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Reebok JJ I Performance Review

Anyone who wanted to be a little different in the ’90s wore Reebok basketball shoes. Kemp, Iverson, Nick the Quick, Big Dog, Shaq — the Vector had a lineup of All-Stars on court, as well as Frank Thomas and Emmitt Smith on their respective fields of play.

Then, it didn’t. Only the public can explain the fickleness of the public, and the people turned on Reebok with a quickness (some say Professor K killed the basketball line, but it was really the money thrown into the NBA uniform deal and lack of progressive cushioning and usable technology).

Now, Reebok is back on top — of Crossfit. The Nano series is a huge seller whenever colorways release. Clothing emblazoned with the Crossfit/Reebok triangle logo is everywhere (just watch five minutes of UFC). And the Vector still has a huge presence in football with JJ Watt.

Which brings us to the performance review of the JJ I crosstrainer. The JJ I Trainer is very much a shoe in the old “Bo Knows” Nike Air Trainer SC style, but, well, new.  It’s a shoe designed for every activity — weights, plyometrics, short running, turf and grass work, and maybe basketball — just put it on and go. Let’s break it down…

TRACTION – The use of the Triangle logo was a nice touch, but most story-telling patterns suck. Luckily, Reebok went a little extra step: the logos are angled and off-set, leading to multi-level traction that grabs. This worked great in the grass for ropes and running, felt good pushing on leg press platforms and squats, and yeah, even grabbed the floor decent enough to run a couple of games to 12, full court. Told you, a shoe for everything. The rubber is hard so it won’t wear down quickly, and beware before getting on-court — if you have done any off-road training there will be mud, grass, and trash in your lugs. Transition from training to basketball, or even walking across wifey’s newly swept floor, will lead to serious repercussions (and maybe some concussions).

CUSHIONING – Every brand needs a signature cushioning, whether it’s Gel, Boost, Zoom Air, or Cushion-3. It is what sets your technology apart and what the wearer most identifies with a brand. This is where Reebok had been struggling since the early 2000’s, when DMX went away (and not that $#!+ show that was DMX Foam). I-Pak DMX was great, and so was the DMX-10. In the JJ I, Reebok brings us Liquid Foam.

Bad news first: there ain’t much liquid in this foam. Good news: the stability and response is very, very nice. The midsole is extremely solid and stiff, but not so much so that it is uncomfortable. The cushioning is absorbent; no energy came back up my knees and legs while working out, but it has no give in the compression. Reebok still needs to work on this aspect.

MATERIALS – Mesh and fuse — stop me if you’ve heard that before. Normally, I am not a fan of the rubber uppers, but for some reason, the JJ I feels great on foot. The fuse is kept to a minimum and used only around the toebox, laces, and the forefoot saddle, all areas of high-stress and quick wear. The mesh areas are soft, flexible, and help provide great fit. After three weeks of weights, short running, and basketball, the JJ I shows very little signs of wear.

FIT – After going a half-size down, fit is freaking awesome. One thing about traditional lacing systems: they allow for a variety of fits and loosening and tightening makes the shoe work. The JJ I has seven lace holes if you lace all the way to the top, and wide footers and skinny people will all be happy, unless you are extremely wide. The fit-straps in the forefoot might have posed a problem, but the last of the shoe allows for loosening. One thing a lot of companies have started doing (UA Clutchfit Drive 3lebron 17) is adding lace loops that run over the tongue instead of down to the midsole. This pulls the tongue down into the foot for even better lockdown in that area.

If you lace all the way to the last hole there will be some ankle pressure on the front, under the knot. You can skip that hole and still be fine.

SUPPORT – Weight room shoes are built for stability. Wide bottoms, solid midsoles, great lacing systems, and cushioning that won’t bottom out or wobble under stress. The JJ I is no exception. We covered the cushioning and lack of give, but for stability and support, that is perfect (same as the Under Armour Architech). The heel counter isn’t high but it’s rock solid, and coupled with the lacing system, locks the foot into the shoe. There is no outrigger like a basketball shoe would have, but the white saddle overlay works with the lace straps mentioned in the Fit section to secure your forefoot over the shoe. Overall, once you are strapped in to the JJ I, you are solid.

OVERALL – It’s fitting to say “Overall” because this is one of the best “overall” shoes out there. These did see court time, and they performed. Traction grabbed the floor, fit and stability were on point, and the cushioning wasn’t special, but for a couple of games after lifting (you know, “just getting my cardio in”) they worked.

If you are an all-around athlete who wants to stay in a one-shoe budget, the JJ I is great. If you need a true Crossfit shoe, or a true basketball shoe, definitely look elsewhere, because it is too structured for only Crossfit but not cushioned enough for basketball, at least for me. That said, this is a shoe that stays in rotation, both because of function and looks (c’mon, it’s a great design). Reebok may be out of basketball, for now, but they still know how to make a good shoe — the JJ I is proof.

Under Armour Threadborne Fortis 3 Performance Review

When something works, you ride it hard. Under Armour has found that Threadborne works, so the woven material has been found in nearly every product line for 2017. That’s good for the upper, but does the Under Armour Threadborne For 3 make us happy? Read on….

This outsole should be familiar by now because Under Armour has used it on multiple models, starting with the Threadborne Slingflex. Combining a high-abrasion rubber outsole with deep flex grooves in the forefoot, UA has created a long-wearing transition-based runner that feels fast.

(These images were taken after two months of solid wears, both running on roads and treadmill, plus some weight training time. With a little cleaning these could be good as new.)

The flex grooves make the forefoot traction better than expected, allowing the Under Armour Threadborne Fortis 3 to contact the ground at any angle, slow or fast, and let the foot dig into the surface. The cored-out heel area, formed like a suction cup, will actually stick to the floor, road, or treadmill if the shoe is in a compressed state for any length of time.

That feature was strange the first few times the Fortis was worn casually — I was standing on my hardwood kitchen floor and when I took a step I heard an audible “pop” — but when moving fast there is no issue at all. Add water, and the suction becomes more noticeable, but again, don’t stop and it won’t happen.

Under Armour has mastered Charged foam in its running line. If you were a fan of Micro G, then the Charged in the Threadborne Fortis will make you extremely happy. It is stable, responsive, and dense, all at once, and offers the runner a bouncy, cushioned ride. The genius of Micro G was it could be thin but still cushion well. Charged has finally done that for Under Armour.

From forefoot to heel, the cushioning was smooth and the strides were easy. The flexible outsole worked under the thin midsole to feel fast and light while retaining needed impact protection.

On top of that, we get a Charged insole to boost that initial impact, making the feel even more plush and fluffy. Seriously, Nike pg 4, give us this Charged feeling in the basketball line already!!

Threadborne, UA’s flagship knit, began as a flexible but supportive material on the Curry 7 last fall; it quickly made its way into other categories, especially running, starting with the Slingflex. Where the Curry 3 was a tight, rough knit, the Slingflex was like a sock.

The Under Armour Threadborne Fortis comes somewhere in between. It is still flexible but loses some of the sock-like feel and for a slightly rougher and more durable build. This is lessened some by the use of a full-foot bootie construction, taking away the internal chafing and hotspots — except one. Right over the little toe the last lace hole is sewn in and the rubbing there while barefoot was serious pain. However, it was only while barefoot. Even the thinnest socks took care of the issue.

The Threadborne here is sewn in multiple directions for support, better fit, and flex — and it works. The holes in the weave that are visible in the pictures do go completely through, while the black lines crisscrossing the upper are a tighter weave for better fit and less give. There is very little stretch in the multi-colored parts of the upper, so fit is never compromised by the upper moving out or giving with the foot.

Again, near perfect, which is how a woven shoe should be. Seriously, it’s basically a sock with cushioning, so why shouldn’t fit be awesome?! Length-wise, stay true to size — it may give a little extra in length but after a long run you will appreciate some room for your swelling feet. The forefoot wraps around your toes with little space above, even with thin running socks on. The midfoot is wrapped the same, with the tighter black lines pulling the shoe up solid.

The heel and ankle are where it gets interesting because there is an ankle collar coming up from the internal bootie. We have seen this concept in basketball from Under Armour, from the original Juke to the Curry 3ZER0, and while the structure in the Fortis isn’t as substantial as those shoes, it is still something that works well when used correctly.

This collar is separate from the regular lacing so it wraps around the sides and front of the foot and really pulls you into the heel. This cuts all heel slip and adds some padding in the area to take away lace pressure when laced tight. With the minimal upper movement still pushing hard, a simple collar like the one used on the Under Armour Threadborne Fortis feels great on-foot and even better when running.

One thing the Under Armour Threadborne Fortis is not is supportive. Granted, it isn’t meant to be — this is a neutral and fast runner, so no surprise. What is here works though, from the internal ankle collar to the solid lacing system. The low ride lets you run on some uneven surfaces — not recommended for full-out trail running — with no issues, especially with the heel lockdown being so good.

The heel cup is, well, there isn’t one. The weave is a little stiffer and there is a fuse backing around the heel cup, but it won’t keep you upright in bad situations and is more for structure and fit. If you land on uneven surface or need some extra support for pronation, sorry, not happening here. There is no internal shank in the midfoot so plantar fasciitis sufferers beware. All of this sounds negative, but again, the Under Armour Threadborne Fortis is a fast, flexible runner, not a high-structured stability shoe. Know what you need.

For the past two years, the best runner Under Armour released was the original Speedform Gemini. The Under Armour Threadborne Fortis has moved into that slot, using a flexible yet durable upper woven material and a seriously cushioned midsole. If you have been holding off from trying UA runners for whatever reason, hide no more — the Threadborne Fortis is a shoe that can compete with any shoe in the nuetral training category.

My only real complaints are the lack of support, which again, is not what this shoe is made for, and the Threadborne is a little rough, which was easily fixed by socks.

Under Armour has made amazing strides in its footwear category in the last four years and has made it clear that it is serious about performance. In the notoriously faithful history of running, where lines like the Kayano and the Pegasus are over 20 and 30 models into their lifespans, consistency and longevity is key to consumers. The Under Armour Threadborne Fortis is only on model number three, but if the evolution of the model continues, Under Armour could have its first lifetime achievement model.

Nike React Infinity Run

The Nike React Infinity Run shows that Nike Running isn’t complacent with rolling out the same shoe year after year. For the Infinity Run, Nike took what made the Epic React Flyknit and Epic React Flyknit 2 extremely popular and then heavily upgraded every area where they fell short. The result? To infinity and beyond…


Jodi: Just like adidas did with the Ultraboost 2019 when they added more Boost, Nike upped the React in the Infinity Run midsole by 24% (vs the Epic React midsole). The increase caused a very similar effect, a sturdier, trustier ride. Trustier? Yes. Trustier. Regular React is great for instant step in comfort. Heck, it was awesome for running in last year’s Epic React 2. But the extra React made me feel more supported underfoot. I feel like once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to go back.

Drew: Adding 24% more React to a midsole is a good thing. Period. As Jodi mentioned, the extra React is a noticeable improvement. Some people had trouble taking the Epic React models on long runs (8 miles or more) because the cushion would essentially bottom out. That does not happen with the Infinity Run. The Infinity Run will handle any and all training distances.

The new Rocker Geometry or shape of the midsole also helps the Infinity Run feel more plush. The shoe has a pronounced curve at both the forefoot and heel. The Nike team took learnings from the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% midsole shape and applied them to the Infinity Run. This makes the transition from heel to toe super smooth and makes the React feel like it has more bounce. The feeling is very similar to the Nike Zoom Fly 3 even though the Infinity Run doesn’t have the kyrie 6’s carbon fiber plate.


Jodi: I’m pretty sure we all rejoiced when we saw the initial pics of the Infinity Run. The first thing I said when seeing the bottom of the shoes was, “Look at all that rubber!” It’s everywhere and there’s plenty of flex grooves. This was something that was majorly lacking in the Epic Reacts.The Epic React was a beast of a shoe but all that uncovered foam took a beating. After many, many miles in the Infinity Run, mine practically look like new and only show minor wear and tear on my high strike zones. I’m like the mailman, running rain or shine, and these stuck like glue to all my usual running paths.

Drew: As I mentioned in my Nike React Infinity Run First Impression, Nike uses a lot of rubber on the bottom of these. You get full heel to toe coverage and I fully expect the Infinity Run’s traction to last 300+ miles. Similar to Jodi, I’ve run 50+ miles in mine and they hardly show any wear.

I also had no issues in wet conditions. I had the pleasure (?!) of wearing these in several rainstorms and there was no slippage on asphalt or cement.


Jodi: For support, the Infinity Run has a wider base. You can literally see how it flares out beneath your foot, in the forefoot AND under your heel. So no matter where you normally land you have a ton of coverage.

Drew: The wider midsole does a lot of the work here. The forefoot midsole flares out really wide to create outriggers on both the lateral and medial sides of the foot. The midfoot and heel are then held in place by a large TPU clip (it’s 3M on some colorways!) that cradles your foot.

While I wish my foot sat slightly inside the foam at the forefoot too, your midfoot and heel aren’t going anywhere. It’s unlikely you’ll slide off the footbed unless you take on some rougher trails. It’s a really stable shoe for something featuring so much React cushioning and Flyknit.


Jodi: The flyknit is very different from the lebron 17. I welcomed this change. The Infinity Run’s engineered flyknit is a bit more structured and has a plasticy feeling to it, but I prefer it because it doesn’t hug my feet like a straight jacket. While I’d always have to remind myself that feeling would go away once I got moving in the Epic Reacts, it’s nice not to have to think about it anymore. Similar to the Epic Reacts, the Infinity Run is put together like a booty with a very stretchy tongue area for ease of entrance.

Drew: The new engineered flyknit is super breathable and even a bit see through.  The swoosh wrap that surrounds the midfoot and heel is a sort of foil fused to the flyknit upper. The materials used match well with the $160 price point.


Jodi: If you hadn’t already guessed from reading the other sections, the fit ended up being a slam dunk for me. When I’m out with my running group I always hear a lot of them say they don’t run in Nike products because they’re too narrow. I feel like the Infinity Run is Nike’s answer to that common complaint.

Obviously there’s no one shoe built for every runner. But as a wide footer I have to say, this shoe fit me perfectly. My forefoot had plenty of wiggle room, my heel was locked into place, and I was able to run mile after mile after mile without a worry. No rubbing, no pinching, no slipping. I advise you to grab these in your normal running size, and start the new year off right.

Drew: The sock like fit of the Epic React returns in the Nike React Infinity Run but the sock is now built on a wider last, fits true to size, and accommodates a lot more foot types. I knew people that really wanted to rock the Epic React Flyknit but couldn’t due to the narrow dimensions. It’s one of the reasons I think these will fly off shelves. They’ll provide all day comfort for a majority of foot shapes.

One area for improvement is the collar. The flyknit is exposed all around the collar and is scratchy. The top of the tongue gave me a small blister on a long run when I wore low cut socks. I could also feel the tongue rubbing on my ankle and achilles whenever I wore the Infinity Run casually. It wasn’t sandpapering my ankle like some shoes but it was enough to be annoying.


The Nike React Infinity Run is a casual and performance star that will sell really well. The upgrades from the Epic React line hit all the right notes. The extra cushioning and rocker motion make the shoe fun to wear. And since Nike finally decided it was time to make wide footers happy, the potential market for the Infinity Run is huge. I expect we’ll see TONS of colorways over the next year so sit back and wait to grab whichever one you like best.

New Balance Omn1s Performance Analysis and Review

Happy New Year, let’s kick it off with a review!

This was one of the greatest shots with natural theatrics from the ball + rim and actual raw emotions from stone faced Kawhi and I finally got the Omn1s in December…you know half a year later. I have been tying since June to get these shoes and like nearly everyone else in the world, I failed due to super limited quantities. Was the Omn1 worth the wait? Errr..
Pros : traction, average cushioning, decent fit

Cons: cushioning is just there, tippy heel, poor containment

Sizing advice: go down half a size, these run long like Kawhi’s hands. Best to try on in store..oh wait, you can’t.

Buying advice: after 6 months of making uber limited quantities, I expect the floodgates will open. From a playing perspective, I regret spending $140. $100 or less is fair, bottom should be around $75-80 but I’m not sure since NB just returned to hoopsWeightI don’t care about the weight as much as others do so this is just a reference. At 16 ounces this is a average to a little heavier than average for a mid. Most weight in the 15-16.5 ounces range.Traction:Definitely the highlight of the Omn1. These just bite the hardwood like a good pair should. It has a similar look and pattern as the Rose 7 but it isn’t as thin and the rubber isn’t as soft but it still does a heck of a job. Trojan would be proud.Definitely one of the best traction set ups I’ve tried this year. Well done NB!

Cushioning Fuelcell. I could regurgitate the marketing jargon I’ve seen from calling it a premium EVA to nitrogen injected foam but rather than do that I think it’s more important to describe how it feels. Fuelcell in the Omn1 does not feel anything like Boost or Zoom or Lightstrike or Micro G or a lightweight foam. I don’t even think it feels like Bounce or even Charged because my Curry 3 has a lot more feedback and bounce than this foam..on tenth thought, even the Curry 4 EVA set up feels better and springier. It feels far more dense than the premium foams with sone slight give after break in. I was hoping for a Lightstrike feel or something with some bounce but like a Kawhi interview it doesn’t give much.I’ve read that Fuelcell is dual density and I believe it. The Forefoot (black) is softer to the touch than the midfoot and heel (white)But still not a lively set up.It’s very on point with what I expected from New Balance though from the OG 802 trail shoes I used to buy to the Cruz (wtf you retroed them already NB?) New Balance has a muted feel to them. I’m a fun guy .. are you sure you didn’t mean fungi Kawhi bc these have nearly zero fun to them. Pretty dense ortholite insole (top is curry 3, bottom is Omn1) gives a little more step in comfort but not muchI don’t complain much about cushioning and I’m not complaining about Fuelcell but from what I’ve read about the running shoes, it seems that NB just tuned it more for hoops while taking out a lot of the fun factor. But geez, Boredman gets paid alright.Overall cushioning is just there. If you want more fun in your shoes, look anywhere elsewhere.FitGo down half a size. I wasn’t sure how these were going to fit but given NB’s limited quantities I went with what was left and 10.5 was the right call . These do run long since I had a finger width at the toe which I perfect for me. If I went true to size these would leave me a thumb at the toe. I went standard width since that was what was left and it was plenty of space width wise even with my widefeet . I do really appreciate the option for wide even there aren’t as many options as NB offers in running shoes. I guess that says something about the important of fit in b-ball shoes versus running.Simple lace set up which like. Just a little inner sleeve and normal laces.There is no extra space width wise and I experienced no heel slip from the get go. I did have a little bubble at the forefoot but deadspace above the forefoot won’t hurt anyone. Overall I enjoyed the fit but make sure to go down half a size or try on in store ..oh wait you can’t.Just buy online and return the pair that doesn’t fit..oh wait you can’t.Overall the fit is good. No issues here.Materials If you love or miss the “benefits” of Primeknit or Flyknit, you’ll love the Omn1s’ Fitweave. It is very nice looking and soft to the touch for his and her pleasure. Very nice feeling on foot reminiscent of the days of yor circa 2014-2017. But feeling soft to the touch doesn’t make a shoe any better.

Support and Stability

Support comes from the fit and somewhat from the NB straps since they are made from a firmer synthetic material. However like most shoes these days they fold very easily. As noted above the heel counter is flimsy and thin and will wear down over time (trust me I’ve done it with all my Kobe I’s). Luckily anyone reading this probably a sneakerhead and will fine with other shoes in the rotation.

Midfoot support is good not much flex but not overly stiff and not overly bendy.

Stability is iffy. They are wider than the kryie 6 but still have the contoured shape which I personally do not like. Landing at a sub optimal angle or at an angle where you can’t get your foot placement correct in time is how I’ve hurt myself in the past so that’s why I stay away. Kawhi played fine in the AJ XX9 but I still prefer a flatter heel for those imperfect landings.ContainmentLoad management anyone ? It’s on my IG stories if you want to see the slow mo vidLooking at the exterior of the Omn1 continent doesn’t look like an issue but the foam used as sidewalls is thin and soft so it does nearly nothing plus the foot doesn’t sit thst far below the walls.Add in the woven upper which isn’t reinforced with any major backing and you basically get a sock with sole.Containment isn’t a deal breaker for me but it is a tie breaker and the Omn1 does a really poor job in this category. Probably the worst containment I’ve seen in a few years.ConclusionI’ve been playing the shoe game for a few decades now so I understand and get scarcity marketing. It isn’t like shoe companies are the only companies that pull this stuff. The fact is the majority of consumers are highly unaware that companies do this to build hype and false demand. Throw in some influencer marketing and you got a nice hype building machine. I’ve been trying since June to get these at 9 am on the dot but struck out every time.Overall, the shoe has its strengths and weaknesses; I loved the traction and the fit is pretty good but cushioning is very Kawhi with very little fun guy in it. The shoe is also seriously lacking containment, like Brandblack bad. It also has a rounded heel which I personally do not like or trust. See Dame 6.The show certainly isn’t unplayable and isn’t going to kill anyone but like Kawhi I want a shoe that does everything well with no holes in its game. Overall for all the work to get the shoe and the $140 price tag (which I can’t even coupon code due to scarcity) I can’t recommend the shoe unless you’re a Clippers or Kawhi fan or you really like woven uppers. Hardens are on sale already for far less (I got some for $80 this month), KD’s and AJ 34’s are on clearance as well. Hell, I’d take the Curry 7 over these even though they aren’t a favorite of mine. Similar traction, better cushioning but far more stable and way better containment. Plus you can find them on sale. NB knows it isn’t a strong basketball brand (now or back in the 2000’s) so playing the limited game gives it some cred but let these out in the open market and it’s $100 or less easily.I’m giving these a third team rating because aside from the traction I don’t find anything about them particularly great. I considered bumping them up to second team just for the traction but in the end I felt that was too generous. Way to start off my year New Balance.

The adidas Dame 6 is our first performance review for 2020

The adidas Dame 6 is our first performance review for 2020. Did it enter the new year on a positive note? Lets find out…

Herringbone from heel to toe — typically a tried and true setup. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for me when it came to the Dame 6. I had high expectations as the Dame 5 featured a very similar setup that I loved.

However, there were plenty online that claim the Dame 5 was slick and lackluster. It’s always hard for me to know if online comments are truthful or not as we’re in the age of the troll when it comes to leaving anonymous comments. Luckily I had a personal friend of mine complain about the issue with the Dame 5s which made me believe the majority of what I had read. Now, I’m the one complaining about slick traction as the Dame 6 was simply awful for me.

I only had good traction on the Lifetime court I play at. Every other court, from the local high school to 24 Hour Fitness — the traction was as slick laterally. Liner movements had some decent bite, but I still had to wipe every chance I got. When I would wipe it wasn’t the typical quick wipe and continue playing. I literally had to stop in my tracks, lift my foot up and rub my hand up and down — watching the dust clumps fall as if it were the North Pole.

Traction patterns can save poor rubber compound, but poor rubber compounds can kill great traction patterns. If you have to play in the Dame 6 then  I’d try to get a pair with solid rubber along the outsole. That may prove to be better overall than this split-died translucent.

Lightstrike is used for the first time on a Dame signature model, and I didn’t hate it.

I say this because I wasn’t a fan of the Lightstrike in the Harden Vol 4, but I loved it in the adidas N3XT L3V3L. This time around it was a bit more in between the two aforementioned models. Not too thin, but not too thick. For a shoe that was designed for guard style play, this was just right.

Bounce is still my preferred cushion setup from adidas so I hope they aren’t beginning to phase it out. With the Dame being adidas’ annual budget model featuring Bounce, we may not see it again on a main signature model — at least not for a while.

Transition was smooth as butter and impact protection was very nice overall. Court feel wasn’t lost and I never felt slow or laggy due to sinking into the footbed. It may not be Bounce, but it’s pretty close to it.

Materials featured on the kyrie 6 are primarily textiles. They feel and play cheap.

It was something that was a minor concern in my initial first impressions, but I was hopeful that they’d play just fine. I wouldn’t say the materials killed the performance or playability of the shoe at all, but the durability definitely took a hit.

My left shoe’s outsole is peeling away from the upper. Either the glue job was poor to begin with or the type of glue used isn’t strong enough to bond to textiles properly. I find the latter option to be a bit far fetched as adidas is no stranger to gluing outsole and midsole tooling to textile builds. But, for whatever reason, the shoe looks like it was run over and this is a primarily black shoe. If a black shoe is showing signs of wear this bad, on top of falling apart, then something went wrong.

I bought two sizes — one in my true size and one 1/2 size down. The pair that was 1/2 size down is what fit best so that is what I’d recommend for most.

Lockdown was okay, but nothing noteworthy. The heel area couldn’t keep the heel in place properly either — which is not a good thing when it comes to support.

Speaking of support…

It would have been better had the materials not buckled under certain movements and my heel been properly locked in. The wide base is nice and saved my ass when making lateral cuts and changes in direction without feeling cumbersome underfoot.

However, having a solid wide platform is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to support. The shoe should have a little of everything — and each of those things should work in unison with one another. The Dame 6 has pieces, but not every piece works perfectly, thus the unity that most basketball shoes have… these do not.

Not the best way to start 2020 off, but it is what it is.

Traction should have been much better than what it was while support could have been better as well. Fit needs work and the materials are as cheap as they come. Even at $110, this is not a shoe that I can say offers any bang for your buck. At least, I didn’t feel like I spent $110 on a solid product and that’s what these reviews are about. Helping others figure out what they need/want out of a shoe and helping them understand if a shoe offers enough bang for the buck (retail price).

Everyone has a bad day at the office, and I still enjoy the Dame 2 through 5, so I hope this is just a hiccup in the line and not an indication of what’s to come moving forward.

adidas Harden Stepback Performance Review

Today, we take a dive into the sub $100 category with a performance review of a takedown model — the adidas Harden Stepback.

So, we start with a Harden Vol. 3 style herringbone in the forefoot and a Harden Vol. 4 style pattern at the heel section. I’d like to call this setup “business in the front, party in the back”, but the herringbone didn’t quite take care of business the way I would have liked.

The Harden Stepback does have some bite to it. However, it’s not always immediately present and packs dust up in those tight herringbone grooves a little too easily. I didn’t really notice any issues with the heel section, but for the forefoot, expect to wipe quite a bit if you want to maintain some level of consistency while playing.

It seems for the Stepback’s traction to perform optimally, either the outsole or the floor needs to be in pristine condition – which is rare for the average consumer. On the plus side, I’ll give the Harden Stepback traction some credit for durability as there are hardly any signs of fraying over a month of ownership and testing. This would make these a solid option for those that play primarily outdoors — which is what the Stepback feels they were intended for in the first place.

For well under $100 you get full-length Bounce in the Harden Stepback — but it doesn’t quite feel like the Bounce you may expect. Like the Harden Vol. 4’s thin implementation of Lightstrike, the Bounce feels just as thin and low to the ground, which some may like, others may not.

FroThis firmer minimal setup may be a good thing for some as you get a ton of court feel without feeling like you’re busting directly through the soles and into the playing surface. But, there just isn’t going to be enough impact protection or rebound for some to feel comfortable in the shoe.

Cushion is subjective, but I think it’s safe to say this will not be a great choice for everyone, and it certainly isn’t the best representation of Bounce for anyone that may be trying the foam for the first time.

For those familiar with the Stepback’s flagship counterpart, you’ll notice the same mesh base used on the Stepback is used on select colorways of the Vol. 4. The difference is a heavier use of synthetics in high wear areas such as the toebox and eyelet panels.

My main concern with materials doesn’t come from the synthetic overlays – its more of the interior construction. Materials aren’t all that well lined or stitched down so I experienced a lot of bunching up internally which caused discomfort around the midfoot while testing. Also, the lacing setup leaves parts of the laces exposed against the forefoot, which took some time to adjust to and prevented me from comfortably sizing down. Props to adidas for including even a minimal amount of sculpting inside around the ankle, though.

What feels like a thin-vinyl covers most of the toe area – I found it to be a good touch as it wasn’t stiff or crinkly at all – just maybe a little bubbly. Minus a thin tongue that lace pressure will cut right through if you aren’t careful – the rest of the uppers textiles, plastics, and synthetic leather do their job well enough.

As hinted to previously, I could’ve probably gone down half a size if I wasn’t in fear of a painful break in. Going true to size may not have been optimal, but it was good enough to never be a security concern. The fit reminds me of the Marquee Boost a bit – narrow through the midfoot but widened out more in the toebox. The difference between the two would be there is breathing room above the toe in the Stepback, where the Marquee wrapped closely over the toe.

I’d advise anyone who has the means to – try these on before purchase, no matter your foot type. At retailers like the Shoe Dept or Hoop Jordan, luck should be in your favor to walk-in, grab a box, and get a good feel for how they fit you.

Individually, most support features may seem underwhelming, but together they work decently overall.

The external heel cup isn’t the strongest, however with the help of lacing through the top eyelets there was no issue with slippage in that area. It is also sculpted, though not immaculately so around the ankle, so there’s that.

A thin, Z-shaped bar at the midfoot provides torsional support and lateral support is aided by a midsole and outsole that cup the foot heavily around certain areas. Support should always be a focus for a basketball sneaker, but I must admit I was surprised to see the amount of focus that went in to an $80 pair of sneakers.

A cut in cost takes away from getting some serious performance out of the Harden Stepback. Overall, it is what some might expect, and maybe even a little more.

If you prefer minimal cushion and would like to support Harden without spending $140 then this is a proper takedown of the adidas Harden Vol. 4. However, if we are basing things off of performance rather than price, then the traction could have [should have] been better, but will suffice for outdoor hoopers looking to stay within a budget while still satisfying the desire to wear the latest and greatest.

Jordan Brand Introduces Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Zero.3

Jordan Brand’s own signature athlete and All-Star Russell Westbrook is now releasing his third signature shoe, the Jordan Why Not Zero.3. Much like the Jordan Why Not Zero.2, this new iteration of the shoes intros a disruptive design to match his game on-court and his style off-court.

Russell Westbrook in the Jordan Why Not Zero.3

The Why Not Zero.3 is an evolved version of last year’s Why Not Zero.2 The shoe recalibrates the look and feels of Russell’s signature shoe, bringing in an all-new articulated Zoom Air cushioning system for linear speed and a midfoot strap for containment. On top of that, the Why Not Zero.3 is the lightest in Russell Westbrook’s signature line.

Exclusive to the Why Not Zero.3, an all-new articulated Nike Zoom Air cushioning system (similar to but not exactly like the articulated Zoom Air in Nike Kyrie 6) in the forefoot features horizontal flex grooves that help enable linear speed. The idea is to provide an end-to-end explosiveness and propulsive feel on the court.

The outsole has been updated with modified herringbone traction to better enable quickness and control on-court. The decoupled outsole separates the forefoot from the heel and is an evolution of one of Russ’s favorite shoes – the Jordan XX8 and XX9.

The materials are a blend of textiles, anesthetics, and skins with stitching providing reinforcement and design aesthetics. There’s also a sleek double padded collar for in foot comfort.

To finish off the look the shoe features a clear TPU midfoot strap for containment along with a visible, exposed TPU shank plate in between the decoupled outsole to help provide stability when moving from the heel to forefoot.

Jordan Why Not Zero.3 Zer0 Noise

The launch colorway “Zer0 Noise” is set to release January 2, 2020. It represents Russ’ desire to inspire people to block out unnecessary noise and play the game their own way.

Jordan Why Not Zero.3 Family

The “Family” colorway will release January 9, 2020. It represents Russell’s family.

Jordan Why Not Zero.3 Heartbeat

The “Heartbeat” colorway will release February 27, 2020. It represents Russ and his wife Nina welcoming twin girls who are now the heartbeat of their life. The colorway is also inspired by his twin girls’ bedroom which reminds girls everywhere to own their power and follow their dreams.

The Jordan Why Not Zero.3 will be available on in full family sizing with the pricing starting at $130 for Men, $105 for GS, $75 for Pre-school, and $55 for toddlers.

An upcoming Why Not? Apparel collection will also release.

Jordan Why Not Zero.3 Tech Breakdown

adidas Futurecraft Loop Performance Review

Last month, hoop jordan was invited to try the adidas Futurecraft Loop, a 100% recyclable performance running shoe. We were given the Futurecraft Loop alongside 200-ish influencers. Based on what I heard from the others in attendance, most articles about this shoe will focus on the recycling side of the shoe. This article will be what hoop jordan does best, an in-depth performance review.

While the Futurecraft Loop won’t release publicly until summer 2021, a public beta is coming this fall. The public beta will be free, but you’ll have to apply for it. We’ll share the public beta details on WearTesters as soon as we get them.

First a little background. Some people called these a concept car for shoes, but it’s not. This is an actual shoe that Adidas is fine-tuning for release. This is a first-generation version where the brand needs wear-testing feedback. Adidas will keep modifying the sneaker until they go into production for the summer 2021 release.

The reason the shoe is so interesting is that it could be a game changer for the sneaker industry. Recyclable sneakers may create new business models in the footwear industry — think shoe subscription models where you pay a monthly fee and always have fresh kicks, or a trade-in model where you get a lower price on your new shoes by trading in the old ones (like Apple does with iPhones).

For this review, I ran 60+ miles on pavement, trails, and in a Flash Flood warning–level rainstorm. I also wore the Futurecraft Loop to Legoland, around NYC, and as my everyday kick-around shoes for a month. I wore them a lot. Why? Because Adidas asked me to. They asked everyone who got the shoes to run them into the ground for a month and return them. When the shoes are returned to Adidas, they will be washed, ground to pellets, and melted into material that will be used to make a new pair of shoes. At this point, they can only use the recycled portion to create 10% of the second-generation model, but they’re actively working to improve that. Mostly, they want to see how hard use will affect the materials and thus the second and third generations of the Loop. After I send these back, I’ll get the second-gen version to test. We’ll update this article or write a new one once we’ve had a chance to see how the second-gen Futurecraft Loop performs.

We’ll start with the materials because they’re the big story. The Futurecraft Loop is made from 100% reusable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with no glue. They’re plastic shoes. The plastic is used in a much different way then you’re used to: spun to yarn, knitted, molded, and clean-fused to a BOOST midsole using Adidas Speedfactory tech. Adidas needed numerous technical innovations to make this happen. The one that really stood out to me was the TPU yarn. At first, it feels like you’re wearing a fuse-era basketball shoe. However, the TPU yarn breaks in over time in a way fuse doesn’t. It never got as comfortable as a knit shoe, but I did feel like it developed a nice one-to-one fit. The breathability of the yarn is another nice surprise. You don’t expect it, but the yarn’s airflow stacks up nicely against typical performance running shoes.

From an aesthetic perspective, Adidas made the Futurecraft Loop with the TPU in its raw state, so the color looked either bright white or slightly yellow depending on the lighting. Adidas left the TPU raw to better understand what happens to the materials as they age and are recycled to create the second-gen model. Adidas can color the TPU and showed us examples of red and blue versions. Apparently, the colors will get progressively darker as the shoe transforms from one generation to the next, so you’d get a slightly different shade each time the shoe was recycled.

The Boost midsole mold was reused from the air jordan 34. The Futurecraft Loop feels great on the road. The Boost is a different formulation than the normal version from the BASF Corporation. Adidas had to recreate it since this version needed to come from the TPU used on the rest of the shoe. Though a different formulation, the typical Boost bounce is there and there’s no real difference in feel from the Boost you have in your closet. Strangely enough, this new Boost does repel dirt better than previous iterations – random I know.

As a nice addition, the insole is cushioned using Boost. No complaints here on that upgrade from typical EVA foam. I did have complaints about the top of the insole. It’s the biggest drawback of the shoe and something that needs to be improved prior to launch. The insole covering is fibrous and rough. I think Adidas roughed up the yarn fibers so you don’t slide around. Unfortunately, the insole doesn’t smooth out over time as the cushioning molds to your feet. That means the insole is always slightly uncomfortable. I did get a blister on one of my toes after a few days of back-to-back running, and the bottom of my feet would often feel beat up after a long run. The cushion is typical of other Adidas models with boost, but they must improve the insole so long-distance runners don’t have issues.

The Futurecraft Loop fits true to size and wide footers shouldn’t have any issues. Because they’re made of TPU, the shoes are a little stiff for the first week, but they do break in and the TPU yarn molds to the sides of your feet. My only issue here is that the laces weren’t quite long enough and didn’t have enough stretch. The laces also slipped apart without a tightly pulled double knot. When I asked, the Adidas designers told me this is something they are actively working to improve. I was told making plastic laces is extremely hard, but they’re making progress on creating something that will function as well as normal laces.

This is one area where the Futurecraft Loop excels versus typical knit runners like the Ultraboost 19. While there’s no real heel counter, you do sit slightly inside the boost midsole. The TPU yarn is also very strong and stiff in the heel. While it does break in, it never gives as much as regular knit. Even on the most uneven trails filled with tree branches, I always felt securely on top of the midsole and was never in danger of tweaking an ankle.

Going into my testing, I was worried about the traction. After all, the outsole is made of TPU. I usually associate plastic with slipping and sliding on any slick surface. I started my first rainy run with trepidation. Luckily for me, the team at Adidas managed to create a TPU outsole soft enough that it almost works as well as rubber. The outsole had more than enough traction for completely wet streets, various trails, and concrete/pavement. The only time the traction didn’t grip well was if I ran through a puddle and the outsole got wet while the rest of the ground was dry. For 5–10 steps post-puddle, I had to be careful with my footing. Once the wetness was gone, the shoes returned to their normal traction. Overall, a fantastic effort for a plastic outsole. It does yellow (intensely) but durability shouldn’t be an issue. It didn’t wear out any faster than the regular Continental rubber outsole Adidas uses on the Ultraboost line.

The Adidas Futurecraft Loop feels like a stiffer, slightly less cushioned version of the Adidas Ultraboost 19. I’m excited to see how Adidas improves the laces, insole, and traction. I’m also ready to find out how the second-gen model performs, how Adidas does color on the Loop line, and how this may change Adidas’ business models. I’d recommend the Futurecraft Loop if you love the 100% recyclable concept or if you’re a serious runner that loves Curry 7 . Give these a try when they go to public beta. Also, there’s a chance this may be the one shoe industry future (of 14,000,605 possibilities) in which the environment wins.

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Peformance Review

The Reebok Floatride Run Fast is well named. It’s a shoe built for speed days, but thanks to the Floatride cushioning, versatile enough to handle long runs.


I recently went over Floatride cushioning in depth during my review of the ReebokFloatride Run 2. It’s a great foam for running. Reebok is under the radar in running shoe technology but that should change soon. Why? Because Floatride is awesome.

The Floatride Run Fast has less Floatride than the Floatride Run 2 but it’s also lighter and lower to the ground. Reebok got the amount of Floatride for speed or track days just right. You get a great bounce in something that’s minimal enough to wear during a race.

The Floatride Run Fast also features an EVA support rim around the top edge of the Floatride midsole. I’ll talk more about it during the Support section but it does a great job adding stability to such a plush cushioning system. It prevents you from losing any energy compensating for side to side motion.


Nicely spaced carbon rubber nubs make up the entire outsole except the heel which reverses the pattern and offers greater coverage and more rubber for heel strikes. At first glance, the pattern seems like it might have durability issues but after 60 miles it hardly looks worn.

The outsole always gripped well which made me confident pushing off as hard as I could on speed days, even if the track or asphalt was wet.


The star of the Floatride Run Fast’s support is the EVA foam rim. It’s harder than the Floatride and kept me stable everywhere I went, even a few trails. Your heel sits inside the rim. This keeps your foot on the footbed and prevents side to side movement. The EVA is also used in the midfoot just below the insole as a sort of shank plate that keeps the midfoot stiffer than the rest of the shoe. This aids stability by preventing unwanted twisting or turning.

Other than the EVA foam rim there’s a minimal heel counter that doesn’t do much of anything and some skinny fuse overlays that attach to the middle three laces loops. Helpful, but nothing you haven’t seen a lot in other shoes.

The Floatride Run Fast is built for running as fast as you can. Because of that, I didn’t expect it to be as stable as it is. The EVA foam rim was implemented well and was a pleasant surprise.


The Floatride Run Fast’s materials are minimal and very similar to the nike kyrie 6. It’s a straightforward engineered mesh throughout the upper with a reinforced toe and three fuse overlays in the midfoot that attach to the middle three lace holes. At a $140 price point, I expected a little more from the upper.

The mesh tongue is attached below the insole with an elastic band on either side. The tongue’s thickness feels good but it’s not quite long enough. As a result, the tongue often sneaks below the top level of the laces. It needs about a quarter of an inch more material. Luckily, the tongue didn’t slip off to the sides of my foot.

The collar, while minimal, has a thin but ample amount of padding and cups your heel nicely.

The laces aren’t great. They’re very thin and extremely hard to tie. They’re impossible to tie if you have gloves on. I’d prefer they use something different for the laces in future iterations of the Run Fast.


The Floatride Run Fast runs a little long but is fairly narrow width wise. I recommend getting your true size.

Interestingly, the air jordan 34, because it’s a bit stiffer in the arch, feels built up in that area. You get that arch hugging feeling when wearing the shoe. I know some runners don’t like this so I wanted to mention it even though it didn’t bug me at all.


The Reebok Floatride Run Fast is a light, speedy shoe that’s versatile enough for everyday training and long distance road races. The upper is fairly basic and there are some fit issues but overall I was really happy with how well these worked. The Floatride Run Fast will stay in my rotation when my feet need a break from whatever I’m currently testing.

Nike Joyride Dual Run Performance Review

The Nike Joyride Dual Run is an evolution in the Joyride line of running shoes. The original Nike Joyride Run Flyknit (click to read our review) was Nike’s first use of Joyride and aimed at weekend warriors running short distances. It was fun to wear but not great for more than 3-4 miles of running.

The Joyride Dual Run is both more affordable and aimed at allowing serious runners to get in on the Joyride experience.


The Joyride Dual Run downsizes the number of compartments filled with beads from four to two. Nike removed the two forefoot compartments to make the forefoot more stable and remove the “beads sliding out from beneath your foot” problem. This makes a big difference in speed workouts. You no longer lose energy pushing the beads and instead have really good ground feel.

The same super comfy, yet unnamed, foam from the Joyride Run Flyknit returns to be the midsole in the Joyride Dual Run. The midsole only offers 19mm of foam between your forefoot and the ground but you still end up with a plush forefoot ride.

There also appears to be less beads in both the heel and midfoot compartments. The original tech featured mounds of beads pushing up into your foot. The Joyride Dual Run’s beads don’t do that. It also feels as if the insole layer between your foot and the beads includes a thin layer of padding so you don’t feel any individual beads beneath your foot.

While I don’t 100% love Joyride for running, it’s still fun, and the Joyride Dual Run improves the overall formula.


The traction pattern in the Joyride Dual Run Black and Joyride Run Flyknit is almost the same. The Joyride Dual Run dispenses with some of the hard rubber that surrounded the forefoot pods and one of the rubber pieces in the heel. Honestly, it feels about the same but the Joyride Dual Run will not be as durable as the Joyride Run Flyknit due to the missing rubber at the forefoot.


The rear Joyride compartment’s casing extends almost to the ankle on the lateral side of the heel. That little bit of extra rubber, a normal sized heel counter, and your foot sitting slightly inside the midsole throughout the entire shoe keep your foot on the footbed. Nike also gives the midsole a nice wide base. While it’s not an ultra supportive shoe, Nike does a good job of making you feel as secure as you can given you’re standing on a bunch of beads.


The Nike Joyride Dual Run’s materials are standard mesh with fuse overlays. The fuse overlay in the toe is mostly a design element that wraps around and reinforces the bottom two lace loops on the lateral side. The fuse below the Swoosh logo also wraps around and reinforces both the heel and the bottom two lace lops on the medial side.

We’ve seen these materials on running shoes for years and years. Though they’re nothing special, they get the job done. It’s just kind of strange seeing pedestrian materials paired with space age Joyride tech.


While the Joyride Dual Run fits true to size (order your typical Nike size), the overall Fit of the shoe is just ok. The tongue is a stretchy half bootie that’s too short. Because of that, you’ve got to hold it a certain way to make sure it doesn’t fold up as you slip your foot inside. It was annoying every time I put on the shoe. The heel tab does help but it’s too little to overcome the tongue’s issues.

Along with the tongue, the lacing system is not very good. It has two plastic (and fuse reinforced) holes at the bottom but the top three lace loops are hidden. You lace through a layer of nylon that hides behind mesh or fuse. This makes them difficult to lace. And to make matters worse, the laces are super thin and super short. I finally stopped messing with the laces and left them tied. This made it harder to get into the shoe but it was better than messing with the laces each day.

The rest of the shoe’s mesh and it’s padded ankle collar are fairly normal for a runner. If Nike hadn’t gotten cutesy with the tongue or laces the Fit would have been solid all around.


The Nike Joyride Dual Run is an incremental improvement in the run-ability of the Joyride line. If the tongue and laces don’t bother you, it’s an inexpensive way to experience Joyride.

And despite the Joyride Dual Run’s issues, Nike is moving in the right direction. I’m optimistic 2020 will bring us a Joyride model that works for serious running while also fitting great. Keep your fingers crossed.