Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus is the Kyrie 3 of the Kobe signature line — sans the rounded sole.


Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review traction

While I’ve been receiving many DMs and comments — both positive and negative — regarding the latest Nike Kobe AD’s traction, I’ve had nothing but a positive experience. Only on my very last day of testing did I wipe the outsoles and that was in the middle of a three hour hoop session. The court was very dirty that day as well so I’m not sure if I would have needed to wipe had the floor been cleaner.

What I like is that the rubber compound feels tacky, much like it did on the Nike Kobe 10. I know that wasn’t a fan favorite in terms of traction, but like this recent Kobe AD Exodus, I never really had any issues. Along with the rubber compound there is a tooth-like traction pattern that allows dust to channel through it, even though the rubber felt like a dust magnet at times. If there was dust on the floor, it wound up on the bottom of my shoes. Again, I never had any real issues because the Kobe AD Exodus maintained grip the entire time.

Unlike the Kobe AD NXT 360, the traction on this shoe has been durable. That is not a co-sign for outdoor hoopers — I’d still say there are more durable options out there — but for what it’s worth, I haven’t had any fraying or teeth missing like I did on my Kobe AD NXT 360.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the traction on the Kobe AD Exodus. It’s been reliable and I’ve never had a second thought about the traction the entire time I was testing the shoe.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review cushion

At $140, I expect more. Not much more, but forefoot cushion of some kind would have been nice.

The midsole is Injected Phylon with a large-volume heel Zoom Air unit. Yes, similar to the setups used in the Kyrie 2 and 3 — but not all Phylon is equal. There is compression molded Phylon and Injected Phylon. Compression molded is more common and dense; it lasts a long time and it the main culprit behind not being able to feel the Zoom Air in some Nike models. Injected Phylon is lighter, a bit more airy, and allows some give to it with very slight rebound. This is the type of Phylon where you can see creases in the foam.

Being injected Phylon, the Kobe AD Exodus wasn’t uncomfortable. It’s good enough for a few hours of pickup at a time without wishing you had worn something else. The downside is that it’s just Phylon. It isn’t anything special and definitely not what I expect out of a $140 shoe.

The heel Zoom Air unit was nice, but I don’t use my heels often enough to really care that it was there. I would have preferred that there be Lunar in the forefoot or reverse the setup Nike provided — Injected Phylon midsole with a 6-8mm thick Zoom unit in the forefoot — because that would have made the Kobe AD feel more like a Kobe and less like a Kyrie.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review materials

Much like the cushion, the materials used on the Kobe AD Exodus are not what I expect out of a $140 sneaker.

While performance wasn’t hindered by the materials, I’m getting tired of seeing the synthetic felt-like suede used on the uppers of some of these Kobe AD models. Both the AD Mid and the AD Exodus just look and feel cheap. It’s a drastically different approach than what we see on the Kobe 1 Protro — and not in a good way. The material quality on Kobe’s first Nike signature is leaps and bounds better than what is found on his most recent, and that isn’t a good look. Innovation should move forward, not backwards.

The forefoot of the Kobe AD Exodus has the lightweight mesh and the ripstop flex zone. I loved the flex zone area and didn’t like the mesh until I was nearing the end of testing. That’s when I finally started to get used to the toebox feeling empty. With mesh this light you just don’t feel like anything is on your foot. Some may love that, but to me it felt like playing in an open-toed shoe — just a little awkward. Now that the lacing areas are somewhat accustomed to my foot-shape the entire area feels just fine.

Slight hit and miss with this area. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. And I really feel like the materials are what I’d see on an entry-level Nike model and not a Kobe signature model.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review fit

I initially wished I had gone down half size in the Kobe AD, and I still feel like I could have. However, now that the laces are adjusted to my feet the shoes feel fine. Lockdown at the forefoot flex zone, up the midfoot, and towards the collar is pretty good.

I do have some hot spots on top of my feet after wearing the Kobe AD Exodus. Those are clearly areas where I tie my shoes a bit tighter to feel more locked in to the shoe. Having a separate tongue with some padding would have solved that pretty easily; the use of a standard tongue would be a benefit to most wearers as it would allow us to customize the fit more to individual foot-shapes rather than the one-size-fits-most approach.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review support

There is no midfoot support shank in the Kobe AD Exodus. I’ve been told by designers that having a flat outsole eliminates the need for a shank. That’s about all I was told so I wish I had a bit more information. All I know is that I never felt like it was missing.

The outsole being flat helps with stability while the forefoot section is slightly wider than the rest, which only further promotes stability at the toe. There isn’t a real outrigger, but like the Kobe 10, the midsole itself was made into one. I’ve used this type of “outrigger” setup many times and I love it every time. Your foot sits slightly within the midsole while the wider base rolls up to act like a natural outrigger. It gets the job done without getting in the way.

Heel support is decent. There is a thin internal heel counter that bolsters the exterior heel counter. These areas help keep the foot on the footbed well enough. I still would have preferred a separate tongue so I had the ability to tighten the rear lacing area a bit more, but for what was offered I can’t complain too much.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review overall

I like the Nike Kobe AD Exodus but I don’t love it. If I were to put the shoe up against the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 then I’d go with the NXT 360. The NXT offers the things I wish this AD offered — a separate tongue for improved fit and slightly more cushion at the forefoot.

The Nike Kobe AD Exodus feels like the Kobe version of a Kyrie. Lightweight, low profile, aggressive traction — it’s a shoe built for a fast paced player that gets up and down the court. It’s got enough of the basics to keep them safe to play in, but nothing in them that screams $140 or “I’m a Kobe.” The Kobe AD Exodus is definitely lacking a bit of that “Mamba Mentality.”

Nike Kobe AD Exodus Performance Review scores

7 Comments

  1. It has really been a long time since a Kobe shoe shoe really wowed me. I wonder why Nike keeps on being inconsistent with their vision for their lines

  2. Thanks for the review. Crazy that people are actually paying above retail for these (My size is going for over $200 on StockX). Surprised to see it get a Starting Five rating on cushion considering how basic it is.

    I have a feeling these were gonna be the next Mentality, Mamba Rage, Mamba Instinct, or whatever they’re calling their $100 budget model and some executive said “Hey, lets see if we can get away with charging $40 more and pretend its another main sig AD model.”

    You can buy the AD mid right now for about $75. I have a feeling several colorways of this will reach that price. Then I might pick up a pair

  3. Just can’t get onboard for $140 with no good forefoot cushioning. My knees are too old for thIs type of cushioning.

    We should have gotten more for $140. HDs have heel and forefoot zoom for only $120. Amazingly the KD11s have better cushioning and nicer materials for only $10 more than these ADs. Unfortunately the KDs dont work for me.

  4. There is some singular design intent. The shoe feels light on foot, the forefoot is very flexible with some room to spread your toes. It’s definitely a more grounded design. I guess you can say it’s in similar spirit to the Curry 4 but YMMV with fit. I couldn’t get with the Curry 4 but this AD fits me really well. When judging value, the Curry 4 and 5 retailed at $130, there’s nothing beyond arguably more bland EVA, notably uncomfortable for a lot of people — yet some were making exceptions for both. The materials here are thin, the base is wide. I think it’s easier to get along with, though. It flexes better all around, no hotspots in my experience, the lacing does a better job at controlling fit. I would agree that I would’ve liked to sit a lower to indulge further in this setup.

    I can understand it’s hard to justify the cost when stuff like the Dame 4, Kyrie 4, and PG 2 are out there for less…when you’re talking about a more versatile design, but this is a niche market/player design, with a more prominent signature name on it. So from a business standpoint, I think it’s fair. From a customer value standpoint, each to their own.

    1. I was just talking to a friend of mine prior to uploading the review about how similar the Curry 4 and Kobe AD Exodus are, and mentioned that the same people that would/do discredit the Curry 4 would praise the AD Exodus.

      Unfortunately, EVA and Phylon are the same thing. Nike names its tech for added marketing flair while adidas, UA, and some other brands just tell it like it is… EVA. Whether its called compression molded EVA (CMEVA), Injected EVA (IMEVA), compression molded Phylon or injected molded Phylon — its all the same stuff.

      Both the Curry 4 and AD Exodus play well with the setup for those that prefer it, but downing one over the other when they’re the same is a bit strange.

      Curry 4 tooling also cradled the foot better than the AD Exodus offering slightly more support. Along with proper torsional support. Both have equally thin uppers.

  5. The only real Kobe caliber shoes after his retirement i think are the NXT (owned it) and the NXT 360 (will cop this week) but are too expensive. All the other are just crap featuring a Kobe logo with a crazy price tag of 140-160. I really miss good kobe shoes for just 140 EUR/USD. I don’t really get why Nike does this now. They were making money even by charging 140. Especially now that Kobe retired they should stick with the old prices. 140-160 for the NXTs and 110-120 for the AD, AD mid, AD exodus. The Mamba rage should be around 90.

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