Our verdict

Often perceived as a doppelganger of the Nike Dunk Low, the Air Jordan 1 Low is a remarkable shoe on its own. Standing at the origins of the entire Jordan brand, this sneaker is a walking history that's associated with Michael Jordan's glorious Chicago Bulls era. Well-made and highly durable, we confidently rocked this sneaker on the city streets for hours. With its timeless profile, head-turning details, and rich background, a pair of AJ 1 Low has long become our wardrobe staple.

Pros

  • Legendary silhouette
  • Adds +1000 points to style
  • Fantastic wear resistance
  • Very firm and grounded platform
  • A Zoom Air unit adds a touch of bounce
  • Very secure foothold
  • Excellent value for money
  • True to size

Cons

  • Leather creases easily
  • Takes a while to break in
  • Not for wide feet
  • Not for all-day wear

Audience verdict

91
Great!

Who should buy

Apart from sneaker fans who enjoy the perennial appeal of the Air Jordan 1 Low, we can highly recommend this iconic shoe to people who:

  • want a well-built leather sneaker that's going to last
  • love "Bred" colour blocking (a nod to the Chicago Bulls official colours)

Air Jordan 1 Low review

Who should NOT buy

Folks with wide feet will not appreciate the tapered toebox of the AJ 1 Low. Instead, we recommend the nearly identical Nike Dunk Low sneaker for a more accommodating toebox fit.

Another reason why you may not vibe with this Air Jordan is its lack of cushioning and comfort for all-day wear. You will find the Nike Air Max 90 and the Nike Air Max Excee much friendlier to your feet after long hours.

Air Jordan 1 Low lab test

Breathability

With its entire upper made of leather, it's pretty clear why the Air Jordan 1 Low is not our top pick for summer.

Multiple perforations on the shoe's toebox don't seem to help the airflow that much. Pumping smoke into the shoe, we found that it primarily escaped through the gaps in the tongue area and not so much through the apertures over the toes.

In addition, the shoe's inner lining is so dense that it doesn't even let the light shine through the holes in our transparency test.

Rating the shoe's breathability on a 1-5 scale, we can't give it any higher than 2.

Air Jordan 1 Low ventilation holes

It would be wise to save the Air Jordan 1 Low for colder weather and grab an airy mesh sneaker like the Nike Zoom Vomero 5 for summertime.

Test results
Air 1 Low 2
Average 3
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

This Jordan sneaker also features an immensely stiff heel counter. It created a real death grip around our heels eliminating every chance of heel slippage or sliding inside the shoe.

This is the highest level of heel hold that you can get in a sneaker. Thus, we rated the shoe's heel counter stiffness with the highest score of 5.

P.S. Let us remind you once again that wearing taller socks and snapping on a band-aid may be necessary to prevent the shoe's rough heel collar from digging into your Achilles.

Leather/Suede quality

Over the years, the Air Jordan 1 received a fair share of hate regarding its leather quality.

Having checked and tested the sneaker ourselves, we can confirm that TECHNICALLY it does use real leather. But it is not the same high-quality leather that we saw on New Balance's Made in USA shoes for example.

And that's fair enough considering that the Jordan 1 Low's moderate MSRP of £130.

We set out to test each panel on the Air Jordan 1 Low's upper using a butane torch and a leather scratch awl.

The heel overlay, the toebox, and the eyestay layer all behaved well under the fire. The material did not melt or catch fire.

The shiny effect indicates that the leather is covered in a plastic finish that helps to prevent scratches and gives the shoe a classier look.

But we have some reservations about the shoe's midfoot panel and the Swoosh. These parts melted away much more easily than the rest. Looks like Nike is cutting corners in the low-wear areas like these.

Another nuisance to watch out for is creasing. The shoe's soft leather is prone to developing wrinkles pretty fast.

Air Jordan 1 Low Leather/Suede quality creasing

Overall, we think that the leather quality of the Air Jordan 1 Low is reasonable for the price. If you set the expectations right from the beginning, you won't be disappointed with the sneaker.

Test results
Air 1 Low Real leather

Toebox durability

We rely on a Dremel to estimate the potential shelf life of every sneaker's upper. The tool is topped with a sandpaper tip which helps us to mimic the wear-and-tear of prolonged shoe wear.

Applying the tool to the shoe's toebox panel for 12 seconds at consistent pressure (3.2N) and speed (5K RPM), we were pleasantly surprised with the result.

Air Jordan 1 Low Toebox durability test

The tool brushed off the topmost layer of the leather without affecting its overall integrity.

It is an excellent level of wear resistance that's reflected in the shoe's high toebox durability score of 4 out of 5.

Test results
Air 1 Low 4
Average 3.7
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The inner lining of the Air Jordan 1 Low proved to be just as durable as its outer material.

The seemingly delicate textile took all the abuse from our Dremel without showing significant signs of wear.

Air Jordan 1 Low Heel padding durability

This earned the shoe another high durability score of 4 out of 5.

P.S. Please note that the shoe's heel lining is quite rough to the touch. Even though it's great for wear resistance, it can be pretty hard on the skin. We advise wearing taller socks and stocking up on band-aids for the first few weeks of wearing the Air Jordan 1 Low.

Test results
Air 1 Low 4
Average 3.4
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

With its roots in the basketball court, the Air Jordan 1 Low has an impressively strong outsole.

Its sturdiness is reflected in a particularly high reading of 89.5 HC on our Shore C durometer. It is one of the hardest sneaker outsoles in our lab and hardness often correlates with durability.

Air Jordan 1 Low Outsole hardness
Test results
Air 1 Low 89.5 HC
Average 85.1 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
72.9 HC
Outsole hardness
90.3 HC

Outsole durability

Just as we expected, the shoe's rubber stood up to our Dremel test with flying colours!

Even though the tool's speed was set to the unforgiving 10K RPM and the exposure lasted for 22 seconds, the damage ended up even shallower than a millimetre! Our tread gauge showed as little as 0.8 mm!

Air Jordan 1 Low Outsole durability

Test results
Air 1 Low 0.8 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

According to our calliper, the outsole of this Jordan sneaker is also quite thick (4.8 mm) which contributes to its longevity.

Air Jordan 1 Low Outsole thickness

There is no need to hold your breath when wearing the Air Jordan 1 Low. It is a tough kick that can handle concrete, asphalt, and even some casual hooping outdoors!

Air Jordan 1 Low durability

Test results
Air 1 Low 4.8 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
3.4 mm
Outsole thickness
8.6 mm

Weight

The Air Jordan 1 Low is not a lightweight sneaker but it doesn't feel particularly heavy either.

In a men's US size 9, it showed 14.5 oz (411g) on our scale. Only half an ounce heavier than average.

Air Jordan 1 Low Weight

To provide some context, the Air Jordan 1 Low is slightly lighter than the Nike Dunk Low (14.8 oz/420g) and notably lighter than the Nike Air Force 1 07 (16.4 oz/465g).

Test results
Air 1 Low 14.50 oz (411g)
Average 14.18 oz (402g)
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
8.54 oz (242g)
Weight
22.61 oz (641g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Did you know that before signing a contract with Nike back in the '80s, Michael Jordan actually preferred Adidas shoes? He found them more grounded compared to Nike.

Perhaps this explains why the Air Jordan 1 has such a low profile? The whole shoe was designed to meet Jordan's needs at the time.

Air Jordan 1 Low low stack

Looking at our calliper measurement, the shoe's heel stack is as low as 22.9 mm which is significantly lower than average!

Air Jordan 1 Low Heel stack

Oh, gosh, it's nearly as low as the Adidas Samba (19.3 mm) and the Gazelle (23.3 mm)!

Test results
Air 1 Low 22.9 mm
Average 29.5 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
18.2 mm
Heel stack
41.8 mm

Forefoot stack

The midsole gets even thinner in the forefoot, showing a mere 11.8 mm on our calliper.

Indeed, the AJ1 Low feels extremely low to the ground. We find it hard to believe that the 6'6" tall Michael Jordan considered this to be enough cushioning for professional play.

Air Jordan 1 Low Forefoot stack
Test results
Air 1 Low 11.8 mm
Average 18.6 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
10.6 mm
Forefoot stack
28.3 mm

Drop

Looking at the shoe's half-cut midsole, we see a rather gradual 11.1 mm drop.

The heel is moderately elevated above the toes offering a touch of support for the Achilles without pushing the toes forward.

Air Jordan 1 Low Drop
Test results
Air 1 Low 11.1 mm
Average 10.9 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
6.7 mm
Drop
17.2 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

As you can probably tell by now, cushioning is very minimal in this Air Jordan sneaker. What's more, it is not very soft either.

Air Jordan 1 Low Midsole softness

Pressing our Shore A durometer against the foam returned a reading of 27.8 HA. It indicates a moderately soft material that offers just a touch of shock absorption.

Coupled with a firm cup sole and an even firmer rubber outsole, it makes the AJ1 Low feel less than cushy on foot.

It seems like the Air capsule under the heel is the shoe's primary source of comfort and impact protection.

Test results
Air 1 Low 27.8 HA
Average 29.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 39 trainers
Number of shoes
15.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
60.0 HA

Insole thickness

A lightly padded insole helps to soften the blow underfoot. We measured its thickness at 4.1 mm which is slightly thinner than average.

Air Jordan 1 Low Insole thickness
Test results
Air 1 Low 4.1 mm
Average 5.5 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
3.1 mm
Insole thickness
13.9 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Considering how firm, structured, and low-to-the-ground it is, you can expect a pretty solid footing from the Air Jordan 1 Low.

The stitched cup sole design also makes the sneaker more supportive. Our feet felt cradled by it inside the shoe.

Air Jordan 1 Low cupsole

Torsional rigidity

Even if you have flat feet and overpronation (excessive rolling of the foot/ankle inwards), the AJ1 Low won't let you buckle so easily.

As you can see from our manual test above, the shoe has a lot of torsional rigidity to it. On a stiffness scale from 1 to 5, we gave it a high score of 4.

Test results
Air 1 Low 4
Average 3.4
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

This Jordan sneaker also features an immensely stiff heel counter. It created a real death grip around our heels eliminating every chance of heel slippage or sliding inside the shoe.

This is the highest level of heel hold that you can get in a sneaker. Thus, we rated the shoe's heel counter stiffness with the highest score of 5.

P.S. Let us remind you once again that wearing taller socks and snapping on a band-aid may be necessary to prevent the shoe's rough heel collar from digging into your Achilles.

Test results
Air 1 Low 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Examining the platform of the Air Jordan 1 Low, we found a pretty basic shape that's neither too narrow nor chunky.

Air Jordan 1 Low Midsole width in the forefoot

Our calliper shows that it has standard dimensions for a lifestyle sneaker. In the widest part of the forefoot, we measured 110.2 mm. Just about the same as the average.

Test results
Air 1 Low 110.2 mm
Average 108.6 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
100.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
121.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The same goes for the shoe's heel. Measuring the widest area here, our calliper returned 82.5 mm.

Air Jordan 1 Low Midsole width in the heel

Exactly the same as the average. Nothing to write home about.

Test results
Air 1 Low 82.5 mm
Average 82.7 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
69.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
103.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Considering how stiff the Air Jordan 1 Low felt straight from the box, we were surprised that it takes about the same force to bend as the average sneaker.

Using a special force gauge, we pressed the shoe to a 90-degree angle and found that it took 21.8N. This is just about the same as it took most trainers in our lab.

But please keep in mind that this Jordan sneaker takes some time to feel fully broken in.

Test results
Air 1 Low 21.8N
Average 22.9N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
5.8N
Stiffness
51.8N

Grip / Traction

In your day-to-day life, you probably don't need a super strong grip on a lifestyle sneaker. But if you do get into a slippery situation, the AJ 1 Low has got your back!

Air Jordan 1 Low outsole

Thanks to its hoop shoe legacy, the AJ features a very effective traction pattern at the bottom.

Size and fit

Internal length

Based on both measurements and wear tests, we can confirm that the Air Jordan 1 Low runs true to size.

The sneaker feels tailor-made in our regular men's US size 9 and also showed an expected internal length of 272.0 mm.

Air Jordan 1 Low Internal length

Its size is consistent with other popular Nike shoes like the Dunk Low, the Air Force 1 07, and the Air Max 1.

Test results
Air 1 Low 272.0 mm
Average 272.2 mm
Compared to 45 trainers
Number of shoes
265.3 mm
Internal length
280.1 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

If you have wide feet, we strongly recommend staying away from the Air Jordan 1 Low.

The shoe fits fine in the widest part of the toebox (100.5 mm based on our calliper) but narrows aggressively towards the front.

Air Jordan 1 Low Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Air 1 Low 100.5 mm
Average 99.2 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
94.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Measuring the shoe's toebox width near the big toe, our calliper showed 72.5 mm. It is a few millimetres narrower than average which can feel restrictive for some folks.

Air Jordan 1 Low Toebox width at the big toe

If you prefer a more rounded and accommodating toebox, consider the Nike Dunk Low instead (it measured 77.4 mm near the big toe).

Test results
Air 1 Low 72.5 mm
Average 74.7 mm
Compared to 48 trainers
Number of shoes
63.7 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
82.7 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue of the AJ1 Low doesn't have any attachments to the upper on the sides but it's not an issue. We didn't experience much tongue-shifting in this sneaker.

Air Jordan 1 Low Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Air 1 Low None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The shoe treated the tops of our feet to a very well-padded tongue. Showing 15.9 mm on our calliper, it muted the lace pressure entirely.

Air Jordan 1 Low Tongue padding
Test results
Air 1 Low 15.9 mm
Average 9.3 mm
Compared to 49 trainers
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
38.4 mm

Heel tab

There are no pull tabs on finger loops on this sneaker. The AJ 1 Low is too cool for that!

Air Jordan 1 Low Heel tab
Test results
Air 1 Low None

Removable insole

If you wish to enhance the in-shoe experience, you have the option to replace the stock insole with your custom orthotic.

Air Jordan 1 Low Removable insole
Test results
Air 1 Low Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Air Jordan 1 Low comes without reflective elements.

Air Jordan 1 Low Reflective elements
Test results
Air 1 Low No

Air Jordan 1 Low vs. Nike Dunk Low

Unless you are an experienced sneakerhead, it is very easy to mix the Air Jordan 1 Low with the Nike Dunk Low. The resemblance is striking!

Both designed by Peter Moore, these kicks have more similarities than differences.

Air Jordan 1 Low vs Nike Dunk Low

Nevertheless, there are a few notable features that set the two trainers apart:

  • Zoom Air unit: The Nike Dunk Low does not have that technology. The Air Jordan 1 Low, on the other hand, carries that iconic Air-Sole tech that provides better cushioning than the traditional sole.

Air Jordan 1 Low vs Nike Dunk Low comparison

  • On the Dunk, the Swoosh intersects the heel counter and heel tab. Meanwhile, the AJ Lows display various stitching panels on the heel with the Swoosh tail above the heel counter.
  • The Air Jordan Low 1 flaunts the iconic Wing logo on its heel counter, while the Dunk Low also has the common Nike branding embroidered on its heel tab.

Air Jordan 1 Low vs Nike Dunk Low heel

  • The toebox shape of the Dunk Low is broader and taller, while the AJ 1 Low has a narrower, tapered profile. That's why we can't recommend the AJs to wide feet.

Air Jordan 1 Low vs Nike Dunk Low toebox shape

The origins of the Air Jordan 1 Low

The very first Air Jordan 1 sneaker saw light in 1985.

It was designed by Peter Moore, Tinker Hatfield, and Bruce Kilgore as a performance basketball shoe that catered to Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls.

Air Jordan 1 Low style

The name "Air Jordan" was suggested by Michael's agent David Falk. It reflected the athlete's graceful soar during his legendary dunk shots.

The idea of flying through the air also lies behind the shoe's famous Wings Logo.

Air Jordan 1 Low wings logo

But the story of the Air Jordan 1 began with a scandal ignited by the now famous "Banned" colorway of the shoe.

According to NBA rules at the time, the shoe colours of all team players were supposed to match. However, Michael's pair of AJ 1s only had 23% of white as opposed to the 51% worn by the rest of his teammates. Nike had to pay a fine of $5,000 each time Michael played in his "BRED" pair.

Air Jordan 1 Low history

It is a popular opinion, however, that Nike violated the rules on purpose to boost the crowd's interest in the newly released Jordan shoe.

Offered as a casual sneaker for the general public, the Air Jordan 1 earned the company over £160 million in sales from over 50,000 sold pairs.