Friday I’m In Love: Nike ACG

A three-decade obsession with mountain culture (and weird shoes).

I grew up mostly in California. My family moved there when I was in fifth grade and I graduated from high school there. We lived in Taft, which is why I say that I mostly grew up in California. Taft is a small oil town about 35 miles west of Bakersfield—which means I grew up in California but also in West Texas or in the oil country of Oklahoma.

Taft, CA.

Most kids in my school dressed as if we were five minutes from the beach. Loads of oversized Quiksilver and T&C Surf tees. Plenty of flannel. I saved money to buy pre-Hypebeast Stussy gear so I could look like every other kid along the central coast.

And, then, somewhere during my sophomore year in high school, I became obsessed with mountain bikes and mountain bike culture. I wanted nothing more than to leave the oil fields and desert heart to go bombing through the mountains in Colorado (Durango was The Spot, of course) on my Trek Antelope.

That’s when I bought a pair of Nike Caldera hiking boots. The Caldera isn’t exactly an ACG shoe—just like the all-time classic Lava Dome wasn’t really an ACG shoe. But it was ACG-adjacent. It was a gateway drug.

A couple years later, I bought a pair of Air Yewtahs—my first official ACGs. Man, I loved those shoes. They’re probably one of the top five pairs I’ve ever owned. They were everything I wanted to be—understated and still a bit out there, a mash-up of outdoor adventure and cerebral nonsense. I loved how the sole continued up the back of the shoe and the neoprene collar promised to keep the mud and pebbles away from my toes.

When I went away to college, it was with a brand-new pair of Air Madas on my feet. Man, I loved those shoes too. They’re also in the top five. I covered a lot of ground in those shoes. I also crashed on my bike in front of 200 people near the fountain between classes in those shoes.

Caldera, Air Yewtah, Air Mada.

In the early 2000s, I had a pair of reissued Lava Domes (still in commission, recently rescued from my garage and have been reasonably rehabilitated after 15 years of yard work and lawn mowing). Then the Considered experiment blew my mind and I spent the better part of two years trying to track down the original woven chukka boots (still have ‘em). Then I got my grubby hands on the Considered Mowabbs (still have those, too, stupid oversized geriatric toe box and all).

2002-ish Lava Domes, Considered Woven Chukka, Considered Mowabb.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always loved ACGs and the weird turns they’ve taken over the years. I even had a super techy pair of GoreTex ACG boots from 2004 that can’t be found anywhere on the internet. I think they had three different lacing systems on the same low-top boot. A couple years ago, they fell apart and now it’s like they only existed in my mind.

But in the last year or so, things have gotten out of control. I blame the SNKRS app. I also blame the designers at Nike. But most of all, I blame Tosh Brown. He won’t let me forget about all these shoes, sending me eBay links in the middle of the night, and pulling out the app for new drops every time I’m in SLC. He feeds my addiction and my addiction doesn’t need feeding.

I‘ll do something reasonable like buy some Koth Ultra Mids on clearance (with an extra 25% off code because I’m thrifty) and then he’ll drop off a pair of Komyuters at my desk. What a jerk!

Koth Ultra Mid, Komyuter.

A while ago, he posted a photo of these Stussy x Nike Mogans on Instagram. I left a thirsty comment. A few weeks later, he had found a pair on eBay in my size. I shouldn’t have. But I did. They’re beautiful. I’ll probably wear them to my kids’ weddings. It should’ve been the end, the final scratch that got at my teenage itch. But that’s not how it works.

Nike’s on a roll right now. They dropped the Air Revaderchis (snagged them from the back corner of the employee store). Then new styles of the Humara (outlet on a back-to-school sale). And look at those Okwahn IIs. (I did some freelance work for a pair? Seriously? I do freelance work for shoes? I’m asking myself these questions.) Right now, I’m dying to get my hands on the Ruckel Ridge (each new colorway has been better than the last, but I really love this one).

Air Revaderchi, Humara, Okwahn II.

So, I’m in love. The first ACGs hit the streets in 1988. So that means this has been going on for 30 years. The longest (non-parent, non-sibling) relationship of my life. I’ll probably buy more. I’m watching three pairs on eBay as I write this and I’ve thought about becoming a Lyft driver over the holidays to pay for some SNKRS drops. Or maybe I’ll just finish this story by reminding you all that (apparently) I WILL DO FREELANCE WORK FOR PAYMENT IN ACG SNEAKERS.

That is all.

ACGs in my super uncool closet (wire racks! ack!), incredibly dope art by Dan Freebairn of KickPosters.com.

If you want to see the 25 best ACGs of all time, both High Snobiety and Complex have their respective lists.


Every Friday I share something I love. Usually, it’s a new infatuation. Occasionally, it’s something else. We’ll see how it goes.