Sneakers under Pressure

(Doesn't athletic competition have enough pressure without getting it from your shoes?)


The Reebok Pump:

Original Reebok Pump high-top basketball sneakersIn the 1989 athletic shoe market, the original Reebok Pump caught a lot of eyes. (Apple software evangelist Guy Kawasaki even mentions them in one of his books. He liked his a lot, even at the price of $175 a pair.) The shoe came complete with a cute "pump" button in the tongue, in the color of a basketball.

The design did respectably well for a few years, and Reebok made versions for football, tennis, and track. For those models where they didn't want the weight of the pump wearing down the athlete, Reebok designers inflated the shoe with a CO2 cylinder.

The marketing for the Reebok Pump centered around the phrase "Pump Up, Air Out." My recent scans of mail order catalogues indicate that Reebok has essentially stopped producing models with pressure chambers; I don't see any in the latest catalogues, even as closeout items. It looks like the athletic shoe customer has decided to land on AIR, rather than pump it around.

I've had a pair of Reebok Pump sneakers and I've written up elsewhere on Charlie's Sneaker Pages why I didn't like them.

For more information about the design of the Reebok Pump, take a look at US Patent 5113599.


1999 - Return of the Reebok Pump...

I was out shopping in August 1999 when I saw a display of new Reebok Pump sneakers. Right now, they are an exclusive at Kids Foot Locker stores. Apparently, the marketers feel that kids like oddball things (like lighted sneakers) as they're only for kids.


One of Nike's entries into the market:

Nike Air Pressure high-top basketball sneakers with carrying caseNike made two entries into the market for sneakers with pressure chambers. The Air Pressure (pictured) required a separate inflation device that had to be pumped up by hand. They also came with a separate carrying case. Nike also came out with the Air Command Force which had an integral pumping device. Neither made significant inroads into the market.


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Last Updated: 18 April 2012 11:32


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