The latest addition to Nike’s Zoom Structure line-up of running shoes is the Air Zoom Structure 20. The family link is clear, for this shoe has the familiar understated design language of its predecessors.
It is hard to ignore the fact that Nike hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel with the design, and has relied instead on tweaks to make the new Zoom Structure 20 even more comfortable. One little visual change is that the use of flywire cable slots to thread the shoelaces through is now limited to the two pairs of slots near your leg—the rest are the more conventional, rounded slots.
The shoe looks good and the colour combinations, including binary blue, hyper cobalt, bright crimson, white, black, cool grey, wolf grey, white and black, total orange and wolf grey, don’t come across as too vibrant. Of late, we have a seen a flurry of running shoes being launched in bright colours, and not everyone is comfortable with the idea of wearing those.
If you happen to be a runner who is upgrading from a previous generation of the Air Zoom Structure shoe, there really is no learning curve—slip your foot in, and it’ll feel familiar. Runners usually tend to be a little cautious initially with a new shoe till they understand grip levels and how the foot lands and takes off, but the similarity of the new Zoom Structure 20’s design and fit with its predecessors means that you will be able to start running at your usual pace in no time. The Zoom Structure 20 has a 10mm heel-to-toe drop angle (also called offset, just a bit more than the 8mm drop that the Air Zoom Elite 8 has, for example). The woven mesh upper is similar in terms of ventilation to its predecessor, but it is slightly stiffer and feels more snug. The improved strength, however, does take getting used to, though runners will prefer this because of the assuredness it provides.
The only real drawback is that the toe area isn’t very wide, and someone with wide toes might find it restrictive if the shoe size isn’t chosen properly. Nike has used OrthoLite sockliner material inside, so the cushioning is comfortable and responsive enough to provide feedback from the surface you are walking or running on. It isn’t perhaps as soft as the Reebok ZPump series, but that isn’t really a shortcoming.
Nike has changed the outsole design and configuration. Instead of hexagonal groove cuts on the front half and tread lines at the back, the hex grooves and tread lines are now divided vertically through the length of the outsole. We found that the grip levels remain similar, but some runners might notice a slight improvement in the way the foot lands owing to the extra flexibility.
The Air Zoom Structure 20 isn’t one of those wearables that wants to completely redefine a running shoe. Instead, it takes advantage of generations of family experience, and improvements are visible across the board. So this stable footwear uses an improved mesh structure, better underfoot cushioning, improved landing characteristics owing to the redesigned outsole, and feels lightweight as well (around 318g). Plus, it has a rather neutral design, so you may feel comfortable using it for non-sport activities too.