For something I assumed to be ultra-niche at this point in the 21st century, the ACG-themed post from here late last year proved pretty popular in terms of feedback. There’s evidently more All Conditions fanatics out there than meets the eye, so here’s some more visuals. I’m not entirely sure what resonates so hard with this sub-range of functional oddness — maybe it was the co-sign from climbers and Grand Puba alike, the inner-city re-appropriation that led to the Nike Boot movement targeting that consumer directly with shoes for them under the guise of ACG and the fact that this line created some of the best Nike shoes of all time, built to take on off-road challenges, meaning extra value when you broke open a beige, recycled box.
I’m currently appreciating the Meriwether and previously mentioned Air Max Prime GTX that were created under the Nike Sportswear wing – proof that there’s still mileage in hiking themed sports footwear when it’s not a case of chucking D-rings on an existing model or last to feign Viberg and Danner status. The latter Nike shoe is a Peter Fogg creation, and I’m saddened that during a recent submitted Q&A to the man, I didn’t ask at least 50 questions about the Terra range. While they’re frequently assumed to be ACG, due to their rugged looks, Fogg’s Terra Humara, Terra Ketchikan, Terra Minot and Humara weren’t ACG — I assumed this was because Terra was its own ’97 trail running division that had nothing to do with the early 1980’s Terra T/C concept, but as mentioned here before, the existence of the ACG labeled Terra Tor from 1996 ruins my theory. Unless the Tor was the point when Nike decided to make similar rugged running designs Terra rather than ACG. Bored yet? I need that mystery solved. The Terra Ketchikan is the best Nike ACG shoe that never was.
While the colours implemented across the barely christened All Conditions Gear line were strange for shoes with a swoosh, they followed the crazed-out, hi-vis makeups that outdoor wear manufacturers had been playing with for a while. In the hands of Nike designers, those wild shades and willful contrasts highlighted the best of each shoe, but the little eccentricities — the “lawnmower man” on an outsole, the jagged labeling that bellowed the name of a shoe and the excellence of women’s makeups that were just as good as the men’s variations. Those who know, appreciate these products. At its core, the collection harks back to a certain hippie idealism, where the worlds of running and a boom in backpacking carried a certain romanticism, and with those Oregonian roots, there was scope for both activities (other than the fact the two words rhyme, it explains the ‘NIKE HIKE’ sticker from the 1970’s.
The original Nike hikers pre-date the Nike ACG line by almost a decade, when the Magma, Approach and Lava Dome appeared in 1981 ads with a 1978 image of John Roskelley and Rick Ridgeway (who went on to become a vice president at Patagonia) at base camp on K2 during their dramatic 1978 expedition that made them part of a group of the first Americans to make it. Both men are wearing the LDV (the shoe formerly known as the LD-1000V) during camp time, and you can see cues from that shoe in the Lava Dome. That same runner at base camp concept seemed to be imbued in Sergio Lozano’s lower profile 1998 Pocket Knife design. I’m a big fan of the later B&W image of the amassed group too, with plenty of battered Magmas in the mix.
After the passing of Heavy D last year, I documented some of the Nike obsession that runs through his early work, but 1989’s ‘Money Earnin’ Mt. Vernon’ video is notable for him and the Boyz rocking what looks to be matching Lava Highs, plus a scene in a sports store, with stacks of red Nike boxes, vintage ads and a serious Reebok diss when the Overweight Lover openly casts a Union Jack topped box aside – the most grievous rap video brand diss since Doug E. Fresh’s Bally’s destroyed some Superstars. Lava Highs pre-date ACG, but if they dropped today, they’d be blessed with the triangle. I still can’t get enough of Tinker’s Mowabb sketches either — “Outdoor Cross Training” sums up that design nicely, but the fishy Rainbow Trout inspiration for that midsole speckle and proposed Pendleton blanket lining are interesting elements. I still can’t get enough of those advertisements either.