Nike Women's Air Max Cage Shoe Review
- Little to no break-in
- Ankle area loosens up over time
Nike fans who loved the Breathe Free IIs or the Breathe 2K series will love the new Nike Air Max Cage. With little to no break-in needed, our TW playtesters found the comfort to be exactly what they expected from a high performance shoe. Designed specifically for women's feet, this shoe has a modified running last for comfort and support. Although some of the playtesters noted a loss of traction and less support over time, there were plenty of reasons to sing the shoe's praises. The outsole and toe durability of the Nike Air Max Cage impressed all of the players, and they felt that the comfort was high. With a fresh design and sharp colors, this shoe is bound to impress players of all levels.
Comfort - Score: 4.3
Little time was needed for our playtesters to find the Nike Air Max Cage perfectly comfortable. Carol found all the comfort she wanted. She said, "This shoe is extremely comfortable. The Ortholite insole allowed my foot to sit very comfortably inside the shoe, and it worked well with the soft cushioning from the padding at the tip and heel. The Max Air unit added even more comfort, which I felt immediately after putting the shoe on."
Karly couldn't have been happier with the amount of cushioning the Air Max Cage offered. She said, "It was such a soft shoe, with cushioning throughout the entire shoe. Thanks to that good use of cushioning, I never felt any poking or pinching. I also thought the break-in was very, very slight. I don't know that I should even call it a break-in period because it only took about half an hour before any stiffness was gone."
Like the other playtesters, Brittany found comfort to be one of the best features of the shoe, saying, "While I wouldn't say there was a break-in period, I will say it took about one hitting period for the shoes to mold to my feet and to get rid of any stiff parts. As far as cushioning goes, this shoe nails it on the head with the Max Air bubble in the heel and the well-padded tongue."
Ventilation - Score: 3.8
Although it received varying opinions, the Nike Air Max Cage offered enough ventilation to avoid any serious criticisms. Brittany didn't feel strongly either way about the shoe's breathability. She offered, "Ventilation was average with this shoe for me, not bad but not great. I am playtesting this shoe in the cooler months, so I found it was a little harder to judge. While I never felt my foot was overheating, I didnŐt think there was as much air circulation as I would have liked (especially if I play in the summer)."
Wishing for more breathability was Karly. She said, "I found the shoe to have average ventilation. There were times when I was playing that I thought my feet felt a little warm, and after play my socks felt a little damp, though it wasn't enough to bother me. All in all, I thought the breathability was so-so. While not the best, a lack of ventilation was never an issue."
Carol competed without any issues, saying, "Ventilation was great in this shoe. My foot felt snug and cushioned with the mesh cage, but breathability was not sacrificed."
Arch Support - Score: 4.1
Earning a glowing reception from our team, the shoe's arch support was either effective or went largely unnoticed. Carol felt it fit the shape of her foot really well, explaining, "The perfect arch support. This shoe was made for my foot. It provided excellent arch support in just the right spot."
"I have no complaints about the arch support," said Karly. "I thought it was slightly lower than average, with a medium-low height, but it didn't cause any problems. I didn't have achey arches when playing in the shoe, and that's all I could ask for!"
Brittany didn't really notice theta arch support while she was playing. This suited her just fine. She said, "Because I have a medium arch I rarely have any arch problems, unless the support is hugely favoring one side (too high or too low). The arch support on this shoe is medium and fits my foot just fine. I didn't have any issues with it from start to finish."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.7
While Carol felt the shoe was top quality and provided solid support, Karly and Brittany felt the shoe stretched out over time and lost some of its support. Karly said, "I was a little disappointed with the Air Max Cage's support. It may be because I had higher expectations for the shoe, but as I wore them more the shoe started to loosen up and decrease in support. The shoe loosened up the most around the ankles and I didn't feel as secure. The forefoot was extremely roomy and fit me a little longer than I would've liked, so I was experiencing quite a bit of sliding within the shoe the more aggressively I played. I didn't like all the movement within the shoe, in addition to the lack of support around the ankles, as I wore the shoe more."
"I will start off by saying this shoe's width is a medium," said Brittany, who had the same issues as Karly. "This shoe was too wide for my narrow foot, especially in the forefoot area where there was a ton of extra room. I found my foot was sliding around in the shoe while I moved around the court. When I first started playtesting this shoe I thought the support was really good. After about two weeks I noticed the ankle collar on both shoes started to loosen up and was flaring out as I was taking steps. I felt I lost a lot of the ankle stability that I need to play tennis."
Carol found exactly what she wanted from the foot support, saying, "This might be the best support and stability shoe I have ever playtested. This shoe provided me with a lot of confidence in all my movements on the court. My foot felt very snug in the shoe and rarely moved around. The she molded well to my foot thanks to the TPU-injected cage."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.2
The Nike Air Max Cage's XDR outsole met the expectations of our playtesters throughout the playtest. Karly loved the combination of durability and weight, saying, "For how much the Nike Air Max Cage weighs, I thought the durability was impressive. I'd consider a 12 ounce shoe to be somewhat lighter than average, and at that weight I thought it did an excellent job holding up. Durability was not an issue for me."
The Nike Air Max Cage was right in Carol's wheelhouse for durability. She said, "It's been very durable so far, but I am showing a little wear out on the inside toe, which is typical. This is where I usually see wear on my shoes in this timeframe (about a month)."
Brittany, who has a history of playing in this shoe series, compared the newest model with its predecessors. She said, "One of the main reasons I chose to play in the Breathe Free IIs (one of its predecessors) in college was durability. Because I put a lot of hours on the court I would wear through tennis shoes quickly, and the Breathe Free IIs seemed to hold up the best. Well, the Air Max Cage definitely follows in the Breathe Free IIs' footsteps. I thought the durability was great, and the six-month durability is always an added bonus. One thing that really stood out to me was the zonal herringbone tread pattern on the shoe. The thicker outsole under the big toe gives extra protection to that high wear area."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.4
The Nike Air Max Cage stepped right up and offered great durability in the toe area. "As a toe dragger, I need all the protection I can get," said Brittany. "With the Air Max Cage I had plenty of toe durability. The toe bumper showed little to no signs of wear and will probably outlast the rest of the shoe. While the toe bumper only goes three-fourths of the way up the front of the shoe, it meets with the DragOn cage to provide all the protection I needed. The only noticeable change since I started the playtest was the DragOn material getting a little dirty and slightly scuffed on my right shoe (from the dragging on my serve)."
Finding the toe protection to match her aggressive footwork was Karly. She explained, "When it comes to toe durability, the Air Max Cage has got you covered. Literally! I thought the coverage around the toebox was outstanding. With the outsole coming up to meet the upper and the TPU cage around the forefoot, wearing through the material at the toes was the least of my worries with this shoe."
Traction - Score: 4.1
While there was some loss of traction at the end of the playtest, the shoes offered adequate support for movement. Karly felt the traction change as the playtest wore on. She said, "When I first played in the shoes I thought the traction was great. They gripped the court so I wasn't sliding, and there was just enough release. However, I did notice a slight loss of traction the more I wore the shoes. I never got to the point where I was slipping, but I didn't have that same grip on the court as I did when I first started playing in them. Overall, I thought the traction was average because it lost its grip faster than I would've liked."
Brittany echoed what Karly said about the traction, saying, "Another benefit of the zonal herringbone tread pattern outsole was the traction. When I first started hitting with this shoe I found it was gripping the court well and even allowing a little give when needed. I didnŐt have a problem moving around in any direction. One small thing I noticed was that toward the end of the playtest I started to lose a little bit of traction when I was moving aggressively and had to make quick, hard stops. Overall, though, I felt that the traction was slightly above average."
The Nike Air Max Cage gave Carol the confidence to move around the court. She said, "Great traction. I surprised myself with my movement in these shoes. I felt confident that this shoe would support me in all movements on the court, whether they be stop and go, side to side on the baseline, or going back for a deep overhead. I could feel the support around my ankle as I would plant for a running forehand. The traction and support worked hand in hand for me on the court."
Weight - Score: 3.9
We received mixed responses on the weight, but the players agreed that the shoe moved quickly around the court. Carol loved how fast her feet were, explaining, "Given the support, cushioning and excellent traction, this shoe is also very lightweight. I felt as if I were walking on air in this shoe."
Brittany found the weight of the shoes to be better than older models. She said, "To my surprise, these shoes felt a little lighter than the Breathe Free II, which I really liked. However, I would call this a middle of the road weight for a tennis shoe. It is definitely not the lightest shoe I have played in, but it certainly didn't feel clunky or heavy on the court."
"I thought they felt a little heavier than their actual weight," said Karly. "Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't consider them a heavy shoe, I just thought they felt heavier than 12 ounces. I just finished reviewing Nike's Vapor 9, which weighed in at 11.9 ounces. If I hadn't known their weights I would've said that the Air Max Cages weighed at least 2 ounces more than the Vapor 9s. I didn't feel like I could move my fastest with them on, which could have been because of the sliding within the toe box and the loose fit around the ankle, but I also didn't think they were a slow shoe, either."
Overall - Score: 4.1
Brittany - "I enjoyed the combination of comfort and durability."
Carol - "I loved every aspect of this shoe. This is the ideal shoe for me and my style of play. It supported me on the court with ample cushioning, traction and a lightweight feel. I thought the shoeŐs design was fun, young and very modern."
Karly - "The cosmetics and the comfort. I really liked the color blocking and contrasting AIRMAX callout on the back of the heel, and I loved how soft they felt."
Brittany - "I didn't like the ankle collar loosening up halfway through the playtest. It made me lose some of the ankle support/stability."
Carol - "My only complaint could/would be the outsole's durability on the medial side of the forefoot. I did notice some wear on this section of the shoe and will have to pay close attention to how fast this advances. I know extra rubber was added to the high wear areas, so I will continue to monitor this feature."
Karly - "The loss of support around the ankle the more I wore them. I played a little more hesitantly and it slowed me down."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Brittany - "There were some definite similarities to the Nike Breathe Free II. I thought the comfort/cushioning, durability and traction were very similar between the two. The main differences for me would be that the Nike Air Max Cage felt slightly lighter, but the Breathe Free II maintained its ankle support."
Carol - "This is my favorite Nike shoe so far. I felt that this shoe had better support than the Lunar Speed and better traction than the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour."
Karly - "It reminded me a lot like the adidas barricade 7 in terms of cushioning. Both shoes offer top-notch padding that makes them comfortable shoes to wear on the court."
Playtester Foot Types:
Brittany - Narrow width, Medium arch
Carol - Medium width, Medium arch
Karly - Medium width, Medium-low arch
Review date: March 2013. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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