TECH LIFE: ALL ABOUT OUR FAVORITE SNEAKER TECHNOLOGIES
We’re product nerds at Piff. Sure, we love a sneaker with a great backstory and a dope design … but we also love the technological side of things. From rubber-soled Chuck Taylors to Converse’s React Juice to Reebok’s DMX cushioning technology to Latrell Sprewell’s Dada spinners (yes, they count as technology even though they SUCKED to play basketball in), to Nike Shox promising to make you jump higher to adidas’s laceless T-Macs to today’s space age-esque cushioning and support advancements, we love finding out more about sneaker tech.
We love it so much in fact that we thought we’d share some of our knowledge with you. We picked out a handful of technologies that we feel are most relevant in today’s game, both from a performance standpoint and a lifestyle standpoint … and we’ll be giving you the nitty-gritty details on each of them. Pull up a chair and get your notebook. You’re about to learn a lot.
It’s only right that we start the list with the most famous sneaker technology of all time, Nike Air. Ever since the 1980’s, visible Air bubbles have been iconic, and even today nothing stacks up to their impact on the sneaker game. Pressurized air inside of a durable, flexible bag, Nike Air will compress upon impact with the ground, then re-expand immediately, providing extremely lightweight support and cushioning for any activity, even if it’s just stunting on your friends in the Supreme Air Max 98’s pictured above.
Although it’s not typically visible like Air cushioning is, Nike Zoom is another seemingly timeless innovation from the titans based in Beaverton. It’s a thin compartment of pressurized air with fibers that provides a lower-to-the-ground, quicker feel than Air, which may be why Kobe Bryant loved it so much in his signature shoes. It’s also always had a place in the running world, and is featured in many classic models like the Zoom Spiridon pictured above.
We know, we know. In all likelihood this is what you were waiting for (who doesn’t love the Reigning Champ Ultraboosts?). There’s no technology on the market hotter than Boost right now, and for good reason: it’s incredibly comfortable. Made of blown-up TPU (short for thermoplastic urethane, a material that’s common in sneakers) Boost is hundreds of small energy capsules that absorb and disperse energy more efficiently than any other cushioning material on the market. That’s the tecnological reason it feels like you’re walking on clouds when you wear any Boost sneaker. Although it’s a relatively new technology, the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to the future.
Before Boost, there was another miracle foam cushioning system on the market called Lunarlon. Introduced in 2008 on the original Nike Hyperdunk and still going strong today, Lunarlon is a dual-density cushion that features a soft foam incased in a more firm, supportive carrier to provide the perfect combo of pillowy cushioning and responsive support. Although Boost has firmly stolen the spotlight from Lunarlon, it’s still a great technology that’s been used on many a classic release, like these Supreme Lunar Flyknit 1’s.
Upper Materials/Other Technology
Made of machine-woven polyester yarn, Nike Flyknit was the first true knit upper on a shoe to find great success. It’s light as a feather, form-fitting, and completely seamless so there’s no points of irritation, and can be woven tighter (like on the toe of these Flyknit Racers) for more support, or looser (like on the midfoot) for more breathability. From a cultural standpoint, it’s also responsible for helping issue in the tech runner craze.
Nike’s got machine-woven polyester yarn … and Adidas has machine-woven fused yarn. Although one could make a solid argument that Primeknit is aping Flyknit (trust us, we do see the similarities), the feel is surprisingly different. Primeknit as a whole seems to be softer and more flexible, generally making it more comfortable for casual wear (like on these NMD’s) if not performance wear. Much like Boost, it’s a new technology … so we’re excited to see where adidas can take it from here.
Created on 3D printers and made out of recycled material, the adidas Futurecraft is really the shoe of the future. With everything from ocean plastic to electrical wire being used as uppers and midsoles (this was a difficult shoe to categorize), the sky is the limit for Futurecraft. Although most models have been concepts so far, we have a feeling that they’ll be hitting shelves near you sooner than you think.
First introduced on the Air Mags and then brought to the HyperAdapt 1.0 (pictured above), Nike’s new power lacing technology aims to make movie magic come true. With just the touch of a button, you can tighten or loosen your shoes, and they’ll provide a custom fit as they wrap your foot just right. The power laces are fueled by a rechargeable battery, and although the technology is prohibitively expensive for most currently, it wouldn’t blow us away if power laces were a readily available option on most Nike shoes within the next 5-10 years.
What’s your favorite technology on this list? Did you learn anything you didn’t know about any of this dope footwear tech? Hit us up and let us know on Twitter, check our Facebook page for updates, and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fire photos you can handle.