In its thirteenth iteration, the Nike LeBron Soldier 13 is the best laceless shoe from the line yet.
There is nothing visually special about the traction featured on the Nike LeBron Soldier 13, and that is why it’s so special. No gimmicks were used. No lame stories were told. Herringbone was used as was solid rubber. There isn’t much else to ask for.
The outsole performed as good as it looks — both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, the rubber is thick. Something that is become rare in today’s “reduce weight wherever you can” era. There was a slight break-in period that lasted about a game or two, but once that was done I never really had any issues.
If I’m going to compare them to last years Nike LeBron Soldier 12, the traction doesn’t have the same bite to it, but it still grips and has been just as reliable for me.
The shoe looked rather chunky at the midsole which was a bit of an initial turn off. However, large volume heel and forefoot Zoom Air is always something I look forward to. Luckily, they didn’t disappoint.
The Zoom units are bottom loaded so you don’t get a huge amount of additional feedback after each step, but you can feel the cushion a little. Zoom Air usually has a slight spring to it whereas this implementation I mostly felt a slight squish instead. I personally prefer the slight spring feeling, but I found this to be just as comfortable.
Impact protection is there so anyone looking strictly for protection rather than feel should be more than happy. Larger players with a bit more weight will likely feel the plushness a bit more than I did. However, I still enjoyed the setup a lot.
Transition was smooth and fluid, despite the midsole thickness. I personally don’t like being raised off the floor as much as these offer, but the overall stability was just fine so once you get used to the extra height you won’t notice it at all.
Materials are a basic ripstop style setup. Nothing really special, or premium, but it works.
There are very few layers involved so it keeps the weight down a bit and requires no break-in time. This setup also doesn’t allow for much stretch, which is a plus for those that love a snug and secure fit from start to finish.
One of my shoes is starting to fray a bit at the toe. So, durability isn’t its strong suit. However, the benefits of the material, from a performance perspective, outweigh potential negatives.
I went true to size and I feel that the fit was perfect. Wide footers may want to try the shoe on prior to purchasing online, if possible, just to make sure they’re not too snug.
With there being no laces the upper is going to fit snug overall. You can’t tighten things up from the toe to the ankle in the same way you would a normal shoe, so being snug is a good thing in this case.
I found the lockdown on the Soldier 13 to be the best of all the laceless Soldier models other than the Soldier 9 — even though those did have a couple of lace loops for laces despite not being completely necessary. With the strap locations being at the forefoot and ankle, you’re able to focus your lockdown section right where you really need it, while the semi-snug fit from the upper takes care of the rest. There are also additional pull straps on the main straps that can tighten those areas up a bit more just in case you may want or require more tightening. I personally didn’t use them, but if you have a thin or narrow foot then they’ll likely come in handy.
Support is average. Most of the support on these relies on the way they fit your foot and lock you into the upper. Much like the laceless adidas N3XT L3V3L, if the fit is sloppy for you then you won’t have a great experience.
The base itself is nice and flat and moderately wide. However, the outrigger could have been a bit beefier. Especially for how high you sit with the thick midsole. It wan’t something I’d consider to be a deal breaker as you get used to the taller platform rather quickly, but a little bit more substance along the lateral outrigger wouldn’t have hurt.
Overall, the Nike LeBron Soldier 13 is a great shoe. They perform well in every category. Traction is great. Cushion is well balanced. I found the fit and lockdown to be exceptional for a laceless shoe. Materials aren’t premium, but they get the job done when talking about performance. Support was solid as well. Just an all-around good shoe that should take care of a lot of player needs out on the hardwood or blacktop.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of hoop shoes and you’ve enjoy the past few years of LeBron Soldier models then you should enjoy the LeBron Soldier 13.