words & images // Nick DePaula
Sometimes you’ll read paragraph after paragraph about a shoe before finally making it to the verdict and main chunk of the performance review.
This is not that review.
That’s because the Hyperdunk Elite is the best shoe of the season – the best shoes in years, actually – and a complete joy to play in.
During that first week after I got my pair, I was looking forward to the clock hitting 6:30 every day so I could bounce from work and go play in them. They’re the best-fitting shoe I’ve ever worn. They’re incredibly supportive, lightweight, cushioned, responsive and stable. Everything you’d want in a sneaker, these have. (Well, maybe not the price tag …)
The Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 was already my favorite shoe of the year when it launched, with its sweet blend of cushioning, fit, traction and support. When I first heard about the Elite Series that Nike Basketball was kicking off this spring, I really wasn’t sure how they could improve on it.
It’s pretty easy to see that pretty much the entire upper has been revamped here, and while the launch Hyperdunk 2011 fit damn well, the Elite version takes things to an entirely new bar-setting level. The upper has actually half the layers, and it hugs better than anything I’ve ever worn.
On top of that awesome fit, the Pro Combat tongue is tremendously plush and padded, but unlike the LeBron 9 Elite, it’s only incorporated right over the top of your foot and then thins out towards the top of the tongue, resulting in less puff and exact lockdown around the collar. The shoe is flooded with Kevlar Flywire, and in tandem with the actual carbon fiber heel counter, you’re locked right in.
This is the first shoe in a while that I have zero complaints about. Perhaps the breathability could be better, but literally everything about them is money. The traction is squeaky and perfect on even a dusty court. The lockdown and support are perfect for slashing players and speedy guards. And the sheer comfort that comes from the beefed-up insole, Pro Combat tongue and heel / forefoot Zoom Air combo is unmatched.
You won’t read many reviews this brief, and in this case, it’s because the Hyperdunk Elite is simply that good. If you have any specific questions that you're curious about, fire away in the comments section and I'll be sure to answer. Literally everything about these is awesome, and they're also great for any position on the court. (Unless you cut powerfully and plan to have Marc Gasol stepping on your foot.)
If you’re up for the $200 price point (even though you can definitely buy two pairs of the launch Hyperdunk for that much), you won’t regret it all. They’re one of my favorite shoes in years.
Grade Breakout //
designed by: Leo Chang
best for: all positions
colorway tested: Black / Metallic Gold
worn by: Blake Griffin
key tech: two-layer bonded upper with Kevlar Flywire strands throughout, sizable real carbon fiber heel counter and midfoot shank, heel and forefoot Zoom Air units, Pro Combat tongue, anatomical sockliner with grip nubs, Kevlar laces
pros: The best combination of fit / support / cushioning / traction and total performance in years.
improvements: I seriously can’t think of any.
sizing: true to size
buying advice: The Hyperdunk Elite is my favorite shoe in years. Right out of the box, everything about them is amazing. The fit and feel, cushioning and ride, and support and traction are all industry leading. All in all it’s a monster of a sneaker that I’d recommend to everyone. That is, if you’re ok with the monster price tag.