Nike Adapt BB 2.0 | Lowest Ask: $286 | StockX
It’s been over a year since Nike fully changed the sneaker game and introduced Adapt tech to the masses. It was, in many ways, the crowning achievement of decades of research and innovation. Ever since the introduction of the fictional auto-lacing Nike Air Mag in Back to the Future Part II, the sneaker world had been working towards making fiction into reality. Once the tech was created in the mid-2010s (in the real-life Nike Air Mag and then in the Nike EARL Adapt) it seemed the future had arrived, but there was a problem: accessibility. Mags are, to this day, some of the most scarce and highly sought-after shoes on the market, often selling for five-digit sums, while the EARL came with a retail price of $700, hardly affordable to anyone looking to lace up without, you know, lacing up.
But early last year, the future arrived fully realized in the Nike Adapt BB, a basketball shoe laced through using an app, via Bluetooth, and charged wirelessly on a touchpad. The shoe retailed for $350, hardly the price of a pair of Chuck Taylors but infinitely more accessible considering the technological innovation it employed and was widely available everywhere from Nike’s SNKRS app to most Foot Lockers.
It wasn’t just for show, either. The science of Adapt tech was designed in the interest of helping athletes, specifically basketball players in the case of the Adapt BB. Basketball players spend games in a variety of states of movement, from the constant back-and-forth of traditional play to cooling down on the bench to warming up during pre-game shootarounds (on top of this, your feet tend to slightly grow and expand when subjected to constant stress and movement). The needs of their feet in terms of how a shoe should fit changes constantly over the course of a game. With the Adapt BB, players finally had the control they’d long sought after. A simple push of a button or adjustment from a Bluetooth-capable phone app would tighten or loosen the shoes to the player’s desired comfort and tightness. It proved a revelation, with the follow up in the Nike Adapt BB 2.0 dropping earlier this year.
Since the release of the original Adapt BB, the tech has also made its way into two other notable silhouettes, those being the Nike Huarache and, more recently, the Nike Auto Max, which first dropped earlier this year and was recently released in a sleek new Infrared colorway. These releases are notable for two reasons, one being that they mark the first times Adapt tech has been incorporated into pre-established Nike silhouettes (both Adapt BBs are entirely new designs). Two, these are lifestyle shoes, meaning they aren’t designed for athletic use. With retail price tags in the $400 range (and even more on the resale market), it begs the question: What’s the point?
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s cool. Auto-lacing shoes have been a fantasy ever since Marty McFly first laced up the Air Mag. Having them, regardless of practicality, is kind of the point in and of itself. Still, it’s a hefty price tag for a shoe that can be seen as amounting to nothing more than a party trick. And with the idea of hype driving the sneaker world more than technological innovations, why wouldn’t your average sneakerhead (the only customers you can really imagine dropping this kind of money on a shoe) put that $400+ towards a pair of Yeezys or Off-White kicks?
Well, the Auto Max isn’t designed by Virgil Abloh or anything, but it’s still a pretty impressive shoe. Nike’s Air Max 1, which seems to be the silhouette from which the Auto Max most heavily draws inspiration, is one of the great sneakers of all time, so it’s not like it looks bad. In fact, it might be the single best-looking shoe to get Adapt tech yet, and that’s nothing to scoff at. While the tech may have been highly covetable from the moment it launched, the aesthetics of the BB and the Huarache didn’t exactly match the prestige of the tech. Adapt tech in a fashionable shoe is a big move.
The only thing more important than how a shoe looks is how it feels, and the Auto Max doesn’t lack in that department either. It’s a crazy comfortable shoe before you even take into account the customizability that Adapt tech provides. The synthetic upper hugs your foot perfectly, with the sole sloping heavily to provide the sort of stride-friendly cushioning and support that suits a day spent on your feet incredibly well.
In fact, that’s what makes Adapt tech in a lifestyle shoe like this feel so essential. Just because someone isn’t an athlete doesn’t mean they aren’t spending prolonged periods of time on their feet. Whether it’s at work or at home, spending a full day standing, walking, or running about can get tiresome and affect your feet just as much as 44 minutes on the basketball court. The easy adjustability Adapt tech provides makes it easier than ever to adjust the fit of your shoe to suit running around or sitting down for a break with customization normal shoelaces just don’t provide (plus you don’t want to be the weirdo who unties their shoes when they sit down in public).
Sure, Adapt tech might not be as practical in a lifestyle shoe as it is on the basketball court, and Nike has more or less promised that as the tech develops we’ll see it included in more and more sneakers, likely ranging from running shoes to football cleats. Still, even setting aside its quiet practicality when included in an Air Max model, the biggest draw is still the flex of it all. The look on your friends’ faces when you show them your auto-lacing sneakers is worth the price tag alone. You can pick up a pair for yourself the next time a new colorway drops on the Nike SNKRS app or at Foot Locker. Previous colorways are currently available on StockX.
Disclaimer: Foot Locker provided a sample unit for this review.