January 16, 2020 by tinmy2014
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 Fortis 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.
January 15, 2020 by tinmy2014
The Nike Kobe 5 is back in Protro form and we have the performance review.
The heartbeat pattern is back and there is more tread than before. This is the first time that the outsole tooling has truly been updated with more tread added in between the original pattern.
I didn’t notice wether or not this was a greater version of the traction that what originally released, but one thing I noticed is that the additional tread gives dust a place to get stuck so some wiping will be needed when you’re at your local gym that isn’t well kept. Otherwise the traction played and performed just as I remember — not quite as good as the Kobe 4, but still a very good and reliable setup.
Cushion is another area that has changed quite a bit from the original model.
The original featured a heel Zoom Air unit and a forefoot Met Zoom Air unit — this Zoom unit was a bit larger than a quarter and sat right beneath the ball of the foot. All of this was housed within a very minimal Phylon midsole.
The new Protro version of the Kobe 5 replaces the small forefoot Zoom unit with Nike’s new Zoom Turbo. This changed adds Zoom Air to the entire forefoot of the shoe — a change that I welcomed.
Initially, the forefoot cushion was firmer than I had expected. Especially when compared to the Nike Kyrie 6 that I still love playing in today. However, the more I’ve played in the Kobe 5 Protro the more they break-in and the more I’ve been able to feel the Zoom Turbo do its thing. Keeping you low to the ground while still offering a bit of impact protection and springy under-foot responsiveness.
Now, the Cushlon midsole replaces the original Phylon midsole and the heel Zoom Air unit. It amazes me how far foam cushion has come since I was a kid. This iteration of Cushlon damn near feels like Zoom Air is riding under your feet. It’s bouncy and responsive, however, at times I do feel it’s a bit too soft.
I would love to see the team at Nike continue tweaking things with these Protro models. Perhaps seeing something like the React/Lunar combo we saw in the lebron 17 — that ride was smooth as butter while being soft in all the right places and firm right where you needed it. Maybe that could be something they use in the eventual Nike Kobe 7, 8 or 9 Protro releases.
Materials are practically identical to what we saw used on the original model. The texture and embossed patterns might differ a bit, but the overall structure and build is the same.
This might be the only plastic-based setup I really enjoyed other than the Nike Kobe 6. The super thin skin-fuse material is thin enough to flex and maneuver while being string enough to keep you contained.
I remember the original model having some durability issues where the fuse was heat welded together, so I am curious to know if that issue was addressed for the Protro. I never personally burst through my original pair of Kobe 5’s, but maybe someone that had can fill us in over at our WearTesters Discord Community.
I went true to size, and that is what I’d recommend.
Most of the shoe fits just as I remember — snug. I’ve always used the Kobe 5 as a reference for when I really loved a shoes fit as I consider the last used on the original to be the greatest of all time.
When I say that most of the shoe fits just as I remember them I’m referring to the toe area. This Protro feels like it bubbles up during certain movements which is something I don’t remember the original doing. I’m not sure if this model was built on the same exact last as the OG or if they no longer had the original last available and went with something similar, but for whatever reason I just felt like something in the toe is off a bit. However, the midfoot to the heel is still just as amazing as it originally was. Snug and secure. Wrapping my foot up like a glove.
Support primarily relies on the overall fit, and while these felt a bit different in the toe, the shoe still hugs the foot and locks it into place. The heel features one of the best heel counters of all-time while the midsfoot utilizes a glass composite shank plate. This plat provided the support you’d normally receive from a standard Carbon Fiber shank, but it was much lighter in weight. You still fit within the midsole a bit and the outrigger is a thing of beauty. This is one of those shoes that you lace up and forget about — in a good way.
Ten years later and the Nike Kobe 5 is still just as bad ass as it was before. After being able to finally play in the Kobe 1 (Protro) the Kobe 5 feels like an extension of what they started with the Kobe 1. A lot of the same features are still there, just much lighter in weight.
The carbon fiber shank. Wide forefoot outrigger. Super snug and form-fitting fit. Aggressive traction. Everything is there when comparing the two models. One just happens to be made with “old” materials (leather) while the other was made with something a bit more modern at the time (Fuse).
It’s only January, so I’m not willing to bet that the Nike Kobe 5 Protro is the best basketball shoe of 2020. But… if it is then we may have a problem. That won’t be a great look if something that released in 2009/2010 outplays something releasing today. It wasn’t a good look for knitted builds when the Kobe 1 Protro proved leather still has a place in basketball , and it won’t be a great look if TPU based skin-fuse does the same.
All I know is that if you liked the original then you should enjoy the Protro. If you never played in the original then you should enjoy the Protro. So long as the shoe offers what you’re looking for in your basketball shoes.
January 13, 2020 by tinmy2014
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.
January 12, 2020 by tinmy2014
Among the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, I found myself at the Trinity Auditorium. An inconspicuous building that was previously a church. This was the scene as Nike Basketball invited media to help LA Clippers all-star Paul George launch his new signature shoe, the Nike PG 4.
When PG13 first debuted the sneakers (playing in a game versus the Knicks on Jan. 5) there was plenty of chatter online over its design. Perhaps it was an over reaction? More on that later.
Inside the cathedral with stain-glassed windows was a full court. Four colorways of the sneaker were on display and we played in the purple Gatorade “Gx” version.
First impressions: The toe box was definitely tight. I saw a few people asking to go up ½ a size. For clarity, I wear size 12 so my options were limited. After running around for 20 minutes my feet adjusted and felt fine. The traction was solid as I didn’t experience any slipping.
The biggest question was the lacing and zippering system, which initially reminded me of Gary Payton’s Air Zoom Flight ’98 model. I laced them up traditionally and left the zipper down. The shroud was more a fashion statement, giving players the option. Later I zipped them up fully, which made the upper feel snug. Using breathable materials was smart, keeping it lightweight and transparent.
Whether you like to cruise with the top down or play faster zipped up, the shoe performed well and exceeded expectations.
After testing the PG 4, I spoke with the man himself, Paul George. Discussing the new Air Strobel cushioning, he shared his thoughts from playing in them.
“You know what? It was new to me with its innovation. I knew it was going away from what we were doing with the air bag. I’m all about innovation and what’s best going forward with my line. So far so good, when I felt it, I was all for it, if it made for a better performance of the shoe,” George said.
We talked about the different types of sneakers he wore before his signature line was unveiled, from his high school days all the way to the pros.
“In high school I wore LeBron’s, Kobe’s. In college I wore Kobe’s and Jordan’s. Earlier in the league I wore everything from Jordan’s to Kobe’s to LeBron’s to Foamposites, I wore it all,” he said.
Coming back home, playing for the LA Clippers, and being from Palmdale, I asked PG what it was like giving back to his community and refurbishing the courts he grew up on.
“That’s everything, that’s the reason I came back home and why I do what I do. To be able to inspire the next generation to ultimately help the community that raised me and got me to where I am. It’s a surreal thing to play and represent my home,” he said.
The city of Los Angeles is bubbling over its two NBA teams doing well. I wanted to know if he felt a rivalry starting to build between his cross hall neighbors.
“I think its more so for the fans. The Clippers haven’t won anything, and the Lakers have all the hardware and all the accolades. We’re trying to get there, to be great. When you look at it from a competitive sports aspect there’s no rivalry there. Ultimately, we want to beat them, they want to beat us. What team doesn’t? From the fan aspect there’s a rivalry, we hear it all the time. It’s fun, it plays into the story.”
Collaborations are always a hot topic with kicks, so I inquired if there were other projects lined up for the season.
“I’m going to keep that on the lowkey. But honestly, we have some amazing colorways, dope colorways coming up. This is the pop to start it off, but everyone knows my line, there’s going to be stuff sprinkled in there to keep it interesting. I’m excited for people to see what else we have in store,” said George.
His first PE color on court was red, white and blue to match the Clippers home uniform. It also had me thinking about the Summer Olympics. I asked PG if he’s put any thought into playing again for Team USA?
“Yeah, that’s always on my to-do list. Hopefully I can finish this year out healthy, hopefully we succeed going far, and win it all. I’ll address that when the time comes but definitely my goal is to play and represent my country this summer,” he concluded.
Also, on hand for the event was Nike Basketball designer Tony Hardman. We spoke about PG’s line and what makes this new version different in multiple ways.
How long does it take from ideation to roll out of PG’s signature shoe?
“Usually it takes about two years. The 5 is coming out in a year, so we’ve been working on that for a year already, and now starting on the 6,” Hardman said.
Social media went crazy when George debuted the new kicks, especially over the zippered shroud. Was that collaborative or did he want that included?
“That was more of something we pitched to him, we went through some variations and thought about what would stand out. We thought more additive, what are we going to add to it to make it stand out. We thought about the landscape of all the shoes we already have and the landscape in footwear. Let’s go the other way, make his shoe stand out, make it super clean, aerodynamic. He wanted to be faster, so it felt like the right thing to have no distractions. It didn’t start as a zipper, more of a velcro closure but it wasn’t quite working the way we wanted to, so we went with the zip up. It worked, functioned great, and easier to get on,” he said.
Let’s talk about the cushioning, the Air Strobel. Is this a first gen model being used?
“Yes, he’s going to lead this innovation. Something that the team has been working on for a while. When we first tried it in a factory in Asia, the minute I put it on I said ‘We have to get this for Paul’ and pushed for it. He’s going to launch it and then probably see it in feature products of Nike as well,” shared Hardman.
Can you tease any future colorways this season? Anything special in line for the All-Star Game or other collabs?
“He will have a special collab for the ASG, I can’t really say what it is. There’s going to be some unexpected things we do with the shoe. There’s no plans for a 4.5 or anything like that, but I think that we refresh it, and that will bring the kind of energy to it,” he said.
The Nike PG4 launches in the purple Gatorade “Gx” colorway via SNKRS on Jan. 17 for $120.
The black / white colorway releases in store and on Nike.com Jan. 24 for $110.
The turquoise Gatorade “Gx” model will be available to gamers who unlock it playing NBA2K later this season. A plaid color that was on display currently does not have a release date.
Photos by Michael Silver for solehello.com. Additional images provided by NIKE.
January 9, 2020 by tinmy2014
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 hoops
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.
January 5, 2020 by tinmy2014
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.
January 2, 2020 by tinmy2014
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.
December 30, 2019 by tinmy2014
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.
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.
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.
The “Family” colorway will release January 9, 2020. It represents Russell’s family.
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 Nike.com 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.
December 27, 2019 by tinmy2014
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.
December 25, 2019 by tinmy2014
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 Reebok Floatride 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.