Nike is expanding its range of auto-lacing sneakers, but how good are they?

An honest review on Nikes first ever auto-lacing Air Max which gives a futuristic spin on a classic, welcome to the future of sneakers

By: Christopher Claxton


Nike “Motherboard” Adapt Auto Max with the control candy strobe light effect. Credit: Christopher Claxton

Many sneakerheads know March 26th is Nike’s Air Max Day, a day to celebrate hundreds of Air Max sneakers released since the line originated. 2020 has made the Air Max line 33 years old and we all knew a new sneaker model was coming. 

There I was, eleven days into quarantine, sitting bored in my room and that’s when the Nike Adapt Auto Max shock dropped on the Nike SNKRS app for a retail price of $400USD. At 12:11 p.m. I received the “Got ‘Em” screen confirming my purchase. That was the most exciting thing that happened to me that day.

A Screenshot of my phone screen on May 26th when my purchase was confirmed. Credit:  Christopher Claxton

Nike’s sportswear released their first self-lacing sneakers in 2016 with their HyperAdapt that retailed for a hefty $720. In 2016 Nike released the Nike Adapt BB, the first smart performance basketball sneaker for $350. The company has spent decades trying to make the auto-lacing shoes a reality since Michael J. Fox wore a pair of Nike Air Mag’s in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II.

The Nike Auto Max is the latest in self-lacing tech, designers took inspiration from the Air Max 90   and the highly coveted Nike Air Mag to create this chunky yet sleek shoe. It’s powered through Nike Adapt, a lacing system that adjusts to the shape of your foot as soon as you slide into the sneaker.

 You connect each sneaker to the Nike Adapt App through Bluetooth connectivity so you can tighten and loosen your shoes with your phone, Apple Watch, or even your voice through Siri. On the app you can check battery life, change the colors of the lights, and create personalized commands to control the sneakers.

Screenshot of the Nike Adapt app when you open it. Credit:  Christopher Claxton

The app actually works pretty well; I downloaded it straight from the Apple App Store, logged into my Nike account and searched for nearby Nike Adapt sneakers. You connect to each sneaker individually and not as a pair. Once connected I set up my sneakers and was ready to go. The only issue I had with the app were on rare occasions where I would open it up to alter the tightness of the shoe and the sneakers wouldn’t be connected, I would have to wait a few seconds for the app to reconnect with the shoes and then continue my alterations.

Nike Auto Adapts charging on the included charging pad. Credit:  Christopher Claxton

Charging is a breeze. The sneakers come with a wireless charging pad so all you need to do is place the sneakers on the pad and they will begin to charge.  You know they’re charging once the pulsing charging light glows but; if the shoe is dead, no light will glow until it gets enough battery life. If the battery dies while they’re on your feet you can still unlace them. There’s always enough power to take them off. 

Top left – 12 basic colors to choose from. Bottom left- 12 combinations of 2 colors to choose for lighting effects. Right- Light effects and the durations. Credit:  Christopher Claxton

Light customization is simple, there’s 12 colors to choose from and 12 color combinations to pair with an effect. You can have the color glow only when pressing the buttons or you can have them on with pulsing or static patterns. You can assign colors to presets and custom modes in the ‘Your Modes’ section of the app.

This is how the sneakers are displayed once you open the packaging. Credit: Christopher Claxton

The box is massive and the Nike Auto Max is spelled out on the side of the box while the auto mascot is on another side. When you open the box, you’ll see each shoe standing up inside with another box on the inside as a divider. Inside the divider you’ll find an auto max vinyl figure with the charging cable for the charging pad. Removing the shoes reveals the charging pad hidden under a compartment below. The packaging is really well designed and it’s a great display piece. It’s just very large.

One of the many wires hidden inside the sneaker that power the Nike Adapt System. Credit: Christopher Claxton

The upper part of the sneaker is made with a smooth mesh that hides the Nike adapt system, the motor is in the sole of the sneaker covered by the insole and a Velcro cover. The motor controls the cables in the shoe that allows you to tighten or loosen the fit and it works extremely well, it’s responsive, and works with no delay.  

The neutral gray uppers Of the “Motherboard” color way. Credit: Christopher Claxton

This shoe is extremely comfortable, it has a large chunky sole with a huge Air Max unit in the heel. The cube like traction pattern keeps you planted too. Overall the sneaker fits true to size.

I usually wear a US 12, US 13, or whatever I can get my hands on. The size 13 fits me perfectly, and the fit is secure with or without the lacing system. The Nike Auto Max isn’t as heavy as you may think. I didn’t notice any added weight; it was honestly like wearing any other sneakers. 

Overall I’m glad I added these to my collection. If money was out of the question I would definitely buy multiple pairs. They feel good, they look great, and really can’t find a reason besides the price to not buy the sneaker. 

The Nike Adapt Auto Max is a pair of sneakers that will turn heads. It’s something different and incites questions. The shoe is water-resistant so you don’t have to worry about rain or puddles. 

If you want to a pair, go ahead and buy one, but, you won’t need any more than that.

Everything that’s  included in the box. Credit: Christopher Claxton



Categories: Opinion

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