Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 – Introduction
The Nike Structure and I go back a long way. One of the first shoes on which I put on a lot of miles was the Structure 13 back in 2010.
The following year Nike revamped the shoe completely with the 14th version, which improved on the previous one. The 15th version shared the same sole unit and featured a smoother upper – what more to ask ?
But then the 16 came (and the 17 right after that) where Nike abandoned the _amazing_ stability that defined the series so far and delivered a sub-par stability shoe. I tested the 16 but did not like it and in the end somebody else from our team reviewed it.
The Brooks Ravenna became my high mileage shoe in 2013 and 2014.
As soon as it was available I bought the Structure 18. Here is what I think of it.
Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 – Upper
Completely new upper. At first I thought it was Flyknit, but then I read Nike calling it “Engineered Mesh”. What is it ? Is it Flyknit or is it not ?
To be honest, I researched it a little. I found an article on KnittingIndustry.com (there really is a website for everything) and it seems that it is indeed a new kind of mesh, which looks and feels similar to the Flyknit, but that is indeed more constructed and supportive.
The upper features asymmetrical Flywire to lock the upper to the midsole wrapping the foot, and a supportive inner sleeve that wraps under the arch and around the midfoot for increased arch support.
Description aside – how does it feel? It has the same issue, at first, that the Flyknit has: a very narrow toebox.
I know my size in Nike. I am a size 10.5 in almost everything, but 11 in Nike. For both the Flyknit Lunar1 and this Structure 18 my toes feel very tight in there.
I knew from the Lunar1 that eventually the toebox will give in, and to accelerate that I started wearing the Structure 18 everywhere i went, just to put pressure and flex on the toebox. The Flyknit Lunar1’s toebox definitely got looser after a good break-in period, but so did the rest of the upper.
Fortunately that did not happen with the Structure 18. Maybe that’s why there is a new mesh upper, but while the toebox is now more comfortable the rest of the upper is still very strong.
Last – as you surely know I have a very flat foot and it felt very comfortable in the contoured sockliner of the new Nike Structure.
Nike Structure 18 – Sole Unit
Let’s cut to the chase: stability is back. The midsole is now composed of 3 different density foam materials.
The softer one on the lateral (external) side, then a medium density one that goes from the middle almost to the medial (internal) side of the sole. Last, a high density foam wraps it all in the medial side with a “cage” like structure that looks quite cool.
The heel is decoupled (gender specific) and the flex grooves and guidance line are quite pronounced, allowing for good flexibility. Forefoot cushioning is delivered by an unit of Zoom Air.
I’ll talk about how it rides in the next section.
Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 – Conclusion
I came to the new Structure 18 both skeptical and hopeful. I might have a sweet spot for this shoe, but I am also one of its hardest critics.
I wasn’t too impressed when I first put them on my feet. It did feel stable indeed, but very narrow on the toebox and strangely cushioned in the heel. Although the toebox has been broken in now (after maybe 50 miles), it still feels a little cramped when I put the shoe on and for the first few steps.
The cushioning has a similar feeling. During the first steps it feels very bouncy and you definitely feel the foam under your feet, in a cushioned, bouncy way.
Then you complete the first kilometer – and you completely forget you are wearing shoes. They are heavier than many other shoes coming out now, they are narrower and more structured, yet they feel just right.
The Nike Structure is back in its 18th version. I was weary of it before i worn it and skeptical for the first few miles. Now I am a believer and I think this is indeed the Nike Pegasus of stability. A good bet for beginners and a solid shoe for more advanced runners who want protection for a high number of miles.
I recommend it.
I bought this shoe personally and for the full price, Nike did not send us a review model.