words_Nick Engvall
images_Zac Dubasik

Air Max Hyped – A Fitting Name

First off, let me start by saying that I have been blessed to be able to review basketball shoes and other shoes for over ten years now. With that in mind, I have had the luxury of playing in a lot of top of the line shoes, as well as some sample models that were honestly too underdeveloped for anyone to be safely playing in. Along the way, I have come to enjoy playing in some of the shoes that are often overlooked by the hype machine, and that has left me with a number of “diamond in the rough” type of discoveries in my closet. When the opportunity to review the Nike Air Max Hyped came along, it sounded like it could be one of those diamonds. I was actually a little excited, or hyped, if you will, to get it on court.

Nike Air Max Hyped Air bag 350At a suggested retail price of $88, the thought of having Max Air cushioning in the heel and Phylon throughout sounded like quite a bang for the buck. Compared to other shoes with Max Air in the heel, the Nike Air Max Hyped is lighter in weight and easier on the bank account. The positive aspects of the shoe become minimal after that however.

When I first set foot in the shoe and got on the court, I could tell that it would take some time to get comfortable in the Air Max Hyped. The fit around the ankle is slightly compromised due to the choice of material. The carbon fiber-esque finish may look impressive, but the stiffness of the plastic around the collar, the carbon paneling just below and the use of carbon on the tongue makes the break-in period feel like a James Cameron movie. It just never ends.

The collar never feels quite right and I would attribute this to both the choice of materials used and the flex point cut just below the third lace eyelet. Despite the notch that is cut out, there is a general lack of flexibility between the synthetic materials in this area of the shoe. While a shoe like the Nike Hyperdunk 2010 uses a thinner material and a more pronounced cut in this area, the Air Max Hyped just doesn’t work as functionally. The lack of a solid collar fit could probably be compensated for if Nike added an ankle strap, or perhaps even if you’re a player that wears ankle support braces. In fact, the Air Max Hyped might actually have scored better in my book if I wore an additional brace of some kind. I don’t, so the result is simply a shoe that left me wanting more of that “feeling of oneness” that you get from a great fitting basketball shoe.

That same material choice also inhibits ventilation on the Nike Air Max Hyped. With what is primarily a one piece upper, the only ventilation comes from a handful of perforations on the toebox. Unfortunately, the tongue is actually stitched in further forward in the shoe than these perforations, so breathability is average at best.

Nike Air Max Hyped outrigger 700
One impressive point of the shoe, which I think Nike Basketball does well in most of their shoes, is the traction. Along with the dependable full-length herringbone pattern, the Air Max Hyped has one of the better outriggers I’ve seen. It’s firm, supportive and the fact that the outrigger is not just a small add-on piece of rubber improves upon the traditional approach in my opinion. Not that an outrigger should always be a huge factor in the purchase, but for this shoe, I think it merits a mention. Underneath, the herringbone traction is solid and maintains consistent grip, but a slightly less dense rubber choice might be worth a thought, in my opinion, for even more stick.

That slight change might also improve the weight balance of the Air Max Hyped. Above the outsole, cushioning is what you would expect from Nike’s Max Air technology and Phylon midsole, but there is an overuse of outsole rubber used in the forefoot area. The heel and forefoot cushioning probably work great in other designs, but the extra material around the forefoot make the front of the shoe feel a little heavy and leaves something to be desired in the function of heel-toe transition.

Overall, the Nike Air Max Hyped leaves me feeling stagnant. It’s like one of those underachieving students that you know could be doing better. It has plenty of the right pieces to be near the top of the class, but they’re put together in a “just getting by” kind of fashion that doesn’t really shine in any particular way.

Available now: Nike Air Max Hyped

Nike Air Max Hyped outsole 700Nike Air Max Hyped outsole 700Nike Air Max Hyped outsole 700

*Performance Review shoes provided by Eastbay*