JORDAN FLYKNIT TRAINER 2 PERFORMANCE REVIEW
The Jordan Trunner was the original cross-training shoe of the greatest basketball player alive. The Trunner was not meant for running, or training, but both, based on a basketball player’s needs. At least, that’s what we were told. Now, almost 20 years later, we have seen multiple evolutions and design changes, and we are here: the Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2.
Now, honestly, Jordan hasn’t been on the training radar for some time at WearTesters, but situations can change. Spoiler alert — this is a serious shoe. Follow along…
First off, this review covers three areas: weight room, running, and basketball. Really, what else is a trainer for, especially when it has a Jumpman on the side?
When in the weight room, the soles gripped perfect on squats on a concrete floor (the mat was gone), at the leg press they never slipped on the platform, and the base was solid for power movements.
When running, and only distances of less than two miles, the sole is too stiff but does provide great traction in all conditions, and is durable enough to withstand concrete and asphalt roads if needed. Longer runs would not be ideal, at least for this reviewer, because the forefoot has very little flex and foot fatigue set in after about a mile.
Now, the real surprise, basketball. On the dirty, nasty 24 Hour Fitness court that I test almost all of my basketball shoes on, the best traction I have used in the last three years was the adidas Rose 7. This may be second — seriously. Those little three-pronged cutouts had me glued in any direction at all times — front back, side to side (never let ________ ride).
Shocking is too weak a word. The first time these hit the court was after a chest day and was just for 3 on 3, to get a little sweat and some shots. The second time, the Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 had to see full court and it worked the same; there was no fear of getting smoked on defense or slipping on the drive on offense. Yeah, nice.
What’s this, another surprise? Yeah, it says Zoom, but we have been fooled before by that little word. Rectangle Zoom unit with no feel encased in super-hard Phylon carrier? We know the story. WRONG. Wrong again.
The Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 features an oval unit that is top-loaded so it is right under the forefoot; it offers immediate feedback and response underfoot. The Phylon is not super-soft — it needs to be a little harder for stability under weight bars — but breaks in nicely after about three wears.
On top of that Phylon is a padded strobel board that feels a lot like Poron, and then an open cell Ortholite insole. It all adds up to a very comfortable step-in feel as well as responsive cushioning for any activity. The Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 rides low, so if you need heavy cushioning keep going, but fans of court feel, low ride, and quick response will love the shoe.
Oh, the heel? Stiff Phylon, but don’t worry. The insole and inner padding help the comfort there as well. You don’t want soft when you are under plates o’ weight, but the Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 strikes a balance between too soft and brick that just works.
Flyknit, Flyknit, and more Flyknit. Hey, guess what the upper is made of? Next to the KD10, this may be the best Flyknit upper out. Yes, it still has the firm strands running through it, but the knit itself is soft and pliable, requiring no break-in time at all, so the strands are used for lateral support and don’t get in the way when flexing the forefoot.
The ‘knit still has a backing, but not the thick glue of a couple of basketball models (Kobe 9 and 10). Instead, we get a fabric lining under the knit for comfort.
The heel? Oh, just more Flyknit, but woven tighter for a better heel fit and support. The TPU strap over the midfoot actually works for lateral stability, especially during those basketball games when playing defense or going by a defender, and we already covered the tooling, and it was good. Next.
If you try these on, don’t give up. The Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 feels extremely snug when it first goes on because it is — especially when the strap is pulled tight. Give the shoe a little while to learn. After those three wears it took to break in the midsole, the upper felt great as well.
What happened? Theory: the midsole became a bit compressed and became a little more flexible, so the upper feels broken in and looser. Not a bad loose, a “just right” loose.
As for length, dead on true to size. Perfectly true to size. Width, for my normal to slightly wide foot, was also spot-on true. For anything over that, you may want to go up half a size, but try them on if you can.
Heel slip? Nope, not at all. The lacing system and strap pull the whole shoe onto the foot and tie it up like a thick sock. The heel is also thinly but densely padded; that keeps a sleek speed look but wraps the heel area and hugs it tight.
Here is the thing: fit is easier now, with the materials being used. Wovens, knits, and meshes are easier to pull up on the foot and make mold to the wearer. Is it cheating? Nah, not if everyone is doing it. But the days of plastic fused uppers not molding, instead fighting the foot flex and making robotic popping sounds until broken in are, hopefully, over. Just take a knit, woven, or mesh, give some lace straps of wire, decent internal padding and heel counter, and fit should be a no-brainer. Should be.
When going for a true cross-trainer, support and stability have to be the main concern. When under that squat bar, or power-cleaning and pressing, you need your feet on solid ground and a platform that won’t budge.
The Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 was a little soft in the midsole when compared to shoes like the Reebok Watt trainer and the Nike Metcon series. This was for playability and comfort while doing more dynamic movements like rope drills or running, but if you are a heavy Olympic-style lifter you may want to grab a denser midsoled shoe like the ones mentioned above.
The strap across the midfoot does actually work; it keeps your foot locked in the footbed on any and all lateral movements — especially on court (where I LOVED this shoe). The heel counter is not solid at all, but the lacing, padding, and strap all play a role in keeping your foot flat. If a solid heel counter was added the overkill would have led to a slappy, constricted feeling and the freedom the lowtop gives would be gone.
As for the outsole, the base is wide for those heavy lifts we already talked about, which also helped on court. This takes away from the distance running, but again, this shoe is not meant for that — just short runs and sprint-style work for other sports. The forefoot stiffness and width helped overall with lateral stability while playing and there were no worries about wearing this low-top on court.
This might be the best Jordan shoe on the market, no lie. Killer fit, good Zoom cushioning, materials are nice, and traction and support are both above most on the market. Expectations for this shoe were not high when the initial images surfaced, and even less when the box was opened.
What appeared to be an outlet for Jordan to highlight Flyknit and a large Jumpman logo was actually a shoe that is at home in any environment, and better than most shoes at every turn.
Only buy this shoe if you are serious about training in every forum — court, weights, running — and don’t want or need a separate shoe for every activity. The Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 was a flashback to the days of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders signatures, shoes that were built for everything.
Great, GREAT job, Jordan Brand designers. This type of product makes me happy to see the Jumpman on my feet again.