Size and fit

The Nike Air VaporMax 97 is fortunately available for both men and women. The shoe offers up a lace-closure system with pull tabs at the heel and tongue to allow for easy access to the foot.

Nike Air VaporMax 97 Style

Just a side note on taking the Nike Air VaporMax 97 for a walk--never use skinny jeans or joggers with these because it is a bulky sneaker. Relaxed cut jeans with free-flowing bottoms are the go-to apparel for these low tops. Trousers that rest comfortably on the end of the shoe are also a good option for clothing. For those trying out a hip image, one can dress up with high socks for a visually appealing look.

Notable Features

Nike continues to uphold the Nike Air VaporMax iteration with its continuous remodeling of the upper depending on the colorway. The thing that stays intact is the merging of an Air Max 97 upper with the VaporMax outsole.

Nike Air VaporMax 97 History

Space didn’t seem to be the final frontier for Nike, and in fact, the Oregon-based shoemaker capitalized on it specifically on a particular phase of matter called air. Reducing material density was the key to the sports giant’s success ever since Nike started using it way back in the year Star Trek: The Motion Picture was simultaneously released. Please excuse the barrage of Star Trek references as the topic of visible air started with a concept from the playful brain of an aeronautical engineer named Frank Rudy.

Rudy approached Nike with his ingenious idea of sandwiching an air bubble within the walls of a shoe’s midsole. Astonished with its brilliance, Nike went with the flow and launched a promising sneaker called the Air Tailwind in 1978. Though it was made available for the public the following year, Nike would want to make sure that their sophisticated product works thus the entry of the participants of the 1978 Honolulu Marathon.

The Tailwind’s audience reception seemed tight, considering its limited early release. Broadening the market of the Air technology, Nike introduced the Mariah shoe which is technically almost the same as the Tailwind but with sleeker and forward details. The Nike Mariah was released in 1981 which seems to have upgraded features like lightweight and a smoother heel-to-toe transition.

Soon after, the Air-Sole technology took the Nike R&D division by a storm which entitled the brand to spontaneously release the coveted feature in numerous design cues. A year after the Mariah debuted, the Nike Air Force 1 was released inducting the first Nike basketball sneaker to ever sport an air pocket. Showing no signs of stopping, the Air-Sole tech was even borrowed by Micheal Jordan’s first model called the AirShip in 1984 which turned out to be the prototype to the Air Jordan 1.

  The launch of the Air Max

Nike had hit the jackpot with their iconic Air bubble feature, but the young and bold Tinker Hatfield felt like it still has more untapped potential. Inspired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Hatfield utilized the visible stairways of the famous building in creating his design for the first Air Max shoe. In other words, he was successful. The encapsulated air before was now visible via notched windows on the heel as presented in the Air Max 1 released in 1987.

No one ever knew the Air Max 1 would be a gargantuan player in the sneaker realm that would spark a whole series of iterations in the years to come. The victorious incarnation of the AM 1 was followed by the Air Max 90, 180, 93, 95, and which later led to the assembly of the Air Max 97 from Nike.

The crowd-favorite Nike AM 95 was a tough egg to crack given that this fifth addition to the franchise already bore a forefoot visible Air-Sole unit. The skeletal hints pulled out from a human’s body also didn’t help. Good thing Christian Tresser had the perseverance to create something more. With bikes and ripples of water in his mind, he created the Nike Air Max 97 in flying colors.

Since its colossal debut in 1997, the AM 97 proved to be a stand-out iteration with promising features that would be adopted in the subsequent years. The full-length Air-Sole unit surpassed other half-bubble units by a notch and was even utilized in the Air Max Deluxes several years after. But what stayed with the sneaker audience was its innovative overall feature which is also exemplified by the 3M detailing along the upper.

The Air franchise continued to flourish throughout the years raking in a formidable chunk of the Nike revenue. It was only timely that in 2016, Nike’s design kitchen introduced the Nike Air VaporMax which is comprised of 39,000 parts. It took them 7 years to perfect the innovative piston-bound shoe which incidentally is also lighter by 4 ounces from its predecessor.

  Nike Air VaporMax 97

2017 came and infected the world with its dad-shoe nostalgia which in turn Nike obliged with the fusion of its top-tier silhouettes namely the Air Max 97 and the VaporMax. The Nike Air VaporMax 97 is an amalgamation of two cult favorites with the VaporMax bearing the more recent style. The upper consists of the bullet-train design of the AM 97 while the lower half is comprised of the VaporMax tooling.

A prestigious fusion like the Nike Air VaporMax 97 deserves numerous collections along the way. The very first edition was the revival of the Japan colorway which glistens in a volt green VaporMax tooling with black and grey uppers. It was followed by the Black Reflect colorway which showcases a tonal black upper and sole with darker 3M reflective details.

The most awaited Silver Bullet pack was released alongside the Air Max Month of March 2018. The prestigious low top shines in dominant silver with black and red accents which fans continue to love. Its outsole was almost translucent giving it a free-flowing vibe while walking or jogging. Nearly two months after the Silver Bullet’s release, the Metallic Gold colorway had hit the stores which follow the original style of the crowd-pleasing upper of its OG iteration.

Additional Info

  • The removable foam insole displays VaporMax branding.
  • Brandings underneath the translucent VaporMax tooling exhibit a Nike Swoosh on the left heel and an Airmax print on the right.
  • Aside from the Nike Air Vapormax 97 silver bullet, other favorite colorways of the sneaker include the Nike Air Vapormax 97 in white/varsity purple (grape) and metallic dark sea.


How Nike Air VaporMax 97 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 43% sneakers
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Top 32% Nike sneakers
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The current trend of Nike Air VaporMax 97.
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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.