Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VI - USA

The Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VI

Introduction

Lebron James caped off a successful 2011-2012 season capturing his first NBA Championship.  Not taking any time for rest, the three time MVP leads the US Basketball team against the world in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  On the sneaker front, the Lebron series still stands as the most popular performance basketball shoe each season, as the 9 showed throughout the year.  As customary for the summer, the secondary line for Lebron makes a debut.  Last season, the Soldier V featured the Air Max technology, along with a Flywire based upper.  The performance left a little to be desired, so the follow up this year does have room to improve.  That said, the designers have returned to a Zoom cushioning set up, paired with a Hyperfuse upper and the always present velcro strap.  Strapped on and ready to storm the summer courts, this Performance Review takes the Zoom Soldier VI for a test run.

The sixth iteration of the secondary line for Lebron James, the Zoom Soldier VI features a Hyperfuse upper with Zoom cushioning.  The features include the following:

  • Hyperfuse upper for light weight performance and stability
  • Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole and Zoom Air units (heel and forefoot)
  • Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
  • Asymmetrical collar for sectionalized ankle support
  • Adjustable velcro strap for a tighter fit

Aesthetics and Styling

The radical design of the Air Max Soldier V had the signature velcro strap draped over the front of the shoe, making it a risky choice for some in the style department.  The shoe had a bulky but eccentric look.  An 180 degree turn in terms of style and design, the Soldier VI brings a stealth and modern look.  The shoe is equipped with a full Hyperfuse upper, showing of the various layers which serve both form and function.  Dual Zoom units have returned, combining with a Phylon midsole to offer one of the most comfortable set ups in a Nike shoe.  And as always the signature Soldier strap makes an appearance, this time wrapping from the heel to the lateral side.   The strap, uses of different layers of Fuse material, and midsole/outsole design lends itself well for color, making this one of the more stylish and sleek looking basketball shoes this summer.  For the Summer Olympic Games, the USA version of the Soldier VI is the choice for this Performance Review.

Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VI - USA

Ever present, the velcro strap wraps sharply around the collar for this version of the Soldier

Sharp and sleek, the side profile of the Zoom Soldier VI stands out.  From the bottom up, the sole comes up the sides at sharp points and the Hyperfuse upper follows the design, with clear separation from both the different layers and colors used.  An asymmetrical collar is apparent, while the signature strap loops around from the heel.  On the underside, the rubber outsole is contoured and implanted seamlessly into the shoe.  The forefoot area is covered with a deep herringbone traction pattern, with three diagonal flex grooves, which also run deep.  The “NIKE ZOOM” logo is molded into the middle groove on the medial side and a small white triangular section breaks up the herringbone.  Wrapping the forefoot area is a lateral outrigger (with the Lebron crown logo), a toe cap which has the herringbone pattern on the medial side (the “ZS6” logo is molded in the center), and the medial herringbone traction sidewall.  Moving down, the mid foot is molded with a net-like pattern.  A large Nike swoosh logo dominates the center, made of the Phylon midsole.  The outsole is finished off at the heel, which is outlined by the net traction pattern.  A Y-shaped flex groove segments this area, with two herringbone sections on each side.  Style and comfort complete the foundation as the Phylon midsole is designed with textures and sharp shapes.  The medial side is contoured, featuring triangle pieces for style.  The heel sees a combination of textured and smooth layers, with the “ZOOM” logo present in the center.  Finally, the lateral side comes to a point at the heel before joining the lateral outrigger.

An upper consisting of various layers of Fuse is used for this version of the Soldier.  Like the Lebron 9, the toe box comes with a smooth reinforced area on the medial side, covering the big toe.  From the toe box, the medial side sees the base made with a covered layer of Fuse, while the quarter panel has only a single layer, having nylon openings.  A Nike swoosh logo is painted on this panel.  On the lateral side, the set up is similar, with the base layer above the midsole made with multiple layers.  This area extends half way up the collar and down to the toe box, where a Nike swoosh logo is integrated into the design nicely.  Again the quarter panel on this side has the nylon openings to keep weight down and increase ventilation performance.

Cutting across the heel, the signature velcro strap is branded with the King of the NBA – “LEBRON” “JAMES.”  The strap is wide, but made with thin materials and runs through a loop on medial side, before landing high on the lateral.  A large Lebron crown logo is painted on the center of the strap for added effect.  The stealth look of the shoe is accentuated with the asymmetrical collar, which has a dual smooth Fuse layer on the medial, and a rough single layer on the lateral.  Lining the collar is a silky smooth synthetic, with padding tight and plush.

Stock flat laces run through a wavy eyestay.  There are 8 eyelets, with a single lace hoop hidden underneath the velcro strap.  The tongue body is made of a thin mesh material and forms a slight inner sleeve, as it runs down to the toe box and is connected on the sides.  A smooth synthetic panel sits on top of the tongue, which has light padding and is lined with the silky synthetic.  The “ZOOM SOLDIER 6” text is blazed diagonally across the front of this patch.  The last aspect of the Soldier VI is a contoured, plush insole, which has the Lebron crown logo printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

The strap disengaged, the foot slips tightly through into the inner bootie.  Fit is true to size, with the Hyperfuse upper sitting very close and stiff, but fitting the form of the foot around the center.  There is ample room in the toe box all around, even for those with wide feet.  Most of the lace pressure is felt around the the top, where the velcro patch is present.  The zig zag eyestay does a good job of keeping the upper close while alleviating some of the pressure around the forefoot.  Engaging the velcro strap tightly adds minimal lock down and pressure compared to other performers with a strap.  This is mainly due to the angle that the strap is placed, as well as the fact that the strap itself is made with thin materials.  For cushioning, the Phylon and Zoom combination is soft and thick.  The foot pushes through the Zoom units in the forefoot and heel, with the heel unit having a thicker feel.  Overall, cushioning is very comfortable.  Arch support is good, as the upper and midsole are contoured to the curves of the foot.  Fitting the form of the foot, the Soldier VI brings a snug, precise fit through the Hyperfuse upper, with excellent cushioning from the Phylon and Zoom set up.

Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VI - USA

Hyperfuse layers bring a tight fit, while the Zoom and Phylon set up provide comfort below

Performance

The thick and pronounced Zoom units embedded into the forefoot and heel are readily apparent in a static position.  Ride height is about average and court feel is very comfortable.  That said, running is fast and tight.  Cushioning from the Zoom units is pronounced as the foot presses right through each one, making heel to transitions comfortable.  Also helping is the curvature of the sole, especially at the forefoot, which has a somewhat cradle effect.  Flexibility is good as the foot is locked into place thanks to the wavy eyestay.  This helps the light weight fuse areas (the ones with the openings) flex naturally with the foot, compared to other instances with a straight eyestay, where the fuse layers may bend awkwardly.  For performance, the fast and fleet footed player will shine in the Soldier VI.  Playing off the forefoot Zoom, the shoe plays true to the light weight construction.  Getting around the court for the guard or swing player is tight, fast, and comfortable.  The shoe performs well while cutting, turning the corner, as well as moving laterally.  For the latter, the outrigger is stiff, but has a lower profile, and the fact that the player can push through the Zoom unit easily helps in making lateral movements more fluid.  Rising up for a jump shot or a finish, the forefoot Zoom can easily be pushed off of, with comfort.  The lightness of the shoe does give it some explosiveness, for those looking for speed.  Landings are taken a bit on the hard side, as the Zoom units seem to collapse fast when immediate, heavy pressure is put on them.  However, the thickness and comfort of the heel Zoom unit is great when rocking back on the perimeter or playing in the post.  Performance wise, the Zoom Soldier VI is comfortable, light weight, and plays on the fast side.

Stability performance for the Zoom Soldier is outstanding.  This is a perfect example of great stability when evaluating a shoe that uses the different layers of Fuse material.  With the maximum layers of Fuse placed at the high impact areas (at the base, toe box, and collar), the shoe keeps an overall light weight and flexible feel, keeping the fit close around the foot, where the layers of Fuse are shaved off.  In other words, the tight fit pushes for the maxed out layered areas to do their job.  With this, the asymmetrical collar provides sufficient ankle support.  Although the padding is thin and the ankles are not completely covered, the collar and layers of Fuse never feel as though they are going to fail.  The shoe naturally pushes towards the medial side, allowing the collar to hold.  Furthermore, the reinforced area of the toe box works just well, providing a protective barrier for all those harsh abrupt steps and deep medial bends when sliding to a stop.  As for sliding on the inside, this is a rare occurrence, due in large part to the contoured fit as well as the inner tongue sleeve.  In all, stability in a Hyperfuse equipped shoe does not get any better.

Traction performance for the Solider VI is exceptional.  The outsole curvature, flex grooves, and herringbone pattern provide sticky grip, without the feeling of getting stuck in place.  Molded deep into the rubber, the herringbone traction pattern is thick, and when the Zoom cushioning is pressed, the rubber does the job of gripping to the court.  Abrupt stops and quick lateral changes are handled very well, as the shoe grips the court, but allows the player to move in and out of movements easily.  The added herringbone traction pattern on the medial side and up the toe cap is also a positive when bending low moving forward or placing the foot awkwardly while trying to hold ground.  In the end, traction is great for guards and swingmen that are very active.  Ventilation performance is also a bright spot.  Nylon openings around the upper allow hot air to vent, keeping heat under control.  Furthermore, the snug fit is not cumbersome at all due to the fact that the Hyperfuse upper is thin and light weight.

Conclusion

Nike has done a fantastic job with Lebron James throughout his career.  Pushed into the public and NBA spotlight, Nike has established a formidable brand matching his charisma as a player and person to his line with exceptional offerings.  And now as a champion, the stakes are raised, but this train looks to have enough steam to last for the next decade.  This is no more apparent with the Soldier line, which plays second fiddle to the signature Lebron series.  Based around consistent, versatile performance with a team sense in mind, the Soldier line is a mainstay each summer.  The Air Max Soldier V continued that legacy, but the overall performance did not stand out.  The VI, however, brings back all the aspects that made the line so great – versatile and fast performance, with excellent comfort and fit.  One of the exceptional performers of the year, this shoe has few weaknesses.  Guards and forwards will find the most benefits playing in the Soldier VI, as it is just tailor made for the active player.  The Nike Zoom Soldier VI is available now in multiple color schemes at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike Lebron 9
Nike Lebron Air Max Soldier V