Another day, another laceless shoe. Welcome to my
Kobe AD NXT review: a one-strap-is-all-you-need sneaker by Nikey, for better or worse. Clocked at $200, our expectations are naturally high for that price, so I snatched these from eBay and really tried to push them for about 2 months. Mostly outdoors.
Is the shoe a solid performer? Is the laceless FastFit system a gimmick or actually provides value to the player? Are these worth it or you’re merely paying for the Kobe logo and is it a reliable option for outdoors?
Let’s find it all out.
For such a minimal mesh-based build, support was excellent. The FastFit system is the selling point of the sneaker but it’s definitely not perfect. Is it a wise investment? Depends on your budget.
I’d say there are better shoes at the 200 dollar range but if you like trying out new things and can afford it, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the overall on-court performance of the Kobe AD NXT FastFit.
SIZING GUIDE: WIDE FOOTER-FRIENDLY
Wide footers – this is for you! If you’ve read some of my reviews, you know I’m a huge wide footer and lots of shoes give me headaches whether to go up 1/2 a size or just wing it and see what happens.
Well, the Kobe AD NXT is the definition of winging it successfully – these things stretch out beautifully if your foot needs it. I’d recommend pretty much
all foot shapes to go true to their size.
The shoe doesn’t seem to be having a crazy wide platform but thanks to the way the upper is built, these gave me zero problems in terms of fitting a wide foot in there and feeling comfortable.
COMFORT: MINIMALISM AT ITS BEST
Now, for comfort. If you’re speaking minimalism – you’re speaking
Kobe AD NXT. They don’t look like they’re very minimal but put the shoe on and you realize it almost feels like a sock. In a good, performance-friendly way.
While I found the shoe to be average in terms of weight, these feel really light while playing. I think that’s important for this type of shoe and what Nikey was going for – feeling super light, quick, and free no matter the movement.
If you’ve ever played in a bulky, heavy-footed type shoe before (The Zoom Heritage N7 for example), this is the EXACT opposite. Not the lightest in terms of pure weight numbers but just feels so feathery and quick right after you put ’em on.
There aren’t crazy amounts of padding, just the usual areas are lightly padded, including the ankle collar, which is also super flexible and barely does anything for ankle lockdown honestly.
Not that I need ankle restriction, but for those people who require extra ankle protection for one reason or another – this ankle collar is just a synthetic sock-like piece that can be bent just as the whole shoe.
Due to certain things such as a drop-in midsole, a layered upper, and the FastFit system, the shoe is also super damn flexible. You can literally bend it in half with your hands. At times shoes like this get trashed on because flexible screams flimsy and unsupportive.
However, that’s not the whole story – we’ll talk about that more in the support section.
FASTFIT: YET TO BE PERFECT
Let’s talk a bit about the FastFit system. That’s supposed to be the biggest selling point of the shoe right? Well, even though it didn’t make me go “
wow” and more of a mixed bag, let’s address the positives first.
The Nike website says “pull on on one band and you’re ready to go” and I feel like that’s definitely true. If one thing’s a nice bonus, that would be the ability to put these on and be ready to play in a couple of seconds. Literally.
Now, of course, traditional lace & loop shoes aren’t terrible in comparison – unless you’re not able to tie the laces of a shoe lol.
Pulling onto the band at the midfoot pulls the whole shoe down, as the FastFit cables are interconnected with each other inside the shoe. It’s very quick and easy, sure, but barely adds anything in terms of performance or the quality of the fit.
What about the
negatives, you say? Well, one slight issue I see with FastFit is the lack of any real customization to finetune your preferred fit.
It lets you pull the cables to a point and there’s nothing you can do if you’d like and an even tighter fit, or perhaps you’d like to tighten up one specific area such as the forefoot or heel.
This is where a standard lacing system would let you do that while the
supposed-to-be innovative FastFit does not.
You can only condense the
Air Jordan altogether, so if you’re feeling some room in the forefoot while the rest of the shoe’s fine – sorry nothing you can do about it.
So, I feel like this idea is somewhat of a good idea but barely adds anything to make our game on the court better. All it does is improves convenience, so if you’re willing to pay more for that – be my guest.
Despite all that, I did like the shoe’s fit overall though.
It feels light and minimal, it’s comfy at all times, and I had no issues with foot containment. It’s just that I can’t get over the fact that I’m paying more than I could’ve for the FastFit system that could’ve been scrapped and my experience would’ve likely been similar if not better.
solid rubber and a translucent outsole version available – I got the solid one and the traction was fine.
Mind you, I’ve heard that the translucent option on the “Off Noir” colorway performs just as well, so no worries there!
A pretty cool-looking scale pattern is used on the outsole and even by looking at those sharp knobs, you can tell the bite will be good. And it was. Not the best traction ever but sufficient to play effectively.
I felt like there were enough stopping power and consistency to make me forget about the traction while playing. The pattern doesn’t extend up the midsole laterally (something herringbone usually brings to the table) but that’s merely a nitpick as I didn’t find myself missing that component.
If you’re not Kemba Walker who’s operating at ridiculous angles, you should be more than satisfied.
The pattern is also spaced out just enough for dust not to be an issue. The gaps between the knobs result in quick piling up of dust but it escapes quickly too since it has room for it to do so. Most courts shouldn’t give you trouble.
Especially outdoors as we’re talking about a much more abrasive surface than regular hardwood.
Speaking of outdoors – this setup is kind of a mixed bag for outdoor play. Firstly, there’s the $200 price tag – I know a lot of you can’t just throw away 200 dollars for a shoe that could possibly be wrecked in a single season.
Secondly, even though the pattern grips the floor well, it’s properly spaced out and it’s using good quality rubber, these scale-looking knobs are really thin.
All the magic in the world can’t prevent the fact that these types of patterns burn through fairly quickly. I’m a couple of months in with the shoe (mostly outdoor play) and I can already see my high-usage areas (such as the ball of my foot) noticeably worn.
While that’s not affecting the actual bite just yet, I can only imagine it will soon enough. If you’ll constantly be playing on a rough surface such as the blacktop, I’d advise going for something else.
How’s the impact absorption? What about ride comfort and energy return? Is it stable?
The Kobe AD NXT sports a drop-in midsole for its cushion setup. It’s a dual-density midsole that takes advantage of Nikey’s React foam and a little bit of Cushlon for extra stepping comfort.
Does it sound good?
Yes. Does it play well? Yes, but probably not as good as it might sound.
React is known for being very responsive, low to the ground, and also provides excellent impact protection while staying extremely lightweight as a foam compound.
However, for actual step comfort, springy energy return, and actual bounce feel underfoot, React would have to be among the weakest. Unless you’d put triple the amount of foam that’s used right now – but that’s not going to happen.
Cushlon also adds a bit of compression to the midsole but I doubt it adds much to the actual feel. So by now, you’re likely getting the picture – if you’re looking for bounce and softness underfoot, this won’t be it.
Performance-wise though, this is a very solid setup. No gimmicks, no extra weight, I felt lighting quick but also protected at all times – while the shoe doesn’t feel bouncy at all, all the movements are well-supplemented and absorbed by React’s awesome capabilities as a foam compound.
Normally, I’d say this isn’t a versatile setup but when you think about it – it
really is. If you can live without a prominent spring back feel Boost or full-length Zoom would give you, the Kobe AD NXT should be fine for most players, even bigger guys. VI. SUPPORT
So as I’ve mentioned earlier, a very flexible shoe doesn’t always mean unsupportive.
While the minimal upper of the AD NXT doesn’t bring a lot in terms of support & containment – clever use of support features implemented makes up for it and results in a supportive AND comfortable experience. The common strong point of Kobe’s shoes.
We’ve got a heel counter for ankle & heel lockdown, excellent outriggers for lateral stability, and also the midsole itself has sidewalls that rise up quite a bit, cradling your foot inside the footbed and providing a sense of security.
All this works well with one another and even though it might not offer the most tank-like support available in the market, it should be viable for most players.
If you do happen to find yourself in a scenario where you need the absolute maximum support and protection, you might be concerned. It’s still a shoe that’s super flexible, and light.
Not a lot of torsional structure either, so not the best option for a flat footer. If you’re one – check THIS out instead.
But it does use what it’s got very well. I’m myself an explosive player that slashes to the rim a lot, plays above the rim when possible and I happened to find this setup sufficient. So at the end of the day, it is all about preference.
In order to hate it, you gotta try it first.
Duh. VII. THE BUILD
The shoe uses a somewhat untraditional material setup. It’s some kind of elastic synthetic material as an outer layer and mesh underneath it. Nike calls it
Dunk Low but it feels like layered mesh.
I do like the materials of the Kobe AD NXT. The upper stretches and adjusts to your feet very quickly, so forget about a lengthy, grueling break-in period.
Ventilation is also a strong suit since this mesh is an open design and the synthetic on the outside allows for some breathability. And of course, these materials are light and play that way, so that’s nice too.
But if we’re talking value for your $$$ materials, I wouldn’t put this in the “premium” category. You can name mesh whatever you want, it’s still just mesh. Nothing wrong with that but if $200-level materials are what you’re looking for, you’re not really getting that here.
I don’t see these breaking down soon though, I’ll give ’em that. The stretchy outer layer holds the upper together as a reinforcing piece in key areas and when’s the last time you’ve seen mesh break down quickly? Exactly.
For those who like their sneakers to always look new, I don’t think you’ll like this one. The upper is very flexible and flimsy by nature, so all that flex will affect the visual aesthetic sooner than later.
The shoe already looks a bit worn after a couple of months for me but I really don’t care since they perform the same.
One thing I’m slightly concerned with is the FastFit cables. Sure, they’re probably strong as hell but every time I pull onto the band, I get paranoid the cables will break. It might just be me though, as I haven’t seen people report on FastFit going all
AWOL on them.
So overall, the shoe is built well, the material choices aren’t the most luxurious ones but work performance-wise. I don’t see anything wrong with them and hey, if you can afford it – that’s great.
For me, it just hurts to think we’re basically paying the price of two pairs of shoes for a single pair just because it’s a Kobe signature and the “innovative” FastFit system.
Nikey’s marketing campaigns are like a sharp fighter in the ring – every little opportunity they get, they’ll do their best to take advantage of it and strike the consumer with the “this is THE new thing” claim.
The Nike Kobe AD NXT is a great choice but not without its caveats. Well, more like it’ll depend on the person whether they’ll be caveats or just things to know for you. Nikey always tries to put out new things, I can give ’em that.
The traction’s great and you could take it outdoors if you had to (occasionally), cushion doesn’t feel that amazing but offers all you need for a fairly comfortable, safe game.
It’s also supportive of how minimal and thin the build is, so you really get the best of both worlds here. The material combo is fine, I see nothing wrong with it besides the price.
FastFit is a good idea but I think it still needs some work to justify the $200 price point. It’s comfortable and very convenient but what about more freedom to separately adjust each area? Perhaps several bands in different areas instead of only one band would’ve been better?
I think this will mostly come down to people’s budgets. It’s a good shoe and I do recommend it for most players but hey, not everyone can lash out this much on one pair of basketball shoes. Plus, you’re not really getting those “premium” components a $200 shoe should bring to the table.
But let’s face it, the era of raw materials is over and while we still see some of it from time to time, it’s all about performance now. Get ready for synthetics to take over. In case they haven’t already.