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Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review

I first began playing in two different pairs of original Air Jordan XX’s… that wasn’t the best idea as that shoe apparently doesn’t age well. The translucent rubber used on the herringbone pods get slick with age while the IPS cushion system become hard over time, which caused quite a bit of pain during and after playing in the shoe. Not sure why, but that’s what ended up happening. The new pair from this year (2015), however, was good to go, and that is what I will base my review on. So, I would not recommend playing in a pair of OG’s. You can if you’d like too… but you won’t see me do it again.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 1Traction – When you first look at the traction provided, you can’t help but think that you’re going to receive some awesome traction with harringbone in place. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case. The herringbone is inconsistent, and gets clogged with debris easily. A quick wipe will help with all of that, but it still remains inconsistent overall. Surprisingly enough, the exterior sections of the outsole that feature no herringbone performed best. It’s not often that I wish a shoe didn’t have herringbone, but this is one of those times. Just so you’re not confusing things… inconsistent doesn’t translate into ‘bad’ traction… its just not consistently good/ great. So they get the job done, for the most part, but they do leave you wanting a bit more. Of course a pristine court would change all of this, but I don’t have the luxury of playing on that type of floor often… and I assume you don’t either.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 2Cushion – IPS – Independent Podular Suspension – is an interesting cushion, and I enjoy the hell out of it when it’s new. If you aren’t familiar with IPS, its basically a dual density foam system. You have the Phylon midsole with strategically placed pods of foam that are a little softer than the Phylon. Each pod has a few millimeters of space between it and the Phylon, and they protrude out of the shoe a few milliliters as well. So when you strike the floor, impact is absorbed and you’ll receive a slight bounce or response when pressure is relieved. The Air Jordan XX was the first time the system was utilized, so while its nice on these, it gets better the further you get down the line of Air Jordan’s until you reach the XX3 – the last time IPS was used in an Air Jordan signature model.

When the cushion is new, its amazing. It works as advertised, and if I had to compare it to something… it sort of feels like walking on marshmallow pillars. Actually, thats sort of what the system is. Think of each pod as a marshmallow. You step on it, and it will compress then bounce back into shape. Pretty cool; right?

Now, like I mentioned above, the cushion doesn’t age well… sort of like a marshmallow. They’ll eventually get firm and lose their bounce. So, if you don’t want to shell out the money for a new pair of XX’s, you can try to find the 2008 CountDown Pack version (they’re always priced well below retail on eBay) or possibly try locating a pair of Jordan Icons. Google those if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 3Materials – The materials will vary depending on the colorway, and there are usually three options available; patent leather, leather, and nubuck. Each one will offer a slightly different experience, but nothing to really have a huge impact on overall performance. Pairs with patent leather will require slightly more break-in and more support, while the pairs with nubuck will offer slightly less support with no break-in needed at all. I actually enjoyed the all-leather upper on the ‘Laser’ edition as if required very little break-in due to the softer leather, but they still proved ample support. Out of the three options, the leather is the most neutral, but since there are three options available… everyone can get what they want based on their own preferences.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 4Fit – I feel the XX’s fit a little big. I have them in two different sizes – 9 & 8.5 – and I feel the most comfortable with the 8.5. They just feel more secure when on-foot. If you have wide feet you might want to just go true to size as they should be able to accommodate you. The only problem I encountered was on the newer ‘Laser’ edition… they’re really hard to put on. Their inner booty system is leather, but on the OG models it was a stretchy leather which made it easier to get the shoes on and off. This new version doesn’t stretch at all so getting your foot in is a bit of a pain. Once you are in though, everything is great. Snug, secure, locked-in… it’s like they’re giving you a nice warm hug for the entire time you wear them. Amazeballs.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 5Support – Despite the shoe being a low top, the support is amazing. You have an ultra wide base with huge outriggers. I’ve been having many people get under me while I’m shooting which has me landing on a lot of feet, rolling my ankle numerous times because of it. Every shoe I’ve worn in the past month hasn’t aided me while rolling, except these. That wide base helps awkward landings by creating a large platform to stabilize myself with. For that alone, I appreciate these more than you know.

The rest of the support comes from their fit and lockdown. There are two straps on the shoe, but only one of them does anything… I’ll let you guess which one. If you guess the midfoot strap then you’d be correct. That thing works wonders. It’s large, just like the base and outrigger, so you’re getting a lot of coverage. I don’t like how straps look… but if they serve a purpose then I’m all for them being on the shoe.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 6Overall – I’m really happy that I went and grabbed the 2015 edition. Not happy about how much they cost me, but had I reviewed these based solely on playing in the originals then the outcome would’ve been pretty different. Instead, these are one of my more favorite J’s to play in. If you want to know my list of top 3 Air Jordan models to play in as of right this moment, the Air Jordan 12, Air Jordan 20, and Air Jordan 19… in that order. Yeah… marshmallow cushion for the win. If I were to change anything about the Air Jordan XX… first I’d get rid of the stupid ankle strap, then I’d get a more consistent traction pattern, and that’s literally it. Everything else I thought was first class. If you hoop, want some really comfy cushion, and really great support then grab a pair of Air Jordan XX’s. You won’t be disappointed.

Air Jordan Project - Air Jordan XX (20) Retro Performance Review 7

  1. Return of the Air Jordan Project! Aw Yisss!!

    On another note, this might just be my pc, but I get an error message on the new site alot saying “error establishing database connection”. Am I the first one to bring this up?

    1. You’re not, I’ve been working on it for over a week now but nothing has changed. Hosting is unresponsive toward the matter claiming there in no issue that they can see as they cannot replicate the issue at all.

  2. just a suggestion…
    make the pictures for each article on the homepage links to the articles as well. idk if its just me but i keep clicking on the pictures for some reason.

    anyways, appreciate what you do!

      1. I always want to post something but idk if I still can or can’t make an account and have been hesitant to post since the site has been a bit buggy to say the least. The asthetic is a huge boost but the overall functionality seems a little to be desired. Keep up the good work NW. Love your work

        1. The bugs on the site are being worked out as we speak so we shouldn’t be experiencing any issues from here on out. The old theme was causing problems for some reason. If you wanted to sign up and join the forum, feel free. People seem to be enjoying it so far.

  3. Nice! It’s about dang time! LOL!!!! The XX 3/4 were the best of the XX’s to play in. Wore them so much the IPS started to fall out!
    You shouldn’t have these cushion issues on the XX1. Less IPS pods. Have fun with all the heat though!

    1. Yeah the IPS is perfectly fine on my XX1’s. The traction on the XX1’s was really nice from what I remember too. I used to wear the lows outdoors, never played in the mids though.

  4. XX Lows were one of my favorite shoes to play in, although I didn’t like having Jordan’s face etched on the back of one shoe. IPS feels amazing underfoot and works very well in transition. The best part of the shoe to me was transition. Mids were okay but that midfoot strap came loose easily and the ankle strap made them irritating to put on/take off.

  5. Something about this review seemed more thorough. That’s not say that others aren’t, but I feel intrigued to want to test a retro out that I’ve never played in before after this review. I have my TTS Stealths reserved for me to go get in the AM and I was a bit concerned on hearing about how going down .5 was ideal for you. Oh well I had intentionally aimed on getting these for stunting because the Stealth XXs look clean.

    1. I definitely needed .5 down to play in for the Mids. Lows were TTS to me, but the Mids were roomy to me.

    2. When I wore the size 9 they were perfectly fine for me so I think you’ll be good, I just happen to feel that when laced up to hoop the smaller size was more preferable. As for you being intrigued to play in a pair now… blame it on the marshmallows lol.

    3. These joints need that .5 reduction. They fit long in the XX and In the icons. I tend to rock my icons over the XX just cuz I don’t like the strap. I remember the first time I tried these on and yes those pods did something and are def comfortable the run in and yes the compress rather quickly so when you hoop in them just wear them out. the CP3 “3” third model has the pods also and those joints are mad comfy and are still a great hoopin shie that I give AirPlay about thrice a month.

  6. Great review NW! I love how you broke down the cushioning setup in so much detail. How would you compare this IPS system with CP3’s podulon cushioning system? Which cushioning system has better court feel and impact protection? I love low tops and never even considered the Jordan XX until your review. I might check out the Stealths when they come out or grab a pair of CP3 VIIIs.

    1. Podulon uses Cushlon with less protruding pods, sometimes the pods are nonexistent like on the CP3.VI. They’re both great w transition and impact protection. IPS relies heavily on the few millimeters of space to create impact absorption while Podulon has a high rubber content so it naturally feels bouncy and absorbs impact pretty decently. As for court feel, the XX’s sit pretty high off the ground, something I was a little surprised by. But they weren’t unstable at all, and it wasnt noticeable once playing.

    2. I agree, particularly enjoyed this review. The description of the IPS system was great, as I’d always wondered what it was, but never bothered to research it. Now I have a vivid idea. N1 NW.

      On another note, I never liked the XX’s simply because I think they look ugly off-foot. I have a feeling it’s due to that weird-a$$ ankle strap. Though seeing them your feet in the top-down pic, I must admit they look pretty hot. Maybe this is just one of those on-foot lookers. My fave Jordan’s are still the 18s (white/blue royal). IMO, there will never be a sexier shoe…just drooling thinking of them.

  7. Does Nike have information on what kind of foam the actual pillar foam is? I read the phylon midsole carrier and I don’t think Lunarlon was quite in existence back in ’05, but the marshmallow expanding description made me think that the IPS was the predecessor to it. I mean naturally all J’s before the next are predecessors, but I wonder what it was called within the system?

    1. I dont think so, but I’m pretty sure its a softer Phylon. Like Dual Fusion is dual density Phylon, thats what I think this is. Not 100% though… just my thoughts.

  8. hey NW,

    random but what leg compression sleeves are you wearing in the pic? can you recommend any in particular?

  9. so did the ips system go from foam to air in the later jordans? i remember the 22’s with air in the heel, but im not sure what the forefoot was.

    1. These have a hexagon shaped Air unit (small unit) in the heel, just forgot to mention it. The XX1 & XX2 are similar, but those came with removable heel pods that featured Air & Zoom for a ‘customized’ ride. The XX3’s have EVA pod in the heel and forefoot Zoom in conjunction with the pods which feels awesome.

      1. Nice review. I enjoyed playing in the OGs back in the day.

        Glad you’re making some time for the Jordan Project. Can’t wait til you get to the XX3s. The cushioning is great on those – IPS and zoom for the win.

  10. I have the Black Cats from the CDP. They feel really comfortable nd I like how they look. I bought mine DS on eBay for $140!!! Great review NW ! Love how you constantly update your site.

  11. I have just recently learned to dunk, but my back hurts for a couple of days after I do it. I play in the rose 4. Do you think I need a more cushioned shoe, or could it be that they are about a size small? If it’s a cushion issue, do you think that micro G will be enough impact protection, considering I have back pain, or should I just go with an all out cushy shoe, like the superfly 3 or a Lebron or something?

    1. Maybe you are landing with too much force on your heels, try to stay on you forefoot to relieve some shock. If that isn’t possible then look into a shoe with heel cushion.

    2. You absolutely need some serious cushion if you’re a high flyer and bearing in mind your age factor. I too was hooping in some D.Rose 4.5s(same shoe) months back and that EVA just didn’t cut it for me on a painful plant and landing. I’m thinking you might have to sacrifice some court feel for a plush cushion shoe that’s going to protect you on explosive plays and the next day of course to an extent.

        1. Awww man you shouldn’t be feeling a damn thing and if so, not for very long at all. I felt damn near invincible at that age. Try still dunking 21 years later and then consider the age factor lol.

  12. Nice review NW! It was back in 2005 and is still interesting to me now that these are called “Air” Jordan but has no air cushioning in them 😛

      1. Thanks for all of your input bro. I literally have these on feet now and feel that heel unit you mentioned. Also I dig that you linked the IG feed here; I see my picture I just tagged. I’m about to tag every time from now on lol.

  13. Nightwing you are the best in the game right now as far as reviews..its your understanding and delivery of relevant detail that seperates you..I mean the in depth description of the different upper materials and how they perform is epic. I don’t d ride lol or anything I just give credit where it is do..point is its appreciated lol. I had the original ones in white with the bronze lazer and black soles red strap..anyway I’ve never rolled my ankle more in a pair of shoes so I wonder if they improved on the strap system for support?

    1. Nightwing i want the stealths but Is there a difference from the OG to the retro in the strap low to mid fit system? I guess is my question because you said the support was good.

    2. I appreciate it! I don’t think they improved anything. I know they were having a hard time finding everything they needed in order to make them as close to the OG as possible.

  14. Off the topicof shoes, what do you think the umcoming Titans Tv show on tv centered around Nightwing.
    I hope it will be a bart of the Arrow-verse (which is huge now, with Arrow,Flash,Supergirl, and the A.T.O.M spin off)

  15. Any possibility of you doing the scaling system out of 10? I really missed that, really wanted to see what these would get.

  16. “Amazeballs” lol keep up that weird choice of words, and thanks too for the continued output of insightful reviews!

  17. Hey Nightwing. I recently bought a size 9 Stealth since my TTS (8.5) is not available at the shop. The fit was nice, and has a thumb-width space in front. They are also the same length of my 8.5 X Lady Liberty. However, I agree that they are hard to put on and the ankle strap really bothers me. Will I have any problem hooping in this? Should I return this pair and grab a TTS? Thanks for your reviews!

  18. You mentioned the Icons, I’m looking forward to buy a pair
    Could you make a review on these, i would really appreciate it
    As always awesome review nightwing

  19. Hi nightwing great review. Quick question the nubuck and leather versions i know those will stretch around my wide feet but will the patent leather ones too, given theyre learher maybe they will but i never had a patent leather shoe before and im considering these to be the first. Thanks if you answer

  20. Picked up the CDPs yesterday.

    Traction – Doesn’t make the squeaking sound (which I usually love) but no slippage.

    Cushioning – Amazingly soft. Good feel under the feet.

    Fit – I have wide and short feet so to give you an example of the shoes I wear: AJ12 and 13 – 8, 10+15+19 – 8.5, 1s – 9. I got an 8.5 in these and my foot’s arch has been killing me at night after a couple hours of ball. The shoe is pretty hard to get into and I feel the straps compressing my feet even more. I also have been getting some slight friction on my heel. The ankle strap I don’t even put on as it’s limits my range of motion.

    All in all, decent shoe, need to try it .5 size up and see if results vary.

    Thanks NW! Hope to see a review on the rest soon.

  21. Hey Nightwing. I’m sure you probably get this question all the time, but do you plan on continuing the Air Jordan Project anytime in the near future? Been a big fan of the project since it’s conception and I’m really looking forward to what you have to say about the remaining pairs. Love your work and keep it up.

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