 100% honest, if I’m going to go for a casual sneaker, I’d rather have a pair of the React or the ZoomX with React like the Pegasus Turbos than a pair of the Nike air max 720s.
But if I really truly want a Nike Air shoe, I’d rather get an Air Max 90, an Air Max One, or an Air Jordan 3.
Those are all iconic sneakers that have a place in my heart with nostalgia, but if I’m going to go for a comfortable shoe, I’m never going to go with an Air Max 90.
Nike Air sneakers, in general, were made for performance when they originally came out in the 80s.
So, the fact that Nike Air cushioning technology is outdated in 2020 shouldn’t be a shock to hear because we see so much domination on the sneaker shelves of sneakers with Nike Air in them, but from a technology perspective, I think it’s outdated.
A lot of runners do not run in Nike Air shoes. If anything, they use the alternative which is the Pegasus, but most of them are onto React or the ZoomX shoes nowadays.
I’m not including Nike Air Zoom in this mix because Zoom Air is actually quite functional.
I guess the nostalgia of the Air Jordan line and the Nike Air Max retros will continue to create revenue for Nike.
And if Nike actually sold them without the Air unit, it wouldn’t work like it works obviously for those retro shoes.
So, there you have it. These are some of Nike shoes technology that we could think of.