Verdict from 100+ user reviews

8 reasons to buy

  • Reviewers considered this low-top Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 slightly wider than its earlier versions and said it puts a lot of comfort to the feet particularly in the forefoot.
  • Several satisfied reviewers said this sneaker is well-padded.
  • Reviewers liked the effect of the reflective synthetic material on the upper and considered the workmanship of this shoe a cutting-edge.
  • The upper of this Air Max 97 edition is soft and flexible.
  • Less than a handful of buyers of the Air Max 97 Ultra 17 mentioned they had plantar fasciitis and said this sneaker puts a lot of relief to their feet.
  • Very satisfied reviewers said they recommend this product as it is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
  • A comfortable shoe to walk around with the Nike Air bladder feature in the sole.
  • This Ultra version of the Air Max 97 is a lot lighter than the other Nike Air Max 97 editions.

2 reasons not to buy

  • One reviewer mentioned that this sneaker did give him blisters as it rubbed on his ankles.
  • Some loyal Air Max supporters were unhappy with this version as it looks “cheap” versus the original Air Max 97.

Bottom line

Nike came up with a minimalist rendition for one of its iconic models with the drop of the Air Max 97 Ultra 17. The Swoosh managed to keep this updated edition aesthetically pleasing by fusing together synthetic upper materials and an ultra-lightweight sole, making it much lighter than the classic Air Max 97. Sneaker enthusiasts are satisfied with the degree of comfort, ease, and flexibility offered by this modified model.

Tip: see the best sneakers.

Good to know

The low-top Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 is a little bigger than the usual Air Max 97 iterations, which is ideal for those with wide foot measurements. Those with standard and narrow foot width are advised to obtain half a size down their usual size to get the full advantage of this sneaker. 

Nike Sportswear senior designer Dylaan Raasch and his creative team crafted a minimalist interpretation of the classic sporty shoe, which completely eliminated the suede, mesh, and leather detailing of the older variations.

Keeping this 20th anniversary edition simple, the low-top Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 is fitted with a single-piece woven fabric in a jacquard pattern adorned with reflective detailing and a prominent wavy design on the upper. Providing a more sophisticated feel to this sneaker is the heritage heavy full-length Air bladder unit in the midsole. Its overall streamlined design adds allure to any casual, laid back outfit.

Putting the original Nike Air Max 97 side by side the Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17, one can easily distinguish that though both silhouettes have a futuristic touch to them, they evidently belong to different eras. The metallic and reflective wavy accents on the upper is seen on both versions. However, the Ultra variety used synthetic materials welded to the upper to keep it clean and sleek as opposed to the heavily stitched, multi-layered elements seen in the traditional edition. Lastly, among the recognizable updates made on the low-top Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 sneaker is the reduced volume of air in the midsole which puts the feet closer to the ground.

2017 marks the 20th year of the iconic Nike Air Max 97, one of the uniquely styled trainers from Nike’s heritage line with a standout metallic cover and full-length proprietary Air bubble in the sole. Creative geniuses from Nike Sportswear headed by Senior Designer Dylan Raasch came up with the low-top Air Max 97 Ultra 17, a heavily re-tweaked version of the fast-forward-looking original model. This anniversary edition integrated modern technological updates, which cut down a great deal of weight from the earlier iterations of this shoe.

The original Air Max 97, dropped in the Fall of 1997, had a silhouette that was way, way advance of its time. In fact, when the design concept for this model was presented by its creator Christian Tresser to the top executives of Nike, it made them feel uneasy as the upper detailing is too futuristic for its era. However, Tresser originally intended this running shoe not to look normal. He wanted it to stand out and create an impact as it utilizes for the first time the full-length Nike Air bladder in the midsole.

The original colorway of the Air Max 97 is in metallic silver, which was branded as the Silver Bullet by Nike since its debut, in reference to the fast-moving Japanese railway transit as futuristic as this shoe. And then again, Tresser had something different in mind when he conceived this model. As an avid competitive cyclist back in the day, Tresser took cues from the metal components of a mountain bike such as its titanium, silver, aluminum, and high corrosive-resistant metal finishes in coming up with the idea of having reflective accents for this runner.

In his 1986 sketch of this shoe which he called the Air Total Max, Tresser particularly indicated the use of 3M reflective material on the upper with a pearlescent effect on it. He thought that having a shiny upper would best complement the premier introduction of the maximum Air cushioning unit in the sole.

After the Silver Bullet was introduced to the market, other colorways followed such as the solid toned Navy/Volt and the Obsidian/Royal Blue.  In 1999, this Air Max 97 received another metallic finish with the release of the gold colorway, called the Metallic Gold.

In 2016, Nike had a limited launch of the OG Silver Bullet in Milan, Italy, where this particular sneaker is considered a big celebrity. The unveiling of this Air Max figure that features the colors of the Italian flag on the tongue and heel pull tabs kicked off the campaigns for the release of the 20th-anniversary sneaker. Eventually, the entire European community had a glimpse of the retro Silver Bullet minus the red-white-green Italian flag detailing.  

Twenty years from its original drop, with a multitude of retroes in between, Nike re-introduced the Air Max 97 integrated with bundles of innovations to its gleaming landscape. Nike puts great respect to the OG which is why this 20th anniversary remake retained the distinct look of its metallic origin.

Nike eliminated the weighty overlays of its earlier models when it came up with the Air Max 97 Ultra 17. As an alternative, this shoe is built with a single-piece textured jacquard upper that makes this edition lightweight and air permeable. The pressure volume in the Air bubble unit was regulated, the forefoot grooves plus other regions of the sole were cored out to keep this version ultra-lightweight as compared to its predecessors.

A parade of colors of the Air Max 97 Ultra 2017 was dropped in a series, starting off with the glittery renditions such as the Silver Bullet and Metallic Gold with hits of Varsity Red. Followed by masculine tonal varieties like the Black/Anthracite, Midnight Navy/Cool Gray, Triple Black, Platinum/White, Burgundy; and feminine tones namely the Light Orewood Brown and Rose Gold.

  • The upper part of the low-top Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 is made with jacquard fabric. This material has a textured woven design on it which makes it more intricate than printed fabrics. The interlaced pattern is solid and hard-wearing which makes the upper of this shoe very tough.
  • The Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 features a removable insole that offers additional cushioning to the foot.
  • The Air unit is a patented cushioning technology by Nike which was conceptualized by aeronautic engineer Franklyn Rudy in the 1970s. It is made up of a shock-absorbing bag filled with compressed gasses similar to the blow rubber molding technique used by NASA in creating space helmets at that time.
  • Nike’s most celebrated designer Tinker Hatfield thought of displaying the Air unit embedded in the shoe by putting a window in the midsole. This led to the creation of the Air Max 1 in 1987, the first in a series of running shoes that contain the said cushioning unit. The Air Max 97 succeeded the Air Max 95 variant that had segmented pockets of air in the heel and forefoot.
  • The designer of the Air Max 97 Ultra 17 Dylaan Raasch is the creative mind behind another minimalist and lightweight shoe by Nike, the Roshe Run that was later called the Roshe One.
  • The Ultra tooling is a term used by Nike in streamlining the features of its silhouettes such as carving out areas in the sole in a precise manner which reduces a lot of weight from the shoe without compromising on its flexibility.


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Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.