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First Impression: Air Jordan IV (4) Retro


Now that the Air Jordan III has been completed, its time to move onto the Air Jordan IV.


Traction – This is the first time herringbone is used on a signature Air Jordan. You still have some features previously seen on the AJ3 – stars & textured rubber – but overall the AJ4 had introduced the traction surface most of us have come to love.


Not only was herringbone introduced to the Air Jordan series with the AJ4, it was introduced in a way that I personally love… facing multiple directions for greater court coverage no matter where your foot is going. Hopefully it’ll provide enough traction since the herringbone is recessed into the rubber.


Cushion – Polyurethane makes up the entire midsole, this will be a recurring theme all the way to the Air Jordan IX as Phylon was first used in the Air Jordan X… hurray! Full blown sarcasm right there…

The same exact setup found in the Air Jordan III is also in place… again, another recurring theme until we get to the Air Jordan X. A heel Air unit and encapsulated forefoot Air unit are in place. One thing to keep in mind is that the Air units and Polyurethane were different back in the 80’s so we are NOT getting the newer releases the same exact way they originally came out hence the point of this project… I’m trying to find out if what we receive today is just as good to play in as it used to be back when they were first introduced.

Due to complaints about paint cracking by casual wearers, the Polyurethane has been changed to accommodate those who only rock their Jordan’s casually… its much more dense than it used to be so it’ll hold up better overtime without the cracking and crumbling we have been accustomed to over the years. I probably should have noted that within the Air Jordan III Performance Review… what can ya do…


Material – Something else that has changed due to the casual wearer… the leather uppers. This particular colorway has a leather upper that is comprised of a ‘split’ grain. I went over this briefly in my video review featuring the Air Jordan IV Retro. Its far to complicated to go over here but its basically a cheaper way to manufacture leather and the U.S. determines anything with leather used as a full grain even though it isn’t. After the manufacturer spits the leather they place a top coat, usually made from polyurethane, over the top and it ends up looking like leather but its far more rigid… this saves the brand money while they still use ‘Full Grain’ leather and it helps with creasing. Unfortunate but true…

One good thing about this type of leather is that its durable. It will eventually crack once the top coat gets dried out but when being put through the rigors of on-court action it will hold up a lot better than premium Full Grain leather. This doesn’t mean I prefer the use of this type of leather but I figured I try to explain the pros and cons… personally, I prefer actual leather since there is less break-in time required.


Fit – The newer releases fit a ½ size big… unlike the 1999 & 2006 Retro versions which were true to size. I have both size 8.5 and 9 so I will likely try them both to see which I prefer.


There are wings placed at the heel of the shoe to draw the heel into place and keep it there. The LeBron line has been doing something similar with the LeBron 8 & 9. I’m guessing this will work out just fine but I wont know for sure until I take them for a ride.


Ventilation – This is the first Air Jordan to feature above average – at the time – ventilation. Mesh side panels are in place and will allow for some much needed air flow… especially since the leather used nowadays is far less breathable than actual Full Grain leather due to the polyurethane coat.


The tongue uses mesh as well. Behind the mesh is padding. This typically restricts the air flow the mesh would provide, however, the interior of the tongue has large perforations throughout so while air flow will be restricted, it wont be restricted as much as it could have been.


Support – This aspect is pretty much the same as the Air Jordan III… rubber heel cup and a molded arch along the midsole. Other than that, the fit & wings will be doing all of the supporting… here’s hoping its enough.


Overall, the Air Jordan IV is very similar to the Air Jordan III. However, there are some noticeable performance upgrades in the design. Traction has been upgraded, ventilation has been implemented & support has been slightly fine tuned with the addition of the medial and lateral wings.

I’m expecting these to cause me some pain since the midsole and cushion are the same setup and the polyurethane is far more dense than the AJIII Retro. I’ll play in these for as much of the 40 hours as I can bare but this will most likely be another pair that causes problems for my legs and knees on a personal level.

  1. Honestly like you said yourself these shoes are made for casual use now … should just invest your time in reviewing actual performance shoes. Sad but true.

    1. I invest my time in plenty of performance models each month. Myself along with countless other basketball fans/ players would love to know if retro models are playable which is why I choose to do this. Its every players dream to play in a pair of their favorite jordans… NBA and NCAA players are included in that category. I will continue to review each of the 23 air jordans as this is my choice and something i want to complete for myself personally… Having others be interested in it is just a nice bonus.

      1. i do believe there’s a self fulfilment with you with working on this project. keep up the good work. well this is your independent site and the advantage to it is you can make your own projects without anyone’s approval. getting to know if anyone cared for your health and the work you put on them is really a bonus after every review.

  2. Are there any places online that sell true air jordan old school models? I would like to get my hands on a pair of air jordan IV and V’s as those were my favorites when I was in school. I don’t want to get ripped off with buying a pair of fakes. Any help would be appreciated, thanks. Keep up the great work!

  3. Not really a comment about the shoe but a general question – what would you recommend for basketball players who are looking for arch support in their shoes? I’m trying to look into some good insoles, but don’t know of any that are made specifically for basketball (or sports in general for that matter)

    1. My favorite insoles for arch support have been Spenco brand. If those don’t work for you, you’ll probably want to see a Podiatrist and get fit for orthotics.

  4. like you said the polyurethane has been changed due to complaints from casual wearers, so i wonder if older pairs of the same retros would perform better. say a pair of ’07 3s, ’06 4s or the CDP blk/cements instead of the 2011. not asking you to fork out another $200 to find out you do enough as it is but it be interesting to see. It sounds like its the lack of compression that is the on real problem with these, and the dated tech may still work just fine if it wasn’t for the more dense polyurethane.

  5. Hey nightwing can you do the 2012 jordan superfly when it releases. It looks like a good performance shoe .

  6. Already reviewing the IV’s?! You just finished the III’s. I mean the project is great and your reviews in general are awesome as always. I’m just a little bit concerned that you are doing to much. You have so much stuff going on, so don’t overpower it and give your body some rest. Take your time and stay healthy Bro.

    1. Thanks bro. I start playing in them next week so no need to worry, just wanted to get the first impression out of the way.

      My body is fine as well. I play 6 nights a week for multiple hours so im used to it.

  7. Looking forward to this shoe’s review. I’d agree with Chrissly3584, take your time & stay healthy.

  8. You should hire a conditioning trainer like in the nba after going through this AJ III-IX. Haha! Just joking. lol

  9. Take it easy man. We really appreciate your effort to review as many shoes as you can, but please don’t kill yourself with these Jordans lol. I’m glad you aren’t curious as to how 50’s players played in Chucks lol. Keep up the good work.

  10. Personally i don’t like it when people wear jordan’s casually, and what’s strange is when i saw the nike flight falcons(they originally had a PU midsole) at famous footwear they had a phylon midsole.

      1. yeah i do too, but i wear all my bball shoes on the court, but it’s just me, like right now im playing with the air max2 uptempo’s that retroed this year, and i tried chuck taylor’s too when i was in seventh grade but it’s just me.

  11. Great concept reviewing all the numbered Js
    Can’t wait for your verdict on the the V
    Been watching the 1990 series VS detroit and decided that I got to get some black Vs

  12. great stuff man! i really wish you could do a review on the new NIKE HYPERDUNK ELITE, i’m planning to buy one next month but i really do need your opinion..

  13. hey nightwing, I remember trying on the 2006 version of the fire red 4s or mar blackmon versions, and my normal size is a size 7.5 and I had to go with an 8 with those because they were so narrow. I tried a size 8 for the 2012 version and they fit a little loose like a 1/2 inch big, the width was fine but the length was long. The guy at a shoe store said that there is nothing wrong with 1/2 inch of space if your broken in a shoe, but getting a new shoe with 1/2 inch of space isn’t good. So you think I should be fine if I went with my normal size for the 2012 versions?

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