*added Harden V1 vs Kobe AD*

Executive Summary: Adidas took signature shoes to a new level because this is a very specific shoe that could be perfect for some and just turrrrble for others. If you’re looking for a quality, good looking sig shoe that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (only one leg)the Harden Vol 1 might be for you. If you want low profile and firmer Boost, a very good fit and decent traction and don’t care about weight, this is your shoe. If you want a Kobe V like shoe or lightweight extension of your foot with exceptional traction and walk on cloud comfort, this is not your shoe. If you’re flat footed and can’t wear orthodics without pain, you may have some arch pain initially or skip these altogether. I recommend trying on in store if possible although you won’t have any pain in store. 


Keep the beard weird 

Pros: traction on clean floors, low profile Boost, support and stability, containment, laces stay tight due to dual hole lacing system, feels well made

Cons: traction requires a lot of wiping on dusty floors, traction needs some break in time,  painful break in period for my very flat feet, hard to lace correctly initially, not Boostiest Boost, heavy for a low, gets hot 

Sizing: half a size down for everyone except wide footers or flat footers. Best to try on in store

Best for: bigger guards and bigs

Buying Advice: wait for sales, they made a lot. $100 or less

Weight

17 ounces. Just when you thought a low couldn’t get heavier…most of that additional weight is probably from the infinity shank, toe cap and Boost TPU. The Kobe VI weighs 9.5 oz, so you will notice the difference when it’s nearly double the weight. I noticed the weight the first time I put these on but your body will get used to it. Think of it as weights for your legs if you want. 

Break in time
Some may say the Harden V1 is ultra comfortable out of the box but I found it to take a week or so to break in and soften up. The synthetic backing pops a bit to start and the leather toe cap needs some time to bend and flex and the plastic shank definitely needs some time to learn your foot and practice flexing. If you don’t give it that time, you will have some heel slip due to the stiffness of that plastic shank. 

I’ve read and seen reviews about the leather toe box digging into the foot and I did not experience that pain. I must not get high enough on my toes to feel this issue or my foot doesn’t flex exactly wrong way.  Once again, this is a very player specific shoe. If you don’t move a certain way, you may feel some pain. I highly recommend working the shoe like an accordion to speed up break in time. 

Traction


Adidas tracked Harden’s movements on court with some crazy state of the art next level sensors. While I do believe they actually tracked his movements, it didn’t make a difference in the end since they did a traction pattern inspired by the Fibonacci Sequence


Coincidently Fibonacci day is November 23rd, the same day the Imma Be a Star colorway launched..that’s actually very clever Adidas. Big props on that one. 

Inspiration aside, the big question is does it work and it does…okay. I freshly wiped the Harden in this video whereas I haven’t wiped the CLB since Thanksgiving. This is on a very lightly dusty floor that is cleaned daily. 

It works well on clean courts or when freshly wiped (what doesn’t) but once dirt gets on the sole, the shoe gets slippery and you do have to wipe frequently. 


The pattern is shallow and the rubber is fairly dense but softens with play. 

The pattern doesn’t seem to flex a lot due to the shallow depth of the pattern as well as the rubber’s firmness; dirt just seems to sit on the outsole instead of getting brushed away. If the grooves were deeper it could flex more and help sweep dirt away more effectively. To make matters worse, the Fibonacci pattern gets super dense under ball of the big toe the act as a pivot point


However it has practically no flex at all and no depth so it’s just a hard flat spot. 

Some may say, just wipe and you’ll be good. Well I can guarantee that during any given game, there will be a 1-2 minute stretch that goes back and forth down the court where you can’t. Maybe you don’t care, maybe it’s just pick up or a rec league but I prefer to be efficient and wiping constantly is not an effectively use of energy or concentration. 

I had a hard(en) time trusting the traction because on jabs and crossovers sometimes it would slide and sometimes it would stick on lightly dusty floors.  A traditional pattern would have been better but as James would say..booooring
   Traction is definitely not in the top tier of AJ XX8, Curry 2, Kobe IX, Rose 7 but more along the lower end of the 2nd tier like the Lillard 2, Rare Metals etc where you need to wipe frequently to stay glued to the court. It’s not bad just not top of the line like I was hoping. 

 Cushioning 


Full length Boost but even lower than the Crazylight Boost 2016. If you’re expecting Ultra Boost plushness look elsewhere but if you want a ride that has a some bounce to it and rides pretty low, you’ll like this set up. It is firmer than the CLB and feels like they just cut off 10-15% off the top of the CLB set up to come up with the Harden set up. I will say that this is probably as close as any foam can get to true low profile Zoom without bottoming out.

It is contained full on the lateral side and partially on the medial side for stability. So the Boost doesn’t overcompress but Adidas made a hole in the strobel board so you can feel the Boost in the heel. 


I really like the cushioning set up on the Harden because I like the extra responsiveness and stable ride. I feel it’s a great blend of cushioning and responsiveness but it isn’t for everyone. Playing alongside the CLB you can easily feel a difference in height and softness. The CLB will accommodate more players and playing styles but again, this is a very specific set up for a very specific player. 

 Fit

I suggest half a size down for everyone except wide footers and up. Best to try on in store

Much like the Crazylight Boost 2016 these run long.  I have about a thumb width at the toe whereas I prefer a finger width. I actually bought both my true to size 11 and half size 10.5 and both fit length wise. I went with the the 10.5 initially because of the extra length and I wanted as secure of a fit as possible. However my feet were screaming to get them off so I went with the size 11. Most of the pain was due to the arch support and width at the midfoot so a wider size 11 worked better for me in the end. 

Speaking of the arch support pain, I have super flat feet. I often wonder if there is a term for a concave arch. I don’t get along with orthodics at all so it took me a week to get used to the arch in the Harden. They still get a little sore in them even after 2.5 weeks.  If you have flat feet be patient and try to get used to them or just skip the shoe altogether. 

The Harden is more accommodating width wise in the forefoot than the Crazylight Boost 2016. Like the CLB, a 10.75 would be ideal for me but oh well. 

Assymetrical Lacing
The assymetrical lacing set up does work well although I can’t quantify anything. The reason it works well is because the assymmetry laces match up better with the shape and slope of the foot; your foot isn’t a perfectly flat table, it slopes to one side just like this lace pattern.  Also assisting in the lockdown is the burrito set up of course. 

Getting laced and locked in in the Harden 1 is a chore the first few times because of the two hole lace system. 


Rather than use one hole that feeds the laces, Adidas employed two lace holes to snake each lace through. It keeps the laces tight during play unlike the extra wide and slippery Curry 3 lace holes. The problem is getting them tightened correctly because the laces are thin and actually hurt when you tug on them. Somehow you can’t feel the laces at all on your foot though which is pretty amazing. 


It’s odd that Adidas went minimalist on the CLB and Crazy Explosive but did a complete 180 with the lace setup on the Harden. Regardless, the dual hole assymetrical set up works. Just wear some lifting gloves when you lace up the first few times. Also worth noting is that the laces come undone even after double knotting. I may swap out for flat laces when I have a few free hours to get through the treacherous double holes. 

Heel fit has greatly improved since the laces wrap up and around the ankle a little more while the heel collar in more padded and higher. The laces are now set back about where I added extra holes on the Crazylight Boost Project.  See I wasn’t crazy !


Here you can see the additional height in the back. 


Overall the fit of the Harden Vol 1 is better than the Crazylight Boost 2016. I had almost no heel slip (still a teeny tiny tad even after break in) and the overall fit just felt tighter yet more accommodating in the forefoot. A little weird, a little paradoxal, just like James Harden . That’s some next  level sig stuff Adidas!!

Materials 


Full length Primeknit on the Star colorway and knit on this one and others. Not much of a difference between the two uppers because they are both backed by the same synthetic which pops a bit to start. 


It takes a few games to warm up and conform but if you’re expecting CE Primeknit softness out of the box, look elsewhere. The synthetic is the limiting factor in the upper so if anyone says there is a huge performance difference, tell them I have some ocean front property in Arizona for sale ..

The quality of the leather on the Pioneer colorway is very nice, better than the suede on the Imma Be a Star. I’m impressed it feels so soft yet hasn’t shown any wear. 

These feel well made and I have no complaints with the materials at all. Speaking of the toe cap

Independent Toe Cap

Does the independent toe cap do anything ? In theory, it should give a little more flexibility since it floats above the forefoot. However I don’t feel it adds anything other than durability and aesthetics. The forefoot is only as flexible as the stiffest pieces and you have the infinity shank, the large roll cage as well as the leather toe cap that runs too far back on the lateral side  to make a difference in terms of flexibility. You still have to flex through the leather. 

Overall the materials are great. Doesn’t really change the performance but it makes me feel like I got more  value in my purchase. 

Ventilation 

When it gets cold outside, what do you do? You layer up or wear some compression. 


Well the Harden has a bunch of layers from the burrito wrap, plenty of padding, a synthetic backing and a leather toe cap and sits tightly around the entire foot.  Great shoe for cold weather so needless to say there isn’t any place for heat to escape. I had to take these off at halftime during my tourney last week because of the heat. If you’re running one or two games it’s fine but anything longer, you may want another shoe or take some breaks in between to let the heat out. 

Support and Stability 

This is the best part of the Harden Vol 1 in my opinion. Since this is a low, support comes mostly from the fit and sturdy heel counter. 

There is also an infinity torsion bar in the Harden Vol 1 as well as the aforementioned arch support. 


Stability is excellent with its lower to the ground approach, TPU caged Boost, Crazy Explosive like infinity torsion bar, and contoured wide outsole.  

Not once did I ever feel like I was going to roll my ankle in these because I felt stable and connected to the ground. Much lower and stable feeling than the Crazylight Boost. 

Containment 

If you’re going to Euro step, the more containment the better. 

These do a great job with containment thanks to the TPU at the forefoot. The toe cap helps  a little with containment but there is so much slack in it it I don’t think helps that much. It isn’t any better than the CLB16 which doesn’t feature a leather toecap but regardless it performs well in this category. 

Conclusion 

Normally it takes me about a week to ten to review a shoe but the Harden Vol 1 took me almost 3 weeks.  Sizing was very hard to figure out plus I had to break in the shoe as well as the traction. First few times in the Harden V1, I wanted to rip them off and throw them away. Painful break in plus skating on dusty floors doesn’t leave a good first impression. 

However, after figuring out some of the nuances of the shoe, and getting through break in, I had moments where I forgot about them completely which is what we all strive for in our search for the holy grail of kicks. 

But then I’d slip, wipe, and repeat…and retie my laces and repeat. 

The Harden Vol 1 is one of those shoes I like a lot. Its tech is great, it looks good, it’s made well and it isn’t too expensive;  basically what every sneakerhead complains about when it comes to Jordan retros. Plus, the Harden Vol 1 improved two of the major flaws of the Crazylight Boost 2016: lace set up and heel slip. However, Adidas ruined an excellent traction set up with the Fibonacci design and as a traction lover, this did the shoe in for me. Well that and my arch pain. 

  I will reach for it when I know floors are perfect or when it’s just pick up but not a shoe I’d count on in crunch time.  Maybe another three weeks of break in will do the trick and if it does I’ll let everyone know. 



76 Comment on “Adidas Harden Volume Vol 1 Performance Review 

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