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PEAK DH1 Performance Review

For years, Dwight Howard had a signature shoe for adidas, and the general public ignored the shoes. Not really significant — the only true big man to sell shoes was Shaq and that was before most of us can remember. Dwight had designs on being Shaq, or even better, but his adidas line suffered from a syndrome called “they all look the same” (except the Supernatural Commander — that shoe was freaking beast).

Dwight’s adidas contract expired last year, leading us to this point in time, the performance review of the PEAK DH1. PEAK has been in the game for a LONG while in China (1989 to be exact, the birthdate of the first Peak shoe) and in the NBA since Shane Battier and Jason Kidd signed years ago (Kidd even wore PEAK in 2011 when he won a title with the Dallas Mavericks). No stranger to the NBA, with 12 players signed at the time of this review, PEAK knows what makes performance work. But, do they work for you, the WearTesters loyal reader? Only one way to find out…


PEAK DH 1 - Traction

Look at it — how can it NOT be great. THAT is full length herringbone, and that is some of the best traction to date. We seriously dared dust to creep into the pattern, then kicked it out and laughed. No matter how bad, or dirty, or hairy the floor was (yeah, hair), I was locked and loaded for any move. 

The only complaint, and this is severely reaching for anything, was the pattern is flat. What I mean is, the herringbone isn’t pointed on the part that reaches the floor, it is flat across the sole. Would have made the pattern even more traction-y, but as is, still great.


PEAK DH 1 - Cushion

Big men need big cushioning. When Dwight was a rebounding, shot-blocking, dunking monster in Orlando, he didn’t need as much protection because he was on his toes, nimble, and well, YOUNG. As he’s gotten older, like we all do, his needs moved to a more plush, cushioned ride.

The PEAK DH1 uses Cushion-3 in the heel which was also used in the Battier series. If you don’t feel like watching this video, here is the set-up: clear window with air inside for initial impact, foam insert to disperse force, and a denser foam around the soft red foam for stability. It works, but it isn’t dynamic — there’s no feedback at all. If a post player needs stability in the heel for drop-steps and power moves, the Cushion-3 is heaven. If you are a guard looking for a fast, low ride for speed and reaction, nah, wait on the PEAK Lightning review. That said, the impact protection is great, and older players needing cushion will be good.


PEAK DH 1 - Materials

Oooooohhh, here is what we were waiting on. If you notice, there is small writing on the midfoot below the laces that says ‘PEAK SURFACE’. PEAK Surface is a fuse/fabric/mesh along the lines of the first Nike Hyperfuse or even the Kobe X “shark” mesh. Simply: there should be more of it on this shoe. It isn’t really giving like a knit material but provides areas of flexibility where you need it, generally where the forefoot bends and pulls. It isn’t breathable (the tongue takes care of that), but it is comfy.

The rest of the upper is synthetic and rubberized fuse, especially on the toe area. The vamp and the ankle collar are stiff for support, and although the material did eventually flex and break in on the midfoot, the ankle area is still brand-new stiff. The ankle is also padded like a Whataburger #2 — fat and thick, but hot. Your ankles will be drenched in that area after every wear. One note on the pattern on the heel counter — Phoenix feathers, symbolizing Dwight’s rise from the ashes of L.A. Meh.


PEAK DH 1 - Fit

Tricky, to say the least. WearTesters was blessed by the people of PEAK China with…15 pairs of shoes; the Lightning 4, TP9-III, and the DH1 with multiple colors of each. My pair was a size 12, and I wear a 10.5 in almost everything. The 12 fit like an 11.25 – just a little too long and roomy in the forefoot, so fit is a category I am not strong on. I can say, laced tight, even the large size kept me side-to-side secure. The extra length didn’t affect playing but was way too long. The heel locked in perfectly and I love that thick padding. If you can get a US pair, go a half size up. If you go China, good luck. (The heel tab is the giveaway; if letters are Chinese, you are getting a pair from China).


PEAK DH 1 - Support

Freaking solid. With the way the heel locks in, plus padding and stiff materials on the shell, there is ZERO chance of heel slip or side-to-side movement leading to ankle rolls. The midsole is wider than the upper, dropping the chances even more. There is a LARGE outrigger on the lateral forefoot, and paired with the stiff vamp, hold your foot in the lines of the footbed. And then this Tenacity Unit; it’s beautiful, stiff, hard, black… carbon fiber. Right there under the midfoot, we have carbon fiber for a shank. And guess what? It works. One of the most supportive shoes I have worn, ever. After the Ektio line, the PEAK DH1 is right there.

Peak DH1 Overall

PEAK DH 1 - Overall

Besides the sizing problem, everything else about the PEAK DH1 was…nice. Not overwhelming in any category (except support), but the whole is definitely greater than the parts. If you are a post/big man or older player needing cushioned support, the DH1 is right up your alley. If you are a fast guard who needs bounce and speed, well, Dwight doesn’t play like you, so his shoes probably won’t fit your needs (the shoe is also heavy — 19 ounces in my size 11/12).

Looks don’t matter in performance reviews, but the DH1 also looks freaking cool; the layers, detailing on the heel counter, and colors all come together like Voltron (maybe Constructicons). If this is the beginning, maybe the PEAK DH1 is the first step to a rebirth.

PEAK DH 1 Score
  1. The Adidas Ts Supernatural Commander and the Adipower Howard 2 (I still have them) were performance beasts and imo the best Howard shoes

  2. Great review, not sure I love the shoes, I have a feeling they’re gonna be brutal on under-pronators(I really grind the lateral side of shoes, the DH 1 looks like it won’t forgive that).

  3. i think the problem here isn’t that big men don’t sell shoes, if you had a big man like anthony davis or karl anthony-towns you probably won’t sell a whole lot of shoes, but they’re likeable enough that folks would raise an eyebrow when their name is mentioned with a certain shoe, but dwight howard is an athlete the mention of whom makes people upset, straight up…dude is probably the most unmarketable player in the entire league right now
    that being said it’s nice to see the amount of care put into making the shoe….not a post player, so they’re not for me, but yeah, peak clearly care about what they put out there

    1. That description of Howard and of player marketability is extremely accurate. Howard is straight up hated. When people mention him, the words “soft”, “quitter”, and “coach killer” are associated. Big men also don’t seem to move product. I have my theories on that but it’s true. Maybe they did back in the day but just like the NBA has become more guard oriented, so has the market.

    2. I think Peak is banking on Howard still being somewhat popular in China. He doesn’t carry the same baggage over there that he does here. Big men shoes might not sell well over there either, though…I don’t think Yao Ming pushed too many Reeboks.

      Still, looks like a decent performer, and Peak knows how to make a quality shoe.

      1. I was in China when Yao was still playing in NBA, and I didn’t see his Reekboks sold anywhere….

  4. Thanks for the review, Duke.
    Yeah, even though adidas signatures weren’t appealing since they look a team shoe, the performance or getting a bang for buck for was there.
    In one of Nightwing’s early reviews in the 2, the Cecilia traction had 2 layers to it.

  5. What’s the verdict on the traction durability for outdoor play? I know most Chinese manufactures use a more durable rubber overall. What’s your opinion Duke?

    1. Great. Great outsole all around. Rubber is thick and a little harder compound so outdoors should be cake.

  6. imo this pair is one of the few chinese brand signature shoes that LOOKS like they’re actually signature shoes (way of wades too) others just look like team models

  7. width wise in the forefoot are they much the same as the DH2 Bryan? I’ve been fitted with a 2E width although I currently cannot source a pair of DH2’s but may be able to get these in the size I need.

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