The best Air Jordan game shoe since the XX9. Our Air Jordan 34 Performance Review is here.
Herringbone is back and we’re loving it. Just like the Air Jordan 4 back in 1989, the Air Jordan 34 is the first Air Jordan to feature herringbone traction in quite some time.
It’s aggressive, spreads across the outsole in fan-like fashion and has performed as good as it looks. Like the Air Jordan XX9, the traction has a sneaky bite that isn’t squeaky. It took me a little bit of break-in time for it to have that stop-on-a-dime type of grip, but it was worth the short wait.
It’s also been proving to be pretty durable as well. This is the only shoe I’ve been playing in for the past 2+ weeks and even with them being my main shoe at the moment, the traction isn’t fraying or breaking off.
We’ve been saying it since day one – use what works. Bladed herringbone traction comes into play with the Air Jordan 34 and it has worked extremely well. With the amount of time I’ve put in, whether it be on Nike NYC HQ’s pristine hardwood floor or at my regular local high school gym, I don’t think I’ve ever needed to wiped my soles.
The rubber outsole is pretty thin, but the durability of the traction while indoors has been solid. Due to the rubber being on the thinner side, you may run into some durability issues outdoors, but that applies to most shoes today.
Overall, a solid move going back to herringbone. Very solid move.
This is the best Zoom Air experience I’ve ever had. And I’ve had many Zoom Air experiences.
I jokingly consider myself a Zoom Air connoisseur as Zoom Air is my absolute favorite cushion (when done right) of all-time. The Air Jordan 34 not only implements Zoom Air correctly, in a way you can feel, but it’s also done in a way I’ve never felt before. Ever.
The forefoot is springy, yet supportive. It’s responsive, yet offers an incredible balance of stability and court feel. It has a snap to it that feels like it propels you forward with your stride.
At the rear there is a large volume Hex Zoom Air unit, and I was actually able to feel it whenever I’d crash on my heel. For those that prefer or require heel and forefoot cushioning, this might be one of the best shoes on the market that will offer you just that.
A whole lot of Zoomin’!
The Air Jordan 34 features a bottom loaded 10mm Zoom Air unit and a top loaded 14mm Hex Zoom Air unit in the heel. Since I have a heavy foot, I absolutely felt all the bounce-back we’ve come to expect from Zoom Air. The phylon midsole is soft enough, without lacking stability, to feel all the feedback you could ask for from a max cushion setup such as this.
Despite the larger volume Zoom cushioning units, the shoe plays low to the ground while still providing ample impact protection. Heel to toe transition was as smooth as hell, even with the Eclipse plate in place.
When I spoke to Chris, he asked if I had felt the Zoom, and I absolutely did. I’m also pretty heavy-footed, and almost 50-60lbs heavier, so I better feel it. This cushion combo is definitely the wave and something you’ll want to at the very least try out in-store.
The materials are interesting as they’re not premium, but still performance drive.
Many expect a premium build when it comes to an Air Jordan, but those same people will then complain that the premium build is too heavy. Instead of trying to please everyone, and no one, all at the same time, Jordan Brand went with straight lightweight performance.
The exterior materials are very light and very breathable. However, under that initial layer is where the real meat of the build is located. A layer of performance woven, done in a basket-weave style, tightens up when more force is applied. It remains flexible, lightweight, and breathable without losing much strength.
This setup will also allow Jordan Brand to mix up the top layer of materials without changing the overall performance of the shoe. You can offer ripstop, mesh, or something else entirely, while still keeping the under-layer of performance woven.
I went true to size and that is what I would recommend for most people. I feel there is just enough space inside the shoe so that most foot shapes should fit snug, but not in a suffocating way.
Lockdown was really solid once you get the laces adjusted to where you’d like them to be. One of the main reasons why laces will never go out of style. Sorry, FastFit. While the laceless concept was very cool, nothing really beats being able to adjust each lace rung as tightly, or as loosely, as you may need.
However, the one thing that I would have liked to have seen here is a bit of rubber coating on the lacing system — like what we saw on the adidas Dame 4. When I would tighten up the shoe I’d need to hold onto the laces as I move up each section as when I’d let go of the laces they’d almost immediately start to give some slack again. It’s not something that is a huge problem, but it would have been a nice feature.
The thing that surprised me most was the overall fit of the shoe. Especially as I have a slightly wider foot.
Even with my wider foot, I felt like the shoe was made exactly for me — which is rare. True to size is what I would recommend as that is what has worked really well for me.
The support on the Air Jordan 34 is exceptionally good, even with all of the lightweight materials in place.
The heel counter is large and strong. It’s the focal point of the entire upper while the rest of the materials attach to it. This heel counter did cause a little bit of digging under the ankle bone on my right foot, but the digging feeling would go away once I started playing. It was also only present with my right shoe as my left shoe felt like it was made specifically for me. While filming the video review I had noticed that the cup was no longer pushing into my ankle so I guess it just took a couple of weeks to adjust to my specific foot/ankle shape.
The woven underlay materials I touched on in the material section adds additional support in terms of the material built. Then the Eclipse Plate really takes everything from there.
This Pebax chassis worked better than any of the previous FlightSpeed/FlightPlate iterations for me. It kept the entire tooling torsionally strong and rigid, but also maintained enough flex in the forefoot so I didn’t feel like I was wearing a boot instead of a sneaker.
Support was a big surprise for me. Given that the nature of this shoe was to minimize weight and remove all of the unnecessary layers, the lightest weight Air Jordan to date is also one of the more supportive.
I really enjoyed the way the heel cup wrapped and molded around my heel. I was able to get that 1-to-1 fit, as a wide footer, without feeling like I was wearing something restrictive or flimsy.
Every tech feature added to the shoe is there for a reason. No excess. Every part of the shoe work in unison with one another, eliminating any unwanted distractions.
This is the best Air Jordan game shoe since the Air Jordan XX9.
I still hold the Air Jordan XX8 as the G.O.A.T. but I’d say these are right in line with the Air Jordan XX9. Every time I laced them up to play they would feel just a little bit better than the last time I wore them. They responded perfectly. Fit well. Offered a cushioned feel that was unlike anything else I’ve ever worn.
This is just a really fun shoe to play in. If you end up with a pair, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have been.
It’s been a while since I can say I’ve enjoyed an Air Jordan model this much from top to bottom.
Jordan Brand has stated that from this shoe forward, there will be little to no reference toward its older models (Retro products), and that’s the way I feel it should be. The #FutureofFlight should move toward the future instead of looking back at the past. Jordan Brand really nailed it.