Want a no-B.S. budget hoop shoe that’ll get you through a few seasons? Adidas always has some stuff up their sleeve in that regard. After Donovan Michell’s 2nd signature shoe’s mixed reception, I finally racked up enough playing time through this half of the year to bring you my comprehensive DON Issue 3 review.
You can get these for as low as 100 bucks (or maybe even LESS) right now, so if this one turns out to be a solid overall basketball sneaker, you might looking at a contender among the best basketball shoes under $100.
I. SPEC SHEET
II. 1-MIN REVIEW
Here’s the quick DON Issue 3 review: the adidas DON Issue #3 brought what I expected it to bring, more or less. It’s a solid shoe but not without a few culprits some people might find unattractive.
The sizing is the biggest area of question. Most guys should be alright with their usual size but you can expect a bit of space length-wise and a lot of hoopers, including myself, have heel slippage.
The toebox is pretty wide here, so while a great option for wide footers, it might not be the shoe for someone with a more narrow foot.
The rest of the shoe worked just fine for me: decent traction (should last a while outdoors), decent cushion, great support (apart from slight heel slippage of course), and a basic but comfortable & lightweight textile build.
You can snatch these for cheap these days as adidas’s shoes tend to go on sales and show up in outlet stores very quickly.
Your alternatives for a similar but more refined experienced would be the Kyrie 8, the Dame 7, and the Trae Young 1.
III. FIT & COMFORT
Do they fit TTS or should you adjust? How comfy are they? Anything else to know fit or comfort-wise?
Following adidas’s classic sizing weirdness, the DON Issue #3’s construction doesn’t seem to know the size of a person’s foot.
Okay, I’m exaggerating but it seems like there’s always SOMETHING slightly wrong every time we get a new adidas shoe and opt for our usual size, as all normal mortals do.
Let me give you the short version first. MOST people (incl. wide footers) should stick with their usual size. If you think you’ve got a narrow foot, you might just get away with a half size down to fix the shoe’s length and end up with a very secure, yet extremely snug fit.
Since these are still on the shelves (during the time of writing this review), I would still encourage you to try these on in-store if possible. Or, you could always online a pair in your typical size and also grab a half size down option, later returning the one you won’t need.
Now, here’s the longer version.
I’m a pretty prominent wide footer myself and going true to size was probably the best decision I could’ve made. Things are still not perfect though.
While the wide toebox helped me out a ton and the fit there is just fine, the midfoot portion is pretty damn suffocating. It was fairly terrible at first but a couple of sessions stretched out the fabric and turned things from awful to acceptable.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a couple of hoopers report that this unusually wide forefoot caused a bunch of problems for feet that aren’t particularly on the wider side.
There could be some unwanted movement inside the toebox and this is why I’d recommend trying these on or ordering a couple of different sizes online just to be sure. So yeah, this is one’s a wide footer’s friend – a rare treat for us, and a rare issue (potentially) for the rest of you.
Length-wise, there’s about 0.8-1.2ish centimeters of room up at the front for me. Not something I consider a major flaw since I’m used to wearing my sneakers with a tad bit of wiggle room.
HEEL SLIPPAGE – WATCH OUT
Lastly, I was almost positive I wouldn’t have this issue due to my thick a** feet unlike many people did as per several reports. Yes, the dreaded heel slippage. I was wrong.
Now, it’s nothing crazy to where I’d risk having the shoe completely popping off my foot but still an annoyance I kept thinking about. Especially the first few days until I kind of got used to it and learned to just play with it.
Both feet (though more slippage happens on my left foot since it’s smaller than my right) slightly shift up and down upon certain movements. Not ALL the time but it still happens.
I’m not completely sure of the culprit here as I normally don’t experience slippage even when I have some space at the front.
The lining around the ankle doesn’t seem too slippery, I even pulled down on the laces as much as I could, got a grippier pair of socks and the issue still tends to happen fairly frequently.
If you’ll be getting these – I highly recommend checking out my heel slippage guide to arm yourself with a few ways to prevent or at least decrease the chances of it happening.
The midfoot section of the shoe is still a little too tight for me, even after a few weeks. I couldn’t experience the DON Issue #3 in its full potential comfort-wise because of this but despite that, I still found the overall experience fairly enjoyable.
There’s a good amount of foam padding around the ankle and on the tongue which nicely hugs the foot, and the upper conformed to my foot shape very nicely despite looking pretty cheap and plasticky at first.
These aren’t among the lightest shoes but we all know adidas is never really going for that crown anyway. The shoe doesn’t feel particularly bottom-heavy, overly clunky, or anything like that.
I think the days when adidas is struggling to keep up with air jordan 1 in this regard are coming to an end. Not saying this one’s a super feathery, formula-like shoe (it isn’t) but I had fun in these, and I don’t have many complaints when it comes to comfort.
If the sizing situation with these wouldn’t have been so weird which introduced the extra length and likely heel slippage, the overall experience probably could’ve gone from okay to awesome.
Does it grip a multitude of surfaces consistently? Is dust/debris a factor? How long will the outsoles last?
The third shoe from Donovan Michell features a semi-translucent and a solid rubber combo throughout the outsoles, and the coloring will depend on the colorway. The traction pattern is very similar to the DON Issue #2, and so is the rubber used, it seems.
Much like the DON Issue #2, I didn’t have the BEST time in terms of traction, nor was it terrible. It was mostly fine with some hiccups here and there but since I don’t usually play indoors much, I’m not very worried about this one.
If you are playing a lot on your classic hardwoods and rubberized surfaces indoors, pay attention.
I was able to play on two surfaces indoors: classic hardwood (moderate condition, not too dusty) and a rubber surface that mimicks hardwood but it’s much more forgiving in comparison.
Traction was mostly the same on both floors. I did wipe the outsoles down periodically to keep things consistent, although slight slip-ups did happen occasionally despite me doing so.
However, taking off, stopping on a pull-up, cutting, and doing anything that I do normally at full pace was fine, as the outsoles were able to hold their own.
Would I like the bite to be more aggressive and those slips taken care of? Of course, but if you would ask me if these are playable and not necessarily ideal, I would say yes.
Hoopers who play on poor condition floors that aren’t cleaned often might need to prepare themselves for some serious wiping every few minutes.
At least that’s what I saw people report who regularly hoop indoors on dustier courts.
When the action’s outside, I mostly hoop on a rubber court surface and sometimes on the blacktop.
As one might expect, I was getting stronger bite outdoors, purely because there’s more friction created between the shoe and the surface which is more abrasive than an indoor floor. Happens with most shoes.
From what I noticed after playing outdoors in both the 2nd and 3rd DON Issue one right after another, the differences in the overall strength of the traction are pretty marginal.
I’d give the nod to the DON Issue #3 in terms of the base level of traction but I also feel like the 2nd sneaker required less hassle to preserve optimal bite throughout a longer session.
Not saying I was sliding all over the place if I hadn’t wiped for a few minutes in the Issue #3, but with the 2nd shoe, I could forget about that whole business, and those moments can definitely occur.
If we got a bigger group of guys and play a full 5 on 5 match, hoopers can get so locked in during a more intense/important stretch and the idea of wiping down your outsole doesn’t always come up at that time.
That’s when it’s great to have your shoes ready to handle the load (which is what they’re supposed to do) even after you catch some debris in the outsoles.
I don’t think I had such moments with the DON Issue #3 if I remember correctly but if I had to compare the two shoes in this aspect, I’d give the nod to the Issue #2.
But then again, just if we had to compare. Practically speaking, I don’t think the 3rd model is completely terrible at this and I’m fine with a few swipes occasionally.
So, DON Issue #2: better job at performing with dust accumulation. DON Issue #3: slightly grippier overall.
Could be just the paint coating differences between the two shoes (yes, coating color can have an effect), could be quality control, or could simply be true. Might be worth keeping in mind.
image source: adidas.com. Sonic Ink Colorway outsole
There isn’t a huge perceivable difference in the rubber compound used across the 2nd and the 3rd sneaker, so my prediction for outsole longevity outdoors is similar to the previous model.
The grooves of the pattern are pretty deep which is good but it’s definitely not the strongest rubber.
Though it’s worth knowing that Adidas generally offers decent durability for abrasive surfaces, even if we’re talking about a weaker outsole among their catalog of shoes released.
I hooped in these more than I did in the DON Issue #2 (~5 months vs. ~3 months) and my current level of grip seems to be fine, much like it was within a 3 month period with the Issue #2.
Hard to compare the two if I had to pick a winner in terms of outdoor reliability. Don’t think about this one too much – either shoe should definitely get you through at least a full season.
How’s the shock absorption? What about step comfort and energy return of the cushion? Is it stable?
A full-length Lighstrike midsole replaces the previous shoe’s Bounce setup for cushion. The lateral section of the midsole is caged with a TPU plate for stability purposes, while the medial side is fully exposed to offer more compression there.
Not a huge change when put into action but it doesn’t look like adidas is planning to use Bounce on future basketball models in the future so Lightstrike could be regarded as the replacement. We’ll see.
From what we’ve experienced with both cushion compounds, Lightstrike is in fact lighter and can be in a lower profile while still retaining the properties of good cushion.
The setup implemented in the DON Issue #3 didn’t overly impress me but I’m satisfied. The ride I got with these felt a bit quicker and lower to the ground when compared to last year’s shoe.
Much like the Dame 7’s Lightstrike – a denser & thicker slab of foam is used in the heel for more impact absorption, while the things gradually get firmer and thinner going to the front.
The contrast between the heel and the forefoot isn’t as huge as I experienced on the Dame 7 though. I prefer the DON Issue #3’s heel-to-toe stride.
But if we’re talking about how comfortable they feel and how much bounceback is felt underfoot, the DON Issue #2’s Bounce iteration felt plusher. Neither shoe will give you tons of cushion though.
With this shoe, I’m able to stay quick, I’m slapped fairly low to the ground (it’s not as low-profile as a Curry or a Kyrie shoe though) and there’s also a bit of cushion to retain adequate comfort. I ideally prefer just a bit more pop but not to take anything away from the Issue #3, I still had a good time in ’em.
It’s just that, man, I love me some Bounce. I’ve been playing in it for years and the classic Dame 3 is still one of my favorite hoop shoes EVER.
It’s hard to give the nod to the newer Lightstrike when adidas doesn’t always seem to know what it wants to be.
I absolutely LOVED the explosive ride the recent Trae Young 1 provided with that version of Lightstrike. I also really liked the Harden Vol. 4’s super well-balanced approach.
But take the D Rose 11, or the Harden Vol. 5, and the cushion I experienced there almost felt unrecognizable.
I think adidas should be more consistent with it or if they want to use Lightstrike in a vastly different implementation across many shoes, they should do a better job in detailing such differences in their product pages because it can get deceiving.
Just my two cents.
How much overall security does it offer? What about stability and foot containment? Any restrictions as a result?
Your sense of security with the DON Issue #3 will greatly depend on the way these fit you. Remember the sizing situation I was talking about earlier?
I doubt you’ll be feeling optimal with a good amount of room width-wise. Pair that with heel slippage and things can get questionable. Now, for us wide footers, things are the opposite.
I can’t say I had major issues with overall support here. My wide foot sits very nicely in there, besides the tight midfoot section. The extra width at the toebox is awesome for me, as I can fill that space in without feeling overly cradled.
Yes, I had some heel slips but none of those really meant any danger as they were mostly just an annoyance that would cross my mind sometimes. Of course, I don’t want any heel slippage in my shoes but I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t play in the Issue #3.
For support components that handle the rest of the load, we have a pretty standard setup for adidas.
Internal TPU heel counters provide ankle & heel lockdown (not enough I suppose) and extend in both the midfoot as plates for torsional rigidity, as well as up to the lateral portion of the midsole, acting as sidewalls.
The forefoot portion of the shoe sits on a wide platform which promotes stability and is a usual component for adidas basketball sneakers.
That little strap that’s right in the middle of the lacing system is completely useless as it doesn’t add any extra tension, nor is it attached to anything else that would contribute to lockdown.
The overall chassis of the shoe is damn near rock-solid and they’ve done a killer job in building a supportive, structured shoe that doesn’t feel overly excessive like it used to a few years back. But at the end of the day, none of these features will save you if you’ve got too much unwanted room for your feet.
Wide footers, you should be good to go. For the rest – get the size right. Or order a couple of pairs just to be certain you won’t miss. Or skip the shoe entirely if you don’t feel like doing all that.
VII. THE BUILD
What are the materials used? How do they perform on-court? How’s the quality & reliability of the build?
The DON Issue #3 features a very thin textile upper along with a few synthetic nubuck-like pieces like on the lacing system, the tongue logo label, and those little flaps that go through the top eyelets.
The external lining around the top of the ankle collar seems to be neoprene, and those two pieces on both sides of the forefoot are a sturdy rubber material. The midsole sidewalls are TPU. The ankle & tongue are traditionally padded with foam inside.
The shoe utilizes a standard lace & tongue construction, meaning you won’t find an internal bootie inside the shoe, and the tongue is sewed on separately which allows for slightly easier entry inside the sneaker.
Nothing out of the ordinary for a mid-tier basketball shoe from adidas, or any other brand for that matter.
Initially, I didn’t think this build will get as comfortable as it did. The fabric looked and felt a little paper-like and rigid at first but as little as a couple of days quickly turned things around when the build softened up, stretched out (to a point), and better conformed to my foot.
It was able to do this due to how extremely thin it is. The midfoot area still feels a little much for me but there’s not much I can do about that since the materials are already stretched out to their optimal limit.
There’s plenty of flexibility up at the front for a smooth linear stride, and the build moved nicely with my foot as a whole. Foot containment was also a-okay, with no signs of the build wanting to let my foot shift out of the footbed.
Ventilation could be better but I don’t remember when’s the last time I played in a shoe that offered exceptional ventilation, nor do I remember the last time I actually cared about that.
Synthetics are synthetics. If they’re not open-based or don’t have any perforations – your foot will get hot in there if your skin tends to start sweating in no time. I’m sure you guys will be fine though lol!
The only thing I didn’t like and the one hiccup that keeps on reoccurring with almost every adidas hoop shoe: the laces. They loosen up constantly. No matter how hard I pull down on them.
Now, things weren’t as bad as, say, with the Dame 7. Those things were torture in that regard. I’d feel the laces go almost undone a couple of MINUTES after each re-do.
Not as crazy with the Issue #3. Adjusting all of the eyelets to a more accurate fit helped, and I’d only stop to tighten ’em once or twice per hour. Doable.
image source: adidas.com
Such thin builds always show their wear & tear soon after you start hooping but that’s normal, so don’t worry about the shoe looking a little banged up or bubbled on a few areas.
This is the nature of a cheaper, thinner material but as of yet, there’s no effect on performance that I would notice. 5 months in, and things are looking pretty strong.
The laces are fine, none of the painted visuals are fading, and the only visual damage that’s clearly perceivable would be the chippy top portion of the heel due to many entries in and out of the sneaker.
The toebox didn’t fray as much as the DON Issue #2’s did but neither cases are major in any way. There are a few uneven spots on the forefoot right on the flex zone. Once again, nothing unexpected from a thin, budget fabric.
These would definitely hold for multiple seasons if I kept playing in this one pair. I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t. The bigger question is whether the outsoles would be able to hold as long.
Summing up the DON Issue #3 review, who it’s best for, and is it worth the $$$
The adidas DON Issue #3 is a shoe one could come to expect if we’re talking about a long-time observer of the market adidas has created in the last few years. Nothing innovative or remarkable but it’s not that a lot of us need that. Most of us just want a good, reliable hoop shoe.
And it is a good shoe. Yes, it’s got a few things that could potentially skew some people away. However, there will definitely be people who will appreciate it as it’s pretty versatile.
Explosive guards with a style similar to that of Donovan Michell, versatile two-guards, or even wings could potentially find these a good fit, provided they got the size right.
The sneaker should fit most people with their usual size but not everyone will get an ideal experience. Get two pairs online or try these in-store if possible.
Traction shared much of the qualities with the DON Issue #2 – adequate bite, decent rubber for outdoor play but some wiping will be needed to keep the traction optimal.
The shift to Lightstrike will no doubt result in mixed reception but not to say I hated this setup. It’s lightweight, fairly low-profile while retaining a bit of plushness. The shoe’s chassis is very supportive and well-structured but I couldn’t fully escape heel slippage.
For $110 (or less), the basic textile build won’t exactly impress you but it’ll get things done on the court. No issues there.
I don’t think the 3rd shoe is a direct upgrade from the 2nd, but nor is it the opposite way around. Both have their hiccups and their strong points, and I’d encourage you to see what the Issue #2 has to offer in comparison to make a better decision.