Air Jordan XI’s are known by sneaker people to be the epitome of a basketball shoe; a design that’s sleek and modern, an instantly recognizable silhouette, various colorways that grab the attention, and comfort that you could feel the second you put your foot in. Although the XI’s are the “Holy Grail” of people who love sneakers (myself included), there’s something that caught my attention that I didn’t previously notice: why are the soles almost like pieces of cardboard?
For whatever reason, the versions that aren’t low tops feature an insole that is almost like a piece of cardboard underfoot. As you can see, the insole on the top is an insole from an Air Jordan XI Retro Low I.E. and although it looks roughly the same in thickness as the other two insoles, it is infinitely more comfortable than the latter two.
The Air Jordan XI “Space Jam” and “Columbia” insole on the bottom is about the same thickness as the I.E, but not nearly as comfortable as it honestly feels like a cardboard cutout of an insole, with Nike branding. The I.E. insole is more plush and has a better feel when you’re stepping in them. It works well with the Air units in the midsole and feels great, compared to when you just have the insole that originally came with the shoe.
When you compare the “Concord*” insole with the “Space Jam” and “Columbia” insole, there’s absolutely no comparison to be made. The latter is the preferred choice as the former is basically paper; it’s very thin and doesn’t do anything to help with comfort or anything. It’s not plush, not comfortable, and essentially is only there to make sure that you’re not stepping on bricks, which it damn near feels like it. I would take the cardboard feeling insole any day compared to a piece of paper.
The Air Jordan XI is an amazing sneaker… as long as you have the proper insole. The “Space Jam” insole works okay, just that it could be a lot better than what is given. As it stands, you can buy insoles or use an insole from an Air Jordan XI I.E. for a MUCH better ride. It’s really a disappointment to know that a sneaker that is so revered can have such a bad feature. Thankfully though, you can amend the problem with a proper and comfortable insole that works specifically for you, for a fraction of the price of an Air Jordan XI.
*The Concords were purchased on eBay and are probably fake, hence the asterisk.