Head Insane Pro Shoe Review
|Head Insane Pro Shoe Scores|
|Overall Sole Durability||4.2|
- Good fit for wide feet
- Too wide for medium and narrow feet
The out-of-the-box comfort was a pleasant surprise, even though the weight of the shoe might dictate otherwise. Weighing in at 17.7 ounces (size 10.5), it was no surprise that the Insane Pro held up to the rigors of hard court tennis. The durability was fantastic, as was traction. That is always a tough combination to execute, and Head hit the nail on the, well, errr, head. However, because the Insane Pro had such a wide fit, most of our playtesters were sliding around inside the shoes, which reduced the stability and support. It was no coincidence that the playtester with the widest feet posted the highest score among the team in the support/stability category. Though the shoe does have some nice attributes, it lacks the intangibles of other shoes at the same price point.
Crazy?! Insane?! Maybe.
To make a shoe that can withstand the rigors of the toughest hard court grinders, Head goes Insane. Insane Pro, that is.
The Insane Pro is built for durability and performance. Loaded with the latest and greatest Head technologies, the Insane Pro is built to withstand anything players can throw at it. Using the Head CXG Comfort Grid in the forefoot for better stability and Vi-Pod technology in the heel for superior cushioning, this shoe eases and controls harsh landings. Aggressive players will also appreciate the Energy Bridge in the shank for excellent heel-to-toe transition, while they'll get plush comfort and nice breathability from the mesh in the upper. And let's not forget the durability, folks. Coming in at 17.7 ounces (size 10.5), the Insane Pro is practically bulletproof, and it offers excellent traction to boot. With all the features this shoe has to offer, you'd would have to be crazy not to wear them, right?
Our playtest team played therapist for a month to see just how Insane these shoes really are. Read on for the diagnosis.
Comfort - Score: 3.8
Because they required no break-in, the playtesters liked the initial comfort in the Insane Pro. Enjoying immediate comfort, Chris said, "These shoes were comfortable right out of the box, with no break-in required. The cushioning was plush and the general ride was very comfortable. However, the fit was just too wide for me. My feet were sliding around inside the shoes, both to the sides and forward into the front of the shoe. For the majority of the test I used a thicker aftermarket insole and wore two pairs of socks to help fill out the shoes, but the fit was still wide."
Jason had problems with the lateral side arch. He said, "As far as cushioning goes, the shoe was great. The uppers were quite comfortable as well, but the one thing that really took away from the overall comfort were the lateral side arches. I don't usually feel a bump in that area, but I did with this shoe, and they made my arches sore. I had to dock my comfort score quite a few points because of the major effect that one area had."
Liking the comfort, but finding the shoes a bit wide, was Mike. He said, "The shoe felt great out of the box and required no break-in period. I did notice that the shoe would rub against the front of my foot when I changed direction really quickly to chase a ball. It was a bit wider than the shoes I normally wear, causing my foot to move around while I played. I found decent comfort when I really tightened up the laces."
Jackson agreed with the immediate comfort found by other testers. He said, "I was really stoked on how comfortable these shoes were out of the box. Lacing the shoes up to a foot-hugging, secure level was a breeze. I had to readjust the tightness of the shoes after playing for a little while because I felt my foot sliding around, particularly the top laces closest to the opening of the shoe; the soft upper seemed to loosen up quickly out of the box. The midsole offered good comfort as well, and I didn't feel any shock from the court, even when taking heavy steps. The technologically advanced midsole made my feet happy, but it put me a little higher off the court than I would like. However, it didn't hinder movement as much as I initially predicted it would."
Ventilation - Score: 3.2
The team was split in this category. Mike liked how the Insane Pro kept his feel cool. He said, "In terms of ventilation, these shoes felt good. I never once felt my feet were overheating while I was playing. The shoe had enough ventilation to keep my feet cool throughout my matches. It was a definite plus."
The mesh helped keep Chris' feet cool. He said, "My feet never got hot in these shoes. Although, they were so wide fitting that there was plenty of room for air to circulate! The mesh through the tongue and down the sides seemed to do its job of letting my feet breathe."
Jason thought the breathability was suspect. He said, "There is definitely a noticeable lack of ventilation with this shoe. However, my feet never felt like they were overheating. This is likely due to the fact that I was testing them in cooler weather. I can see how this would not be the most ideal shoe in hot and humid conditions."
Jackson agreed, saying, "Despite the mesh paneling on the sides of the shoes and on the tongue, I just wasn't getting the airflow that someone with ankle braces needs. I wore them around without the braces and found them to be slightly cooler, but I think the leather and the cushioning inside the shoe still prevented any kind of substantial breeze from penetrating the mesh and leather shell."
Arch Support - Score: 3.4
The playtesters agreed that the arch support sat a little low, though it didn't seem to cause issues. Jason's flat feet were happy. He said, "The arch was nice and low. I could feel it slightly, but it didn't bother me at all."
Finding the arches to be a bit low was Chris. He said, "The arch support was a bit low for me in these shoes. However, the chassis of the shoe was nice and rigid and protected my arches well. Once I put in an aftermarket insole with a higher support, I was good to go."
Mike experienced an awkward feel but had no pain. He said, "The arch support on this shoe felt a little awkward and took some getting used to. Once I got used to playing in them, the shoe felt great and gave me the support I was looking for. I also like how the shoe supported my foot without any pain in my arch."
Jackson wasn't sold on the support in the arches. He said, "The arch support was sufficient, I suppose. It was on the lower side of medium, and while I didn't develop any pains in my feet or knees I would've enjoyed a more substantial arch. This issue, combined with the padded upper, made lateral stopping more of a concentrated effort; I had to make sure I wouldn't go over the sole of the shoe and have to really test the functionality of my ankle braces."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.3
Because of the wide fit for most of our testers, the support and stability suffered. With narrow feet, Chris had issues. He said, "I liked the rigidity of the chassis of the shoe but found a tad too much flex from the upper materials. The fit was also so loose that my feet were constantly sliding around inside the shoes. Not so much a knock of the shoes, they just are not built for my feet and are too wide to be supportive."
To the contrary, Jason found the support and stability to hold up well for his wide feet. He said, "I thought the support was more than adequate. When I was making aggressive cuts and sudden stops the shoe felt rigid and there was not much give in the material, which was nice. However, I did find myself sliding around within the shoe, as well as a slight heel slippage. Both were minute, but noticeable nonetheless."
Sliding around inside the shoe lessened the support and stability for Mike. He said, "Although this shoe felt great out of the box, I did notice the support was lacking a bit due to the shoelaces coming undone rather easily. Due to the shoelace issue and the wider fit, my feet, though comfortable, kept sliding around inside the shoes. This took some getting used to coming from the snug, supportive fit of the Nike Air Court Ballistec 2.3. Stability on this shoe was good, but not great, for me."
Jackson felt the stability could have been better. He said, "The upper left me wanting more. The comfort-heavy design seemed to supersede the stability. The design of the outsole, however, was like a tank, and I didn't feel like I had any risk of rolling my ankles because the shoe offered such a solid base. They were on the verge of being too tank-like, slightly sacrificing maneuverability."
Sole Durability - Score: 4.2
The consensus was positive for durability with our squad. All but one found them to hold up quite well. Jackson was happy with how well the shoe held up. He said, "The sole really seemed to stand up against the sands of time (and the court). With the exception of my normal wear areas, I didn't see that the outsole yielded that much to the surface of the hard courts. The outside edges near the toes wore smooth first, but there's still plenty of tread in almost every other part of the outsole."
Chris found the durability to be great, saying, "I was very impressed by the durability of the outsoles. I only played on hard courts during the test and the durability proved to be great. I would rate this shoe right up there with other durability guaranteed shoes like the Air Court Ballistecs and Barricades."
Using an old Timex watch slogan to describe his thoughts, Jason said, "This is definitely a shoe that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. There were very few signs of use on the outsole. It was almost Barricade-like, but probably just a slight notch below."
Mike felt there was room for improvement after putting them to the test. He said, "I wasn't too pleased after a few weeks of play. The shoes started showing wear in the front sides of the shoe for both feet. If I didn't rotate my shoes I could have easily gone through these in about a month and a half."
Toe Durability - Score: 3.3
Opinions differed among the toe draggers in this wear test. Chris was satisfied with the durability for toe dragging. He said, "I put a lot of scuff marks on the uppers around the toes, but the durable wrap did its job. There's still a lot of material left for me to wear through. The shoes held up sufficiently throughout the test, and I was happy with the level of durability I found."
Unhappy with the how the scuffs affected the looks of the shoe, Jackson said, "I found that I have a new pet peeve thanks to these shoes. I don't consider myself a heavy toe-dragger in the least, but after only wearing these a couple of times the leather material was already scuffing off. By the time I wrote this review I had gone through a few layers of the leather covering. I don't think I'm close to wearing through, since it feels like a pretty thick, stiff piece of leather protecting the toes, but I'm not a fan of the look that's developed. I feel a little like sloppy McGee, with a big, discolored scuff on the top of both shoes."
Traction - Score: 4.2
The traction on the hard courts was one of the standout features of the Insane Pro. Jason enjoyed the high level of traction in these shoes. He offered, "I was very impressed with how well the shoe gripped the court. It felt like the forefoot was making optimum contact with the ground with each step, resulting in a high level of traction. The only times I noticed some sort of slight slippage was when I tried to stop while sprinting up to the net."
Happy with the grip on the hard court was Chris, who said, "I found a lot of grip playing in these shoes. I was able to move well around the court and could always rely on the outsoles to hook up with the court surface and provide the traction I needed. The level of traction was most impressive considering the high level of durability."
Mike felt he could rely on the traction when changing directions. He said, "Besides my foot moving around inside the shoe, the traction felt good and made me feel confident when making sudden stops or sharp cuts to get to the ball."
The tack of this shoe pleased Jackson. He said, "Traction was another saving grace for this shoe; starting and stopping was never an issue for me throughout the playtest period. In fact, I really think the traction made up for some of the other qualities that were lacking, since I was still able to explode into a sprint and stop on a dime like I would with a lower-to-the-ground riding shoe."
Weight - Score: 3.3
The Insane Pro is one of the heaviest shoes on the market, and most of our team couldn't help but notice the heavy feel. Chris said, "I noticed the weight of the shoes when moving around, but I think it was mostly due to the loose fit. They did not feel overly heavy, and I actually don't mind some heft considering the durability offered."
Jason agreed, saying, "The heft of the shoe was definitely noticeable. It didn't feel like I had bricks on my feet, but I was missing that fast, lightweight feeling I like from my shoes. If this shoe has the durability of a Barricade, it feels like it has the weight of one, too."
Used to playing with more durable offerings, Mike had no issues with the weight. He said, "The weight of these shoes wasn't an issue for me. They felt less heavy compared to other shoes I'm used to wearing. They moved well with my feet, and I had no complaints with the weight."
Jackson felt the weight wasn't conducive to his grinding style. He said, "This is where the clunkiness really became noticeable. The combination of the cushioning, relatively high midsole, wide base, and being 17.7 ounces (size 10.5) made this more unfavorable for my style of play. I like running and grinding it out with my opponent, and for that I like a lightweight shoe that I can really get a feel for the court from. After a few sets in these shoes I felt like I had lost a step or two getting to the ball."
Overall - Score: 3.3
Chris "I liked the traction, cushioning and durability the most."
Jason "The traction and sole durability were the two big standouts for me."
Mike "I like the how arch support fit my foot, and the support the shoe gave me when running side to side."
Jackson "I really enjoyed the out-of-the-box cushioning and wide (but not too wide) base. I liked the ease of the lacing system and thought it was a pretty good-looking shoe. The durability was also a nice redeeming quality."
Chris "The fit was just too wide for me."
Jason "The odd lateral side arch made my feet sore, and I thought the shoe could drop some weight as well."
Mike "The shoelaces on them were not the best and kept coming undone. I had to keep tightening them more and more."
Jackson "The shoe felt too clunky and lacked ventilation."
Comparing the Head Insane Pro to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Chris "Compared to the Head Prestige Pro II shoes I'm wearing, these offer a completely different fit. While they both offer a similar level of cushioning, traction and durability, these fit wide, whereas the Prestige Pro IIs fit me like a glove. The Insane Pros are one of the widest fitting shoes I've tested."
Jason "Reminds me a bit of a Barricade shoe in the durability and weight department, but without the break-in period."
Mike "This shoe is OK compared to other shoes I've worn such as the Nike Air Court Ballistec 2.3 and Asics Gel Resolution 3. They were all true to size. I would definitely give the durability and cushioning factor to the Nike Ballistec, which in my opinion was the best all-around shoe. I liked the Insane Pro, but I have tested others that were a little better."
Jackson "This shoe was eerily similar to the old Reebok KFS Pump Advantage, coupled with an adidas Barricade outsole. The cushioned upper felt like a little pillow wrapped around my foot, with a little bit of the clunky Barricade outsole attached at the bottom."
Playtester Foot Types:
Jason - Wide width, low arch
Jackson - Medium Width / Medium arch
Chris - Narrow width, medium arch
Mike - Medium width/medium height arch
Review date: June 2011. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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