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AIR JORDAN XIII Performance Review

For a lot of experienced Air Jordan fans, whenever there are newly released AJs, they care more about whether the shoes’ colorways are classic. In other words, “being classic” depends on whether there have been similar colorways at some point in the past.

When it comes to the Air Jordan 13, the comments and opinions among the fans are somewhat polarized. Nevertheless, there is still a consensus that AJ13 is a masterpiece of 20 years ago, and even the standard for good basketball shoes. Like many of you, I couldn’t agree more with that.

All in all, when it comes to scoring a pair of basketball shoes, I think AJ13 can score up to 90 points. Simply put, even if it is a sneaker from 20 years ago, it is still capable of beating more than 70 percent of today’s sneakers by its actual performance alone. Well, that’s no exaggeration! Now that I’ve got it for over a year now, let’s break it all down in my long-term-based Air Jordan 13 review which, I hope, may help form an opinion of your own.


How’s the impact absorption? What about the energy return properties? And the stability?

The separated Zoom cushions sit respectively in the forefoot and the heel area, the former one being fanshaped and the latter regular type. The position where the whole air cushions are placed is basically the same as that of CP11: under the insole and a layer of midsole cloth, there lie the air cushions. The setup is really nice and there’s no other way to put it.

Unlike many other cushions that require a couple of sessions of the players to really begin feeling their full potential, those of this AJ 13 offer instant feedback as soon as you put the shoes on.

On a personal note, they are more stellar than the goose-egg type Zoom in the later stage and the kind of Zoom air cushion placed near the outsole area in recent years. In comparison, there is no doubt that this is a far better setup.

In fact, I always think that the performance of separated Zooms are better than the full-foot one, which is why the separated setup is still maintained in the mainstream of sneakers.

With respect to the rear cushion, it’s more than enough for me as a guard. It is neither too soft nor too hard. The heel offers stellar impact absorption and protection and I don’t feel too mushy or overly slow due to it. It seems that the heel cushion can rise in response to the proper time and conditions when you call for it.

The heel is slightly elevated while the forefoot is a bit curved up. So one stunning point about the setup is that the running transitions and overall flow of movements are both ultra-smooth. And one is most likely to get deeply impressed by it.

Midsole stability

The AJ13’s big carbon plate provides nice stability. To make it more explicit, let’s talk briefly about the other sneakers of the current market. Their midsoles alone with relatively small TPU, even if installed with the same air cushions, may not have such good stability.

It seems there would be difference in how the heel feels vs. the forefoot. But hardly a scenario! Both are nicely balanced, stable and quick. Just right to the point.


Is the outsole sensitive to the dust/debris on courts? Can it handle a variety of surfaces & conditions well and stand the test of time?

The pattern, of course, is very cool and handsome, but it is merely a small part of the whole story. What really matters is its performance on courts. Generally speaking, for those shoes of 20 years ago, the bigger their outsoles are, the more stable they will become. What’s more, they can’t be the spherical ones and without anti-rollover designs.

Indoor performance

I have never had my concerns with the shoe’s traction, which is not only because of my confidence in these “old” AJs, but most reviews I’ve seen/read were reporting on reliable grip these provide.

Of course, I can’t say the grip offered by these is perfect, but I’d definitely give it a “nearly-perfect” title for it has offered deadlier and more consistent traction than did those I’ve worn over the years.

Again, the AJ 13 features a herringbone-like traction pattern that offers multi-directional coverage. Although such pattern is nothing new for a lot of us, we cannot deny that it is, to some extent, a “panacea” for players who are in badly need of excellent traction.

The herringbone is really great and with a certain extent of hardness, the traction becomes deadly. Thanks to its excellency,  I never end up even slightly slipping out on a stop, cut, or change of direction.

Indoors, though I don’t usually play high-intensity plays, the outsole doesn’t fail me, either. On the hardwood floors which is certainly not pristine, it doesn’t appeal to dust easily. So even if there’s plenty of dust, there’s still no need worrying about the grip performance. Also, the linear coverage seems to be as good as the lateral bite, though there’s still room for improvement to be perfect.

Outdoor performance

The outsole performance outdoors is also robust. As the summer approaches, I am more prone to playing outdoors. On the blacktop and concrete mostly, I hardly had any issues with these.

Although I know very well that some occasional wipes will keep the outsole bite more healthily, I seldom do so. Apart from my laziness, part of the reasons is that I know I won’t be sliding all over the place even if I don’t wipe them.

Some debris does get stuck in the outsole, but this can never be an obstacle to stop it from offering me nice traction. Not a perfect one under the sun though, it is robust and ideal.


When asked about the disadvantages of the sneaker, I can still make a short list. While some of them are the kind of flaws that are bearable, the one that becomes my hassle is the air permeability.

In the “old” shoes, the most conventional shoelace system, the leather vamp and the super thick sponge lining are not uncommon, bringing on poor breathability. Perhaps this is the AJ13’s biggest weakness which, sadly, cannot be evaded. However, if you attach greater importance to its other prominent aspects, this shortcoming certainly won’t be a dealbreaker.

Despite the breathability, the inner lining is super comfortable and locks your feet firmly inside the footbed. No exaggeration! With that, you can go true to size even if you are wide footers. Good trade-off!

Besides the above, you are enabled to adjust the tightness of the wrapping without running into the problem of pressing the insteps, as happened in the Dame3.

Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that the shoelace system does have its problems: it can come undone or something during plays. To avoid this, you may need some precautions before playing.


Being a high-top sneaker in this era of low-top shoes, the AJ 13 is not as widely enjoyed as it was 20 years ago.

In spite of that, the AJ 13 is definitely a top-ranking sneaker in terms of the performances, such as the cushion, stability and traction. However, it is very important to point out that there are some changes in the current positioning of it and people’s opinions of it have also changed greatly.

For all that, it is still up to scratch and also a paradigm in the eyes of many fans even as years have passed. The odds are that should you give it a chance, you’ll dig this one a lot too. After all, I don’t think it need any hype because its excellence is just obvious.