Babolat Propulse Lady 3 Women's Shoe Review
- Durability guarantee
- Cosmetic options
- Heel support is very high
- Long break-in period
If you want a shoe that provides stability, traction and support, then the Babolat Propulse Lady 3 is the shoe for you. While the break-in period is extended, the general comfort of the shoe is commendable. The shoe's support and stability rated highly, with our TW playtesters enjoying the 3-point locking system holding their feet in place. There was no fear of spraining your ankle with the Propulse Lady 3. Our testers did, however, experience pain and discomfort from stiffness in the heel and the height of the heel collar, even though they noted the high level of support. Good durability was matched with a high level of traction, as our testers moved freely and with confidence in this Babolat shoe. As is almost always the case, good durability and support came with one drawback: weight. Despite our testers' preferences for lighter shoes, this heavier shoe still allowed good movement. Visually pleasing in a cosmetically unique package, this Babolat Propulse Lady 3 is a performance shoe that will keep you secure.
Comfort - Score: 2.9
While the Babolat Propulse Lady 3 is a comfortable shoe after a wear-in period, the stiffness in the heel caused some issues. Liking the general comfort, but only finding it after an excessively long break-in, was Tiffani. She said, "Holy break-in, Batgirl! This shoe required a lot of wearing around before it got comfortable. The first time I put on the shoe it felt snug on my wider foot. The forefoot softened up fairly easily, and after an hour or two the uppers felt supple and comfortable. The heel area, however, is another story entirely. It took well over a week of play before it showed any signs of getting more comfortable. The heel area comes up really high and is super stiff. Initially, I made the mistake of wearing no-show socks and my achilles was rubbed raw. There is great support, but it's just too stiff in the heel for me. I don't think Babolat needs the TPU to come up so high because the adjustable heel strap provides enough support on its own. Once I got past the heel issue, the shoe offered good cushioning, but it sure was a chore to get to that point."
"I will first start off with the break-in period," said Brittany. "The shoe is very stiff, and the break-in period was probably the longest I have ever had with a women's shoe. It took over a week of play before they slowly started to loosen up. I ended up with blisters on my heel, specifically higher up on my right heel. I never felt them fully soften up, and they stayed a little on the stiffer side. They did become more comfortable after the break-in period. My biggest complaint was with the ankle collar. I normally wear no-show socks, and the extremely high ankle collar pushed into my ankle, giving me a bruise. I found a fix to this problem by wearing socks that had a cushioned tab at the heel, giving me some relief."
Siobhan agreed with the rest of the playtesters, saying, "Need it be repeated? The break-in is É excessive. The height of the ankle collar and the stiffness of the collar are excessive. I don't really understand the necessity of such protection, especially since it dug into all the places I didn't want hard plastic to dig into. I didn't get any blisters, but it was uncomfortable and it prevented me from moving properly because I didn't want it to dig in (particularly with a sensitive ankle from a past surgery). To reduce the discomfort around the heel collar I loosened the 3-point locking system (the Velcro fasteners that tightened the shoe), which was kind of a catch-22 because I Iost some of the good fit and stability. After break-in, the shoe was pretty comfortable. I feel that Babolat shot itself in the foot a little because the negativity concerning the stiffness and height of the collar really distracts from the fact that I actually found this a decently comfortable shoe. Just don't forget to wear high socks."
Karly was ready for the Propulse Lady 3's initial discomfort. She said, "Luckily, Brittany warned me about the harsh break-in period before I played in them, so I wore them around for a few days before I took them to the court. Even then I got some bad heel blisters after the first hitting session. The heel was definitely the stiffest part of the shoe, and I don't think it will ever fully break-in because of the plastic guard on the heel of the shoe. I think the shoes would've been much more comfortable if it weren't for the extremely firm heel."
Ventilation - Score: 3.1
Although the ventilation wasn't the best, the Propulse Lady 3's breathability was acceptable. For a black shoe, Brittany found it to have good ventilation. She said, "I wouldnÕt say I found the ventilation to be spectacular, but I found it to be around average for your normal womenÕs tennis shoe."
Karly also found the breathability to be passable. She said, "I thought the ventilation was so-so. The shoes didn't make me want to take them off immediately after play, but they also weren't the most breathable shoes. My feet were a little warm when hitting in them, though not enough to bother me. Overall, breathability was just average."
Tiffani wasn't much of a fan. She said, "The shoe was average at best when it came to ventilation. I didn't notice my feet getting too hot during play, but I had to take these off immediately after playing."
Siobhan agreed with Brittany, adding, "The ventilation wasn't really something I thought about too much. It wasn't the best shoe for breathability, but it's not something that bothered me. For such a heavy duty shoe, I think the ventilation was acceptable."
Arch Support - Score: 3.5
Our playtesters had mixed opinions when it came to the arch support. Having some discomfort was Brittany. She said, "I was not a fan of the arch support in this shoe. The support was lower than I would have liked under my arch. In addition, I found there to be another support on the outside of my foot, creating a very uncomfortable feeling. While that support did slightly compress during the playtest, I was still able to feel it at the end."
Tiffani had more of a neutral opinion regarding the arch support, saying, "I have a low arch, just ask Dr. Scholls. The shoe didn't feel like it had much in terms of arch support to me, but with my foot type that didn't matter at all. I never experienced any pain and didn't think about it much at all."
Karly agreed with Tiffani. She said, "This was another area where I was neutral. The arch support was lower than average, though it didn't cause any discomfort or aching for my feet. I think the support could've been higher, but I was OK with them the way they were."
Siobhan has a high arch, but also didn't have any complaints. She said, "Again, not an issue. The support wasn't necessarily there, but it didn't really need to be any more supportive, as far as I was concerned. On one hand, it's nice to have the support, but I can't really complain about it if it didn't cause my any pain or discomfort by not being there."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.3
The playtesters found the shoe support to be a favorite aspect of the shoe. Two words from Siobhan: "Locked in." She continued, "It had really good support. My only complaint would be that I had to loosen the 3-point support system to reduce the pain around the ankle collar. This made the shoe not as supportive as I would have liked, because I moved around in it a little too much. Aside from that, I had no thoughts of turning an ankle. Once I wore it in a bit I felt a lot more stable because I could tighten everything without the original pain. Despite my initial problems, I enjoy playing in this shoe because it feels like I have armor on my feet and I'm really stabilized."
Thinking that the shoe provided a tremendous amount of support for her feet was Karly. She said, "My ankles felt secure, and I never hesitated when changing directions. I noticed that after I broke them in the front of the shoes got much wider and there was a completely different fit in the forefoot. The more I played, the more room I had in the front of the shoe. I didn't mind since I have a wider forefoot."
Tiffani was also impressed by the support. "This shoe felt like it was built for battle. I could cinch the shoe down really well with the adjustable straps. Though I felt that the heel support was overkill, there was absolutely no question that I was locked into this shoe. Rolling an ankle was the furthest thing from my mind when I was wearing the Propulse Lady 3. The shoe widened up in the forefoot, but that made it a good fit for my wider foot, and I felt like I could trust this shoe in any situation."
Brittany really noticed the 3-point support system. She said, "Due to the various straps on top of the lacing system and around the heel, I found the Babolat Propulse Lady 3 to hold my foot in place well, sometimes almost too well. I did appreciate the ability to adjust the straps to get the right support, and it gave the shoe a glove-like fit, but I found myself adjusting them quite frequently, sometimes throughout a practice. For example, I would start off with the straps a little tighter, then I would have to loosen them, and then adjust them one more time to somewhere in the middle."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.2
Most of our testers thought highly of the outsole of this shoe. Brittany thought that this was the best aspect of the shoe, saying, "I found the sole to have very good durability. The sole is almost perfect at the end of the playtest, with a very small amount of smoothing on the ball of my foot. The bonus: It has a six-month durability guarantee!"
The Propulse Lady 3 landed near the top of the list in the durability category for Tiffani. She said, "I saw very little wear on the outsole after about 15 hours. By this time I would usually see some smoothing out in the tread under ball of my foot. Honestly, this outsole looks like I put just a couple of hours on it. I won't be needing the durability guarantee that Babolat provides for this shoe."
The Propulse Lady 3 didn't live up to Karly's expectations. She said, "The sole durability surprised me. For being a somewhat heavier shoe, I anticipated them to last a little longer than they did. If it weren't for my high expectations I'd say the durability was average, compared to other shoes. I just would've like to have seen them last longer."
Siobhan found the durability up to her standards, particularly because it was such a heavy duty shoe. She said, "I liked the Michelin Tire Man on the sole because it made it seem heavy duty, and I feel like it lived up to my expectations. I had minimal wear after a decent playtesting period, and I had great traction the whole time."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.2
Even our biggest toe draggers were impressed with the durability of the toe bumper. For Karly, the shoe was more durable around the toe than the rest of the sole. She said, "I'm not the world's biggest toe dragger, but I do drag my feet from time to time. I thought the toe box had a good amount of coverage, to where I didn't have to worry about wearing through the front of the shoe when I did drag my toes."
Brittany thought the high durability translated well to the toe protection. She said, "Like the sole durability, toe durability was excellent on this shoe. The toe bumper went up high enough to protect the shoe from dragging and was slightly thicker than most shoes. Because the toe bumper is black there was no cosmetic damage to the shoe, and I can only see a small amount of smoothing."
Also with positive marks for the toe protection was Tiffani. She said, "I was impressed, once again, with the durability. Like the outsole, I saw little to no wear on the toe bumper. It easily withstood my abuse."
Traction - Score: 3.8
Though the reviews were mixed, most of our playtesters found the traction to be optimal. Finding the traction to be more than sufficient was Siobhan. She said, "The traction was really solid. I was able to move in these really well and didn't have any worries about slipping or sticking. The shoe was easy to move in, so no worries here."
Tiffani was really pleased with the traction of the Propulse Lady 3. She said, "Though the shoe took some break-in to get the proper heel-to-toe flex I needed for optimal contact with the court, the traction was outstanding from the get-go. A lot of times durable shoes aren't the best in the traction department, but the Propulse Lady 3 pleased me in both categories. I never slipped and never felt tripped up by too much stick."
Karly thought the shoes lost their traction fairly quickly. She offered, "The more I played in them, the more I tended to slide. The shoe also collected a lot of ball fuzz on the bottom of the shoe, which didn't help with the traction. Every time I finished hitting I had to wipe off all the fuzz on the sole, which was a little annoying."
Brittany needed a bit of an adjustment period when it came to traction on the Babolat Propulse 3. She said, "At the beginning of the playtest I found that the traction was great, so great that I was getting stuck when I had to quickly change directions. After a couple of hits I was able to adjust my movements and was able to utilize the grip of the outsole to my benefit."
Weight - Score: 3.4
While our playtesters moved in the shoes better than they expected, the Propulse Lady 3 does have added weight for durability and stability. Tiffani had some trouble moving, saying, "I don't mind weight in shoes, how they move from step to step is more important to me. This shoe didn't feel heavy, but it felt clunky on my foot. I think it was because the heel counter was too high and didn't allow my foot to bend enough, making me feel the shoe every time I picked up my foot to move."
"Having such good stability and durability has a downside," said Brittany. "I found the weight of the Propulse Lady 3 to be on the heavier side of all the shoes I have playtested. I definitely moved better than I thought I would after I felt the weight of the shoes, but I did not feel as quick on the court as I normally do. I did get used to the weight as the playtest went on. However, I personally prefer a lighter shoe, and would rather sacrifice a little durability and stability."
Siobhan had mixed opinions on the weight. She said, "On the one hand, it felt pretty good for such a durable and stable shoe. You sacrifice weight for those other aspects, and it was definitely playable and fine to move in. I don't have any complaints about this, despite generally favoring lighter shoes. On the other hand, I just feel that the overkill of materials on the ankle and the excessive use of TPU was unnecessary. They need to reduce the clunkiness of this shoe, because it felt more like a boot than a shoe."
Karly threw some wisdom our way, saying, "Take the saying, 'don't judge a book by it's cover', and apply it to these shoes. To me they look like a very heavy shoe, but I felt I moved better in them than I expected. I thought they would weigh me down more when playing in them, but I could move fairly quickly in them, which was a nice surprise."
Overall - Score: 3.6
Brittany - "The durability and stability of the shoe, but most importantly the black/pink/green colorway!"
Karly - "I loved the foot support they offered, especially for the ankle, and Babolat did a great job with the design."
Tiffani - "The black/pink cosmetic is so fun, and the shoe hit all the musts of a hard court shoe with good durability, stability and traction."
Siobhan - "General stability and traction. After the break-in period I was able to move well in these shoes."
Brittany - "I was not a fan of the high collar and the arch support."
Karly - "The rock-solid heel. They tore up the back of my foot, which made it hard to want to continue playing in them."
Tiffani - "The heel support is just too much. It's too high and took way too long to break-in. I'm all for support, but I felt this shoe needs to flex more in the heel to be comfortable."
Siobhan - "The excessive bulkiness on the ankle support and the high collar."
Comparing the Propulse Lady 3s to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Brittany - "This shoe has the durability of the adidas Barricade 7 and Asics Gel Resolution 4. The heavier weight reminded me of the KSwiss BigShot."
Karly - "The break-in reminded me of the Barricade IV; they seem to take an eternity to break-in but were a great supportive pair of shoes to play in."
Tiffani - "I am reminded a little bit of the Barricade adilibria. Both of these shoes are built for hard court play with durability and stability in mind, and both required a break-in period. The Propulse Lady 3 opens up more in the toe box after an initial break-in, but offers a similar feel in cushioning and weight. The main difference is the heel. I've never worn a shoe that comes up as high as this Babolat."
Siobhan - "Durability-wise they're similar to the Asics Gel Resolution 4. They're similar to the Barricade adilibria in weight because that's the heaviest shoe I've worn."
Playtester Foot Types:
Brittany - Narrow width / Medium arch
Karly - Medium width / Medium-low arch
Tiffani - Wide width / Low arch
Siobhan - Medium width / High arch
Review date: April 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2012 Tennis Warehouse.