To make the long story short, I was planning to wear my Jordan 34 for this week for a new shoe review. However, after having coffee with Mr. B, whom I cannot disclose his real name for reasons, he convinced me that I should lace up my Anta KT7 BHM. That is the quick version of why I changed my mind.
This time, I am gonna do this review in different sessions. First, I am going to focus on the performance review itself, and then I will be telling you some other details on this piece, as well as my usual old man’s rant on the basketball kicks/companies in general.
Fit and sizing
I got a size US 12.5 this time, and it should be my correct size. However, the shoes fits perfectly width-wise, but a little bit longer on the toe box than I have originally expected. This was solved easily once I put in a thicker insole. I had concerns on the round laces because I thought it would get loose easily. However, this was never happened during the four games that I have played this afternoon. Once I tied the laces all the way up to the last lace whole and put in my own insole, the fit is perfect to my liking. I think if you do not plan to replace the insole, your true US size should work. When I held the shoes in my hand the very first time, it felt like the drop from the back to the front is a bit high. I was not sure if I would feel my foot sliding downward when I wear it. However, once I put it on, my concern was gone. It looks like Anta made the back of the insole wrapping around the heel up on the side, so it may appear the back end is higher, but in fact, the actual drop inside the shoes is pretty flat. To sum up, if you find the right size and lace up the shoes all the way up, you should be able to get that one to one perfect fit.
Layers of construction
I don’t know how many of you tried on the first every Adidas shoes with Boost in there. I had it before and I don’t remember the name of it, but all I can tell you is that because Adidas only puts a very thin layer of Boost in it, the cushioning of the shoes is not what I had originally expected. For a heavy guy like myself, it basically had no cushioning at all. The other few Boost shoes put out by Adidas all had pretty thick layers of Boost. Because of that, the step in comfort and on court experiences were good, but those shoes become really unstable without proper caging. Nike’s air bubble has the similar issue. Think about why most of the Max Air LeBron shoes are so unstable, that is simply because if you want to have the maximum impact protection and step in comfort, you need to let whatever cushioning set ups you have to expand as much as possible; however, if you have that, the shoes itself would become so unstable for you to wear safely on court.
Anta is really smart about this. Its new cushioning material, a Nitrogen gas infused midsole material, kind like their version of the Boost, is used for two parts. Saying that is similar to Boost is probably not a fair comment. I don’t know much about chemistry or science and I am certainly do not know if the production processes of these two are the same. I am just saying it based on my visual impression. First, the top layer is the removable insole, which when you flip it over, you can see the little “rice balls” construction. I am surprised to see Anta even uses this Nitrogen infused material to make the insole. The second layer, you can see from the official released diagram, is the full-length midsole that uses the new tech. Then the bottom layer has this huge torsional plate (yes, it is so gigantic with shapes and angles that reinforce its strength that puts all those little tiny pieces of Nike plates to shame……) and the outsole. The most interesting part, is looking form the sides, you can see those wave patterned plastic construction that cages the cushioning insole. Remember I said at the very beginning the issue with Adidas full-length Boost? My guess is that these two strips of the plastic cages the insole to prevent it from over expanding, which also reduce the risk of rolling over when playing with it.
Cushioning and support
The step in comfort and the court feel of this new cushioning system surly is interesting. Comparing to the mushy feeling of KD 12, this KT7 feels like I am stepping on a piece of hard rubber, but yet it is kind bouncy. What I am trying to say it, you definitely know the cushioning system is work under your feet, but you also can start the movement right away without feeling sluggish at all. If I can better put it, if feels similar to the feeling of wearing my UA Clutchfit Drive, which is one of my all-time favorite shoes, but that cushioning is a bit firmer. Because of that new feel of the shoes, I played in the original Anta insole for three games. However, because the insole is too flat and thin also lacking of arch support that makes my feet felt a bit uncomfortable, I put in the Power Step Pinnacle (sorry I forgot to take pic of this, but you can easily google it yourself……) for my last game. This immediately “upgraded” the shoes to a new level. First of all, like I have mentioned at the very beginning, the toe box is a bit long and with this thicker insole, it reduced the dead space in there. Secondly, with the support I have, I actually can move better and more comfortably on court. I was afraid I was going to lose the feeling of the cushioning, but to my surprise, I could say the impact protect is still superb, even with that pretty solid strobel board right underneath the replacement insole, which has a plastic like insert in the middle. I say plastic feel because it is not visible, I could only feel it when press the insole down.
This ankle pillow is another interesting little piece. I am not sure if you can see it clear from the pic. If you pay enough attention, the fabric color of the ankle pillow is close to pure black, contrasting to the lighter grey color around it. This little thing certainly added comfort and hugs my Achilles, but I am more surprised about the usage of the material. If you touch the piece and move it from the top to bottom, the whole pillow feels smooth. However, if you move from bottom to top, the surface feels rough. I am assuming, if Anta did not do this unexpectedly themselves, they wanted to provide more lock down on the Achilles when you move on the court, by adding more frictions in between the ankle pillow and the socks. Of course, I cannot proof it, but this is my educated guess.
Details on this piece
KT7, just like the trend set by Nike a few years ago, putting many details on the shoes. These details probably do not give you any value in terms of the shoe performance, but it surely make it look interesting. You can see all these writings throughout the outsole and upper, as well as tons of little graphics. They probably all meant something to Klay or his shoe designer, but I have to say I do not understand every single one of those. The #11 on the back of the tongue and on the top of the toe box is surely my favorite pieces, since I wore the same number back in college.
The other thing I notice is that because he is one of the Slash Brothers, and water, or water flow echoes some aspects of the Chinese culture, this piece has lots of the water flow theme embedded on it. You can definitely see how they incorporated that on the side of the outsole where they caged boost like midsole.
Anta probably put way more thoughts than these that I could easily noticed. However, again, these things have nothing to do with the performance; it just shows how Chinese brands these days are trying very hard to compete with Western shoe companies on every play grounds of the games. I can live without these. However, as long as the shoes itself is a solid performer, adding these touches would not hurt J
Would I recommend the shoes? That is definitely a yes. I looked around quickly on Taobao, you can easily get this shoes for under NTD 3,000. For that price, I doubt you can find a better performer than this KT 7. If you are willing to wait a bit longer, I am sure the price would drop even further.
How much I like the shoes? I have to tell you again, if you do not know already, I usually do not wear my shoes for more than one time because I want to try new stuff and also the fact that I have way too many shoes in the lineup for me to wear and try. However, this is the shoes I would keep a bit longer and wear for a few more times.
My usual old man’s rant
I grew up in the era where you never pay retail for any shoes. Jordan 1 came out during my 7th grade and it was priced at NTD 2,300. However, I bought mine, the black/red version like 3 years later for NTD 600. That was my first ever Nike shoes, for as far as I could remember, and it basically started my passion for shoes. Over the next 20 years or so, from Taiwan to the States, I probably went thru the best years in the sneaker history. It was the time when I can try on any shoes that I wanted whenever walking into a shoe store, and everything was heavily discounted. We had Nike, Adidas, Converse, British Knight, L.A. Gear, Avia, Kangaroos, Kappa, Brooks, Saucony, and many more brands were all making basketball kicks. It was a great time.
Things started to change around early 2000, when I was no longer able to trying on things in the store because the limited number of releases, and also people were buying shoes, at least some of the people, not to wear, but to resell. Nike’s domination on the market was pushing things to the extreme. Therefore, from early 2000 to the present, especially for the past 5 years or so, my interests for Nike kicks has dropped to the lowest point. I mean, for a person who owned 200 plus pairs of Nikes at one time, this is very unusual for me. Of course, not being able to play balls as often as I like to and having a family with kids definitely have some impact on my spending habit, so moving away from shoe collecting is a natural thing. However, overpriced and over hyped releases and lacking real passion from the shoe companies, especially Nike, definitely pushing me away from it. Of course, I understand any corporation wants to make money and I don’t blame Nike for doing it. However, Nike has become such a huge monster that only good at telling stories to lure you into their products. Paying over NTD 7,000 for a retro is a norm these days and you are fine for wanting to do so as long as you can afford it. However, the real question is that if you are looking for a solid performer on court, why not looking elsewhere with less money spent?
Think about why LeBron does not wear his new shoes often on court for the past few seasons. Simple, because he does not want to spend much time test wearing it during the off seasons, or he does not care having much input when developing those. On top of that, his shoes are not made to his own liking. Strange, right? The deeper question is, if he does not like the construction or overall design with all these so-called advance tech, why he is still adverting those at the prices for most of you young kids whom could not afford it? Money. It is all about money in his pocket.
I wish you could listen to me and at least start trying something different. If you could, try on the shoes you want to buy and wearing the socks that you play ball in would be the best. If you do not want to take risk, ordering Chinese shoes from China without being able to figure your perfect sizes, then Asics Gel Burst might be your best choice since these are available in Taiwan locally. On top of that, I can vouch that Asics probably makes one of the basketball shoes in the world, it is just that their designs are definitely not flashy to today’s standard. Other than Asics, Anta will be the other brand that I high recommend in general. For the prices you have to pay, you probably can’t find anything that combines performance with value all together. The last brand, is that if you want to funky design and you also can afford a big price tag, then Brandblack would be perfect for you. Even with that, Brandblack still offers better value than most of the Nikes. That is a fact.
So open your eyes and try something different. As long as you are willing to……