adidas Harden Vol 2 performance review

The next chapter of James Harden’s signature line has been put to the test and that means that the adidas Harden Vol 2 performance review is finally here.

Unfortunately, the traction on the Harden Vol 2 just wasn’t as good as that of the original. A re-engineered rendition of the Harden Vol 1’s data-driven pattern was utilized in the Harden Vol 2 and it didn’t pan out the way I had hoped.

I never received the same bite that I had experienced on the Harden Vol 1, despite the rubber compound being nearly identical between the two sneakers. When it gripped I was very pleased, however, I wasn’t pleased the majority of the time while playing in the shoe.

Excessive dust collection is a major issue for this pattern and keeping it free of debris will be your number one priority on the court rather than playing. Even in an NBA practice facility — a nearly pristine court — I wasn’t getting much bite and I always felt like I was going to slip if I put too much pressure on an area of the outsole with the compacted pattern.

I was pretty disappointed in this category because I loved the Harden Vol 1, but I can’t say the same for the Harden Vol 2 — and it was one of my most anticipated sequels to a great first model.

Boost is back and thicker than ever before on the Harden Vol 2. Surprisingly, I never felt too high off the ground or unstable. Packing more Boost pellets into the midsole made it firmer, creating more stability while also increasing overall impact protection.

Some may not enjoy this setup because it won’t give you that bouncy Boost feeling, but you don’t always have to feel something working — as long as it actually works. Luckily, Boost actually works, and works really well, so if you were interested in a shoe that provides you with stability, court feel, and tons of impact protection then the Harden Vol 2 might be for you.

While I was initially disappointed that a premium or raw material was left off of the Harden Vol 2, once I started playing in it I never once thought, “Some premium leather would enhance my overall experience right now.”

The textile mesh at the forefoot required no break-in time while the additional stitching throughout increased the material’s strength quite a bit. I was very impressed by this and wondered why we’re just starting to see this implemented when we’ve had mesh on basketball shoes for a number of years now. Great work by adidas for adding this onto the mesh.

It’ll be interesting to see how this material wears long term because I’ve seen so many players with a ripped lateral forefoot on their engineered mesh sneakers. If this small modification allows the upper’s material to last the life of the shoe then it’s a worthy addition.

I know most have been unimpressed by the synthetic rear panel of the shoe, but it works on-court so I can’t complain. Yes, I’d love for this panel to be where the raw materials seen in the first model are brought into the mix, but this is what we have to work with. This panel is very strong and durable so containment isn’t an issue. Longevity shouldn’t be an issue either.

So, while you may be disappointed by the materials used, you shouldn’t be disappointed by their performance.

True to size. Wide footers, try them on in-store and then shop online. There is an elastic-like band where the mesh and synthetic layer meet that doesn’t stretch much. I love how it fits and feels, but wide footers and those with high arches may not. For everyone else, I love the fit going true to size.

Lockdown was really good as well, and it was a tad better than lockdown in the Harden Vol 1. The rear panel is strong and wraps around the midfoot nicely. Meanwhile, that band I mentioned (where the two materials meet) keeps the forefoot snug and secure.

The internal bootie feels like neoprene and acts like one as well; you can feel it wrapped around your heel and ankle — but not in a suffocating way. It’s somewhat like the Dame 4’s compression collar but stretchier, so it’s easier to get on and off, and it’s able to adapt a bit to different heel/ankle shapes and sizes.

The Harden Vol 2 Red was very supportive despite riding so high off the floor in the heel. Its Boost platform is very wide and you actually sit within it just a bit so you never really feel as high off the ground as you actually are. The TPU-wrapped forefoot ensured the Boost’s stability in this section while also acting as an outrigger.

At the heel, there is a very strong internal heel counter and that large exaggerated rubber piece from the outsole; these make the heel one of the most supportive aspects of the shoe. Lastly, the torsional plate is alive and well and even extends into the forefoot to act as a TPU spring plate. For a Guard shoe, the support is here and shouldn’t let you down.


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