Who should buy the Nike Air Rift

Grab a pair of Nike Air Rift if you:

  • prefer sneakers that do not give a dragging down sensation
  • enjoy eye-catching kicks with next-level comfort
  • rather wear highly versatile sneakers that are easy to slip into the feet

Nike Air Rift heel label

Who should NOT buy it

Although made for summer and spring, the Nike Air Rift feels warm when worn. Alternatively, we've cataloged several summer-ready sneakers that offer smooth air ventilation to keep your toes comfy and sweat-free. Check out its breathable version, the Nike Air Rift Breathe or the Nike Aqua Rift.

Nike Air Rift midfoot strap

A quick look at Nike Air Rift's past

Yes, the Nike Air Rift is back in all its oddity. But did you know that Nike isn't the first brand to develop a cloven hoof-like shoe? Although the Nike Air Rift dates back to 1995, this shoe's split-toe design was first seen in 15th century Japan. Known as "tabi" socks, these socks later turned into light and durable work boots called Jika tabi. Martin Margiela also shared its history by transforming these workhorses into glorified hooves.

Nike Air Rift tabi toe

Fast forward to the year 1995, Nike (with its love for the fast-paced sport of running) introduces its first split-toe runner. Dubbed as the Nike Air Rift, its name and design are inspired by a ridge system that runs through the north and south of Kenya called Great Rift Valley.

Nike Air Rift Nike Air

Kenya, for decades, has been known to produce the world's best runners. Kenyan runners, as kids, were used to running barefoot or with minimal protection. Thus, it just made sense for a mad designer and ultra-distance runner like Kip Buck (with the help of Tinker Hatfield) to give these shoes a stretchy shoe-slash-sandal build. This type of design allows unhindered motion and gives a barefoot-like feel.

Nike Air Rift lateral midfoot

Benefits of wearing split-toe shoes

Love it or hate it, wearing split-toe shoes does have its benefits. Here are a few:

  • separating the big toe from the rest lets the feet flex naturally and move more efficiently
  • reduces pain and minimizes foot-related injuries
  • promotes balance

Nike Air Rift toe box side view

2021 Nike Air Rift: Same eccentric look in an eco-friendly package

The Air Rifts has been seen in various colors and designs in the past. For 2021, the Swoosh brand finally decided to put these quirky kicks back but with a few exciting updates:

  • Equipped with the Nike Grind rubber outsole, the soles contain at least 5% recycled materials. This gives the bottom of the shoe a speckled-confetti-like look while providing durable traction.
  • Unlike the plastic-like footbeds in the previous models, this one has a perforated insole. This new feature lets the foot breathe and drains any unwanted moisture to keep feet dry and sweat-free.  

Nike Air Rift rubber outsole

Facts / Specs

Style: Sporty, Retro
Top: Low
Inspired from: Running
Collection: Nike Air, Nike Grind
Closure: Velcro
Material: Rubber Sole, Woven / Fabric
Technology: Air Cushion

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Nike Air Rift unboxing and on-feet videos

Author
Jaydee
Jaydee

Jaydee dispels the myth that women can't be experts when it comes to sneakers. With hundreds of sneaker articles under her belt, she gained a surefire edge over others claiming to be experts. Since joining RunRepeat in 2017, she’s published formidable arrays of sneaker write-ups - some covered in lifestyle magazines. Interested in scrutinizing a pair of sneakers? Jaydee is the best person to talk to as she can intuitively chew it over with you even while doing her laundry. When she’s not writing, you can catch Jaydee playing with her two kids, online shopping, and spending far too much time on Instagram.