Not much has changed between the Nike Kobe 9 Elite and the Kobe 9 EM but there were a few minor changes made that made for a fun ride.
Traction, Cushion, Fit and Support are pretty much identical when comparing the Kobe 9 EM to it’s Elite counterpart. I personally enjoyed the fit in this shoe a little more due to the material change as they feature very little Fuse and they were missing the really high collar but overall you get the same experience.
Materials are the main difference between the two models. Flyknit vs. Engineered Mesh. The Flyknit is more durable and less breathable due to it’s Fuse backing. They are both really flexible so I can’t complain at all about that. Engineered Mesh tends to rip easily and while I believe it could still happen with the Kobe 9 EM, as it did with the Kobe 8, I feel that the increased thickness of the Mesh is going to help prolong that from happening… that along with the Nylon reinforcement they have running throughout the interior of the shoe.
Carbon Fiber vs. TPU support would be their last real difference. Basically… you get the same overall performance so it doesn’t really matter. Yes, Carbon Fiber is a little more sturdy but the way they have designed the structure to wrap the foot from under instead of over I think will allow the TPU to stay in one piece for a greater length of time.
Which would I personally choose between the Kobe 9 EM & Kobe 9 Elite? I love how the Flyknit looks but the lower EM model is just as efficient and still gets the job done for less money. What about the Kobe 9 EM & the Kobe 8? Well… you can’t go wrong with either one but from a personal level, the traction on the Kobe 9 EM is more reliable on more surfaces. They’re also slightly more durable and the practically Fuse-less interior was more comfortable for my feet.