Jordan 31 Performance Review
Michael Jordan’s legacy looms large not just over the NBA, but also the state of performance basketball sneakers and the fashion world. MJ’s Jordan Brand still releases Michael Jordan’s signature shoe, always looking to push the boundaries of design and performance using the latest technologies. The newest release of His Airness’s signature shoe, the Jordan 31, attempts to be both a top performer and innovator as well as pay tribute to the shoe that started it all, the Air Jordan I. Can this latest product from Jordan Brand live up to the lofty expectations it faces? Is the Jordan 31 a fitting tribute to the first Air Jordan, the shoe that started a sneaker dynasty and kicked off the legendary career of the GOAT Michael Jordan?
There is really no nice way to say this, the traction on the Jordan 31 is awful. The previous two Air Jordan models, the 29 and XXX, were very good, but this is a huge disappointment. When you make a cut or come to a sudden stop, you slide a few inches before you stop, and that is on a (mostly) clean court. If dust is present, the translucent outsole attracts it like a magnet and makes playing in this shoe borderline dangerous. The rubber is pretty hard so it ought to be quite durable, and it is insanely squeaky. We are hoping that this situation will be similar to that of the Kobe 11 Elite. When the Kobe 11 Elite first dropped, it only used a terrible translucent outsole, but when colorways using a solid rubber outsole were released the traction performed very well. We hope that a colorway of the Jordan 31 will drop with a solid rubber outsole, but until that happens the Sole Brothers give the traction a rating of 1/10.
This shoe features Nike’s full-length Zoom technology combined with Jordan’s Flightspeed technology to lock and unlock the Zoom unit for enhanced response. The guys were able to feel the Zoom unit and report that it feels nice. It feels responsive, provides good impact protection, feels pretty bouncy and low to the ground. When you put pressure on the Zoom unit, the bounce it gives you is pretty quick, so rather than feeling super bouncy but not responsive like Sammy says the Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit, the Jordan 31 feels a little bouncy but still maintains a responsive feel. The Sole Brothers give the cushion setup on the Jordan 31 a rating of 10/10.
The materials implemented on the Jordan 31 are, as the poet Don says, “stupid nice,”. The upper is a Flyweave performance woven textile used in the toe box and midfoot which then blends into a synthetic leather material for the midfoot to heel as well as up to the ankle. The eyelets use Nike’s Flywire technology to provide a snug fit and extra support. A Neoprene material lines the inside of the shoe, while the tongue is constructed with Flyweave. The Flyweave feels similar to a jacquard-like the one used in the Crazylight Boost 2016, but this is a bit softer. The materials used on the Jordan 31 earn it a rating of 10/10.
Fit: The Jordan 31 fits very well, we recommend going true to size as the shoe is a little roomy in the toe box and is a bit wide. Once you tighten the laces, the shoe feels very streamlined and you can’t feel that the shoe is on your foot, at least until you inevitably slide and bust your butt on the hardwood.
Support: The support in this shoe is very good. The materials do not stretch at all and since the shoe provides good ankle support. Sammy did report that he wishes that the leather area was a bit lower since it dug into his Achilles a bit, but Don did not experience that issue.
Lockdown: The Jordan XXX had better lockdown than the Jordan 31, but that does not mean it is a slouch. You do not slide around much if at all in the footbed and the great fit keeps you locked in. Jordan Brand went bananas with the Achilles pillows in this shoe, there are 6 of them! The pillows feel nice and comfortable, but they do not hold your Achilles as firmly as the Jordan XXX did. The Sole Brothers give the Jordan 31 a rating of 9/10 for fit/support/lockdown.
Ventilation, Durability, and Aesthetics
Ventilation: The Jordan 31 does not feel hot at all, earning a rating of 9/10 for ventilation.
Durability: The materials are pretty strong and well put together and the rubber used on the outsole is pretty hard, so this should be a durable shoe, earning a rating of 9/10 for durability.
Aesthetics: When images of the shoe first leaked, the low-res images did not impress anyone. But since the shoe has dropped and we have gotten a closer look at it, we have to say it looks pretty dope. Some of the Olympic colorways (Brazil’s in particular) look awesome as well as a recently seen Russell Westbrook PE. The Jordan 31 earns a rating of 9/10 for aesthetics.
The Jordan 31 weighs in at 13.58 ounces which is pretty light, but it feels very light on foot. Jordan Brand is selling this shoe for $185 which is a nice price drop from the previous two models in the Air Jordan line. Overall, the Jordan 31 is an incredible shoe other than the catastrophic traction. Sammy said that he will not play in these anymore due to the traction, but Don said that they are so good from the midsole up that they are still in his rotation even though the traction is horrible. If you never try to stop suddenly or attempt any crossovers, you should be fine. As of right now, the Sole Brothers cannot recommend the Jordan 31, but if/when a colorway featuring a solid rubber outsole releases, we will try it out and our opinion may change. Let us know what you think of the Jordan 31 in the comments, check out the scoring breakdown below as well as Don and Sammy’s discussion of the Jordan 31.