In late October 2018, adidas unveiled their first laceless basketball shoe called the N3XT L3V3L, which introduced their new Lightstrike, EVA-based foam to the market for the first time ever. Now, just over two years later, adidas Hoops has released an abundance of basketball shoes featuring their Lightstrike foam—such as the Harden Vol. 4 and 5, Dame 6 and 7, N3XT L3V3L 2019 and 2020, Pro Boost, and the upcoming D.O.N. Issue #3.
While Lightstrike is essentially adidas’ new “signature” foam cushioning to be featured in their basketball shoes as of late, it is nowhere near as effective as Boost was for performance basketball. While Boost had its limits, like its general heavier weight, Lightstrike is the substandard of foam cushionings adidas has established during the past few years. In fact, it’s one of the most in-effective on the market in terms of impact protection, durability, and rebound.
What is Lightstrike?
Lightstrike foam is adidas’ new proprietary compound of EVA foam, being completely different from adiPrene, Bounce, and Boost. Boost is derived from ETPU material, which is plastic. adidas’ goal with releasing Lightstrike was to create a “balance of lightweight cushioning and on-court responsiveness”. While the claim that Lightstrike is a lightweight cushioning may be true, it’s not the most ideal set-up for basketball. Lightstrike is so lightweight because it lacks the density that other EVA foams feature, providing a rebound or “bounce back” sensation underfoot, which better absorbs hard impacts during play.
Lightstrike is essentially like a dumbed-down version of EVA foam—very little density, which makes it very soft upon try-on, but has little to no bounce. This leads to the foam beginning to bottom out within just hours of actual basketball play. While this is true, the actual time it takes for it to bottom out will vary upon how much force the wearer exerts in their steps. Regardless, the foam bottoms out incredibly fast. That’s why you see the large amount of compression marks on the midsoles of the Lightstrike basketball shoes. It should absorb impact well for most wearers until it begins to bottom out. Lots of wearers have had great experiences with Lightstrike, but ultimately the experience will be different for everyone.
The following graphic above that we created displays the data results from midsole ball rebound tests performed on three adidas basketball shoes that feature Lightstrike, that are then compared to similar, minimal, lightweight basketball shoes.
The greater rebound heights that the PUMA and two Nike basketball shoes experienced statistically assumes they provide more rebound (bounciness sensation) upon impact underfoot and help propel your foot during motion. It also presumes the proposition that Lightstrike does indeed lack the density properties that these similar cushioning set-ups feature.
NOTE: Again, the tests were performed by a steel bearing ball, thus the rebound rates will be different for each individual who wears each respective shoe due to the individual’s height, weight, how much force they exert upon landings, and several other factors. This data is shown to give you an idea of how Lightstrike compares to similar competitor foams statistically in rebound rates and isn’t consensual for actual people since everybody has different feet and characteristics. Thank you to Sneaks & Feet极客鞋谈 for providing this data in their YouTube videos.
The photos you’re about to see are from in-game of adidas athletes wearing the brand’s shoes. You’ll see how compressed the midsoles are on their shoes, and this is only during a 48 minute basketball game. Compression marks are normal within foam-based cushioned basketball shoes, however, generally not this fast.
Damian Lillard – Dame 6
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images
Damian Lillard – Dame 7
Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images.
James Harden – Harden Vol. 4
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images.
Trae Young – N3XT L3V3L 2020
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images.
Trae Young – N3XT L3V3L 2019
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.
So, you may be wondering, what is the synopsis? Plain and simple, Lightstrike is bad. Bad at absorbing impact. Bad at being durable. And definitely bad overall. If you want a cushion that will be durable and not bottom out within just a few wears, stay away from adidas Lightstrike.