Jordan 1 Low vs High

A cream Jordan 1 low-top on one side of a white line. On the other, someone in blue jeans wearing a black and white pair of Jordan 1 Highs.
Credit: SNS

A cream Jordan 1 low-top on one side of a white line. On the other, someone in blue jeans wearing a black and white pair of Jordan 1 Highs.
Credit: SNS

If you're a sneaker fan, you've probably wondered about the differences between the Jordan 1 Low and High beyond just the collar height. The high-tops have become huge fan favorites over the years, overshadowing the Lows in popularity. Despite this, Nike continues to release new renditions of both styles, which makes choosing between them difficult.

We've put together this guide to discuss the key similarities and differences between two of the best sneakers ever made, before giving our overall verdict on which to buy. But first, let's take a closer look at the history behind the Jordan 1, arguably one of the best Air Jordans ever made.

History

In 1984, the Chicago Bulls made a game-changing decision by selecting Michael Jordan as the third overall pick in the NBA draft. Shortly after, the world witnessed the birth of the Nike Air Jordan 1 in 1985 - an iconic basketball sneaker that has since earned its place among the greatest of all time.

Original Jordan Jumpman logo from 1985 with Jordan jumping in the air in a symmetrical pose.
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Credit: Nike

Designed by Peter Moore, this high-top shoe boasted a sleek design inspired by the Nike Dunk, showcasing the iconic Nike Swoosh, a distinctive Jordan 'Wings' emblem, and innovative Nike Air units embedded within the midsoles.

Although Jordan notably sported the initial "Banned," now known as "Bred," high-tops (initially thought to be Nike Air Ships), and the classic "Chicago" 1s, it's often overlooked that the Jordan 1 Low also made its debut during that period. In fact, the Jordan 1 Low arrived in various colourways mirroring its high-top counterparts, featuring designs inspired by the Bulls and metallic finishes.

While the Jordan 1 Highs made a comeback in 1994, likely due to their immense popularity, the Lows took a bit longer, resurfacing in the early 2000s, towards the end of Michael Jordan's illustrious playing career. This delayed return marked a reunion for fans with this lesser-known but equally stylish counterpart to the famed high-tops.

Price

After reviewing the history, you might wonder which of the two variations is cheaper. Generally, low-top Jordan 1s, such as the popular "University Red" Lows, are less expensive than some of the best high-top Jordan 1s. Even variations like AJKO Lows, the "Laney" colourway being an example, are cheaper than the majority of Highs brought at their retail price.

Air Jordan 1 Low "University Red" product image of a white low-top featuring red details, including the side Swoosh.
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Credit: Nike

This is partly due to the extra cost of the materials required to construct the higher collars compared to the best Jordan 1 Lows. However, perhaps the more significant reason behind the difference in price is the higher demand and popularity of the Jordan 1 High. It's the model MJ wore on the court back in the '80s, so it makes sense for it to be the shoe every fan and sneakerhead wants to wear.

Design and comfort

The main difference to note between the low and high tops is their collar heights, with the High measuring in at around 6.25" from the sole to the top of the ankle collar.

Consequently, if you plan on wearing your Jordan 1s on the court, then you can expect a little more ankle support and lateral stability because of the added collar height.

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Jordan 1 Low vs High comparison image of three high-tops and three low-tops.
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Credit: High Snobiety

Conversely, you may find low-tops to be less restrictive on the court which, in turn, could enhance your overall athletic performance, regardless of whether it's purely a placebo effect or not.

It's also important to ensure your sneakers are laced correctly for a secure lock-in. Fortunately, both High and Low Jordan 1s can be laced in almost the exact same way.

Ultimately, the decision on which design you prefer and which you find more comfortable will come down to personal preference. Having said that, it's worth keeping in mind that Run Repeats analysis of 31 academic studies found there to be no significant findings to suggest that shoe top height affects athletic performance.

Jordan 1 Low vs High: Which should you buy?

It's hard to say which out of the two you should buy because, in our opinion, both the Low and the High Jordan 1s have their place and purpose.

Although technically the same model, their silhouettes are far from identical, meaning they can be styled in completely different ways from a fashion standpoint.

In fact, the low-tops are more akin to some of the best Air Force 1s around thanks to their collar height, making them a great option for everyday wear.

In terms of on-the-court performance though, we'd argue that the high-tops are a little more suited to the fast-paced action, mostly due to the added ankle support provided by the increased collar height.

As we mentioned above though, the choice all comes down to you and your personal preference, but you should now be able to come to an informed decision on which out of the two will suit you best.

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