A Look Back: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

A Look Back: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

24 years ago, it seemed like every major sneaker brand was churning out a classic sneaker model. Most remember 1997 as an epic year for shoes like the Air Max 97 and the Adidas Equipment Salvation, but every brand was bringing a sleek new design or a new technology to the table. If you were a runner, how could you decide between all these incredible silhouettes? It was definitely a daunting challenge, which Eastbay was up for.

To make it easier, Eastbay broke down each running sneaker into one of four different categories:

Support: Shoes with special features that help runners who either overpronate (roll inward), have a low arch, are hard on shoes, need a straighter last, wear orthotics, need more midfoot and heel control, or need firmer midsoles.

Cushioned Support: Shoes with features that combine cushion and support for runners who slightly overpronate (rolling inward), have low to normal arch, are a heel striker or need some motion control yet want a cushioned ride.

Cushioned: Shoes with features that emphasize cushioning with some support, for runners who under pronate, supinate (roll outward), need curve last, high arch, are a heel, mid or forefoot striker, have rigid feet, need flexibility, or run efficiently.

Lightweight: Shoes designed with little support and good cushioning for runners who are efficient, train at faster speeds, have normal to rigid arch, are not susceptible to injury, or need flexibility.

On top of that, Eastbay also sold Trail Runners and Road Flats. Here’s a breakdown of the best sneakers from each category back in 1997:

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Supportive Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Support

adidas Lexicon Extra

The Adidas Lexicon was a beautifully-designed sneaker that doesn’t get enough love. Retailing at $99.99, it was on the higher end of the spectrum for Adidas runners. The Lexicon Extra featured Point of Deflection System technology in the heel, an EVA midsole, a full-length medial post, and Support Torsion system.

Saucony G.R.I.D. Procyon

Saucony’s most supportive runner was the G.R.I.D. Procyon, which featured their patented heel G.R.I.D. system for cushioning, along with a rearfoot medial support device. Retailing at just $74.99, it was a bargain for those needing that extra support without the added cost.

Nike Air Equilibrium

The Equilibrium was Nike’s state-of-the-art support sneaker for those with flat feet. You can’t see the medial side of this shoe in the picture, but the amount of support provided was off the charts. Featuring a Phylon midsole, the Equilibrium also had Zoom-Air units in the heel and forefoot with individually tuned pods. The BRS 1000 carbon rubber outsole featured a sculpted central guidance channel with a lateral Duralon forefoot.

New Balance 585

New Balance has always been loved by flat-footed runners, and the 585 was a reliable model for the brand. Made in the USA, the 585 featured a synthetic upper with 3M Scotchlite Reflective trim, a 4-density polyurethane midsole with a Rollbar Stability System. Runners got all this tech for under $100.

ASICS GEL-MC 126

ASICS was another trustworthy brand for flat-footed runners, and the best model back in ‘97 for them was the GEL-MC 126. Featuring a motion control system for heavy overpronators, the GEL-MC 126 was semi-curved and built on a EE last for wider feet. It had a compression-molded EVA midsole with extended Duomax, and ASICS GEL cushioning in the heel.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Support Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned Support

adidas Response

The adidas Response line was incredibly popular throughout the ‘90s. The sleek yet simple designs and affordable price points made them a great option for many runners. The Response featured exceptional cushioning with added stability, a dual density compression-molded EVA midsole, visible adiprene cushioning in the heel, and a new Torsion system for stability.

Saucony 3D G.R.I.D. Hurricane

This was my first ever running sneaker in high school, and they were a lot of fun to run in. The 3D G.R.I.D. had a sleek design and a ton of tech inside to match. The visible 3D G.R.I.D. system wrapped the midsole with Hytrel filaments that cushioned and absorbed shock, while adding stability and motion control. At $99.99, it was Saucony’s top-of-the-line running sneaker at the time.

ASICS GEL-Kayano

This was ASICS’ best shoe for high-mileage runners. With a DuoMax compression-molded EVA midsole, a mesh reinforced upper with synthetic leather, the Kayano featured a blown rubber forefoot with DuoSole insert and AHAR heel plug, along with forefoot P-Gel and heel T-Gel. Basically the Kayano had really great cushioning and a lot of Gel inside. At $124.99, it was one of the most expensive runners at the time, but well worth the price.

New Balance 999

Basically anyone who’s ever tried on the 999 falls in love with them. This was and still is one of New Balance’s most iconic silhouettes. Featuring a pigskin leather upper with 3M Scotchlite reflective trim, the 999 had ABZORB cushioning in the heel, along with ENCAP cushioning in the heel and C-CAP cushioning in the forefoot. Made in the USA, the 999 retailed for $125.

Nike Air Structure Triax

As for Nike, their top cushioned support model was the Air Structure Triax. For the runner who wanted a well-cushioned ride with added stability, the Structure Triax featured a Phylon midsole with two key stability features: a Footbridge stability device and a patented Heel Hinge feature. The Structure also had Nike Air in the heel and forefoot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned

Nike Air Max 97

It doesn’t get much bigger than the Air Max 97. That fall, we were blessed with one of the biggest breakthroughs in sneaker cushioning of all time. The new anatomically designed dual-pressure Air-Sole unit with a lateral crash pad system cushioned and guided the foot like no sneaker ever had before. Designed by Christian Tresser, the unique upper was inspired both by water dropping into a pond, as well as the metallic finish of mountain bike components. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of this hallowed silhouette.

 Reebok DMX 2000 

Reebok was turning heads and pleasing feet of all shapes and sizes with their revolutionary DMX cushioning technology. With the Reebok DMX 2000, runners actually felt the air flow from their heel to their forefoot as they ran. This was an incredible breakthrough in technology, and transitioned well to Allen Iverson’s The Answer 1 basketball sneaker as well.

adidas Equipment Salvation

To compete with Air Max and DMX cushioning, adidas was launching their “Feet You Wear” technology, which allowed the runner’s feet to function more naturally. The semi-curved last, compression-molded EVA midsole and adiPRENE inserts in the Salvation provided plenty of cushioning and responsiveness for runners.

Puma Cell Speed

Puma featured their own state-of-the-art cushioning system with the Puma Cell Speed, which featured a PUMA CELL midsole with polyurethane frame. Touted as the ultimate training shoe for high-mileage runners that require a stable, well-cushioned ride, the Cell Speed was a somewhat niche running sneaker. CELL technology was similar to Reebok’s Hexalite technology, in that the cushioning was designed like a honeycomb pad filled with air.

Fila Silva Trainer

Another very niche runner was the Fila Silva Trainer, which provided outstanding cushioning for high-mileage training. The Silva Trainer featured a Filabuck and Ripstop nylon upper, and a compression-molded EVA midsole with 2A technology in the heel and forefoot. Fila’s 2A technology was very similar to Nike Air in the fact that it featured separate “pods” of air to provide cushioning to the foot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Lightweight Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Lightweight

Nike Air Zoom Spiridon

The ultimate shoe for a fast, responsive ride. Featured in the “It’s OK to be fast” ad campaign with sprinter Michael Johnson, the Spiridon was another revolutionary sneaker because of its full-length running specific Zoom-Air cushioning. The Spiridon was one of the first running sneakers to feature Zoom Air, and it would set the stage for the many more iconic running sneakers for decades to come.

Nike Air Max Light III

A responsive, lightweight, low-profile, fast-paced trainer! The Air Max Light III has yet to retro, which is a shame because it was ahead of its time as well. Not only was there a dual-pressure visible Air-Sole unit in the heel, there was also Zoom Air in the forefoot. This was one of the very first sneakers to feature both Air Max cushioning AND Zoom Air in the same sneaker, and definitely doesn’t get enough love from sneakerheads.

Reebok Electrolyte

A sneaker that most have forgotten about by now, the Electrolyte was Reebok’s take on the fast-paced, lightweight running sneaker. The Electrolyte featured 3D UltraLite cushioning, which combined the outsole and midsole into one injection-molded unit. This resulted in lighter weight and greater flexibility, along with an enhanced road feel. Reebok boasted that the 3D UltraLite reduced shoe weight by up to 10%. The Electrolyte was a feathery 9.8 ounces.

Saucony 3D-G.R.I.D. B-Gone

Saucony really made some bold sneakers back in the ‘90s – the B-Gone was a flashy lightweight trainer for fast-paced workouts or races. Featuring a dual density Maxlite EVA midsole with a visible heel 3D G.R.I.D. system, the B-Gone is another Saucony model that deserves a proper retro release at this point.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Road Flats Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Road Flats

Nike Air Rift

Nike was dropping some ridiculous models, even in the road flat category back in ‘97. One of the most outlandish was the Air Rift, which featured a minimalistic upper and split toe. There was Nike Air in the heel, and they came with a special pair of split toe socks.

Nike Air Zoom Streak

Nike also created a low-profile racing flat for 5K to marathons called the Air Zoom Streak, which featured Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot. There was a Air Streak Light version as well, which only weighed 6.6 ounces and was available from size 3 all the way up to size 15. This was an incredible value for such a lightweight, responsive racing flat.

ASICS GEL-Magic Racer

ASICS also made a technology-packed racer called the GEL-Magic. Described as a performance racing flat for all distances, the GEL-Magic featured a dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole with rearfoot HEXGEL. It also had a Magic Sole forefoot with AHAR heel plug.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Trail Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Trail Runners

adidas Response Trail

The Response Trail is a line adidas could keep bringing back again and again, and loyal followers would never lose interest in them. The mist/lake/slime colorway is just as fashionable now as it was back in 1997. The Response Trail was a versatile training shoe that was great for on and off-road use. It featured synthetic leather and a water-resistant mesh upper, along with adiPrene cushioning in the heel. At $79.99, it was a great value for a comfortable, fashionable trail shoe.

Nike Air Terra Sertig

The Terra Sertig was Nike’s top-of-the-line trail shoe back in ‘97. The Sertig had all the bells and whistles, including a very low profile Phylon midsole with heel and forefoot Zoom Air units. Its three-quarter height was designed for the demands of alpine running. There was a protective fabric web between the midsole, and a bi-directional waffle outsole that protected against stone bruises.

Nike Air Terra Albis

Basically a low-cut version of the Sertig, the Albis was also a low-profile trail shoe with exceptional cushioning. The Albis featured most of the same tech as the Sertig, except it had an Air Sole in the heel instead of Zoom Air. Regardless, it was a gorgeous, aggressive design that showed how serious Nike was about trail runners.

Nike Air Humara

Back in the late ‘90s, the Humara line enjoyed a very popular run. This particular Humara boasted a ton of tech, including a heel Air Sole unit and a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. It was the ultimate low-profile cushioned trail shoe, with a lightweight breathable mesh upper and non-absorbent synthetic leather overlays. The traction was excellent as well, with a rubberized, abrasion-resistant tip and heel overlay.

Drew Hammell A Look Back

Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories or read more of his work here.

An Inside Look At The Reebok JJ II With J.J. Watt

An Inside Look At The Reebok JJ II With J.J. Watt

The Reebok JJ II has finally arrived. Want the inside scoop on the new trainer? Who better to tell you about it than J.J. Watt himself.

We took some time to sit down with Watt to chat about what the colorways will look like, what sort of an influence he has on what goes into the shoe, and how the technical features of the shoe have improved.

The JJ 1 had a number of unique colorways that represented Watt, so you can bet his new shoe will as well. The JJ II’s first colorway is a clean black and white, and Watt assured us that Reebok will have many more color stories throughout 2017.

“There are going to be some really cool things coming down the pipeline,” Watt said. “This flex weave material on the whole upper of the shoe really gives you some incredible opportunities, which you’ll see in some of the upcoming colorways we’re going to come out with.”

Along with being involved in colorway updates, Watt also plays a part in making technical updates within the shoe.

He pointed out the JJ II features a liquid-foam midsole to offer your foot a comfortable and smooth ride, a flex weave material upper which is breathable and abrasion resistant to outlast tough workouts, a new low cut design that allows for easier cutting, and a rubber outsole for extra traction for your cuts or backpedaling.

“One thing we noticed with JJ 1 is that we created a shoe you can wear on turf, concrete, wood, or rubber, but we didn’t actually account for backpedaling,” Watt said. “You could go forward, you could go sideways, you could go diagonally, but backwards you kind of lose the traction. So with this shoe, we really made sure we covered every single direction you could go.”

Reebok allows Watt to influence changes for the shoe, which is something that has been important to him since day one. These enhancements include the style transition to a low top, added traction for your cuts and backpedaling, and extra style which means you can casually wear these trainers in the streets.

“What is so cool about this process is I get to use them every day, and I get to give the feedback that changes the shoe,” he said. “I mean, as an athlete, who would you rather have testing the shoe than an athlete?”

If you are looking for a top of the line trainer to help improve your game, Watt said he is confident that the JJ II is the best on the market.

“What we’ve created is what I believe at this current moment is the best training shoe that there is. I’ve worn it every single day since our first prototype and I think it is phenomenal. I can’t wait for the world to have it.”

Get your hands on the Reebok JJ II now at eastbay.com.

RELEASE REPORT: RETRO 13, SHAQ ATTAQ, KOBE A.D.

RELEASE REPORT: RETRO 13, SHAQ ATTAQ, KOBE A.D.

Each week, we’ll break down the most popular upcoming shoe drops. We’ll give you the lowdown on the prices and sizes, break down the history of the shoe, and give you the scoop on the newest tech features. Check back every week for the hottest releases. If it’s hyped, it’s here. You can check out the full list of releases on Eastbay’s Release Calendar. Here’s what you have to look forward to this weekend:

JORDAN RETRO 13 ‘BLACK CAT’ – JANUARY 21 AT 10 AM ET

The Retro 13 ‘Black Cat’ takes the iconic silhouette of the AJ 13 and combines it with Black Panther inspiration for a sleek, stylish look that Jordan fans will go crazy for. The shoe features a full black upper with 3M reflective detailing. The ‘Black Cat’ look is completed with paw prints on the outsole and the hologram, as well as a black rubber outsole and a black cat logo on the insole. Men’s $189.99, Grade School $139.99.

NIKE KOBE A.D. – JANUARY 20 AT 10 AM ET

The Kobe A.D. lets you feel the court the way Kobe intended with low-profile, responsive cushioning and dynamic comfort. The Kobe A.D. marks the end of Kobe’s playing days, but his influence is still strong throughout the league. Kobe changed the game forever, and the Kobe A.D. is perfect for today’s players who have learned so much from the Black Mamba. Men’s $159.99.

REEBOK SHAQ ATTAQ – JANUARY 20 AT 10 AM ET

Reebok will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Shaq Attaq by re-releasing the classic sneaker. The iconic 1992 shoe was made famous by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal during his rookie season in Orlando. The shoe stays true to its original look, which remains one of Reebok’s most beloved. Men’s $159.99.

ADIDAS ARTHUR ASHE TRIBUTE COLLECTION – JANUARY 23 AT 10 AM ET

adidas pays homage to a true pioneer and tennis icon with the Arthur Ashe Tribute Collection. The Harden Vol. 1 and Dame 3 are both included in the collection, featuring nods toward Ashe’s career and philanthropy. The sneakers will be worn on-court by Harden and Lillard for select games during Black History Month. Harden Vol. 1 $139.99, Dame 3 $114.99.

UNDER ARMOUR CURRY 3 – JANUARY 21 AT 10 AM ET

Stephen Curry has changed the game, and now his shoe is a gamechanger, too. His new shoe is as innovative as his game with dynamic Threadborne technology that delivers the ideal mix of support and breathability. Simply put, this shoe is made for MVPs. Men’s $139.99, Grade School $114.99.

Why You Should Try The Reebok ZPrint Run

Why You Should Try The Reebok ZPrint Run

“Every single day you attack life, you better do it with precision. Otherwise you’re just going to float through with no real purpose.” – JJ Watt

JJ Watt knows what it takes to be successful on the field, and his philosophy on precision can be applied to almost anything — including your run.

The Reebok ZPrint Run is built to bring precision to every step, whether you’re running or just tackling everyday adventures. It was created from digital 3D scans of the human foot in motion, so every part of the shoe is designed to adapt to your specific needs. In the ZPrint Run — no matter what life throws your way — you’ll always Make an Imprint.

Reebok ZPrint

Upper

This begins with the ZPrint Run’s tri-panel textile upper. A looser weave in the forefoot allows cooling airflow to keep you feeling dry and fresh. Tighter knit webbing at the midfoot holds your foot securely in place to help prevent injury.

Midsole

The ZPrint Run’s midsole cushioning was designed based on 3D scans of the human foot in motion. The result is a midsole that absorbs impact based your own running stride and allows a full, natural range of motion. Deep flex grooves create extreme flexibility, while the independent node construction allows each portion to cushion and flex on its own. This helps your entire body move the way it was meant to.

Outsole

The outsole features dense white foam around the perimeter for durable stability that keeps you running strong. Reactive lugs absorb pressure where you land the hardest, protecting your feet with every stride.

To see the tech in action, here’s a visual breakdown of the ZPrint Run: