They say it looks like a big kids’ shoe… But we are here to see how they do on the hardwood. Welcome to the Nike LeBron Soldier 13 performance review!
Let’s get it!
WEIGHT: 420 g. / 14.81 oz
TECH: ZOOM AIR, RIPSTOP
FIT: TRUE TO SIZE
RETAIL PRICE: $140
BD RATING: 8.5/10
BEST PLACE TO BUY: NIKE.COM
Instead of that budget-friendly mesh set-up found on the Soldier 12, this time around, the 13 receives a Ripstop upper with the LeBron 16 type of heel cup made out of suede leather, obviously, it’s not real leather, duh.
For those who don‘t know, the Ripstop technology is basically a way more durable version of nylon material that is made using a special reinforcing technique making it resistant to tearing and ripping (for more information about Ripstop, click HERE). Yep, this stuff is strong as hell, and will potentially serve you more than any other basketball sneaker across the board. Not only that, this whole thing comes in a thin, pliable form-factor. That being the case, the upper is not only tank-like durable & has strong containment properties, but also is capable of form-fitting your foot for the step-in comfort you need.
The only downside of this Ripstop upper is that there are almost no ventilation spots for air to channels through, so your feet are going to get just a little bit hot. Definitely nothing suffocating about that. Personally, that‘s just a small price to pay for the stuff that you‘re going to get.
This year‘s Soldier is rocking a full-length Phylon midsole with the Zoom Air units both in forefoot & heel areas, which considering their retail price is something that you would expect them to have, and, obviously, something that always is fun to play in. However, for the same money, you can actually get that full-length Zoom Air craziness featured in the KD 12, and oh boy, it‘s so much more worth it.
Anyway, in the heel, you still do get that nice bouncy sensation combined with a solid amount of impact protection & compression. While in the forefoot section the phylon/Zoom Air combination is thinner than what‘s featured in the heel to offer more of a lower ride with good court feel/responsiveness, but still keeping some of that bounciness from the Zoom Air unit.
The LeBron Soldier 13 features a modified herringbone traction pattern and by modified I mean that the pattern itself is just a tad bit more spread out than the original version is. I think that was a great move by Nike since this stuff did perform so damn solid, of course, after you get rid of that performance killer film or whatever that might be. Lately, that has been a thing with all of the Nike performance models. It‘s nothing major, though. Just put in a few runs in them and it‘s gone. No need to use sandpaper or any other crazy stuff like one of you did recommend. Man… you‘re savages.
So after that short breaking-in process, whether I was balling out on the clean courts or dusty courts, I didn‘t have any problems whatsoever. The bite was always there for me, and it was consistent to make me feel confident on my feet. A lot of that has to do with not only the pattern and rubber compound themselves, but also the way grooves are spread out too. Therefore, the bottoms do trap little to basically no dust at all. Obviously, it depends on how dirty of a court you‘re playing on. But either way, the traction should deliver some pretty damn aggressive bite even if you‘re a non-wiping person. If you do wipe, that‘s even better.
How about outdoor capability? Would not recommend it.
Unlike the one strap system on the Soldier 12, the 13 went back again to using what it looks like at first glance a traditional two-strap contraption, although, it‘s a quadruple one. Yeah, it might sound complicated, but trust me, it‘s the opposite. Let me do a quick explanation on what the hell that quadruple strap system is and how it works.
So the two-strap system for the main fit adjustment has two smaller straps on each individual main strap for improved adjustability & better lockdown if you happen to be not happy with only the main straps adjusted. Personally, after trying it out, I didn‘t really use those extra straps again since I was completely happy with the way it was adjusted from the factory. Plus, when you pull that smaller strap, the materials of the straps themselves start to overlap each other, and I didn‘t really like the way it felt & looked. So again, personally, not really a practical feature for me, but it might be really useful for others.
Other than that, the shoe did feel pretty nice & comfy. You do get tons of lockdown power from the main traps, so you shouldn‘t experience any slippage issues at all. While the upper itself is ready to form-fit your foot without the need for long break-in time. It‘s not the best one-to-one fit across the board, but it’s definitely an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
As for the actual fit, they do run quite narrow in the forefoot, so I would recommend going half a size up for wide footers or those who prefer having a little bit more free space. For everyone else, true to size.
Obviously, I didn‘t have any problems in the support department as these are true tanks, although there‘s nothing special about their support feature package. So as per usual, you do get both external & internal heel counters with nice internal cushioning for sturdy and comfy heel lock-down. Whereas, no doubt about it, the brightest highlight must be the straps. Now listen, if you‘re sniping for the most supportive sneaker, especially when it comes to the lateral coverage, don‘t look any further than these bad boys. Even though the Soldier 13 doesn‘t stand out having a wide platform or vastly exaggerated outrigger, those straps make up for it all by just pulling your foot straight onto the footbed, and keeping it until you‘re done playing.
So the Nike LeBron Soldier 13 is undoubtedly an improved follow-up model to LeBron‘s main team lineup. As a team model, it‘s one of the top dogs out there in terms of performance. However, that premium price tag doesn‘t allow me to recommend them for everyone. That being said, unless your main priority is support and every other aspect of the shoe doing a really solid job or you just don‘t want to deal with the laces – buy them. Now for those who want something more free-flowing, lighter and with even more exciting cushion setup, I suggest you checking out the KD 12. At the end of the day, the best decision would be to wait a month or even less for them to hit outlet stores for around $100. The LeBron Soldier 13 for 100 bucks? Now that’s a robbery.