Anta KT2 Outdoor Low Performance Review

Prose: Jake Sittler

If this particular choice for a performance review seems to be from out of nowhere, well, that’s because it was. Anta had piqued my interest, particularly with the KT3 and Rondo 5 sig, but as I was browsing the famujisneaker site I came across the KT2 Low for 30% off. I’d really been wanting a good low since I retired my Kobes and at a $65ish price tag, I couldn’t pass them up. I had the 31s and Flyknit HDs in my rotation, but I prefer to play in 1:1 fit, locked-down lows when it comes down to it.

I had moderate expectations. The only other review out there was generally positive, but I’d never played in an Anta shoe before. I wasn’t 100% sure on sizing and my standards for lows are quite high – if it doesn’t play like the Kobe VI then it’s hard for me to hang on to a pair of lows.

What I found in the KT2 Outdoor model was one of the best lows – really, one of the best shoes – I’ve ever played in. A complete shoe with very few weaknesses, the KT2 plays more like the Kobe VI than any other shoe I’ve had (including the Kobe 8, 9, and 11).

Fit
I went down a half-size to an 11 in the KT2s and they fit perfect. I have a narrow foot so the width was excellent for me and there was enough toebox length to keep things comfortable down there. Most of you would likely be fine going true to size, but 1/2 size down won’t kill you if your foot is on the narrow side.

In my Jordan 31 review, I talked about what I look for when it comes to fit: my style of play is such that 1:1 fit is paramount. I want the shoe to feel like an extension of my foot. While the 31 fit and locked down well, there was some excess material there that prevented my preferred type of fit.

The KT2 Outdoor Low absolutely achieves the 1:1 fit and provides a no-slip fit from front to back. From a materials perspective, it’s really a no-frills upper. The toebox and most of the midfoot is a standard mesh build with what looks and feels like a TPU heat welded in areas where additional support is needed. It’s expertly placed on the lateral side where you’re going to be planting and pushing off and that mesh upper required some additional support.

The heel portion is a synthetic collar combined with a large plastic external heel counter. I love the heel wrap – it surrounds the foot with a sturdier build and locks the foot into the footbed. The lower three eyelets are lace loops that strap the foot in (there’s a little excess material once laced tightly but it’s not bad) and the other three eyelets are tied into that synthetic collar for a straightforward, vice-like lockdown. No slip at all for me.

Transition
Transition is excellent right out of the box. In fact, the shoe is lacking in support a bit and allows for a fairly extreme amount of flexibility, but that means transition is natural. There’s no midfoot shank and the midsole definitely breaks in and flexes more and more as you go.

Cushioning
I’d never played in an Anta shoe before and don’t have a great grasp on what their cushioning platform has been and where it stands now. They call it A-Shock, “a special high polymer material. Slows down impact. Gives full feet cushioning and amazingly high rebound.”

Whatever it’s made of, it’s fantastic. It feels something like original Micro G did (I had a pair of original UA Juke’s from back in the day with the bounciest Micro G ever – and that’s what these feel like). The responsiveness is there, impact protection is there, and a naturally flexible midsole allows it to do its job.

Your foot sits low to the ground, with midsole sidewalls wrapping up to cradle the foot in the carrier – and this is where it reminds me so much of the Kobe VI. The combo of low, responsive cushioning underfoot plus a midsole that wraps up the sides enough to keep the foot is exactly what I look for in a cushioning platform. The lateral side also has a large outrigger for lateral stability.

I’m a couple months into these, and there’s been no dropoff in cushioning performance. I would prefer some kind of a midfoot shank plate for a little bit of additional support, but it barely registers as a complaint when looking at the KT2 as a whole. I feel that the torsional, side-to-side support/stability is solid despite the very flexible midsole. Overall it’s one of my favorite cushioning platforms I’ve ever played in.

Traction
The shoe is geared for the outdoor hooper, yet my surgically-reconstructed hips do not do the outdoor thing anymore. Indoors though, the traction has been fantastic. The blade-like pattern has stuck on everything from crappy YMCA floors to well-kept high school courts. I think the rubber compound used is excellent – soft enough to flex but with some hardness to maintain the durability you’d expect in a outdoor-specific shoe. No issues at all with the traction.

Materials
Mesh and synthetic doesn’t sound like anything to write home about, but they’re deployed well in the KT2. The midsole cushioning compound is as good as any you’ll find on the market, save for Boost or certain Zoom setups. KT2 designers used the right materials in the right areas, and that makes a big difference.

The KT2 is one of the best shoes I’ve played in in a long time, period. The shoe has everything I’m looking for in a low-top guard shoe – fantastic fit, responsive, low-to-the-ground cushioning, and sticky traction. At $65, I can’t imagine there’s a better budget shoe out there. In fact, there aren’t many better shoes out there period.

Some will want more premium materials, maybe more support or a hair more impact protection, and I totally get that. For this reviewer though, the KT2 Outdoor Low is complete performance beast at an unbeatable price.

Jordan 31 XXXI Performance Review

Prose: Jake Sittler

While the reviews have admittedly gone away, I still keep hooping, but my beloved Kobe VIs aren’t getting any younger. My go-to shoes for the last two years are shot. With the heel foam permanently broken down and traction wearing smooth, I had tried hooping in other shoes. The Harden Vol 1s were ok (I actually really liked them through the first couple months of wearing, and gave them a positive review here) but multiple rolled ankles in them eventually forced me to retire them for something that fit more snug.

I grabbed the Zoom Run the One at the outlets for a cool $35, but the traction and cushioning left something to be desired. Cheap Zoom relegated these to workout status. Next came the Flyknit Hyperdunk 2016s from the outlets, which are still partially in the rotation. They offer fantastic cushioning (like, XX8-level cushioning) and fit, yet heel lockdown wasn’t quite perfect and I was left wanting something more traditional.

I had eyes on the Jordan 32 thanks to its gorgeous materials and carbon fiber support, but the $185 price tag is pretty steep. I had tried on the Jordan 31 in store and at the outlets a couple different times, and when Eastbay’s Final Score closeouts featured the 31 on sale plus 40% off, I pulled the trigger on the Black Cat colorway.

Schwollo, my go-to source for reviews right now, likened them to TGRR-favorite Zoom BB. After having tried them for myself for over a month now, it is uncanny how similar the 31 feels to the original Zoom BB, especially from a Zoom feel standpoint.

The 31 does have some minor drawbacks, but it’s a consistent and solid performer. It’s not the newest shoe on the market but if you’re looking for a performance shoe on a budget, these can now be had at serious discounts all over the web (I believe Weartesters’ duke4005 found them as low as $79.99 in some stores, too).

Fit
I went true to size with an 11.5. I typically like to go a half-size down in my hoop shoes in order to get a better fit thanks to a narrow foot, but having tried these on a couple times I knew the toebox ran a little short for that. I can’t imagine anyone going down a size in these so TTS is the move if you don’t get to try them on first.

There are a couple different aspects with the fit to touch on, and some of it is going to overlap into materials. The tightly woven Flyweave forefoot portion makes the shoe flexible, comfortable, and allows it to conform to the foot within a wearing or two. It felt more robust and structurally strong than the weave used on the 29 or 30.

As it transitions to leather in the heel portion, you also get a thick neoprene inner collar. The neoprene inner collar is exceptionally well padded in the Achilles area and gives the shoe a plush feel on the interior. I did not experience any Achilles pain, as some have noted in their testing.

I had zero issues with lockdown – even forefoot containment was acceptable by standards although I’d have preferred a raised midsole or bigger outrigger. I didn’t care for the traditional detached tongue as it created some pressure points on the medial sideon the ankle bone. Because of the detached tongue, leather heel portion, woven upper and neoprene inner collar, I didn’t necessarily get a second-skin type of fit. There are a lot of moving pieces there and I felt that when fully laced there was a bit of excess material or volume.

I happen to prefer the 1:1 kind of fit but it was certainly not a deal-breaker for me considering the lockdown itself was really good. With a narrow foot plus being used to the Kobe VI and Anta’s KT2 Outdoor (review to come), this may have been an issue more unique to me than most wearers.

Transition
Transition is butter-smooth right out of the box. No slap at all as the outsole is not decoupled. Initial impressions of the shoe raised concerns about the fact that the outsole in the heel and forefoot protrude slightly, giving the illusion that the shoe might be tippy or unstable.

I didn’t notice any instability – not even when standing still – and I feel like the weight of most wearers will compress the bags enough that it won’t be noticeable. This is one area where the shoe especially reminded me of the Zoom BB that I played much of my freshman year of college practice in. I loved that shoe for its consistent traction, court feel and cushioning, and the 31 ticks the latter two of those boxes.

The Flightspeed platform does not provide as much support as the Flightplate of a few years back, but does allow for a more natural feel.

Cushioning
The full length Zoom bag is how Zoom is supposed to feel – thick, allowing good court feel, and super responsive. There’s a noticeable bounce with these Zoom bags that’s not like budget Zoom-based models. I know the 31 came at a premium retail, but the Zoom setup is worthy of that price.

Responsiveness is important to me but so is ride height and court feel, and the 31 presents a fantastic combination. You don’t get the big volume, bouncy, effect that you do with the Flyknit HD 2016, but court feel is better and I felt like the ride was lower and more stable.

Again, it really is like the Zoom BB or some early 2000s Zoom model reborn. If I could design a cushioning platform from scratch, the first two criteria would be court feel and responsiveness – and the Jordan 31 nails both.

Speaking of 2000s Zoom cushioning platforms, if anyone reading has a pair or knows someone that has a pair of deadstock/good condition Zoom Drives, in an 11/11.5, with the caged heel Zoom and forefoot strap PLEASE HIT ME UP.

Traction
This has been and continues to be the biggest point of contention with the Jordan 31. The translucent outsole models were panned for below average traction, so I went with the Black Cat colorway mostly because of that solid outsole.

Traction, to be honest, is not fantastic. I have one league at local elementary school gym, with a floor that’s exceptionally well kept. Zero complaints with the traction in there. At the two YMCA courts I play on, the floors are not nearly as nice and traction suffers. Some shoes shed dust from the outsole, but the 31 seems to collect it. I don’t feel like the pattern is deep enough to bite the floor and isn’t spaced wide enough to flex and grab either.

I don’t feel unsafe in the shoe, but I certainly wish it was better on average floors. The top of the traction class is the Rose 7/Rose 8, and I feel the 31 probably falls somewhere below average compared to most high-end shoes on the market. This is also the one area that the Zoom BB is far and away better than the 31. I gave it an average rating on the scale because it still plays well on good surfaces.

Materials
Simply put, the 31 uses fantastic materials across the board. Flyweave > Flyknit, and actually has good performance properties besides being a fancy marketing piece. Full length Zoom feels like vintage Nike cushioning, and you get real leather on a performance hoop shoe in the heel portion – supple, quality leather at that. The neoprene inner collar is a great touch (although it’s apparently the source of Achilles pressure for some) and I enjoyed the excessive heel/Achilles padding.

The materials used and application of each component are extremely well-executed in the Jordan 31.

Conclusion
It’s been awhile since I’ve written up a review and this one feels clunky to me but in conclusion, I like the Jordan 31 a lot. It’s got the familiar feeling of a favorite hoodie right out of the box. It’s comfy, fits well, and plays consistently underfoot. The full Zoom setup is fantastic in all aspects. Transition is smooth. I know what I’m getting every time I slip on the 31.

That said, do I love the shoe? Sometimes. The traction is iffy on some courts and the shoe doesn’t fit like a super snug extension of the foot, two things that I typically don’t care for in my go-to shoes. Stumbling into the KT2 Outdoor, which fits and plays like my favorite Kobe VIs, makes it harder for me to choose the 31 every time too.

I do know that I’ll play in the 31 for a long time, and that’s probably the best indication of my overall feeling towards the shoe. With one of the best cushioning setups I’ve ever played in and great materials across the board, put the 31 on your short list this holiday season if you’re looking for a high-performance shoe on a budget.

adidas Harden Vol. 1 Performance Review

Prose: @jtsittler

Part 1

When I first went to buy the Harden Vol. 1, I had my eye on the first black/white/red colorway. I was smitten with the white leather toe cap and the asymmetrical lacing, plus I’ve been a huge fan of some Boost-based basketball shoes in the past.

Swoon
Swoon

Oh and they felt damn good in-store upon first slipping them on.

I went a half-size down to a size 11 because I felt they ran wide and somewhat long. The 11 really felt like a normal 11.5. I threw them on that evening and went to the gym around 9 pm (when I know it will be empty) to get jumpers up for a half hour or so. While they felt fantastic – smooth transition, great responsiveness while not sacrificing court feel – they were just a bit too roomy on the inside for me.

I was set to relegate them to casual wear because they’re just so freaking good looking, but I remembered the blacked-out Dark Ops pair I’d seen as well…so like a moth to the flame I went back the next day to grab them. I now own two pairs of the Harden Vol. 1 – one for off-court, and one definitely for on-court wear.

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“It’s the blackout ‘Rari, got the back out”

The second time, though, I went with a 10.5 – a full size down for me – and it made all the difference in the world. The Dark Ops model has an elastic toe cap rather than the white leather one on my first pair. The flexibility of that toe cap allowed me to go down another half size without any toe box pain. My foot can still flex and splay normally, but the fit is now pretty much perfect. I need a 1:1 fit or at least damn close to it for me to keep a shoe for regular hooping, and the 10.5 got me there.

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The elastic tongue made a difference for me – it allowed me to go a full size down for the best overall fit, yet gave my foot the flexibility it need to play normally

The burrito tongue does a good job of staying in place. It’s molded interior conforms to the foot well and is extremely comfortable. The lacing system is really not my favorite part of the shoe – I love the asymmetrical design and the way it matches the anatomy of your foot, but as many reviewers have noted the round laces and double lace holes make it difficult to really cinch the shoe down tight.

After a couple of wearings, this does get better as the upper breaks in. I’m able to pull the laces tighter now than I could initially, and the lockdown is excellent. I’d say there’s a tiny bit of heel slippage at times, but that’s more than likely due to the narrow profile of my foot – most of you will be ok. Either way, I feel completely secure on them without any significant movement no matter how quick the pull-up or how abrupt the change of direction.

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The round laces kind of suck, but they get better after a few wearings. Lockdown is not an issue, and the asymmetrical setup is almost perfect

Underfoot, the Boost setup is for the most part caged and lower profile than the Crazy Light Boost 2016 (which I’ve tried on multiple times) and the Crazy Explosive. Caging the Boost slightly limits its responsiveness and the tactile “Boost” sensation you’ll get in some pure Boost setups because it doesn’t allow the Boost nodules to fully expand and return energy, but it’s still more responsive than most setups you’re going to find.

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Caged Boost sacrifices just a bit of plushness and some of the tactile Boost feel, but in return you get a more stable ride. Check out that outrigger too

The benefit of this is improved stability and court feel – a trade-off I’ll gladly take. It’s still supremely cushioned, but it’s slightly firmer than your typical Boost runner especially in the forefoot. It’s closer to the Rose 5 than Rose 6 underfoot (my local Finishline just now got the Rose 7 in a Primeknit model for $160…hard pass for me until they go on sale). Stability is probably as good as any shoe on the market – the outsole seems slightly wider than most and the forefoot outrigger is substantial.

Transition is butter smooth, which actually surprised me given the noticeable arch in it. I know Schwollo mentioned that the arch support bothered him for a few wearings; mine were totally fine so that’s going to be something you’ll have to feel out when you try them on.

Smooth transition despite a noticeably higher arch
Smooth transition despite a noticeably higher arch

Support, a major category for me, has been awesome. You can see the support structure in the Dark Ops colorway through the icy outsole and it does a good job of dispersing impact and providing some needed rigidity under the Boost midsole. If a hoop shoe doesn’t have enough support for me, I’ll feel it within an hour and my arches will be sore for the next day or two; the Kobe VIs have just enough to keep me comfortable and the Harden Vol. 1 is about perfect in this department.

The full length TPU underneath the Boost midsole gives it needed support
The full length TPU frame underneath the Boost midsole gives it needed support

Traction has been a point of contention for Harden’s shoe. I’m sure you’ve all read how Adidas mapped the pressure points on his foot during the course of games last season and developed a traction pattern to grip better on high-impact and high wear areas. You’ll see a tighter pattern near the ball of the foot where more traction is needed, and the pattern is more dispersed elsewhere. It’s really not unlike the Kobe VI pattern, even down to being relatively shallow.

The results of pressure mapping...not earth-shattering but it works
The results of pressure mapping…not earth-shattering but it works

I like the traction on the Kobe VI, especially after it’s broken in, and I’ve found the Harden Vol. 1 to be the same way. I had to swipe more than normal on the first few wearings on semi-dirty YMCA courts, but now 5-8 wearings in I don’t really have to. On clean courts, the traction is excellent.

On the fourth pair, I’ve finally found a suitable partner for the Kobe VIs in my rotation. I had to go down a full size, but the Dark Ops pair with the elastic toe gave me the fit I need all around. The Boost setup, caged with a large TPU support underneath, is one of the best cushioning platforms I’ve ever played in. It’s responsive, stable, and super smooth. Though the shoe feels heavy out of the box, it’s so responsive and well-fitting that it plays way lighter than it feels.

You’ll definitely want to try them on first to determine what size you need, but I have no hesitation in recommending these for most guards and wings – the support is probably there for the bigs too if you don’t mind a low.

I’ll be answer questions and comments as they come in, and will drop a review from time to time when I need a new pair. I look to Schwollo (blunt, in-depth, well-written reviews) and Bryan aka Duke4005 from Weartesters (a guy who once helped me out as a college kid writing about shoes and an industry veteran with a ton of knowledge) for my regular review-reading, and I suggest you do the same.

Play to win, and get buckets.

The guide returns! Thanks to all those that have told me they appreciate it - I'm glad it's useful
The guide returns! Thanks to all those that have told me they appreciate it – I’m glad it’s useful

TGRR Update and adidas Harden Vol. 1 Review – Part 1

Prose: @jtsittler

If it seems like this review came out of nowhere, well that’s kind of true. While the reviews have slowed down here at The Gym Rat Review (buying shoes is expensive; so is owning a motorcycle, and I have a shiny new-to-me 2012 Triumph Tiger 800 sitting in the garage waiting on spring), I have not stopped hooping. I’ve been playing regularly 3-4 times a week in a couple different leagues as well as weekly pick up sessions.

I’ve also been playing in the same pair of shoes for several months – my beloved Kobe VIs. Good floors, and bad floors, against average Joe’s and guys that hoop at the college level, the VIs never let me down. If it’s an important game, the Kobe’s are gracing the court with no questions asked.

My battle tested Kobe VIs (s/o to @iks_mod)
My battle tested Kobe VIs (s/o to @iks_mod)

I know the VIs won’t last forever, and while I should still have a few months left in them, I began looking for a backup pair primarily to wear during random pick-up games or whenever I felt like swapping out the trusty VIs.

I tried the Curry 3 first, and loved a few things about it. That shoe has excellent traction and tremendous stability thanks to the two carbon fiber wings and carbon shank plate. You feel very secure in that shoe, which I appreciated. I don’t mind the firmness of Charged cushioning either (I think a dual density Charged/Micro G set up would be great), and there was enough support and impact protection to satisfy me even though it’s definitely on the firmer side of the scale.

"It's not you...it's me..." The Curry 3 is a great shoe, just not perfect for me.
“It’s not you…it’s me…”
The Curry 3 is a great shoe, just not perfect for me.

The fit was solid too as far as lockdown is concerned, although I felt the top two eyelets made the shoe feel a bit restrictive – I think it would feel good if you have thicker ankles or an ankle brace on. I could never quite get the Curry 3 to feel natural to me, even after 10-12 wearings. I found I liked the fit better with the top two eyelets empty, and ended up thinking that the shoe really would have been better off as a low (a model which is coming of course). Despite the definite plusses, I ended up unloading them on eBay for some other hooper to enjoy. I think they’re an excellent overall shoe, just not quite for me.

Next was the Brandblack J Crossover 2.5 Low, with the TPU reinforced toe – which hopefully remedied the containment issues noted by Schwollo (he’s a must follow for consistent, in-depth reviews BTW).

The materials were fantastic on the 2.5 Low – just a gorgeous shoe. The lockdown was great, fit was super narrow (which I liked), and the shoe rode low to the ground. However, I found the traction to be pretty poor – on courts where even the Kobe VIs grip just fine, I was sliding all over and wiping constantly. They really reminded me of the strength and weaknesses of the KD V Elites, which I loved/hated.

If traction gets bad enough, it really bothers my surgically repaired hips on any kind of change of direction. I rely on quick, tight moves and can’t tolerate any slippage. The blade pattern looks fantastic, but for whatever reason it accumulated dust quickly – possibly due to the tight spacing of the pattern and relatively hard compound.

I experienced some arch pain even after the break-in period should have ended, and eventually moved on from those as well after just a few somewhat painful runs. I love what BB is doing (best pure visual designers in the game IMO) and I’m eyeing a pair of Force Vectors, but I couldn’t make those 2.5 Lows work. I may be picky, but after four hip surgeries, two years of college ball and thousands of hours of court time since then, I need my long-term shoes to be perfect.

Now that I’m 600 words into it, I should probably break this up into two parts.

Check out part 2, including my (eventual) selection and review of the Harden Vol. 1.

 

Performance Review Throwback: Nike Zoom Kobe VI

Prose: Jake Sittler (@thegymratreview)

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If you’ve followed the site for some time, you may know that the Zoom Kobe VI is my all time favorite performance shoe. For me, it’s the shoe that all others are measured against. The Crazyquick 1, Rose 6, Rose 4.5, TS Supernatural Creator, and Zoom BB II are also worthy of mention, but the VI tops them all. It’s a subjective thing of course, but it’s fun to dig into why they’re the best performance hoops shoe for ME.

Thanks to one of my consistent readers, I was lucky enough to stumble across a deadstock pair of ZKVIs in the red team bank colorway. These would be my third pair – the other two long destroyed on the court – and I had to pull the trigger. I also figured they’d be a great backup shoe to play in if the shoes I was testing were not cutting it (lo and behold, I’m on a run of two subpar performers with the Curry 2 Low and Ultra.Fly).

As a #tbt, I decided to put these through the testing process and compile my thoughts.

Fit
I’ve always gone with my standard 11.5 in the Kobe VI, as its narrow toe box allows me to go true to size rather than down a half to get a good fit all around. Back when the shoe first released, I was a little skeptical of the upper. I had owned the Kobe V as well, and the Skinwire kept tearing along the lateral side of my foot. The VI continued the progression of a second-skin upper, with Flywire embedded in a Kurim-enhanced urethane upper.

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This upper though, was thicker and more durable than the Skinwire on the previous version. The scale pattern not only looked sweet, but also provided some scuff and abrasion resistance. The upper still flexes naturally and it really provides a supportive shell. No containment issues to be found.

As far as lockdown goes, I always thought it was perfect for a low. They laced up tight and the eyelets went up just high enough to help lock the heel in. Speaking of heel lockdown, Eric Avar and Nike nailed it for a low. The interior of the collar feels like memory foam, and it really molds to the foot after several wearings. It’s thick and padded at the top, which helps hold the ball of the heel in place once it’s laced up tight.

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A partial neoprene innersleeve is snug from the start, and it’s extremely well padded and breathable with a rubbery, circular webbing sandwiched in between the neoprene base and a mesh top layer. It makes lacing the ZKIV very comfortable and is one of the best tongue designs I’ve seen. It extends well into the toebox, so it’s comfortable the whole way.

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Besides that, the TPU heel counter was perfectly shaped and strong enough to provide real support as an outer shell. I’ve heard plenty of people complain about heel slip in the VI, but I honestly never had any that concerned me. I’d say it takes 2-3 runs to get the heel to mold properly, but once it does I found it locked me in exactly how I like.

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I always felt like the Kobe VI achieved that extension-of-the-foot type fit that I long for in any shoe. The fact that it was in a low, providing the most freedom of movement, made it even better.

Heel-Toe Transition
The midsole setup is damn near perfect, and it makes for a smooth transition right out of the box. Forefoot flex grooves, a carbon fiber plate to bridge the heel-forefoot gap, softer rubber outsole, and the right type of injected Phylon give it a completely natural motion from heel strike to toe off.

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Cushioning
Injected Phylon, a heel and a forefoot Zoom unit, a carbon fiber plate, plus (gasp) an anatomically shaped midsole and insole…that’s just about heaven for me. The shape of the midsole happens to fit my foot perfectly, providing support through my arch and a consistent feel overall. The Zoom units, while only a met bag up front, are perfectly placed and give me the type of responsiveness I love.

The insole is fairly thick and it wraps up around the heel a bit, aiding in the heel lockdown. The insole is basically an afterthought in most performance shoes today, but not in the ZKVI.

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The shoe is highly responsive, thanks to the balance of flexibility and support in the midsole plus the right application of Zoom. Stability is excellent too – you feel low to the floor and a pronounced forefoot outrigger helps the lateral stability.

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It really begins and ends with the shape of the last though – for some reason it’s mapped almost perfectly for my foot. A lot of midsoles today feel overly flat, without the shape or structure needed to support the foot. The Zoom units are deployed well, and the Phylon compound plus carbon fiber plate provide great support down to the floor.

Traction
This is probably the only area I have somewhat of a gripe with the ZKVI: they overdid the Mamba theme with the snakeskin patterned outsole. They drove it home just fine with the scaly urethane upper, and the outsole would have been just perfect with some kind of a herringbone pattern.

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The blades on the pattern they used are very thin – they don’t collect dust but they also don’t grip really well, especially on the first few wearings. It’s a soft rubber compound too, but after a week or so you can really feel it start to grip properly. I can still get a squeak on a quick stop and pop, but the longevity of the outsole is an issue too. It’s prone to wearing down before the rest of the shoe (although my first two pairs each lasted me 8 months to a year).

Materials
As covered before, I think the application of materials was perfect. The updated upper with embedded Flywire and a urethane shell was both supportive and naturally flexible. The Zoom units were placed well and plenty thick, while a real carbon fiber plate helped with both support and transition. The Phylon was injected and sculpted well to contour to the foot, and they even put a legitimate insole in it.

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I need to pause and get my wind after all this breathless praise.

Sometimes it feels like a shoe is just made for you. After playing in probably 75+ pairs in my lifetime, I’ve decided that these were simply made me for me. Everything about them is – subjectively – perfect outside of the traction pattern. For me, that was pretty much a non-factor as I thought that once broken in, the traction worked really well.

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I’ve had the all-black colorway, the purple gradient (from a Nike Factory store, no less) and now the scarlet TB colorway. I only wish I’d have bought about 5 pairs to have stocked for the rest of my playing days (if you have a deadstock 11.5, email me at thegymratreview@gmail.com and we’ll talk).

Comment below and let me know your favorite performance shoes of all time – I love to discuss this stuff.

zoom kobe vi review guide

Performance Review: Jordan Ultra.Fly

Prose: Jake Sittler (@thegymratreview)

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It’s been a little while since I’ve hooped in a performance Jordan model (the XX9 and the CP3 8 were the last ones) and the Ultra.Fly had a number of things going for it. It’s the stripped-down cousin of the Super.Fly, a model that’s now four versions deep and is consistently one of the better performers on the market. It’s at an attractive price point ($125) and features an interesting TPU/mesh build for the upper.

Word today is that the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler will be debuting the shoe on-court, making it a faux-signature for an up-and-coming two-way star.

Besides that, I was able to scoop them at my local House of Hoops before most people had gotten a good look at them. On the shelf, it looked like it could be a gem in the Jordan line, perhaps an overlooked model than was great on court.

That perception, unfortunately, was pretty far off.

Fit
We’ll start with the good here: the fit was actually really nice. The base of the Ultra.Fly is thick mesh, and that’s covered from heel to toe in a Kurim webbing. Some have compared it to UA’s Anatomix line, but the upper is much thicker and the Kurim is much more pronounced – the Anatomix shoes were closer to SprintWeb or layers of Fuse than this is.

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We first saw Kurim on the initial LeBron 13 Elite images, so it’s great to get a first impression of the new tech here. It’s a second skin-like structure designed to provide containment and support – basically a flexible cage. Planting and cutting or changing directions at high speed didn’t cause any slippage on the interior. It’s really a natural feel, flexible and the containment is excellent.

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The lacing system is simple, laced straight up with no frills, notches, Flywire or straps. I usually prefer this, and simple is better when it comes to lacing. It would have been nice to get some flat or paracord laces instead of the round ones used here (they feel cheap and kind of outdated) but that’s an extremely minor gripe. The tongue is also excellent – thick and padded, and part of a snug inner sleeve. JB did not skimp here and it’s definitely appreciated.

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There is no external heel counter and the interior one is pretty flimsy. It’s easily squeezed and manipulated. While I didn’t notice instability on-court, I’ve woken up the day after playing with a bit of a tweaked ankle each time – and I’m attributing that to the lack of a solid heel counter. I have generally very strong ankles, but occasionally I’ll get a shoe without a solid heel and I’ll get sore. It’s not terrible by any means, and I only mention it because it may not provide the ankle support you’re looking for if that’s an important part of your shoe choice.

Overall, I liked the lockdown and natural feel on-foot that this upper combo provided. The Kurim is unconventional for sure, but it functions really well and was definitely the best aspect of the shoe.

Heel-Toe Transition
While I wasn’t able to find a definitive answer, I believe it to be a Phylon midsole with an articulated Zoom bag in the forefoot; transition is really smooth. The outsole/midsole bears some resemblance to the Kyrie 2, and while it’s not quite effortless like that shoe, it’s still very good. There’s no break in time either – these are good to go from a transition standpoint right out of the box.

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However, the overall cushioning and comfort of the shoe kind of hampers the transition. With a lack of midsole support and impact protection (which I’ll get into in the next section) I felt that simple straight-line running was pretty painful.

Cushioning
I’ll just say it: this is probably the worst cushioned shoe I’ve played in for a long time. As mentioned before, it’s a Phylon midsole – same compound used in the Kyrie 2 – but even as low profile as the Kyrie was, the Ultra.Fly has even less impact protection. I typically don’t mind a thinner, lower midsole (I was a fan of the Kyrie 2 and Crazyquick 1) but these just did not work for me.

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There were a couple factors that I believe played into this. For one, it’s basically just a flat midsole with a slight heel-toe drop. No extra support, no shank, no special design that utilized its low profile build. The Kyrie 2 was designed for natural movement and was sculpted to promote that, and the Crazyquick was designed to be insanely flexible with flex grooves and traction pods perfectly placed. The Ultra.Fly is basically just a flat surface hitting the ground each time you take a step.

This leads me to my next point, concerning the articulated Zoom bag. Because there’s no additional support, I don’t feel like my foot hits the Zoom bag properly. While I can feel something in there at the forefoot, it’s mushy and I really can only feel it flex. I don’t notice any additional responsiveness or cushion from the bag, so the Zoom doesn’t really do its job. The bag protrudes slightly from the outsole and is bottom-loaded (embedded in the outsole and not on top) so the responsiveness is already muted there. A dual-density setup like Podulon probably would have worked better.

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I mentioned it on an IG post, but if Zoom is too flexible and your foot doesn’t exert force on the bag, then you’re not going to get the responsiveness you expect. Zoom is basically fibers stretched tight and stitched to two plates in a pressurized bag. On an exposed Zoom bag, you can see the fibers stretched and attached to the top and bottom of the bag. When the bag receives force from your foot and it compresses, it naturally wants to push back out and respond to that force. This is where you get the super responsive Zoom feel from. By putting flex points in that bag, I feel like it just flexes when you walk instead of absorbing that force and bouncing back.

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The court feel and stability are fine – the shoe rides real low to the floor – and I never felt unstable per se. But after the first couple wearings I my back and arches of my feet were very sore from the lack of support and cushioning. This lasted a couple of days and unless you’re a young buck that never gets hurt, I would be vary wary of these. I also felt that the ball of my foot was basically touching the gym floor due to those flex points in the bag.

The stock insole is embarassing, and I swapped it out with the thickest one I had from a pair of old Crazylights (this is my go-to insole when the one I’m testing is no good) and I did notice a significant improvement at least in comfort.

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Still, you shouldn’t pay $125 and immediately have to swap insoles just to get passable comfort. This is one of the few things that will get me legit upset with a shoe.

Traction
The traction pattern is a full length wavebone setup, and it’s pretty good. It felt pretty sticky and slightly pliable to me. I could stop on a dime on a variety of surfaces including a tile-ish court, although a dirty floor will require the usual wiping. It’s a one-piece rubber outsole so the feel is pretty consistent and confidence-inspiring underfoot.

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Materials/Durability
I think the Kurim upper will hold up pretty well and the TPU-like material already gives you some abrasion protection to begin with. The midsole is only going to break down more over time though, so I can’t imagine impact cushioning will get any better.

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A use of different materials likely would have driven the price up, but it also would have probably prevented the shoe from ever being made – it pretty much needs to be set up like a Super.Fly 4.5 in order to be a good performer. A Flight Plate was badly needed, and I would have loved to see the tri-Zoom bag like the 4 instead of this articulated one.

Bottom line, I simply did not enjoy playing in these at all. I don’t feel it’s a reflection on all Jordan performance shoes, but the materials here certainly need an improvement. Giving it the tech it needs and selling it in the $140 range would have been more plausible to me from a performance perspective, but I get why they stripped it down.

Despite the great lockdown and fit (plus they look pretty sweet), these will be exiting the rotation ASAP. If you’re looking for extreme court feel or don’t need a ton of impact protection, the lockdown on the Ultra.Fly is great so they may be an option for you. April 2 is the official release date.

But in my opinion, there are plenty of better options out there for less money. Sorry…

ultrafly review guide

Performance Review: Under Armour Curry 2 Low

Jake Sittler (@thegymratreview)

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(Review can also be found at Tackl)

With Stephen Curry’s popularity among NBA fans reaching DEFCON levels, his signature shoe line has been a major driver of Under Armour’s emergence as a real competitor to Nike in the basketball market. The Curry 1 debuted with a slow burn of fanfare from both casual wearers and competitive hoopers, and the Curry 2 dropped late last year to almost universally positive reactions.

While they aren’t tricked out with technology, the shoes’ clean designs lend themselves to great colorways, and an accessible price point combines with Micro G/Charged cushioning and vise-like lockdown to make each of the first two Curry shoes into excellent on-court performers. Because the Curry 2 was heavily covered in its mid-top form, I waited for the Low version to drop in early February. I’m a fan of lows and was looking forward to giving these a thorough breakdown.

And while the shoe certainly has aspects that a guard like myself can appreciate, it has an undeniably fatal flaw that makes it tough to recommend.

Fit
I went with my true to size 11.5 in these, rather than my preferred 11 in my on-court shoes. In the case of the Curry 2 Low, this forced me to make compromises that really affected how I felt with these on court. The toebox is very tight and narrow – normally not a problem for me – but I just couldn’t see playing in an 11 with the toebox already feeling too tight and uncomfortable in store.

The Curry 2 Low uses a Speedform upper for 2/3 of the shoe much like it’s mid-top predecessor. The Speedform here is thin and conforms well to the foot, but you can feel the tensile strength and its reluctance to stretch thanks to an extra layer of construction. It’s a nice example of a reduction in materials while still retaining its containment and support abilities. An additional synthetic layer is found at the toe and along the forefoot.

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The midsole also extends up the lateral side of the midfoot while the medial side also extends up high to provide additional support.

The rear 1/3 of the shoe uses Speedform as you’ve seen it in UA running shoes and that’s where the serious problem comes in. It’s basically neoprene – Speedform was born in a bra factory – with a low slung external heel counter. The collar of the shoe is extremely low cut as it is, but the heel counter doesn’t extend up high enough to give the heel full lockdown (side note: the heel counter is gorgeous). With no additional interior padding or Achilles notch to aid with the lockdown, you get a very slippery heel fit. In a low top especially, that is absolute disaster.

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The poor heel fit made me very nervous in full-speed game situations. A few specific movements stand out as dangerous in my mind: curling a screen into a jumper, going from lateral slides to sprints, and one spin move in transition were pretty precarious. I definitely felt slippage in all directions, which basically means the heel area was just not able to contain my foot. If you have a wider foot that takes up more volume in the heel area, these may work but I couldn’t deal with the heel slip.

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The Curry 2 Low uses a notched eyestay lacing setup, which I love. Through the first four eyelets, they lace up very tight and forefoot lockdown is just fine. But that top eyelet, the crucial one for heel and ankle lockdown, simply can’t be pulled tight enough because the heel area is too stretchy. Again I had not issues in the forefoot, but the lack of lockdown in the heel area compromised the rest of the shoe.

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As I tried on the 11 and 11.5 at the same time, the 11 did feel much better in the heel. But I don’t see very many players being able to go down a half size to possibly get better lockdown because that toebox is so tight. The heel area simply doesn’t inspire confidence and in fact takes away some focus from the game you’re playing.

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Heel-Toe Transition
Now that the disappointing part of the Curry 2 Low is out of the way, I felt pretty good about the rest of it. The transition is very good, especially for a decoupled heel and toe outsole. The large TPU plate provides plenty of support underneath but the transition is still good once you get through a slight break in period. It’s a good combo from a performance standpoint.

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Cushioning
You get full length Charged foam for the midsole and it’s a step up from the version found in the Curry 1. It’s still firmer than pure Micro G, but I think the impact protection and responsiveness has improved. In the Curry 1, I felt the Charged foam was great right away but quickly became too firm and eventually had a harsh bottomed-out feel like a lot of Lunar foam setups (I still thought the Curry 1 was one of the best shoes of last year).

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In the Curry 2 Low, you get great court feel and stability (from the midsole anyway – the upper pretty much ruins that) and responsiveness is adequate. A forefoot outrigger helps in the lateral stability department although again, the upper doesn’t make things any better. Charged foam is a good all-around compound. It’s not as responsive as Boost or Micro G, but it is more firm and feels closer to the floor. It gives a consistent feel from heel to toe and speaking from a purely personal perspective, I really like it.

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The TPU plate is much appreciated and adds to the support underneath. The heel is also split, so you get good contact in every direction. All around, the cushioning platform combines some excellent elements in each of the areas I focus on: court feel and midsole stability is fantastic, responsiveness is good, and it falls on the firm side of the cushioning scale but is (subjectively) very good.

Traction
It’s called organic herringbone by the marketers at UA and it simply works. You get the reassuring squeak and you get great traction in all directions on any movement you can think of on a basketball floor. The grooves are deeper than many shoes I’ve recently tested and the thinner blades don’t attract any dust. Good courts, bad courts, even a weird tile-ish surface in one league – the Curry 2 Low is great on all of them. The traction setup saves the poor heel fit from making the shoe truly dangerous on court.

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Materials/Durability
 I like the feel that Speedform provides – basically a one to one fit all around. However the aforementioned heel area just does not use Speedform the right way. It can’t provide the necessary support and adding additional layers like the forefoot Speedform would have solved that, in my opinion. The synthetic overlay meant to protect the toebox also gets scuffed and torn up very quickly – not a good sign this soon.

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As a fan of Curry’s beautiful brand of basketball and a fan of low top shoes, I was admittedly pretty pumped to give these a run. But the heel fit and the fact that I was consciously worrying about my ankles during the game make it difficult for me to recommend or to even continue playing in these. Like I said above, the cushioning, forefoot fit, traction, and pretty much every other aspect was great – it’s a beautiful silhouette and design too. If you have a wider foot these may work for you, but the lack of security is a deal-breaker for me and I’m not trying to roll any ankles with a new league starting up. I’ll probably end up snagging the mids on sale or reviewing the 2.5 when it drops.

ua curry 2 low guide

Performance Review: adidas D Lillard 2

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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Despite the general release getting pushed back initially, I was finally able to get my hands on Damian Lillard’s second adidas signature. The Blazers have been a pet favorite team of mine (and Finch’s) since the Brandon Roy days. He was one of the best all around players on the planet at one point and it’s a tragedy that his knees simply didn’t work correctly. I’ve always been a big fan of Terry Stotts too – an excellent Xs and Os guy that has drawn up some beautiful sideline out of bounds game winners over the years. Now, led by Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers have two gifted off-the-dribble scorers and shooters and are scrapping for a playoff spot in the West.

I was pretty excited for the release of the Lillard 2, despite the poor performance from the 1. adidas listened, made some key updates, and created a shoe fit for a tough-as-nails Oakland PG. I’ve gotten several runs in with the shoe and in fact will get one more into tonight, but I’m convinced that this is one of the best shoes on the market for its price. adidas continues to knock out great performers.

Fit
The Lillard 2 runs a little wide and I went down a half size to get the fit I prefer. It will take some time to break in and it took me probably 3 wearings before they really felt good. The first time I wore them, there was some slippage at the heel. I believe it was due to the full bootie not yet conforming to my foot (it’s thicker and padded at the heel) but by the middle of the second wearing it started to improve.

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The base for the upper is the Techfit bootie, which runs the full length of the shoe. I have been and continue to be a fan of Techfit when it’s used in this way – as a sock-like base layer or like a neoprene upper (as in the Crazyquick 1 and adidas running’s Energy Boost 2 ATR).

The shell, in the black “Away” colorway, is a textile mesh with synthetic leather accents. The mesh provides more containment than traditional open cell types but is more flexible than a fused synthetic. In other words, it’s a great compromise. You get synthetic for the heel portion and along the eyestay.

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The midfoot is actually locked by two TPU pieces – one on each side of the upper. These are more stiff than lacing through the traditional eyestay, and the lockdown is evident once you get them laced tight. A nice touch that works both functionally and visually. The inner bootie has more padding than the Lillard 1 and the prominent external heel counter really locks the heel in place. It’s an area much improved over the first shoe.

For me, there’s a little extra volume on the inside. I have a narrow foot and the shoe is built a little wider than most, but I think for most hoopers it will fit without issue.

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Heel-Toe Transition
The Bounce cushioning setup is a dual-density compound that gives you a pretty consistent feel from heel impact to toe off. It’s not quite as flexible as others (this is especially noticeable coming off the Kobe XI and HyperRev 2016) and takes some time to really feel natural. It is a consistent feel underfoot and after a couple weeks, the midsole will break and be just fine.

Cushioning
I passed on the opportunity to snag the Primeknit/Boost version because I really haven’t ever been a fan of heel Boost-only setups. I was also stoked to play in Bounce for the first time and I’ve loved it so far. It’s firm with good impact protection and very stable. It’s not as plush or responsive as Boost, but I like it better than most Lunarlon/Phylon setups. It seems more dense than Micro G/Charged and is going to come down to personal preference for most. I’d probably put it just behind Micro G and Boost, but it’s very good and I’d take it over most foam setups.

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It provides a ton of support, but it does lack some response and court feel. It’s very stable, but the feedback through the floor is a little muted. It’s definitely more stiff, solid, and heavy (in a good way) than a lot of shoes I’ve recently played in.

Overall though, I think it’s a really good platform and a good alternate to Boost. As I said, I’d rather play in Bounce than the half-Boost setups out there, thanks to the support and consistent feel from the Bounce midsole. It’s tough to compare to Zoom because those setups vary so much, plus Zoom is usually a unit placed in a cored out midsole – the feel just isn’t the same. Compared to recent shoes I’ve tested, I like it better than the Kobe XI but not quite as much as the HyperRev 2016 cushioning.

Traction
The outsole, a Continental rubber-sourced compound, is used to highlight some of Dame’s background and personality, and I’m always a little skeptical of sacrificing performance for that (a la the Kobe VI). The grooves are fairly close together and not overly deep, so the shoes did pick up dust when the floors were less than perfect. If the grooves are spaced too closely, it basically creates a flat surface to pick up dust on – the Kobes were bad partly because of this – the slightly stiffer midsole on the DLillard 2 means it won’t flex and bite quite as much either.

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On the second wearing, the floor was a bit better and traction was fine – no squeaks though. Traction could be better, but I didn’t find it to be a deal-breaker.

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Materials/Durability
Just know that these things are tanks. I can’t imagine too many issues with a rock-solid build like this. There’s not a lot that’s built to go wrong with these, and it’s a pretty straightforward build overall. Two things that especially stood out: the Contintenal rubber outsole is beefy and the heel counter is absolutely rock solid. I look forward to many games in these.

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Overall, the Lillard 2 proved to be a very good shoe in all aspects. The fit, cushioning and materials are all high points – though I wouldn’t say it’s elite in any category. It’s a bit like Chris Paul’s line from Jordan Brand and should settle in nicely in the slot behind Rose and Harden’s shoes.

The improved inner bootie, external heel counter and effective lockdown system are a huge step forward from the previous model. adidas’ Bounce setup should be here to stay and hopefully become a staple of adidas’ budget-minded lines.

Make no mistake – it’s not a budget shoe. It’s as good or better than shoes that cost $50-80 more. I’ll definitely be keeping these in the rotation going forward.

dlillard 2 guide

Performance Review: Nike Zoom HyperRev 2016

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

Following up my initial impressions last Friday, I’ve had a chance to hoop in the HyperRev 2016s a couple more times to complete the review.

The silhouette itself is polarizing, but I find it to be one of the best looking Nike shoes in recent memory. They went for a totally different look and construction and for that, major props to Tony Hardman (still remember his unreal Kicksguide renderings back in the day) the folks behind it. It reminds me of the 90s era Nike models that would take some chances in terms of design and construction. The $110 price point makes it insanely accessible for most. With those two things going for it, we’ll do a little deeper dive on the 2016 Rev and how it plays on court.

Fit
I mentioned the totally different construction, and the build of the shoe is integral to its performance on court. The base of the upper is basically a neoprene/mesh bootie that extends up over the ankle bone with a stretch fit collar. This shoe is extremely hard to get on your foot (I went TTS with an 11.5), and wide footers or those needing ankle braces probably won’t be able to get them on. I’ve found the best/fastest way is to get a death grip on the front pull tab and just mash the heel counter down with your foot until you can get it on. Not ideal.

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Once on foot though, the fit is fairly snug and supportive. The support and lacing system comes in the form of lace straps stitched into the midsole (thankfully NOT Flywire) and I felt that the lacing system here is far better than the last two Rev models. It’s not as flashy as Flywire and doesn’t have a fancy marketing name, but it gets the job done. Like the previous versions, the top eyestay is just below the ankle bone so you’re not getting a ton of lockdown above there – the shoe could have easily been a low top.

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The other aspect for fit and lockdown is the large Hyperfuse strap that’s integrated into the lateral side of the upper. It goes across the midfoot with a simple Velcro attachment, and provides more security. I did not feel the strap impeded flexibility at all.

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Overall, fit was very good but probably just short of great. I always felt like there was extra space around the heel – possibly because of how the collar and heel were shaped with that rubber heel counter – but I couldn’t go down to a size 11 because it was tight in the toe box. I never felt a serious amount of slippage, but there was just a little extra room all around.

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Heel-Toe Transition
Transition is very smooth right of the box with a fairly standard Phylon midsole with heel and forefoot Zoom units. The outsole also is segmented to promote natural movement and a decoupled (split) toe enhances the feel. No issues at all through the footstrike.

Cushioning
I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: this is an extremely well cushioned shoe, and even more so when you consider the $110 price tag. Nike’s Zoom based shoes should always come with this kind of setup. No more thin met bags or dull heel bags. The Zoom used here is responsive and gives you the stability and court feel all in one. It’s certainly one of the best cushioned shoes I’ve tested in awhile, coming in just below the Rose 6 in my unofficial rankings.

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Besides the excellent Zoom usage, the whole package is very good all around. It’s light but provides adequate support for most players, uses a large forefoot outrigger for extra stability and gives a very natural feel all around. It’s not a complicated setup, but it works to perfection.

Traction
The diamond grid pattern provides very good grip on most court surfaces. I didn’t find it real squeaky, but it stopped on a dime pretty much whenever I asked. I’m not sure that it’s built for outdoor play, but it’s good for all indoor surfaces. Deep flex grooves help here too.

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Materials/Durabilty
I have a few reservations about the long term durability of those lace straps and some have heard of issues with the strap not hooking up with the Velcro patch very well. I also wonder about the rubber heel counter, which seems to just be glued or fused on. The sock-like upper is going to stretch and pull under stress and I could see the heel counter beginning to peel away over time. No issues have popped up in my initial wearings though (you’d be surprised at how many shoes do show flaws early on) so I have nothing to report so far. All in all, I think they’d be durable enough as a team shoe option, especially with the solid colorblocking.

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The HyperRev does just about everything well and has an exceptional cushioning setup – one of the best on the market. Lockdown could be a little better at the heel, but that’s just about my only complaint. It’s simply a great shoe at an unbeatable price and should be near the top of your list to pick up next. Wide footers and big guys may have an issue getting the shoes on, so it’s definitely one that needs to be tried on in-store before a purchase.

hyperrev 2016 review guide

First Impressions: Nike Zoom HyperRev 2016

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

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After two league games, some pickup and a couple shooting sessions, I thought it was time for some initial thoughts on the Nike HyperRev 2016. Look for the full review early next week after I get another league game in, and check out this review over at tackl.com as well.

Fit
There’s a lot to go into from a fitment perspective, but I’ll save most of it for the full review. I will say this: it is extremely hard to get on your foot. There’s no heel pull tab and you basically have to smash the back of the shoe all the way down and torque on the front pull tab to get it on. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, just annoying. I do think it could deter some parents/younger hoopers who aren’t expecting it in-store.

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I’m also very pleased they did away with Flywire for the lacing system. The 2014 and 2015 models relied heavily on that tech, and it just doesn’t provide sufficient lockdown on its own. More traditional strap eyelets get the job done.

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The full neoprene base gives you a comfortable sock-like feel and with the Fuse overlay and strap, provides good containment, although I’ve had some slippage in extreme cases i.e. on a step back at full speed in transition (probably not the best shot selection anyway).

Much more to come in the full review early next week.

Heel-Toe Transition
Transition has always been a strong point of the HyperRev line and it’s very good once again. Flexibility, adequate support and full volume Zoom bags, along with a unique pseudo split toe make for a smooth heel-toe strike.

Cushioning
I mentioned it on Twitter yesterday – if they can put this kind of cushioning/midsole setup into a $110 package, it’s embarrassing what they put into shoes at price points that are 30% higher. The Zoom is plush and responsive, and feels like it’s articulated at the forefoot. Some of the best cushioning in a Nike silo in a looooong time. The KD 7 and 8 were good and the ’15 Rev was solid too, but this is a dream cushioning setup.

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Court feel and responsiveness are predictably very good.

Traction
The diamond pattern on the outsole is a bit reminiscent of what was used on the AJ 2012 (yes I bought those that no one liked, in the orange Jordan Brand Classic colorway with the triple stacked box, two booties and three insoles). It’s solid, but could perhaps benefit from slightly deeper grooves.

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Materials/Durability
No issues so far. I could see the big rubber piece at the heel possibly peeling away from the neoprene – because it takes a lot of abuse when putting the shoe one – but no signs of that yet.

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The full review will be posted soon at TGRR and tackl.com.