Since its introduction in 2005 the Kobe signature line has always been one of the top performing basketball sneakers in the industry. Kobe always took pride in his footwear. In collaboration with the designers at Nike, he always pushed the envelope and continued to find ways to reduce weight without affecting the shoe’s performance capabilities.
Since he retired, Nike has ditched the numbered series and has given us several different versions of 1 model: Kobe AD Mid, Kobe AD low, Kobe AD NXT, Kobe AD NXT 360. Finally, we have the Kobe AD Exodus.
Aesthetically, the shoe itself is reminiscent of shoes from the past. Performance-wise, the Kobe line has decided to refocus on what made it one of the best performing sneakers in the industry.
Upon first glance, you will notice that this model is very simple and minimalistic. It almost looks like they created a shoe and then decided to strip away the upper layers which ultimately left the inner layer exposed. It’s as if all that was left was mesh, fuse, and the Nike torch tongue. For those of you that don’t know, Nike torch was used on the Kobe 5 and Kobe 6 models. It’s essentially a tongue sown into the upper of a shoe made out of mesh and foam creating a sock like fit. It provides a one-to-one feel and secures the foot onto the footbed. Not only was it used to enhance the fit, but it was breathable and comfortable. The next thing I noticed was the fact that there were only 4 lace loops. Usually with Kobe’s shoes I’ve noticed that there are at least six or more lace holes and/or Flywire. The Exodus, however, is straight to the point and doesn’t appear to use any new tech or gimmicks. I also noticed the use of fuse across the top of the forefoot area. There is also some fuse around the large toe area on the medial side of the shoe. In the rear of the shoe I noticed ample padding around the Achilles area inside the shoe along with a basic pull tab. Underneath that is a heel counter that reminded me of the Kobe 5. I’ll get more into that later. It was time to finally put The Exodus on foot.
Fit and Comfort
One of the best features of the Kobe line has always been its fit. The Exodus is no exception. At first I noticed that the fuse area across the forefoot area was tight. I had to break this portion of the shoe in because during times of play my foot would begin to hurt due to being so tight and restrictive. Because of the minimal use of materials I feel like the fuse placement was needed in order to give the upper some structure and support. I highly encourage you to be patient and to allow the shoe to stretch and mold to your foot. I usually break my shoes in by working out in them. I also take my shoes to work (but never outside). I walk around indoors for up to 16 hours at a time so my job gives me the opportunity to break my sneakers in. The fuse area was so secure for me that if I wanted to I could probably play without lacing up. I initially tried to go a half size up but I noticed that there was too much heel slip so I decided to stay true to size. I personally like my shoes as close to my foot as possible. I always look for shoes with that one-to-one fit and the Exodus gives me that. Besides this, The Exodus’ upper was easy to play in, light, breathable, and comfortable (After the break in period). My foot always felt contained and never felt like it was going to slide off the footbed. The padding surrounding the Achilles portion of the shoe was thick enough to enhance the fit but also soft enough that it did not cause any rubbing or chafing of the skin. Lastly, for those of you wondering, the laces are long enough and to be quite honest, I don’t even have to tighten as much as I would with most shoes due to the fit of the upper.
It is still somewhat of a mystery as to what cushioning system is used in the forefoot of the Exodus. I have watched reviews, read comments and I have even spoken with people who believe that there is React in the forefoot. Although I highly doubt that considering the shoe’s price point and the fact that Nike didnt market it as such. I personally think that a standard foam like phylon was used. Nonetheless, the large volume Zoom unit used in the heel in combination with the forefoot cushioning created a fluid transition. There was no ‘pause’ or ‘hesitation’ in my strides. Much like the Kobe 5, the Exodus was built with enough cushioning in the forefoot to provide impact protection as well as court feel. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Exodus is as low to the ground as the 5s were, but the court feel was seamless. I was able to just play ball. Most of the time, I forgot I even had shoes on.
In my opinion, this shoe is somewhat of a hybrid. For example, I see alot of similarities to the Kobe 5 and the Kobe 10. Take a look at the midsole of the 5 by the lateral outrigger. Now look at the Exodus. The Exodus has a very similar look to the 5. Although the Exodus may not have the exaggerated outrigger that the 5 does, it looks sharp and fast much like 5. The Exodus also has that red vertical line going up the lateral side of the midsole much like how the 10 had that carbon fiber support piece. No carbon fiber on the Exodus but it does have that 10 vibe to it. Now take a look at the heels of the 5 and Exodus. Very similar in how that sharp “U” heel cup craddles the heel.
Finally, the traction pattern of the Exodus and the use of a large zoom unit in the heel is almost identical to the 10. It’s like they took the best parts of the 5 and 10 and put it into the Exodus. If you think about it, the Exodus is technically the Kobe 15. The Kobe AD and AD Mid were the 12th model in the line. The AD NXT the 13th. The AD NXT 360 the 14th. And the AD Exodus would be the 15th. 5 + 10= 15. End of theoretical rant.
The Exodus utilizes a multi directional hexagonal shaped traction pattern comparable to the Kobe 10. The main difference is that the 10s have a diamond like pattern to it. The pattern extends up the medial side, but not along lateral side like a Kyrie model would. There is actually a smooth border along the lateral side of the outsole with a different traction pattern consisting of segments of ovals. The hexagonal traction pods do not protrude from this area.
During the first few days of playing I had no issues with the traction. I hardly ever had to wipe the soles. However, the more I played, I noticed that the initial bite started to diminish. I started wiping my soles after 3 to 4 times down and back. Eventually, I needed to wipe after every sprint back down on defense. There are so many factors involved in the traction of a shoe; court conditions, conditions of shoes worn prior to you playing on the same floor, etc. I’ve played on both well kept court surfaces and poorly kept courts used for more than just basketball. The traction on the Exodus seemed to diminish over time, so for a few weeks I played in other shoes. After those few weeks, I gave them another try and they were biting like they were brand new. It’s an interesting phenomenon but I believe that it may be due to court conditions more than the actual outsole and pattern used. After months of playing in the Exodus, I have not noticed any fraying of the traction pattern.
Overall, the Kobe AD Exodus is a shoe that you can slip on, tie up and just play in. No gimmicks, no new ground breaking tech, and no extra bells and whistles. That’s how a basketball shoe should be. I personally think that it’s price point should be less than $140 considering that there isn’t any zoom in the forefoot. But then again this is a Kobe shoe with a very large zoom unit in the heel. I’m sure you can find these for less than retail with all the sales and discounts available. If I were to tweak the Exodus up a bit, I’d add a small zoom met bag in the fourfoot. I’d also replace the outsole material with the one used on the Kobe X as it is still a top tier shoe for me if traction is my main concern. Other than that, the Kobe AD Exodus pulls away towards the ends of the game and gets the W.