For this comprehensive 3-month OUTDOOR Air Jordan 35 review, I’ll break down the shoe’s fit & comfort aspects, performance, value for the price and we’ll also discuss the changes from the AJ 34 for those who have it and looking to upgrade.
But I’m not even going to tease you. The 35th AJ model is my favorite basketball shoe of 2020.
UPDATE: it has been almost a year since the AJ 35 launched and I’ve been able to finally start taking shoes inside on the beloved hardwood. I’ve updated the review where I’ll talk about how well the shoe held up in these 10-11 months and how’s the performance indoors.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Spec Sheet
- 1-Min Review
- Fit & Comfort
- The Build
- Alternative Options
- Your Thoughts On the AJ 35?
- Air Jordan 35 Review: The Verdict
I. SPEC SHEET
click to inspect the full-sized image
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II. 1-MIN REVIEW 🕒
In a hurry? Here’s the gist of it: the AJ 35 is a direct upgrade from last year’s Air Jordan 34 sharing the same frame but improving on some aspects, while potentially taking a slight step back in one area for some people.
The shoe fits most foot shapes just fine, including wide footers – yes, TTS is the safest option. Traction is great on a variety of surfaces but this isn’t a hardcore outdoor model.
The heel & forefoot Zoom Air cushion is more of the same well-rounded goodness but the ride felt a bit faster & firmer this time. I still felt super comfy though.
The support department could be considered an upgrade due to the inclusion of more structure using raw materials throught the upper and also the upgraded Eclipse Plate 2.0.
However, some people suffer from the shoe’s lace loops digging into their foot arches when pulling down on the laces.
Unfortunately – this happens to some people, while for some (like myself), it goes away after a break-in period. One way to find out.
> The full review is below
III. FIT & COMFORT
How’s the fit? Should you deviate from your size? How comfy are they? Anything else to know?
SIZING GUIDE: ALL FOOT SHAPES COMPATIBLE!
The Jordan 35 definitely fits true to size for most foot shapes, including slightly wide footers. Very prominent wide footers (click for a wide footer shoe list) like myself, it might be best to order a few different pairs just to be sure.
However, I still went true to size and I’m not regretting the decision.
After a break-in period which took about 2 weeks, the shoe fits me near perfectly. Once I got used to the shoe and the upper molded to my foot, it’s almost the Air Jordan 34 all over again. That’s a good thing.
Superb lockdown and containment with no annoying restrictions or stiffness, they’re just right lengthwise (about a quarter-inch of space), there’s no heel slippage or any sort of other nastiness.
So, if you’re going straight for the kill, just go true to size. If you want to be extra safe, I’d then suggest ordering a few different size pairs and return the ones that didn’t fit. Or try them on in a store if possible, though that’s going to be tough since the shoe is now cleared from the shelves for the most part.
COMFORT: STIL GOOD BUT QUICKER
Despite being slightly heavier than the AJ 34 on paper, the Jordan 35 felt lighter to play in. That caught me off guard a bit but once again, in a good way.
This was exactly my first thought after I put the shoe on and started running around in it – something just felt lighter and quicker with these. We’ll talk more as to why in the later sections of the review.
Forget about bulkiness or feeling heavy-footed – that’s gone since the Air Jordan 34 and now looks to be even more improved on the 35.
There’s also lots of internal padding, the shoe is easy to put on, the material choices are now more forgiving and reduce the needed weight you’d usually see on an older AJ model.
The shoe achieves an excellent balance in terms of comfort, security, and feeling mobile. That’s where the Air Jordan 35 shines for me. These just cradled my foot in a secure but non-intrusive way and it’s just the way I like it.
PROTECT YOUR ARCHES!
That’s not all there is to the fit though.
I’d like to mention the one thing I’ve seen many other reviewers and people report on. Pulling on the laces too tightly results in the connected nylon lace loops digging into your arches, and that’s no good while you’re playing.
I did have concerns about this right before getting the shoe, especially since I’m a wide footer. However, my experience was much better than what a lot of users seem to be reporting.
First off, I never pull on my laces to such an extreme case where my foot is completely suffocated – I never liked that type of fit for my shoes. Secondly, 3-4 weeks in, the digging feeling pretty much went away for me.
Now, my wide foot likely had something to do with this – since they already fit snug for me due to my feet, I never really had to tighten the shoe up too much which could’ve caused more pain due to the nylon loops.
If you’re a regular/narrow footer – it might be different for you.
Loosening the laces up a bit will help if you’re experiencing a severe case of this issue. And it just might go completely away in time. It did for me.
Regardless, this is definitely something that should not have been happening in the first place and is a design flaw. The AJ 34 never had this issue, so I’m hoping they’ll sort this stuff out in the next one.
Does it grip a multitude of surfaces well? Is floor condition a factor? How long will the outsoles last?
The outsole of the Jordan 35 is pulled straight from last year’s model with marginal tweaks.
Same deadly traction, same consistency no matter the movement, same hassle-free herringbone pattern (for the most part) that doesn’t require you to wipe your soles every two seconds like a maniac.
Let me give you an 11-month update. I was finally able to take these inside on the classic hardwood just to see if the outdoor action messed with the pattern for a less abrasive surface.
The answer is – not really. I think I can notice a difference but it’s so marginal that it doesn’t really mean anything. Thanks to a trusty herringbone pattern and tacky rubber (even though some of it is burnt off now), the shoe bites the floor just fine.
So if you’ve chosen this as your indoor shoe – no worries at all. This IS an indoor shoe primarily.
And if you’re taking these insides after playing on concrete (much like I did) – you shouldn’t worry either. Unless your pattern is completely gone by now.
This is among the best tractions of 2020 for a reason and in the modern shoe era in general. I love it. I had zero issues on concrete outside, and the same story was for a synthetic rubber court too. That court has some dead spots as I call them – the rubber is torn off on a handful of areas and it’s pretty slippery there.
I can’t say the shoe completely neglected these dead areas when I stepped on them but most shoes don’t and that’s fine.
All I can say is that my grip wasn’t affected in a noticeable way on those areas, and that’s something I definitely CANNOT say about a lot of shoes.
Now, for the durability of the outsole – things aren’t as peachy. If you’re coming from the Jordan 34, this won’t be a surprise.
The rubber compound is fairly pliable and even though it is very tacky, the pattern will start burning off quicker than on an outdoor-ready shoe with something like XDR rubber or just stronger solid rubber.
Not to say the shoe will completely fall apart the same week you take it outside – I’ve been wrecking these with no regard for over two months now and even though I’m seeing some chipping mainly in the forefoot area, it’s definitely not the worst case I’ve seen.
As long as you’re not expecting these to hold up for multiple years while solely playing on the blacktop – you should be fine for occasional outdoor play.
How’s the shock absorption and energy return? What about ride height, comfort, and step transitions? Is it stable?
The cushion setup is mainly what made the shoe feel lighter and quicker than the AJ 34.
It’s almost an identical setup as last year’s shoe – unlocked forefoot and heel Zoom Air + a Phylon midsole, though the Zoom unit in the heel is now larger than last year’s AJ 34.
This is the pinnacle of cushion setups right here. For performance freaks like myself, you’re going to love it.
Fantastic impact protection without overcompression or feeling too mushy, fast energy return upon impact along with a little bit of that comfy bounce, buttery smooth step transitions, and retained court feel despite the beefy looking midsole.
It’s a setup that gives you pretty much everything performance-wise. While it is just a bit firmer and quicker than the AJ 34 – you will still feel that Zoom awesomeness.
Just a more “streamlined” version of it which makes the shoe as versatile as it can get.
One thing though – don’t judge a book by its cover. The unlocked Zoom units are awesome right out of the box but the midsole needs a bit of time to break in and soften up. These won’t feel as good as they will in a couple of week’s time. Patience is key.
A true flagship cushion setup any player/position will find sufficient. That’s why you see so many different NBA players across multiple positions rocking these. This setup is super well-rounded and it shows.
How much all-around security does it provide? What about lockdown? Any trade-offs as a result?
Support is once again similar to the Air Jordan 34. A secure fit & deadly lockdown is the foundation of the shoe’s security.
There’s also an internal heel counter along with soft pillows cupping your achilles, the same wide base is used for stability, the upper is now more structured thanks to the inclusion of raw materials so containment could be considered as an upgrade from the 34.
Not that I had containment issues with the 34 but it’s still nice.
There’s also the updated Eclipse Plate 2.0 which is heavier and beefier than its first iteration used on the 34. Torsional support is phenomenal here – a returning tendency among modern Air Jordan hoop shoes, which makes them solid options for people with flat feet (click for a flat footer’s shoe list).
The lacing system is traditional along with the nylon cables running through the midfoot area for enhanced lockdown, a.k.a. Flight Wire.
If you manage to get around that issue with the loops digging into your arches, the support of the Jordan 35 is both super solid and unrestrictive, keeping you comfy at all times.
Lovely work from AJ.
VII. THE BUILD
What are the materials used and how do they perform on-court? How’s the reliability of the build?
The materials did see some changes from the AJ 34.
The shoe now comes in two variants: genuine leather & textile combo or a genuine suede & textile combo.
The side panels of the shoe will be suede/leather, while the middle area and lateral areas just over the midsole will be utilizing lightweight textiles. On both versions, the shoe utilizes a standard lace-and-tongue construction, so no one-piece/one-bootie stuff here.
I personally happened to play in the suede version and I have no complaints.
Some could consider this an upgrade, while others would see it as just a change to keep things fresh.
It’ll depend on what you prefer in terms of materials but for the general hooper who appreciates performance, this should absolutely satisfy you.
We’re getting the best of both worlds here: old-school and new-school stuff is being combined to make the upper structured, achieve better containment than the AJ 34 did, offer better ventilation due to the open textile design, as well as keep the build fairly durable.
Speaking of which, I do believe these would hold up longer outside than the AJ 34 since those primarily used synthetics.
Suede or leather won’t break down on you quickly and even though I’m seeing some slight frays in the toe area, it’s nothing serious. Merely just cosmetic damage.
If not for those questionable outsoles (in terms of durability) – this would be among the best outdoor models. Oh, if only.
I’ve had the shoe for 11 months now and even though I haven’t played in these for all those months consistently, they’re holding up just fine.
I haven’t taken these outdoors for a long time now since my local gym is finally available but you shouldn’t have issues playing in the Jordan 35 even for multiple seasons.
Conclusions: are they well-rounded? Who’s best suited for ’em? Is it a good buy amongst the competitors?
The Air Jordan 35 didn’t fall off the path the 34 started and it truly shows. I absolutely love the shoe and every area delivered pretty much what I’ve expected. Some seriously high standards are set now, so I’m pretty excited to see what the next one brings to the table.
The Jordan 35 has awesome traction that’s both consistent and not prone to collecting dust, though not among the best options for regular hardcore outdoor play.
It’s got a killer cushion setup and even though it might not feel as fun as on the 34, it’s equally as good, if not better than last year’s performance-wise.
The upper introduced premium raw materials as well as a combination of modern stuff for a balanced mixture of old-school and new-school.
All-around support is phenomenal but be aware of the digging issue or your arches might suffer.
Sadly there’s nothing I can really recommend specifically to avoid it since some people have it, some don’t. Something you’ll have to try yourself and give some time for the shoe to break in to find out if it’ll be an issue for you.
Clap clap clap Jordan Brand! Let’s see what you have in store for the AJ 36…
BEST DEALS OF THE AIR JORDAN 35 🛒
IX. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
Not sure on the AJ 35? The following kicks should satisfy your needs!
For those who are looking to take the safe route and potentially avoid the arch digging issue, your best similarly-performing alternative will no doubt be the Air Jordan 34.
Issue-free certified, brings extremely similar performance along with a slightly beefier cushion setup as well as an upper that solely utilizes modern textiles.
And for my hoopers who can’t spend $180+ on a basketball sneaker but still looking to achieve a similar feel out of their shoes, let me shift your attention to the Jordan React Elevation.
Former PE of Luka Dončić, it’s another well-rounded performer but much more cost-effective if you don’t care about premium materials or having a shoe with the Air Jordan signature name attached to it. It’s also a great option for outdoor play!
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE AJ 35?
A variety of opinions come a long way for the future buyer!
That’s a wrap for the Air Jordan 35 review! Check out my list of the best shoes of 2020 to see all the nominations I’ve put together this year!
I’ve also put together a shoe list in a similar price range (up to $200), so if you’re curious to see what kind of hoop shoes are available in the so-called “premium” department – that’s the place to find out!
As always, I’d love to hear what you have to say about the shoe. Do you have it? Do you have the 34 and looking to upgrade? Or you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the review?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
X. AIR JORDAN 35 REVIEW: THE VERDICT
My final personal scores, takeaways, and additional notes to remember