A lightweight & versatile build? Check. Priced under $120? Check. Widely available & customizable via Nike By You? Check that one too. Here’s a comprehensive 3-month, outdoor PG 5 review for ya.
And after a very strange PG 4, things MUST be better this time, as otherwise – we’ll end up in the trash territory. And nobody wants their money spent on that. I’ll pick apart the shoe’s fit & comfort, on-court performance, build quality, versatility & value for the price.
I. SPEC SHEET
Click to inspect the full-sized image
II. 1-MIN REVIEW
For those in a hurry: the Nike PG 5 is a solid all-around performer that won’t blow many away but will serve most on-court.
It’s got solid traction but think twice about taking these outdoors too often. The Air Strobel returns in full-length fashion and offers a decent cushion setup with a bit of all: court feel, low ride height, stability, response and a bit of compression.
I could feel a minimal improvement here – things were a tad bit plusher than they were with the lebron 19.
Support also underwent changes and is the shoe’s strongest area. Its secure fit & support features offered me a confident experience but one that’s not restricting.
The mesh + textile build is definitely on the cheaper side but works performance-wise. Don’t expect high-quality materials or premium touches here though.
For alternatives, you could snatch the Jordan Reach Elevation for $120 which has a slightly better cushion setup, better durability for outdoor play and the wider last results in a better fit for wide footers.
Or, if you’re saving cash, you could grab the Nike Renew Elevate which feels fairly similar but is priced at just 80 dollars.
> The full review is below
III. FIT & COMFORT
Do they fit TTS or should you deviate from your size? How comfy are they? Anything else to know?
You won’t have to scratch your head as you did with the PG 4 if you got the shoe.
The PG 5 should fit most guys true to their usual size. Expect a snug, near one-to-one fit and most people also report that these leave just a tad bit of space length-wise. Nothing crazy, just some wiggle room.
For me as a big wide footer, I went up half a size since the shoe definitely feels narrow internally. The upper is very thin and forgiving, so no issues with the material colliding with my foot.
The foam coming up from the midsole in the forefoot and back portions did jam the sides of my boat-like feet but it broke in and I soon found myself liking the fit overall.
Still a little tight, but I’d rather take a condensed and secure fit than a roomy & dangerous one where I’d slide all over the place. About a week was all I needed to feel fully comfortable when it’s game time.
So, true to size for regular/narrow footers for a secure, snug fit. Most wide footers will likely need to go up half a size but if you can, try these out in a store before grabbing ’em or order two pairs online just to be sure.
COMFORT: NICE AND LIGHT
Speaking of comfort itself, the PG 5 is nothing special but absolutely gets the job in providing me a solid, distraction-free experience when I’m playing or just messing around on the court.
The shoe is almost absurdly light (yeah, that’s becoming a thing nowadays) and noticeably more feathery-like compared to last year’s shoe.
There’s a bit of internal padding around your ankle and a single large achilles notch to secure your heel in place. The tongue isn’t very well-padded but since it’s made of nylon and feels nice woth no chafing issues, so I’m cool with that.
Aside from being lighter, the shoe just feels faster and more sturdy when stacked against the PG 4. No more wobbly materials, excellent containment, smooth step transitions, and a solid overall experience.
Each step also felt more pleasant since they’re using a plush insole now. Always a plus.
Does it grip various surfaces consistently? Is floor dust a factor? How long will the outsoles last?
Looks familiar? For my OGs out there (or slight OGs for that matter), this traction pattern is straight from the cult classic Kobe 9 and that shoe has legendary status traction, without even exaggerating.
The PG 5 gripped the outdoor courts excellently for me, and I have no issues with these outsoles performance-wise.
Deadly bite no matter the movement as a multi-directional pattern is being used here, no unnatural articulations or anything like that, just simply great traction.
Not a lot of wiping needed either – an occasional swipe or two every so often was all I did, and those were probably purely out of habit.
The only place where I needed to wipe these down a bit more often is the amazingly wrecked blacktop I sometimes play on when I’m not able to get to my usual park with a synthetic rubber surface for one reason or another.
This blacktop is straight from the 80s with all kinds of nasty debris lying around, along with a banged-up concrete on several areas.
It’s an abrasive surface, so most shoes don’t have issues gripping it but if you step on certain dead spots – things can turn from good to nightmarish. This wasn’t the case with the PG 5.
Even skipping a wipe or two in the heat of a battle, the pattern was able to catch my movements properly, albeit probably with a bit more “lag” if I would have really tried to notice the difference. But that’s the thing – since I didn’t notice it, it’s a pass.
Fantastic outdoor traction is all you need to know here.
Don’t get too excited now. Some issues come up if you plan to take these indoors on the hardwood later.
I haven’t personally had the chance to take these indoors and test ’em out properly but several reviewers report on questionable performance indoors, especially after hooping outside on a more abrasive surface that burns up the pattern.
So, if you happened to play outdoors for a while and decide to take these to a gym, there’s really not enough resistance on the surface to help catch your movements, and the rubber that’s left will likely cause some slide-outs and general “lag” when stopping and popping.
That’s just the nature of some rubber compounds. Some of them don’t have this problem, others do when less tacky rubber used. I can’t 100% confirm this myself but based on the general reception, looks like we got the latter with the PG 5.
This is why I recommend either sticking with these indoors or outdoors solely as you might end up a little screwed. Not saying this will happen 100% but there’s a good chance it will, speaking from personal experience.
If you use this one as a straight-up indoor shoe – the traction should be just fine though.
Now, just because the pattern is identical to the Kobe 9 doesn’t mean the rubber Nikey used is also the same. And it’s clearly not. Unfortunately, this is today’s leading issue among basketball sneakers in my opinion. ESPECIALLY with Nike products.
The jordan 1 had durable rubber. People were banging in those for years. On the PG 5 – the rubber wears out super quickly. I was already seeing quite severe visual damage on my high-wear areas such as the forefoot, not even a full month in.
These are just not outdoor-ready. No way around it. I was able to play comfortably and effectively for the 3 months but the pattern is almost fully burnt off now, excluding a few areas where we usually don’t do a lot of plants or push-offs.
Since the knobs are virtually gone, the rubber itself is still able to catch my strides at a good rate, plus I’m playing on abrasive surfaces, and 9 times out of 10, you’ll still have good bite outdoors even if you blow through the pattern.
Not out-of-the-box level but still fine.
These are not available on Nike By You anymore, so you won’t be able to slap on XDR rubber outsoles for better durability (which you could after the shoe launched).
However, if you can find the EP version of the shoe somewhere, those offer the stronger XDR rubber and should prolong your time in the PG 5. Overseas stores will be your friend, especially Asian stores if you’re looking for the EP version.
How’s the impact protection? What about step comfort, energy return, and ride height? What about the stability of the foam?
Nike calls the cushion setup a full-length Air Dot Weld Strobel but it’s really just the same Air Strobel going from heel to toe, just like the PG 4. There might be some differences in the exact air unit but I’ll leave those to the people who have the ability to take the shoe apart and go more in-depth.
Check out this Reddit thread if you’re curious what these pack inside.
Along with the Air unit, there’s also a Phylon foam midsole underneath it and while the Air unit actually felt a bit plusher for me, the midsole under it felt stiffer than last year’s.
Or maybe the actual insole is what made the stepping motions feel comfier than last year’s shoe. Or a combination of both.
But the end result is rather strange for me. Each initial step (first contact with the ground) felt nice and plush but the later part of the motion (push-offs, jump-offs after landing, etc.) felt stiff because of that foam used.
Things normalized a bit a couple of weeks in but the end experience still leaves room for improvement in my opinion. It’s not a bad setup, it just felt a bit weird for the lack of a better term, and took some time to get used to.
The PG 5 will still offer you a lower-to-the-ground ride compared to last year’s, it’s more stable now, it definitely feels faster and more responsive but without making things noticeably firmer than they were with the 4th shoe.
Steps still felt nice, and while there’s not a lot of felt “bounce” or spring back since that’s just the nature of old-school Air, the performance was always there for the most part. Even if I didn’t feel a lot of it.
Most positions should find enough impact protection here unless you’re very heavy & athletic or older and will be playing solely outdoors. And guys who felt last year’s setup was just too much – this one’s a faster, more stable version of that without completely taking away comfort.
And if you thought you needed more POP in your steps while hooping in the PG 4, well then I’d need to take you over to my shoe list for jumpers. That should fulfill your explosive desires I’m pretty sure.
How much security does it provide? What about stability and foot containment? Any restrictions?
Security is definitely the area where the PG 5 made smart improvements over the previous shoe from Paul George. No more clunky shrouds with zippers, no more multiple layers that don’t really do much. Let’s break down the main support features.
It all starts with a proper fit, of course. The PG 5 runs snug and secure, so no side-to-side movements inside the footbed, no bulkiness either.
You also ride lower to the ground now and since the foam midsole is more rigid, both overall stability and torsional support went from okay to excellent.
The platform of the shoe is wider & more flat than last year’s which, guess what, also adds to a very stable ride. Some shoes can feel clunky and choppy due to a near-flat base but I didn’t find this to be the case with the 5th PG.
There’s also an X-shaped TPU midfoot shank that you can see through the hole in the middle, which ensures you’ll have the needed torsional rigidity. I think this is a decent choice for someone who’s got a case of plantar fasciitis (flat feet).
Then there’s an internal heel counter for heel & ankle lockdown, certain parts of the midsole come up acting as sidewalls for containment, and there’s also a Fuse piece on top of the upper laterally, to help with holding your foot in.
The midsole also protrudes laterally a bit, acting as an outrigger for further lateral protection.
The lacing system is Nikey’s traditional integration with the Flywire cables, as those cables are attached to the laces and pull down on the upper once you tighten the shoe up.
And that’s all you’ll ever need to play securely AND without being overly restricted. Everything feels in-tune together, no annoying pains, collisions with the materials, or foot suffocation.
Just be aware of those little sidewalls that come up in a few areas as those initially collided with the sides of my feet in an uncomfortable manner. That went away not even a full week in though AND it’s likely due to my wide feet. Still worth keeping in mind.
VII. THE BUILD
What are the materials? How well do they perform on-court? How’s the quality & reliability?
If we’re talking pure value for the money, the materials used are probably the weakest part of the PG 5. On the other hand, if we’re talking about performance and feel on the court, there’s not a lot to complain about.
You’ll have to pick a side for this one, as unfortunately, we don’t get both in this case.
The upper is mainly a textile & mesh build that’s extremely thin, especially the forefoot portion. The lateral piece and the back portion utilize Fuse overlays for additional structure.
They look and feel like leather but it’s really more of the same synthetic plasticy stuff that doesn’t feel as plasticy this time.
The lacing system is decent and the lace loops are using that same leather-looking Fuse. I don’t know how long these will last but so far, no issues there 3 months in.
The tongue looks to be made of nylon, and the shoe sports a half-bootie construction. This means that the tongue isn’t separated from the upper as you’d normally see, but instead stitched together with the material internally, so the upper is one single piece.
Great for a one-to-one fit but can sometimes be a pain to put on. Not the case for the PG 5 though – these are super quick to slap on. Even for my gigantic feet.
In terms of pure performance – this upper is fine. It’s ultra-light and definitely plays that way, moderately breathable, and doesn’t need a lot of time before the fabric softens up and starts wrapping around your foot very nicely.
It’s pretty strongly reinforced but that doesn’t hinder the build’s ability to move effectively with my foot.
For $110, this is just more of the same formula we’re getting from the Swoosh. Solid performance, no real issues per se but clearly cheaping out on the material choices. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s your thing.
Or, let me take you to my ultimate budget shoe list where you’ll see what I’m talking about. Awesome options for as low as $100 and BELOW.
So here’s the thing. It’s a budget signature that retails at 110 bucks, sure, but I’ve seen other brands put out shoes with much better build quality at the same price range.
Take the Dame line from adidas, for example. Those never go over $115 and offer great modern materials that usually don’t feel cheap, can last a while outdoors, and feel nice on foot.
Nikey can do better is what I’m trying to say. Cutting costs and maximizing profits? You bet. Or at least that’s what I think is happening.
Or perhaps the PG line still hasn’t managed to convert a lot of sales with the 4 models so far, so Nikey isn’t putting a lot of money into the projects yet. Who knows.
But we as the consumers experience the end result and there’s no denying that some of us would like some premium touches or at least better overall build quality if the shoe has a “signature” name attached to it.
This mesh material doesn’t look like it’ll last multiple seasons if we’re talking outdoor hoops.
I’m not seeing a lot of frays or damage to the seams but the upper overall looks pretty banged up. That’s the best durability insight I can give right now as perhaps it’s too soon to judge it.
But if you’re looking for a durable outdoor tank or a premium experience – you won’t find those things here. The shoe plays fine, you’ll just have to get around the cheap design choices.
Rounding things up: are these well-rounded? Who’s best suited for it? Is it a good deal for the money?
The Nike PG 5 is a very solid all-around basketball shoe. There’s no denying that. There’s also no denying that it won’t cost you a fortune to get it.
They fit snug & secure but wide footers will want to go up half a size. Traction is nearly Kobe 9-level, a.k.a. deadly. Durability-wise though, not so deadly.
The full-length Air Strobel cushion setup makes its return and the ride feels lower to the ground & faster this time. Not everyone will enjoy it but players who want to stay light & nimble while having a little bit of cushion underfoot will definitely find the shoe suitable.
Support is great and clearly upgraded from the confusion that the PG 4 was and while the new material setup can’t be put in the same sentence along with premium or high-quality, it works on the court in ways you’d normally expect.