The Soldier X had the distinction of being named the worst shoe of 2016 by yours truly, so the good news for the XI is that it had nowhere to go but up. In short, let’s just say that everything I said that was wrong with the Soldier X has been corrected. Glad to see Nike has been reading my reviews. 🙂

Second or Eleventh time’s the charm I guess ?

Pros: traction, decent Zoom feel after break in, improved fit, good stability overa, containment

Cons: Zoom could feel better, heel is a little narrow and wobbly due to protruding Zoom but still stable, ankle fit can get sloppy without readjustments.

Sizing: true to size, narrow and regular footers can go down half a size for a tighter fit

Best for: any position

Buying advice: can’t go much lower than $55

Weight

14.5 ounces is about half an ounce lighter than average for a mid

Traction

Just based on looks this pattern didn’t look like it would work great, but it surprised me. It has a surprising bite and held up even on dusty floors without much wiping at all. The rubber on this colorway doesn’t pick up a bunch of dust and even when it does it still works pretty well.

I guess it works like the Kobe micro tread but it just isn’t micro sized.

It isn’t a grippy as the HD 17 but did a really good job keep dust at bay so I didn’t really have to wipe. Much better than the Soldier X’s traction without question.

Not quite top tier but better than most and easily better than the Lebron XV. Nice job Nike!

Cushioning

The Soldier X featured Nike’s C-Zoom ( C as in crappy) in the forefoot and heel. The XI actually feels a lot better, almost as good as the Hyperdunk 2016. It does start a little stiff but breaks in within a few hours of play.

One very subtle thing I didn’t notice until I saw the outsole from a weird angle was that the Zoom protrudes just a wee bit in the heel and forefoot (at the ball of the foot) similar to the Hyper Rev 16 and Aj 31 but to a much smaller extent. This helps exaggerate the Zoom feel.

The protrusion in the heel made a little wobble like the AJ 31 but it wasn’t unstable since it compresses with each step and the full outsole catches it.

With the protrusions, there is a decent amount of bounce to the Zoom but still not as lively as my standard, the Soldier VI. At least you can feel it this time (that’s what she said?)

Sizing

True to size for everyone. Players that want a more snug fit could go down half a size but I like a finger width of space at the toe box and that’s exactly what I got. Kudos to Nike for consistent sizing because even without trying them on in store, I have a 90% chance of getting it right. Are you listening Adidas and UA?

Fit

Nike added another strap, what a great idea ?! Who would have thunk it?

If you don’t remember I had heel slip in the Soldier X and by adding the miraculous fourth strap, heel movement was eliminated. The placement of the second from the top strap is the key to the improved lockdown because it really pulls the ankle back and down. Last years two front straps just pulled the foot down and not back while the top strap just held the ankle.

These straps also feel sturdier than the X as well. The only issue I had with the fit was the ankle collar. It just seems to loosen with play so some readjusting is needed to keep a nice one to one fit. I’m still not a fan of the strap only set up because it feels like four specific straps holding my foot down, where as a traditional lace set up would spread that pressure across the foot.

Other than that very, very slight issue, I had no movement side to side or front to back, no heel slip, well done Nike! Get it right the first time next time.

Materials

Nothing fancy just mesh similar to what was on the Lebron II. This version feels at least twice as thick as the Soldier X so has some actual strength to it. As you can see in the pic above, the “tongue” is composed of the standard thin mesh for breathability and flexibility.

Support and stability

Support really comes from the fit and the firm heel counter. It’s interesting how the Soldier and Curry 4 employ the sculpted midsole. The difference with the Soldier is that it uses a much larger and firmer heel counter.

The ankle collar is flexible so don’t expect any ankle saving from the collar.

Midfoot support is about average. Nothing really great but not terrible like the Mamba Instinct.

Stability is also very good on the Soldier XI even though the heel feels slightly narrow and the Zoom protrudes. It isn’t super narrow but you can see a difference from my Soldier VI.

However, thanks to a low to the ground ride, flat outsole and double outrigger set up stability is sill very good.

Well done Nike!

Containment

Thicker mesh and more importantly a raised midsole all the way around similar to the Curry 4 keeps your foot in on all cuts. Where was this idea last year Nike? Oh had to save it for this year I see. No issues at all here.

Conclusion

Although the Soldier XI doesn’t do anything extremely well, it’s a very solid shoe all the way around. Each wearing, the shoe got better and better and it’s very likeable but not enough to get into the rotation. Everything that I said was wrong with the X was fixed and improved on the XI which is a positive sign that Nike might actually give a sh*t about actual performance. Or maybe Lebron does at least.

Thanks to my super backed up schedule this year I was able to cop these during a Nike sale around Black Friday for a whopping $55. Had Lebron and company somehow won the Finals this past year I’m positive that Soldier prices would be sitting much higher. I’m sure Lebron wearing them during the season is helping though. There are plenty of Soldier XI’s sitting everywhere so if you really want a pair just buy them at a low price or wait for them to get to outlets.

Are these the best out there? Certainly not as there are a lot of solid shoes out there and nothing really stands out to me about the XI aside from the traction and how much better it plays for me than the Lebron XV despite costing 1/3of the price thanks to sales. The Soldier XI does do everything well like its namesake and is pretty darn cheap after six months. It isn’t one of those shoes I get all warm and fuzzy about but it is an inexpensive, no frills, solid that can fit almost any playing style. If I were in a pinch for some shoes, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy these to play in. Thanks for saving my fingers Lebron, this was probably the easiest review I’ve done in years.

49 Comment on “Nike Lebron Soldier XI 11 Performance Analysis and Review

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