For those of you who have been ignoring the budget models from Nike because the signature lines “perform so well,” you have been missing out. Don’t worry, I was one of you…until the Air Max Infuriate. This was fun…
TRACTION – This is a nice design idea: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Borrowing from the HyperRev 2016, we get the same diamond pattern along the forefoot and heel, and just like the Rev, it sticks to anything, including walls and ceilings (didn’t really try, but it might). But wait, Nike didn’t stop there. Knowing certain parts of the outsole could be better, if that’s possible, it placed deep herringbone on the medial and lateral forefoot for a little extra grab when turning and planting. Just look at that area under your big toe, where most of your quick first steps should come from. That is traction.
Being a budget model, the rubber is a little harder and thicker than most sig models, so outdoors should be easy and last for at least a couple of months. Killer.
CUSHIONING – Normally, Air Max is not thought of as a guard cushioning. It is a little unstable and makes the shoe sit higher than most quick players like. However, the Air Max unit in the Infuriate is bottom loaded; Nike simply replaced the midsole Phylon with an Air unit. The rise is still low and completely the opposite of unstable. There were a couple of times during playing that I felt the compression along the edges, but overall the heel was stable and very, very plush. On top of that unit is the remainder of the Phylon and where most budget models have been using a harder foam, probably for durability, the foam in the Infuriate is softer. It does still take a couple of wears to break into softness, but after just a couple of games the foam feels great.
The forefoot is more of that same Phylon, and it is more of the same “feels great after break in time.” At first it is stiff and hard, but again, after two or three games and you feel a distinct sinking and compression. You won’t feel slowed down at all, however, because the ride is low. Court feel is a premium factor, and the Infuriate excels in that area without impact protection being completely sacrificed.
MATERIALS – Simple open mesh with some fuse overlays around the laces is used here, but this mesh is super-soft and comfy. It is like the mesh we got last year on the Nike Zoom Ascention and the Nike Air Versatile this year — soft, flexible, durable, and it molds to your foot with no hot spots. The one difference is the addition of the fuse printed patterns on the upper — it serves no purpose at all, except maybe some durability coverage, but damn does it look nice.
The lacing system is fairly straightforward, even with the Flywire on the bottom four lace holes. Regular foam in the ankle forms and fits for lockdown, while the tongue is thick where it needs to be and thin where it doesn’t (word to Kylie). The top of the tongue takes the lace pressure off, since you need to pull a little tighter for that low-top lockdown, while the body is thinner to allow ventilation.
FIT – Spot-freaking-on. This may be the best fitting shoe I have worn this year. Length in true to size left me with just about an index finger width of space, while the toebox fits right over my foot. This doesn’t hurt at all with the flexibility of the materials. The width is a normal to slightly narrow, so if you are a wide-footer you may want to go up a half, but the Infuriate is easy to find now, so try it on.
The midfoot, again, is completely locked over the midsole, due to the Flywire (which works) and the Phylon midsole wrapping up past the cushioning unit and over the footbed. There is also a fuse lace cover under the first three laces that keeps the upper from stretching on serious movements (pictured above). Simplicity that works.
The heel is the *ahem* Achilles heel of most lows. With a lack of lacing it is hard on a poorly designed shoe to get locked down without an ankle collar (LeBron XIII Low). No problems with the Air Max Infiuriate, which is kind of infuriating, since the LeBron was twice the price. The last lace hole is set back on the collar to pull the shoe into the heel and the ankle padding and Achilles notch form around the foot for complete lock-in. There is a slight internal heel counter to tie into the midsole for added lockdown.
SUPPORT – Yes, low tops can have support, and the Air Max Infuriate is no joke. Most of the upright trust is built from the midsole. The medial and lateral side both have extended sidewalls that come over the footbed, keeping your foot in line and tight on cuts and defense. When you push against them to make a move, the wall of Phylon keeps gives you a serious starting block to get moving. Most “guard” shoes lose that element for freedom of movement, but it is nice to push off and have a solid base to push off of. The forefoot is sucked in by the Flywire but also has a substantial outrigger — not just the thin rubber at the base of the sole — because this one is built up along the sidewall all the way to the foot. Normally, this feels clunky but the rounded sculpting along the midsole promotes compression and won’t cause pressure to be sent back to your toes.
The heel has even more of the raised Phylon sidewalls around the heel counter and it works. There is an internal counter, but it is nothing more than some cardboard. The real magic is the Phylon, wrapping around the back of the shoe and coming high enough to wrap the heel and keep it tall and straight. By not raising the heel cushioning with the added Max unit, the heel is still stable on landings.
Transition is a huge bright spot for the Air Max Infuriate. Most shoes with two different cushionings can feel slappy and slow. The Infuriate rides at close to the same height in forefoot and heel. Thus, it feels very natural underfoot while running and cutting.
OVERALL – The Nike Max Infuriate first appeared on the Interwebs back in June 2016 and for some reason was delayed until this past December. One reason for this wait until December could have been to place it smack in between the big signature releases, because honestly, it outperforms most shoes priced $50 higher. No, price shouldn’t be a factor in reviews, but when you can get a shoe like this for under $100 ($80 to be exact, although Finish Line has them marked down to $60 in store) it is truly amazing.
The Air Max Infuriate is a shoe for ANY player — small, quick guards, small forwards who fly, and traction whores. The only slight problem may be for players needing a little more forefoot cushioning, or bigger players who need more shoe overall (although I am a pretty big guy). I wish the Air Max Infuriate had made it’s way to my feet before 2017 — it would have been Top 7, maybe higher. Honestly, if Nike keeps producing budget models like this, it may see some signature athletes drop their shoes and lace up a pair. Don’t be fooled by price — the Air Max Infuriate won’t make anyone angry.