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 endorsed 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 into this very interesting sneaker, and decide if it’s STILL worth it in 2022 and beyond.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. SPEC SHEET
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GET THE NEW BALANCE OMN1S 🛒
II. 1-MIN REVIEW 🕒
SHORT ON TIME? HERE’S THE QUICK VERSION
The new Balance OMN1S is a succesfull basketball model after quite a long layoff by New Balance.
Endorsed by Kawhi Leonard, the OMN1S gave me excellent balanced performance. Nothing quite stood out or impressed me by a ton but I was satisfied while playing.
This usually means I wasn’t thinking about the shoes while I’m focused on the court and that’s mainly what hoopers need.
I got deadly traction with tacky rubber capable for long-term outdoor play, a decent FuelCell midsole that’s not the bounciest but still versatile for just about anyone, and solid all-around support.
The jacquard upper isn’t your top of the line offerring for $140, so buyers expecting something ultra-premium might be disappointed.
Still though, performance was fine once broken in, and I had no major damage to the build 3 months in.
The sizing is where some hiccups might happen. Most people will want to go a half size down just because of how long these fit.
Yes, even wide footers, though those guys (like me) should pick up a wider pair since New Balance offers that choice.
> THE FULL REVIEW IS BELOW
III. FIT & COMFORT
How’s the sizing? Should you deviate from your usual choice? What about overall comfort?
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 went down 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 down + wide option) for me.
For regular/narrow footers – stick with the standard option but going down 1/2 a size will be needed.
This is a shoe I’d definitely recommend trying on live beforehand but if you’re reading this a few years later, there’s a pretty small chance you’ll still find these on the shelves at your common sports retail stores.
Just get a half size down or order a couple of different options online just to be sure. You should be good to go with a half size down though.
If you’re not a fan of very snug fits for your hoop shoes, choosing a wide option might improve the experience if you think you’ve got a thicker foot.
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.
How grippy & consistent are the outsoles on a variety of surfaces? Is dust a factor? What about durability for outdoors?
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 was near-perfect for me. Not once I slipped or slid out strictly due to the shoe’s outsole. And I never got distracted from the game in a sudden need to wipe the outsoles off. I never even thought about the shoe’s traction. 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 outsoles are what you get as a result. I could’ve not asked for anything better than that, honestly.
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.
How’s the impact protection & energy return properties? What about ride height, stability, and step comfort?
FuelCell is New Balance’s proclaimed foam of choice for cushion.
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.
In reality, it’s just proprietary foam with a few minor modifications from the last iteration. Very minor changes to the same foam compound can result in noticeable differences in feel and thus a reason for brands to market these changes as something entirely new or reworked.
FuelCell was pretty good here though – it’s not SUPER firm but isn’t super bouncy or plush 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 more pronounced and I could actually feel a bit of feedback.
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 was 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 very solid for that.
If I had to make a comparison to the big brands, I’d say these are a slightly lower-profile version of adidas’s Bounce foam.
How’s overall security? Any trade-offs in mobility/comfort as a result? What about foot containment?
Support was solid, mostly due to the very snug and secure-feeling fit. The right fit for your foot is undeniably the foundation pillar of competent support, and the shoe accomplished this for me.
Be sure to really nail the size for YOU, 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 to achieve proper support. Especially for this shoe.
If you get that down, key support features are all here: a relatively wide base that promotes good stability, outriggers for lateral coverage, midfoot shanks for torsional rigidity, internal heel counters, and an excellent ankle collar that adds just a little bit of extra ankle restriction.
There’s also a midfoot elastic strap that pulls down on the midfoot area when you tighten 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. I’m a pretty explosive guy and while the upper might look flimsy at first glance, it’s actually pretty well-structured for a new-school textile type of material.
This is the one area where New Balance was definitely right – support is absolutely competent for 1-5 positions.
VII. THE BUILD
What are the materials used? How do they feel & perform on the court? How about build quality & reliability?
A jacquard 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 model, I expected New Balance to come out with 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 the build isn’t weak.
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. Just give ’em some time to break in as the shoe felt a little stiff for me at first.
Concluding the review: are they worth it? How versatile are they?
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 – you’ll get phenomenal traction, solid cushion, great support, and proper durability.
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!
GRAB THE NEW BALANCE OMN1S HERE 🛒
IX. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
Not completely sure about the OMN1S or perhaps looking for something more recent but similar? Check out some options below
NEW BALANCE KAWHI, $160
New Balance’s second performance basketball shoe after the OMN1S was the 1st Kawhi. It’s quite similar in feel and properties, though some stuff has definitely been beefed up.
Expect a similar fit scenario, so most people will want to go a half size down to fix the length. The NB Kawhi also offers similar outdoor-ready outsoles, a very familiar FuelCell midsole, and a streamlined mid-top design.
However, the biggest upgrades are the build & support systems. Think of the shoe as a tribute to old-school designs: you’ll see a bunch of raw materials implemented here along with modern textiles.
Because of this and all the essential security features packed inside, the NB Kawhi is one of the most supportive basketball shoes on the market. Just be ready to give these some time to break in. There’s A LOT to break in here.
PUMA CLYDE HARDWOOD, $120
For wearers wanting something a bit more low-key and also more budget-friendly, I really still do like the PUMA Clyde Hardwood despite a few newer iterations released by PUMA afterward.
You’ll also get outdoor-ready properties on this one, fantastic traction, a similar cushion setup that will keep guards fast but bigger buys comfortable, and a mix of new-school and old-school materials in terms of the build.
This one’s a low-top but my general sense of security was nothing short of fantastic despite that. Ankle support does not come from the heightened ankle collar, and this shoe demonstrates this very well.
X. TIME FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!
I’ve got some additional gems for you while you leave your thoughts up for discussion!
That’s it for the New Balance OMN1S review folks! Interested in some more options that are quietly sitting there behind the shine of our big dog brands such as Nikey & Jordan?
Well, PUMA has been hitting the nail on the head lately.
Be sure to also check out my review of the PUMA Clyde Hardwood – another lesser-known sleeper from 2019!
The Chinese brand Li-Ning also has some spectacular releases. Some of ’em will cost you a pretty penny but their Way of Wade line, in particular, has consistently been fantastic for just about any player. The WoW 8 might be a good place to start!
I’m excited to hear what you think about the NB OMN1S though! Will you be getting them? Maybe you’ve already got Kawhi’s official signature model and you prefer that one instead?
Or perhaps you have a question or want to share your own experience?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!
XI. THE VERDICT
My final ratings, takeaways, and recommendations
New Balance OMN1S$140
Fit & Comfort7.0/10
Value for the Price8.0/10
- Runs long: regular/narrow footers go 1/2 size down
- Wide footers: 1/2 size down + wide option is recommended
- 1-2 weeks to break in the shoe
- A solid all-around performer
- Positions 1-3
- Most playstyles
- Outdoor hoopers