Nike Air Max 90 Bacon (2021): Out of the Box
- Price: $140 [No Longer Available at Retail]
- Pros: Nostalgia Trip, Comfortable for a Retro
- Cons: Cheap Materials, Horrible Quality Control
For a sneaker as storied as the Air Max 90, there really isn’t that many famous colorways. Sure, the Lunar90 might go for a lot of money, but outside of the small overlap of sneakerheads and NASA enthusiasts, most people don’t really know about it. In fact, when it comes to collabs that people know about, I think there is only one clear winner: the Nike Air Max 90 Bacon.
The original Air Max 90 bacon has a great story behind it. You can a more complete version here, but in short, Dave Ortiz was offered a Nike collab and had no idea what to do. He knew he wanted something comfortable, so the Air Max was a given, but didn’t know which colors to put on it. With a deadline approaching, he thought he would get some food to think it over and as he was standing there in the store looking at the bacon isle it came to him – bacon.
For Air Max Day 2021, Nike decided to retro this classic colorway. How do they compare to the original?
Throughout the upper of the Air Max 90 bacon, you can see the inspiration. Red nubuck, similar to the red of uncooked bacon, covers most of the midfoot, toe box, and the bottom of the tongue. Bone-colored mudguards run along the edge of the shoe in suede. Brown plastic panels, closer to cooked bacon, hold together the lace eyelets, air max logo, and back panel. Capping all of this off is the bright pink tongue and Nike swoosh.
Inside, the liner comes in a tan/khaki color, and with a red insole.
While it sounds like a lot when typing it out, it looks great in person. For a shoe that normally features neon red, green, purple, or blue, it’s great to see it in more neutral tones.
One color choice that is odd is the leather panel on the toe and around the ankle. In the original 2004 model, this was a tan, similar to the interior lining. Here it is much lighter. I don’t hate either, but for a shoe built around nostalgia, it’s surprising Nike didn’t try to milk it for all it’s worth. Maybe a “remastered” bacon will be dropped in a few years with the right colors.
Mid- and Outsole:
Compared to the upper, the mid and outsole are much plainer. The midsole is made up of an off-white foam, with brown paint around the air bubble. Underneath, the outsole is entirely brown – a break with the normal Air Max 90 outsole which is typically multi-colored. If you look closely, there are a few specs in the rubber. The one area that does pop here is the pink supports in the air bubble.
From an accessories standpoint, you get laces in tan, red, and pink. You also get the original arch support pads that came with the 90’s back in the day – color matched here to pink.
I think it’s impossible to touch on these shoes without mentioning the quality control. Or, rather, the lack of quality control. This pair has multiple issues with stains, misaligned panels, and more – and I consider myself lucky.
When these first came out, it was common to see people with blue pen marks, different shapes, or panels of different colors on the left and right shoes. Considering these were part of the “upgraded” line of Air Maxes recently released, it’s pretty disappointing that just about everyone seems to have a problem with them right out of the box.
Fit & Comfort:
The Air Max 90 bacon fits just like every other Air Max 90. In other words, they are slightly long and narrow. While you’re probably not going to find this exact pair sitting, finding an Air Max 90 to try on shouldn’t be that difficult. Dicks, Nordstrom, Champs, and more all should have a pair to try on.
For me, I take these in a size 13, which is the same as my Jordan 1, Ultraboost, and Vans sizing. It’s a half size up from Stan Smiths. For a full list of sizing for all the shoes we’ve reviewed, click here.
As far as comfort goes, these are actually pretty good – especially considering they came out more than 30 years ago. As part of the newer remastered series, these are supposed to have an air bag in both the forefoot and under your heel. There seems to be a question if Nike is actually doing this on all the pairs, but these are certainly comfortable enough.
The one double edged sword is that the lining they used is a faux-leather instead of the normal mesh. With thick socks, I actually prefer this. However, if you do plan on running in these for some reason, or plan on wearing low or no socks, this is going to rub your feet raw.
For a shoe named after bacon, there sure are a lot of synthetic materials on the Air Max 90 bacon. The suede panel along the side, the pink swoosh, the interior lining: all synthetic. The red nubuck looks to be real, though it’s pretty poor quality even by Nike standards. The jury is out on the white leather panels – but, in any case, they are either synthetic or coated heavily with plastic.
The midsole is an EVA foam with air units to help with cushioning. Between that midsole and your foot the insole is generic open-celled foam.
Rounding out the shoe, the rubber on the bottom is a softer compound. This likely helps with the comfort, and is true to the original Air Max 90, just don’t expect Jordan 1 rubber wear.
Ease of Care:
When it comes to ease of care, this shoe is pretty much the worst of both worlds. Heavily coated leather, like what you get on Jordan 1s or Dunks, can look cheap but is extremely easy to clean. In fact, we were able to get a mud-caked pair to almost new with just water. On the other hand, real leathers and suedes might take more work to clean, but with proper maintenance can last for decades.
Unfortunately, this shoe uses cheap faux-leather and suede, but also doesn’t coat it in plastic. If these shoes get dirty, it might just be something you need to live with. If you do plan on beating on these, it might make sense to spray them down with some suede protectant. This creates a barrier between the suede and the dirt, though it might change the color a bit.
Pricing & Value:
Originally priced at $140, the shoes have since sold out and you’ll be looking at resale. Thankfully, if you’re looking to pick them up, a recent restock has sent prices down to near MSRP. At time of writing, there are numerous pairs on eBay for only a few dollars over retail.
Normally, I always suggest ebay over StockX or Goat – the prices are lower straight off the bat and you don’t pay the same fees. It’s easy to save $30 or $40 dollars. That being said, eBay doesn’t verify shoes under $200. Then again, with the quality on this pair, you might get something nicer from a rep pair.
From an entirely objective value standpoint, it’s hard to suggest this pair. The materials and build quality are almost offensive for a shoe that comes from the “remastered” line and carries a 20% premium in price. That being said, if you’re looking for nostalgia rather than strict materials, this shoe has it in spades.
If you’re a younger sneakerhead, and you don’t remember the Air Max 90 bacon being the Air Max, this shoe might not be for you. It’s a weird colorway, made with bad materials with quality control that would make Stacy Adams blush. Get the Infrared colorway instead, it’s cheaper, better built, and both more retro and more modern.
However, if (like me) you’re a sneakerhead who remembers when you couldn’t touch the DQM Air Max for less than a month’s rent, this is an opportunity to own something extremely close for a pretty affordable price.