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.


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.

“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.

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.

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.

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'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: adidas D Lillard 2

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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

adidas Rose 6 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler

While I wasn’t able to review as many shoes as I would have liked to this calendar year, I still hooped in quite a few including the Under Armour Curry 1, adidas Rose 6, adidas CrazyLight Boost 2015, adidas Crazy 8, Brandblack Black Hawk, Nike Zoom HyperRev 2015, Nike Kyrie 2 and Jordan CP3.VIII. If you’ve read my Rose 6 review here or over on tackl, you’ll know how much of a fan I was of the Rose 6. It’s no surprise then that it’s my 2015 shoe of the year.

Simply put, the Rose 6 is the best cushioned basketball shoe on the market right now – maybe the best one ever. Adidas finally nailed the Boost setup in a hoops shoe, marrying two plush units with a stable midsole for a near-perfect balance of comfort, transition and support. If it sounds like I’m gushing over the shoe, well I kinda am (and they were paid for with 130 of my own dollars).

adidas Rose 6 Boost

First and foremost, Boost is just ridiculously comfortable. No shoe can hold a candle to the Rose 6 in terms of step-in comfort. The forefoot unit is the key one here, as adidas had to take into account forefoot stability and court feel with such a plush, responsive cushioning material. The volume of the forefoot Boost struck that balance perfectly, giving great responsiveness that we’ve come to expect from a Boost unit while also remaining stable and providing good enough court feel for a guard like me.


I think the Stableframe midsole is key too – as we’ve seen in the CrazyLight Boost models, Boost can be rendered way less effective and less comfortable when it’s not paired with a supportive carrier. Robbie Fuller totally nailed it. The Rose 6 knocked cushioning out of the park in every aspect I care about.

From there, they went nuts on internal padding, which is thick and comfy all over. Yeah, the tongue is a little weird but it pads the top of the foot and ankle very well, protecting them from the potentially harsh feel of that top strap. Another great design element was the fabric used on the lining, which was smooth if you felt it from the top-down, yet was grippy when felt from the bottom-up. This just meant it gave you a little extra help in the lockdown department and kept the foot in place even more.


Traction was awesome in the white/silver colorway I tested, and I found the overall fit was great too. Once the upper broke in after a few minutes, it was easy to get everything laced up tightly. The white/silver upper was a bit basic, with a mesh/synthetic combo for a fuse-ish feel, but it was flexible and more than adequate in all areas.


The most obvious visual element is the TPU heel cage, which really didn’t help a ton as far as lockdown, but nonetheless gave the Rose 6 a nice stable external frame. I would have loved to see it articulate a bit more for that exoskeletal feel. To be frank, the shoe is a little ugly (in the white colorway anyway, the away black/red is fire) but it played so well, I don’t really care. It functions beautifully, so it’s beautiful to me.

Unfortunately (and unexpectedly) I did have an issue with the outsole beginning to peel away from the Boost unit on the heel where a tiny outsole flange sticks out. I’ll be sending the Rose 6 back to adidas for replacement, but it’s not an issue I’ve read about elsewhere. The shoe is simply so good on-court that I can overlook this for now.

Doesn’t matter how it looks, doesn’t matter if Derrick Rose is a superstar anymore or not. Bottom line, if I had to wear any shoe I tested this year for a championship game, the Rose 6 would be my go-to without hesitation. Therefore, it’s The Gym Rat Review 2015 Shoe of the Year.

adidasRose6_review guide

Performance Review: adidas Rose 6 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


The last three years of Derrick Rose’s career have been utter disasters, largely thanks to issues beyond his own control. Multiple knee and ankle injuries, and a facial fracture in the preseason have battered the body of the one-time MVP and the face of adidas basketball.

adidas has marketed hope, the will to come back from injury, and Rose’s quiet resiliency but the fact of the matter is their ambassador has been sitting on the bench for roughly 2/3 of Bulls games since the ’11-’12 season. Because of that, Rose signature shoe releases have either been mocked (some recklessly think that his shoes somehow played a role in the injuries) or basically ignored by the sneaker buying community. They haven’t won many over with their aesthetics and Rose hasn’t been on the court enough to create a desire for people to want what he’s wearing.

While the adidas folks have been hamstrung in that department, what they have done is create the best performing signature shoe line in the game. People can pan the looks, the use of different materials and some ever changing tech but ever since his TS Supernatural Creator PE, Rose shoes have been absolute monster performers.

The Rose 6 once again debuted with muted responses and plenty of negativity regarding its looks, but Robbie Fuller and the adidas team may have created the best Rose – maybe the best adidas shoe period – of all time.

I went a half size down from my true 11.5 like usual – I always feel like it helps with the fit as long as I can live with the length. I’ve personally loved the fit of the Rose 4.5 and 5, with each providing complete lockdown. The Rose 6 isn’t quite on that level, but it is still very good.


The upper on the white pair that I purchased is a kind of mesh overlay on synthetic base (the black colorway is more of a traditional Sprint Web). It’s a nice combo, if simplistic, but it is stiff enough to provide good support and retain flexibility throughout. The upper is also well-padded on the interior and features an interesting liner material on the collar – it’s smooth if you run your finger from top to bottom, but from bottom to top it’s grippy with an almost sandpaper-like sensation (Bryan over at Weartesters did the black colorway and said adidas called the material Cat’s Tongue, which is exactly what it feels like). This gives the liner some friction and helps prevent extra movement within the shoe.


Moving the shoe’s most curious design element: that giant heel cage. I initially thought the cage would articulate and tighten when you laced through those top lace loops, but it’s actually fixed in place. The fabric straps will tighten slightly, but the heel portion itself fits pretty snug as is. Lacing is simple and the laces stay in place in the eyelets (some shoes don’t do this and it’s maddening). There’s a nice lace loop on the interior, basically right where the notch is. Lacing through that really locks the top of the foot in and is probably the key piece to that whole upper. Besides that, the loop and strap make up the only other eyelet.

(Schwollo, another reviewer and TGRR supporter, took matters into his own hands to improve the lockdown even more – check that out here.)

This brings that massive tongue into play. It’s extremely comfortable and well padded, but I’ll admit it’s a little awkward at first. It’s really padded because there’d be an uncomfortable amount of ankle pressure from those loops without it, but I will say it keeps me from feeling 100% locked in. I don’t report any side to side or worrisome slippage, but the tongue does give you a little more room around the ankle than you might be used to. It’s the only (extremely minor) negative I have with the upper.


The collar, I might add, is probably the most padded and comfortable one I’ve found on a hoops shoe.

Heel-Toe Transition
Two large Boost units plus a midfoot Stable Frame give you buttery transition right out of the box. I can’t stress how quickly these felt broken in. They’re ready to go the second you put them on.

As much as I love Micro G and some versions of unlocked Zoom, Boost is the best cushioning platform on the market. I rock a pair of Energy Boost 2 ATRs almost daily because everything else – even my Flyknit Trainers, Brooks Glycerins and Asics Gel Noosas, all fantastic shoes – can’t match up in terms of sheer comfort. Same goes for this version of Boost in the Rose 6; it’s the most comfortable basketball shoe I’ve put on.


Boost volume was increased in the forefoot, and it’s definitely noticeable. The plushness and responsiveness is incredible, but stability is also very good. I felt very connected to the floor and able to move laterally like I wanted to. Sometimes you’ll give up responsiveness and court feel with a soft cushioning platform, but Boost is unlike any other cushioning platform.

Another aspect that I loved was the midfoot Stable Frame. It’s a perfect moderating piece between the two Boost units and gives me just the right amount of support through my arches. With 6 years of high school and college ball followed by double reconstructive hip surgeries (swear I’m only 26), my back and lower body are generally in a chronic state of soreness. It’s not a miracle worker or the answer to an injury or anything, but the Rose 6 has been as good as any shoe I’ve recently played in when it comes to supporting me and relieving some of that foot, knee, hip, and back pain.


I’ll leave you with this: I love Micro G and I slipped on the Curry 2 after I tried on the Rose 6. But the Curry 2 cushioning felt completely inadequate compared to what I felt in the Rose 6. I have no doubt that the Curry 2 has a great setup and I’d like to review a pair, but the Rose 6 absolutely blew it away on the first impression.

adidas nailed the traction setup once again. The grooves look a little shallow at first glance, but the outsole grips like crazy. Extremely sticky on every indoor surface I’ve been on – a YMCA court, middle school gym floor, and tile-like church league surface.


No qualms from me here. adidas’ overall quality has been excellent in the Rose line and it’s no different on the 6. Everything is well built and put together with no apparent shortcuts in workmanship or materials.


Bottom line, this shoe is incredible. The best cushioned basketball shoe I’ve played in, beating out personal favorites in the  XX8, TS Supernatural Creator, Zoom BB II and Kobe VI. But it’s better than just Boost – the lockdown, support, and overall package is really, really good. I’ll be playing in these for a long, long time.

adidasRose6_review guide

Performance Review: adidas Crazylight Boost 2015

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


After a review hiatus I’ve able to pick up and hoop in adidas’ flagship shoe, the Crazylight Boost 2015, for the past couple of weeks. adidas is gunning heavily for more market share in the US – the $200 million they gave to James Harden, dropping the NBA jersey sponsorship in order to focus on the product – and the CL Boost 2015 is good first step in that process. The shoe features Boost cushioning in the heel, which at this point is a proven product, and introduces Primeknit in a basketball model for the first time ever. The CL Boost features two of adidas’ latest and greatest technologies and is priced competitively, but how does it stack up on court?

There are so many lenses through which you can look at a knitted or woven upper and its use on a performance basketball shoe, and the final verdict is likely going to come down to what you value as a player. So here it goes…


Primeknit, in my opinion, is far better than any iteration of Flyknit to date. It is lighter, thinner, flexes more naturally and conforms to your foot better right out of the box. It’s the closest thing to a sock you’ll put on. The lack of material (not saying this as a bad thing) is almost shocking at first – I could see so much of my neon Team Speed socks through the upper it almost gave the shoe a different colorway!

With that said, the lockdown and fit was pretty good overall. The lace loops – so much better than Flywire/Flyknit combos – provide solid lockdown and an extremely tight fit if you cinch them up hard. The upper features a widely spaced knit on the midfoot and toebox, and a tighter knit along the vamp and other areas that will receive stress from lateral cuts.

Containment is better than other knitted/woven shoes, but still leaves something to be desired. I constantly felt like my foot was sliding over the edge of the footbed and never felt fully secure overall. Dead space when laced tightly, especially in the toe box, is an issue. Also, the individual lace straps can feel kind of harsh when laced up tight to achieve the most lockdown.


The external heel counter is rather large and stiff, and it has to be – the shoe is so low cut that the top eyelet is barely high enough to lock the heel in. I noticed a tiny bit of heel slippage (which may be slightly due to my swapping of the insole – more on that later) but I never felt unsettled or nervous to make a hard cut in that area.

Despite all of that and despite the other benefits a knitted upper brings…I really don’t think knitted and woven uppers are the answer on a performance basketball shoe. The containment just isn’t, there’s always too much dead space, and I’ve never found lockdown to be 100% secure in a knitted shoe, no matter what type it is. For basketball purposes. I will take Techfit (as used in the Crazyquick 1 for absolutely insane lockdown), Engineered Mesh, or a Fuse-based upper like the Rose 4.5/5 every day of the week over a knitted upper. When used correctly, such as the CQ1 or the Energy Boost 2.0 ATR runner, Techfit is the best upper out there according to yours truly. *ducks*

Heel-Toe Transition
Transition was smooth and the shoes were broken in right out of the box. No issues at all in this area.


This aspect really begins once you get rid of the atrocious stock insole. Why adidas put such an insulting insole into their top-of-the-line shoe is beyond me. I tried a couple of different insole swaps, including my old Rose 4.5s and a Crazy Comfort set that I’d been using in my Crazy 8s.

The forefoot adiprene+ is pretty thin and firm, so I opted for the extra thick Crazy Comfort set. It gave me better forefoot cushioning and still let the Boost work as it should. It may have raised my heel just slightly and hampered the heel fit, but it’s marginal at best.

Heel Boost is fantastic – well cushioned, responsive and aids in a smooth transition. While the forefoot is thin, it provides some support and adiprene+ is a durable compound. It’s miles ahead of last year’s horrific CL Boost. A Sprintframe system is used in the midsole and is rather supportive for a lightweight shoe. There’s also a small plastic piece under the midfoot for some additional support, which is a nice touch for those of us that have tens of thousands of court hours on our bones.


The shoe plays very low to the ground and is fairly stable despite the upper lacking some containment. Responsiveness is also high, and overall comfort is good as long as you swap insoles. Switching the stock insoles for some thicker ones also helps the dead space issue up front as well.

After being a massive failure on the Crazylight Boost 2014, traction is way better on the 2015 model. Featuring a blade pattern, I’ve found great traction on the various YMCA and high school floors I’ve been on. Most of those courts were at least relatively clean, but I could see the compound picking up some dust on a bad floor. I would not advise using these outdoors either, as the rubber is fairly soft. For now though, traction is really good.


It remains to be seen how the super thin Primeknit holds up but so far, so good. Primeknit has a thin Fuse-ish coating on its threads for further durability without making the knit stiffer than it needs to be. The outsole should hold up well on clean courts but I could see it wearing out over the course of a season of practices/workouts/games. Boost and adiprene+ both are fantastic cushioning units and also should hold up well.

If you’re a high school or college athlete, I do have some concerns about the knit holding up over the course of a season, but I don’t know if I ever made it through a HS/college season on one pair of shoes (which is why I typically had a pair for practice and another for games).

As I mentioned before, I have some decidedly mixed feelings on knitted uppers on performance shoes in general. The technology is amazing and the green processes involved are obviously fantastic. But for pure performance, I’d gladly take a different platform.

It’s impossibly light and comfortable, is good enough in all areas, and is damn good looking too. I buy less shoes than I used to and am still hooping on the regular, but these probably won’t stick in my rotation for next to my Rose 5s/Crazy 8s/Curry Ones.


Performance Review: adidas Crazy 8

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


Some people may look at the adidas Crazy 8 as a relic, an artifact, or just another retro model with a million colorways. It’s an 18-year-old design based on a platform that adidas doesn’t have the rights to anymore (Feet You Wear), and to the uninitiated, it simply may not seem relevant. But for the older, more mature sneakerhead and some of my other veteran reviewers, the shoe remains a performance beast and a rock solid on-court option in 2015.

Upon first glance, you instantly recognize the Crazy 8 as a 90s shoe. Initially released in 1997 as a Kobe Bryant endorsed model, it’s got strap-like lace loops, a rounded outsole and midsole that wraps up around the foot, and leather everywhere. It looks bulky, heavy, and fairly cumbersome.


But all those elements I mentioned give it a fantastic fit from heel to toe. I went a half-size down with my narrower foot and am happy I did. It’ll accommodate many foot types and break in nicely after 3-4 wearings. The lace loops (like a predecessor to Dynamic Fit straps) that hug the shoe cinch up tight and the heel/collar area has crisscrossing loops running around the heel for some extra security around the ankle.

The idea behind FYW was to allow the foot to move as naturally as possible by embracing the shape and structure of the foot. With that in mind, the midsole wraps up higher than most shoes and is rounded on the edges for a more natural feel and it really locks the foot onto the footbed of the shoe. Ankle support and heel fit is just really, really good.


Having a primarily leather upper is nice too, because it flexes and creases naturally while conforming to the contours of the foot better than most synthetics. My only real gripe was a pressure point on the outside of my foot about halfway down where midsole wraps up around the side of the foot, but it went away after a few wearings.


Heel-Toe Transition
Walking around in them straight out of the box, the Crazy 8s will feel a little clunky. But that’s only because they aren’t fully broken in and you probably aren’t quite used to that outsole yet. On-court, it’s a different story as the shoe loosens up and flexes at exactly the right spots all while giving you plenty of support. It’s almost hard to look at the shoe and believe that it’s butter smooth underfoot, but give it 4-5 hours of good runs and it’ll surprise you.

For once, it’s a shoe that achieves smooth transition without sacrificing all the support or making the midsole a little slab of foam.

The overall cushioning package is very good, but it is also the only aspect where the shoe shows its age in regards to the midsole material it uses. On one hand, the court feel is incredible – like the best you’ll find in the game right now. The thin, firm midsole and contoured outsole keep you glued to the floor on any type of movement.


Because of that, the responsiveness is also pretty good. The genius flex grooves allow your foot to flex at exactly the right spots so that you move naturally and dynamically. You won’t get much energy return from the midsole, sapping some of the responsive feel you’d get from Micro G or other foam compounds, but it is still very good.


If you’re looking for impact protection or expecting a more plush feel though, the Crazy 8 might not be for you. It’s very firm and although the engineering of the outsole makes it great for court feel/responsiveness, it doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a little harsh feeling from a straight comfort standpoint. The support is fantastic however, thanks to a perfectly placed midfoot pod and the traditional Torsion midfoot system. The shoe plays a lot lighter than it feels in hand.

I did swap out the stock insole (a very thin piece of foam in the model I bought) for a leftover Crazy Comfort insole from an old pair of Crazy Lights that came with two insole options. I normally hate insoles because they kill court feel and always made me feel too high off the ground, but the Crazy 8 sits so low and wraps the foot so well that it’s actually perfect. A good pair of insoles helps the step in comfort quite a bit.

Traction is outstanding. Thick rubber with deep herringbone grooves and perfect flex points – pretty much a recipe for good traction. The firmer rubber outsole should hold up well outdoors too.


Shoes were built differently back when the Crazy 8 was introduced, and this thing reflects that: it’s built like a tank. While it plays much lighter than it feels in hand, the Crazy 8 doesn’t skimp on durable materials. The upper is mostly leather, while this scarlet colorway dropped in some woven panels on the lace straps (the 3M accents were an oh-so-nice touch also). It’s rock solid from top to bottom and I anticipate it being one of the more durable shoes I’ve owned.


The Crazy 8 may be an outsider in today’s shoe market but it’s definitely not outdated. While synthetic uppers, advanced cushioning systems and feather-weight shoes all have their merits, the Crazy 8s only purpose is to lock you in, move with you, and take any beating you put it through.

At $110 (many colorways are much cheaper online), it’s an awesome value and a versatile shoe for many positions – probably best suited for a slashing 2-guard or 3/4 wings and posts. It’s staying in my rotation for the great fit and support, and you should consider adding it to yours as well.


Performance Review: adidas Rose 5 Boost

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


Along with many other reviewers and sneaker aficionados, I anticipated the release of the Rose 5 as much or more than any other this year – mostly due to the implementation of full length Boost for the first time ever in a hoops shoe. The Crazy Light Boost experimented with heel Boost only, and in my only try on in-store the forefoot felt so terrible I couldn’t justify spending my own cash on it (we pay for all reviews out of pocket).

But I was going all in on the Rose 5, and a little unsure of what to expect. Running shoes featuring Boost foam were pillowy soft and bouncy – great for linear activities but not so much for the dynamic movements and change of direction that come with the game of basketball. The Boost setup in the Rose 5 though, is fine-tuned for the hardwood and is actually only a small part of what makes the 5 one of my favorite shoes I’ve put on my foot this year.

I went a half-size down to an 11 and found the fit perfect for my foot, with just the right amount of length and a very sung lateral fit.


I’ll throw Boost aside for a second, because the tremendous fit and lockdown is the best aspect of the Rose 5. The shoe features a SprintWeb upper with a Fitcage structure along the medial and lateral sides. Fitcage is a frame of sorts, holding the sides of the foot in place, wrapping around the heel with a substantial external heel counter, and extending up to the collar around the ankle bone. It’s stiff yet still molds with the foot and locks the foot in place. There’s not even a hint of slippage, even with my narrower foot. It’s every bit as secure as the best fitting shoes I’ve tested – the Clutchfit and Crazyquick 1 – and provides extra security against ankle inversion.


I’ve seen some criticisms of the synthetic upper material for its excessive creasing in the toebox. And it definitely does crease immediately, but I didn’t find it affecting the performance in any way. It may affect wide footers that take up more of the toebox volume, but I doubt that it’s a significant thing. I found it creasing in the normal areas that any Fuse or Frame type of upper would, and the shoes laced up with vise-like lockdown from toe to ankle. I didn’t notice any hotspots, and while it’s not a natural feeling upper like the Crazyquick 1, XX9, or Clutchfit, it’s as secure as anything out there. Much like the Rose 4.5 achieved great lockdown despite having a more stiff upper, the Rose 5 is near-perfect for all intents and purposes.

For what it’s worth, other colorways appear to have a SprintWeb mesh upper rather than the thicker SprintWeb synthetic found on this “Brenda” colorway. These may crease and fit a little more naturally than the colorway I picked up.

Heel-Toe Transition
The full length Boost midsole is spongy and smooth, and transition is aided by a large stability plate underneath the arch with four fingers extending to the forefoot and heel portions of the shoe. With the translucent outsole, you can easily see this plate sandwiched between the outsole rubber and Boost midsole. Transition was perfect, especially after a couple of wearings.


Boost is one of the hottest technologies in the industry, and has to be one of the most unique cushioning platforms on the market. In running shoe form, it’s super soft and flexible, providing spongy responsiveness and one of the plushest rides you’ll find. The basketball shoe version doesn’t feel quite the same, although it’s still softer and bouncier than anything else you’ll try on today. Zoom Air, Lunarlon, and Micro G are all more firm and structured, and I still think I might prefer a heel-toe Zoom setup or Micro G midsole. But Boost is damn close to those two and I can’t really find anything bad to say about it.


The midsole foam in the forefoot feels a little thin and less responsive than in the heel, but still provides good impact protection and responsiveness. Stability is taken care of by the Fitcage and low to the ground ride, and overall responsiveness is very, very good. I mentioned the support plate before, and it provides plenty of arch stability and lateral stability as it slightly wraps up and around the side of the Boost foam.


Boost is revered for its energy return, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m not sure if I’m ready to put it ahead of Zoom Air, but adidas finally has a hoops cushioning platform (although they HAD a great thing going with Supernatural Creator-era FYW) that can compete with Zoom and Micro G.

The toe half of the forefoot is pretty traditional solid rubber, wavy herringbone and provides good stopping ability on most floors. The middle half of the forefoot and heel portions are a translucent rubber with a nubby pattern. On semi-dusty floors, I found myself needing to swipe to get great traction, but on most good floors you’ll be fine. Very good, not quite great, overall.


If you’re someone that cares about creasing, you won’t like these. The speed at which they crease hurts the Rose 5’s appeal as an off-court option – although that’s not what it’s built for anyway. I see the upper holding up extremely well, as it’s sturdy and tough from any angle. I did get mine stepped on in a Saturday morning league and got a pretty nasty scuff on the side, but again it’s not affecting the performance in any way.


I’ll be interested to see how Boost holds up over the long term, and whether it will lose some of that bounce and plush feel as it wears down. All cushioning eventually will get beaten down, but longevity is what I’m interested in. Given how soft it is, I imagine it will wear down some but so far, so good.

Overall, I loved this shoe to be honest. It fit fantastic and checked all of the cushioning boxes: soft impact protection, good responsiveness and an extremely low to the ground feel – even if it was a little thin under the forefoot. The Fitcage frame is still probably my favorite aspect, as the lockdown it provided made it feel as secure as any shoe I’ve worn. Do I wish the upper was more natural and less stiff? Yes, but then it probably wouldn’t have worked as well with the Fitcage and may not have provided the containment needed on this platform.

I think Boost lived up to and exceeded my expectations in basketball form. The Rose 5 should be one of the first shoes you try on this season, and is a shoe of the year contender alongside Nike’s KD7 and Under Armour’s Clutchfit.


Performance Review Head to Head: The Crazyquicks

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


I recently posted my adidas Crazyquick 2 performance review, and given my lukewarm feelings toward the shoe I thought I’d make a comparison to the original Crazyquick that I hold near and dear to my heart. Hopefully, this will reveal the differences between the two and perhaps encourage you to try the second version even if you weren’t a fan of the first one.

This is the major difference I found between the two models. I loved the original Crazyquick because it fit like a glove. A one-piece, full Techfit compression upper combined with an extended Sprintframe provided complete lockdown and 1:1 fit. At the same time, I know a lot of folks felt like the Techfit construction didn’t provide enough lateral containment and that the Sprintframe was far too narrow. That simply comes down to the type of foot you have and how tight you like your shoes to be. For me, with a narrow foot and requiring a super snug fit so that I can change direction quickly, that shoe was perfect. It’s probably the best fitting shoe I’ve played in – 1A and 1B along with the Kobe VI.



The Crazyquick 2 went away from the pure Techfit build and used synthetic overlays in a similar pattern to what you’ll see on the Rose 4.5. There was more volume in the upper and the Sprintframe wasn’t as extended as the first model – both positive steps for those of you that felt the first was too narrow. The containment is there, but the fit was not 1:1 for me and the Crazyquick 2 played more like your average shoe than something completely different like the original Crazyquick.


Both shoes ran about a 1/2 size long so I would definitely go down from your normal size if you are planning to order them.

Heel-Toe Transition
These shoes are built to be flexibile, smooth and responsive, making the heel-toe process effortless. Easily the smoothest shoes from heel strike to toe off out there. The outsole zones are setup perfectly as well, providing you the stable, natural feel you’ll love.


The original Crazyquick took heat for its perceived lack of cushioning, but if you’re buying these shoes to hoop in you’re not going to be looking for as much of a luxurious, plush feel. In order to be the flexible, stable, responsive and quick shoe that it is designed to be, you’re going to give up that soft cushioning. In return you get great court feel, stability and responsiveness in any direction. Because of how it played underfoot and how you were locked into the footbed, the original Crazyquick became an extension of your foot.

The Crazyquick 2 is largely the same setup, but perhaps slightly softer in the ball of the foot. I mentioned in the review that it feels like a slightly softer density foam was used in that area, and still didn’t affect the court feel at all. I don’t have any kind of heel-toe drop data, but it did feel like the original played slightly lower to the ground – though that’s all relative compared to other shoes on the market and the Crazyquick 2 will give you unrivaled court feel and stability. From the rear view, it does look like the original Crazyquick plays slightly lower at the heel.


I think as far as pure impact protection and softness goes, the Crazyquick 2 is slightly better – so those of you that didn’t like the firm feel of the original might want to give its successor a try.

Absolutely perfect on both. Deep, grooved herringbone takes over the entire outsole and the different zones provide stop-on-a-dime traction in any direction.


The nod goes to the Crazyquick 2 in this category, simply because the upper is a little more sturdy thanks to the overlays. The original model probably lent itself to some blowouts in the forefoot area, because the Techfit upper may not have given heavier or more explosive players enough containment on hard lateral cuts. I didn’t have any problems with it, and the way in which the three stripes were used to provide support on the original version was enough for me.


Both midsoles and outsoles used high quality foam and rubber, and I didn’t experience a breakdown in the compounds on the original Crazyquick until after very heavy use.


Bottom line, the original Crazyquick was built for quick slashers and guards desiring maximum flexibility and court feel. It featured a glove-like fit, a responsive midsole and excellent traction.

The Crazyquick 2 was built with the same player in mind, but should also work better for a wider range of players and foot sizes. The fit, for me, wasn’t quite as snug and that soured me on it (probably because I loved the first one so much). I relly like the Crazyquick 2, but it didn’t meet the standards set by the original Crazyquick or even the Rose 4.5. But even if you weren’t a fan of the first Crazyquick, I’d still try on the second and see if the changes adidas made are enough for you to give them a shot on court.



Performance Review: adidas Rose 4.5

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

I picked up the Rose 4.5 a few weeks ago, due to the fact the performance shoe releases had either slowed down a bit or were increasingly difficult to cop (seriously, why do they have to make the Kobe 9 Elite so limited? It’s a performance basketball shoe that some of us, ya know, would like to wear on the court and I’m not paying some BS reseller price either).


I had previously struggled a bit with Rose’s signature shoe line, as both the 2 and 3 were not favorites of mine. The cushioning, to me, was non-existent and non-responsive in those shoes. (It should be noted that his first pseudo-signature shoe, the TS Supernatural Creator, is an all-time great performer and one that I scour eBay for on a weekly basis.) I passed on the 4 since I had other shoes I was reviewing at the time, although the “Quick”-inspired midsole intrigued me. I finally came around on the 4.5 and have given it several runs over the past few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Rose 4.5 is one of the best guard shoes I’ve tested.


Like many adidas models that employ a Sprintframe heel counter, the Rose 4.5 runs pretty narrow – especially in the heel. You can see how narrow it’s built looking straight on at the back of the shoe, so if you have a wider foot you might struggle to get in these. Personally, the narrow heel was great and the fit at the heel was completely secure.


Through the midfoot and toebox you have a mixture of synthetic leather and mesh, known as Sprintweb, with the wavy pattern laid out in a way that promotes flexibility. I found the upper to be a little stiff, a little plastic-y at first, especially in the toes where you have a thicker toebox with some structure for protection. Still, you’re able to get a very snug, yet comfortable fit after a game or two when tightly laced and the upper breaks in nicely. If you’re an adidas fan and have played in some other models this year, it’s not 1:1 or glove-like as the Crazyquick, but it locks down way better than the CrazyLight III.


It should also be noted that the asymmetrical collar and Geofit interior padding are both very nice, providing range of motion and interior comfort and structure.

Heel-Toe Transition

As mentioned before, the midsole is segmented similar to the Crazyquick but only on the medial side. The lateral, or outer edge looks basically like a traditional midsole, and the heel-toe transition is excellent. The outsole is set up similar to the Crazyquick as well, with prominent flex grooves and zones. Overall, you’ll get a smooth transition from heel strike to toe off and shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever in that area.



As is the theme with a lot of current adidas models, the cushioning is very low-profile and fairly firm. It’s an EVA midsole with an adiprene insert under the heel (you’ll see it looks like Crazyquick under the insole.) The flexibility aids the responsiveness of the shoe, and I felt like I was able to plant and change direction quickly.
rose45_Court Feelrose45_Responsiveness

The court feel and stability are also excellent, and there’s a surprising amount of midfoot support built into a low-profile cushioning setup. As someone that had experienced some soreness after playing in the Venomenon and HyperRev, the support in the Rose 4.5 was a blessing. You don’t always get that in a basketball shoe but when you do (like in this shoe and the UA Anatomix Spawn) it makes a noticeable difference.




Traction was pure herringbone laid out into various zones on the outsole. The grooves were deep and traction was good from the start on just about any floor. It provided great stopping and cutting ability, and was simply very good overall.



I anticipate the Rose 4.5 holding up very well. The synthetics are high-quality and feel pretty sturdy on foot, even if they are a little stiff. The midsole foam is a proven compound and adiprene is typically long-lasting when it comes to impact protection. The herringbone grooves are thick and fairly deep, while the outsole as a whole is a firm and durable compound. It’s a rock-solid shoe overall.


Rock-solid is probably the best way to describe the Rose 4.5 overall. Want a snug , structured fit? This shoe has it. How about a low-to-the ground midsole, great traction, and midfoot support? Look no further. This is just an all-around excellent guard shoe, and a solid one for anyone desiring a low-profile ride with considerable support and flexibility.

The Rose 4.5 is one of my favorite shoes I’ve tested so far and one that I anticipate hooping in for a long time.