adidas Harden Vol. 1 Performance Review

adidas has been killing it all year long. The Harden Vol. 1 is no exception…

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Traction – The pattern was designed specifically for James Harden and his movements on-court. Not everyone moves like Harden, and that could’ve been a big problem when it came down to how well the traction would perform for everyone else. The single area of the shoe’s outsole that has the slightest “problem” — I say that rather lightly — is located at the ball of the foot. This is where the pattern is at it’s tightest so a large amount of dust will cause some very minor slipping, but it’s nothing major. Not once did I have to wipe the soles of these guys, even when the courts were dusty, and while you may want to believe that is due to the data-driven pattern they came up with, I believe it’s due to the rubber compound.

No, it’s not Continental, and it doesn’t have to be. This rubber is tacky! It’ll grip to the court no problem. Why won’t it get a Hall of Fame badge? Simple: the Hall of Fame badge is used for the best of the best — the ones that go above and beyond. Something can easily be “amazing” and get Starting 5 because being in the staring lineup is never a bad thing. In order to go above and beyond there must be no flaws. That area where the pattern is tightest, that’s the flaw; ot one that’ll hinder overall performance to the point of no return. But, it’s the fact that I don’t move like Harden, and you likely don’t either, so the pattern is simply not at that Hall of Fame level for my movements.

The only bad score is the Benched badge. Things don’t need to be 10 out of 10 in order to be really good. Which is exactly why we removed the numbered scoring system. The traction on the Harden Vol. 1 works. It works well. Nearly perfect, thanks in large part to the rubber adidas chose to use.

What about the pairs that feature translucent rubber? Personally, I’ve never had a problem with adidas’ use of translucent outsoles — only with Nike and Jordan products that feature that type of rubber. However, this is exactly why we have comments enabled. We know you’ll likely pick up a pair to try out, and some of you may even try out pairs with translucent rubber. Let us, and everyone else that reads the site, know what’s good with the translucent options. After all, we are testers. All of us.



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Cushion – Boost is back and lower than ever. Seriously, the CrazyLight 2016’s had the most Boost pellets packed into the midsole than any other Boost model, and these feature the lowest to the ground Boost midsole we’ve seen yet. Yes, this means that you won’t be feeling that bounce back that you might be accustomed to with the Ultra Boost. However, you’re still maintaining the greatest amount of impact protection possible because nothing rivals Boost in terms of absorbing impact — at least not at this moment. You’ll receive all the court feel you can possibly want while still receiving protection underfoot. It’s just not a plush ride.

As for myself, I don’t mind firmer setups unless I’m playing for more than two hours. With low profile Boost like this I can play for a little more than three hours before I start to feel it in my knees. And at that point what I’m likely feeling is my body telling me I’m getting too old to be playing basketball for over three hours at a time with these young guns at the gym — even though my mind thinks I can still hang just a little while longer.

If I were to sum things up rather quickly while describing this variation of Boost…protective court feel. Nuff said.



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Materials – Like other adidas models, the materials featured will vary with each colorway. The initial launch colorway that we tested features a knitted mesh that has nylon backing it for reinforcement. I enjoyed the setup quite a bit as it was featured as the main body of the shoe. Basically, where we don’t need any flex. It is stiffer than Primeknit, even though it breaks in nicely, so if you wanted a more plush upper then wait for the $160 Primeknit options which are coming soon.

The toe features an independent toe cap — located exactly where you need some flex — and it’ll be constructed of premium leather or suede. This area allows for greater range of motion that is unrestricted by any other material while still containing the foot upon lateral movements — or what I like to call stress zones. It’s a feature I absolutely loved in the Air Jordan 2010, Nike Zoom Soldier 3, and now the adidas Harden Vol. 1. This type of overlay at the toe should be featured more often; it’s highly underutilized and underrated.



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Fit – Wide footers, you’re going to enjoy these when going true to size. For everyone else, you’ll enjoy the fit going true to size due to the way the body of the shoe locks you in, but if you really want a contained fit then I’d recommend going down 1/2 size.

Lockdown, as mentioned above, is awesome. The asymmetrical lacing feature is perfect as it wraps up and around your foot. Normal lacing works perfectly fine, but tends to mainly focus on locking your foot down onto the footbed. Asymmetrical lacing focuses on ensuring the shoe and your foot become one. It’s like a bear-hug for your feet.

The rear section of the shoe fits incredibly nice as well. There is a really nicely sculpted heel that cups your Achilles while the rest of the lacing structure does all the heavy lifting — or hugging.



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Support – I say this all the time, but it’s true: if everything on the shoe isn’t working together properly then support suffers immensely. Luckily, this is one of the best fitting low top shoes — much better than the CrazyLight, and I love the fit on those — that we’ve had since the Kobe 8. Actually, if you take the Kobe 8, throw on the toe of the Air Jordan 2010…add some Boost, you’ve got the Harden Vol. 1. Along with the great fit, the shoes sit very low to the ground. Your natural balance isn’t thrown off when you lace these up and they’ve widened the platform a bit which only enhances stability. Torsional support is in place with the TPU plate, an internal heel counter keeps your heel on the foot-bed, and the TPU (it’s rubbery like the Crazy Explosive) cage encases the Boost midsole to ensure you aren’t unstable at any point in the game.



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Overall – Traction, cushion, materials, fit, support…the best of what adidas has to offer all on one sneaker? Reasonably priced? And they’ve been doing this all year long? You best believe it. Competition is so good for us consumers.

adidas has found a way to give us everything it’s got and fine tune each product to suit different needs. If you favor court feel and mobility then the Harden Vol. 1 has you covered. Need something a bit more plush? Crazy Explosive. Want a mix between the two? No problem, D Rose 7 has your back. Wait, you prefer lows? CrazyLight Boost 2016…basically a low top D Rose 7. You don’t like Boost? Try the D Lillard 2. Oh, yeah…did we mention every single shoe listed retails for a maximum of $160? That’s not even including coupons, discount codes, and sales that happen periodically.

The adidas Harden Vol. 1 is a very well balanced shoe for guards. If you find that you’re in need of a shoe that offers what we’ve described then give these a test run and let us know what you think about them. Hopefully you enjoy them as much as we did.



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72 Comments

  1. I remember a post a while back where there was discussion about data acquisition happening during games. Sometimes Adidas made it obvious when his shoes had a concept car-esque camouflage pattern.

    The attention to detail of development and design is very impressive. I mean there was that leak using Kobe 4 tooling as well. I’m considering a pair just to admire it as a design exercise. Was curious, though: are the lace holes reinforced in any way or is laces running through bare material?

    1. See that reflective material pattern in the laces? I think its a nylon backing or a super thin TPU flexible enough for it to reinforce the lace holes.

    2. Is the rubber compound of the outsole durable? It’s gonna be my season shoe, i want it to be good for a year

  2. Has a nostalgic feel of the rose 2’s… I liked the hell out of those. If boost was available back in the day…

  3. Great review as always. Love the second to last paragraph where you brake down what Adidas has done with their performance lineup this year. They really have upped their game.

  4. nice vid NW. do these feel lighter on foot than the CLs? thanks and keep up the great work

    1. I don’t know which feels lighter on foot, but the CLs are about 2 ounces lighter in terms of real weight.

  5. How is the heel to toe transition as far as the cushioning? I tend to play on my toes a lot and one complaint I had with the Crazy Explosive was that when I was heel striking I had a plush cushion system but once I was on my toes the cushion drop off was so steep it caused almost too abrupt of a stop. That was my first basketball shoe with boost so I’m not sure if it’s a side effect of boost or if that’s something specific to that shoe.

  6. Harden has been on fire lately, I wonder how his shoe sales will compare to other sig players like steph or lebron.

  7. These are so freaking fresh! I’m really excited for these and appreciate the early review.

    Don’t they remind you of the old T-Mac 1 & 2? Something about the long narrow shape and low cut. I don’t know what Adidas is doing with their sizing because speaking of those old school T-Mac kicks, I used to wear a 13. Fast forward about 14 years later and I’m TTS 12.

    1. It is a known fact that humans shrink as we get older especially as we get past the age of 30. But I dont think that applies to foot size. Adidas really need to get their sizing fixed.

      I actually saw a review of Zak Kerr that he follows the UK sizing when it comes to adidas shoes

    1. These are more responsive, less soft cushion feel. KD9 trades a bit in responsiveness for more bounce/spring of the zoom.

  8. Has anyone tried dissecting the boost midsole of an adidas shoes, cut it out into two, and place them as insoles for other shoes? How was the experience?

      1. Try the zx flux with boost insole.. the plushiest boost your foot will ever feel.. too bad its only on the heel..

  9. these are for me, no question….now i just gotta sit tight and wait for a better colorway to drop, preferably with primeknit…

        1. Guys, these shoes have a huge design flaw. there is a huge issue with a sharp pain that these shoes will give you every time you try to drive if you are a guard(toe cap pain and you try to bend your foot!!!)…the pain is almost unbearable where it hits your metatarsal bone. if you are a guard and like to drive i would not get these and just try them out at your local footlocker before purchasing. i wish i would have done so.

          There is another review that talked about this toe cap pain issue.

          NW, you never experienced this pain?

  10. Adidas keeps on hitting there BB shoes out the park. Can’t wait for the primeknit vertsions. Good performance review by NW.

  11. Seems like an improved version of the Crazylight: better fit and support(no heel issues). Its not for me- I prefer a plusher boost, but for those who like lower shoes, this seems like a winner.

    Adidas has been slaying this year. Add this one to their pile of successes.

  12. Yo Nightwing!

    Great review as always!

    Did you mention somewhere, that you’d recommend grabbing the same size as used in the CLBOOST2016?

    Big ups from Europe!

  13. How does the durability of the outsole traction go for this? Are they good enough for outdoor usage?

  14. ‘Protection and court feel’? Sounds like a perfect shoe for someone who likes to play some perimeter defense (Tony Allen, Avery Bradley?) and chase someone around. Alas, it’s made for that lazy Euro stepping, foul drawing machine…

    Thanks for the thorough reviews on all Adidas BB models!

  15. Awesome+!!!!!

    Thanks for the review Nightwing,

    Like how you even made a simple comparison with other adidas models,

    Im still favoring the CE but that outsole durability of the CE is just making me think twice.

  16. Can we assume that the CLB16s perform better than these on court because these don’t have a single HoF badge on them? Or is it just because some aspects of the CLB16 deserved HoF badges? Thanks for the great work as always!

      1. yup, but funny thing is the performance cart says different, the clb 2016 has better traction and cushion, how is this happened?

  17. How is asimettrical lacing system better then regular one? Is there some explanation to this or it is just marketing like everything else?

    1. possibly a better concept innovation since our foot are asymetrical in nature which makes are foot more secure fit and less tendency to tie our laces more often due to looseness.

  18. You’re confusing me:
    1) Crazy Light 2016 hit the market, you bring out a review stating they are one of the most amazing shoes you’ve ever worn and give them some killer ratings
    2) Harden Vol. 1 are released, you state they are better than the Crazy Lights 2016 in every aspect and yet you rate them lower

    what is this supposed to mean?!

  19. Loving these shoes right now! Just an all around beast. And just like the crazy Explosives, there is no need to worry about the translucent outsole

  20. Hey Nightwing,
    Did you feel that under the toe box area because of the leather cover, when you walk off and toe box is bend, the edge of the leather will be compressed to your feet and make your feet ache? The pain is very bothering me when i test them out at footlocker.

  21. Hey Nightwing. My crazylight 2016s have too much wear and tear to use anymore. Should I get the same shoe, or switch to the Harden vol.1s?

  22. Hi Nightwing. How’s the overlay leather in the toebox. I saw reviews which says the line where the toe overlay above between the mesh upper and the white toe cap pinches.Did you have these issue? I wanna buy shoes that are comfortable without having pain issues.

  23. Has anybody used these with ankle braces? I have the McDavid lace up with stays and i’m wondering if these shoes will work with the McDavid.

  24. really wanna cop a pair of this but the weight set me off… adidas shoes are tend to be a lot of heavier… does this feel heavy on foot given that its weight over 15oz?

  25. hey just wanna complain a bit about the Harden Vol.1…

    mine “are” the mesh version… all is good but one thing. the Harden “H” Logo falls off so easily…

    why I used “are”? because the first time I wear the shoes the H already fell off to nowhere… I thought I was bad luck having a bad pair of shoes and the shop allowed me to replace them… BUT DXAM the second pair have the same problem… I’ve wore it for 15+ times I guess and now one piece of the logo is missing….

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