Air Max SC vs Air Max 1 [Which Air Max is the Best?]

Written By Sunny

As a sneaker enthusiast, I’ve sported countless pairs of Nike Air Max 1s over the years. Recently, I decided to switch things up and purchased a pair of Air Max SC.


Both seem identical at first glance, but you may grapple between them while buying.

Well, fear not!

Because while putting both versions through their paces, I discovered some comparable features in them.

And here, I’ll highlight all the key differences between Air Max 1 and Air Max SC to help you make an informed choice.

How Do Air Max SC and Air Max 1 Differ?

The AM1 and AM SC are quite similar in design, look, and popularity. However, apart from all these similarities, they confer some differences as well. They mainly differ in their cost. Other than that, they are distinctive in terms of comfort, sizing, and material.

Let’s find out the key differences between Air Max SC and Air Max 1:

1. History

The Air Max 1 was introduced by Nike in 1987 and was the first sneaker to feature visible Air cushioning technology. This pair revolutionized the sneaker industry with its innovative design and became an instant hit among athletes and sneaker enthusiasts.


Over the years, Nike has released numerous colorways, collaborations, and special editions of the AM1, making it one of the most sought-after and collectible sneakers in the market.

On the other hand, the Air Max SC is a newer addition to the Air Max family, introduced by Nike in 2020. This shoe draws inspiration from the Air Max 1 and features a similar silhouette and design but with some modern updates.

The “SC” in the name stands for “Sport Classic,” and the sneaker is positioned as a lifestyle shoe that offers both style and comfort.

2. Material

The AM SC and AM1 are quite similar in their design and construction.

The SC variant features a mesh upper with synthetic overlays, a foam midsole, and a rubber outsole.

Conversely, the AM1 comes with a combination of suede, mesh, and leather in its upper. Like the SC version, this pair also uses a rubber outsole for traction.

However, the main difference between them is in their midsole. Whereas AM SC features a foam midsole, AM 1 finishes its construction with a classic EVA midsole.

3. Design

Nike always offers a top-notch design in its sneakers, no matter if it’s Air Max 1 or Air Max 90.

However, when it comes to the SC, it features a sleek, modern design with clean lines and a futuristic vibe. And the AM1 has a more classic and retro vibe in its design.


However, what I’ve seen from my pairs is that the SC version features a narrow toe. But the classic Air Max 1 comes with a round and chunkier toe.

Also, the placement of the iconic Swoosh is different in them. In the SC, the Swoosh is placed a bit lower, which goes from midfoot to the ankle cap. But in AM1, the ending portion of the swoosh is covered by the elongated leather ankle cap.

4. Comfort

The Nike Air Max SC is designed with a mesh upper that provides breathability and a cushioned insole that offers a plush feel underfoot. The visible Air Max cushioning unit in the heel provides excellent shock absorption, reducing impact and enhancing overall comfort during prolonged wear or physical activities.

Similarly, the Nike Air Max 1 also delivers comfort with its mesh, suede, and leather upper mix that provides a comfortable and supportive fit.

Although both shoes are undeniably comfortable, I personally think the classic AM1 is more comfortable. Because of its round-toe design, and breathable upper, I always get unmatched comfort while wearing them at the office or going for a long walk.

5. Price

When it comes to price, all Nike Air Max shoes are pretty expensive.

While both AM SC and AM1 are pricey, they fall into different price points. But the SC version is more budget-friendly than the classic AM1.

As of 2023, the average retail price for the Nike Air Max SC is around $80 to $120 USD. This makes it an affordable option for sneakerheads who are looking for a stylish and comfortable pair of kicks without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, the AM 1 is slightly more expensive, with an average retail price ranging from $110 to $150 USD. The price may vary depending on the specific colorway, materials used, and limited edition releases.

While it may be slightly pricier, the Nike Air Max 1’s reputation for quality and classic design make it a worthwhile investment.

6. Size and Fit

Both the classic and SC version of the Nike AM fits true to size. I went for my regular sneaker size for both pairs, which is US11.


However, the AM1 fits comfortably to my feet while leaving enough room for my toe to wiggle. But the AM SC gave a tighter fit when I put them on for the first time. Yet, within a week of wear, the tightness of my SC pair was completely gone, as it molded to the shape of my feet.

Meanwhile, if you want to skip the break-in period or prefer a roomy fit, I recommend a half-size-up with the SC.

7. Durability

What I’ve experienced is that the Air Max 1 lasts longer than the Air Max SC. The SC version can easily lose its shape if not properly maintained. I had to stuff them with paper towels every day after wearing them.

On the other hand, my pair of AM1 have proven to be more reliable in terms of maintaining their shape. The chunky structure of the shoes not only provides a distinctive and timeless aesthetic but also keeps them in shape even after prolonged wear.

I’ve worn my AM1s for months without needing to stuff them or worry about them getting deformed, and they still look as good as new.

Overall, both AM SC and AM 1 offer unique features and appeal to sneaker enthusiasts. However, while purchasing, keep their differences in mind to make the best decision.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Air Max 1 and Air Max SC?

Both AM 1 and AM SC offer top-notch attributes for sneakerheads. But it’s important to know that they also have their own limitations. And in this segment, I’ll enlighten you with all the benefits and drawbacks of these two Nike beasts.

So, let’s find out the pros and cons of Air Max 1 and Air Max SC:

Air Max 1

  • »More comfortable.
  • »Durable.
  • »Comfy EVA midsole.
  • »Round-toe design gives a roomy fit.
  • »Wide range of styles and colors.
  • »Expensive.
  • »May need time to break in.
  • »Chunkier design.

Air Max SC

  • »More affordable.
  • »Comfortable.
  • »Breathable upper.
  • »Lightweight.
  • »Sleek and fashionable design.
  • »Less durable.
  • »Narrow toe.
  • »Limited design and color options.

Which One to Choose Between Air Max 1 and Air Max SC?

As both sneakers offer great features, you should choose the one that aligns best with your requirements.

However, if you want a budget-friendly sneaker that can boost up your everyday look, go for the SC model.


But if you are into premium sneakers with a retro vibe, I would suggest buying the classic Air Max 1s. Although this model is quite expensive, it will last longer than expected, making your investment worthwhile.

Also, if you are looking for a pair that you can use for both athletic activities like running or for everyday wear, go with the AM1. While its bouncy sole gives you a smooth running experience, the versatile design allows you to pair them with any outfit.

Final Words

Both Air Max 1 and Air Max SC are good options for running or casual meet-ups. And you can choose any of them which suits you better.

However, I hope this article will be helpful in making a choice between the two.

And if you have further queries regarding this topic, let me know in the comment box!

About The Author
Sunny is all about action and activities. He finds it difficult to contain himself. Be it motorcycling, playing football, or exploring the great outdoors, he loves to keep his legs busy.Sunny quickly realized the importance of footwear to keep himself going healthily. This was when he decided to share all his knowledge and expertise regarding different footwear and their significance.Now, he’s on a mission with this humble platform by his side. With time he plans on doing bigger and better things.Apart from his writing and other hobbies, he loves spending time with his cat Sophie. He loves to cook for his friends and family too.

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