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When I came across the latest version in black and white I knew it was the time to finally to put together a Nike Air Force 1 Low review. Originally released in 1982, it was designed by Bruce Kilgore, who also helped create the Air Max 180. The shoe was marketed as “Air in a box” as it was the first ever basketball sneaker to feature an Air Unit in the sole. This was such a big deal at the time, that some of Nike’s own wear testers even refused to give their pairs back!  Known for their chunky silhouette, and traditional all-white finish, the Air Force 1 Low was originally popularized by a group of basketball players that were sponsored to wear the sneaker, who became known as “The Six.” Led by 3-time MVP Moses Malone, the marketing was so successful that even though the sneaker was discontinued in 1984, it was put back on sale just 2 years later. Since then, the sneaker has become a cultural icon, thanks to its constant mentions from rappers, and many limited releases that have stirred up quite a fuss.

2020 was another year with many versions of this classic being released. I copped a black pair in black with contrast white on the midsole, a special edition that stays close to the original design. Out of its iconic gray box the sneaker looks as fresh as always but also a bit bulky and stiff. However, as I tried them on I found them to be quite roomy for my somewhat wide foot. While the upper is solid leather and the sole is quite firm it feels good right out the box, like a mix of sporty and casual shoe. They seem like the type of shoe that will last forever.

Upper

Traditionally, the Air Force 1 Low has a leather upper and the pair I got is no different. It has very similar paneling to other classic Nike’s from the 80’s, such as the Nike Dunk or even the Air Jordan 1. There are several pieces of leather sewn together much like all the classics of that era with a perforated toe box for airflow. The Air Force 1 also features a large swoosh on each side that connects at the back, and a Nike Air tag can be found on the tongue. Although the shoe is relatively plain, its lack of a complex design is part of the reason it's so iconic, and the bold swoosh branding on the sides still allows the sneaker to stand out, even in an all black upper pair like the one I got. Its chunky design also means the model is very durable, so even though rappers like Nelly have popularized only wearing a pair of Air Force 1’s once, they will hold up very well even with heavy usage.

While its basketball court days are clearly over, this is a sneaker great for everyday use and its leather upper makes it a good choice to wear it in any weather conditions. For the colder weather of course you can always try the hi top version that is not as popular but adds the ankle support and protection needed. As with many leather shoes it molds to your feet after a while and thus gets better with time, much like a fine wine.

Sole Unit

Although the Sole Unit of the Air Force 1 Low was fitted with the best technology available to Nike in 1982, it has clearly struggled to stand the test of time. The Air Unit is surprisingly large, but is very thin, and as it's covered completely in rubber, barely compresses underfoot. This results in the sole having quite a stiff and bulky feel, that can make your feet ache if worn for too long. It does not take much to review this sneaker to see that the EVA basic insole can only provide so much cushioning but the good news is that Nike has been coming up with alternatives, such the Nike Air Force 1 Low React.

In exchange, the rubber outsole is extremely durable and works very well with the overall shape of the sneaker, so it is just a question of whether the tradeoff is worth it. Lastly, the Air Force 1’s sole also features Air branding in large letters on the heel, which doesn’t add too much other than add a bit of character to the otherwise plain midsole, but seen as the Air Unit is not visible, it is a nice touch.

How Much Are Nike Air Force Ones

With so many versions available on the market today it’s a fair question to ask how much are the Nike Air Force ones nowadays. The base price for a pair of Low classic or ‘07 is $90 but usually you can find the same shoe for $20-$30 more on eBay or other sites due to scarcity and popularity of most of the colorways. The Special Editions of the same style can run up to $110 -$130 retail price. The LV8 version of the shoe is also varies from $90 up to $150 for special editions, with the mid version of the classic falling in the same price range.

Bottom Line

This sneaker is for a good reason the all time best selling sneaker for the brand in the US; the shoe truly has character and encapsulates a culture that is the base of what we see today on the market. Personally, I found during this Nike Air Force 1 Low review that the stylish look and ability to wear this shoe in any condition strongly outweighs the moderate arch support and frankly, a drop in insole would provide a much nicer feel under foot, for only an extra $10-15. Also, considering it will only cost you $90 to get yourself a pair, the Air Force 1 low is a perfect casual shoe for a sneaker head on a budget, or as a “beater” that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.

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