Nike Air Huarache Ultra Review Facts
Nike is one of the most popular manufacturers of athletic apparel around, with many successful lines of footwear that cater to a variety of physical activities and active lifestyles. The secret to their success is a combination of two design philosophies; their products need to be both highly functional and highly fashionable. Without one or the other, there’s no way that Nike could experience the astounding acclaim they’ve amassed. This can even be seen in their failures, since the common culprit for one of their products not making a hit with consumers is a lack of either form or function. Based on this criteria, it should come as no surprise that the Nike Air Huarache Ultra is one of the brand’s most resounding successes.
When first observing the design of the Air Huarache Ultra’s outsole, you may be led to believe that it was a trail running
shoe. While many aspects of this bulkier footwear product can give that impression, the underfoot is far and away the most apparent. With a considerable emphasis on treading by adding several large lugs, it looks as though this shoe has the ability to grip terrain normally inhospitable by the common running shoe. Fortunately, this additional treading doesn’t cause any discomfort for the wearer since several deep flex grooves have been added to the outsole’s design as well. In addition to improving underfoot flexibility, these ridges are large enough that debris from the ground won’t get stuck in between them, making cleaning and maintaining these shoes easier.
As is custom for running shoes and just about every other footwear offering by reputable manufacturers, the Nike Air Huarache Ultra uses EVA foam for its midsole. The reason for this product’s overwhelming popularity
in fulfilling this design features is that it offers excellent cushioning and explosive responsiveness without adding on to the final product’s weight to a significant degree. With a slight increase in elevation toward the rear, this midsole also accentuates the amount of cushioning around the wearer’s heels in order to accommodate those who are prone to heel striking.
The upper portion of a shoe is the source of many customers’ first impression of the product as a whole; it’s where casual buyers can get an idea of the product’s style and it’s where more experienced footwear buyers can determine its intended environment
. From a stylistic perspective, this shoe appears to be similar to modern and postmodern footwear designs. The most obvious and immediate aesthetic comparison is to the Adidas NMD XR1, so fans of that shoe will likely appreciate the design of the Air Huarache Ultra. When determining its functionality, however, it becomes less clear. Is this a speed shoe? The presence of multiple bulky accouterments on the sides and rear of it would challenge this hypothesis. Is it a heavy-duty trail shoe? The lighter weight and brand model challenges this one as well. Ultimately, the upper portion provides decent breathability in conjunction with fantastic stability for the wearer’s midfoot and heel.
The weight of this running shoe will depend on whether you purchase the men’s or women’s version. The male option has additional features around the middle portion of the upper half, as well as more significant treading on the outsole. These result in an overall heavier
product, which may be inconvenient for runners who are simply looking for a lightweight and fashionable article of footwear. For these people, it may be a good idea to purchase the female model, since it comes at a lighter weight and features a unisex style.
Even with the bulky additions to the sides of the Air Huarache Ultra, these Nike running shoes manage to provide adequate to above average breathability. The secret to this surprising success is the use of layered mesh fabric for the upper’s construction. Aside from the aforementioned additional stability
features for the men’s model, this material is highly perforated in order to still allow for air to flow through the inside while still being protective for the wearer’s foot. It’s impressive, but these shoes are still less viable for running in warmer climates than a more lightweight or knit fabric offering at the end of the day.
Nike’s design philosophy has always been to provide style first, performance
second, and everything else as it’s convenient. If they can find a way to make their shoes more comfortable in the process of providing excellent performance and fashion, then they will implement it into the final product. However, things don’t always work out this way for every single Nike shoe, as can be seen in the Air Huarache Ultra. Despite offering many design features that offer comfort as a fringe benefit, such as layered breathable mesh for the upper and an insole that complements the supportive aspects of the midsole, several customers have complained that these shoes felt uncomfortable on their feet. In addition to feeling too roomy on their toes, reviewers have even mentioned that they make annoying squeaking noises as they walk around. Many of these problems can be easily solved by breaking the shoes in or by investing in some orthotics, but they may be too much effort for the casual wearer to bother with.
As previously mentioned, this Nike running shoe bears a striking resemblance to the Adidas NMD XR1 in shape and style. This is a bit of an unfair comparison, considering that the Adidas model came after the release of the Air Huarache Ultra. In no way should this imply that Nike is plagiarizing or imitating Adidas’ style; all this statement is meant to express is that there is a much more popular product on the market with a similar aesthetic that is sure to draw immediate comparisons. Something interesting about this specific product’s style is that Nike allows for customers to customize the colors
through their website, which is a rare and highly praised feature.
Ordinarily, most running shoes don’t have an issue with durability. If the owner uses their shoes in the appropriate environments and keeps them clean, they should expect a decent pair to last for 200-300 miles. The exception to this is running shoes made from thinner material, such as Nike’s Flyknit fabric. With the Nike Air Huarache Ultra, the level of durability from the upper down to the midsole is more in line with a sturdy trail running shoe thanks to the use of extra material. The layered mesh is an especially impressive feature since it manages to improve the resilience of this shoe without sacrificing breathability. However, it’s the thick and well-treaded outsole that steals the show here.
In a manner that is much more significant than is commonly implemented in casual running shoes, the Nike Air Huarache Ultra offers a great deal of protection for the wearer’s feet. For the purpose of providing a more durable product with excellent stability and support, the fringe benefit to these design goals is the creation of a shoe with the protective capabilities on par with a trail runner. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these shoes will perform at the same level as an off-road running shoe in their environments, but it does mean that they will provide a more than decent level of defense for the typical street or track runner.
Despite having a lot of extra padding and stability material, wearers of these Nike running shoes have stated that they feel fairly light on their feet. This helps to improve their responsiveness, as does the implementation of a springy EVA midsole. However, the addition of multiple mesh layers on top, coupled with the stability cage on the men’s model, all resting on additional internal cushioning layered over the midsole, results in a shoe that doesn’t reach its full potential in this regard. Ultimately, the responsiveness of the Air Huarache Ultra is passable but individuals looking for a shoe that provides this exact feature can find a better pick elsewhere.
Men who struggle with overpronation will appreciate the extra support provided to their midfoot from the upper portion of this running shoe. Acting as a sort of cage, this helps to keep the wearer’s feet stable and can help correct gait abnormalities such as overpronation. Additionally, extra support has been added on top of the already very supportive midsole. Because of this, the supportive nature of these shoes is one of their most prominent and appealing features.
Running shoes are commonly intended to be used on basic environments, such as a sidewalk, road, or running track. Because of this, they don’t often devote plenty of resources toward endowing their outsoles with a high degree of traction or durability. Normally, these kinds of shoes are built for the purpose of heavy-duty trail running, with other aspects of their design matching the same level of intensity. These running shoes from Nike are closer to trail runners than casual runners, forming a sort of middle ground between the two designs.
The suggested retail price for this shoe places it in the same category as most high-end running shoes and is just shy of a low-end trail runner. Some patient customers can find some decent discounts for this model in certain sizes and colorways; however, the standard price is a fair cost for the features present in this product.
Thanks to the heavy treading on this Nike shoe’s outsole, wearers will feel an amazing level of grip and control while running in the Air Huarache Ultra. They may even find that they have too much traction that can cause their speed to decrease due to their tight underfoot grip while running. This tradeoff is ultimately up to the individual customer in regards to whether or not it is worth using; while the loss in speed will strike a nerve with sprinters, endurance runners will likely appreciate the long-term control and terrain versatility.
The midsole of this running shoe is fairly flexible due to its lightweight EVA foam construction. The Air Huarache Ultra’s outsoles are also pliable to a reasonable degree due to the implementation of several flex grooves along the standard tread patterns. However, a much bulkier upper with several layers of protection on both the inside and outside means that this is a far cry from a Flyknit runner or similar style of flexible footwear.
A considerable amount of effort has been placed on providing extra stability for the wearer. This is most apparent when observing the men’s version of this shoe, which even goes so far as to attach a midfoot cage-style design that helps to correct pronation abnormalities. Runners who are looking to invest in a pair of shoes for the express purpose of ensuring a more stable ride will find a lot to love here.
Although a difference in elevation between the heel and forefoot of the Nike Air Huarache Ultra is present, it has been applied to a diminished degree when compared to other running shoes on the market. It still isn’t on the same level as a neutral-footed trail runner or minimalist road runner, but it can provide a decent compromise between fans of either style.
- Heavy treading on the outsole accented with flex grooves
- EVA cushioned midsole with extra layers of cushion on the insole
- Upper constructed from multiple layers of breathable mesh fabric
- Extra reinforcement around the midfoot of the upper
- Option to customize color scheme on Nike’s website
- Slight elevation in the midsole from the heel to the forefoot
This is a shoe that stands in the middle of two more common design philosophies. Many features are reminiscent of more standard Nike running shoes, such as their popular Air Zoom and Flyknit runners. Others are more in line with the design of a heavier trail running shoe, such as something from Altra or Salomon. However, one thing that is distinctly original about the Air Huarache Ultra, even if it has been imitated by others, is its impeccable sense of style and its fantastic performance.