words and images_Zac Dubasik
adidas TS Beast
Step-in comfort, for many people, is the make or break moment in the decision to buy a shoe. For people that don’t closely follow the sneaker world, and don’t necessarily have knowledge of the ins and outs of sneaker technology, it’s the only thing they have to go on, so it makes sense that they would base their decision off that brief initial impression.
I feel that adidas often suffers from this try-on comfort scenario. The majority of adidas hoops shoes that I test use high-quality materials and are well constructed – almost overly so sometimes – which results in them requiring plenty of break-in time. While the shoe may end up lasting better, or being more desirable in the long run, it requires faith in something that may or may not end up happening, which is a lot to ask from an uninformed buyer. The adidas TS Beast, in contrast to many adidas hoops shoes, actually fares pretty well in the step-in comfort department. The problem is, this time, it’s actually a bit misleading.
Directly under the shoe’s insole is a layer of PORON, which provides a plush first impression. This memory foam-like material has been seen on past shoes, and is a welcome addition; it helps immensely in the shoe’s step-in comfort. Here’s the problem though: as Nick DePaula best put the situation into words, “it’s padded, but not cushioned.” This extra layer of foam feels great to try on, or even just walk around in. In an on-court situation though, it quickly bottoms out, and gives way to the much firmer foam below it. I definitely prefer to have it there, than not have it, but it doesn’t address the cushioning issue many adidas shoes face. More on that later.
This isn’t the shoe’s only potentially misleading area from that initial impression either. When tightly laced, multiple issues reveal themselves. The worst, and one of my biggest problems with the shoe, was the sharp pain I felt at my small toes, coming from the lateral side’s overlay. The three large stripes act as a support system, and when tightly laced, created a lever-like effect on the aforementioned overlay, creating unreasonable pressure on my small toe. Players with more narrow feet may not have an issue, but the pain was enough that I had to adjust my lacing to alleviate the pressure. I was able to get it laced to a comfortable zone, but, then the shoe wasn’t laced at tightly as I’m comfortable with. The next issue is also lacing related. Across the top of my foot, I felt far too much lace pressure. The shoe doesn’t conform and shape itself to your foot as much as it binds and constricts it. You can get it to fit tight, just not well. And that tight fit isn’t too comfortable either. The last issue I had deals with the collar.
When tightly laced, the two sides of the collar actually met in the middle, and prevented me from getting it any tighter. The tongue partially gets in the way here (although not nearly as bad as with the Heat Check), but it has more to do with the design of the collar. With some work, and adjustments to the tongue, I was able to get it pretty good, but not as good as I would have liked. Luckily, it didn’t prevent solid heel lockdown. Another “interesting” thing worth noting on the collar is the strap-like pieces on each side, that attach to, well, nothing. These pieces, which display Dwight’s signature, serve seemingly no purpose, other than adding a little weight. It doesn’t necessarily hurt the shoe’s performance any, but in an era where we are seeing unnecessary weight being stripped from shoes, its inclusion is an odd choice.
Once these fit and lacing issues were figured out, I was able to get some positive runs going. Like every shoe using adidas PureMotion technology, I found a smooth transition, and good court feel. For a big man’s shoe, the Beast felt light, and played even lighter (thanks, no doubt, to that good heel-to-toe transition). The traction was solid, although it did require some swiping to keep it clean. The shoe’s large external heel counter did a solid job of keeping my heel locked down, and helped compensate for the collar’s less than perfect setup.
Over the course of a few weeks of playing in the Beast, the shoe constantly improved. It wasn’t the upper loosening up, and transition improving, like with many shoes though. Those were pretty much good to go out of the box. The cushioning however got marginally better the longer I played in them. It’s definitely better for the cushioning to improve, than get worse, but it didn’t get that much better, and it took a long time.
Here’s the biggest issue I have with the Beast. I was able to make some adjustments and compromises (like not lacing as tight as I like), got the cushioning to eventually break in, and get the shoe to the point where I liked it. It is a good shoe. But, there are shoes out there that don’t require this struggle, and are better shoes period. If you are looking at these as a game day-only shoe, the season might be over by the time you get the fit sorted out, and the cushioning to break in. But if you plan on hooping in these for practice, pick-up and games, and want something that will last the season and beyond, they are a solid choice.
Available now: adidas TS Beast