Retro Runner Rehab: The Air Max2 (Squared) Light
'Retro Runner Rehab' is a column where we bungee into the world of bygone running shoes, scoop up our favourites and throw them back in the spotlight. There are so many discontinued running models with extra mileage left in them that you could line them up heel-to-toe and you’d have a distance Forrest Gump wouldn’t want to run.
To start, we're going big and waxing on the Nike Air Max2 Light. This shoe takes us all the way back to 1994 – a time when Air technology was out of its infancy stage and Nike had started to brandish their accomplishment. 'Visible Air' was the answer to all aesthetic conundrums – from the Classic BW to the Air Max 180 to the Air Max2 Light, the expansion of juicy bubbles was being displayed proudly like a pinned tweet.
As you many will know, the Air Max2 Light is the lighter adaption of the Air Max (we'll get to that, trust). But by and large the only similarity between the Max2 and the Light is the Air unit – but it is a very special Air unit. Long before Tuned Air, the Max2 sole compartmentalised Air into chambers and varied their pressure for a more responsive ride. The two chambers directly underfoot were a spongy and supportive 5psi, while the exterior chambers were pumped way up to 25psi to hold the foot in place. The forefoot then housed some of the first Zoom technology, although it was then known as 'Tensile Air'.
The Light carried all of its predecessor's advancements with varying Air pressure and fine-tuned the specs. At the time, Air was seen as the solution to the only thing weighing a runner down – the midsole. More Air meant less sole which meant less weight – but the Air Max2 Light even managed to turn the sole into an advantage. The innovation involved replacing the already trim single-density foam with Phylon, a material made from EVA pellets which Nike compressed, expanded with heat and then molded into a midsole (almost) as light as Air.
Mechanics aside, the main reason we need the Air Max2 Light to come back to our feet is its look. Its layering channeled overt aggression and lent the shoe to grabbing colour schemes in the process. Any Light colourway you can trawl up on the internet looks sensationally staunch. The leather overlays were typically left devoid of colour, allowing the mesh below to stab out – like Predator’s mouth ready to bite any hand that laced it.
Sadly, finding a wearable pair of Nike Air Max2 Lights left on this green earth is a disparagingly rare occurence. Among heart-wrenching 90s sacrifices, the discontinuation of this bubble butt is akin to whoever Bruce Willis played in Armageddon not getting off the asteroid. It’s tragic, our OGs are disintegrating exponentially and we need a retro before the shoe disappears from our lives all together.