Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)
Weight: 10.6 oz
Size tested: 11
Colorway: Strata Grey/Midnight Fog
I was extremely excited to pick up the Hyperdunk Low for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had trashed my Zoom Soldier VIs during a semester of hooping damn near everyday and winning an intramural championship with Finch and Team Terminator X. I could bend the shoes completely in half and twist them violently side to side, so it was time to move on to something else. This meant going from a mid-cut shoe with double-stacked Zoom air in the heel, a Fuse upper and midfoot strap, to a low top with full-length Lunarlon and Dynamic Flywire.
The latter part of that sentence is the second reason why I was pumped to try out the Hyperdunks. I had never hooped in a Lunar foam-based shoe and hadn’t tried out Dynamic Flywire on court. I’d played in Flywire-based shoes, like the Kobe V and VI, but never with the new iteration of that technology.
Like I mentioned in my performance review primer, the first thing I look for in a performance shoe is the fit. For full disclosure, I went down a half-size and I always wear two pairs of socks to play in, so I expected the fit to be snug – for me I’d rather have my hoop shoes tighter than too roomy.
I immediately liked the fit of the Hyperdunk Low through the midfoot and toebox. The toebox is slim and the shoe is built on a narrow last, both of which I appreciate. The inner workings of the shoe feature a thin, mesh bootie, over which the Dynamic Flywire is laid. I was pleased with the lockdown I felt from the Dynamic Flywire, and I thought it did a good job of anchoring my foot over the footbed. It didn’t provide the completely locked-in feel of the Kobe V or VI, but it was very, very close. I loved the two notches at the forefoot around the lowest eyelet; I thought they were expertly placed and gave the forefoot plenty of flexibility.
The heel fit is relatively solid too. There’s no external heel counter – the ultimate in heel lockdown – but the molded inner collar held my heel in place admirably after the first couple wearings. There is a bit of slippage on the most violent of movements, but not to the point where I felt unstable. One thing to note: there are six eyelets and I typically lace my shoes all the way to the top eyelet in an effort to lock in my ankle and heel. On the Hyperdunk Low, I felt some uncomfortable lace pressure across my lower ankle area right where my ankle bends when laced to the top. I laced only to the fifth eyelet on my third wearing, and was much more comfortable. I did not notice any difference in lockdown.
With a full Lunarlon midsole inside a Phylon carrier, I expected the transition to be very good and it certainly was. There was no slap at all through my footstrike and running and cutting was smooth. Coming from the Soldier VI, which I felt had top-notch transition, I didn’t experience too much of a difference in that aspect. I would say that I felt like my foot sat down lower in the midsole carrier of the Soldier VI, though some of that can be attributed to the Soldier being a mid.
The picture above shows a key bevel on the heel of the shoe. The outsole is slightly thicker in the heel medial side (arch side) of the shoe, so that when the shoe sits flat the inner half of the heel is what is touching the surface. If you overpronate, even slightly, during your footstrike, having that extra bit of rubber making contact with ground aids in a smooth transition. Even if you have a typical neutral gait, the extra millimeters of thickness are going to help when you plant on your foot and push off on the inside of it.
Yes, I’m a Zoom lover, but the Lunarlon/Phylon carrier setup is acceptable to me. I had read horrific tales of Lunar foam bottoming out within a week, but I haven’t necessarily found that to be true with the Hyperdunk Low. It’s certainly not as bouncy and responsive as Zoom (nothing is, in my opinon) but it provided excellent protection through the footstrike. It took a couple of wearings before I really felt my foot carve out a mold in the foam, but it feels natural at this point after eight wearings.
I love being as low to the ground as possible, and Lunarlon doesn’t quite give you the court feel of a Zoom-Zoom or full-length Zoom setup. No major complaints from me, but I wouldn’t put the Hyperdunk Low’s Lunarlon ahead of the Kobe VI or any Zoom setup I’ve played in (or ahead of the Supernatural Creators Formotion setup). If I’m comparing these to other flagship Nike products, I simply can’t put the Lunar foam cushioning setup on par with a Zoom-based shoe.
Everyone knows and loves the classic herringbone pattern, and unfortunately designer Oliver Henrichot and the guys at Nike went with a more creative traction setup. It’s a multi-directional design that’s the same as the regular Lunar Hyperdunk version. The grooves and edges are well-placed alongside the forefoot flex zones and it features a solid lateral outrigger – always a plus for stability and traction. As Sole Collector detailed in their review of the original Lunar Hyperdunk Mid, the sublimated graphics under the main traction grooves detail where the Nike+ sensors are located in the versions equipped with that technology (the Lows are not).
Overall the traction is very good, with durable rubber and thick edges gripping most court surfaces. On a dusty or dirty floor I found myself swiping a bit, but after a couple of wearings the rubber really started to break in nicely.
A full synthetic upper makes up the shoe’s outer shell and three eyelets feature Dynamic Flywire. There’s a large cutout along the midfoot where the thick Dynamic Flywire strands are exposed, and another triangular cutout near the heel where the collar is thickened.
The first two eyelets appear to have Flywire built into the upper, though the strands appear to be so thin that I wonder if there’s actually anything in there (though it honestly doesn’t make a huge difference.) I do have concerns as to whether the Dynamic Flywire will hold strong along the edges of that cutout in the long term, but by all accounts it’s solid so far.
Many wearers hated the bottoming out of early forms of Lunarlon in hoop shoes, but this version seems fairly firm after eight wearings. It’s never going to be Zoom Air, but we’ll see how long it holds out.
Overall, I liked the Hyperdunk Low. The fit and heel-toe transition are excellent, and the cushioning, traction and materials used are all perfectly fine. I especially enjoyed the fit through the midfoot and the flexibility at the forefoot and toebox. I also like the way the Lunarlon midsole molds and forms to my foot.
But I hold my basketball shoes to an extremely high standard because I spend so much time in them, and I believe the Hyperdunk Low could be better. I can’t say it’s an elite performer. A forefoot Zoom bag would be a wonderful addition. Any top of the line Nike shoe, built for guards like the Hyperdunk Low obviously is, should have a forefoot Zoom unit. More sculpted collar foam or notches around the Achilles inside the heel would be an upgrade as well. At $130, the price is pretty steep, but they’d be a worthy pickup once the price drops. If you’re a guard and like the feel of a low, or you like to have a couple different shoes in your rotation, they’re a solid performer…once they fall into an acceptable price range.
Overall: 43.5/50 x 2 = 87/100