Let’s pick apart The King’s 5th signature shoe in his budget line and what would seem like a solid cheap option that’ll last outdoors. Here’s my 4-month LeBron Witness 5 review where I’ll break down the fit & comfort aspects, outdoor performance, value for the price, versatility, and potential alternatives if this one doesn’t turn out well.
Fans of James’s shoes know that both the Witness 3 and the 4 were actually pretty good shoes for a lot of different ballers. Is it worth investing in the latest launch? Let’s break it all down starting with the specifications.
SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. SPEC SHEET
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SHOP THE LEBRON WITNESS 5
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II. 1-MIN REVIEW 🕒
For those in a hurry, here’s a summary of the LeBron Witness 5 review: a great budget shoe that doesn’t feel like a “budget” shoe. Solid traction (get the solid rubber variant if you’ll be playing outdoors), though some people will need to get used to the articulated outsole shape.
Cushion won’t blow you away but it will deliver a balanced ride that suits just about any player. Support mainly comes from the one-to-one fit but the heaviest & most athletic of hoopers could likely need something beefier than the thin mesh build the Witness 5 provides.
Choosing between the Witness 4 and 5? Just grab the 5 – no steps back were taken in my opinion.
> The full breakdown is below
III. FIT & COMFORT
Do they fit true to size or should you go up/down? How comfy are they? Anything else to know fit-wise?
Things went very similarly as they did with the Witness 4 for me. The Witness 5 should fit most foot shapes with their regular size but some wide footers might want to go up half a size.
I’m personally a wide footer and I’ve also got pretty thick & tall feet. I went true to size as I did with the previous shoe and despite a few annoyances that still pop up from time to time, I’m fairly happy with the way these feel while in action.
Not so much while walking casually but when it’s game time and my mind is on the court, these aren’t that bad despite feeling quite tight initially.
The shoe is perfect length-wise for me as there’s a tad bit of toe room (exactly the way I prefer) while width-wise, things are a little more suffocating but not terrible as I said.
The midfoot area, even a few months in, still feels just a bit too condensed for me but since this upper’s just as minimal as the last shoe, there’s really no pain or heavy discomfort to a point where I’d want to take ’em off.
As a bonus, you can check out my list of the best wide footer’s shoes in case you’re not sure and having trouble finding such options.
So, regular/narrow footers will all want to go true to size and expect a snug, near one-to-one fit. Most wide footers can also go with their usual size unless you have even wider feet than mine but just to be clear on this – your feet would look fairly ridiculous at that point.
So, true to size for most.
For people preferring a looser fit with more room both length and width-wise, you can go up 1/2 a size but I generally don’t recommend that as there’s not much of anything to hold your foot in other than this minimal upper, so you could run into security issues.
Provided you’ve got the size right and gave enough time for the materials to break in (though these break in ultra-quick), you can expect a comfortable, pleasant experience playing in the Witness 5. Very similar vibes from the Witness 4, just with a few tweaks.
The LeBron Witness 5 is a light and minimal shoe that doesn’t make you feel clunky or heavy-footed. It’s a very fast-looking AND fast-feeling shoe and once you get used to the build, you should end up with a seamless, distraction-free game.
That’s the #1 thing most of us want when looking for a basketball sneaker.
There’s a bit of internal padding around the ankle area, the upper is thin & soft and conforms to your foot super nicely and the weird 3/4 bootie construction didn’t get in my way.
The Witness 5 sits just at $100, and based on the comfort/fit experience alone, it does bring a smile to my face LeBron & Nikey are finally making quality, budget-friendly shoes that DON’T FEEL LIKE BUDGET SHOES. Thank you.
Does it grip various surfaces effectively & consistently? Is dust & debris a factor? How about outdoor reliability?
Both the traction pattern and the rubber used on the outsoles are almost identical to the previous LeBron Witness 4.
As expected, things were almost the same performance-wise. So no insane-level traction here but enough to supplement most players’ movements effectively.
Translucent rubber is all over the place with each colorway sporting a different color of the outsole, though a few of them do feature solid rubber.
Say what you want about basketball shoe myths but many years of shoe releases showed us that the combination of painted & translucent outsoles usually results in less-than-deadly bite.
Of course, there are exceptions but the Witness 5 happens to fall into the less-than-deadly club here. This pattern is fairly flat and the rubber’s definitely tacky, so you’ve got yourself a bit of a dust magnet. Since I’ve only played outdoors, dust & debris is MORE than apparent.
Surprisingly though, these didn’t fall apart even when I’d skip a wipe or two. You’ll need to wipe frequently to keep the traction as great as out of the box but the bite didn’t really suffer too much even when more nasty stuff piled up into the grooves.
There was a tad bit of delay on a few stops here and there but those weren’t consistent. Plus, that’s normal when I play on a rubber surface outside, as even though it’s my favorite court to play on, there are several areas where the rubber is completely torn off. Slips are bound to happen there.
Now playing in the third shoe that sports such an outsole, I have to say I don’t have much of an issue anymore since I simply got used to it. For newcomers though – let me quickly fill you in.
Nikey claims those two articulated Zoom Air units you see on the outsole sit directly under the balls of your foot. Well, the issue is – that’s not really true.
While this will slightly depend on your foot shape, I don’t honestly see many cases where these pods would actually align directly with the balls of your foot.
This feeling might be a little bothering and feel unnatural at first and with the two previously mentioned shoes, the traction might’ve been affected as well.
This time though, I felt the bite wasn’t suffering because of this even though the articulation of the Zoom units looks identical. It’s not that my steps felt insecure or wobbly – I don’t think actual performance was affected.
It’s just that it kinda felt weird at first (with the two previous shoes mainly) and took some time to forget it while playing. Once you get used to it – you should have enough bite to enjoy your sessions with no hassle.
Since the outsole design carried over to the latest shoe – you can expect the same mediocre durability when it comes to regular outdoor play.
I happen to play on the blacktop and sometimes on a synthetic rubber surface. The traction pattern itself got burnt off super quickly visually on my usual high-wear zones.
However, it’s the rubber that still holds the traction together, and 4 months in, it held up better than I’ve initially expected. Yes, do I clean my outsoles regularly, I wipe ’em regularly in-game and even if you wouldn’t do that personally, I think these are a bit underrated durability-wise.
Sure, the bite I’m getting isn’t really out-of-the-box level anymore but it’s still more than acceptable.
Is the Witness 5 an outdoor tank and it’s multiple season-certified? No, I don’t think so but that will also depend on how many hours you put in yearly.
Is it a viable park-friendly option to play for a season if you don’t have any other shoes in your closet though? Absolutely.
I recommend opting for a solid rubber option if you can, to ensure possibly more reliable rubber for abrasive surfaces. People report that the traction itself feels the same regardless of the colorway but if we’re speaking durability – it’s best to go with a solid rubber variant just to be safe.
How’s the shock absorption? What about ride height, step comfort, and energy return? Is it stable?
Two forefoot Zoom Air pods are sitting (almost) directly under the balls of your foot and a foam midsole (likely Phylon) accompanies the rest of the ride. If you’ve played in the previous Witness 4 – things are super similar.
The main difference I’ve spotted is the foam midsole yields a bit more compression, so I could feel just a tad bit more give from the foam when compared to the Witness 4.
For most people – this setup is actually pretty damn stellar for the price. There aren’t absurd amounts of LeBron 18-like bounce as these Zoom units are still fairly small, bottom-loaded and the midsole isn’t the springiest.
So, the ride at the front feels on the firmer side. It’s fast, responsive and once you get better acquainted with the weird Zoom pod placement underfoot, you should definitely benefit from the responsive ride the forefoot provides and the smooth heel-to-toe transitions the curved shape of the forefoot provides.
And you’ll have just a bit of compression to keep things fun.
The heel portion felt softer, offered more impact protection but I’d be lying if I said there was a lot. It’s all about being, quick, light, and precise with the Witness 5 while keeping comfort at bay. I feel like that’s exactly what the shoe accomplished.
Bottom line, the overall ride felt great. It didn’t get in my way at all, didn’t slow me down nor the opposite, tired my legs out from how dead it felt. Slightly bouncy, fast, medium-ish elevation from the ground and there’s enough shock absorption even for heavier dudes in my opinion.
Awesome job thus far!
How much all-around security does it provide? How’s stability and foot containment? Any restrictions?
Not a lot of support features are here on the Witness 5 but that doesn’t mean it NEEDS them.
There’s an external heel piece for ankle & heel lockdown, as well as the Zoom pods that protrude a bit laterally acting as small outriggers for lateral stability.
The synthetic overlay around the midfoot/ankle area does apply some pressure to your foot once you pull down the laces but not enough to make a huge difference. It’s kind of just there.
The platform of the shoe isn’t the widest either but it’s not as narrow as, say, a KD 13. It’s just enough to promote a stable ride and I felt that was accomplished. The lacing system is traditional – no complaints there, the laces stayed tight with no need of frequent re-do’s.
My foot also sits within the midsole a bit which actually makes a noticeable difference in how secure my foot feels in the shoe. I love it when shoes do this.
Torsional rigidity is on point. I don’t think there’s a midfoot shank in place but this midsole is rigid enough to do most of the work. Try bending the shoe in half and find out yourself. You’re welcome.
So, not a lot of beefy features to strengthen the build or add more structure but just as the last shoe – I haven’t found this build to be problematic. Even for a more athletic, explosive drive-first guard like myself, I never felt compromised.
Remember, it all starts with the fit. The Witness 5 fits me fairly well from a comfort standpoint but it’s the security and the near-suffocating lockdown you get with these that make up most of the difference.
My foot almost felt one-to-one with these, never rolled an ankle due to the shoe’s fault or anything of that nature.
However, containment might be a slightly different story for some. Since this upper barely has any structure to help hold the foot inside the footbed in case of a more aggressive/unusual foot plant, the heaviest of players or the highest of flyers could perhaps find this setup a little too minimal.
While I never had any serious issues with the containment, there were a few instances where it was close to a roll-out of the footbed, mostly after a hard stop or a landing on someone’s foot. Those are never fun regardless of the shoe but with the Witness 5, I could feel those more clearly.
It didn’t result in a complete compromise or a negative effect on my confidence but it was something I’d think about occasionally. Not a huge drawback but still a gripe that shouldn’t have been there.
If you’re a frontcourt big man, a classic 7-foot center, or a freak athlete, there are definitely beefier options for you. Not to say this shoe will end up not working for you – just know that there are stronger options if you prefer a bit more structure packed into a sneaker.
VII. THE BUILD
What materials the build is built with? How well do they perform on-court? How’s the quality & reliability?
Mesh returns to the Witness 5 in the same ultra-thin, minimal fashion. There’s a small Fuse overlay at the toecap to protect the material from those nasty toe-drags or steps on another foot. There’s also a synthetic overlay at the ankle collar area but that doesn’t really do anything in terms of performance or durability.
The tongue is also made of the same mesh, no foam padding this time. The shoe utilizes a rather unusual upper construction though – you can’t call it a full-bootie upper but you can’t really call it a half-bootie either.
The tongue extends all the way to the midfoot as a single piece but it’s still separated at the top, allowing for some bending to put the shoe on easier. Not a huge difference in terms of the way they feel or play, just thought I should mention it.
In hindsight, the upper does feel different from the last shoe. This mesh feels more refined – it’s softer, more pleasant to the touch, and has the natural ability to contour to your foot’s shape very nicely.
On-court, you won’t feel much of a difference between the 4th and the 5th shoe but I’ll take all the improvements I can get and I’d still take this version of mesh over the 4th shoe’s build.
It’s also just as light (if not lighter) and just as breathable. Almost looks and feels like engineered mesh but since Nikey’s not calling it that – I won’t either.
So, how you do take the same budget, the same retail price, and make a better build?
You don’t need a fancy knit, a fancy tech name for the material, or an abundance of plastic. Just make the same mesh better! Who would’ve thought a secondary LeBron line is the perfect example of such a thing?
Now, such a build will obviously introduce the durability question. No, it won’t last as long as a leather or a nubuck build. But here I am, 4 months of outdoor play – and the shoe is just fine. There are some cosmetic frays along the toe and the ankle but that’s pretty much it.
The foam midsole still compresses, the laces still work fine, and there’s no damage that would affect performance so I’ve got no complaints here. And remember, I hooped in these outdoors ONLY – I would imagine they would hold up ever better on hardwood.
Rounding things up: are they versatile? Who’s best suited for it? Is it a good deal?
The Nikey LeBron Witness 5 is another solid shoe from King James’ takedown signature line, and for a great price. It’s a shoe that doesn’t really bring anything new or special but it supplemented my game in just about every way I required.
The LeBron Witness 5 has good traction, even on dirtier/older surfaces as long as you wipe ’em down from time to time.
Cushioning is pretty nice for such a low price and even though it won’t blow you away, the ride feels balanced, quick, and versatile.
The Witness 5 might not be among the most supportive shoes in the world but its one-to-one fit mostly handles the load for security, and as an explosive guard myself, I didn’t find it to be lacking.
The upper is a basic mesh material with barely any structure, so it won’t last you as long as a beefier setup would but the performance & comfort is definitely there.
🛒 GET THE LEBRON WITNESS 5
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Also, if a user clicks on any of the product links and purchases a product, I earn a small commission.
That’s a wrap for the LeBron Witness 5 review! But your journey doesn’t end here – make sure to always deepen your knowledge when it comes to shopping for basketball shoes. You might not get it right EVERY time but you’ll get closer and closer to securing that chance.
I’ll leave links to the most important guides you need to check out if you haven’t already!
UPDATE: The new Witness 6 has now been released and I’ve spent a very similar amount of time with those as I did with these. Check out the review!
But I also want to know your thoughts on this LeBron Witness 5 review. Perhaps you have it and feel different about it? Or you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the review?
Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!
IX. LEBRON WITNESS 5 REVIEW: THE VERDICT
My personal scores, takeaways, and recommendations
Nike LeBron Witness 5$100
Fit & Comfort8.0/10
Value for the Price8.5/10
- Should fit true to size for most
- You could go up 1/2 a size for a roomier fit
- Go with a solid rubber outsole colorway if opting for outdoor play
- More or less the same as the Witness 4 with a few tweaks
- Nimble forwards
- Guards, wings
- Linear movement patterns