Nike Air Max Zero SE

8.9
8.9 score
[Editors rating (8.9)] = Runnerclick score (8.9)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

If there are less than 10 user reviews for the product in total, the weight of user reviews is decreased from 50% to 25% to make sure that new products are not rated too high.
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Editor rating: 8.9 / 10
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Nike Air Max Zero SE Review Facts

The Nike Air Max Zero SE is a throwback to before the throwback. Dubbed as the “One before the 1”, this model is the preconcept design for the legendary Air Max 1. Just recently released, a full 30 years after the initial Air Max, this shoe is a special edition. The throwback name should not be confused for a throwback design.

This update to the original concept features a reinforced mesh upper with a premium knit cover, a lightweight durable material throughout, and the Air Max Air Sole technology that has been famous with Nike since first revealed in the 1987 Air Max. The same window design shows the Air Sole unit in the midsole with the updated speckled coloring.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Responsive, cushioning technologies for a comfortable ride
  • Lightweight, supportive construction
  • Air Sole unit in midsole for increased cushion and bounce
  • Sock-like bootie construction with attached tongue for full foot support and comfort
  • Additional rubber at heel and toe for additional traction
Cons
  • If you prefer a looser shoe, you may need to size up as the bootie construction and additional in-shoe cushioning makes for a snug fit
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The rubber outsole of the Nike Air Max Zero SE is a grid-like pattern with extra cutouts to keep the weight down and for traction and flexibility. The extra rubber at the toe and the heel allow for additional traction in diverse conditions. The individual cutouts and deeper grooves allow for a natural flex of the foot without resistance causing foot fatigue or injury. The additional flexibility better enables the Air Sole air cushion to repurpose the energy of each heel strike into a propulsion-filled toe off, and cushion the shock impact of the footfall.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

Nike's EVA foam midsole stretches across the entire foot, protecting muscles and joints by absorbing shock but also creating a snapback, returning the energy being put into the run for a faster, more propulsive run. The Air Sole pressurized unit in the heel adds cushion but also absorbs shock from the footfall, reducing the impact on feet, legs and joints. The Nike Air Max Zero SE has doubled its efforts on comfort with both air and foam technologies.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of this shoe is a lightweight, engineered mesh, encompassing the entire foot with a bootie that fits like a glove. This creates both a snug and breathable fit. The structural overlays are synthetic and durable to keep the fit lightweight but also breathable and comfortable. Nike also incorporated a padded tongue and collar. Inside, the Nike Air Max Zero SE has additional cushioning around and under the foot, holding it stable and secure. The tongue is attached to the collar of the shoe, adding to the padded comfort.
Weight
Weight

Weight

This shoe is described as a lightweight shoe. That is supported by the breathable mesh upper, synthetic overlays and cut out outsole. Each attribute reduces potential weight. Add to that the Air Sole unit and cut out window in the midsole and this shoe does retain its lightweight designation though we were unable to find an actual weight on this model.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Nike Air Max Zero SE features a lightweight mesh upper with synthetic overlays that allow fresh air flow into the shoe to keep feet cool. The sock-like sleeve is a textured, breathable textile making for a comfortable fit. The engineered construction of the upper enabled Nike to keep it lightweight and comfortable. Even on a longer run in the middle of summer, runners won't be complaining of sweaty feet.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Nike is present in every sport because they are great at what they produce. They know how to keep an athlete comfortable while increasing their performance capability. That's no different with the Nike Air Max Zero SE. This shoe is built with responsive cushioning technologies. It features a lightweight, supportive construction. It has a sturdy base and traction to keep you stable on your run or just walking around town. The outsole is a grid-like pattern with additional cutouts for traction and flexibility. The extra rubber on the toe and heel provide extra traction for toeing off and quick stops. EVA foam covers the midsole from heel to toe, providing cushion and response to each step. The pressurized Sole Air unit provides additional cushion while the combination of foam and air help to reduce shock on feet, legs and joints, redirecting energy into the toe off, creating a softer, faster run.

The lightweight sock-like mesh upper keeps feet cool but provides support at the same time. An attached tongue, all-around cushioning and a padded collar and tongue create a soft feel all around the foot. The breathable textile upper allows air to circulate while creating an even more comfortable fit.
Style
Style

Style

The design of the Nike Air Max Zero SE is similar to the Nikes of old but crosses into the more recent shoe designs as well. The main colorway is an earth-tone base with deep greens and a tan, speckled midsole. The Nike swoosh is a burnt orange as well as the lace holes and visible Air Sole unit in the base. Additional accents are a darker green or black. The “Air” logo is on a separate synthetic, standing out from the rest of the shoe and the Nike on the heel is a reflective material.

With a sock-like structure, the entire upper is a snug, form fitting piece. The synthetic overlay provides color contrast with the design. The mesh material is also its own color, providing still more contrast and design effect. Flat laces stay close to the shoe, minimizing the appearance of anything not in complete order.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The Nike Air Max Zero SE is a traditional Nike product. The rubber outsole has a grid-like pattern with extra cut outs for increased traction and flexibility. The thickness of the rubber is fairly standard with a traditional makeup. These shoes should be expected to last the average amount of time with daily use. If rotating them into use with other shoes, they should last considerably longer. With the focus on breathability, the inner shoe should also stay in good condition since there will be less heat and sweat to break down the inner padding and lining. As more of a lifestyle shoe, the Air Max Zero SE should last for a decent amount of time as there is not typically as much stress on the construction.
Protection
Protection

Protection

A company whose main focus is performance tends to have a secondary focus of protection. This is something Nike excels at. With every new model or re-imagining of an older model, their design teams are working to increase safety, stability and performance. The Nike Air Max Zero SE is a preconcept design for the legendary Air Max 1 and they have made a few tweaks to the original. They kept the laces the standard top-lace model but made them flat with thinner ring holes. The outsole pattern was changed to a grid-like design with cut-outs for increased traction and to keep the overall weight of the shoe down. This is important when considering a route, whether the road or trail is clear or wet. The additional traction and ability to flex the foot naturally carries a greater importance under certain conditions. Coming as close as possible to the shoe mirroring the foot's natural movement is paramount and Nike makes every effort to do so.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Nike AirMax Zero SE is a lightweight, reasonably responsive shoe. With an EVA foam midsole working together with the Air Sole unit, the energy put into the run is returned in the form of bounce. The faster the run and the quicker the toe off, the more propulsion is expended, creating a smooth, fast ride.
Support
Support

Support

The textured mesh upper on the Nike Air Max Zero SE is lightweight yet remains supportive over the entire foot. The design is such that it hugs the foot securely while still allowing the flexibility necessary with a natural step. A full mesh sleeve holds the foot steady for a comfortable fit with the synthetic overlays acting as scaffolding to the sock-like upper. With the waffle-like design and cutouts for traction, the outsole supports the full movement, providing stability and traction as needed.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Nike Air Max Zero SE is a lifestyle shoe but can also be considered for the road. The most effective terrain will be roads, clear pathways, compact tracks and treadmills. The grid-like outsole cutouts do increase traction but we wouldn’t recommend this model for highly versatile terrain like trail running.
Price
Price

Price

Nike shoes cover every range in price from extremely affordable to extremely high-end. The Nike Air Max Zero SE is a moderately priced running shoe with all the elements of a high-end design, state-of-the-art technology and incredible performance. This shoe is well worth the price, even if just worn around town and not used as an actual running shoe.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The outsole of the Nike Air Max Zero SE is comprised of a rubber, grid-like pattern with cutouts in the forefoot and near the heel. The cutouts add traction and flexibility and allow the foot itself to flex. This unique design allows for a natural flex along the foot rather than a forced flex where the shoe is designed to do so. With the base of the shoe flexing with each footstep, the foot will not get tired so quickly and a longer distance can be reached.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The textured mesh of the upper allows for a higher degree of flexibility to the top of the foot than with alternative uppers. The grid-like design and cutouts in the outsole emphasizes flex and encourage a natural bend throughout the forefoot. The benefit of the combined Sole Air unit and the EVA foam midsole is that they are both incredibly lightweight and allow the foot to flex naturally, reducing foot strain and fatigue.
Stability
Stability

Stability

For a neutral running shoe, the Nike Air Max Zero SE is stable and comfortable. The structure of EVA midsole sinks the foot into the foam, making it feel more secure with little to no movement inside the shoe. The firm but responsive Sole Air unit in the heel provides enough resistance that it is a natural feel with a good over the road experience. Added traction on the outsole with the grid-like pattern and cutouts give a better grip on the terrain keeping the run stable and secure while enhancing the heel-to-toe transitions with a better flex of the foot from heel strike to toe off. Cushion around the collar as well as a cushioned tongue and upper with a standard lace up design help to secure the foot firmly into the base of the shoe for a more stable experience overall.
Drop
Drop

Drop

We didn’t find a measured drop on the Nike Air Max Zero SE in our research but based on pictures, it appears to be fairly neutral with a slightly higher toe than heel. It’s not low enough to be zero but it’s not a significant difference.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

• Sole Air unit provides cushioned, bouncy feel
• Lightweight, sock-like mesh upper allows air flow and keeps feet cool
• Grid-like pattern on outsole with additional cutouts increase traction and flexibility
• Preconcept design for legendary Air Max 1
• Padded lining and soft cushioning throughout entire upper
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The Nike Air Max Zero SE took us back to the good old days of the Air Max 1 but we didn’t stay there. We definitely see an upgrade on the previous version. Nike incorporated the sock-like, lightweight mesh upper, EVA foam midsole and Sole Air unit for a soft, comfortable ride. However, the responsiveness in the Sole Air unit is the show stealer here. The energy put in results in a bounce back propulsion, for a faster, natural feeling ride. This low profile shoe will be fantastic on a long run or a fast run to the grocery store. With Nike's experience in performance-based shoes as well as lifestyle sport shoes, the Air Max Zero SE is the perfect combination of the two.