I can’t believe how cheap Nike Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknits are going for. It’s like I want to stand on top of a soapbox and tell everybody that they’re missing out on arguably one of the best releases of the year, but at the same time, I don’t want there to all of a sudden be a surge in demand for them and then I can’t get the colorways that I want to cop for way less than their $170 MSRP. But because it’s time for #KoFBestOf2016 to kick into high gear, it’s time to let the world know what they’ve been missing.

As of today, I can walk out of my house, take a quick drive to the local Nike Outlet Store and pick up a pair of the premium USA Nike Air Force 1 Low Ultra Flyknits for less than 70 bucks. Some are a little more expensive, like the mid-cuts that go for closer to a hundred, but my focus are on the lows. The only reason I haven’t bought a pair is because I know it’s probably going to drop in price even more once they hit the walls and when they do, I’m just waiting for the weekends so they throw in the additional 20% off discount.

Actually, there’s another reason I don’t have the USA AF1s. It’s because I have the multicolor pair that I bought for less than a hundred dollars and I’m wearing the s**t out of them. Well, I would be wearing the s**t of them if my nephew hadn’t “borrowed” them for the two weeks he’s here on vacation from the Philippines.

Besides the AF1 Ultra Flyknits, the only pairs of kicks I’ve worn more this year are my mismatched Internationalists and a handful of adidas Ultra Boosts. It’s all about being #TeamComfy these days and in a year where I was constantly surprised – and not always in a good way – one of the biggest for me was that I would actually physically hand over cash to a retailer to buy a pair of Air Force 1s. It’s not something I expected to do in 2016.

I don’t dislike Air Force 1s, but I’ve taken them for granted for years. The recent SF Air Force 1 notwithstanding, Nike Sportswear hasn’t really done much for me and the sneaker community as a whole to get us excited about the Air Force 1 again. The diehards who have literally hundreds of pairs might salivate over remastered OGs and a few other special releases here and there, but to the rest of us, AF1s were bulky relics of Nike’s glory days in the ’80s that are only around out of respect, like a old superstar athlete who hangs on a little too long but nobody has the heart to tell them it’s over.

The first time I saw the Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit was in Santa Monica at the Nike SNKRS Xpress Event for NBA All-Star Weekend this past February. There were a handful of other kicks that I had my eyes on that night but the one that truly caught me off-guard was the AF1s. They were so light that I first thought they were display replicas that Nike screwed up and put on the shelf. My gut instinct was that this was some kind of new revision on Flyknit and it somehow made the shoe lose what feels like 80% of its weight. But it was more than that and it had to the with the “Ultra” in the name.

If you’ve seen the word “Ultra” pop up in a little for your favorite Nike kicks this year, like the equally underrated Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Flyknit or the Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit, it’s there for good reason. Using the latest in tech, the Ultra bottoms have turned what were once bulky monstrosities (this obviously doesn’t apply to the already light Prestos) that could be used to curb stomp somebody have turned into feathery light outsoles. It feels like somebody cut out the guts of the AF1’s midsoles and hollowed it out to remove all the weight. But it’s not hollowed out, of course. It takes cues from the Nike Roshe One, a shoe I just got done mentioning was worthless in the sneaker culture in 2016. The lesson? I know nothing.

So what happens when you fine-tune Flyknit to retain as much of the original design of the AF1, combine it with leather which you’ve never done before and put it together with a feather Ultra sole? You’ve got Nike’s answer – or what should be the answer – to the adidas NMD to the Ultra Boost in terms of a sneaker that is cool and functional.

The problem and maybe the reason we see the shoe stuck on shelves? The name itself. The Air Force 1 gives it instant credibility but also instant baggage. We might consider the AF1s classic by any metric, but they have an “old man shoe” vibe to it. My nephews who  happen to love Flyknit Racers and other lightweight Nike walking shoes didn’t give the Ultra Flyknits a chance because they looked so close to the leather-based design that they immediately thought that they must be bulky and unappealing too. And that’s a shame… for them. For me? I’ll be picking my spots at the outlets and bidding my time when they finally hit the price basement.

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