Before you shift your attention to this summer’s latest Soldier 14, I’d really like to talk about the 13th one first for a few reasons. Hence I present to you my Nike LeBron Soldier 13 SFG review!
Naturally, people tend to expect big things when there’s an NBA star’s name attached to a shoe. A signature shoe doesn’t always prove to be a leading performer on the court – and the last few years absolutely illustrated that for us.
But LeBron’s “mid-tier” signature Soldier line proves to be among the most consistent all-around basketball shoe lines there ever was and the 13th shoe might be a fantastic choice for A LOT of guys at the moment.
HOW I TESTED THE SHOE
I’ve played in the shoe for just under two months now, mostly outdoors due to, well you already know. I feel like I’m getting tired of that word that starts with q but we work with what we have!
I consider myself to be an athletic, explosive attack-first player. I do a little bit of everything but my bread and butter is the ability to create openings, out-run and out-maneuver people under or above the rim.
I’m 6’1′ (185 cm) and roughly 177 lbs (80 kg). So I’m surely not the largest guy on the court but if there’s someone who’s set up to really push the shoe’s security and impact absorption, I’m one of those people.
Here’s what we’ll be breaking down:
- The shoe’s fit & comfort aspects
- On-court performance
- Build quality & value for the price
- Versatility & who it’s best for
Model: Nike LeBron Soldier 13 SFG (Team)
Weight: 15.76 oz / 447 g. (size 10 US)
Retail Price: $140
Cushion: forefoot & heel Zoom Air, Phylon midsole
Best Offer On: Amazon
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I. COMFORT & FIT
SIZING ADVICE: PREPARE TO BE STRAPPED IN!
Even though I’m a pretty prominent wide footer, I’ve never really had issues with the fit when it comes to LeBron’s shoes. Well, mostly.
The LeBron Soldier 13 fits like a glove IF you get the size down to a notch. Regular/narrow or even slightly wide footers can go true to size with these. Only for those dudes like me, it’s best to try them on or order a few different size pairs online (and return the unneeded ones) if you have a very wide foot.
Due to the shoe being laceless, it all comes down to nailing the size down, and then you’re left with two straps for adjusting the fit. There are these additional mini pull straps on top of the two straps to pull to those two areas even more if you’re looking for better lockdown, so that’s nice.
But even that combined doesn’t offer nearly the same amount of customization as regular lace construction shoes do.
This can be either detrimental or very good – for the Soldier 13, I’d have to lean towards the good side. It’s not mind-boggling to get that one-to-one fit if you’re a regular/narrow footer. Even for us wide footers, I’ve experienced wayyyy worse.
I said screw it and went true to size myself. Guess what? They fit well! Is it perfect? No. I’d prefer them to be just a bit looser even after breaking them in, which didn’t like long at all by the way.
The midfoot area was a little uncomfortable but that’s mainly due to my foot having high arches. The feeling mostly goes away about 30-40 minutes in but still something you should know if you got high-arched feet.
But if you’re looking for a somewhat roomier fit and you’re a wide footer, going up 1/2 a size will do the trick. You’ll then pull the two straps and the shoe should secure you up like it’s nothing!
COMFORT: SECURITY IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
In terms of comfort itself, the shoe is nothing special but gets the job done. There aren’t crazy amounts of internal padding and the upper’s no knit or anything, so don’t expect an “upper echelon” comfort experience, if you can call it that.
I don’t think I can consider that as a drawback though – the shoe is extremely secure, doesn’t distract you from the game, it’s not bulky feeling (unlike several other LeBron sneakers), and plays fine.
Not the most premium of softest materials in the world but if a secure, distraction-free experience is all you aim for – these got you covered.
A classic herringbone pattern + durable solid rubber + multi-directional coverage rising all the way up laterally = the complete package. I think this would really be enough to sum up the traction of the Soldier 13.
But let me expand on it a bit. We’ve got a nice pattern that’s not overly dense and fairly deep grooves, so the pattern handles dust really well. This becomes especially apparent on dirtier courts or outside as the pattern doesn’t pick up as much dust/debris as today’s average outsole.
I did wipe my outsoles down periodically but mostly due to instinct. If you don’t have that in your muscle memory bag – you mostly won’t have to. Unless you’re playing on a 60-year pre-war court. You’re probably not though.
Next to that is the bite itself – I found it more than sufficient in all scenarios. Maybe not Kobe 6 or Kyrie 2 level stopping power but let’s be real – we never really require that level of grip 100% of the time in a game scenario. Sure, it’s welcome and gives you that confidence but never in the Soldier 13 I felt like I was lacking traction.
And if this wasn’t enough – we also got outdoor-ready rubber! The grooves are fairly deep as I’ve mentioned but the rubber used is the real winner here. It looks and feels strong to the touch, and I’m not eyeing any major signs of damage after 2 months of mainly outdoor play.
A killer job!
Bottom-loaded heel & forefoot Zoom units + a Phylon midsole is the shoe’s cushion setup. Pretty standard for Nikey’s mid-tier products and also pretty standard in terms of the way it felt.
I could barely feel the forefoot cushion but it didn’t feel dead per se – there’s plenty of response in there and it wasn’t firm to a point where I’d feel uncomfortable.
The heel area is where most of the softness comes from. Regular walking/jogging & other less intense movements didn’t feel amazing but once again, they don’t really need to in terms of effectiveness on the court.
During more aggressive movements and harder landings, however, is where I could feel the unit compress and absorb the shock.
If you’re looking for a true bouncy feeling and prominent spring back – these won’t give it to you. Think of it more as a balanced out setup that doesn’t really bring that fun factor but delivers in terms of impact protection and offering the comfort needed to prevent the feeling of running on bricks.
So the setup I think is versatile – there’s enough impact protection for most players, it’s just that there’s not a lot of real feedback behind it that you can feel. Go for a Nikey Zoom Rize or a LeBron 17 if you really want to feel that POP underfoot.
It’s also not the fastest or most responsive setup either – mostly due to the platform being high off the ground and the heel unit slightly sinking in upon impact.
That didn’t make me feel slow or anything but there are faster and more responsive setups out there if you’re looking for that. For most players who don’t have any specific preference or for those who are just looking for a solid supplementary basketball shoe – this will absolutely get the job done.
There’s not a lot going on in terms of support features on the Soldier 13 but that’s because it mainly relies on providing an extremely secure fit. All the cards are on the fit and the straps for lockdown.
The platform is pretty wide and flat though, so that adds to the stability. The shoe does ride pretty high off the ground but I never felt concerningly unstable.
There’s also this external heel piece that might or might not act like a heel counter. I don’t really care though as I didn’t have any issues with heel lockdown/containment.
The upper actually does a solid job in terms of foot containment. It’s thin but barely stretches and almost doesn’t feel like thin fabric when playing. I think that’s great design by Nikey.
This kind of shoe doesn’t feel like anything else in terms of security – and I mean that in a good way. So if you got the sizing right, all that’s left is to play around with the straps and get used to the high platform of the shoe & its laceless design.
After that – you’ll be strapped for a secure ride.
V. BUILD & MATERIALS
The upper is ripstop style fabric which isn’t anything special but, once again, provides everything you need performance-wise. I feel like this is a repeating pattern for the Soldier 13 and that’s totally not a bad thing.
The material is pretty thin and lightweight, so you get the benefits today’s modern standards bring. Light, moderately breathable, doesn’t require a long break-in, and easy to put on.
The downsides to this type of setup are durability and I guess the lack of a “premium” experience for lack of a better term. But then again, we would’ve seen a $50+ beefier price tag if Flyknit or any branded woven would’ve been used instead.
The shoe’s outsole is durable for outdoor play but the same thing can’t be said for the upper. I feel like it’s where signs of wear and tear will be seen first and even though I’m not seeing anything critical yet, it’s only a matter of time before frays and other stuff will start happening if I keep playing outdoors.
Not the worst case I’ve seen but don’t expect this to have a fresh, out of the box look for long if you’re playing outdoors mostly.
For the price though, I don’t think it’s a bad deal. It’s tough to compare prices these days – one time we get a $100 Flyknit shoe, other times we get crappy mesh for $120+.
This is kind of an in-between scenario where it’s not necessarily a fantastic deal for your wallet but you shouldn’t feel ripped off either.
The Nikey LeBron Soldier 13 or Soldier 13 SFG (they’re both the same shoes really) is a great basketball shoe for pretty much everybody. I know some of you will likely be skeptical about the laceless construction but it’s not a huge deal after I got used to it.
The shoe provides a very secure fit, fantastic outdoor-ready traction, a pretty good & versatile cushion setup, support that’s not overkill but keeps you secure, and a decent upper that doesn’t stand out but gets the job done.
It’s a versatile shoe – what else is there to say! Guards, forwards, or even the biggest frontcourt guys should find these competent. Another Soldier, another success!
Why buy on Amazon? Click to find out!
I’ve been ordering a solid 70%-80% of my hoop shoes from Amazon and can confidently say it’s almost always the most trustworthy and convenient option to buy your shoes.
Yes, it’s great to find the shoe you’re looking for on an original retailer such as Nike or Adidas but the reality is a bit different – a lot of times, especially for shoes older than 1-2 years, it’s a very small chance you’ll find the shoe or better yet find it in your size & color.
You’ll mostly find the latest releases directly from the brand’s store but the period is usually pretty short until they’re out of stock.
This is where Amazon comes in.
Amazon is not strictly one retailer giving you the products, it’s a whole chain of thousands of different sellers, all supplying different products, including basketball shoes. You will mostly find more color and size options on Amazon for your desired shoe than on an original retailer or even a general sporting goods store.
Sure, there will be exceptions where Amazon won’t have a particular shoe but that’s on the rare side.
And the best part is the pricing – you can find older shoes and at times new shoes priced under retail, sometimes at crazy low prices, which is something you’ll never see on Nike.com, adidas.com, and other retailers (except during discounts/sales of course).
To sum things up and give you a generalized idea of why Amazon beats other stores more often than not, I’ve compiled a shortlist of the most notable advantages the massive store chain has over its competitors.
- Usually, higher stock, size & color/edition availability compared to other stores
- Blazing fast shipping times (sometimes delivered the SAME DAY if you’re close to the seller’s stock)
- A good chance to find shoes priced under retail
- Extremely convenient return/refund policies
Still not sure? I’ve made a comprehensive guide and compiled some general tips on where to buy basketball shoes online. Check it HERE!
Comfort Rating: 8
Performance Rating: 8.5
Value for the Price Rating: 7.5
Suitable for Outdoors: Yes
Recommended for: most players & playstyles | heel-dominant players
Overall Rating: 8.2
That concludes the Nike LeBron Soldier 13 SFG review! As always, I appreciate it if you stayed to the end – I truly hope you found the review informative.
But perhaps I’ve missed something you were looking to find out? Or you’ve got the shoe and would like to share your own experience? Or you just wanna have a chat?