Nike Air Max 98 Review Facts
The original Nike Air Max that debuted in 1998 was designed by Sergio Lozano and quickly became a very popular shoe. On the 20th anniversary of the original release, the brand has decided to relaunch the Air Max 98, exactly like it did with the AM 97 in 2017. There are several colorways of the famous shoe, all of which are highly sought-for by the avid Air Max fans. While most people will treat the Air Max 98 as a lifestyle shoe, it packs enough technology, durability, and responsiveness to be treated as a short-to-medium distance road running shoe – and a good one, at that.
The outsole of the Nike’s re-released famous trainer, the Air Max 98, is made from a durable rubber compound named Nike Regrind. This sole is made in the brand’s bid to reduce its toxic waste, so they used recycled rubber to create it. While it sounds very second-hand, this kind of rubber is actually very durable, while also being environmentally-friendly. The outsole configuration features segmented traction lugs in the forefoot area, separated into three parts, while the midfoot and heel area feature deep traction grooves that allow for swift heel-to-toe transition. The center of the outsole features the recognizable Swoosh and the flex groove in the heel aids in dispersing the impact forces so that the walking and running experience is as smooth as possible.
There are two distinct layers comprising the midsole of the Nike Air Max 98. The first one, closest to the outsole, is the one featured in the name of the shoe itself; the Air Max transparent full-length cushioning sits on top of the Regrind rubber and adds to the underfoot protection of the shoe. The pressurized air inside the urethane bag compresses upon impact and immediately returns to its original state, thus generating kinetic energy used to propel the foot forward. On top of the Air Max unit is the Polyurethane foam compound that increases the softness, comfort and cushioning of the midsole, providing a comfortable landing pad for the foot. To add another layer of cushioning, there is a removable, thin insole sitting on top of the foam midsole, providing great comfort, especially while walking.
The upper design of the Air Max 98 is what most people rave about. The upper uses a combination of textile and synthetic materials, including PU leather. The top part of the outsole features breathable synthetic mesh, while the lower, dual-toned part utilizes a mix of nylon, textile and double-stitched faux-suede which one customer described as ‘buttery’ to the touch. The high-quality build and high-quality materials provide longevity to the upper, as well as some structural support. The one unique thing about the Air Max 98’s upper is its intriguing lacing system which features a combination of eyelets and lace loops that allow for a tight and customized fit, while also looking cool. The tongue and heel are moderately padded, and the heel area features an external heel cup comprised of the PU materials that enwrap the entirety of the foot.
While the shoe looks bulky, the on-foot feel that the Nike Air Max 98 provides is anything but. The combination of pressurized air and lightweight foam in the midfoot makes a great balance between substantial cushioning and very lightweight. The upper materials make up for the majority of the hoe’s weight, making it unfit to be a racing shoe – but that’s not its purpose either way. For the purposes of walking and running medium-length distances, the Air Max 98 weighs around this category’s average. The lightweight midsole contributes to the general lightweight feeling of the shoe because you won’t feel like there’s anything below your foot that’s pulling you down, as you would with some densely-cushioned walking shoes on the market.
The Nike Air Max 98 is a breathable shoe that has caught several runners by surprise. While most runners expect the PU and synthetic overlays to translate to a hot-spot-prone shoe that lacks breathability, the mesh area of the upper actually provides enough airflow and ventilation even for long walks on a hot summer day. However, don’t expect the 98 to possess the same kind of airflow as some sock-like running shoes that feature 360-degree mesh construction – the PU parts of the upper aren’t perforated, so you can expect some hot spots from forming from time to time, but that’s nothing that’s going to diminish the comfort and general feel the shoe has to offer.
According to several runners, the newly released version of the Nike Air Max 98 is more comfortable than the original, mainly because of the much roomier toe box that allows toe stretching and flexing, without feeling constrained. The majority of the customers have said that the shoe runs true to size, although some have noted that they needed to opt for a half-size bigger shoe. As with most Air Max configurations, this shoe requires some break-in time in which the level of comfort it offers won’t be suitable for everybody’s taste. However, once you do break-in the shoe, the full potential of the air and foam cushioning will be released, contributing to a very comfortable in-shoe experience. The break-in period won’t be as bad as with some other Air Max shoes, like the VaporMax Flyknit 2
, thanks to the contoured PU midsole foam sitting on top of the air cushioning and providing softness to the stride from the get-go.
This is a perfect shoe for people who like to have some of that well-known 90s vibe coupled with modern colorways and design – and the Nike Air Max 98 is all that, and then some. The low-top construction of the shoe makes it versatile and modern, and the most-coveted colorway from the original is back as well: the ‘Gundam’ colorways has quickly become a collector’s item. The shoe also has reflective properties, thanks to the 3M reflective nylon integrated into the upper. The lacing system which consists of three lace loops at the top of the vamp, two loops in the midfoot area, and eyelets near the collar, provides complexity and makes the shoe look unique without people necessarily realizing what’s making it look that way. While the outer side of the shoe features the recognizable Swoosh, the inner side features a leather patch shaped like a boomerang. There are various embroidered details throughout the upper that make the shoe look – and feel expensive.
This shoe would have great durability even if it was primarily a running shoe. Given that the AM 98 is more of a lifestyle and walking shoe that you can run in if you need to, the durability it showcases as a lifestyle shoe is amazing. The Regrind rubber compound in the outsole is resilient and long-lasting, while the pressurized Air units in the outsole won’t flatten or wear down over time. Compared to the traditional EVA foam midsole, the AM 98’s one will outlast it by a hundred miles at least. As for the upper, the sturdy, double stitched faux-leather overlays make this sneaker a very long-lasting one, especially because urban environments aren’t full of things such as roots, rocks, and branches, that can tear or damage the upper while walking down the street.
The greatest protective property of the Nike Air Max 98 is without a doubt its full-length Air cushioning that is positioned below another cushioning layer – the PU foam. This midsole configuration provides great underfoot protection and almost entirely dampens the ground feel, so that the impact forces, as well as the potentially uneven ground, don’t cause any discomfort. The lightweight
nature of the shoe prevents your foot from getting tired in it, and the sturdy and structured upper offers protection similar to one of a trail shoe regarding the toes box and the heel.
The Air cushioning
is known for its fantastic responsiveness; so much so, that this is one of the most popular and effective technologies in the business for at least two solid decades, if not more. The pressurized air inside the flexible airbags responds to impact by compressing and flexing, returning quickly into its original shape and producing kinetic energy in the process. This energy, in turn, is utilized to create an energized and bouncy feel and propel the foot forward. This process is further encouraged by the segmented tread pattern in the forefoot, complementing the responsiveness of the shoe perfectly.
The Nike Air Max 98 is a shoe made for people who do not require additional arch support. If you have normal, medium-high and high arches, you’ll feel just like at home in the AM 98. Thanks to the removable insole, you can also get away with replacing it for a customized orthotic insole that addresses your mild overpronation or supination issues, although the low-top construction of the shoe does pose some limitations to the thickness and aggressiveness of this customized insole. The upper is very sturdy and offers great lateral stability and support, preventing foot twisting and wobbling.
The Nike AM 98 is a lifestyle shoe first, meaning that it’s primarily used for fashion and walking purposes, rather than running. However, if you’re keen on running in such a looker, the shoe offers enough cushioning
to sustain up to a half-marathon run without an issue. For anything longer than that, you’ll require a less sturdy and more lightweight shoe. The AM 98 is a road shoe, meaning that you can wear it on concrete, pavements, gym floors and any other flat surface that isn’t an off-road trail or too uneven. Don’t let the upper design fool you into wearing them on the trail, because the Air unit in the midsole can be ruptured by a sharp rock, leaving the entire shoe unstable and with less cushioning.
While even the official price of the shoe is a bit on the more expensive side of the spectrum, if you’re an avid fan of the Air Max 98 design, or you’re into collecting special releases of the shoe, you’ll probably find the price of this shoe to be reasonable. Its quality build, versatility and design are all arguments in favor of making the purchase. The unofficial, market price of some colorways of the shoe can skyrocket up to 300%, depending on the availability and demand of that specific colorway, so choose your AM 98 wisely, depending on whether you want to resell, collect it, or actually wear it.
The eco-friendly Nike Regrind outsole offers great traction on dry terrain. It’s said to provide the same traction quality on wet terrain, although there aren’t any substantial customer reviews to support this claim for this specific shoe. That being said, the grippy outsole, paired with its tread pattern with lugs in the forefoot, looks very promising. The lack of lugs in the heel and midfoot is also indicative of the shoe’s decidedly road-running nature –don’t take it to the trail, or it’s likely that you’ll slip on the first wet rock you step on.
While the upper of the Air Max 98 is on the sturdier side, the lacing system, along with the synthetic upper in the top area of the shoe, allow for some much-needed flexibility that allows for a customized fit, as well as the foot to move unrestricted. The deep flex grooves throughout the outsole make the sole flexible, facilitating a smooth heel-to-toe transition, as well as an easy toe-off.
The prominent cushioning in the heel, along with the build of the PU foam in the midsole, provide essential stability to the Nike Air Max 98, while the unique lacing system, which is partially attached to midfoot overlays, stabilizes the foot inside the shoe box, preventing any wobbling and forward movement of the foot inside the shoe box. Additionally, the heel counter prevents unwanted heel slippage, while the sturdy lateral construction of the upper decreases the chances of ankle twisting and losing balance in his lifestyle shoe.
While there is no official brand statement about the heel-to-toe differential of the Air Max 98, it’s evident that the shoe is far from a zero-drop one. In fact, it’s much more likely that the shoe features a 10-12mm drop, which usually favors heel strikers and midfoot strikers (to an extent). However, if you’re only planning on walking in the shoe and wearing it out and about, the drop becomes less significant, seeing that the slower you go, the less the cushioned heel will get in your way, even if you are a forefoot striker.
● Nike Regrind eco-friendly outsole
● Air Max transparent full-length cushioning + Polyurethane foam midsole
● Removable contoured insole
● Textile, PU leather and synthetic mesh upper
● Extremely comfortable, especially after break-in
● Road, track and treadmill shoe
● Great responsiveness
Nike has celebrated two decades since the release of the original Air Max 98 shoe by re-releasing it, complete with a full-length Air sole unit sitting on top of the Regrind rubber. The vintage style, combined with the bulky look that is all the rage in the last couple of years, guarantees that the shoe will have a cult following for the years to come. However, prepare yourself to spend a hefty amount to get your hands on this shoe.