Tester Nation, all-new Hoops Analysis on the adidas Dame 5. My personal early pick for the best basketball shoe of 2019. Lets get into my initial love-hate relationship with DOLLA’s fifth signature shoe.
Similar to other adidas Hoops models such as the N3XT L3V3L’s and Harden Vol. 3s (which I tested), we have a tried and true traction pattern here, herringbone, but multi-directional. Take note that I played in a marbled sole, that features solid and translucent rubber, so my experience in the Dame 5 traction wise may not be the same experience other athletes play with on other court conditions, and sole colors.
Unlike the Harden Vol. 3 herringbone, this stuff is widely spaced apart, which should not let dust get trapped in them as much as tightly spaced grooves do. When I first got these in, and tested them on my hardwood floors, I thought the traction would suck, because the sole simply wasn’t grabbing. And guess what? It sucks. Well, initially. It doesn’t help adidas hasn’t released really any solid rubber options for the Dame 5 quite yet, but this sole just wouldn’t grip any surfaces initially. I couldn’t hear a single squeak out of this sole at all until after about a week of trying to break in the tread with both casual and on-court wear.
This was just a major disappointment for me because the pattern should work, but this just goes to show that it’s not always the pattern that is the problem in the shoes, but potentially rubber compound. I really don’t know if shoes just arrive with poor rubber compounds lately or just have a residue or texture of some sort that needs to be worn down before the shoe will actually grip on courts. My experience with this sole reminds me of the Kyrie 4. Traction sucked the first week, but it got much better after about six or seven wears. After about a week of break-in time, these were gripping. Not anything phenomenal, but it still worked. Better than my initial experience, the traction had finally gotten better. However, I’m a heavy outdoor player, and when wearing these outdoors, these were my desirable option just for the thick grooves, that should hopefully hold up on the asphalt. All in all, traction wasn’t bad. It was just a major disappointment the rubber compound is pure awful initially, because lets be honest, who wants to break in a traction pattern for a week before it will actually grip courts adequately? After break-in time, every couple of wipes had me covered, and I could finally have a pleasurable experience in these.
Otherwise, for the bottom of the shoe we got full-length Bounce foam, and it’s a much thicker slab than its predecessor. I honestly have had several initial issues with this shoe, and finally the cushion wasn’t one of them. The Bounce is thicker than the 4s, but isn’t as bulky as the 3s, where you actually sat within the midsole, and felt very clunky around the heel. This is a great blend of surprising court feel, impact protection, and way less clunkiness than I initially expected.
On foot, they felt great. The Bounce is soft, and plush, but not too much. There’s not much of a sensation underneath my forefoot. The forefoot really just feels pretty dead, even after breaking in the shoes. This isn’t a bad thing because I still sat pretty low to the ground in them, and there was a nice plush heel compression. As shown in the diagrams, you can see there are some forefoot compression marks, but there still wasn’t a plush sensation underneath my forefoot. The heel compression is very nice, and impact protection all around was great.
The heel just feels very soft, not anything special, but soft, and compresses super nice. I really enjoyed how low I sat in these shoes too. You sort of sit within the midsole, as the foam wraps up along the upper a little bit to cradle your foot, and give you some extra support when doing lateral cuts/crossovers. It didn’t feel anywhere near as bulky as the Dame 3s did, and this has to be my favorite iteration of Bounce of Dame’s past three signature models. Support wise, there’s a lateral outrigger that did its thing to make sure I wasn’t slipping and sliding when cutting, and the midfoot banking barrier, or lateral midfoot TPU plate really contained my foot. The Bounce foam didn’t over compress when cutting laterally, and the flat stable base just gives me more of a stable sensation when on foot.
The good ‘ol top of the kicks. If I’m just going to be up front with everybody here, these materials feel like garbage in hand, and are SUPER cheap. Like more cheap than the awful mesh and synthetics Nike uses in their budget models.
Well, yeah… that was a little too harsh. The Dame 5 does have another leather material option, but the mesh option with synthetic suede for the rear quarter paneling is the only option available stateside. Synthetic leather is an overseas exclusive, that would likely feel as awful as the mesh and synthetic suede did. I’m honestly not trying to trash the materials as much as I am, but they feel like garbage in hand, I mean pure garbage. The synthetic suede is below synthetic suede quality. It’s even worse than felt. I don’t understand how garbage material like this gets to production. Not only does the felt get dirty easily, it just doesn’t feel like the premium stuff we’ve seen with the D Lillard 2 & Dame 3. Disappointment is all I can say, but I mean $115, what can you expect nowadays.
The rear felt… it feels cheap and awful in hand, but on foot it did a good job supporting and containing my heel for lockdown. The forefoot mesh isn’t as bad as I thought it was initially. It’s a foam backed mesh, so it’s going to provide you with a bit more support than your standard screen mesh, or engineered mesh. After breaking it in, I didn’t hate the foam backed mesh, I actually kind of liked it for the support and softness on foot it brought me. It’s very obviously still ridiculously cheap, but the rear felt is what really made me cringe when I got the shoes in hand.
There was nothing wrong with both materials from a performance perspective but for $115 I do expect at least Dame 3 or Dame 4 material quality. Not this. The materials aren’t really heavy on foot, even though they are thick cuts. I personally enjoyed the way they performed, but just wish they had more of a premium feel. Otherwise, the fit and lockdown, oh… and support.
Fit was great. I went true to size because I prefer a bit of wiggle room at my forefoot, instead of having my big toe, and pinky toe being totally suffocated by the front of the shoes when going down a half size. I’d recommend you go true to size, unless you want a guaranteed suffocating fit initially, even though they’d likely break in. Break in time already sucks in these, so I’m VERY glad I went true to size. The shoes themselves do fit slightly long, but the bit of wiggle room at the forefoot didn’t add to any extra deadspace in the forefoot, nor did it affect the shoes overall lockdown.
Lockdown wise, everything was premier. It’s a synthetic suede tongue with ventilation holes that do a decent support for air flow. No heel slippage, no lockdown issues. Fit was perfect for me personally going true to size, and I loved the way the forefoot fit, and the overall containment the standard lace enclosure offered me. There was absolutely zero toe volume for me personally, having a normal foot.
There’s a lateral midfoot banking barrier made of TPU, or rubber. It feels like a rubberized plastic and not only do I think this features looks dope, but I like the way it works to contain my foot laterally too. The build of the base of the sole is flat, and I LOVE it. When laterally cutting, and doing crossovers my foot wouldn’t budge out of the upper. The banking barrier almost felt unnecessary because the upper is already supportive as it was. The banking barrier looks dope to me on foot, and has good function. No discomfort, no pinching from it, I loved the feature. This is probably because of the way the TPU of the banking barrier feels rubberized.
Solid job adidas. The break-in time with traction was brutal with the Dame 5s because I always felt like I was going to slip out the first week playing in these. Otherwise, I hated the materials quality in hand, but on foot performance was great.
The Dame 5 doesn’t do anything phenomenal, but it gets the job done in every major category. I’d say they are well worth $115 if you’re looking for a well-rounded performer. These will definitely be in my rotation, and beater pair as I did get these on sale for 15% off (about $98), and the materials are crappy quality as it is, so I could care less. The Dame 5s (after break-in time) gave me a pretty consistent ride, the adidas Dame 5 is solid.
Traction (after breaking in), was great… minimal wiping. Support is out of this world. Material quality sucks… but they felt great on foot. These materials feel ULTRA budget, but the Dame 5 is already at my top performer’s list for 2019. Ahead of the Harden Vol. 3 for the number one spot in my rotation? Absolutely not. You’ll probably end up liking the Dame 5s after the outsole breaks in, unless you hate garbage materials. I personally loved the support and cushion out of these, so catch me on the court hoopin’ in them. Thanks for tuning in.
Nick Montesano, born and raised out of New Jersey. High school Senior, sneaker fanatic, performance guru. Love to share my passion for sneakers of all kinds, and bring you all daily content. Favorite shoe ever: adidas Harden Vol. 3. Favorite player ever: LeBron James.