Wear Test: Air Jordan XX8 SE Review

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The Air Jordan XX8 SE is nowhere near as polarizing as the original XX8.

There’s no Scholler mesh sleeve creeping up past your shin (when zipped up), no unzipped sleeve covering the entire heel (when zipped down), and there’s no YKK zipper running through the middle of the silhouette. All of the attributes that made the Air Jordan XX8 intriguing and unparalleled, at least aesthetically, are stripped away, but the XX8’s standout performance qualities truly lie within its framework.

You can look at the XX8’s successor, then, the Air Jordan XX8 SE, as an updated, refurbished infrastructure without all of the aforementioned jazz, and a cheaper price tag. However, did Jordan Brand’s minor tweaks to the SE make a difference, or is the SE identical to its predecessor when it comes to performance? Check out a full, in-depth performance review of the Air Jordan XX8 SE below.

**Note** Tune in to Kicks On Court Weekly Recap tomorrow for an on-court review of the Air Jordan XX8 SE by way of our Review Report segment.

RELATED: Air Jordan XX8 Performance Review

Traction: The Air Jordan XX8 was undoubtedly one of the best performance sneakers of 2013 for many reasons, but the attribute that really spoke volumes was its traction. Fortunately, the SE is equipped with the same exact setup. The multi-directional spiral effect is again a part of both the heel and forefoot, which generates a great amount of resistance against the surface when cutting, changing direction and jabbing from a live dribble position. The rubber is extremely durable, which makes it ideal for any kind of surface.

Cushioning/Responsiveness: The sleeve, tongue and padding are elevated on the SE model, so that makes for an even more cushioned and responsive feel around the ankle area. Another difference is the break-in time. I stated that the XX8 was initially a tad bit uncomfortable under the forefoot because of the protruding Zoom Air bag, but for some reason, I didn’t experience that discomfort with the SE. That can possibly be attributed to me being familiar with the feel of the unlocked Zoom after playing in the XX8 a lot, but the XX8 SE was legitimately satisfying fresh out of the box. It’s hands down the most comfortable ride of any shoe I’ve tested this season, and if you haven’t had a chance to try the super responsive Jordan Flight Plate by now – in any of the shoes it’s a part of – you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Durability:  $250 is steep for a pair of basketball shoes, and while the original Air Jordan XX8 met almost every performance need, $250 is still a high price for any sneaker. In my opinion, the XX8’s durability factor was the most justifiable element for the price because the Scholler mesh shroud was dependable. The zipper showed no signs of tearing, the traction pattern was long-lasting, and the Flight Plate was undoubtedly reliable. Enter in the Air Jordan XX8 SE – just as durable in all of the previously mentioned areas, with more of a reinforced toe area, which protects that area when stopping and starting, and comes $100 cheaper.

Lockdown:  The SE’s lockdown factor is equally great when compared to the lockdown quality of its predecessor, yet, when laced up, the SE actually grips your foot tighter than the original XX8, and leaving no air space around the ankle area.

As mentioned in the Air Jordan XX8 review, the shroud did not positively or negatively effect the lockdown factor. Therefore, the absence of the shroud on the SE version is inconsequential. Its lockdown and intensely snug fit can be accredited to the Dynamic Fit System, which, when tied firmly, grasps your foot and pulls it as close as possible to the center of the aforementioned Jordan Flight Plate.

Breathability: This is the one area where the lack of the shroud is noticeable, but it’s still not apparent enough to drastically effect the sneaker’s overall performance score. The SE is a tad bit more breathable because less material is incorporated on the upper, but it’s still the weakest element of this shoe. Still, as mentioned in the XX8 review, it doesn’t alter the overall performance of the shoe. Sure, it’s not the most breathable shoe, but that alone should not deter from the shoe’s performance value.

Support: The XX8 SE features a minimalistic upper, as does the XX8, but it’s still amazingly supportive. It’s a super pliable shoe, especially in the toe area, but it’s inflexible in the arch and the heel; areas where you desire stability. This prevents slippage and keeps your foot stabilized when changing directions and/or stopping and starting suddenly.

Overview: Simply put, the Air Jordan XX8 SE is an exceptional sequel to an already superb performance basketball shoe. The transition from the Air Jordan XX8 to the XX8 SE is pretty seamless in terms of performance, and you can’t beat the cheaper pricetag. Props must be given to Jordan Brand for seemingly tweaking a great shoe and making it that much more of a performance monster by using less materials and enhancing the cushioning for $100 less. You can purchase various colorways of the Air Jordan XX8 SE at select retailers for $150 now.

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