The Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VII – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
A rite of passage for the Summer is the release of secondary signature models. And one of the most popular models over the past decade has been the Lebron Soldier line. The line has had exposure in past years during the Summer Olympic Games and on the WNBA courts. It is also well established in the basketball sneaker industry as a very solid performance line. With the Lebron branding attached to the shoe, one would not expect anything less. The Soldier line moves forward in 2013 with the seventh version keeping Lebron fans happy during the offseason. Rounding out our Summer Performance Reviews is the Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VII.
Seventh in the very successful line, the Zoom Soldier is an excellent compliment to the Lerbon line. The features include the following:
- Upper constructed with Hyperfuse technology for light weight performance and stability
- Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole and Nike Zoom units in the forefoot and heel
- Rubber outsole with flex grooves and multi-directional traction pattern
- Mid foot velcro strap for added lock down
- Mesh tongue with forefoot sleeve
Aesthetics and Styling
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Soldier line is the use of a mid foot strap for both aesthetics and performance. The VII carries on that tradition in a similar fashion to the VI. As the VI was a big change in aesthetics from the V, the VII does not make quiet a big impact. Still, it does have a very aggressive and modern look, accentuated with the triangle theme, sleek lines, and the encompassing mid foot strap. Technological features include Zoom units in the forefoot & heel, as well as a more stable Hyperfuse constructed upper. Taking advantage of the sometimes slow Summer season, the Soldier VII had a number of team inspired and vivid color schemes upon the initial release. Our choice for this Performance Review is the Pure Platinum/Sonic Yellow – fitting for the Summer days.
Shapely and sleek, the side profile of the VII looks like an aggressive performer. The triangle theme runs rampant through the midsole, collar, and velcro strap. As a secondary Lebron model, the aesthetics are effective for the best player in the league. For most Lebron branded shoes, the outsole is always interesting. The VII has a contoured design with a triangular, multi-directional traction pattern molded from top to bottom. Marking the toe cap are vertical grooves running to the medial side. This side ends with the rubber extending up to a point with a dot patten following the lines created by the rubber. Conversely, the lateral side has a diamond textured feel. An outrigger is formed and the rubber also extends up the side wall where the “NIKEZOOM” branding is found. The complex outsole pattern is on full display at the forefoot. Areas of triangles are slightly raised, with flex grooves running horizontally and diagonally. The lateral side of the forefoot is marked with simple horizontal grooves which breaks up the hectic design. Moving down, the forefoot area is narrow and without a stability plate. This leads to the heel where a Nike swoosh logo is done with more raised triangles. The heel section continues the traction pattern and also has the vertical grooves on the sides. A shapely Phylon midsole adds cushioning and support for the foundation. The triangles formed towards the heel are raised, each with different textures (they alternate from smooth to a rough texture). “LEBRON” and “JAMES” brand the shoe at the heel.
Hyperfuse construction makes up the closed upper. Most of the the time, Fuse based uppers have plenty of openings all around. This is not so for the Soldier VII with the smooth base skin covering the majority of the shoe. Evident at the toe box, the smooth layer has a raised portion on the medial side with a grey swoosh logo. The lateral side is cut with a boomerang shape revealing the mesh underlay. Each side is covered with the base layer. This layer is reinforced for stability with with a raised look. Two small triangular openings are cut through the skin at the base on each side, with the lateral side offering more ventilation. Finishing off the upper is the mid foot strap. The strap is made of a silky synthetic and begins inset on the medials side. There are raised triangle pieces throughout, with a large Lebron crown logo marking the center of the strap.
A simple back end is accentuated by the triangle theme. The lower half of the heel has a triangular cut through the smooth protective layer. On the sides of the collar are another triangular cut out at the medial and a speckled swoosh for the lateral. The collar rises to a curve to complete the mid cut design. Just like the mid foot strap, the outline of the collar has the silky synthetic with raised triangles. Padding is dense and plush with the lining made up of the silky synthetic.
With the lacing system passing through the mid foot strap, the speckled flat laces pass through 5 eyelets and 2 lace hoops. The two lace hoops are concealed and stitched onto the mid foot strap for a tighter fit and seamless look. Fit is further supported by the inner sleeve created with the tongue. The body of the sleeve is made of mesh, stitched on the sides of the shoe, while the top of the tongue is designed much like the strap – with the silky synthetic and raised triangles. To keep weight down, the tongue is very thin with no padding. Last but not least is a plush insole for comfort. The insole has the final Lebron crown logo printed on the heel, with a dot pattern underneath the logo.
Comfort and Fit
The stiff Hyperfuse construction leaves a narrow opening for the foot to pass through. Fit is true to size with most of the pressure felt, naturally, around the mid foot strap. In this instance, the Hyperfuse upper feels very supportive and stiff instead of form fitting and flexible. With the use of the mid foot strap, the player can adjust the pressure for both comfort and tightness. This strap serves both form and function. The toe box area is tight with little room to move. Width is sufficient, but those with very wide feet may feel some crowding because the forefoot curve on the lateral side swoops dramatically. Towards the back, the collar and tongue provide soft support. The collar does cover the ankles but the soft outline with the protruding triangles on the top of the collar and tongue lean more towards flexibility than protection. This is a big contrast in feel to the unforgiving upper. Below, heel lock down is more loose than tight. Because the counter is wide, the heels do not have that locked in, contoured feel. However, the tightness of the mid foot strap does keep it from feeling very slippery. For cushioning, the Phylon/Zoom foundation brings good comfort. The Zoom units feel deeply embedded with the Phylon midsole for a more responsive, low profile feel. Next, side support is tight and protective. Again, the upper is aggressively supportive. The contours of the sole keep the foot from sitting flat, while the mid foot strap locks the foot down. A very stable feel with a responsive base, the Zoom Soldier VII is the most aggressive of the line in the past 3 years.
Tight and stiff, the Zoom Soldier VII feels like it does need an extended break in period. Court profile is low and the Phylon/Zoom set up feels very responsive. The contours and fit of the shoe grip the forefoot in place as the shoe just feels rock solid. Once into a sprint, heel to toe transitions feel very controlled and tight. The player has good control off the forefoot due to the feel of the upper and court profile. As mentioned earlier, the Hyperfuse construction is very stiff so the player will need to push the shoe hard to get the flex points acquainted with the foot. The outsole, however, is marked with enough flex grooves to keep it workable out of the box. For weight, the shoe plays on the light side, but is by no means a swift/agile playing shoe. Performance fist the aggressive power player or shooting guard. Because the Zoom units are not thick, responsiveness is very good off either the forefoot or heel. Guards can get off a quick first step and be able to rock off the heel on the perimeter. Post and power players will find the tight, and stiff upper works well with the responsive & cushioned sole. It allows for the player to be both aggressive with the ability to perform spins, turn arounds, and drop steps with comfort. The responsiveness of the shoe is perfect for the active, up and down the court player. This is where the shoe plays fast and quick. In a full court setting, the shoe pushes the player to move and use the low court feel. When the game slows down in the half court, all the small abrupt moves are handled well. An example would be lateral movement on either end of the court. The player can move side to side on defense and also find that the shoe feels very stable making quick cuts. Next, jumps are on the explosive side. The upper and foundation are built for the player to push hard. Since the Zoom units are not thick, this allows the player to find more control and blast right off the court surface. For a Zoom set up, it does not get any better than this. Aggressive with good responsiveness and court feel, the Lebron Zoom Soldier VII brings a nice touch to the versatile line.
One area where the Zoom Soldier VII shines bright is with stability. This is where the stiff Hyperfuse constriction sets the aggressive tone of the shoe. But first, ankle support and protection leans more towards flexibility than tightness. However, this is not a major concern, as the lock down provided by the mid foot strap and inner sleeve do the job of keeping the back end in place. With that out of the way, the upper is the highlight of stability performance. Yes comfort may be an issue, but for those player who are very aggressive, you could not ask for more in a light weight shoe. Harsh lateral stops do not push the upper on the brink of failure. And, those who constantly bend the shoe hard will find that this shoe can take the pressure. The upper does make up for the absence of a mid foot stability plate and very thin tongue. Unless there is an awkward landing or fall, the plate is almost not needed for this shoe. In the end, players who value stiff, aggressive stability over comfort will get the best out of the VII.
Traction performance is very good. The multi-directional, triangle traction pattern offers a variety of aspects which fit the aggressive feel of the shoe. Court grip is on the stick side. Because the shoe has a low court profile and because the Phylon/Zoom set up is not too thick, it allows the player to get a better sense of movement. Also helping are the flex grooves which keeps the outsole flexible for movement, unlike the upper. The player can push the shoe hard as this is where traction is best observed. Stop & starts, jump stops, and lateral slides are handled with a solid feel. Most of the traction is felt off the forefoot since the shoe is primary made for a very active and aggressive player. Solid traction rounds out the great performance of the VII. Ventilation is an area with no major concerns. The upper is enclosed for the most part but the various elements of the shoe help to keep heat and moisture under control. These include the lining, thin tongue, and slight openings around the upper. The player can also disengage the mid foot strap for more relief.
For the past 2 iterations, the Soldier line has shown versatility in performance. The V featured a leather upper and Max Air cushioning, perfect for the forward/guard, while the VI went down the light weight, comfortable path going back to a Zoom set up. The VII brings more changes as it favors aggressive play. Very good responsiveness, stability, and traction, the Soldier VII is great for power players and shooting guards looking for a shoe that plays aggressive, yet is not restrictive and limited. In a few words, the VII is an outstanding performer. As the new season quickly approaches, the Lebron line enters into a second decade. The XI brings an all new technology to the line, which could translate into the Soldier VIII. There is no doubt Nike has taken great care of the King of the NBA. Released this Summer, the Lebron Zoom Soldier VII is available in multiple color schemes at the Official Nike Online Store.
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