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 Jordan Zion 1 review that should answer most of your burning questions:

  • 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!

SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. SPEC SHEET

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Jordan Zion 1 Review: Spec Sheet

BEST DEALS OF THE ZION 1 🛒

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FINISH LINE

DICK'S


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II. 1-MIN REVIEW 🕒

Saving time? Here’s the gist of it: the Jordan Zion 1 didn’t impress me – there’s definitely room for improvement if the shoe wants to cater towards many different players and compete with other signature lines.

However, it was still playable and many players will get away with what the Zion 1 offers.

The shoe fit me a little weird (I’m a wide footer) – while TTS was the best option, there was quite a bit of space length-wise. Most guys should stick with TTS though.

Traction was fine, though these are a dust magnet – wiping WILL be needed on a weary court or even outdoors at times.

The full-length Air + forefoot Zoom Air cushion setup sounds awesome on paper but in practice, it will get the job done without blowing you away. I would’ve liked it to be just a bit faster-feeling.

Support was fine but it heavily relies on a perfect fit – if you can’t nail it downb (or close to it), you’ll likely have some issues.

The upper features basic open mesh and while it’s not my ideal choice – it worked on the court.

For alternatives, check out the Air Jordan 36 for a step-up, the Jordan React Elevation for a similar priced shoe and my shoe lists if you’d like to have more options.

> The full review is below

III. FIT & COMFORT

Do they fit true to size or should you go up/down? How comfy 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.

IV. 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.

V. 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.

VI. SUPPORT

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

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.

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.

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

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.

VII. THE BUILD

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

Zion 1 Review: Upper
image source: nike.com
BUILD OVERVIEW

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.

VIII. OVERALL

Rounding the Jordan Zion 1 review up: are they versatile? Who’s best suited for the shoe? Is it a good deal?

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 tweaked and those tweaks could’ve been game-changers.

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!

BUY THE ZION 1 🛒

AMAZON

FINISH LINE

DICK'S

SHOW ALL BUYING OPTIONS

IX. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS

Not entirely sure if the Zion 1’s a match for you? You definitely have OPTIONS

Jordan Zion 1 Review: Alternatives

If you’re not happy with what you hear about the Zion 1, I do have some recommendations.

Since the shoe is fairly well-rounded and the offered performance doesn’t really cater towards a specific set of situations/playstyles, it’s tough to pick out one or two shoes that you’ll find optimal.

If you just want to shoot and take my word – the Air Jordan 36 is a direct upgrade (at a cost), while the Jordan React Elevation would be a potential alternative for the same price range.

However, I’ve got a vast collection of regularly updated and improved basketball shoe lists that cater towards different players, situations, educate on several topics you need to know, and more.

You should definitely find something you like below!

BEST ALL-AROUND SHOES

BEST SHOES FOR BIG GUYS

BEST SHOES FOR GUARDS

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

X. TIME TO SHARE YOUR TAKE!

Your thoughts matter much more than you might think!

Jordan Zion 1 Review: Your Take
background image source: nike.com

That wraps up the Jordan Zion 1 review! I hope you’ve found it useful and informative as always! The whole process ended with mixed feelings but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun while hooping in the sneaker.

I’m super excited to hear your thoughts on this one since I can see the feedback is very divisive on the Zion 1. 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!

 

XI. JORDAN ZION 1 REVIEW: 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
  • Athletic players
  • Linear-dominant movements

Liked what you saw? Share it!

4 thoughts on “Jordan Zion 1 Review: Here’s My 3-Month OUTDOOR Experience

  1. Hi Julius – This was a really informative piece. I stopped playing basketball after the 9th grade, back then I had some And1 shoes that I used for basketball and gym class for a few years and they held up well. Nowadays though, basketball shoes offer quite a bit more in terms of function and style. I enjoyed reading your take on the the Zion 1, you laid out quite a bit of information on the shoe that I would’ve never thought about.

    One question I have, is it common for a young star’s first signature model to land in this price range with this amount of features? Do companies adjust their approach after a few seasons for the next shoe release based on their career progression and previous shoe sales? That all seems fascinating. Thank you for sharing your expertise and putting this review together, I found it really helpful!

    1. Thanks Dereck! That’s the goal – put together the most valuable reviews online!

      I wouldn’t say it’s that common but it really depends on the situation. Zion’s a hot prospect that’s hyped right now – he’s super athletic, has a viewer-friendly style of play so to speak and he’s rapidly gaining attention. That’s why he got his first signature shoe so early and why Jordan probably took a small risk of packing the tech. But then again, it’s not full-length Zoom Air we’re talking about.

      Air is definitely cheaper to produce and as I’ve mentioned in the review, they definitely were cutting costs on the material choices. There’s gotta be a balance of risk and guaranteed profits for the brand and that’s exactly what we see here.

      And yes, brands absolutely adjust their approach (pricing of the shoe, the tech & available resources to make each model, the marketing campaigns around the product, etc.) each year based on how well the shoe sold this year, did people like it or was the general reception negative. And of course, did the athlete himself found it sufficient for the whole season.

      After all, it’s still the athlete’s shoe first.

  2. Amazing review as always, Julius! Need basketball shoe reviews, Julius is the man! Thanks for sharing this one. I was looking at Zion 1 the other day and I like the design very much. Not a big fan of the player though. I think he has disappointed a bit with his performances lately. But there is a big room for improvement. After all, he’s only 21 so let’s give him some time. When it comes to the shoe itself, I too have a wide foot so this shoe could be ideal for me as well. The price seems awesome! Thanks again for sharing and keep up the amazing work with your site, bro!

    1. Appreciate it Ivan! That’s the goal – fill out the gaps other reviews/takes on hoop shoes still miss out on and put together the most comprehensive, no B.S. review out there!

      Yeah, Zion’s a tough prediction at the moment. Dominant and physically gifted but we still need a few years to really see how his skill development goes. Once the defenses figure this guy out, big hops and strength won’t be enough to win a chip with any team. These guys in the NBA are just too good to let that slide.

      And yeah, $120 for full-length Air + Zoom is definitely pretty good. If you can get past the mediocre materials – it’s a good buy.

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