I think Nike marketing is brilliant..brilliantly stupid. Everyone is talking about the 360 not because of the tech but because of the price. Jordan brand did something similar in 2001 with the AJ XVII but that went south as well. Even though it’s 2018 and not 2001, I think $200 is a mental barrier to purchase and shoe companies know that. That two in front of two zeros is like Shaq, Dream and Mount Mutombo at the rim. Those super inflated $250 Nike Elite years really messed with CEO brains.

So to be fair to the 360, I won’t consider the price in the review except in the conclusion and buying advice. Sorry money matters especially with all the choices we have nowadays.

Pros: Overall traction is adequate when clean, excellent fit, cushioning, very very very flexible, breathability, lightweight, surprisingly decent containment

Cons: traction does not have the strongest bite even when clean, needs wiping on dusty floors, some nubs starting to tear, materials feel and look plasticky, failed my tip test, flexible but may be overly flexible for some especially PF sufferers

Sizing: runs a touch long but not enough to size down. True to size for most, wide footers will want to try on for best fit.

Best for: guards who want flexibility and minimal support

Buying Advice: wait as always. $200 for a shoe these days for an retired great player is dumb especially when new Jordan’s are priced even lower. Lots of better options at a lower price including the Mamba Instinct/Rage. $140 or less is fair, bottom around $90.

Weight

12 ounces which is lightweight relatively speaking to the past few years. That’s 2.5 lighter than the Kobe XI Elite but also one ounce heavier than the Mamba Instinct

Traction

Good enough when clean or freshly wiped thanks to this nubby design. The rubber is soft and picks up a decent amount of dust but it flexes enough to brush some of the dust off at the same time. It didn’t have the bite I was expecting on clean floors especially when compared to its predecessors. I could feel some slight sliding on hard cuts and crossovers even on clean floors while the Kobe 8-AD had no issues. I had to wipe frequently to keep traction decent on dusty floors. If I didn’t wipe it was I, Tonya time (great great movie btw)

Definitely not as good as past Kobes but better than the XI translucent. Traction is of the weakest parts of the 360 and it happens to be the most important especially to me. Who wants to make an ultra wide cut just to keep from slipping ?

Cushioning

The Kobe system drop in insole is back again after taking a break with the Kobe AD (1st) and AD mid (3rd) but not the AD NXT (2nd) (the Kobe Line nomenclature is really stupid and confusing and needs to just go back to numbers)

This time around, Nike gave us a drop in insole with React in the middle (very soft) with Lunarlon around the rest of the outsole (less soft)I think the majority of players will really like this set up. It has a nice slight bounce to it in the middle but feels thicker than what was on the Kobe 8 and about the same thickness and feel as the Kobe 9 but with a softer center. I wore the 8, 9 , 11 to compare to the 360 and the the cushioning just feels more refined to me.

Evolution of drop ins over time 8,9, 11, 360. You can see Nike addressed one of my major complaints about drop ins with a taller and taller wall. Mexico is not paying for it though

The insole doesn’t squeak nearly as much as older models and the built up sidewalls make the insole keeps the shoe from pinching. Overall it just feels better. Where was this years ago?

One thing that needs to be noted about the insole is how sticky it is. It feels like it’s going to pull your socks the wrong way as you put your foot into the shoe. The benefit of the sticky insole is to keep your foot on the footbed just that much better. We’ve seen this idea before with the old Elite versions of the Lebron and Kobes but not done this way (I didn’t even notice it with my eyes)

If you want Ultra Boost cushioning look elsewhere but if you want low to the ground yet comfortable and balanced this is your set up.

Well done Nike!

Fit

I went true to size with the 360 and it has a tiny bit of extra length in the toe but not enough to size down half a size. I feel like it’s maybe 1/8 of a size long. I think true to size is the way to go for everyone unless you like your toes mashed up at the front.

I felt like the fit is the highlight of the 360. The shoe is very low cut but just locks the heel in place from the get go. No need for break in time or anything in the heel.

There is no deadspace in the toe box or side to side either and the thinness of the upper just feels like a second skin despite how plasticky it looks.

Is this fit due to the 360 construction (flyknit thst goes around the entire foot not glued at the sides to a strobel and midsole)

Errr probably not but Nike marketing would have you believe that. It is just a great fitting shoe simple as that. Well done Nike!

Materials

Flyknit 360 construction

This is not the Flyknit we are all used to. If you complained about older knits with TPU strands, well you’re going to hate these.

Knit is a misnomer with the 360 because it implies a soft cloth like feel. This just feels and looks like thinned out mesh or gauze covered in glue. (Sounds nice huh?). It isn’t uncomfortable though because it is so thin and spaced apart in most of the shoe that it allows for pretty natural flexing right out of the box. Obviously, breathabitity is great with the 360 due to all the space. I’ve always said materials don’t matter much and the 360 is truly a case in point. Materials for the most part are about value not performance and that’s why I don’t really consider them a performance aspect. Touch or look at the 360 and you think cheap but play in the 360 and it’s a different story.

Support and Stability

So this is where things go south for me personally. Support is fine for a low top with excellent heel fit and a decent heel counter. However, the construction of the outsole is just asking me for an ankle sprain.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, I look for tippy outsoles because I’ve had a history of horrible ankle sprains due to curvy outsoles, most notably the Lebron X and Kobe IX . Most of the issue is my gait and my feet so don’t let me scare you off especially if you had success with the aforementioned shoes.

Look how narrow and rounded the 360 is vs the XI

There is no outrigger either but the forefoot is so wide it doesn’t need one.

Midfoot support? Pic below is with the insole in it.

Nearly zero just like the Mamba Instinct. I put a credit card in it to make it somewhat stiffer. $200 no shank even has MJ shaking his head. MJ is also wondering why Kobes cost more than Jordans now.

There is a piece of tpu that is supposed to act as a shank but it does almost nothing

How’d I play with these ? Very cautiously and with braces on both ankles. I got used to it but given my history, I wouldn’t use these except for the sake of sneaker science. Hmmm new blog name? Hope someone doesn’t steal that idea or name. The curvature is fine when I land squarely but both times I sprained my ankle in the Lebron X and Kobe IX, I hit that curvature right in the nose and had to sit for 4-6 months. Again that’s my personal experience though. I’d rather have stability than a natural roll and bulge set up like the 360 but every player is different.

Containment

Surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be. The external raised sole at the forefoot is really flimsy all alone but with the raised insole it works pretty well. Not really The best containment ever but more than acceptable.

Conclusion

$200

2 bills

2 Benjamins

Almost three pair of Harden 2’s (on sale for 70 bucks on Adidas)

Four pairs of Mamba Instincts

So is the NXT 360 worth the price of admission ? In a nutshell, no, especially for this occasional plantar fasciitis and occasional ankle sprainer. Okay traction on clean floors but poor dusty floor performance kills it for me..well that and a very curved heel kills it for me…well that and minimal midfoot support…well that and the $200 it just sucked out of my wallet…well that and I can get the Mamba Instinct for a QUARTER of the price and get better performance in the categories I place the most emphasis on. Let’s compare

Traction: Instinct easily

Cushioning: 360 but not by much

Fit: 360 by a little

Support and Stability: similar midfoot support but much better stability in the heel

Containment: Instinct

Overall I feel like the 360 is an exercise in Nike’s latest innovations and they use the price point to weirdly “prove” that it’s the latest and greatest. It does certain things well and I think a lot of players will love it especially if you don’t need support and want the feeling of running with a second skin but traction isn’t great and without the basics down, it can’t hang with other top tier performers. When’s the last time you saw a race car not change it’s tires during a race? Lightning McQueen even knows that traction is fundamental to performance. If traction was better and I was younger I’d probably love these but at 180 lbs and still searching for the fountain of youth, these aren’t for me.

I’ll give it a third team rating since traction and stability wasn’t great for my game.

pic courtesy of SI

19 Comment on “Nike Kobe NXT 360 Performance Analysis and Review

  1. Pingback: The Archive: Nike Kobe 8 Performance Analysis and Review | schwollo.com

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