Test Drive is a hands-on series offering a first-person look at the latest sneakers to hit the street.
Basketball players have plenty of performance-driven options nowadays. With all the innovation we've had in 2016, it feels like every brand is looking to look for ways to incorporate all of their hot tech into busy packages that are often not so street ready.
In my ongoing quest for functional footwear, the adidas Harden Vol. 1 was a little different. The silhouette felt modern but a clean toebox kept everything simple. With the BOOST midsole offering a comfy invite, I took the Harden Vol. 1 out for a spin.
When building the Harden Vol. 1, adidas worked classic styling into the modern tech. The majority of the upper is built of a woven mesh, backed by a layer of nylon. These materials hug the midfoot and back to the heel, while an independent leather toe cap wraps the forefoot.
This combo of tech and leather really made the shoe for me. The woven material was containing and supportive, while the soft leather up front provided flex where I need it most. I had plenty of the room in the toebox, but narrow-footers might want to consider going a half size down.
It's worth noting that I first had a bit of discomfort where the shoe flexes and the forefoot meets the mesh, but after taking some time to break in the upper really feels great.
A full-length BOOST midsole pretty much guarantees that the adidas Harden Vol. 1 is a comfy shoe. However, don't pick them up expecting UltraBOOST level bounce. These are meant for the basketball court and are thus tailored a little differently.
The BOOST foam is most responsive in the heel and smooths out towards the front for an easy ride. For those of you most familiar with running counterparts that use the cushioning, these feel slightly firmer and lower to the ground- a proper adjustment for guards that are quick on their feet.
Plush padding behind the tongue and ankle collar combined with mixed the media upper and BOOST cushioning make this one cozy basketball kick.
The cold, wet mess that has been NYC lately made a formidable field test for the adidas Harden Vol. 1. I was a little afraid of how the traction would hold up against slick surfaces as the grooves are not so deeply sculpted into the outsole. Surprisingly, the grip was fairly efficient but after subjecting them to the outdoor elements (and some impromptu pickup games) for several days, the rubber did show some wear.
Transitioning to the indoor hoops, the Harden Vol. 1 still held me down just fine. My outdoor escapades ushered no separation from the sole or across the different materials of the upper. Every cut and stop was supported as I hit the defense with my best crossover-hesitation-stepback-fadeaway jumpers.
Between the asymmetrical lacing system and the leather toe cap, the adidas Harden Vol. 1 presents a modern silhouette with some classic sentiment. The low cut also makes it an easy shoe to pair with jeans and an easy go-to in warmer weather.
Overall, I'm most impressed by how well-rounded this sneaker is. No particular feature is outstanding, but rather everything just works together well. Between the functionality and a design that is sure to be a canvas for some hot colorways, I'm excited to see more from the adidas Harden Vol. 1.
If you're looking to move away from tech-heavy basketball models but still need to euro-step around the haters, the adidas Harden Vol. 1 will have you doing all that with the finesse of the bearded one himself.