Nike Kobe 8 System Performance Review

Welcome to Nice Kicks’ Performance Review of the Nike Kobe 8 System. As the name suggests, this is the 8th signature sneaker for Kobe Bryant under the Nike umbrella, and though the aesthetics are similar, Nike has made several performance enhancements that make this a worthy upgrade from the previous model. The first thing you will notice about the shoe is the weight. The Kobe 7 weighed in at 13.3 ounces in its attack fast form, and the current model weighs in at 9.6 ounces. A lot of this weight difference can be attributed to the new upper material, engineered mesh. Though the term sounds relatively new, Engineered Mesh has been around on other models such as the Lunarglide 4, but this is the first time I have seen it on a basketball sneaker.

Taking the weight into account, the Kobe 8 feels light on the foot, and  at times almost feels like it isn’t there. This is a big difference from last year, when you could definitely feel the weight of the shoe. Not saying either is better, but I prefer the lighter weight of the 8.

Engineered Mesh

The engineered mesh upper is a big story for Nike and after playing in the shoe I can see why. It’s lightweight and provides a nice feel across the foot. Surprisingly, the material has a denser feel than you would expect from looking at it, and part of that is due to the webbed backing. I was worried it would have too much give when making cuts and changing directions, but those concerns proved to be unnecessary. The lock down on the Kobe 8 proved to be comparable to last year which I was extremely happy with. Something worth noting is that Nike added a padded section through the center of the tongue which provides a nice barrier between your foot and the laces, but it doesn’t feel overdone, which is why it doesn’t’ extend all the way to the tip of the tongue.

Traction

Looking at the outsole, the Kobe 8 stays true to the Herringbone style which has proven time and time again that it works both indoors and outdoors. Though it is limited to 1mm, which means these aren’t really built for outdoor play. You will probably burn through them pretty fast on a gravel court. For indoor play, the rubber has just enough give to provide the right amount of traction and isn’t plagued by overzealous story telling which could result in slippery feet after a few games. Another thing you may also notice is that the outsoles extends up on the medial side which works for me as I like to drag my toe when I am cutting back.

Nike Kobe 8 System

Cushioning

Cushioning for the Kobe 8 relies on Lunarlon which has history for being soft and responsive at first, but often losing some of that responsiveness after a some heavy playing time. I have been playing in the Kobe 8 since early December and I have yet to feel a difference in the cushioning. Heel to toe movements have been responsive and the side to side movement has proven to be secure enough that I don’t even think about it. For those that don’t want to softer Lunarlon, Nike is also offering a an orthotic-ready Zoom Air Insert.

Heel Counter

Something that has become a bit of a staple in the Kobe line is the heel counter. Though it has been slimmed down, the support is still there and it isn’t too stiff nor does it dig into your achilles heel. Nike also offers a padded ankle and heel, though visually, it doesn’t appear to be as thick as the collar on last year’s model nor as high. Something else you may pick up on visually on the Kobe 8 is the synthetic overlay that extends from the quarter panel to the toe. The purpose is to secure the engineered mesh and I found it added a little extra protection at the toe. As you can see here, I am rough on my kicks when I play and I have already scuffed up the overlay.

Finally, we have the midfoot shank. Nike went with a glass composite which provides adequate midfoot support that isn’t too springy, but it also isn’t just a cosmetic addition to make the shoe look good.

Nike Kobe 8 System

Final Thoughts

Overall, I give the Kobe 8 a B+ or an 8.5. I would love to score it higher, but the thin outsole worries me if you play a lot outside. On the other hand, the weight and feel of the Kobe 8 is one of the best I have felt since the early days with the Kobe 5. Designer Eric Avar and Kobe took the 8 to the next level, which is what I expect from someone who has the desire and hunger that Kobe still has even though he is a 5x NBA Champion. Pricing for the Kobe 8 is set at $140 with a December 20 release in this Black/Sulfur colorway. Additionally, Nike will be releasing a Nike+ version of the Kobe 8 both with and without the Sports Kit.

Nike Kobe 8 System

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