So if the Kobe Protro 1 didn’t make you feel old, this one will… Here’s is my detailed Nike Kobe Protro 4 performance review.
WEIGHT: 363 g. / 12.81 oz
TECH: ZOOM AIR
FIT: TRUE TO SIZE
RETAIL PRICE: $180
BD RATING: 7.6/10
BEST PLACE TO BUY: NIKE.COM
Being a youngblood who got into the sneaker game when textiles were already ruling the world, I got used to having something lightweight & form-fitting, instead of something probably more premium but less dynamic. However, I feel like even the old heads won‘t appreciate this full-length synthetic upper featured on the Protro 4 since it isn‘t real leather. Therefore, that makes this tooling sit in that weird spot where it‘s not premium, but not good as far as performance goes either.
Straight from the get-go, the upper did feel really firm, didn‘t form-fit my foot at all. It just was minding its own business. And although things got on the right track after giving it some solid break-in time (about 3-4 days), still, that restriction coming out of those synthetics had never gone away, unfortunately.
The only few upsides I see of having this type of tooling is really solid support properties and, of course, tank-like durability to withstand some outdoor beating. So overall, the materials used on the upper did remind me more of a lifestyle sneaker, which the Protro is definitely isn‘t.
There’s this whole thing that Nike messed up on when they first released the Protro 4’s, claiming that they do carry a full-length Zoom Air when in reality they didn’t. Come on Nike… Do you think we that stupid to let that slip away unnoticed? Yeah, right…
So what they actually do have is a full-length Phylon midsole – It’s more on a softer side which makes me think that it’s injected Phylon. Well, at least we got a decent slab of foam that in most cases would have been an all right option, but with all of this fake hype of getting a full-length Zoom Air, it made that foam feel like a true disappointment.
Anyways, moving that anger to the side, the forefoot area does sit low to the ground by offering you tons of court feel and responsiveness, like most of the Kobe shoes do with just a tad bit of plushness to go with. Whereas in the heel, Nike actually have blessed us with a traditional Zoom Air unit which makes the back portion of the midsole feel really bouncy & impact protection heavy. It just makes me imagine how awesome it would have been having the same thing in the front. Damn it, Nike…
As the original Kobe 4, the Protro version features a modified herringbone traction pattern, as this particular colorway uses a solid rubber compound. So if you don’t feel like playing a Russian roulette whether the translucent rubber will grip or slip, this is the colorway you want to get. For those who are rocking that translucent rubber, how is the grip? Speak on in the comment section below.
Straight from the get-go, the traction was a little bit iffy, but after a few break-in runs the herringbone started to show its true nature of aggressive bite. Though, I couldn’t get them to work completely on that hall of fame level as I was expecting to – the main reason being the pattern itself is rather compact which made it dust-prone. It’s definitely nothing problematic or deal-breaking about it. Just make sure you do your regular wiping, and the bottoms will make sure you’re getting that pretty aggressive grip no matter on what surface you’re balling out.
Can’t say the same about the clear rubber option, but the solid rubber does feel stiff enough, actually, the whole construction feels strong enough to make the Protro 4 a solid outdoor performer.
As I mentioned before, even after a handful of runs, the Protro 4 still was nowhere near as free-flowing as most of the latest on-court performers. That consistent sensation of being held down and that overall heaviness of the shoe was bugging me all the time. Not to mention, while in the break-in process, I did receive some slight heel slippage for a few first days in them, mainly due to a lackluster fit and poor heel molding. Luckily, it all did eventually go away. But what didn’t go away is that strange pinching pain in the medial side of my ankle caused by the ankle collar that only appears on my right leg. This is actually a common issue that many other owners of the Proto experience as well. But something that can be simply sorted out by putting on socks with heavy padding around the ankle area.
As for the sizing, you want to go a bit tighter with these, which they are that way, as most of the Kobe shoes. Therefore, if you do have a regular to semi-wide foot, I recommend going true to size. While our true wide footers out there might want to go half a size up.
This is probably the only area of the shoe that I didn’t have any problems with. From the very top to the very last splint of the rubber, the Protro 4 does play like a tank– heavy & slow, but a hell of supportive.
Starting from the bottom, you do get a completely flatten out/wide platform with some help from a rather aggressive outrigger, and a carbon fiber midfoot shank to improve the shoe’s lateral containment, as well as, torsional rigidity. Whereas with the heel area, I did have some minor heel slippage at first, but it has been nothing short of solid since – strong lockdown, no slippage issue whatsoever.
Last but not least, all of that trustworthy performance does progress on to the upper as well. There are no midsole extensions overlapping the upper or other some type of additional caging found on the latest performers. Those synthetic panels are more than enough to keep your foot locked-in onto the footbed at all times.
So the Kobe Protro 4 comes with a $180 price tag which makes them one of the most expensive basketball sneakers right now. But are they worth buying? Well, it heavily depends on the reason you would want to get them in the first place…
If you’re wondering which Protro of the two is better performance-wise, no doubt, it’s the Kobe Protro 1. It has a full-length Zoom Air cushioning pared up with a nicer, more form-fitting upper. Obviously, if you’re a true die-hard Kobe fan or a general sneaker collector who probably end up wearing them casually or pull them out for a quick ball session here and there – buy them, you won’t regret them since that old school silhouette is so dope looking.
Now if you happen to be a general baller who is sniping for his fresh new on-court performer, the Kobe Protro 4 is not worth your attention, since there’re tons of better-performing sneakers that won’t break your bank, like the adidas Harden Vol.3, Nike KD 12 or LeBron 16 ( you can grab them now for $120 which makes them a true bargain if you do prefer tons of cushion).