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UA Curry 3ZER0 2 Performance Review

Under Armour was very close to making one of the best $100 sneakers of 2018 with the Curry 3ZER0 2.

Traction on the Curry 3ZER0 2 is aggressive, rugged, and covers every direction you can think a basketball player would strike their foot for starts, stops, and changes of direction. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Under Armour might be the best when it comes to traction on basketball shoes. The Curry 5 was a hiccup, but between the Curry 3ZER0 2 and the HOVR Havoc…man, both are great options.

Like the HOVR Havoc, I never had an issue with the Curry 3ZER0 2 indoors or outdoors. Nothing could really distract the outsole from its main job: providing great traction.

Micro G and Charged are used on the Curry 3ZER0 2, much like they had been used on the original Curry 3ZER0. This time around it felt like Under Armour really tried to cater to those that love court feel but dislike shoes that lack cushion.

The tooling here almost feels like a runner; the shoe starts thick in the rear and tapers off to the point where you almost feel like it’s just you, some rubber, and the court. It made for an interesting first few runs that I ended up really liking after testing was all said and done.

I will say that this still isn’t that OG Micro G that we all miss, but it’s still really comfortable. Yes, the HOVR Havoc is a bit more comfortable, but the 3ZER0 2 isn’t bad. If you liked the Curry 3, but wanted something slightly better then this is it. If I were to compare this setup to the original 3ZER0 then the original felt thicker, you sit higher off the ground in it for sure, and it also felt a little bouncier than the new iteration.

Now, if you’re comparing the 3ZER0 2 to the Curry 4 or Curry 5…well…there really is no comparison. This shoe has the cushion each of those lacked, without the loss of court feel.

Materials on the 3ZER0 2 are interesting. The shoe almost feels like a wetsuit for your feet, but the upper isn’t neoprene. Under Armour calls it a “molded maxprene upper with zonal restriction engineered from within for maximum comfort and breathability.”

All I know is that I really liked the 3ZER0 2’s upper and the way it wrapped around my foot. I recently completed the performance review on the Nike Kobe AD Exodus and one of my critiques was that the forefoot didn’t feel like it was warm and inviting. I prefer the upper of my basketball shoes to really hug and wrap around my foot, and the 3ZER0 2 offered exactly what I like.

Sometimes, when you have a shoe fit this close to the foot it ends up being a bit too restrictive for some, but the 3ZER0 2 doesn’t fit that description. It is snug but not suffocating. It’s like your favorite pair of compression shorts/pants. Yes, they’re tight, but it’s the type of tight you enjoy versus the kind that you loath.

The Curry 3ZER0 2 fits true to size and that is what I’d recommend. However, wide footers may not enjoy this one.

Its rubber outsole wraps up the forefoot a bit for containment and support while the materials really mold themselves around the foot. If you’re a wide footer and go up half a size to try and give your foot some breathing room then you may not get the support you need out of the upper construction — which is lacking support, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Lockdown is more like locked in with the 3ZER0 2. Once you get your foot into the shoe, slightly difficult but not annoyingly difficult, then you’ll know what I mean. The 3ZER0 2 just sucks your feet into the shoe and then all you’re left with is lacing them around your foot-shape. The upper really takes care of everything else.

Much like the Kobe AD Exodus, this shoe has everything you need out of a shoe in terms of support…except one thing. The Kobe’s lacked torsional support and the 3ZER0 2 lacks a heel counter. Like, there isn’t one in there. I was surprised by this when I first got the shoe in-hand and was very skeptical with this area because it’s missing one of the most important aspects to heel/ankle support.

To be fair, I never had any ankle or rear support issues in the shoe. None at all. But I still feel there should be something there just in case. The upper and its giant nylon lacing that runs from one side of the shoe to the heel is what keeps your heel in place. There is also a small section of the midsole that comes up just a bit to try and make sure your foot doesn’t roll over the footbed, but c’mon. Shoes need a heel counter. I would have, at the very least, liked to have seen something similar to what was provided with the Curry 2. While that heel counter was thin and flexible, it still did what it had to do to keep your heel on the tooling. That should have been carried over to this model.

Again, I had not experienced any issues, but for added security and reassurance…put a heel counter in your shoes. Please.

With all that out of the way, the rest of the support features on the 3ZER0 2 were great — especially the forefoot outrigger section. As I mentioned earlier, the rubber outsole cages the midsole at the forefoot and wraps up to the upper material. This provided a ton of stability along with lateral support when needed. If you’re a forefoot-heavy player then I feel the 3ZER0 2 will be a great option for you. Land on a foot the wrong way though and you will really need a heel counter.

The Curry 3ZER0 2 was a nearly perfect shoe for Guards. Had it had a heel counter then it would have been — especially at the $100 price point.

Traction is its standout feature along with the fit. Forefoot stability and support are off the charts awesome in the 3ZER0 2. Heel support is, well, it isn’t really even lacking — it’s just plain missing. Head scratcher, I know.

As the 3ZER0 2 sits now, it’s a really good shoe that’s missing a major component. Had that component been there it would have been a great shoe. Period.

Nike Hyperdunk X Performance Review

10 years is a long time for a shoe line to live and after that decade the Hyperdunk may have hit its peak. We present the Nike Hyperdunk X Performance Review.

10 years. The Nike Hyperdunk has been around since the 2008 Olympics, so we have gotten 10 years of the “ultimate” Nike team shoe, a shoe made for every player at any position. We have seen Lunar, Zoom, and React cushioning on it. Nike has put Flywire, 2nd generation Flywire, mesh, knit, and fuse on the uppers. Now let’s see how the 2018 version does.

One thing the Hyperdunk has never lacked is traction, and the Nike Hyperdunk X is no slouch either. The shoe uses a multi-directional pattern that looks like soundwaves (not the Decepticon), so there is coverage in any direction…although the pattern does look more linear than lateral.

Once on-court, the Hyperdunk X is solid and stops quick but smooth due to the softer rubber and spaced out pattern (a hard stop, to me, is the Jordan XX8 and Kobe Protro). The Hyperdunk X were put to the test on four different floors — normal (dirty) 24-Hour Fitness, swept and clean 24-Hour Fitness, clean high school court, and rubber church court — and there was not one instance of slipping or skating. Matter of fact, I’m not sure I ever wiped. The pattern is set wide and pushes dirt and dust out, making the outsole extremely reliable from court to court.

Outdoors? At this point, why even ask — it’s easier to find Waldo than a suitable outdoor shoe. The Hyperdunk X uses a soft rubber and a shallow pattern, knowing this is a team shoe and will last just until the last buzzer sounds and then no longer. Don’t even think a couple of months on concrete/blacktop is possible because it ain’t.

Okay, get this out of the way now: the Hyperdunk should never ever go away from responsive Zoom Air cushioning. I don’t care what new foams are out or what Nike has to push, and I know the original was the vehicle for Lunar Foam, but Zoom Air is still (over 20 years later) the best cushioning Nike has ever made for basketball, period.

If the Hyperdunk is your “everyman” basketball shoes, why not give the cushioning that makes “every man” happy? After the disaster that was React in the 2017 HD (and if you liked React, I don’t know what to say about you), the Hyperdunk X brings back the heel and forefoot Zoom from the HD2016, only a lot thicker.

The heel unit in the Hyperdunk X is 14mm thick, where the 2016 was around 8mm. The forefoot is almost the same and feels it. The biggest difference is the foam carrier; the Hyperdunk X still uses Phylon but a much softer makeup, giving the shoe a better compression and rebound ability. The foam takes the initial landing force and compresses until the Zoom takes over, providing a stiffer response that springs into your next move — just like Zoom was meant to do! Zoom was never about impact protection; it was first and foremost about low ride, court feel, and response.

After almost three weeks of this being the only shoe I have played in (the Kobe AD made an appearance towards the end), the cushioning is actually fantastic. No pain, no aches, no harsh jarring from landing, and it feels quick and bouncy on every move. From the first time I put the Hyperdunk X on I could tell this was the way Zoom should feel, and it’s magic. Still, after 20 years, good Zoom makes me smile. From pushing off laterally on defense to my first step driving off of a pump fake three, I felt quick on court.

If there is area that lags behind the others on the Hyperdunk X, it is materials. The shoe features a textile upper with strategic foam backing (although it looks like jersey mesh in-hand), the materials are…okay. Nothing is premium except for the little hit of leather on the heel cup, but it works. The mesh isn’t stretchy at all, providing serious containment in the forefoot on lateral movements, while a fused area over the toebox gives a little extra durability in that area for toe drags.

The one deviation from the mesh is a big one and that’s the midfoot saddle. Made out of a smooth nylon that feels more neoprene than mesh, the area has a little more stretch than the rest of the shoe, but also provides some compression around your arch. It’s a cool little touch that wasn’t needed but certainly is appreciated.

The ankle collar has dense memory foam padding around the ankle bones that form perfectly around the joint to stop heel slip and movement once laced up. Again, nothing new, but it works and works well with everything else.

Since the Hyperdunk is the shoe for every position and player, it makes sense the fit is accommodating to different foot-shapes and needs (unlike the KD 11 or Curry series, which appear to be made for one athlete). The lacing system is set wide and allows for loosening if needed (and the midfoot stretches to allow more room), and, on the opposite, the laces can be pulled tight for slightly narrow feet.

The upper doesn’t have a true traditional tongue system but does open up wider than most one-piece shoes for ease of entry. Again, the heel padding locks in your foot until movement is gone, so no worries about heel slip if you mess up and get a half-size too big.

As for length, I tried on my true 10.5 and a half-size down to a 10. I honestly could have went either way, but I normally go with the larger size if I’m not sure just because I know after a few games in a row my feet will need a little room (if it’s too much room I can add a sock — easier to fill space than to stretch a mesh upper). If you like a little room up front, go true to size. If you like as little space as possible, go down a half size and enjoy.

Nothing special here; the Hyperdunk X uses a lacing system that pulls the shoe tightly and securely around your foot, with a solid heel counter (both internal and external), and a midfoot shank placed between the forefoot and heel Zoom. But, and a big but it is, there is an added piece that helps a ton, at least on lateral movements: the TPU Swoosh piece on the midfoot.

It looks like it would make the midfoot restrictive and stiff, but it is placed off of the midsole, right around the foot, giving the player something to push off of to slide and cut but not interfering with the function of the cushioning. The rest of the your foot sits slightly below the top level of the sidewalls, providing even more lateral support.

There is a small outrigger on the forefoot that provided the one true problem I had with the Hyperdunk X. On some hard stops and plants (yes, I’m the guy who gets a steal and pulls up full-speed to shoot a three pointer on a one-on-three break) I could feel the outrigger kind of pull under the forefoot. It was a strange feeling, and didn’t happen all the time, but it almost felt like the sole was separating from the shoe when I would stop to jump. If the outrigger was larger this probably would not be a factor, and it isn’t enough to mark the shoe off my list, but be aware.

The Nike Hyperdunk X is a top 5 shoe this year. Well, maybe top 8 — it’s been a good year. The Hyperdunk X definitely gets a vote for most improved shoe in 2018, mainly just because of the killer cushioning that returns to the line.

If you need a dependable shoe for any indoor surface, with great cushioning, a semi-durable upper, and killer fit, look no further. The Hyperdunk X achieved what Nike always looks for in the shoe: it works. It isn’t flashy (although I like the way it looks) and it gets the job done. From high-flying wings to quick guards to mobile big men, the Hyperdunk X is your slide. There isn’t much else to say — it’s a great shoe for every player you will ever be. Nike: please, please, please keep us happy next year.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus is the Kyrie 3 of the Kobe signature line — sans the rounded sole.

While I’ve been receiving many DMs and comments — both positive and negative — regarding the latest Nike Kobe AD’s traction, I’ve had nothing but a positive experience. Only on my very last day of testing did I wipe the outsoles and that was in the middle of a three hour hoop session. The court was very dirty that day as well so I’m not sure if I would have needed to wipe had the floor been cleaner.

What I like is that the rubber compound feels tacky, much like it did on the Nike Kobe 10. I know that wasn’t a fan favorite in terms of traction, but like this recent Kobe AD Exodus, I never really had any issues. Along with the rubber compound there is a tooth-like traction pattern that allows dust to channel through it, even though the rubber felt like a dust magnet at times. If there was dust on the floor, it wound up on the bottom of my shoes. Again, I never had any real issues because the Kobe AD Exodus maintained grip the entire time.

Unlike the Kobe AD NXT 360, the traction on this shoe has been durable. That is not a co-sign for outdoor hoopers — I’d still say there are more durable options out there — but for what it’s worth, I haven’t had any fraying or teeth missing like I did on my Kobe AD NXT 360.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the traction on the Kobe AD Exodus. It’s been reliable and I’ve never had a second thought about the traction the entire time I was testing the shoe.

At $140, I expect more. Not much more, but forefoot cushion of some kind would have been nice.

The midsole is Injected Phylon with a large-volume heel Zoom Air unit. Yes, similar to the setups used in the Kyrie 3 and 4 — but not all Phylon is equal. There is compression molded Phylon and Injected Phylon. Compression molded is more common and dense; it lasts a long time and it the main culprit behind not being able to feel the Zoom Air in some Nike models. Injected Phylon is lighter, a bit more airy, and allows some give to it with very slight rebound. This is the type of Phylon where you can see creases in the foam.

Being injected Phylon, the Kobe AD Exodus wasn’t uncomfortable. It’s good enough for a few hours of pickup at a time without wishing you had worn something else. The downside is that it’s just Phylon. It isn’t anything special and definitely not what I expect out of a $140 shoe.

The heel Zoom Air unit was nice, but I don’t use my heels often enough to really care that it was there. I would have preferred that there be Lunar in the forefoot or reverse the setup Nike provided — Injected Phylon midsole with a 6-8mm thick Zoom unit in the forefoot — because that would have made the Kobe AD feel more like a Kobe and less like a Kyrie.
Much like the cushion, the materials used on the Kobe AD Exodus are not what I expect out of a $140 sneaker.

While performance wasn’t hindered by the materials, I’m getting tired of seeing the synthetic felt-like suede used on the uppers of some of these Kobe AD models. Both the AD Mid and the AD Exodus just look and feel cheap. It’s a drastically different approach than what we see on the Kobe 1 Protro — and not in a good way. The material quality on Kobe’s first Nike signature is leaps and bounds better than what is found on his most recent, and that isn’t a good look. Innovation should move forward, not backwards.

The forefoot of the Kobe AD Exodus has the lightweight mesh and the ripstop flex zone. I loved the flex zone area and didn’t like the mesh until I was nearing the end of testing. That’s when I finally started to get used to the toebox feeling empty. With mesh this light you just don’t feel like anything is on your foot. Some may love that, but to me it felt like playing in an open-toed shoe — just a little awkward. Now that the lacing areas are somewhat accustomed to my foot-shape the entire area feels just fine.

Slight hit and miss with this area. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. And I really feel like the materials are what I’d see on an entry-level Nike model and not a Kobe signature model.

I initially wished I had gone down half size in the Kobe AD, and I still feel like I could have. However, now that the laces are adjusted to my feet the shoes feel fine. Lockdown at the forefoot flex zone, up the midfoot, and towards the collar is pretty good.

I do have some hot spots on top of my feet after wearing the Kobe AD Exodus. Those are clearly areas where I tie my shoes a bit tighter to feel more locked in to the shoe. Having a separate tongue with some padding would have solved that pretty easily; the use of a standard tongue would be a benefit to most wearers as it would allow us to customize the fit more to individual foot-shapes rather than the one-size-fits-most approach.

There is no midfoot support shank in the Kobe AD Exodus. I’ve been told by designers that having a flat outsole eliminates the need for a shank. That’s about all I was told so I wish I had a bit more information. All I know is that I never felt like it was missing.

The outsole being flat helps with stability while the forefoot section is slightly wider than the rest, which only further promotes stability at the toe. There isn’t a real outrigger, but like the Kobe 10, the midsole itself was made into one. I’ve used this type of “outrigger” setup many times and I love it every time. Your foot sits slightly within the midsole while the wider base rolls up to act like a natural outrigger. It gets the job done without getting in the way.

Heel support is decent. There is a thin internal heel counter that bolsters the exterior heel counter. These areas help keep the foot on the footbed well enough. I still would have preferred a separate tongue so I had the ability to tighten the rear lacing area a bit more, but for what was offered I can’t complain too much.
I like the Nike Kobe AD Exodus but I don’t love it. If I were to put the shoe up against the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 then I’d go with the NXT 360. The NXT offers the things I wish this AD offered — a separate tongue for improved fit and slightly more cushion at the forefoot.

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus feels like the Nike Kobe 1 Protro version of a Kyrie. Lightweight, low profile, aggressive traction — it’s a shoe built for a fast paced player that gets up and down the court. It’s got enough of the basics to keep them safe to play in, but nothing in them that screams $140 or “I’m a Kobe.” The Kobe AD Exodus is definitely lacking a bit of that “Mamba Mentality.”

adidas AlphaBounce Instinct Performance Review

adidas brought a completely different visual experience to running with the original AlphaBounce. Does the equally jarring design of the AlphaBounce Instinct hold the performance torch? Here we go…

The original adidas AlphaBounce was, at first, different. Patterned after the markings of a quail, used for camouflage, and developed using foot-mapping Aramis technology, the shoe was a serious bargain at only $100. That was two years ago so it was time to get different. The adidas AlphaBounce Instinct is that difference — it combines the best of the original and the follow-up AlphaBounce Beyond.

adidas completely went away from the dot pattern of the original and opted to evolve the herringbone-style traction from the AlphaBounce Beyond. It isn’t a basketball herringbone, but angles and cuts across the foot from heel to toe that are then covered in Mars-surface texture. It’s leaps and bounds better than the original, which wasn’t bad at all.

The AlphaBounce Instinct also felt more secure on wet surfaces like slick concrete or tile and even holds it own on hardwood. Continental rubber makes an appearance again, proving adidas is serious about durability, and since there was no signs of wear — except dirt — the outsole holds up great.

One slight change is the almost-decoupled outsole. Cutaways under the arch make flexibility and transition smoother than the original or the AlphaBounce Beyond and the shoe, overall, just feels faster because of it — even though it is bulkier in the midsole than the original (about the same as the AB Beyond).

With a name like the AlphaBounce Instinct, you know where we are going. Bounce was introduced almost three years ago in the Lillard 2 and it was a revelation — soft but responsive, low profile, a little heavy but resilient — and it worked well across all activities.

The original AlphaBounce was incredibly smooth and impact-absorbing. The AlphaBounce Instinct follows the same suit — matter of fact, it feels like the exact same midsole. The initial impact is absorbed with no issues, no feedback coming back up your joints, and also no real feel of energy return.

If you are looking for a Boost-like soft/spring, the Bounce midsoles don’t have the same feel. If you are looking for a quick, smooth transition that translates well into multiple activities, sometimes all at once (jumping into running into weightlifting) you will find Bounce a better system. Bounce is a fast-feeling foam — there is no lag time when landing and it provides a solid platform for propulsion.

The original AlphaBounce had a Forged Mesh upper. The AlphaBounce Instinct has a Forged Mesh upper. Sounds the same, but it couldn’t feel further from the truth. While the original did feature the folds and seams like the AlphaBounce Instinct, it was a forgiving, pliable, and stretchy material that needed some help with containment and lateral stability. While most running shoes don’t need to worry about those issues, the alphaBounce crossed over into a workout shoes for all activities, which meant stability was a problem.

The AlphaBounce Instinct is a stiffer Forged Mesh, much like what was used on the Dame 3, and lateral stability is almost basketball-shoe like. The folds and molds are still there for flexibility in the forefoot, so no worries about the transition and toe-off suffering if you actually use the shoe for running. The upper is a one-piece again, with a softer, spandex-like insert under the laces for ease of entry (the pull tabs on the tongue and heel help too).

The inner lining gets the same smooth spandex-like materials as the tongue area and hotspots are nonexistent. One thing that was added was pillows around the ankle bone; there is one on the lateral and one on the medial side. These helped with any heel slip that might have been present — however, I lost one during a workout when it came unglued. It didn’t affect fit for the most part, but I could feel the empty space compared to the other shoe. Slight quality control issue, but nothing that destroys the review.

The original Alpha was hella long — some people went down a full size because of the length in the toebox. The AlphaBounce Instinct is very similar; the toebox is about a half-size long, but I didn’t downsize for two reasons: first, the midfoot fit is a little narrower with the one-piece upper and midfoot support cage; second, the lacing system stops way before the toebox, so even a half-size down felt long. I decided to deal with some extra length to get the extra midfoot width, and it worked great for me. If you are a normal width and went half down on the original, I would recommend the same with the AlphaBounce Instinct.

One thing the original missed, and we covered it above, was lateral stability. Again, as a true runner, it isn’t completely necessary, but with the crossover appeal stability is needed. The sole on the AlphaBounce Instinct has been widened and sits outside the foot and upper, leading to a super-stable base with outriggers like a basketball shoe. There is no feeling of tipping or rolling at all while wearing the shoe. Additionally, the stiffer Forged Mesh holds your foot over the footbed without feeling restrictive at all while the waves and folds keep it flexible.

As for the midfoot, you might have noticed the black lace pieces. Yeah, those are cool. What you might not have seen is that they are independent of the upper (I figured this out while writing this review and I’ve had the shoe for almost a month). The pieces pull completely away from the upper and are attached to the midfoot shank, tying the lateral support into the sole for extra stability. It’s a welcome concept, but I was ready to send my pair back because I thought they came unglued. The Torsion Bridge, as it’s called, works to allow the forefoot and heel to operate separately, almost decoupled, while still providing the arch support to keep your foot from flexing in the wrong way. Magic.

While the original AlphaBounce was a straight running shoe, the AlphaBounce Instinct has been redesigned for more than that; adidas.com says the shoe is “recommended for: Multidirectional movements, running for your sport, and agility training movements.” adidas seemed to realize how much this shoe was worn for everything but running, and I have seen more than one pair of the original on basketball courts, used as a cross-trainer in the weight room, and on treadmills.

If you are looking for an all-around shoe for multiple activities, with cushioning good enough for running or basketball, a court-friendly traction pattern, and support and containment for almost any level of lateral movements, look no further — the AlphaBounce Instinct will cover anything you throw at it.

Also, let’s be honest — the upper is eye-catching and unique, and that never hurts. The minimal branding and the way the upper flows into the midsole creates a kd 11 for sale that looks like nothing else on shelves today. With the popularity of the original AlphaBounce (that shoe came out two years ago and is still on store shelves), it is no wonder adidas keeps new models coming. And as long as they keep performing like the AlphaBounce Instinct, they should never stop.

adidas AlphaBounce Instinct Performance Review

adidas brought a completely different visual experience to running with the original AlphaBounce. Does the equally jarring design of the AlphaBounce Instinct hold the performance torch? Here we go…

The original adidas AlphaBounce was, at first, different. Patterned after the markings of a quail, used for camouflage, and developed using foot-mapping Aramis technology, the shoe was a serious bargain at only $100. That was two years ago so it was time to get different. The adidas AlphaBounce Instinct is that difference — it combines the best of the original and the follow-up AlphaBounce Beyond.

adidas completely went away from the dot pattern of the original and opted to evolve the herringbone-style traction from the AlphaBounce Beyond. It isn’t a basketball herringbone, but angles and cuts across the foot from heel to toe that are then covered in Mars-surface texture. It’s leaps and bounds better than the original, which wasn’t bad at all.

The AlphaBounce Instinct also felt more secure on wet surfaces like slick concrete or tile and even holds it own on hardwood. Continental rubber makes an appearance again, proving adidas is serious about durability, and since there was no signs of wear — except dirt — the outsole holds up great.

One slight change is the almost-decoupled outsole. Cutaways under the arch make flexibility and transition smoother than the original or the AlphaBounce Beyond and the shoe, overall, just feels faster because of it — even though it is bulkier in the midsole than the original (about the same as the AB Beyond).

With a name like the AlphaBounce Instinct, you know where we are going. Bounce was introduced almost three years ago in the Lillard 2 and it was a revelation — soft but responsive, low profile, a little heavy but resilient — and it worked well across all activities.

The original AlphaBounce was incredibly smooth and impact-absorbing. The AlphaBounce Instinct follows the same suit — matter of fact, it feels like the exact same midsole. The initial impact is absorbed with no issues, no feedback coming back up your joints, and also no real feel of energy return.

If you are looking for a Boost-like soft/spring, the Bounce midsoles don’t have the same feel. If you are looking for a quick, smooth transition that translates well into multiple activities, sometimes all at once (jumping into running into weightlifting) you will find Bounce a better system. Bounce is a fast-feeling foam — there is no lag time when landing and it provides a solid platform for propulsion.

The original AlphaBounce had a Forged Mesh upper. The AlphaBounce Instinct has a Forged Mesh upper. Sounds the same, but it couldn’t feel further from the truth. While the original did feature the folds and seams like the AlphaBounce Instinct, it was a forgiving, pliable, and stretchy material that needed some help with containment and lateral stability. While most running shoes don’t need to worry about those issues, the alphaBounce crossed over into a workout shoes for all activities, which meant stability was a problem.

The AlphaBounce Instinct is a stiffer Forged Mesh, much like what was used on the Dame 3, and lateral stability is almost basketball-shoe like. The folds and molds are still there for flexibility in the forefoot, so no worries about the transition and toe-off suffering if you actually use the shoe for running. The upper is a one-piece again, with a softer, spandex-like insert under the laces for ease of entry (the pull tabs on the tongue and heel help too).

The inner lining gets the same smooth spandex-like materials as the tongue area and hotspots are nonexistent. One thing that was added was pillows around the ankle bone; there is one on the lateral and one on the medial side. These helped with any heel slip that might have been present — however, I lost one during a workout when it came unglued. It didn’t affect fit for the most part, but I could feel the empty space compared to the other shoe. Slight quality control issue, but nothing that destroys the review.

The original Alpha was hella long — some people went down a full size because of the length in the toebox. The AlphaBounce Instinct is very similar; the toebox is about a half-size long, but I didn’t downsize for two reasons: first, the midfoot fit is a little narrower with the one-piece upper and midfoot support cage; second, the lacing system stops way before the toebox, so even a half-size down felt long. I decided to deal with some extra length to get the extra midfoot width, and it worked great for me. If you are a normal width and went half down on the original, I would recommend the same with the AlphaBounce Instinct.

One thing the original missed, and we covered it above, was lateral stability. Again, as a true runner, it isn’t completely necessary, but with the crossover appeal stability is needed. The sole on the AlphaBounce Instinct has been widened and sits outside the foot and upper, leading to a super-stable base with outriggers like a basketball shoe. There is no feeling of tipping or rolling at all while wearing the shoe. Additionally, the stiffer Forged Mesh holds your foot over the footbed without feeling restrictive at all while the waves and folds keep it flexible.

As for the midfoot, you might have noticed the black lace pieces. Yeah, those are cool. What you might not have seen is that they are independent of the upper (I figured this out while writing this review and I’ve had the shoe for almost a month). The pieces pull completely away from the upper and are attached to the midfoot shank, tying the lateral support into the sole for extra stability. It’s a welcome concept, but I was ready to send my pair back because I thought they came unglued. The Torsion Bridge, as it’s called, works to allow the forefoot and heel to operate separately, almost decoupled, while still providing the arch support to keep your foot from flexing in the wrong way. Magic.

While the original AlphaBounce was a straight running shoe, the AlphaBounce Instinct has been redesigned for more than that; adidas.com says the shoe is “recommended for: Multidirectional movements, running for your sport, and agility training movements.” adidas seemed to realize how much this shoe was worn for everything but running, and I have seen more than one pair of the original on basketball courts, used as a cross-trainer in the weight room, and on treadmills.

If you are looking for an all-around shoe for multiple activities, with cushioning good enough for running or basketball, a court-friendly traction pattern, and support and containment for almost any level of lateral movements, look no further — the AlphaBounce Instinct will cover anything you throw at it.

Also, let’s be honest — the upper is eye-catching and unique, and that never hurts. The minimal branding and the way the upper flows into the midsole creates a kd 11 for sale that looks like nothing else on shelves today. With the popularity of the original AlphaBounce (that shoe came out two years ago and is still on store shelves), it is no wonder adidas keeps new models coming. And as long as they keep performing like the AlphaBounce Instinct, they should never stop.

Nike Air Vapormax 2.0 Performance Test

The Nike Air Vapormax is one of Nike’s latest 2018 releases and one of its sharpest and slickest looking pairs of shoes. It has a muted yet striking color palette, and is wearable as both a running shoe and as a casual pair of shoes. Apart from its high tech and beautiful design, this product has great arch support and feels so luxurious to wear for just about anyone. It comes at a price of $190, but there is really no better shoe on the market than this one. Experienced runners have raved about this shoe because of its comfort, durability, and protection, and have described working out in them as “running on air”. Lastly, they are lightweight and flexible, and we would highly recommend them to any runner out there.

Outsole

At first, it is a little concerning to see the added bubble pods on the bottom of the outsole because Nike is well known for removing any unnecessary material from their shoes. Surprisingly, this actually increased the durability of it in the long run. Unfortunately, some users have complained that the outsole isn’t the best for wearing in particularly wet or rainy areas because the water tends to soak through it.

Midsole

The midsole of a pair of Nike Air Vapormax 2.0 is known best for adding bounce to them. In perhaps one of the most revolutionary moves Nike has ever made, they actually decided to remove the midsole and instead have the shoe resting directly on air bags. This greatly contributes to the extreme comfort level of the shoes.

Upper

The upper of the Air Vapormax is wonderfully adaptive and conforms comfortably to the shape and size of any foot. It is crafted with the coveted flyknit material which is lovely both in texture and in appearance. Moreover, this part of the shoe is really thin and lightweight; there is pretty much no downside to the structure of the Vapormax.

Weight

Nike as a whole prides itself on producing lightweight yet durable shoes, and the Vapormax is no exception. It weighs in at a measly 7 ounces, which is about as light as you can get in a running shoe. This lightness creates an extremely comfortable fit for runners, and many have described running in them as similar to running on clouds or air. Nike was able to achieve such a phenomenal feature because of the breathability of the shoe, air cushioning, and superior design in general.

Breathability

There is truly nothing more frustrating and uncomfortable than a running shoe with poor breathability, as this creates potential for blisters and excessive sweat. Luckily, this shoe is built in such a way that the sole is filled with “as much air as possible” according to the designers. The combination of the flyknit fabric and exposed cushioning makes for a lovely fit and feel that keeps your foot dry and comfortable no matter how hard you’ve been running.

Comfort

We just touched on how the breathability makes this shoe a joy to put on, but what other factors contribute to the comfort of the Air Vapormax? For one, the plush feeling of the flyknit material in combination with the bubble pods on the bottom of the shoe make for great arch support and softness. Some have described it as walking on air or feeling like their foot is wrapped in temper-pedic material. It’s soft and adapts to any foot shape.

Style

Though this style is very fashion-forward and futuristic than past Nike designs, the design of this shoe can be very hit or miss for a lot of people because of the exposed cushioning. However, the Vapormax is appealing because it looks attractive both when running or when worn with more leisurely outfits. Its color options are definitely a lot more understated and muted than some of Nike’s other running shoes, but this is because they are meant to look more luxurious and expensive. The style is certainly not the most important part of this product, but it is a huge plus.

Durability

One of the biggest worries runners and athletes have about such lightweight running shoes is whether or not they will stand up to the test of time and the daily wear-and-tear that accumulates over the lifetime of a pair of shoes. Well worry not, because the Air Vapormax is a highly durable product that is well worth the cost. As a result, they are great for wearing whilst working out at the gym or in more rough outdoor locations like mountain trails.

Protection

Having a protective shoe is of vital importance for runners who prefer running outdoors in areas that have rougher terrain suchs hiking trails. Thankfully, the exposed cushioning on this shoe is built with integrated rubber pods on high impact areas which help to catch rubber and generally increase the durability of the shoes. It is extremely resilient, and thick enough to preserve the shoe without being so thick that it is heavy and overbearing.

Support

Foot support is one of the biggest concerns kept in mind when purchasing a pair of shoes as thousands of people have great discomfort in shoes with bad arch support. Some have complained that the upper is not as supportive as other Nike models, particularly on sudden turns or stops. However, the fact that the Air Vapormax is so comfortable and has such a luxurious feel speaks to the level of support that this product has.

Terrain

A key buying point for any prospective customer is how well a running shoe responds to different types of terrain. The Air Vapormax is adaptive to any kind of terrain, whether it be sand, turf, concrete, or rocky mountains. The rubber pods on the bottom of the shoes are durable enough to not be popped by much harsher terrain like mountains ground and are paramount in maintaining comfort.

Price

Sure, the Air Vapormax may cost quite the pretty penny (upwards of $190), but this is actually average for the state-of-the art running footwear that is currently on the market whether consumers like it or not. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this shoe to the casual athlete or first-time buyer of Nike’s shoes, as there are much cheaper options available. However, this model is absolutely worth the price for customers who run daily and are much more serious athletes.

Flexibility

The designers of the Air Vapormax were focused in part on creating a really flexible shoe that mimics the feeling of air. Not only is it as flexible as a running shoe can be, but you can actually feel individualized pressure points and zones on your feet when walking or running in them. They claim that the combination of the bubbled bottom and flyknit upper makes the Vapormax Nike’s most flexible shoe ever.

Bottom Line

The Nike Air Vapormax Black White is the pinnacle of achievement in shoe design because of its blend of comfort, style, and durability. Though it is perhaps better suited for more serious or hardcore runners, we have no problem with recommending this to those who just want a brand new running shoe. The upper and outsole are well crafted using flyknit material and are a true pleasure to touch and wear. These kicks will last you a long time and are the closest to the feeling of running barefoot that there is. Breathability and solid arch support are two key aspects of these shoes and are beloved by runners everywhere.

Better Air Jordan 5: “Metallic” or “Raging Bull 3M”

The Air Jordan 5 is one of the most iconic Air Jordans to-date. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, whom found inspiration in the World War 2 Mustang fighter jet during its creation. It was the first Air Jordan shoe to feature a reflective 3M tongue.

One of the original and iconic colorways is the “Metallic” Air Jordan motif. The shoe came in a buttery Black nubuck upper with Metallic Silver accents, 3M tongues, and embroidered “23” on the sides.Equipped with Nike Air branding at the heel and premium updates that ensure an OG feel dating back to the shoe’s original release in 1990, today brings forth the best look yet at this revered Air Jordan 5 release.

Another popular release was the “3M” colorway from the Air Jordan 5 “Raging Bull” Pack that debuted back in 2009. The Air Jordan 5 Raging Bull Pack was well received when we first gave you the info on it. Then we dropped the word on the Red Suede Jordan 5 version, most doubters were convinced this pack is going to be special.

The second Air Jordan 5 Raging Bull consists of an all black 3M upper, which will no doubt break necks and have a lot of you lining up early to get your hands on these kicks. The all 3M combined with the red accents, and the icy sole of the AJ5, is definitely one of the freshest remakes of this classic sneaker.

Looking back at both classic Air Jordan 5s, which would you consider the better release? Cast your vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

UA HOVR Havoc Performance Review

Could the Under Armour HOVR Havoc be the most well-rounded basketball model out of Baltimore? Let’s find out.

“Sneakersheads” and hoopers alike have a million and one different reasons why they may dislike Under Armour. However, I tend to enjoy that the brand usually doesn’t stray away from what works in terms of traction.

We hear and read it all the time, “Why do companies tell stories on the bottom of a performance shoe when you can’t see whatever lame story they’re trying to tell” and it often times translates to hit or miss coverage on-court. Herringbone is the way to go and herringbone is what UA uses more often than not. Yes, the brand tried something new on the Curry 5 and it didn’t quite work. No worries, because it’s already back to basics and I love it.

Not once did I have to wipe the soles of the HOVR Havoc, no matter which court I was playing on, from the cleanest to the meanest. It even handled the 40-year-old floor that should’ve been refinished ages ago perfectly. The outsole here works beautifully.

The HOVR Havoc is just as awesome outdoors, if not slightly more awesome, than it was indoors. The shoe has become one of my go-to outdoor options because it have provided me with reliable coverage and it has just enough cushion to make my time outside in 100-degree heat enjoyable.

Having HOVR located from the heel to the midfoot doesn’t sound like it would be all that comfortable for those that primarily play on their toes, but I was impressed. Again, once broken-in the ride was slightly bouncy — but not to the point where I felt unstable.

The forefoot is just plain old EVA so you’ll receive plenty of court feel in this area for explosiveness and responsiveness. Typically, the faster and more athletic the athlete the more natural court feel he/she wants (or if you happen to be a shooter and rely on stability).

Of course, everyone is different and some folks like a bit more bounce under the forefoot. For that I would have loved to have seen a thinner top layer of HOVR combined with the EVA underneath. It’s possible that the brand tried this during wear-testing and athletes preferred the setup that made its way onto the retail version, but we’ll never really know.

All I know is that I was surprised and happy with the current implementation of HOVR in basketball; I’m interested to see where UA takes HOVR in its future basketball products.

The HOVR Havoc is comprised of mesh with a top coating that reminds me of silk screening…only stretchier. This top layer helps contain the foot without restricting the mesh from doing its thing.

There is a skin-fuse-type layer at the forefoot that protects the toe from abrasion. While the past handful of UA products I’ve worn, tested, and reviewed have all had something similar, it has continuously shown signs of wear within minutes of me playing. While this doesn’t bother me at all, I don’t ever plan on wearing my basketball shoes casually, it may irk some that try to keep their shoes looking as new as possible for as long as possible.

This time around, the fuse layer has been durable enough to not just protect the material it’s adhered to but also maintain its looks as well. I’ve been playing in the HOVR Havoc for weeks both indoors and outdoors and the shoes still looks pretty good.

The HOVR Havoc fits true to size but it is slightly snug width-wise. If you like some wiggle room or you’re a wide footer then I suggest going up a 1/2 size.

Lockdown is great from heel to toe. The forefoot features a synthetic overlay on both the medial and lateral side which allows the mesh to stretch and form around your foot while you adjust the laces to your liking; this creates a great fit and proper containment.

At the rear we have a couple of nylon lace loops along with an additional set of “eyelets.” They’re just cutouts of the mesh supported with skin-like fuse that draw your ankle and heel into the heel counter.

These two lacing systems combined don’t form Captain Planet but they do create a one-to-one fit that I really love.

Everything you need from a shoe is used on the HOVR Havoc, and it isn’t overdone. There is a torsional shank that also acts as a TPU carrier for the visible midfoot section of the HOVR cushion.

Meanwhile, the fit is fantastic. Couple that with the wide flat base and exaggerated midsole/outsole to form a barrier-style outrigger and you have tons of support that helps promote natural movement and mobility.

The UA HOVR Havoc has been the most well-rounded basketball model I’ve worn from Under Armour in a long time.

There has always been something missing in the brand’s recent hoop shoes — from cushion to desirable materials and durability. There’s usually been something that I could undoubtedly point to and say, “I’d have changed that.” With the HOVR Havoc, the only thing I’d like to have seen is a thin layer of HOVR in the toe, but the comfort is still there so it’s more of a “I wonder how it’d feel” versus a “the shoe needs this badly.”

At $105, the kd 11  is a great deal and should offer you a bit of everything you could want — court feel, cushion, a one-to-one fit, support without feeling like you’re being restricted, traction, and durability. Did I mention the shoe has cushion? Good cushion too.

If you were considering the UA HOVR Havoc or this happens to be your upcoming season’s team shoe then I hope you enjoy the shoe as much as I have. Now, if this cushion is in the Curry 6…sign me up.

Nike Air Max 2017 Perforamnce Review

The Nike Air Max 2017 retains the Nike Air Max’s comfortable and durable style while also featuring several upgrades. The main upgrades would be the enhanced sole unit and the added cushioning to the upper of the shoe.  Although the shoe is no longer considered to be in the upper tier of running shoes, it still has several features that allow it to be worn in that capacity. Another thing that must be considered about this shoe is that the basic design of the shoe is the reason that it is so popular among the masses; this is to say that even though the shoe isn’t the most popular “running” shoe, it still gets Nike a lot of sales.
Outsole
The Nike Air Max sole on this version of the Nike Airmax is somewhat “freaky’. The outsole is fashioned out of translucent hardened rubber which gives the shoe a futuristic look and feel. On top of this, the sole features a careful placement of grooves throughout the sole unit of the shoe that enables the shoe to gain a decent level of comfort and grip. The fact that the outsole unit on this shoe is a single piece and lacks any placement over foam, gives this shoe a somewhat firm overall ride during use.
Midsole
The midsole of the shoe also aids the shoe in providing an overall firm ride. The midsole is fashioned out of an EVA polyurethane mix that is a bit firmer than the majority of running shoes with the pure foam midsole. The midsole on the shoe also features a Nike cushioning bag that is there to improve the responsiveness and comfort provided by the shoe. The make of the midsole itself actually takes away from the comfort provided by the shoe and also doesn’t give the shoe the best in terms of a responsive feel.
Upper
The upper on the shoe is a mix of cushioning and mesh. The shoe features a mesh upper that Nike has decided to splash with cotton all throughout. This has allowed the upper to give a comfortable overall feel while not taking away from the KD 11 Shoes overall stability. With that being said, the upper of the shoe is designed in such a way as to promote comfort without delivering a “plush” feel while the shoe is in use; for a running shoe, this can be either good or bad.

Weight
In terms of weight, Nike has done their best to add a little as possible to the design of the shoe. They tried but weren’t really able to achieve a lightweight effect because of the materials that were used throughout. The hardened rubber outsole on the shoe adds a decent amount of weight to the overall cut of the shoe. This, in tandem with the amount of cushioning that is present inside of the shoe, allows for an overall comfortable, albeit weighted, ride. This isn’t to say that the weight of the shoe hasn’t improved at all because it has. This model of the Air max weighs a staggering 3 oz’s less than the previous model of the shoe which is actually a huge improvement.
Breathability
The upper of the shoe was designed to prevent an accumulation of sweat throughout. The Air Max ’17 is fitted with fly mesh material which allows a decent level of air flow to be achieved while running. This is a major improvement over last year’s breathable, but kind of muggy model of the Air Max. The fly mesh design of the shoe allows it to be worn in a variety of climates, but the best side of it comes out in the warmer areas where the air flow is the most appreciated.
Comfort
The comfort provided by this model of the Air Max is definitely above par. The materials used in the design of the Air Max allow for a level of comfort to be achieved above that of other models of the shoe. The use of fly mesh on the upper of the shoe and the absence of the flywire material allow for the shoe to be worn without feeling the discomfort that those materials provided. The sole of the shoe is made in such a way as to promote both flex and malleability. Even though the material that makes up the sole of the shoe is on the firmer side, it does provide the wearer with a decent level of comfort. The shoe also features an elongated tongue, which, when compared to previous models of the shoe provides an extra amount of cushioning and snugness for the shoe.
Style
The style of the Air Max 17 is one that is both and doesn’t seem to go away. The shoe has been created in several different color combinations which gives the wearers a variety of colors to choose from. The slim cut of the shoe also allows the shoe to be worn in and outside of an active environment; this means that the shoe can be worn in both casual and sporty clothes. The seemingly see-through material of the sole of this shoe also gave the shoe a sort-of futuristic look which, can be a plus for some wearers.
Durability
the materials used in the creation of this model of the Air Max are of the more long-lived variety. The sole unit of the shoe itself is made from polyurethane EVA for the midsole and hardened rubber for the outsole. The hardened rubber on the outsole of the shoe is by nature extremely durable. It shows very little wear even after several uses, which can be attributed to the make of the sole itself. The make of the midsole of the shoe allows it to be worn several times without the wearer having to worry about it losing its shape, which is another plus. The Fly mesh upper of the shoe is designed in such a way as to be able to deal with strenuous activity without making the wearer worry about potential breakdown of said materials.
Protection
In terms of protection, the shoe doesn’t have much. The shoe is designed from fly mesh material with very little in the way of coverings. The lack of coverings on the shoe means that there is very little stopping power for the wearer and that they may potentially have to worry about damaging themselves if something were to fall on them. The sole of the shoe is designed with the wearer’s foot in mind meaning that, due to the thickness of the material that makes up the shoe, it has a decent amount of ability to block the intrusion of unwanted material into the wearer’s shoe. The shoe itself has also been designed with several reflective materials which allow the wearer to wear them in darker areas without having to worry about not being seen
Responsiveness
The Air Max 17 features materials that allow it be more on the responsive side. The outsole of the shoe is designed with the wearer’s foot in mind but it is on the firmer side meaning that it doesn’t move as much as it possibly could. The midsole of the shoe allows the shoe to conform to the user’s movements though, somewhat compensating for the outsoles faults. On top of this, the lack of flywire on the upper allows the shoe to conform to the shape of the user’s foot without taking away from the snugness of the overall shoe
Support
The Air Max 17 has a decent level of supportive features for the wearer. The upper of the shoe, even though it doesn’t feature the flywire lacing that has become a custom among the Nike brand of shoes, is still relatively snug. This allows the shoe to provide a decent level of support for the side of the foot. The added cushioning in the heel of the shoe gives the shoe a decent level of heel support as well. Lastly, the air pod that runs the length of the sole of the shoe allows the shoe to conform to the natural curves of the user’s foot, resulting in a decent level of support for the user’s foot.
Terrain
In terms of terrain handling capabilities, the shoe does a relatively decent job of being versatile in its usage capabilities. The sole of the shoe is designed from hardened rubber which enables the shoe to hold up regardless of the level of development that the terrain has gone through. The upper of the shoe allows for a decent level of air flow to be present. This means that the shoe can be worn in a variety of climates without making the shoe too warm or allowing the wearer’s feet to get too cold. The breathability of the shoe also implies that the material, when used in the moister areas allows for a decent amount of liquid to soak through.
Price
The Air Max 17 will definitely take a decent sized chunk out of one’s pockets. The material used in the shoe and the comfort provided justify this price though; the use of materials such as the fly mesh in the upper and the extensive use of materials throughout the sole are the main things to blame. The sole unit of this shoe is made from both hardened plastic material and features a full-length air pod; these are both things that allow the shoe to provide an overall comfortable and responsive ride to the wearer. The durability of the shoe also justifies its price; considering that the shoe holds up after being used for several hundred miles, the value provided is definitely above that of the standard running shoe.
Traction
The sole of the Air Max 17 is one that provides an immense level of grip during use. The outsole of the shoe has been patterned into a waffle-like design which allows the shoe to be worn when in a variety of areas and allows the shoe to be able to grip the ground with a high level of ferocity. The level of traction achieved by this shoe does not compare to that of strict running shoes but it does allow the shoe to be worn and provide functionality on a variety of terrains.
Flexibility
Regarding flexibility, the Air Max 17 isn’t the best, but it does allow for a decent level of it. The sole of the shoe has been fitted with flex grooves which compensate for the general firmness of the material itself. The sole, being made from hardened rubber doesn’t bend the way that it possibly could if formed from a different material. On top of this, the pod in the sole of the shoe is somewhat firm also, further taking away from the inherent flexibility of the shoe. The upper of the shoe, being designed from fly mesh, achieve a decent level of flexibility, mainly because of the nature of the material itself
Stability
The design of the Air Max 17 provides for a decent level of stability for the user. The upper of the shoe, being designed from mesh and lacking any of the extra components, still provides a snug and firm fit for the wearer; this is mainly because of the cushioning used throughout the design and the slim design of the shoe itself. On top of this, the sole of the shoe being as firm as it is, gives the wearer a decent level of footing while the shoe is in use; this is to say that while the shoe does have cushioning throughout, the firmness provided by the sole unit prevents rollover and gives the wearer a bit of surety in their movements while the shoe is in use
Drop
Okay, this version of the Air Max has not have been given a reduction in the drop whatsoever. The Air Max 17 features a drop of about 13mm. This is by no means considered a minimal drop because of the fact that it is honestly so outstanding. The high heel-to-toe ration on this shoe means that the shoe doesn’t allow for a smooth and natural feeling transition to be achieved while the shoe is in use.
Verdict

All in all, Nike did a decent job with the creation of this shoe. The materials that were incorporated into the design allow the shoe to be used in a variety of terrains without causing the wearer any level of worry regarding the durability of the shoe. On top of this, the design of the shoe is one that enables the shoe to be both worn for things outside of the purpose of the shoe and fits rather snugly on the wearer’s foot.

Nike Kyrie Low Performance Review

Kyrie Irving’s sneakers have been a huge hit with players of all ages since the first model. The shoes combine low ride with minimal cushioning and killer colorways. How does the Kyrie Low stack up? Here we go…

One thing that has been consistent since day one is that Kyrie models will have great traction. The Kyrie Low doesn’t disappoint.

Using a straight-line traction that is broken up and rotated in certain areas, the traction pattern mimics herringbone with the different angles and spacings — and its ability to grip in almost any environment. The spacing is wide enough that wiping was at an extreme minimum — maybe once a session — and the grip was stop-on-a-dime power. Changing direction was smooth and quick because the traction let go as soon as it grabbed.

The Kyrie Low also uses the curved midsole/outsole tooling that first appeared in the Kyrie 4 and, again, once you get used to the “rolling” feeling the combination of rounded outsole and killer traction makes transitions smooth and fast. The only thing holding the Kyrie Low traction from Hall of Fame was the durability. I had two or three pieces of the pattern come off during testing, all done indoor, so outdoor is a definite no on the gum bottoms. Not sure about any solid colorways, but for the color tested, no way.

For the first time ever, a Kyrie model uses both forefoot and heel Zoom Air for cushioning, and we should be excited — when done right, the 20-year-old technology is still one of the top cushioning systems ever made. Unfortunately, the Kyrie Low uses rectangle bags that are bottom-loaded, so the Zoom feel isn’t really there. The bags aren’t exceptionally thin (7mm thick in the forefoot and a serious14mm in the heel), but the stiff Phylon midsole deadens the initial bounce and response you would normally feel. So how did the Kyrie Low get a Starting 5 rating?

Simple: it works great on court. With the killer traction and the idea that this shoe is made for quicker players who cut and shift, the stiff midsole doesn’t compress and cause lag time between movements. With the Zoom being bottom-loaded, you don’t get the feel underfoot of a good Zoom, but the impact is absorbed and deadened through the Phylon as well. The cushioning works with the traction to make the Kyrie Low feel low and fast, so it’s doing its job. As I have gotten older, I know my knees and ankles need a little more protection, but for the design of the Kyrie Low, the cushioning works great.

Ahhh, yes, the lovely mesh and fuse upper. The colorway tested (the ‘Uncle Drew’ grey/royal/gum) has a heavily glued, canvas-style fabric that took some serious break-in time. Even after a few wears, there were still some hotspots around my toes and the upper made a popping feel when flexing my foot. The medial and strap Swoosh are leather, or at least a really good synthetic that add a little premium feel (the black and white colorways are TPU/plastic). There are some areas of fuse around the toebox for a little extra durability.

While the upper is made up of one primary material with no layering except for the strap, Nike did put some effort into design with the molded heel counter. Mimicking the spiked look from the Kyrie 1, the Kyrie Low uses a molded heel counter underneath the fabric to push the look. In this colorway, the strap gets the same treatment, and although it adds nothing to performance, it does a great job in breaking up the upper and giving some texture to the design.

I have held the black and white uppers in-hand (and might possibly pick up the white colorway soon) and they’re made of a different mesh (something more like the Kyrie 3) that is more pliable and feels better to the touch. If you are looking for a ready-to-go upper out of the box, I suggest one of those colorways.

Length and width-wise, the Kyrie Low fits true to size — if you wore a 10.5 in the Kyrie 1-3, get a 10.5 in the Low (the Kyrie 4 fit me a little short so I went up a half size). The midfoot is a little narrow, so if you are a wide-footer or like a little extra space to double sock you may want to go up a half size or try on in-store (the Kyrie Low is everywhere).

The lacing system is the exact same used on the Kyrie 2 with a little diagonal offset on the lace holes. Overall, the shoe pulls nice and tight around your foot, locking everything from the midfoot forward in and down with no movement at all.

The heel had a little bit of slip until the upper broke down a little, but after the materials loosened up the heel slip went away…for the most part. The open Achilles area leaves the top of the collar a little wide, leading to that slip, and the heel counter is solid so the little bit of slip that is left is no worries.

First off, the strap does nothing. It makes the midfoot feel a little tighter, but as far as playability, it adds nothing. Looks cool, though. The main support components are not blatant — subtlety is key. The low-riding midsole and the lacing system are all you need.

The rounded outsole takes a little time to get used to if you haven’t played in a Kyrie before (and thankfully it doesn’t feel at wobbly as the Kyrie 2) but once you do the feeling is controlled during movement. With the lacing system locking you into the shoe and the foot sitting inside the midsole (not directly on it) you are not sliding anywhere you don’t want to.

There is a midfoot shank in the Kyrie Low — the small, standard, hidden TPU kind — that provides a little midfoot support. The heel cup is solid and keeps your foot vertical. This should be enough for most players, even bigger post players, because the solid midsole doesn’t compress to the point of tipping — that helps keep your foot stable.

While I enjoyed the overall cushioning in the Kyrie 4 more (Cushlon, where have you been?), I felt that the Kyrie 4 was bulky and traction took a while to get right. The Kyrie Low comes in a sleeker package with better traction but loses step-in comfort and responsive cushioning.

If you are a quicker, shifty guard who loved the Kyrie 2 and 3, the Kyrie Low is a no-brainer. It’s package of traction, court feel, and fit make the shoe ideal for most guards and actually, any player not needing a wide shoe or supreme cushioning. If you play mostly outdoors, sorry, because like most shoes today you will want to stay away.

To be honest, the first time I wore the Kyrie Low I was almost determined not to like it — it felt stiff and way too solid underfoot for me to enjoy playing in. Luckily, the shoe began to warm up to me and broke in nicely, both in the midsole and the upper. The KD 11 has become a solid rotation shoe that I can count on. Now if I could just get this old guy off my porch to quit screaming, “You reach I teach, youngblood!!”