Nike Huarache History Guide: Everything You Need to Know





Last Updated: October 12, 2021

Running is a constantly evolving sport. What was fast yesterday seems slow as hell today, and what your shoe game once was to make up for it has gone stank by now. Running shoes need to advance just like you do.

That’s why Nike puts tons of money into revolutionizing the running game. When Tinker Hatfield brought the Huarache in 1991, people were both surprised and a little taken aback.

Yet the stripped-down shoe was ever popular with runners, and the demand increased incredibly after an experimental, limited release. From there, it didn’t stay in the hands of runners for long.

With countless iterations and a whole suite of different colors and styles, the Huarache reached from the unknown and became one of Nike’s most popular. Second place isn’t an attitude to have with these sneakers.

But don’t get lost in the info. There’s a whole lot to the history of the Nike Huarache.

Who Made Huaraches?

Originally designed as a lightweight, running shoe, the Huarache owes its existence to legendary shoe designer Tinker Hatfield. Stripped of heavy technology and the iconic swish, the Huarache was a shoe all its own.

Hatfield is supposed to have gotten inspiration from neoprene water skiing shoes. Applying the concept to a sock-like silhouette made for an ideal running shoe: lightweight, breathable, and with the support of the air unit, invincible.

However, even in 1991, with all of its crazy styles, Nike was hesitant to release the Huarache. It was a polarizing shoe, and many people weren’t sure they were even Nikes because of the unfamiliar design. 

At first, the launch of the shoe did not see a high number in sales. Instead, they were so low that Nike considered canceling the shoe altogether. That was until the New York City Marathon.

There, one of Nike’s team members decided to sell the shoe in person to allow runners to see what they were working with directly. 

After seeing them in person, runners in the NYC community couldn’t get enough of the iconic sneakers. So Nike immediately gave the rollout to a broader release, thus ensuring everyone could grab a pair and guaranteeing that the Huarache would never be just a running shoe again.

Nike Huarache Styles, Over the Years

Air Huarache (1991)

The original Huarache icon debuted in 1991.

The model utilized a neoprene upper to keep it lightweight while also adding the Nike Air pocket for that extra bounce back for running. Despite the stripped-backed nature, it’s an undoubtedly handsome shoe that lends itself well to leisurewear fits. 

The mix of leather and neoprene gives it a unique look, and new colorways are always on the drop.


Flight Huarache (1992)

The Flight Huarache debuted in 1992 with a higher ankle for a more basketball-like fit.

Since the shoe’s popularity was skyrocketing at the time, runners were no longer the only ones rocking the Huaraches. Celeb greats like Jerry Seinfield and Will Smith guaranteed its stardom, and the hop over to basketball territory wasn’t far.

The higher ankle guaranteed a more secure fit while also keeping the shoe bouncy and great for being on the move. 


Huarache Trainer (1992)

The Huarache Trainer is a thicker version featuring a higher ankle than normal Huaraches. Debuting in 1992, this model focused on regular training rather than simply running.

It also gained a massive strap across the middle for a more secure fit.


Huarache Light (1993)

The runner got an update in ‘93 that focused specifically on making the Huaraches runners again.

Ditching the leather uppers, the Huarache Light uses only the neoprene to create the same great shoe with an even lighter package. They also switched out the sole so that the sneakers were less bulky.

They’re minimal with lacing and still have the same great feel, but look a little funky.


Zoom Huarache (2004)

The most significant departure of the Huarache yet, the 2004 version of the Zoom Huarache challenged the runners’ very nature and switched it from a runner to a 100% basketball shoe.

And this shoe would prove to be so popular that Kobe Bryant himself would regularly wear these in game before the debut of his own shoe line. Of course, the extra ankle strap didn’t hurt that security, either.

The shoes are much heavier and chunkier than their normal counterparts, but they feature more air in the pocket and more support in their leather nature.

To Wrap It Up

Ever since leaving the world of running, the Huaraches popularity has not seen an end. One of the best parts of the shoe is that Tinker Hatfield regularly redesigns and gives new concepts to the shoe, giving it a fresh taste every once in a while.

However, since that popularity increased, finding good colorways means always being on a stakeout or paying Stock X prices. But, for some, it’s all worth it.

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