Anyone who has tried on a pair of Nike’s Air Force 1 know that while one of the best looking, they’re not exactly the lightest shoe out there. Well this is all changed with the Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit.
Released in 2016 — 34 years after the iconic silhouette’s debut — these AF1’s utilize the sportswear giant’s proprietary Flyknit technology, where yarns and other fabrics are engineered to create a featherweight and form fitting upper. The innovative material has been applied to many other classic models like the Jordan 1s, Air Max 1 and so on.
The Forces, however, have a particularly unique backstory. Nike says a handful of its designers were walking on a hot summer’s day in Paris and became convinced that the sneaker could be made lighter and more pliable using new tech. The team went to work, initially fusing Flyknit with a 3D-printed prototype AF1 sole to see if it could be done, and when convinced, got underway on creating a production version.
What’s neat is special attention was paid to pay proper homage to the shoe. For example, the 52 stars found underneath the toe and heel area, which is a nod to the American president’s plane from which the model gets its name, remain, as well as the AIR lettering on the midsole and the concentric circles in the outsole. The designers also kept the leather swoosh, the first such application at the time.
Owning the dark grey lows seen here, I can tell you the weight reduction program (approximately half of the total compared to the original) is no joke. Aside from the aesthetic treatments received by the soles, they’ve been cored as well helping in the light-weighting process. Picking up the pair feels little different than my LunarEpic runners, and almost just as comfortable. Unlike the regular variants, breathability is excellent thanks to the Flyknit’s mesh-like construction.
Make sure to pick up the correct size — I went TTS and my toes sit at the very front of the shoe, so a half-size up is recommended. And from what I understand, these don’t stretch out the same way as something like Adidas’ Primeknit does.