New Balance and performance basketball are very rarely put in the same sentence these days. Well, 2019 had something new in store for us – I present you my New Balance OMN1S review. Kawhi Leonard’s first-ever signature basketball sneaker.
With the hype of Kawhi’s epic 2019 Playoffs performance, leading the Raptors to a championship, quite a few people are still interested in this shoe. After finally putting these to the test for over 3 months, I’ll do my best to give insight if NB’s out-of-nowhere release is worth your time.
I’ll cover the shoe’s performance & comfort areas, the overall build quality & materials, evaluate its value for the price tag, and finally decide who the shoe is best for.
Model: New Balance OMN1S
Weight: 15.1 oz / 428 g. (size 10)
Retail Price: $140
Cushion: Full-length FuelCell
Best Offer On: New Balance
I. COMFORT & FIT
Likely the most important part that you should know about is the shoe’s fit situation. It’s all over the place.
However, before you panic – don’t. You can definitely get it right. The shoe runs long by a large margin. Imagine getting your regular size 10 and feeling like you’ve stepped in a solid 11. That’s pretty much how it is with the OMN1S.
Now, I should mention I’m a wide footer so it’s a bit different for me, right? Not really.
After going through multiple reviews and reading a bunch of user feedback, I’ve decided not to risk it and also went up half a size. That was a great decision.
Another thing you should pay attention to – if you manage to find the right size on New Balance’s website, there are two options – Standard and Wide. I went for the wide option of course, and the shoe feels great with this combo (1/2 size up + wide option) for me.
For regular/narrow footers – stick with the standard option but going up 1/2 or even a full size will be needed. This is a shoe I’d definitely recommend trying on live to get it right.
However, knowing how tough these are to get at the moment, if you’re not able to find these in a physical store, just go up half a size and go from there. The fit will still be quite tight and snug regardless though, which is what Kawhi wanted it I guess.
If you’re not a fan of very condensed and snug fits for your hoop shoes, choosing a wide option, or even going up a full size might be a good idea.
So, let’s say you get the size right and the fit is all fine and dandy now. If you managed to get that far – the shoe fits great after a short break-in period and it’s definitely comfortable. It took about 1 week for me to adjust to the shoe and achieve an optimal fit, and it was all uphill from there.
No slippage or containment issues, no toe bumps, or anything like that – it was solid all the way. Nothing spectacular or god-like in terms of comfort but it was a distraction-free experience, which is something I always appreciate during game time.
Overall, NB needs to step their game up with the sizing issues, as this can easily be a huge throw-off for a lot of potential buyers. If you’re in for the ride though – the shoe gets the job done and doesn’t get in your way from there.
Unlike the fit, traction is something you won’t need to worry about. You can see shades of the classic OG herringbone pattern being used here and for good reason. Some colorways come in a solid rubber outsole, while some others come in a translucent option.
Doesn’t matter – both variants perform beautifully. If I really had to compare, the only minor difference is how the rubber handles dust. Both are really good at avoiding the “wipe every minute” issue but the solid rubber option will still do a slightly better job at it since the rubber is less sticky (but still bites the floor extremely well).
As far as the grip on the court – it’s near-perfect. Not once I slipped or slid out strictly due to the shoe’s outsole. Not once I stopped and got distracted from the game needing to wipe ’em off. Not once I even thought about the shoe’s traction. Spoiler alert – that’s a good thing.
And if that’s not enough – NB went a step further wielding the mighty combo of classic herringbone + durable and tacky rubber. Durable, grippy, and outdoor-friendly outsole is what you get as a result. I could’ve not asked for anything better than that, seriously.
If you’re looking for a solid outdoor option or just something that will refuse to fail in the traction department – the OMN1S absolutely kills it.
FuelCell is New Balance’s proclaimed foam of choice. I didn’t know much about it but as we’ve seen year by year, fancy tech names don’t mean much, especially when it comes to a brand not known for performance basketball releases, and now all of a sudden claiming to have created revolutionary foam made for all positions.
Don’t get me wrong though – I didn’t hate the shoe’s cushion, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t trust or fall into the hype train brands are building up with their fancy names, when in reality, it’s just basic foam with a few minor modifications from the last iteration.
FuelCell was pretty good here though – it’s not SUPER firm but isn’t super bouncy or soft either. I didn’t exactly have tons of fun jumping around in these but from a performance perspective, these should deliver a smooth ride for a lot of players.
The forefoot area is responsive, firmer, and provides some court feel while not feeling completely dead. The heel area is much softer and I could actually feel a bit of feedback. It’s not Boost or full-length Zoom type of feedback but I had enough impact protection to not feel concerned or uncomfortable while playing.
There are also ortholite insoles that come with the shoe, which is always welcome, since it adds to the smoother and softer step motions, even if it’s a very minor difference.
The overall ride and step transitions were pretty smooth but again, not a lot of bounce or prominent spring back to be felt here. I think positions 1-3 should appreciate this setup the most. If you like a fairly balanced setup that won’t get in your way but will still provide some impact protection without taking away court feel, these will be solid for that.
If I had to make a comparison, I’d say these are a slightly thinner version of Adidas’s Bounce.
Support was solid, mostly due to the very secure fit. A secure fit is undeniably the foundation pillar of competent support, and the shoe accomplishes this.
Be sure to really nail the sizing down, or the support features can easily fall apart if you’re not feeling one-to-one with the shoe. This will be the most important step, especially for this shoe, to achieve proper support.
If you get that down, key support features are all here – a relatively wide base that promotes good stability, external outriggers for lateral coverage, a torsional shank, internal heel counters, and an excellent ankle collar that actually adds to the lockdown of the ankles.
There’s also a midfoot elastic strap that pulls in the midfoot area when you pull the laces. If you’re aiming for a more narrow fit than it already is, this will help a bit.
No issues with foot containment either. The upper might look flimsy but it’s actually pretty structured for a new-school textile type of material.
This is the one area where NB was definitely right – support is absolutely competent for 1-5 positions. I’m myself a very explosive, drive-first player and found the security of the shoe to be plentiful at all times.
V. BUILD & MATERIALS
A jacquard/textile type of material is used all throughout the shoe’s upper. There’s a shade of synthetic suede on the ankle collar area of the shoe as well. Doesn’t make a huge difference but still worth mentioning. FitWeave is what New Balance calls it.
I didn’t love the upper of the shoe, to be honest with you.
Granted, I didn’t hate it as I didn’t experience any major issues or throw offs but for a $140 signature, I expected something just a bit more premium than this.
The textile feels more like a plastic/Fuse dominant upper that has shades of jacquard on the outside. For performance – that’s not bad at all. It’s light, fairly comfortable, doesn’t take long to break in, the tongue area promotes a lot of airflow, and they’re not flimsy. So for a modern synthetic upper, they should hold up for a while.
But in terms of what could’ve been done with a $140 price tag – I think there’s something left to be desired. Even though the upper is soft to the touch, it’s fairly stiff on the inside and the shoe does start to look weary after you put some hours into them.
So for performance, don’t worry – they surely get the job done. Perhaps I’m just being picky but premium materials are not what you’re getting with the OMN1S. If you don’t really care about that though – you can definitely look past that as it does nothing to hurt the shoe’s performance on the court.
I was not disappointed with Kawhi’s first signature. For real – despite being critical in some aspects, the shoe still gets the job done and then some.
If you can get the sizing right – phenomenal traction, solid cushion, great support, and durability are what you’ll get. I’m not going that far to say these are perfect for ALL players but for most 1-3 position hoopers, I think you can call them versatile in that regard.
I think it’s a very successful release from NB and I’m excited to see what they’ll do in the coming years!
That’s it for the New Balance OMN1S review folks! Be sure to also check out my review of the PUMA Clyde Hardwood – another lesser-known sleeper!
I’m excited to hear what you think about these! Will you be getting them? Perhaps you have a question or want to share your own experience?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quick as I can!
New Balance OMN1S$140
Fit & Comfort7.0/10
Value for the Price8.0/10
- Runs long: regular/narrow footers go 1/2 or a full size up
- Wide footers: 1/2 size up + wide option is recommended
- 1-2 weeks to break in the shoe
- A solid all-around performer
- Positions 1-3
- Most playstyles