adidas Harden Vol. 1 Performance Review
The wait is finally over. After James Harden signed a $200 million contract with adidas last offseason, the basketball world has been waiting to see what kind of shoe adidas and Harden would cook up. Until now, James Harden has played in adidas’s Crazylight Boost shoes, most recently, the Crazylight Boost 2016. What they came up with is the adidas Harden Vol. 1. Each colorway is meant to tell part of Harden’s basketball story which is why it is called the Harden Vol. 1 instead of the Harden 1. James Harden, the bearded one, is one weird guy, and at first glance of his signature shoe, you can tell. It recieved a ton of hate on social media when images leaked of an all black colorway (a sample to be fair), but everyone’s tune seems to have changed now that we have had a good look at the final versions. Does the adidas Harden Vol. 1 perform as well on the court as its bearded namesake? Let’s start off with the traction.
The outsole on the Harden Vol. 1 is a geometric pattern that adidas says is based on the Fibonacci sequence and is pressure mapped for Harden’s foot to provide the optimal grip for a very explosive player. The colorway that Sammy tested has a translucent outsole and the pattern looks suspect. The traction is, in a word, amazing! The stopping power is incredible and only attracts minimal dust which is fixed with a light wipe. The rubber is very squeaky (which doesn’t necessarily mean anything). The Sole Brothers give the traction on this shoe a rating of 10/10.
The Harden Vol. 1 implements a full length setup of adidas’s Boost technology with a TPU shroud caging it on the lateral side and in the heel for stability during hard cuts. Sammy said that he could not feel the boost very much unless he puts a lot of pressure on the heel, so it is not very mushy. The boost midsole is not very thick, but it does provide a lot of impact protection and feels very responsive with no bounce. The heel to toe transition feels very smooth. Sammy also reported that if he had a hard landing that it hurt his feet since the midsole is not very thick. The Harden Vol. 1 earns a rating of 8/10 for its cushion.
The adidas Harden Vol. 1 uses a full length Primeknit upper with an overlay over the toe area. The toe overlay on Sammy’s colorway is a black suede, while other colorways have a leather overlay. The upper uses a burrito style fit, meaning that the upper wraps around and the laces pull the lateral side under the medial side for a snug feeling. The materials feel nice and plush. The Primeknit is soft, breaks in easily, and seems like it is a supportive material. The Sole Brothers give the materials a rating of 9/10.
Fit: The Harden Vol. 1 runs a little long, so go down 1/2 of a size. The midfoot area feels pretty narrow and widens out in the toe box, which feels pretty nice and has no dead space if you go down 1/2 of a size. You should definitely try this on before you buy it if you can.
Support: This shoe is pretty supportive for a low top. The outriggers and caged boost midsole give you a wide and stable base, and the materials fit nicely enough and do not stretch to support the midfoot and forefoot areas.
Lockdown: Sammy reports that he did not have any issues with his heel or forefoot slipping so the lockdown was very good. You have to really crank down the laces to get the right support and lockdown, but after it breaks in this does get better. Overall, the Sole Brothers give the adidas Harden Vol. 1 a rating of 9/10 for fit/support/lockdown.
Ventilation, Durability, and Aesthetics
Ventilation: This shoe is pretty warm since the Primeknit upper is pretty thick and has no ventilation holes and the suede overlay adds another hot layer on top of that. This shoe earns a rating of 7/10 for ventilation.
Durability: The Harden Vol. 1 features strong materials and a hard rubber outsole so we expect that they will be quite durable, earning a rating of 9/10.
Aesthetics: This is a very good looking shoe, in particular the “Imma be a star” colorway Sammy has. One thing we love about this shoe is that adidas did a great job creating a shoe that looks great on and off of the court. Easily a 10/10.
The Harden Vol. 1 weighs in at 14 ounces which is pretty heavy for a low top, but it does not feel heavy on the foot at all. The fit is good, the traction is amazing, feels light, and the cushion is very responsive, so the Harden Vol. 1 is a very good shoe and does live up to the reputation James Harden has as a talented and explosive player. The Harden Vol. 1 retails for $140 (for non-limited colorways) which seems high for a first time signature shoe, but it is totally worth it. The only thing Sammy would like to change on this model is that he would add a little more boost to the midsole to make it a bit softer. Let us know what you think about the adidas Harden Vol. 1 in the comments and check out Don and Sammy’s discussion below.