Jordan Zion 1 Review: Here’s My 3-Month OUTDOOR Experience

An athlete’s debut signature sneaker can sometimes be iffy due to many things like a limited budget, not entirely clear target audience, or the design team still in the experimenting phase. Zion Williamson’s 1st shoe caught a lot of hype lately so here’s my comprehensive Zion 1 review that should answer most of your burning questions.

SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
Zion 1 Review: intro
Original shoe image source: nike.com
HERE’S WHAT’S IN STORE
  • How good of a performer is it and how does it fit?
  • How’s the quality for a debut signature?
  • Is it a versatile shoe or more of a big man’s option only?
  • Will it last outdoors and is it suitable for a wide footer?

Let’s break it all down in the most practical and comprehensive review found on the Internet!


I. SPEC SHEET

Review details: played by a 6’1 two-guard at ~175 lbs. I’m an explosive slasher to the rim, athletic. I’m also wide-footed. Tested OUTDOORS only for 3+ months on concrete and rubber surfaces.

Zion 1 Review: Angled 2
Image source: air.jordan.com
Model: Jordan Zion 1
Build: mid-top
Weight: 14.01 oz / 397 g. (size 10 US)
Retail Price: $120
Cushion: full-length Air strobel + forefoot Zoom Air unit & Phylon midsole
Best Offers On: Amazon Finish Line

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II. FIT & COMFORT

Do they fit true to size or should you go up/down? How comfortable are they? Anything else to know fit-wise?

Zion 1 Review: Top
Image source: nike.com
SIZING GUIDE

This Zion’s shoe. Not ours. The shoe was tailored to best fit his foot, obviously. However, we’ve seen PLENTY of signature releases that manage to suit the actual player’s needs but also satisfy the regular consumer who actually buys them.

With the Zion 1, I’m not really sure if this is the case – the shoe just fits weird.

I’m a wide footer, let’s start there. The shoe started off a little tight in the midfoot and toebox areas width-wise. I couldn’t really move my toes inside the shoe and while normally that’s not that big of a deal – I did feel a little more pressure than I’d prefer.

Luckily, it didn’t take long to stretch out the extremely thin material and start feeling closer to optimal. The fit is still a snug one but for a huge wide footer like myself – I expected much worse.

Length-wise is where things threw me off. The shoe is acceptable in terms of width but why is it noticeably longer than a normal size 10 would be from Jordan brand? Or any other brand for that matter? Except maybe adidas.

Zion 1 Review: Toebox
Image source: air.jordan.com

I’ve got about half a toe of extra length up at the front which is definitely not ideal. However, it wasn’t deal-breaking either since this didn’t cause my feet to shift forwards and backward inside the shoe.

My feet feel bigger than normal with the Zion 1 on due to the extra space and while I don’t prefer that – I was still able to play in a comfortable manner.

So, wide footers – I recommend sticking to your true size and giving the shoe some patience as it’ll break in. I don’t encourage stepping down as you might fix the length but things might start feeling too tight width-wise.

For regular/narrow footers – that’s where the questions arise. I HIGHLY recommend trying these in a store if you can but if don’t have the ability to do so – true to size or a half size down will be the best option.

I suppose if you don’t really care about the extra length – you can stick TTS. Otherwise, if you’ve got a narrow, compact foot – stepping a 1/2 size down should be fine for you.

COMFORT

Despite the fit shenanigans, I don’t have any serious complaints in terms of comfort. This is definitely not the comfiest or the most luxurious shoe I’ve played in but they’re fine.

There’s good foam padding around the ankle which was nicely hugged, and even though the tongue is stupidly thin, I never had any issues with it as I did with a LeBron 18.

The Zion 1 is also surprisingly lightweight despite the beefy looks. It’s not the lightest-feeling shoe in the world though – but that’s mainly due to other performance factors that I’ll talk about later. For now – just know that these won’t weigh you down like a pair of clogs, nor you’ll be feeling as light as a feather.

Step transitions are very comfortable and smooth due to the cushion system, curvature of the platform, and flexible materials – so all good there.

The ultra-wide platform wasn’t anything to get used to either – the shoe felt stable and secure from the get-go.

III. TRACTION

Does it grip various surfaces well? Is dust/debris a factor? How long will the outsoles last outdoors?

Zion 1 Review: Outsole
Image source: nike.com
TRACTION PERFORMANCE

I’m still only able to only play outside on two surfaces – a classic blacktop and a more modern rubber surface. The traction was fine. Not the best, nothing deadly like a Curry 8 but just fine.

Would’ve I liked the bite to be a little more aggressive? Sure, but the baseline level of grip the Zion 1 offered me didn’t cause any problems.

What did cause problems was the rubber picking up dust and debris like crazy. If you play outdoors – chances are you’re not hooping on a pristine 10/10 surface. You WILL have to wipe these down frequently just to be sure.

A half an hour in, I take a look at the outsoles and they’re already looking absolutely nasty. The actual performance drop when the pattern piled up dust wasn’t drastic but it kept me on my heels, thinking about the need to reassure myself and wipe ’em down every few minutes.

And there were a handful of moments where I slid out due to several spots on the court I played on which had the rubber surface torn off, so the shell underneath was much more slippery. Pretty normal for that to happen with most shoes I hoop in on that court though.

Indoors is where things get a little moodier. I personally haven’t tested these indoors but from ALL the indoor reviews I’m seeing – people aren’t very happy. Slip-outs, dust attraction and a fairly weak base level of bite are what the hoopers report and something you should be aware of if planning to take ’em to the gym.

Zion 1 Review: Forefoot 1
Image source: air.jordan.com
OUTDOOR DURABILITY

The rubber used throughout the outsoles looks and feels fairly thick & strong to the touch, so that was a good initial sign. However, a few days in (yes, DAYS) and the pattern is already visibly getting wrecked, especially in the forefoot portion.

None of the knobs are fully burnt off but some of them are getting there, that’s for sure. This shook me since I received the impression that I was going to blow through these in a couple of weeks.

Luckily, that didn’t happen.

This is one of those shoes where the pattern gets banged up quickly from a visual standpoint but that doesn’t tell the whole story as I was still able to achieve a more-or-less same level of bite regardless. Props to the tacky rubber used that saved the day.

I don’t know how things will go 4-5-6 and more months later but right now, I can still grip both surfaces well while wiping periodically.

So bottom line – don’t let the visual cues fool you. While the Zion 1 won’t claim any accolades for the most durable outdoor shoe, it should surely last you at least a full season in the park.

IV. CUSHION

How’s the impact protection? What about step comfort and energy return of the foam? Is it stable?

Zion 1 Review: Heel
Image source: nike.com

A full-length Air strobel stitched right to the upper, a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot, and a plush Phylon midsole to top it all off. Sounds like a crazy setup on paper. Well, the shoe does retail at $120 – we don’t usually see such tech packed into such an affordable package. Props to Zion and Jordan for that.

However, the actual experience on the court wasn’t as crazy as the specs on paper. Things actually started off quite stiff and clunky – but just a few days in and I was able to actually feel the forefoot Zoom unit, while the Phylon midsole softened up and elevated the experience quite a bit.

The setup is definitely comfortable and fun to play in but I’m sure this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea performance-wise.

For me personally, I found the setup to be working okay – I was feeling super comfy with each stride, the midsole absorbs impact and my feet weren’t hurting after a longer session on concrete.

However, at times I felt that the foam could’ve been tightened up just a bit as I could feel my heel and midfoot sinking into the foam and ultimately impacting my quickness a bit. Nothing crazy but ideally, I’d prefer something that’s just a little quicker or perhaps manages to return energy at a faster rate.

Zion 1 Review: Forefoot 2
Image source: air.jordan.com

Obviously, a Zoom Air strobel would’ve fixed that but this is a $120 sneaker – classic Air is not the most advanced or versatile cushion anymore but it’s still better than nothing.

This ride is comfortable, the midsole is nice and plush but it all feels more like a pillow rather than a spring. The forefoot Zoom unit offered some pop upon impact but even there, the Air strobel kind of overshadows it by making me slightly sink into the midsole before the unit springs back into place.

Again, this is all very subtle and nothing too crazy on-court, so don’t be thinking you’ll feel like a snail in these. What I’m saying is for someone even lighter, quicker, and shiftier than me – you might end up feeling unnatural or a bit less sharp than you’d normally would in an ideal guard’s shoe for you.

Having said that, the setup is stable, and I didn’t feel alarmingly too high off the ground. The ride height is about average, so you won’t be slapped right on the ground, nor you’ll be super elevated like you would in a LeBron shoe.

V. SUPPORT

How much all-around security does it offer? What about the build’s stability and foot containment? Any restrictions in result?

Zion 1 Review: Back
Image source: nike.com

Support was pretty average for a Jordan basketball sneaker.

There’s a TPU heel counter for ankle & heel lockdown, foam of the midsole coming up in several areas acting as additional chassis for the foot, and the platform of the shoe is absolutely insanely wide due to those massive outriggers laterally.

There are also these elastic loops that the laces go through at the bottom two eyelets. Those further pull down on the upper when you crank down the laces and I feel like it did actually help keep the upper sit closer to my foot.

While the upper is mostly very thin, there are several Fuse layers that add some structure and I’ve had no issues with containment. I don’t know how long it’ll take for Zion to wreck these but for me – it looks like they’re not budging anytime soon.

Zion 1 Review: Side 2
Image source: nike.com

So the strong points were definitely stability (I don’t know why more shoes don’t utilize such outriggers), containment, and staying comfortable despite the features. The not-so-cool stuff was the fact that these rely on a near-perfect fit first.

I’m a wide footer and my foot’s also really damn thick, so I was already feeling snug and secure the moment I’ve put them on since I naturally fill out the space inside (besides up at the front). But for someone who’s got a more compact foot, you might end up with a different experience.

The reason I’m saying this is because I’ve seen a few reports that mentioned questionable heel & midfoot security and I can definitely understand that if one’s foot simply isn’t fully compatible with the shoe.

So all in all, it’s a good chance you won’t have any security issues just like I didn’t but you never know. Everyone’s foot shape is different and there can never always be a 100% guarantee of satisfaction. Just something to remember.

VI. MATERIALS & BUILD

What are the materials used? How well do they perform on-court? How’s the quality & reliability of the setup?

Zion 1 Review: Upper
Image source: nike.com
THE BUILD

The Jordan Zion 1 features an extremely thin open mesh build along with several Fuse overlays on high-wear areas such as the toebox and the lacing system. The heel portion features another synthetic overlay that’s a bit beefier but still fairly minimal.

The tongue is foam-backed, so is the lining around the ankle. The shoe utilizes a standard lace-and-tongue construction.

PERFORMANCE

The material choices are obviously right in line with today’s standards – everything’s about minimalism & shedding as much weight as possible now. I personally don’t mind these materials when it comes to performance at all.

Even for a wide foot, I only needed a few days to break it in, ventilation is pretty good and the upper is definitely light despite offering solid support & containment. A classic example of brands getting closer to nailing that perfect balance between structure and comfort.

While this mesh didn’t hug my foot in such a one-to-one fashion as a premium knit or woven would, I still didn’t find myself thinking about the build while playing. I don’t mind it, it holds my foot in and doesn’t introduce any pinching, digging, or anything in that regard.

Zion 1 Review: Tongue
Image source: air.jordan.com
DURABILITY

An argument could be made that this build seems cheap for a debut signature sneaker. Well, I’m sure Jordan didn’t want to risk going all-out for the very first sneaker in the line in case they don’t sell much. I get that, but there’s no denying that the build quality of these isn’t the best.

A couple of sessions and these already starting to look banged up: the ultra-thin mesh is getting uneven, the Fuse overlays that feel like leather are getting creases left and right and the fabric pull tabs are getting weary.

Nothing that would cause a negative impact on performance but pretty concerning if I’d plan to rock these and these only for several seasons.

Putting things into perspective though, this is in line with most other sneakers in this price range, so it’s not like the Zion 1 is the only shoe to be at fault here. Take good care of them and they should do the same for you. Not the best quality but acceptable for a debut shoe. My two cents.

VII. OVERALL

Rounding things up: are they versatile? Who’s best suited for the shoe? Is it a good deal amongst the competition?

Zion 1 Review: Pair
Image source: nike.com

All in all, I didn’t hate the Zion 1. But neither did I love it.

It was a fairly average/mediocre experience that still allowed me to play effectively on the court and have fun shooting hoops but left an impression that some things definitely could’ve been tweak and those tweaks could’ve been game-changers.

ZION 1 REVIEW: QUICK RECAP

The shoe has an interesting construction that led to me going true to size as a wide footer, thus ending up fine width-wise but having dead space length-wise. You might want to try these on before you get ’em or go TTS/half a size down if you’re a narrow footer.

Traction was acceptable, though nothing deadly. Should also last some time outdoors. Cushion was great for the price but not the most versatile ride. Support was average and stability was fantastic due to the wide platform.

Lastly, the material choices are definitely on the cheaper side of things but that never hindered my performance on the court. However, the questionable build quality could throw some people off, particularly those who are looking to get the sneaker and play in it solely for multiple years.

But gotta give credit where it’s due – $120 is not a bad price for a signature sneaker and the tech it offers. Let’s see where the Zion line takes us next!

The scores of the shoe are below!

CHECK ON AMAZON CHECK ON FINISH LINE 

Why buy on Amazon or Finish Line? Click for my take.

WHY AMAZON?

I’ve been ordering a solid 70%-80% of my hoop shoes from Amazon and can confidently say it’s almost always the most trustworthy and convenient option to buy your shoes.

Why Amazon?

Yes, it’s great to find the shoe you’re looking for on an original retailer such as Nike or Adidas but the reality is a bit different – a lot of times, especially for shoes older than 1-2 years, it’s a very small chance you’ll find the shoe or better yet find it in your size & color.

You’ll mostly find the latest releases directly from the brand’s store but the period is usually pretty short until they’re out of stock.

This is where Amazon comes in.

Amazon is not strictly one retailer giving you the products, it’s a whole chain of thousands of different sellers, all supplying different products, including basketball shoes. You will mostly find more color and size options on Amazon for your desired shoe than on an original retailer or even a general sporting goods store.

Sure, there will be exceptions where Amazon won’t have a particular shoe but that’s on the rare side.

And the best part is the pricing – you can find older shoes and at times new shoes priced under retail, sometimes at crazy low prices, which is something you’ll never see on Nike.com, adidas.com, and other retailers (except during discounts/sales of course).

To sum things up and give you a generalized idea of why Amazon beats other stores more often than not, I’ve compiled a shortlist of the most notable advantages the massive store chain has over its competitors.

  • Usually, higher stock, size & color/edition availability compared to other stores
  • Blazing fast shipping times (sometimes delivered the SAME DAY if you’re close to the seller’s stock)
  • A good chance to find shoes priced under retail
  • Extremely convenient return/refund policies

WHY FINISH LINE?

Finish Line is my usual #3 option to get my basketball shoes from if Amazon currently doesn’t have it and the brand’s retail store (Nike.com, adidas.com, etc.) might be out of stock or doesn’t have my size.

I find them, along with a handful of other sports stores, to bring in new major and also lesser-known releases just as quickly as the main brand retailers, most of the time.

Very similar advantages to manufacturer’s stores here: very quick shipping times (and it’s free), convenient return & refund policies and you’ll never find any shoe priced over retail.

For some reason, Finish Line seems to be good at keeping a healthy stock of products, as there’s always a wide variety of sizing for most mainstream models. Something you can’t say about Nikey, Adidas, AJ, or Under Armour stores.

Of course, there will be exceptions and rare shoes that are hard to find globally won’t magically be available in large quantities here either.

Buying from the store will only be applicable for U.S. residents, so not an option for international users (unless you’re using a third-party service to ship internationally from US stores as I do).

Overall, I consider Finish Line to be the top pick out of the US’s popular sports retailers. Or perhaps I’m a little biased but regardless, I think I’ll be sticking to it for quite some time.

    • All shoes priced at retail
    • Good stock most of the time
    • Fast & free shipping for the U.S
    • Convenient refund & return policies
    • You can find quite detailed and relevant reviews left by buyers

NOT FEELING THE ZION 1?

That wraps up the review! I hope you’ve found it useful and informative as always! If you’re not happy with what you hear about the Zion 1, I do have some recommendations.

Check out my regularly updated shoe lists that cater to a variety of different playstyles/situations. You should definitely find something you like!

DISCOVER ALL OF MY: SHOE LISTS | SHOE REVIEWS | SHOE GUIDES

I’m super excited to hear your thoughts on this one. Do you have the shoe? What’s your take on it? Perhaps you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the review?

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!

 

VIII. THE VERDICT

My final personal ratings, takeaways, and recommendations

Jordan Zion 1

$120
7.4

Fit & Comfort

7.0/10

On-Court Performance

7.5/10

Value for the Price

8.0/10

Outdoor-Ready

7.0/10

Main Takeaways

  • True to size for wide/regular footers
  • Those with very narrow feet can go down half a size to fix the length
  • Give it some time for the cushion, traction and materials to break in
  • Be aware of negative reviews if you'll be playing INDOORS

Recommended For

  • Bigger, heavier players
  • More linear, less shifty styles
  • Athletic players

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