Nike Air Max Zero Essential

9.1
9.1 score
[Editors rating (8.8) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (9.1)/10

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Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
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Nike Air Max Zero Essential Review Facts
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The Nike Air Max Zero Essential is a stylish men’s shoe inspired by runners. This classic yet modern looking sneaker appeals to athletes, collectors, and people who work on their feet for extended hours. The Air Max Zero Essential sports an interesting history: the shoe was originally designed in 1985, but wasn’t released until 30 years later in 2015. Its design predates the Nike Air Max 1. This slip-on sneaker offers a sleek and snug – but not overly tight – fit. The Air Max Zero Essential earns its solid reputation for reliably supplying superior comfort, lightweight durability, and an alluring appearance.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Super lightweight
  • Nike classic Air Sole
  • Very stylish
  • Slip-on fit
  • Ultra comfortable
  • More durable than average
  • Comes in an abundance of colors
Cons
  • Not the best choice if you prefer lace-up sneakers
  • No reflective detail
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Essential Zero is made of simple rubber. The Zero is a simplistic running shoe without any bells and whistles and the same goes for the shoe's outsole design. Nothing special to note. Reviewers didn't have anything negative to say about the outsole's grip ability, but did point out that the shoe wasn't not the most durable option compared to other similar running shoes.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole of the Nike shoe contains foam for protection against impact. The midsole also includes an Air Sole cushioning unit. Essentially, air pockets help cushion each step as the wearer lands one foot in front of the other. Reviewers liked the fact that the Air cushioning helped keep the weight of the shoe down and appreciated the comfortable protective padding.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of the Nike Essential is a lightweight design that features Hyperfuse overlays. The slip-on design is meant to make putting the shoe on quick and easy, though some reviewers found the shoe opening much too narrow for comfort. Users liked the soft upper feel and appreciated the roomy fit of the Zero. This is a men’s shoe offered in sizes six through 15, with half sizes up to 11.5. Women can take their normal size and subtract 1.5 or two to find a comparable size in these.

There are also kids versions with sizes for both boys and girls. The Air Max Zero Essential typically fits as expected, though some Nike frequent wearers like to opt for a half size larger. The fit has been confirmed to run not overly narrow nor too wide.
Weight
Weight

Weight

There's no specific weight listed for either the men's or women's Essential Zero shoe. But it's clear from looking at user reviews that the shoe feels lightweight. The shoe is a very basic design and features very few extras or added components, which helps to keep the weight at a minimum. The Air sole cushioning in the midsole is lightweight, so the trainer can cushion without packing on too many extra ounces. Reviewers liked that the shoe was lightweight and breathable and appreciated the simple construction of the upper, too.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Nike Air Max Zero Essential will keep your feet cool all day and night. Textile upper structure with molded overlays offers phenomenal breathability. The material construction of the shoe is kept minimal: parts of the sole are recessed and there are no thick overlays. This minimalism pays off in increased airflow.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

These shoes are super comfortable. Slip-on fit gives easy comfortability. An IU foam midsole with visible air provides lightweight cushioning that’s comfortable. Fans report that this shoe provides a smooth and sleek fit, conforming snugly to the foot. It fits like a glove without being too tight.


Super soft materials give the toe portion extra flexibility. The low-top design ensures ample room near ankles, while adequate cushioning around the heel and ankle insure comfort in these tender areas. But don’t be fooled, the Air Max Zero Essential features no superfluous material, keeping the overall weight of this shoe incredibly light and making it a choice companion for sports.

Style
Style

Style

The Nike Air Max Zero Essential comes in seemingly endless colors to please athletes, collectors, and ordinary folk alike. A lot of people dig this shoe on account of its classic good looks. Don’t be surprised if you garner compliments day in and day out sporting these duds. You can find the Air Max Zero Essential in all-black and all-white, in addition to a rainbow of solid colors and bold color combinations. With such an abundance of options, you will surely find a pair (or two or three) to match your favorite outfits, whether you’re hitting the gym, the track, or your favorite weekend hangout spot. The Air Max Zero Essential does not feature reflective details. If you love this shoe but visibility is a must, check out the Air Max Zero Reflective.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The Nike Air Max Zero Essential is more durable than average. IU foam in the midsole provides exc[infographic][infographic]eptional product longevity. A rubber outsole creates additional durability. Few to none report a shoe that quickly or easily falls apart. So don’t be afraid to run your heart out or wear them daily everywhere you go. A few reviewers did feel concerned by the cheap look of the Zero, but users didn't seem to have issues with the shoe falling apart. The cheap looking components, however, was still a point of concern for users.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Essential provides minimal protection in the form of Air cushioning in the midsole. The air pockets help to decrease the force of impact on the body. The breathable upper also helps to ensure the shoe's interior temperature is comfortable. The outsole provides grip to prevent instability, and the overall construction aims to reduce excess wear and tear.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Reviewers didn't have any comments regarding responsiveness. Though, it's likely the Air cushioning in the midsole, combined with EVA foam, help to provide some kind of energy-return to the user. Reviewers did find the Zero comfortable but most weren't using the shoe for running. The majority were happy to use the Zero for walking around.
Support
Support

Support

The upper overlays provide the bulk of the support in the Nike Zero. Reviewers noted that the fit of the shoe is quite roomy, so support lacks a bit because of this. The Air cushioning in the midsole isn't particularly supportive but the EVA layer of padding does offer some support in the underside of the shoe.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

These shoes were created for runners, and though athletes wear them for sports purposes, they are equally well loved by people who work on their feet all day. Many wearers opt to use the Air Max Essential Zero as more of a “lifestyle” shoe. They boast an enjoyable ease of use and offer a tongueless, slip-on construction to fulfill this purpose. These shoes offer lightweight cushioning with the Nike Air Max trademark “Air-Sole” with visibility: you can actually see the air in the midsole. Rubber at the heel and toe provide traction to help secure your grip on a variety of terrains. IU foam in the midsole gives ultra responsive yet lightweight support for optimal performance. These perks make the Air Max Zero Essential a great companion for the court, the track, and the gym.
Price
Price

Price

Price varies greatly upon color choice, and whether or not you purchase the sneaker on sale. Expect to pay up to nine times as much for certain coloring profiles versus the lowest-priced design. At the lowest end of the price spectrum, this is a fairly inexpensive choice for Nike running shoes. If you opt for the most common price point of the Air Max Zero Essential varieties, you might pay triple the cheapest, but you won’t shell out as much as you would need for newer Air Max running shoes. At the highest end of the price spectrum, well, you’ll be paying for a collector’s edition coloring of a classic Nike running shoe - expect to pay a lot. No matter what your budget and preferences are, you can definitely find an Air Max Zero Essential to meet your needs, and you’re certain to receive equivalent value in your purchase.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Nike Air Max provides basic traction. The shoe is good for walking around on various surfaces. Bottom line is that the rubber sole does its job. Reviewers had little to no complaints about the outsole. It does what it's supposed to and works just fine. It's also lightweight, which reviewers quite appreciated.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The Zero isn't exactly the most flexible shoe. The cushioning materials (Air and EVA foam) just don't provide a lot of flex. While the upper features a soft construction, the rest of the shoe is fairly rigid. The outsole isn't particularly flexible and neither is the midsole. Even the slip-on design could use a bit of work. Intended to be easy to quickly get on, the rigid and narrow ankle cup design makes it tough to get the shoe on without a bit of a struggle, said, reviewers.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The Nike Essential is a neutral lifestyle-type shoe, so if you're looking for a stability running shoe, this isn't it. While the upper does feature Hyperfuse overlays to ensure some security, the upper is quite soft and flexible, reducing the shoe's overall stability. All in all, the lightweight design has a lot of give, which reduces stability for the wearer. It's a good shoe for walking around but it just doesn't provide the amount of stability required for a high-intensity activity or for those who overpronate a lot and need correction.
Drop
Drop

Drop

We couldn't locate a specific drop-height for this Nike shoe but the Air Max heel is fairly built-up, which points to a standard or higher than average heel to toe drop. Reviewers didn't have any negative things to say about the drop height, though, so suffice to say, it works well for the intended use.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- Air Cushioning midsole composition
- Foam midsole cushioning
- Hyperfuse upper overlays for support
- Rubber outsole
- Slip-on design
- Synthetic upper construction
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Nike Air Max Zero Essential is an okay option for both exercising and regular daily wear. This sneaker provides lightweight comfort and support. With an array of color options, you’ll find a shoe that fits your color preference, price point, or hopefully - both. The Zero has a slip-on design, yet the fit is still snug so you’ll remain supported and comfortable while wearing it. The Air Max Zero Essential provides durability, airy comfort, and reliable support, all while delivering a simple style. Nike Air Max collectors will love all their color options, but so will folks who simply love to wear sneakers all the time - and want to match!

While the Air Max Zero has its positive aspects and might be a well-liked shoe for collectors or those interested in shoe design history, as a functional option for runners or those seeking a gym trainer, it's a poor choice. There are a ton of fantastic shoe options out there and this shoe is just not one that should be at the top of the list.