adidas N3XT L3V3L Performance Review

The laceless adidas N3XT L3V3L was tested and here is Nightwing2303’s performance review.


The adidas N3XT L3V3L and Harden Vol 3 offered a very similar experience in the traction department. Both feel like they use the same rubber compound and both use very similar herringbone.

Initially, the outsoles feel like they’re a little slick. After some break-in time they just feel… good. Consistent as well. The only time where you’ll notice a decline in the tractions bite is when a lot of dust is present. Much like the rest of the current adidas Hoops lineup, the herringbone grooves are very tightly spaced. Dust will quickly clog things up so wiping periodically in those conditions will be mandatory. However, the solid rubber outsole offers noticeably better grip in these conditions than the translucent found on the Marquee Boost. At least that was my experience.

Outdoors players will receive solid traction while it lasts, but the rubber is soft so if you’re looking for something that will remain durable then I’d look elsewhere.

Lightstrike is adidas’ latest cushion and it came out of nowhere. We’re used to Bounce and Boost, maybe even CloudFoam, but Lightstrike? While we still have no real explanation on what it is, other than a new foam compound, I can tell you that it feels good. Really good.

Surprisingly smooth transition while still taking care of impact. The tooling just offers a very well balanced ride with a slight bounce to it. However, don’t expect a bouncy feel under-foot right from the start. When I first put them on they were very underwhelming. It’s not until you begin to put some weight on the midsole and move around that it begins to break-in to where it almost feels like a lightweight version of Bounce.

Weight is definitely one of Bounce’s drawbacks as there is the Bounce housed within EVA — the dual layered setup feels awesome but can be a bit heavy for some. Lightstrike should offer those people a better/lighter under-foot experience.

Primeknit is used throughout the entire shoe and that is pretty much all there is — at least that’s all you can see. There is more under the hood — so to speak — but I can’t even begin to describe or explain any of it. The shoe is still so weird to me that it just doesn’t look like it’d be functional, yet, somehow it is.

Durability isn’t the Primeknit’s strong suit. If you’re looking for a shoe that won’t show wear and tear then this is one that may not please you. I’ve been playin in the shoe for a few weeks now and it looks like I’ve been using them for a few months.

Granted, I am small and wind up finding myself under some big guys feet on a regular basis — maybe they can’t see me. Who knows. All I know is the shoe looks fairly beat up, even in the black colorway, so I’m curious to know how long they may last someone using them even more vigorously that myself.

Surprisingly enough, the shoe fits me true to size. Wide footers, I would highly recommend you try the shoe on before committing to purchasing. The support relies on the fit. If you give yourself too much length to make up for the width of your foot then you may be sacrificing support.

When you’re working with a shoe with laces then that usually isn’t a huge issue as you can use the laces to keep your foot in place. This shoe has no laces. If you have extra length and stop quickly, or change direction, there isn’t going to be that failsafe backup plan called laces to save you.

Lockdown… well. There isn’t any. At least not in the traditional sense. No laces means you can’t lock yourself in, however, you’re always locked in due to the compression style Primeknit. Again, this is the strangest damn shoe I’ve ever worn and I’m almost positive that I’m not doing the shoe any justice within this review. This is something that you just need to try yourself to find out what I’m trying to explain.

Like one of those you must see it to believe it scenarios. You must try the N3XT L3V3L to believe that they’re a legit basketball shoe without any laces.

The usual support features are all here. An internal heel counter is in place. There is a torsional support plate. Tooling is wide and flat for stability. Everything you need. Except the laces.

Laces normally lock you down and into the features noted above. Laces will hod you down and onto the footbed. They’ll draw you into the rear heel. They’ll do the best job they can keeping you in all of these areas to ensure you’re supported right where you need it. Despite being laceless, as long as the shoe fits you properly, you won’t even realize the key to making everything work is missing. Insane, yes, I know. Again, you have to try them yourself to believe it.

The adidas N3XT L3V3L is a really fun shoe to play in. It’s one of those put them on and forget about them type of shoes. You’ll never have to adjust the laces — obviously. Everything is just there and works. I don’t know how. It just is what it is.

$180 is a lot of money to “try” something new. It’s definitely a risk vs reward scenario as far as performance footwear is concerned. If you’re interested in trying them out yourself, or already have, I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comment section. Have you enjoyed the shoe? Maybe you’ll have an easier time explaining things that what I tried to do. I’m still in awe that they did it. Disbelief might be the better term.

From auto-lacing, to FastFit and even laceless. The future really is now.

5 Comments

  1. Hi NW great review as always. can we still possibly get the performance review of the hyperdunk x? thanks!

  2. I really appreciate this review. Especially the fact that you’re willing to admit that you aren’t exactly sure how to review these, and you just did the best you could with a technology that was completely different than anything you have experienced before. That’s why we all come here (for HONEST reviews)!

    Any plans to review Spencer Dinwiddie’s sneakers at some point? Big shout out to him for starting his own brand! Puma’s back in the game, New Balance signed Kawhi, Chinese brands are everywhere, Adidas with laceless sneakers, Nike with their “smart sneakers”… So many game changers right now. I’m beyond excited for the present and future of basketball shoes!

  3. If the price were to come down some, I definitely want to give these a spin before I hang up the b-ball shoes for good.

  4. in fairness to Adidas, atleast they have it right when they said these were “laceless” unlike Jordan brand promoting that cord pull lacing system that they were promoting to be laceless and quite underdeveloped.

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