Sam Murphy

25 Best Nike Air Max 1s of All Time | Man of Many

Our list of the best Air Max 1s goes like this.

Best Air Max 1s at a Glance

25 Best Nike Air Max 1s of All Time

Nike Air Max 1 ‘Varsity Red’ | Image: Supplied

1. Nike Air Max 1 ’86 Original ‘Big Bubble’

Originally released on the 26th of March 1987, the ultra-rare Air Max ‘Big Bubble’ hit the shelves for a short period of time. It’s rare that Nike goes as far as recreating the original ‘Air Max’ with the OG-sized bubble, but they’ve done it with this year’s Air Max Day release in the Nike Air Max 1 ’86 Original ‘Big Bubble’. Using CT scans to dissect 1 of 400,000 estimated pairs of the OG ‘Big Bubble’ AM1, the brand replicated the Nike Air unit and window used back in the day. After finding that the large exposed air unit was prone to cracking in colder climates, the engineers “shrunk the window both in length and height” in the months after release. An OG in the truest sense of the word, the ‘university red’ colourway is a standout.

2. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Elephant’

When it returned for the 2017 release, the Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Elephant’ was voted #1 amongst 100 of the greatest AM1s of all time – garnering the nickname “the Chosen 1”. It’s not hard to see why either, we love the exaggerated use of Nike’s famous ‘elephant print’ popularized on the Air Jordan III combined with the Teal Swoosh. Of course, the white midsole, toe, and black suede overlays are just the finishing touches on a great Nike Air Max 1. While it’s priced beyond $1,000 AUD, it’s arguably the greatest AM1 of all time.

3. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Patta Chlorophyll’

Three years after releasing their historic Nike Air Max 90, the team at Patta would return to celebrate their 5th anniversary with an exclusive (and now highly sought after) Air Max 1. One of the greatest colourways in collaboration history, the shoe applies the KISS theory and shows everyone why ‘keep it simple stupid’ is often the best recipe for sneaker collaborations. We love the Chlorophyll overlays that follow around the toebox and Nike Swoosh, while the Matte Silver is simply perfection.

4. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Crepe Hemp’

Who knew applying hemp canvas and a Mint Foam Swoosh could elevate an Air Max 1 in such a way? The ‘Crepe Hemp’ AM1 sits its easy-to-style exterior on top of an outsole that seemingly resembles wax that’s both distinct and super soft. Yeah, this isn’t going to garner the respect of the nerdiest sneakerheads and Air Max collectors, however, with a reasonable price on the secondary market (around $220 AUD) it’s a great pick-up if you missed out on the Nike Air Max 1 ’86 Original ‘Big Bubble’.

5. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Kid Robot’

Designed by Paul Budnitz and Chad Phillips of Kid Robot, the Nike Air Max 1 ‘Kid Robot’ colourway gives shades of Yeezy with a Black, Metallic Gold, and Hot Pink colourway. About as rare as it gets at release, sneakerheads could only find these in Barneys on Madison and 61st St. in New York City, extremely rare. Arriving with a Kid Robot figurine and one of five different blind sock liners packaged in Kid Robot’s signature foil bag, the packaging is what elevates this one up our list of the best Air Max 1s of all time.

6. Nike Air Max 1 ‘CLOT Kiss of Death’

First released in 2006, Edison Chen and his Hong Kong-based streetwear label, CLOT, brought back their collaborative pair a few years ago to much fanfare. Today, the shoe remains a great buy on the secondary market, with prices hovering around $140 AUD. The clear toebox is the standout feature of the shoe, paying homage to the art of Chinese foot massage. Sadly, the human foot graphic on the insole didn’t transfer across to the re-released pair from 2021.

7. Nike Air Max 1 ‘HUFquake’

A collaboration between HUF and Nike that remembers the 100th anniversary of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake would also become one of the best Air Max 1s of all time. As far as we’re concerned, these are a reminder of the great HUF x Nike collaborations of yesteryear, with a white and blue pair also making our list of the best AM90s. How can you say no to a gum bottom and fluro Swoosh?

8. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Patta x Parra Cherrywood’

One of the most expensive Air Max 1s of all time, this one is for serious collectors only. Even rarer than the aforementioned ‘Chlorophyll’ colourway, the ‘Cherrywood’ colour would become the most sought-after with just 258 pairs released to the public. It’s hard to look past the Burgundy Red suede upper or multi-coloured outsole but feast your eyes on the satin sock liner and you’ll find out why this makes it into the top 10 on our list of the best AM1 of all time.

9. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Teal’

Another premium Air Max 1 colourway that you can buy right now, it’s great to see Nike bringing back the ‘mini Swoosh’ on simpler colourways like this here in Dark Teal Green. Of course, it’s far from the rarest AM1, but it’s available to buy right now for around retail price. Combine a white midsole, grey overlays, and a go-with-anything colour like teal and you’ve found a winning combination.

10. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Viotech’

Now, where were we with collaboration pairs again? Introducing the Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Viotech’, which will go down in sneaker history as one of the best collaborations of our lifetime. Complex ranked the shoe as high as number 12 on their list of the “100 Best Sneakers of the Complex Decade” in 2012 and we tend to agree with their assessment. A follow-up of sought to the Safari AM1, the earthy tones meet flagrant Viotech Swoosh stands up to this day. If money was no object, we’d be looking for the friends and family exclusive that dropped a whole four years after the shoe was first released.

11. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Skulls Pack’

The ‘Skulls’ Pack dropped back in 2007 as a tribute to legendary track icon Steve Prefontaine. Prefontaine was not only a standout in the sport but also one of the proteges of Nike founder Bill Bowerman, who was also his coach at the University of Oregon. However, his tragic death at just 24 years old cut short what could have been an even more legendary career. The tribute shoe features a unique combination of leather, suede, and ripstop nylon uppers and is embellished with an embroidered skull and crossbones logo on the heel – paying homage to Prefontaine’s alma mater Marshfield High School.

12. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Turf Pack Milano’

The Nike Air Max Hometurf Milan Pack was released in February 2013 to pay homage to the fashion capitals that inspired the iconic line. This pack included four different Air Max models, including the highly sought-after Air Max 1 Milan. The Milan AM1 featured a sleek colourway of light wheat suede and neon pink accents, with Milan and Air Max branding on the tongue and lower lace stay. The premium materials and striking colour combination made it a must-have for sneakerheads. Initially only available at select retailers, the Air Max 1 Hometurf “Milan” quickly became a favourite among collectors.

13. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Parra’

The Parra x Nike Air Max 1 sneakers are some of the most coveted shoes among sneaker enthusiasts. Dutch artist Parra teamed up with Nike once again to create a colourful take on the classic Air Max 1. Released in 2018, the shoe features stripes and polka dots inspired by Parra’s abstract paintings of Dutch landscapes. The mudguard and heel boast vibrant patterns while the rest of the upper is a clean combination of light grey and white, with a blue Swoosh and multi-coloured outsole.

14. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Supreme Animal Pack’

Unleashed as part of a fierce two-shoe collaboration between Nike and atmos in 2006, the atmos x Air Max 1 Supreme ‘Animal Pack’ delivers a wild and untamed colourway composed of various animal prints. The shoe boasts pony-hair paneling throughout the upper, adorned with a menagerie of zebra, tiger, and leopard prints. The animal inspiration lies below a bold red Swoosh, while a classic Air Max sole unit stalks the streets with a vibrant green Air unit and a gum outsole.

15. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Patta Waves’

The Nike Air Max 1 Patta Waves White pays homage to the late son of Patta co-founder Edson Sabjo through a special collaboration with Nike. Serving as a commemorative piece, the sneaker boasts a unique mix of white leather and blue-tinted grey mesh that showcases a wavy leather overlay above a cream-coloured Air bubble midsole. Adding to its allure are “Patta Air Max” logos on the tongue tabs and blank insoles, while Nike Air emblems grace the heel and white waffle outsoles complete the design.
Nike’s partnership with Eminem in 2006 was an unprecedented event for sneaker enthusiasts worldwide. The rapper designed, signed, and numbered eight pairs of Air Max, with each pair being unique. The shoes were then auctioned off for charity, with all proceeds going to the children’s charity and the Marshall Mathers Foundation.

16. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Eminem Charity’

17. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Cactus Jack Baroque Brown’

The Baroque Brown Air Max is a continuation of Travis Scott and Nike’s fruitful partnership. This iteration kept the earthy tones of previous drops, with a Lemon Drop mesh upper and Baroque Brown nubuck mudguard and heel tab. The reverse Swoosh is on the lateral side in Lemon Drop, and the medial side faced the correct direction, while Nike Pocket Knife-inspired straps rest around the top eye stay and heel. Red rope lacing and tongue lining are utilized with the pennant on the heel featuring the Swoosh and Cactus Jack branding. On top of that, the midsole boasts a crisp Lemon Drop colour with a Baroque Brown outsole featuring CACTUS CORPORATION branding.

18. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Urawa Dragons’

The ‘Urawa’ Air Max 1 is an immediately eye-catching drop. Released during the early-2000s Air Max 1 revival, it’s considered one of the most iconic Air Max 1 make-ups to date. The shoe is inspired by the Urawa Red Diamonds, a well-known Japanese J League football team. The team is also referred to as the Urawa Dragons, and the shoe pays tribute to their name with a unique dragon-inspired design embroidered on the heel. The shoe’s colours are a nod to the team’s kit, featuring a mix of bright red and crisp white, which gives the shoe a bold and striking look.

19. Nike Air Max 1 ‘BRS Powerwall’

This iconic Air Max 1 release, the BRS Powerwall, is a true treasure. Limited to a mere 144 pairs, the shoe commemorates the origins of the legendary brand and its original moniker, Blue Ribbon Sport (BRS). Drawing inspiration from the classic hues of the very first BRS models, the design boasts a sumptuous blend of deep metallic green, suede brown, and pink. It goes without saying that it’s very difficult to get your hands on a pair of these now unless you have big cash to splash.

20. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Solar Daisy’

Nike has given the iconic Air Max 1 a fresh, floral makeover. The sneaker features an all-over pattern of crimson blossoms. It also features a visible lime green “visible air” unit installed in the heel. The floral print was first created in the late ’90s by Nike pattern designer Amanda Briggs for All Conditions Gear apparel. This artsy rendition of the Air Max 1 Premium pays homage to the brand’s history while also adding a trendy twist to a classic silhouette.

21. Nike Air Max 1 ‘London’

Released as part of a double drop representing both London and Amsterdam, the Air Max 1 ‘London’ captures the tones of the city. It offers a mixed-material upper, with various shades of grey that complement dark blue accents on the branding elements. This includes a Nike Swoosh on the quarter panel, a mini-Swoosh on the forefoot, and an intricate River Thames embroidery that highlights a Nike Air logo on the heel. In addition, abstract designs of the iconic London Eye and Big Ben are seen on either side of the forefoot overlay.

22. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Purple Punch’

Released alongside the Air Huarache, the Air Max 1 DNA CH.1 ‘Purple Punch’ drew inspiration from the former’s OG colourway. The shoe’s upper features striking hits of Purple Punch, while nods to the Huarache are found in the neoprene tongue and moulded TPU heel panel. Underfoot, the midsole provides cushioning with visible Max Air in the heel. This release pays homage to the original Air Huarache colourway and offers a fresh take on the classic Air Max 1 silhouette.

23. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Obsidian’

Nike released a special collection of colourways in honour of the Air Max 1’s 30th anniversary. Among them was the Air Max 1 OG ‘Obsidian’, which featured a classic design with a white nylon upper and Neutral Grey and Obsidian suede overlays on the mudguard, side panels, and Swoosh. Additional details include a padded collar, University Red accents on the heel branding, toe cap, and top eyelets, and a partially encapsulated Air Max unit for optimal cushioning.

24. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Atmos Curry’

In 2018, Nike reintroduced a classic sneaker from their archives: the Air Max 1 Premium Retro ‘Curry.’ Originally debuted in 2003, the shoe still features the same premium materials that made it a hit almost two decades ago. The leather upper, suede mudguard, and mesh toe and heel all remain intact, while warm colours and blue accents stay true to the original design.

25. Nike Air Max 1 ‘Concepts Far Out’

The Concepts x Nike Air Max 1 SP “Far Out” drew inspiration from the counterculture of the 60s featuring bandana, cowhide, and woven material panels. The shoe includes a lateral striped Swoosh, a medial “flower power” Swoosh, and a custom footbed. The tongue label revives a classic ’70s Nike logo with a Concepts “hippie” word mark. The shoe’s packaging includes a poncho, double album-styled mini record coasters, bandana, and sticker pack.
When did the Nike Air Max 1 release?

The first Nike Air Max 1 was released on March 26th, 1987.

What is the rarest Nike Air Max 1?

The rarest Nike Air Max 1 is the Nike Air Max 1 ‘Eminem Charity’ only eight pairs were released to charity and each was completely unique.

What is the most expensive Nike Air Max 1?

According to sneaker marketplace StockX, the most expensive Nike Air Max 1 is the Nike Air Max 1 Kid Robot collaboration from 2005.

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