Performance Review: Nike Hyperdunk 2011

words // Zac Dubasik

When the original Hyperdunk released in 2008, the landscape of the basketball sneaker world looked much different than it does today. At 13 ounces, with a daring – and almost abstract – materials story, it was light years ahead of what the competition was offering. Adidas was in the midst of its short-lived Team Signature concept, Reebok’s EasyTone hadn’t yet brought the company back enough to get their hoops line in order, Under Armour hadn’t even stepped into the footwear arena, and Shaq was the only thing keeping Li-Ning from complete obscurity with U.S. hoops fans. What a difference four years make though. Today, adidas has the lightest hoops shoe on the market at under 10 ounces, Reebok is back in the business of making signature shoes, Under Armour has emerged as a major player, signing two of the draft’s top picks, and Li Ning, along with their country-mates Anta and Peak, have fully infiltrated the League.

What I’m getting at is that although the Hyperdunk was groundbreaking in its time, its time was three years ago. A shoe weighing 13 ounces won’t even get you noticed nowadays. And even back then, the Hyperdunk wasn’t without its faults. The often-criticized Lunar Foam in its forefoot was only good for a handful of wearings before breaking down, its breathability was so bad that you could actually see the Flywire fog up on white-based colorways, and its traction disappeared the second you stepped on a court with less than pristine maintenance.

The follow-up to the Hyperdunk, the Hyperize, took small steps towards righting some of those wrongs. Its traction improved, however its continued use of Lunar Foam still rendered the forefoot cushioning borderline disposable, it fit sloppy, and it was highly criticized for its lack of midfoot support. At first sight, it appeared the Hyperize’s successor, the Hyperdunk 2010, finally got everything right. Out was Lunar Foam, and in was a heel and forefoot Zoom cushioning setup. Traction improved even more, with herringbone now wrapping up on the midsole. The biggest problem was that although things appeared to be in order with the upper, the synthetic skinwire just didn’t flex and become one with the foot as well as it could have, causing some comfort issues.

Nike Hyperdunk 2011 Performance Review

And that’s where the Hyperdunk 2011 comes in. With refinements, rather than drastic changes, needed with the tooling, the team focused on improving the upper, and started at the most logical place possible: by changing the last, and in turn, providing a more one-to-one fit. “That was the main goal going into this year’s upper,” explains Leo Chang, the shoe’s designer, and Design Director of Nike Basketball. “That actually started with the Hyperfuse and the Kobes. Both of those shoes are built on a specific last, and having literally a third of the NBA wearing the Hyperfuse at some point was pretty cool.” The QF-8 has been a long-time go-to last, even being repeatedly used on Jordan game shoes. “What we were finding was that it works great with leathers and synthetic leathers, but once you start getting to this zone where you have a really thin composite package, it creates a lot more volume within the shoe,” says Chang, which lead their team to the BB-03 last. I found this new last to be an excellent fit for my foot. It’s definitely not as generally accommodating as the shape found in the past Hyperdunks, but not prohibitively narrow. My feet are even slightly on the wide side, and I had no issues. The last is only half of the story as to why the upper is such an outstanding fit though; the change in materials greatly adds to it.

“I had the factory take the Hyperdunk 2010 and try new upper packages,” begins Chang. “Then I began to draw what the upper silhouette and lines could look like. I knew we needed protection in the toe and in the heel, and then I went back after weartesting and looked at covering up even more areas, like the eyestay holes to make sure they didn’t tear. The Flywire pattern definitely evolved along the way.” While the Hyperdunk 2010’s Skinwire was certainly an improvement over the plasticky TPU-based upper of the original, it still didn’t have the flexibility to truly give that glove-like fit. This latest version however conforms to the foot and moves with it – not to mention offering better breathability. It’s light, comfortable and pliable, all while providing rock solid stability. It’s about as much as you could ask for in a basketball upper.

The shoe’s collar features a familiar silhouette that you’ve now come to expect in the line. “I definitely wanted to stay within the Hyperdunk language,” says Chang. “You still have the exaggerated collar and the high to low feel.” This not only gives the Hyperdunk its signature look, but is also functional. “It adds a level of flexibility and proprioceptive confidence,” explains Charles Williams, Nike Basketball Product Line Manager. While the cut is not overly restrictive – it’s quite good for a high-top – it’s definitely more restrictive than a low or even a mid. I tend to prefer a lower cut, and at times experienced some pinching in the rear of the collar, but overall found it to be effective and secure. Aiding in that security are two small molded nodes found inside the collar – similar to those found in the Zoom KD line – as well as an external heel counter. “We actually started out with an internal counter to get a bit lighter,” began Chang, “but then we added on an external counter to get a better 3D molded heel shape and lockdown. We felt like adding things that were a benefit would be better than getting it lighter at an expense.” My heel felt exceptionally secure between the nodes, the collar itself and the external counter. If you’re a die-hard fan of low-tops, then the heel notch alone will probably not offer enough range of motion for you. But everything else about the shoe is so good, it’s worth a try if you can be open minded about the cut.

Nike Hyperdunk 2011 Review

The biggest issue I had with any aspect of the shoe was that when tightly laced, I felt more lace pressure than I would have liked. I tie my shoes very tight, and definitely felt the laces dig in across the top of my foot. The tongue of the Hyperdunk 2011 is thin, and made up of a large and open mesh. This is effective for breathability, but bad for protection. The original Hyperfuse featured thin, but targeted padding built into the tongue, which was highly effective at eliminating lace pressure. I’d like to see a system like that implemented here, even if it cost a fraction of an ounce when it comes to weight.

The outsole appears fairly similar to last year’s Hyperdunk, but there’re a few notable differences. The dynamic herringbone traction pattern is very similar – not to mention excellent – but now features clear windows in the heel and forefoot to give a glimpse into the shoe’s Zoom bags. The bigger, and much more important difference, is that the TPU shank found in the HD2010 has been replaced by a molded, glass-reinforced shank. “We went away from the shank that we had in the 2010 for a number of reasons,” explains Chang. “The shank gave pretty much everyone great support, but it was a bit flat and still bending when we didn’t want it to. We wanted to make sure that doesn’t happen, and the shank really evolved both in size and geometry.” The new shank is so rigid that the shoe actually felt “slappy” when I first tried it on. I worried that the transition wouldn’t be as smooth as I like with all that support. But the second I stepped on the court and started to push the shoe, my fears quickly dissipated. On-court, while running, the transition is very smooth. Cushioning-wise, the Hyperdunk 2011 is outstanding. Its 14mm heel and 8mm forefoot Zoom bags encased in a Phylon midsole provide the low, responsive cushioning that only Zoom Air can.

Performance Review: Nike Hyperdunk 2011

So, there you have it. Four years in, the Hyperdunk has finally gotten pretty much everything right. It’s one of the best playing experiences a shoe has offered me in a long time. It’s fast yet strong, light yet supportive, and comfortable yet secure. Could it be lighter? Of course. There is a very notable lighter shoe out there already. But rather than focus primarily on weight, the Hyperdunk 2011’s focus was on making each and every aspect of the shoe the best it could be. And it’s still impressively light considering how much protection and security it offers.

For now, the Hyperdunk 2011 stands at the top of the hoops shoe mountain, much like the original did four years ago. The difference is that this time, the competition is much closer – there’s not nearly as much breathing room as in the recent past. The biggest question is “What’s next?” The 2008 Olympics served as a launching point for the original Hyperdunk, and a new direction for Nike Basketball. Will the 2012 Games act as a catalyst for another dramatic shift? Or will the line continue to evolve rather than being reinvented? Or, will the Hyperdunk become a basketball shoe of the past, with something brand new taking its place? Only time will tell, but based on the progress made with the Hyperdunk 2011, I will be anxiously waiting to play in whatever comes next.

best for: Most players other than large centers and those who favor a low-top

colorway tested: Black/Dark Grey/Black

key tech: heel and forefoot Zoom Air, Flywire, 3D midfoot shank

pros: fit, cushioning, traction, midfoot support, lockdown

cons: few and far between – if you are used to playing in a low-top, the collar may feel a bit restrictive in comparison; too much lace pressure

improvements: thicker targeted tongue padding, like the Hyperfuse, to cut down on lace pressure

buying advice: If you’ve been a fan of any of the previous versions of the Hyperdunk, you’ll find even more to like here. The Hyperdunk 2011 improves on almost every aspect of its predecessors. At $125, it’s not cheap, and it may suffer slightly from the law of diminishing returns, but there’s just not another shoe out there currently that gets this much right all at once.

Available now: Nike Hyperdunk 2011

Performance Review: Nike Hyperdunk 2011Review: Nike Hyperdunk 20112011 Nike Hyperdunk Performance Review


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46 Responses to “Performance Review: Nike Hyperdunk 2011”

  1. Conor says:

    Great work Zac! One question: i’m 6’8” and play the 5. Would I be better served by the Zoom HD 2011 or the upcoming Air Max model (that I guess technically doesn’t exist)?

  2. bob says:


    you will be more comfortable in the air max but the zoom air is much lighter and more responsive and air max is just cushioning no bounce to it

  3. Jordan says:


    There Is A Hyperdunk 2011 Air Max Model… But Bob Is Right The Zoom Air Is Much Lighter.. Air Max Isnt That Much Comfortable Now These Days

  4. S says:

    Great job Zac. Thanks for getting the review out there so quickly. I love 14mm heel and 8mm forefoot zoom, so I”m glad these have that setup. I’m still not crazy about the height of the shoe at the tongue (these shoes would have been much better looking cutting the height one eyelet lower), but the colorways available and performance you mention are just too hard to ignore. Instead of wondering if I’m going to get these I get to focus on figuring out which colorway to order…

  5. big boi says:

    fugly shoe! yuck!

  6. tim says:

    could someone please comment the scores zac gave these? for some reason i can´t see them

  7. Matt says:

    Zac, why do you think this shoe isn’t suitable for large centers? I’m a large centre myself at 6’8″ and 120kgs. I’m considering buying the shoe but am interested why you think it wouldn’t be suitable.

    Thanks for the good review otherwise!

  8. Zac says:

    Tim – the grade was a 98/100: A+

    As far saying it’s best for players other than large centers, I’m talking about much bigger players than 6’8. If you think about the NBA players wearing Hyperdunks, those guys are often bigger – look at Blake and Dirk for example. I think this should would be just fine for big men, but those players sometimes tend to favor shoes with more padding and protection rather than shoes this minimal. So, if I’m talking about who the shoe is best suited to, it’s not the biggest players, but that doesn’t exclude them from it, or mean that it’s not a great choice.

    Conor- as far as whether you’d be better in this or a Max version, that really depends on your personal taste. I’m not a Max fan, and although I haven’t played in it, I think it’s fair to say it wont be as smooth and mobile as this version, and you won’t feel the benefits of the upper quite as much with a less flexible tooling. If you don’t mind giving that up for the impact protection you’ll gain, then it may be worth it for you. Your size doesn’t sound too big for this shoe though, so that would be my recommendation probably.

  9. Kevin says:

    how does the shoes run? Should you buy 1/2 up like the 2010 Hyperdunk?

  10. zac says:

    Kevin – It’s a different last than the 2010, so they don’t fit the same. To my feet, I thought that the 2011 runs a little longer, but a little more narrow. I’m a 13 in everything, and these fit perfect for me.

  11. deandorsey says:

    awesome review as always –

    do you have a review coming up for the ’11 hyperfuse/ HF low…

    i’m waiting on that to decide what pair to get!

  12. JR says:

    Are these good for concrete/cement courts? Will they last? I have the adidas crazy light shoes for my indoor pair and need a good pair for concrete/cement. Thank you.

  13. ongitsnorie says:


  14. Josh says:

    Does anyone know if the forefoot Zoom bag is full or Met sized?

  15. David says:

    I really love how these shoes feel when I tried them on and am completely amazed at how durable they seem to be. I was wondering however. Do you think the hyperdunk 2011 supremes with the extra rubber will be a better shoe overall performance wise?

  16. Nike4Lyfe says:

    The 2010s had major issues when it came to durability (a kid on my team couldn’t get more than 2 weeks out of his without them ripping). Any word yet on how these shoes last? I should hope that all the complaints about the lack of durability in the 2010s sparked Nike to try and improve on this with the 2011s. Amazing shoe though, great review. Cant wait until the new colourways are released this fall!

  17. X says:

    Is there going to be an extra piece of material sandwiched between the heel cup and the Flywire, like on the Kobe VI’s? The Blake Griffin PE’s had it and I’ve seen a few pics of the GR colorsays with it, but a lot more pics without it.

  18. TTC4VMA says:

    on the site it ways these weigh 10.5 but here these weigh 11.5

  19. Mr.Swish says:

    Would you recommend these shoes to shooting guards that shoot alot and do alot of cuts? And also when are you going to do a Hyperfuse review?

  20. Zac says:

    JR – I think these are probably better suited to the hardwood. The Hyperfuse would probably be a better outdoor choice.

    Josh – The forefoot Zoom bag goes the whole way across; it’s not a Met bag. Definitely my preference!

    David and Nike4Lyfe – durability-wise, they’ve held up amazing so far. I played in them for over a month, and haven’t had any issues. The material is softer and more flexible than the 2010s, and I think it will wear much better. Not sure yet which will be better between this and the Supremes – the Supremes should offer more abrasion resistance, but should also be slightly heavier. I would think they will be really similar though.

  21. Zac says:

    X – I believe the pics without it are earlier samples – my pair had that piece.

  22. akl;d says:

    zoom kobe vi vs hyperdunk 2011 vs hyperfse 2011? which one guys i need some help for my next indoor shoe

  23. adfk; says:

    hyperfuse 2011, hyperdunk 2011, kobe vi? im a point guard

  24. S says:

    How do these compare to the Q Flights?

  25. Billy says:

    Hey Zac, great review, but I would really appreciate it if you did a review on the hyperfuse 2011’s because I don’t know which one to get- the fuses or dunk 2011’s. I got both the hyperdunk 2010 and the hyperfuse 2010 last yr, and I preferred the fuses way better last year. I didn’t like last years dunks because they were undurable and uncomfortable, whereas the fuse 2010 were one of my favorite hooping shoes of all time because they were very cushioned and durable. I am a point guard and I prefer shoes that are lightweight and comfortable (why i liked the fuse 2010’s so much)…. So zac- your call- hyperfuse or hyperdunk 2011’s? Thanks.

  26. S says:

    Finally played in my Volts this week. Wow! Nike finally got it right with the 2011 Hyperdunks. The shoes are very comfortable, light, breathable and have great traction and cushioning. These are my favorite shoes to play in this year and I have tried a bunch of them. Now I need to pick up another pair….

  27. michael says:

    should i get these or the hyperfuse 2011 im a shooting guard small forward and sometimes point guard and i like to rebound and i shoot ALOT which ones do you recomend for a person like me

  28. michael says:

    or should i get the hyperfuse 2011 low cut

  29. EC says:

    @ Zac: How do they run in size compared to the 2010? I cannot find them locally, and need some input before I order them online… I saw you kind of compare them above. but specifically did you wear the same size in the HD 2010 & 2011 or a different size? Thanks!!

  30. Eric Coffey says:

    @Zac, how did the size you wear in the 2011 compare to the 2010? Always nervous ordering online without trying on, but no one near me has these in stock. But, I have a 2010 to compare to so your feedback would be huge – thanks!

  31. john w says:

    i have a wide foot, would you recomend this shoe to me, and if not, what is the best basketball shoes for wide feet. thank you

  32. KashJunior says:

    I also like to tie my shoes tight. Is there any way to fix the lace pressure issue? or is it unavoidable?

  33. Gage says:

    These are pretty sick shoes I really am considering getting them! I’m about a 5’10” guard and I love how light they are!!!

  34. Christoph says:

    I neeeed a pair of these to hoop in they are so comfy and light. Either these or the new hyperfuse.

  35. Joe says:

    How about durability, that is my main concern for this shoe, that last 2 (hyperise and hyperdunk 2010) were a waist of money becasue after 20-30 practices they ripped and or blewout entirely. I never had this problem with leather bball shoes.

  36. cms says:

    Great review

    I finally got my pair in the mail and they are amazing,

    I also like to lace my shoes extremely tight, and I have to say despite the thin tongue on these I really didn’t notice too much lace pressure.

    Great review I hope to see more soon

  37. nick says:

    hey im a 5’10 shooting guard. would i want a shoe like this or something like the durants that are much lower

  38. Inflyte21 says:

    Zac – I played in the hyperdunks 2009 and Hyperfuse 2010 & 11 and so far I love the way the Hyperfuse 2011 feels especially the insoles. Since the 1st hyperdunks and last years Hyperfuse I noticed the insoles wear very rapidly (almost no cushion at all after a weeks worth of playing (approx 6 hrs). How would the hyperdunks 2011 compare to the hyperfuse 2011? As you indicated the hyperfuse would be a better fit outdoors and my thoughts were the insoles would wear better for longevity. Your thoughts.

  39. Jpthunderup says:

    Hyper-Anthing= AMAZING

  40. Bobby says:

    How heavy are these? The east bay magazine says 10.5 oz but it says 11.5 oz on some other websites.

  41. Irfan Hossain says:

    I never played with this shoe, but from wearing it, i can tell that the shoe made drastic improvements from the previous models (Hyperdunk 2010, Hyperize, Original Hyperdunk). After reading this review, I feel confident to give this shoe a try at the court. Thumbs up if you copped the challenge red/pine green Hyperdunk 2011’s as shown on this review!

  42. carli says:

    I gotta say the I reaally like my Hyperdunks 2010 and Crazy Lights but when i ordered the 2011’s I immediately fell in love with them. Super lightweight, very durable, extremely comfortable. Its everything you want from a basketball shoe. The traction is way better than the Crazy Lights and the ankle support is awesome. Overall the best basketball shoe right now.

  43. david says:

    the nike hyperdunks 2011 are terrible. The worst basketball sneakers I have ever owned. If you use your basketball sneakers 3x a week or more then skip these sneakers. Were they are light they take away from support flywire sounds like bs to me. I have never seen sneakers grip wear out so fast. Its been a few years since i bought basketball sneakers and it seem like they dont make them like they use to.

  44. Noah says:

    I am unimpressed with this Nike product. They cannot take hard use for even one basketball season. I used them everyday for a few hours (either a game or practice), and the cracked in the bottom after 2 months!! This happened to other players on the team that I am on.

  45. john says:

    i wore these for 6 months, played like 1-2 timesa week and the soles cracked. The shoe was nice while it lasted.