Nike LeBron Witness 5 Review: Deep 4-Month OUTDOOR Analysis

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 also last outdoors. Let’s find out in my 4-month LeBron Witness 5 review where I’ll be breaking down the shoe’s fit & comfort aspects, outdoor performance (thanks quarantine), value for the price, and versatility.

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.

SPEC SHEET

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Pair

Model: Nike LeBron Witness 5
Build: mid-top
Weight: 13.2 oz / 374 g. (size 10 US)
Retail Price: $100
Cushion: 2 forefoot Zoom Air units & foam midsole
Best Offer On: Finish Line

I. FIT & COMFORT

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Top

QUICK SIZING GUIDE

Things went very similarly as they did with the Witness 4. 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 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 fit.

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.

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, almost 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.

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Back

COMFORT

Provided you’ve got the size right for you and gave enough time for the materials to break in – 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 shoe, a very 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 ball shoe.

There’s a bit of internal padding around the ankle area, the upper is soft & conforms to your foot super nicely and the weird half-bootie construction didn’t get in my way.

Overall, not a groundbreaking or a luxury experience like you’d get from a LeBron 18 but even that shoe isn’t perfect.

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.

II. TRACTION

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Outsole
Translucent rubber on the ‘Grinch’ colorway

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 propel 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 the 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 but those weren’t consistent.

Another thing that carried over from both the LeBron 17 and the Witness 4 is the Zoom pod placement. 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 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.

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Outsole 2
Solid rubber on the ‘Metallic Silver’ colorway

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. Bottom line – don’t worry too much about the weird-feeling foot plants at first as they don’t really do anything bad for your performance/security.

Once you get used to it – you should have enough bite to enjoy your sessions.

OUTDOOR DURABILITY

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 stress 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 still acceptable. Is the Witness 5 an outdoor tank and it’s multiple season-certified? No, not at all. But is it a viable park-friendly option to play for a season if you don’t have any other shoes in your closet? Absolutely.

I recommend opting for a solid rubber option if you can, to ensure possibly more reliable rubber for abrasive surfaces.

III. CUSHION

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Side 2

Two forefoot Zoom Air pods are sitting (not) 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 the overall ride felt a bit more comfortable.

For others though – this setup is actually damn stellar for the price. There aren’t absurd amounts of LeBron 18-like bounce as these Zoom units are still fairly traditional & bottom-loaded. 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 energetic, explosive ride the forefoot provides and the super-fast & 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 back feels softer, offers more impact protection but I’d be lying if I said there’s a lot. It’s all about being, quick, light and precise with the Witness 5 and the cushion setup reminds you of this.

However, no LeBron shoe should feel dead, and this foam midsole does get you some bounce that so many of us want upon contact with the ground.

The overall ride is great. It doesn’t get in your way at all, it doesn’t slow you down nor the opposite, tire your legs out from how dead it feels. 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!

IV. SUPPORT

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Heel

Not a lot of support features are here on the Witness 5. There’s an external heel piece for ankle & heel lockdown, to begin with, as well as the Zoom pods that come out a bit laterally acting as small outriggers for lateral protection.

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.

The platform of the shoe isn’t the widest 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.

My foot also sits within the midsole a bit which actually makes a noticeable difference in how stable you feel inside.

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.

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Side 1

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. I 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 in the footbed in case of a more aggressive/unusual foot plant, the heaviest of players or the highest of flyers could find this setup a little questionable.

While I never had any 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.

So, if you’re a frontcourt player, a classic 7-foot bigman, or a freak athlete, there are beefier options for you. Not to say this shoe will end up not working for you – just know that there are beefier options.

V. MATERIALS & BUILD

LeBron Witness 5 Review: Forefoot

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 tongue padding this time. The shoe utilizes a very 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.

It’s just as light (if not lighter) and just as breathable. Almost looks 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? No, 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.

VI. OVERALL

LeBron Witness 5 Review

The Nikey LeBron Witness 5 is another solid shoe from King James’ takedown signature line, and for a great price. It’s got good traction, even on dirtier/older surfaces as long as you wipe ’em down from time to time.

Cushioning is actually great 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 is definitely there.

I’d choose this over the Witness 4 if I had to. Simple as that. A solid deal and a future contender for the $100 budget list for sure!

The scores of the shoe are below!

 GRAB THE WITNESS 5 ON FINISH LINE 

Why buy on Finish Line? Click to find out!

WHY FINISH LINE?

Finish Line is my usual #3 option to get my basketball shoes from if Amazon currently doesn’t have it and the brand’s retail store (Nike.com, adidas.com, etc.) might be out of stock or doesn’t have my size.

I find them, along with a handful of other sports stores, to bring in new major and also lesser-known releases just as quickly as the main brand retailers, most of the time.

Very similar advantages to manufacturer’s stores here: very quick shipping times (and it’s free), convenient return & refund policies and you’ll never find any shoe priced over retail.

For some reason, Finish Line seems to be good at keeping a healthy stock of products, as there’s always a wide variety of sizing for most mainstream models. Something you can’t say about Nikey, Adidas, AJ, or Under Armour stores.

Of course, there will be exceptions and rare shoes that are hard to find globally won’t magically be available in large quantities here either.

Buying from the store will only be applicable for U.S. residents, so not an option for international users (unless you’re using a third-party service to ship internationally from US stores as I do).

Overall, I consider Finish Line to be the top pick out of the US’s popular sports retailers. Or perhaps I’m a little biased but regardless, I think I’ll be sticking to it for quite some time.

    • All shoes priced at retail
    • Good stock most of the time
    • Fast & free shipping for the U.S
    • Convenient refund & return policies
    • You can find quite detailed and relevant reviews left by buyers

Still not sure? I’ve made a comprehensive guide and compiled some general tips on where to buy basketball shoes online. Check it HERE!


 

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!

 

YOUR THOUGHTS?

But I also want to know your thoughts on the Witness 5. Perhaps you have it and feel different about it? Or you’ve got a question I haven’t answered in the review?

 

THE VERDICT

Nike LeBron Witness 5

$100
7.6

Fit & Comfort

8.0/10

On-Court Performance

8.0/10

Value for the Price

8.5/10

Outdoor-Ready

6.0/10

Main Takeaways

  • 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

Recommended For

  • Positions 1-4
  • Most guards
  • All-around players
  • Linear-dominant players

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