words // Nick Engvall
images // Nick DePaula
Expectations With No Exceptions
Taking all of the preconceived notions about how a shoe performs can be challenging sometimes. Especially when judging based on things like price, where it is absolutely impossible, specifically when some shoes retail price is set at upwards of twice the cost of shoes in the same category. As strange as it may sound, there is one thing that will always affect my expectations more than the price of a shoe, and that is its legacy.
The Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer carries a name and stature that epitomizes this in a couple of ways. Of course, the original Nike Air Trainer Huarache, which was groundbreaking back in the day, is one of the more comfortable training shoes created. Secondly, the Nike Trainer 1, which was basically a revamped version of the original Nike Air Trainer, is a tough shoe to compete with on the level of do-it-all performance.
Seeing as how Amar’e Stoudemire has been wearing the Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer nearly all season in our Sneaker Watch coverage, I knew coming in that would, of course, be a major focal point of my review. Before I get to that, there are a few points about the Zoom Huarache Trainer that need to be touched on.
The first thing about the Zoom Huarache Trainer that I noticed is the weight. It’s light. The design of the Zoom Huarache Trainer, with the exoskeleton and inner bootie specifically, make for a shoe that seems to feel even lighter than it actually is. The only downside to the weight of the shoe, in my opinion, is the lack of balance. It feels as if you are carrying most of the weight right under your heel and ankle.
The lack of balance in weight makes running in the Zoom Huarache Trainer for any sort of distance, or even on the treadmill for that matter, disappointing due to that “slappy” feeling.
On the other hand, the low center of gravity and the adjustable midfoot strap make for a shoe that works great lifting and doing other sorts of drills. It’s a pretty stable-feeling shoe and with its lightweight feel, and it’s great for zigging and zagging through cones on the field. In addition, the tread pattern of the Zoom Huarache Trainer is an obvious supporter in my feeling that the shoe is much better at tearing up grass and dirt than it is for making cuts on the court.
One of my only concerns when I slipped on the Zoom Huarache Trainer for the first time was with the ankle portion of the exoskeleton design. The fit and comfort, although I hate to use the term, is sock-like. It’s comfortable beyond expectations. As for concern about the exoskeleton around the ankle, I thought for sure that there would be discomfort from rubbing, especially when playing basketball. While on occasion you can notice the synthetic leather brushing against your upper ankle, it never got to the point of even a slight annoyance, which was surprisingly pleasing.
Now, as for the basketball side of wearing the Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer – I’m no Amar’e Stoudemire, but after a handful of runs, there isn’t much about the Zoom Huarache Trainer that makes me want to continue wearing it on the basketball court. Frankly, I’d rather take time and energy to bring a second pair of shoes to the gym, specifically to hoop in. Especially if you’re going to run in more than just a 2 or 3 games. The exoskeleton design just doesn’t feel supportive enough for me. Although comfort and weight are on par with, or better than, some of the best Nike basketball shoes out there (like the Zoom KD III), for me, something more substantial supporting my ankles is needed. A more pronounced and supportive heel cup would do wonders. Also, like I said before, the tread pattern isn’t optimal for court sports in my opinion. After playing basketball in the Zoom Huarache Trainer, I give a lot of credit to Amar’e for playing in it night after night, but wonder why he wouldn’t move to the Zoom KD III, Hyperfuse or Fly By.
In summary, if you’re the type of person that likes to do it all, and get a quick game in at the end of your workout, or spend more time on the grass of soccer or football fields, the Zoom Huarache Trainer is a an extremely comfortable and practical option. If you’re like myself, and tend to let your workouts fall heavy towards either running on the treadmill for a couple miles, or getting into more than two or three pickup games, I think the Zoom Huarache could use some slight improvements to make it as do-it-all capable as the Nike Trainer 1.
Available now: Nike Zoom Huarache Trainer