We spent 9.2 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what sneaker fanatics think:

10 reasons to buy

  • The absence of thick overlays and the presence of recessed parts in the sole make the Air Max Zero Essential very light.
  • The upper structure of the AM0 Essential is very breathable according to many.
  • The foot does not feel cramped inside as it fits perfectly right, quite a lot vouched.
  • Very stylish pair of sneakers.
  • Air Max collectors, who did not get the chance to cop the original colorways of the Nike Air Max Zero QS released in 2015, are very pleased with their purchase of the Air Max Zero Essential.
  • Those who left comments about the Air Max Zero Essential said that it has enough cushioning in the ankle area and around the heel which makes it really comfortable.
  • It comes with interesting lace tips.
  • Buyers are very satisfied with their purchase.
  • The Nike Air Max Zero Essential can be paired with different types of clothing.
  • The color choices are outstanding. One reviewer mentioned that having lots of color choices makes this sneaker more affordable than getting a custom pair through Nike iD.

1 reasons not to buy

  • A sneaker reviewer mentioned that there’s a little struggle putting the shoe on.

Bottom line

The Air Max Zero Essential which immediately succeeded the 2015 Air Max Zero Quick Strike version is a welcome news for loyal Air Max supporters and sneaker fans as this edition contained the same modern technologies as the Nike Air Max Zero offered in a much wider spectrum of color options.

This Essential collection pairs perfectly with strings of casual and athletic wear which won’t leave the feet sweaty even with a sock-like cleatie construction since the upper is crafted in breathable mesh. This lightweight sneaker isn’t heavy in the pocket too.


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The Nike Air Max Zero Essential is made of a one-piece padded tongue that resembles a slip-on shoe with a standard lacing system for a secure fit. It has a breathable textile upper similar to the Nike Roshe One but with the added protection on the toebox and the Hyperfuse overlays.  

There may be no visible heel counter outside the shoe, but the interior is well-cushioned which offers ultimate comfort. Added to this is the physical ease coming from the Air-Sole unit in the midsole.  This sneaker runs true to size and offered in medium width. Sizes are available for women from 5 to 12 US and men from 6 to 15 US.

The Air Max Zero Essential is a fusion of Nike’s innovations that stripped off some of the unnecessary tooling and overlays to offer its most important feature: supreme comfort. This sleek-looking, lightweight, and flexible units under the Nike Air Max Zero Essential collection holds a variety of color options such as Wolf Gray/Pure Platinum/Black/ Dark Gray, Medium Olive/Dark Stucco/Sequoia/Medium Olive, Black/ Black/ Black, White/Wolf Gray/Pure Platinum/White, among many others that will certainly fit any style from luxe to laid back.

The Air Max Zero Essential is wrapped with Nike’s three decades of technological innovations. From the Air-Sole cushioning unit in the midsole, plus the Hyperfuse overlays on the upper, and Ultra tooling technique on the outsole to keep its weight down. These elements are fused together to offer a shoe with no less than the bare essentials.

After 29 years, Nike finally launched the sneaker that would have been the precursor of the Air Max 1, the so-called “The One before the 1” or simply the Air Max Zero. This highly anticipated sneaker that completes the picture of Nike’s royal Air Max family was unveiled in the second annual celebration of the Air Max day held in 2015. The AM0 came out in full bloom with features that melded three decades of technological transformations.

Nike’s quintessential creative designer Tinker Hatfield put into paper his visual concept of the Air Max Zero back in 1987. At that time, the brand already came out with sneakers containing the innovative Air-Sole cushioning unit, where pockets of compressed inert gases are incorporated into the midsole for unparalleled comfort.

The first shoe constructed by this Oregon-based brand that contained the Air-Sole unit is the Nike Air Tailwind. This runner debuted in limited pairs in time for the 1978 Honolulu Marathon, while large-scale distribution began in 1979. Another racing silhouette with specially gauged air pressures in the midsole was created in 1981 specifically for serious road racers. It was named the Nike Air Mariah.

Both shoes had the proprietary Air-Sole cushioning units embedded in the midsole. Hatfield thought of showcasing this technology by creating a window on the heel of the shoe for everyone to witness this little wonder inside the sole. He had this inside-out idea lifted from the architectural structure of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which greatly caught his attention.

As early as the 1980s Hatfield thought of creating a minimalist design out of the Nike Air Max Zero without compromising on the shoe’s comfort and performance. Hatfield thought of borrowing the form-fitting concept of the 1985 Nike Air Sock Racer designed by Bruce Kilgore in sketching the vamp.

Hatfield also kept the design of the heel simple by incorporating a thin heel strap minus the heel counter. He might have kept the upper’s design unadorned to put emphasis on his intended visible heel.

He had great concepts ready for the Air Max Zero, but the resources and technology needed to put his vision to fruition was not advanced enough at that time. The Air Max Zero design board was preserved in the vault while Hatfield worked on conceiving another shoe which came out to be the Nike Air Max 1.

Almost three decades afterward, the Nike Sportswear design headed by Graeme McMillan revisited the brand’s rich archives as they were tasked to reinterpret Hatfield’s design of the Air Max Zero in time for the second year celebration of the Air Max Day. With annotations from the original creator, McMillan and his team reworked on the original design by integrating the franchise’s most advanced innovations, focusing on the essential feature of the shoe which is ultimate comfort.

The design team adopted the Ultra tooling concept from another Hatfield-designed shoe, the 2015 Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire. The Ultra Moire edition of the Air Max 1 cored out portions of its durable Phylon midsole to lessen the weight of the entire shoe while retaining its stability and flexibility.

This midsole concept was applied in the reinterpreted version of the Air Max Zero along with the integration of the Hyperfuse technology, stripping off more weight by minimizing the use of overlays.

On the 26th day of March 2015, the world witnessed the birth of the Air Max Zero dressed in Navy Blue/White. This was followed by the release of the yellow colorway which closely resembles the archival drawing of Hatfield.

A multitude of Air Max followers and sneaker fans were unable to get a hold of this much-coveted sneaker as the OG colorways were dropped in limited pairs. In 2016, Nike opened its floodgates and allowed an outpour of variations of the Nike Air Max Zero Essential to flow freely starting off with the familiar colorways such as the Breds from the Air Jordan line, the Ultramarine, among others.

  • Apart from the Nike Air Max Zero Essential, Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire, the Ultra tooling is also used in the Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Flyknit.
  • The Air-Sole cushioning unit was a concept created by aeronautic engineer Franklin Rudy, which was patented in 1977.
  • Rudy never saw the Air Max Zero come to fruition as he died six years before Hatfield’s sketch of this shoe was finally brought to life in 2015.
  • The Hyperfuse technology was originally used by Nike in designing the breathable, responsive, and durable 2010 Nike Hyperfuse hoop ball.
  • The Hyperfuse comprises of three layers of long-lasting composite material that are fused together through pressure and heat, which eliminates the process of cut-and-sew most especially on the upper. This innovative method makes the sneaker very lightweight.  
Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny McLoughlin is a researcher for RunRepeat covering football, sneakers and running. After graduating with a degree in computer science from The University of Strathclyde, Danny makes sure never to miss a game of his beloved Glasgow Rangers or the Scotland national football team. He has been featured in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The Irish Times, Footwear News and the like.