WearTesters is reader-supported. When you make purchases using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Why trust us?

Nike Zoom Challenge PB Performance Review

Nike Zoom Challenge PB

The Nike Zoom Challenge PB, a takedown of the recently released Nike Zoom GP Challenge 1 court shoe, embraces America’s fastest growing sport by dressing up in a fun pickleball aesthetic. Drawing the attention of pickleballers nationwide, many are curious about how it actually performs on court.

Thankfully, we were able to take a pair out for testing over the last few weeks and now have a pickleball performance review so you the reader can make an informed decision.

Buy Men's Zoom Challenge at Nike #nike_FQ4154-101 Buy Women's Zoom Challenge at Nike #nike_FQ4155-100



Average width to slightly-narrow footers should enjoy the fit of the Nike Zoom Challenge. Of all the pickleball shoes I’ve played in, the Zoom Challenge is the most one-to-one, offering a snug, yet comfortable fit from heel to toe and all around the foot.

Because of the synthetic panel caging the lateral side, I’m not quite sure if these will work equally as well for wide footers. Those with an extremely narrow foot may have the opportunity to really tighten up the lacing. Regardless of foot type, if you have the opportunity to try these on in store (I’m starting to see them pop up at local sporting goods shops and Dick’s Sporting Goods), I’d highly recommend doing so, regardless of where you choose to purchase from.

Nike Zoom Challenge PB lateral and medial view


Those that enjoy a neutral cushion setup with a decent amount of court feel for pickleball should find the Nike Zoom Challenge to be a good option. 

My preference would be a thin, responsive forefoot Zoom unit encased in a full footbed of EVA. The actual setup is reversed with a Zoom Air unit in the heel instead of forefoot. It feels connected without worrying about a lack of impact protection. While I don’t directly feel the heel Zoom, I can feel the effects of its function, as getting caught on your heels in pickleball can happen occasionally.

Basically, the Nike Zoom Challenge has an adequate midsole setup, even if there’s nothing that inspiring in terms of cushion. It gets the job done well.

Upper Construction

Sometimes, you can look at a shoe and tell that a manufacturer/brand saved costs on the upper. The Nike Zoom Challenge is one of those sneakers, however it doesn’t mean that the upper didn’t perform well.

Combined with the fit (or maybe the last) the lightweight, not-so-abrasive textile mesh upper is comfortable around the foot. In addition, the rubberized reinforcement areas around the toe are placed in necessary fashion protecting high-wear areas.

The lateral overlay serves as a great place for containment and is implemented smoothly, without being noticeable on quick plants and changes of direction.


Consistency Between Versions

Though they’re nearly identical in overall construction, so far the tennis iterations of the Nike Zoom Challenge seem to have some extra reinforcement around the toe to medial side compared to the “pickleball” versions we have seen thus far.

I would have liked to see Nike lead with the same reinforcement for tennis applied to pickleball as well. Extra durability is needed for players like me that prefer to play on dedicated pickleball courts as opposed to a hardwood floor that is less abrasive on shoes.

Nike Zoom Challenge PB outsole traction view

Outsole Durability

Like the toe reinforcement, I would have liked to have seen a little more protection against wear on the outsole. While the Nike Zoom Challenge outsole does hold up decently, it has shown signs of more wear in less time than I am accustomed to with other pickleball shoes.

Despite the rate of wear, I do appreciate the consistency of wear across the entire shoe. Rather than showing more signs of wear in strike or slide zones, the radial-style herringbone smooths out relatively even across the entire sole, which is also good for those that like to slide into shots when necessary. 

Overall, the outsole durability is not the absolute worst I could expect from a durability perspective, but it’s certainly one of the more disappointing aspects of the shoe.

Nike Zoom Challenge PB close up

Nike Zoom Challenge PB Overall

Performance-wise, the Nike Zoom Challenge PB is a successful entry from the brand into the pickleball footwear market. It’s simplistic yet thoughtful in design, especially when considering the lateral containment and overall support the shoe offers.

Though I generally prefer pickleball shoes with a touch more court feel, the Nike Zoom Challenge provides enough, and the way the shoe fits and cups the foot makes these a pleasure to play in.

Where the NikeCourt Zoom Pro as a hardcourt shoe somewhat tamed my interest in what Nike Pickleball would have to offer, the Zoom Challenge PB has made me so much more excited about what the brand could potentially offer in the future. It’s a great time to be playing pickelball as the largest sneaker and apparel brands in the world continue to invest in new options.

Buy Men's Zoom Challenge at Nike Buy Women's Zoom Challenge at Nike

Add a Comment

Related Posts