Nike Air Max 97

When the original Nike Air Max 97 was released in 1997, it was considered to be a ground-breaking model for its time. It was the first to feature a full-length Air Max unit, which would later be used on many of Nike's running shoes. And its wavy design, inspired by Japanese bullet trains, gave it a futuristic flair that truly made it stand out. When it was re-issued twenty years later, fans were extremely happy to see that it was still the same as they remembered it. Its responsive Air Max unit still makes the shoe just as fit for the gym as it does for casual walks. Its upper's design, complete with a hidden lacing system, is still as unique as ever and is now available in many eye-catching color options. When paired with a durable outsole and reflective stripes, runners have a shoe that's both stylish and versatile.

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Where to Buy
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Pros & Cons

-Made with high-quality materials

-Multiple colorways available

-Pairs well with many looks

-Comfortable wear

-Versatile usage


-Long break-in time

-Can feel bulky

-Fits larger than average

Key Features
Nike’s trademarked BRS 1000 Regrind is the brand’s very own form of carbon rubber, which gives the Air Max 97 an extremely durable outsole. Its unique and textured tread pattern, which features a boxy design on the forefoot, ensures that the runner will have a high level of traction on all everyday surfaces. Flex grooves are also carved into the midfoot area to give the runner completely comfortable and natural movement throughout the day.
Though Nike had been developing the technology since 1979, the original Air Max 97 was the first ever running shoe to have a full-length Air Max unit as its midsole. It relies entirely on compressed air to provide the runner with a more responsive wear, making it an excellent fit for long distance runs and different types of athletics. It also gives the shoe its incredibly lightweight wear, since it carries far less mass than standard midsole materials. A foam unit is still placed on top for greater cushioning, and removable arch supports are also inserted for those who need them.
Though the many different versions of this model use a wide variety of leathers and textiles for their uppers, the classic Air Max 97 relies on synthetic leather and mesh. The mesh material is featured in smaller segments of the shoe, where the foot needs the most airflow. It has formed panels on either side of the arch and two thin stripes that encircle the shoe from the toes to the back of the heel. When paired with the synthetic leather, these create the wavy, rippling lines that make this shoe stand out. Three of these lines are also reflective, as are the two bands that run down its tongue, allowing the shoe to be seen in low-light conditions. In addition, it also features a hidden lacing system for a highly secure fit.
Though no product listings or reviews specify how much the Air Max 97 weighs, most of them do indicate that it’s a surprisingly light model. This is, of course, due to its classic design and construction. By using an Air Max unit for the bulk of its midsole, it eliminates much of the mass and added weight that a standard foam would give the shoe. Whether they’re worn at the gym or in different casual settings, runners never feel fatigued or cumbersome. They do warn, however, that this shoe does tend to fit larger than average. As a result, this may impact how heavy or light it feels to the individual runner.
Despite its heavy use of synthetic leather, runners say that the Air Max 97 is actually quite breathable. The mesh of its upper is placed on either side of the arch and in sections surrounding the top of the foot to allow complete airflow to areas where it's needed most. As a result of this shoe's targeted ventilation, and its generally wider fit, reviewers have noticed far less blisters and irritations after they started to wear this model.
Most reviewers would agree that the Air Max 97 offers them an incredibly comfortable wear. The use of a full-length Air Max unit, along with standard foam material, in the midsole creates added responsiveness and shock absorption. This not only feels more lightweight but also limits the amount of pain and fatigue that runners will feel by the end of the day. Those who need additional arch support would benefit greatly from the shoe's removable inserts. And the mesh sections of its upper allow more targeted breathability for a cooler and dryer wear. While many buyers are also happy with its wider-than-average fit, it could also feel bulky and awkward to several others.
When the Air Max 97 was first designed by Christian Tresser in the mid-to-late 1990s, it was inspired by bullet trains that were common in Japan. Its original silver colorway further established this, giving it a wavy look that was considered futuristic at the time. Now a major throwback, this re-released version gives runners an easy way to add flair to any casual outfit or gym ensemble. It keeps all of the same design elements that fans of the original model have come to love, including the hidden lacing system and dual pull tabs. What fans are most happy with is the wide selection of colorways that are now available. Whether they want basic black or white, bold yellow or bight blue, silver or gold, or even a shoe that's multicolored, buyers have plenty to choose from when purchasing this stylish running shoe.
Though reviews don't seem to go into specific detail, they do indicate that the Air Max 97 is quite durable. No doubt the sturdiest feature is the BRS 1000 Regrind outsole, which is made of a specialized carbon rubber that easily holds up to constant usage on cement and concrete. And the combination of synthetic leather and mesh allows its upper to maintain its shape for much longer, avoiding many potential rips and tears. Though reviews of other Nike models have indicated that the Air Max model is prone to premature damage, none indicate that this is a problem for the Air Max 97. Considering that this unit runs the full length of the shoe, this is particularly reassuring.
Aside from providing the Air Max 97 with a good amount of traction, the BRS 1000 Regrind outsole also protects the full-length Air Max unit from potential damage. As for the unit itself, its use of compressed air means that the runner is safeguarded against chronic pain and fatigue that would result from constant movement. A removable arch support is also in place to further shield the underfoot against impact. The use of both synthetic leather and mesh, as well as the secure fit provided by the hidden lacing system, ensure that dirt and debris are kept completely out of the foot chamber. As an added bonus, reflective bands are placed around the upper and down the tongue to make it visible in low-light conditions.
All shoes with an Air Max unit have the added advantage of providing an extra responsive wear. Because its unit is full-length, the Air Max 97 is able to give continuous cushioning and shock absorption throughout the course of the runner's gait cycle. The use of compressed air means that not only will less impact be felt throughout the run but also that there will be a much stronger bounce that comes with each toe-off. This makes the shoe an excellent choice for long runs or a game of basketball.
Aside from its highly responsive nature, the full-length Air Max unit also provides a basis for the Air Max 97's very supportive wear. A layer of foam material gives needed cushioning, and a removable arch support is put in place for those who might need it. The shoe's bulky construction does mean that it won't provide nearly as much support and security for those with narrower feet. However, the combined use of synthetic leather and a hidden lacing system keep the midfoot area stable and help to aid in arch support.
Though reviews and listings don't really specify this shoe's ideal usage, its construction indicates that it's definitely a road running shoe. Reviewers have described how often they wear this model to the gym and for their outdoor runs. The specialized carbon rubber of its BRS 1000 Regrind outsole provides an excellent grip on most roads and sidewalks. The Air Max unit also makes it an excellent fit for the basketball court or other activities that require a great deal of running and jumping. And reflective bands across its upper and down its tongue enable it to be used in low-light conditions. Unfortunately, its mesh and synthetic leather upper does mean that this shoe is not suitable for wet environments.
Compared to most of Nike's other running shoes, the Air Max 97 is definitely one of their more expensive models. It can be found on the brand's own website for the high price of $160. Not surprisingly, this does make a number of buyers second-guess themselves before making that purchase. However, many reviews have pointed out this shoe's high levels of durability and comfort, as well as its incredibly versatile wear. All of these definitely indicate that it would be very well worth every dollar spent. Of course, those who are still looking for a lower price easily find one via a number of reputable online listings.
There are a number of benefits that come with Nike's trademarked BRS 1000 Regrind outsole material. Aside from being extremely durable, this form of carbon rubber also gives the Air Max 97 a decent amount of traction on all everyday surfaces such as cement and concrete. This is due to its already textured feel and the boxy tread pattern that featured along the forefoot. However, according to some reviewers, its traction doesn't work nearly as well when used on wet surfaces.
A common complaint about the Air Max 97 is that it requires a longer-than-average break-in time in order to feel truly comfortable and easy to wear. Reviewers have stated that it took them at least two or three wears before they could really make this shoe feel more pliable. This may be due to the fact that this model relies so heavily on synthetic leather for its upper, which is always more challenging to move around in than mesh materials. Once it's finally broken in, however, runners say that can move around naturally during workouts or casual activities.
As stylish and comfortable as it is, the Air Max 97 isn't designed the be a corrective shoe. However, it still offers the perfect amount of stability for the neutral runner. Its BRS 1000 Regrind outsole ensures safe traction along most everyday surfaces, while the full-length Air Max unit heightens responsiveness that both safeguards against chronic pain and keeps the runner powered up for longer. Runners also appreciate the inclusion of removable arch supports for added security. The heavy use of synthetic leather allows the shoe to retain its shape for much longer, and its wide construction lets the toes splay out more easily. Finally, a hidden lacing system is in place to keep the foot locked in securely.
Though no online reviews or listings give the Air Max 97's exact drop height, it can be concluded that it has the average measurement of 10 mm. This becomes especially obvious when comparing its product photos to those of other shoes that have this exact feature. Most runners prefer this particular height, as it gives them the heel cushioning that they need without being so high that it disrupts there natural gait cycle.
Key Features
-BRS 1000 Regrind outsole
-Full-length Air-Sole unit
-Removable arch supports
-Synthetic leather and mesh upper
-Unique hidden lacing system
-Multiple colorways available
-Expensive $160 price tag
Bottom Line
Even though it's been over two decades since this model's original release, the Nike Air Max 97 still remains one of the brand's most classic designs. Its unique wave pattern and hidden lacing system make it stand out amongst other running shoes. And its full-length Air Max unit, the feature that it proudly debuted to the world in 1997, provides a more responsive and comfortable wear while adding greatly to its stylish design. Other qualities such as a durable outsole and wide-set construction make it an even better fit for everything from workouts to the most basic casual settings. Though there are some areas where it could use improvement, it's easy to see why this model has been one of Nike's most popular for so long.
Where to Buy
By Jessica Pilla
Last updated:
Where to buy
Best offer on: Jul. 29. 2021

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