Traction – For the second time in less than a year I receive ample traction from a translucent outsole.
The Air Jordan XX8 provides you with pliable rubber in an aggressive pattern that makes up the entire surface. There will never be a point in time in which you are without traction. Even on the slickest of courts, the XX8 held up surprisingly well.
With the rubber being as pliable as it is, it feels fairly sturdy enough for outdoor surfaces… not sure how quickly one would want to lace up a pair of $250 basketball sneakers for outdoor use but knowing its a possibility is always nice.
Cushion – I went over the new implementation of the Proplate Zoom Air in a Performance Teaser but just in case you missed it… its amazing.
The LeBron X offers a bouncy feeling Zoom unit that runs full length and may restrict certain movements for some Guards. This is where the Air Jordan XX8 comes in. You receive a similar spring with your stride but its targeted to the forefoot which comes in handy with the decoupled heel. There will be a period of adjustment with the overall setup since the Zoom unit sticks out a little bit but after a few nights of play you wont even notice it.
There is another large volume Zoom unit placed in the heel and while it’s not as pronounced as the forefoot’s setup, it works perfectly and offers quite a bit of impact protection.
Material – While there is very little in terms of overall material, what is there actually works and works very well. This is probably the best use of a shroud or zip up enclosure that I’ve experienced. Nike’s Zoom Flight Club was pretty good as well but this fabric shroud offers much better containment that a leather enclosure.
This is also where the Air Jordan XX8’s one flaw resides as I had some separation at the toe after being stepped on a few times. The toe rand features a thin layer of Fuse-like material for durability and protection of the shroud itself. Unfortunately, it would have been more durable without the Fuse layer in place altogether… or if they would have used a slightly thicker Fuse – something like what is found on the Kobe 8’s toe rand. The area’s that ended up separating can easily be repaired and they haven’t separated any more than when it initially happened so it seems to be a fairly targeted issue and may not happen to everyone but it’s something to be aware of… if you see anyone that rocks a size 15… stay out from under their feet.
Fit – The overall fit is wonderful and going down ½ size was perfect for me as it provided me with the glove like fit that I crave.
The Dynamic Fit system is minimal but works very well. Each lace loop acts as a finger and holds your foot down and into its proper place. Each piece draws your foot into the midfoot’s Flight Plate and heel counter perfectly… when you couple this system with the zip-up enclosure you receive one of the best one to one fits you could ask for. “Fits like a glove” comes to mind when describing the XX8… but I’ve never had a glove fit this good.
Ventilation – The ventilation is hindered quite a bit. Most of the interior is made of mesh but the outer shroud doesn’t allow for too much air flow. You have multiple options as to how one could wear the shroud – up, down or partially zipped – and it could slightly increase or decrease the ventilation but overall… its not the most well ventilated shoe.
Does this effect their performance negatively? Not at all. Just like the KD V, these have such a smooth and contained fit that the lack of ventilation is only going to be a personal gripe for consumers that wish to have some air flow.
Support – The support is unbelievable for how minimal the upper is. Everything is soft and flexible yet rigid in all the right areas. With the Flight Plate offering torsional support and the decoupled Carbon Fiber heel counter in place, everything does what its supposed to without complicating things. Simple placement and structure offering just the right amount of support.
If you need ankle restriction, this shoe wont offer much of it. Even with the shroud zipped up all the way, its like wearing a sock, not a brace.
Overall – Is this the best performing Air Jordan of all time? I don’t think I can answer that… at least not for everyone.
There are now 28 models to choose from and each model will provide someone with something that is on their list of must-have performance features. All I know is this… my requirements are widely available on the Air Jordan XX8 – Traction, Fit, Cushion and Support… its all there and its abundant.
One thing is for certain… if you are a tech junkie when it comes to the latest and greatest in performance footwear… then you have to give these a try.