[Performance review by We Are Testers]
Traction – The overall surface area is very good no matter your position or movements. Clean floors are ideal of course but even semi-dusty courts were no match for the AJ7. It wasn’t until I played on a debris (mostly dust) filled court that traction became an issue which was remedied by consistently wiping the bottom. Certain sections of the rubber are smooth and fairly sticky when new so this will accumulate dust even on the cleanest of courts so some wiping will be needed.
For what is offered, the Air Jordan VII offers some very nice traction that can keep you planted and stable throughout gameplay.
Cushion – The most notable difference between the AJ7 and the previous models would be the overall cushion. From what I’ve been told, the original and first round retro releases featured an embedded full length Air unit and these newer retro models have them placed directly under foot. Major change in cushion from all of the previous models and the midsole itself is much more forgiving as well. Out of all the Air Jordan’s from 1-9 I’d say the 7 offers the most out of cushion and comfort.
Material – Depending on the colorway the materials will be different. Each material option offers different levels of support so if you wish to maximize support then go with the leather versions. Nubuck versions will offer you less support but offer greater range of motion and mobility. Overall the materials held up nicely, most of the visible damage to the shoe is on the painted sections of the midsole so the leather is definitely a reliable option.
Fit – These fit a little strange for me… an 8.5 fits securely along the midfoot yet they are to short length wise while a sz 9 (which is what I wore) is fine length wise but could have had a slightly more secure midfoot fit. Once fully laced they aren’t too bad and the midfoot is held down nicely while the collar draws your heel back into the shoe keeping the heel and ankle secure. The best fitting Air Jordan right now comes down to the AJ4 & 7, in my opinion.
Ventilation – Not quite as good as the AJ6 but better than anything before that. I would have liked to have had the perforations found along the tongue to have been completely open from the inside out but everything else wasn’t horrible. These are thicker (material wise) than the AJ6 so what you lose in ventilation you gain in supportive materials.
Support – The molded arch does its job while the overall fit and materials will take care of the rest for you. As noted above, the material choice you make will improve the overall support in general. I did wear the Bordeaux colorway during my playing time in the AJ7 and the materials along the upper just didn’t give me enough support when putting a lot of torque on the shoe so I ended up switching back to the Olympic version… it was night and day with the amount of support the materials offer between the two.
Overall – The AJ7 is possibly the best early Air Jordan for on-court purposes. They are a very well rounded shoe in general when compared to the previous models as they offer the best cushion, solid traction, reliable materials with a pretty solid fit, above average ventilation and still offer plenty of support.