Nike Air Huarache Review Facts
The undisputed king of the modern running shoe is Nike. Nike has pioneered some of the most popular modern shoe design trends and has created some of the most popular running shoes. From their extremely popular Nike Air shoes to their legendary collaboration with Michael Jordan, the shoes and other products made by this brand have defined multiple eras of athletic apparel. The Nike Air Huarache is yet another installment in their most enduring line of casual runners, with a variety of features that help to define it from its many variations. Although not every new feature and exclusion were to its benefit, and an updated Ultra version is available that solves a few of these problems, these shoes are still worth considering on their own.
These running shoes take the traditional route of making their outsoles from hard rubber. Nike may not receive originality points for the material used in its construction, but it does deserve some credit for the manner in which this material is implemented. The underside of the Nike Air Huarache is extremely sturdy and populated by several lines of aggressive lugs, accented with small dimples. In order to offset the stiffness that would otherwise cause these shoes to feel uncomfortable, a few large horizontal trenches have been carved out along the midfoot to allow for some additional outsole flexibility. Coupled with the traction derived from its lugs and the double-dose of durability and stability derived from the hard rubber, the end result is an exceptionally well-designed outsole.
It may look as though the midsole and outsole of this shoe are combined at first glance due to the way they blend together in both design and color scheme. And while this is a fairly common design practice with newer running shoes, such as the Swiss-designed On Cloud, the truth is that these shoes stick to the traditional design style of a separate outsole connected to a separate midsole. The material used to create the Air Huarache’s middlemost portion is Phylon, a type of EVA foam that is extremely durable and dense. This is among the best material used for modern midsole design and has become a staple in many different Nike runners, including most of the Air product line. The reason for this is likely that this material manages to provide fantastic responsiveness and support without excessively weighing down the wearer’s foot, which is also the same reason why Nike continues to implement their trademark air pockets.
The most visually distinctive part of any running shoe is the upper; it takes up the most surface area and is usually the first part of any shoe that attracts the eye. One of the secrets of Nike’s success in the world of athleisure is that they understand this core design practice and use it to set the tone for all of their various running shoe models. In the case of the Nike Air Huarache, the tone they seem to be going for is a bit of a nostalgic one, with a bulkier high-top throwback design made up of several layers of material. A large portion of the front and small portions of the lateral and medial side are made up of synthetic Dri-Fit fabric for breathability, but almost the entirety of this shoe’s upper is reinforced with a harder synthetic material that resembles leather. The result is a protective and comfortable upper, but it comes at the cost of increased weight and stiffness.
It’s tough to find an average weight for these shoes online. However, based on the shipping weight for this product, it isn’t out of the question to conclude that the Nike Air Huarache weighs around one pound per shoe, if not more. This is a design decision that is going to come as an unwelcome surprise for many casual runners and dedicated Nike fans; after all, this brand is well-known for their many lightweight and responsive products. While this product is still excellently responsive, they are far from lightweight due to the combination of synthetic leather upper straps, thick Phylon midsole material, and a hard rubber underfoot coating. Not even the trademark Air-Sole units placed in the front and back of each midsole can save these shoes from weighing far above the average, most likely resulting in some fatigue for runners with less-defined leg muscles.
Something that was previously mentioned is the fact that these Nike running shoes
have Dri-Fit technology incorporated into the design of its upper half. This is a thin and highly ventilated synthetic mesh that easily allows for constant airflow into and out of shoes, but its effectiveness in the Air Huarache is severely limited due to its TPU leather accents. Although these straps and patches serve important design purposes in the design of these shoes, such as maintaining solid stability and protection, their inclusion not only limits the ability for the Dri-Fit material to do its job but it also adds more weight to the shoe which makes its job even direr. For these reasons, it isn’t recommended that runners take these shoes on running sessions in excessively warm climates since heat and sweat retention are likely to occur.
Due to the previously mentioned issues with breathability, some customers may be led to the belief that these shoes don't feel very comfortable on their feet. However, there are many aspects of the Nike Air Huarache’s design that ensure the opposite is true. Thanks to the ample layering of material in both the upper and midsole of these shoes, the wearer’s feet are cradled with extremely soft and comfortable cushioning. The raised cut of this shoe’s collar further improves its comfort as well as offering stability benefits, as do the TPU straps. The result of these features is a surprisingly comfortable shoe in all environments except those that are excessively warm.
As can be expected from the brand that pioneered the athleisure clothing movement, the Nike Air
Huarache is fashionable to an unparalleled degree. Out of all the features that garner this brand such high praise, it’s their sense of style that contributes the most to their popularity. True to their reputation, these shoes offer an appealing visual design that makes great use of shape, texture, and color to create a beautiful arrangement. And speaking of color, the number of colorways customers can choose from is mind-bogglingly vast. The only stylistic component of the Air Huarache that can be considered a negative is the large circular emblem placed on the front of its tongue. While it clearly denotes the model with an appealing logo, the execution of this calling card is tacky and poorly implemented, especially when compared to the beautiful simplicity of Nike’s go-to swoosh emblem.
Many of the shoes created by Nike in the past few years have focused on aerodynamics over durability. This is most evident in their FlyKnit line of footwear, where the upper portion is predominantly made from knit fabric that allows for greater ventilation and faster response times at the expense of its longevity. With the Nike Air Huarache, however, almost the opposite is true. There are still some features present in its design to provide responsiveness and breathability, but its core components stress stability and durability first. Because of this, runners can expect these shoes to retain their functionality for hundreds of miles, even if they run on slightly harsher forms of terrain. The only caveat to these shoes’ ability to withstand damage is their midsole Air-Sole units. Much like many other Nike Air products, these air bubbles have a tendency to break if too much pressure is placed on them.
In much the same way that these Nike running shoes offer a higher degree of durability, something else that the Air Huarache provides in spades for the wearer is protection. It can be risky running on a sidewalk or road since there are many different potential hazards that can lead to injury. Whether it’s a loss of balance or control that can lead to a fall, repetitive stress that can lead to injuries like plantar fasciitis, or simply stubbing one’s toes on a flying piece of gravel, these running shoes offer features to defend the wearer’s feet from injury.
Response time is something that Nike has never had a problem with the design of their footwear. Just about every model of Nike running shoe offers a level of responsiveness that would be considered passable at the very least. And although it ends up on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to Nike products and response times, the Air Huarache is still very much capable in this aspect. In addition to having a satisfyingly thick midsole made from Phylon, the main contributor to this shoe’s energy efficiency is the Air-Sole pockets placed in their forefoot and heel. These small air bubbles serve as lightweight cushions and add a great deal of bounce to the wearer’s step, although their durability is suspect.
With the added weight and protective straps that form the Nike Air Huarache, a greater degree of foot support is provided for the wearer. This support manifests itself in multiple ways and affects different parts of the foot. The midsole, for example, provides excellent underfoot support with its substantial thickness and strategic placement of Air-Sole units. The outsole’s tread pattern supports the underfoot as well with its evenly-spread lugs that distribute the shock of each impact across the majority of its surface area. Finally, the upper portion has a large strap that wraps around the wearer’s heel, preventing slippage and reinforcing the entire rear of their foot.
Despite looking considerably bulkier than the average Nike running shoes, these are still very much designed to be used in traditional low-intensity running environments. Customers who wear the Nike Air Huarache will have the best experience using them on standard casual running surfaces such as a track, field, soft dirt path, sidewalk, or asphalt road. Due to the larger than average treading on its outsole, some runners may find success using these shoes on lower intensity trails. However, these aren’t a very good choice for hardcore trail running
since the Air-Sole midsole pockets are prone to breakage if subjected to excessive stress.
Another reason for Nike’s overwhelming popularity in the world of athletic footwear is that they sell most of their products at very affordable prices. Even some of their most valuable and exclusive products, such as limited runs of variant or specialty footwear, have initial retail prices that are very reasonable, although these will often be grossly inflated by resellers online. Still, the fact remains that many people seek out Nike products for their high quality at a low price. The Nike Air Huarache benefits from this principle by having an initial retail price that was competitively low, but it has seen additional price drops over the years due to the release of newer products such as the Air Huarache Ultra. That said, some of the rarer colorways for these shoes have inflated resale prices, even though the average pair is extremely affordable.
The Nike Air Huarache goes to great lengths in order to provide wearers with an above average level of traction. The hard rubber outsole has been outfitted with an aggressive tread pattern that accomplishes this feat single-handedly. The reason for this design choice is unclear at first since casual running shoes like these don’t need to place as much emphasis on gripping the terrain; trail runners are the kind of footwear that most commonly go to these lengths in their underfoot design. Perhaps the reason for its inclusion in the Air Huarache is to offset the extra weight from its construction material, although the treading itself is a major cause of this. Perhaps the extra treading is to improve its stability or allow wearers to have more options in terms of running terrain. Whatever the case, the fact remains that these shoes offer more traction than the average Nike runner.
Due to the many layers of material that comprise the Nike Air Huarache, it should come as little surprise that they aren’t very flexible. When compared to other popular Nike products such as their FlyKnit shoes, these seem extremely stiff due to their thick padding and higher ankle cut. Still, the presence of midfoot flex grooves along the outsole and large air pockets in the midsole help to keep these shoes from feeling too rigid and causing discomfort.
Although its flexibility may be lacking, the stability provided by the Nike Air Huarache is second to none. Almost every aspect of this shoe’s design provides a stable running experience for the wearer; from the outsole’s excellent traction and energy dispersal to the thick midsole’s responsiveness and the tight-fitting upper with additional straps and a high ankle cut, the general experience when wearing these Nike running shoes is one of unprecedented control.
Nike doesn’t list the specific measurement for the Air Huarache’s heel drop. However, a visual approximation would suggest that the difference in elevation between the front and back of its midsole would be substantial. It’s most likely around 6 to 9 millimeters higher toward the heel than it is around the forefoot, which is the common drop range for Nike’s running shoes. In addition to adding support for the wearer’s heels, this style of midsole design is commonly adopted among similar athletic footwear products because it allows the wearer’s forefoot to have a stronger connection with the ground, improving stability and responsiveness.
- Hard rubber outsole with lugs and flex grooves
- Phylon midsole with Air-Sole pockets in heel and forefoot
- Dri-Fit mesh upper fabric reinforced with synthetic leather
- Over 20 different colorways to choose from
- Rearfoot strap for heel support
- Combination polyester/spandex manufacturing material
The Nike Air Huarache offers a footwear experience from a different era. It doesn’t resemble many of Nike’s most recent product lines, which stress a lightweight and highly breathable shoe. Instead, they offer durability, stability, and support in a package that is highly reminiscent of the sneaker golden age. These shoes aren’t radically different from past Nike offerings, but they offer enough variety to stand out from other products in their catalog as a solid alternative pick.