HEAD Prestige Tennis Shoe Review
Looking to make a splash, HEAD jumps back into the tennis shoe market with both feet. Literally.
Their flagship shoe of 2008 is daringly named the Prestige. Yes, the same name as their popular player's racquet. With the success and history of the Prestige racquets, that makes a bold statement that will render high expectations.
Enter the playtest. Excited with the news of the Prestige shoes, we anxiously waited to see if they would live up to their namesake.
After many weeks of hitting, here's what our testers had to say.
Happy with the initial findings, our team found plenty of comfort in the Prestige shoes, although a few players did have a very minimal break-in period. Impressed with the Prestige's cushioning was Chris. "I loved the level of cushioning I found in these shoes. My feet felt very well protected from the courts, yet I didn't feel overly elevated. The uppers felt comfortable after a short break-in, and overall comfort was good. I had some slight rubbing on the tip of my big toes. I struggled to get the shoes snug enough in the forefoot and found myself sliding into the toe of the shoe on sudden stops. Apart from that, I was impressed by the comfort of these shoes." Jason liked the responsive ride. "The cushioning was stiff, but more than adequate. This shoe offered a ride that was firm and responsive. I liked that there were no areas within the shoe that poked or pinched my feet. It flexed where it was supposed to. However, I thought that the shoes felt very hot. It could've been a combination of both the black coloring and lack of mesh in the uppers, but after an hour on the court, my feet were radiating. All other areas of the shoe were good, but because of the heat, I had to score it the way I did."
Troy was happy with the initial fit. "When I first wore these shoes, they contoured to my feet very well. Once the upper of the shoe loosened up a bit, the fit of the shoe wasn't as comfortable for me and I had some slight rubbing in the toe box. The majority of the poking that I felt was on the top of my toes. Cushioning was mixed. I felt that the heel area had a good spongy cushioned response that I liked. I felt that the shoe was lacking cushioning in the area I need it the most, under the balls of my feet and toe area." Enjoying the fit as well was Spencer. "I immediately noticed that the fit was right on. Right on so much, I started to wonder if Head actually used my foot for the mold! In the inaugural hit in the Prestige, I was happy with the cushioning and feel. This shoe definitely has a performance/high end feel. Other than a very discreet rubbing on the top of my toes initially, I experienced no discomfort from the first outing to the last."
Danny liked the combination of cushioning and the low to the ground feel. "This was one of the most comfortable shoes that I've worn all year. This is the most comfortable HEAD shoe that I have ever tested, as well. I feel like most of the shoes that I think are comfortable do not have a low to ground feel due to the added cushioning. This shoe offered the best of both worlds. My footwork tends to be better with shoes that have a low to the ground feel. Not only did I love the cushioned midsole, but I enjoyed the soft feel of the upper." Happy with the all-around fit and cushioning was Granville. "The shoe has good cushioning, not excessive, but not too minimalistic either. It has a very nice fit all around my feet. Not a perfect fit in the toe box, but very close, and nothing two pairs of socks didn't cure."
Our team found the Prestige's arch support substantial enough for good support, though soft enough to retain comfort. Troy liked how the arches stood up through heavy play. "The arch of the shoe contoured to my foot perfectly. It has a nice medium arch that never caused me any pain throughout the heaviest of playing conditions. The only time I seem to have problems with an arch support is when a shoe has a really low arch. With the Prestige I had no complaints in this department." Experiencing no pain or soreness in his arches was Jason. "Not much to mention here. They were just a tad high for me, but they seemed to squish down after some wear. I experienced no pain or soreness."
Having no issues whatsoever was Spencer. "The medium arch support worked well for my feet. There weren't any issues during or after hitting sessions throughout the playtest." Chris had similar sentiments. "I found plenty of arch support in these shoes. I felt confident sprinting forward and moving at full speed. I was able to play without even thinking about the arch support, which is always a good sign."
Danny gave high marks for support. "I thought the arch support felt a tad low, but it didn't affect the support at all. I thought the overall shoe support was top notch." When it comes to arch support, no news was good news, according to Granville. "I never noticed it, so it was just right."
Our testers were thrilled with the stability and support the Prestige shoes provided. Spencer appreciated the rigid stability of the Prestige shoes. "The secure fit helped with support as my feet were held in place. There wasn't any movement (feet sliding) within the shoes, making for confident lateral and forward movement. I was definitely happy with the amount of stability. This is a comfortable shoe, but by no means 'soft'. I appreciated the slightly rigid flex, which provided added security." Feeling his feet to be locked in with good support was Jason. "I was pleasantly surprised at how locked in my foot felt, especially since I thought the lacing system was an eyelet or two low. I encountered no slipping or sliding within the shoe, from either moving side to side or forwards and backwards. The cut of the shoe comes right up to my ankle and provided great ankle stability."
Chris felt he could trust this shoe when making aggressive cuts. "I was impressed by the lateral stability the shoes offered. When taking aggressive lateral cuts I didn't experience any rolling or excessive stretching from the uppers. On sudden stops my feet were sliding inside the shoes as the fit was a little wide for me and I couldn't get the lace system any tighter." Pleasantly surprised with the support and stability was Danny. "I thought the foot support and stability were this shoe's best quality. This is the best shoe that I've tested this year concerning foot support and stability. I was surprised how good the foot support and stability was considering the shoe's width (medium). For me, most shoes that have good foot support and stability have a tight fit on my feet. This shoe was the exception."
Stability was a key feature for Troy. "I felt that one of the strongest attributes of the Prestige was the stability. I enjoyed the low ride the shoe offered in the forefoot. There were times that I felt the toe area was a little open, which lead to my toes being rubbed, but that was more of a comfort issue. I never once felt that I would roll an ankle. I was very pleased with the lateral support and my ability to plant and cut aggressively." Granville was also very pleased with the stability. "This is a very stable shoe! I never came close to rolling over in them. I pushed them in all directions and they remained stable on the slide and firm when planted. I say this knowing I usually, at least once during a test, come close to rolling - not in this shoe. Solid as a rock."
Overall Sole Durability
The durability of the Prestige shoes didn't disappoint. Featuring HEAD's HyBrasion rubber, the wear was gradual and even. As a durability guaranteed shoe, expectations of a long lasting sole were satisfied. Granville was impressed with how well the outsole held up. "The tread on this shoe remains in remarkably good shape despite all of the playing hours. I give them very high marks for durability. These shoes perform with the best of them." Jason felt the HyBrasion compound was above average. "I wore out these shoes in the same place I usually do: the lateral side of the toe box. I felt that HEAD's HyBrasion rubber held up well, even above average. The other areas showed light wear and tear. This is great for a shoe that offers a durability guarantee."
Chris found no excessive wear on the outsoles. "I was very impressed by the durability of the outsoles. They held up really well and I didn't find any excessive wear -- even in the usual high wear areas. There was plenty of tread left at the end of the test, and I played only on hard courts." Durability expectations were met, according to Spencer. "I was happy with how well the sole held up. There was nothing out of the ordinary concerning wear. For a durability guaranteed shoe, it met my expectations. They have a nice, even wearing sole."
Happy with how well the soles held up was Troy. "The durability of the Prestige was pretty impressive, especially considering the amount of aggressive play that I put into them. When I first observed the shoe I noticed the healthy toe guard, which is something I typically look for when buying a shoe. Another thing that made the durability better than average was the rubber compound. It held up well while maintaining good grip to the court surface after extensive use." Appreciating the durability was Danny. "Considering that I tested this shoe longer than most, I thought the overall sole durability was pretty good. I tested this shoe for about 2 months, and I also played a competitive tennis tournament in them, and they still help up pretty well. The bottom of the toe is where I noticed the first signs of wear."
The beefed up toe bumper of the Prestige did an excellent job in keeping abrasion to a minimum. Giving high marks for toe durability was Troy. "The beefy toe guard of this shoe held up well beyond my expectations. I've played in other shoes that have had equal size bumpers around the toe that didn't hold up as well as the Prestige did. When I'm in the market for a new pair of shoes, two things are a must: One is that the shoe has a strong toe guard, or rubber compound, and the other must is that the shoe has a durability guarantee. The Prestige gets my head nod on both durability needs. For toe durability I would put this shoe up there with the Reebok Match Day Pump, the Adidas Barricade, or Nike Breathe Cage shoes." Chris agreed. "The toes held up well. The tips of the shoes proved to be durable and I didn't drag over the top of the toe tip often. There was ample material at the toe of these shoes and I'll be able to keep going in these long after this test."
Feeling the beefed up toe guard would be advantageous for toe draggers was Danny. "This would be a good shoe for those out there that are worried about toe durability. The toe on the Prestige is pretty beefed up. I saw no signs of wear at the top of the toe during my 2 month playtest." Granville could see how well this toe bumper would handle dragging. "As a former toe dragger, I can say these Prestige shoes have ample material, both at the tip and on top of the shoe, for all but the most extreme toe draggers."
Most of our team found the Prestige's non-traditional outsole pattern to be effective, adhering to the court on directional changes. Danny thought the traction was superb. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this shoe had the best traction out of all the shoes that I've tested this year. I will give some of the credit to the foot support and stability, but I had a solid base with this shoe and my balance and footwork were superb. Generally, I will have these results when the traction and foot support is good." There was just the right amount of grab for Granville. "The Prestige shoe has very good traction. I really put these shoes through their paces and I'm very impressed with the rubber outsole characteristics. Not so sticky that I was unable to slide when appropriate, yet enough traction to pivot off a dead run and recover to finish off the point."
Experiencing good grip on the hard courts was Chris. "Traction was solid. I was able to push off and change directions at full force, and I found the shoes to dig in and grip every time. There was just enough give to keep the shoes from getting hung-up, and I felt confident moving in them." Troy liked the balance of traction and wear. "I felt confident with my movement in these shoes, being able plant my feet and change directions. The Prestige had a nice low feel in the forefoot that helped me feel stable while putting a lot of pressure on the balls of my feet. The rubber compound of the shoe gripped the court even better once I had worn them down a bit. Typically when the outsole of a shoe is aiming to be durable it doesn't grip the court well, but the Prestige had a good balance of both."
Forward and back movement is where the traction shined for Jason. "I experienced better results pushing off rather than trying to stop and change directions. When I had to take off towards the net to get to a short ball, the traction was reliable. It was when I got pulled out wide and had to change direction in a hurry that I slipped a few times. But, for the most part, I was impressed with how the shoe gripped the hard court." Spencer had an occasional slip with lateral movement. "Though the traction was good, there were a couple of instances where I noticed a slight lack of stick when going side to side. Don't get me wrong, there weren't any major slips or slide outs, but an ever so slight lack of stick can delay a change of direction just enough to put one at a disadvantage. I may be a bit critical here, but movement is a part of my game I need to have to be successful. I need to have excellent adherence to the court to feel I'm running at top efficiency."
For a durability guaranteed shoe, the Prestige's weight was distributed well, helping to make the shoe feel lighter than its actual static weight. Spencer was thrilled with the weight. "I liked the weight. They weren't too heavy, or too light. For the factors of stability and durability, the weight was distributed well and right on target." Liking the weight to performance ratio was Chris. "These were not the lightest shoes, but they felt good on the court. I liked the balance of the shoes, and they hid their weight well. I was most impressed with the light feel considering all of the durability and support they offered."
Troy never felt the weight slowed him down. "The weight of the Prestige seemed to be pretty similar to other performance shoes aimed at having good durability and support. I never felt like my feet were lagging due to the weight of these shoes. This could be due to the fact that I'm used to playing in shoes near the weight of these. The traction and stability made me confident in my movement, therefore weight was not an issue that held me back from flying around the court." Granville felt the Prestige played lighter than its actual weight. "Looking at the shoe and its many features, including a substantial outsole, I was prepared for a much heavier shoe. To be honest, I never looked at the weight until writing this review, and they play lighter than the posted weight of 16.7 oz. There's a lot of shoe squeezed into the Prestige." Danny agreed. "I thought that this shoe played lighter than listed. I felt comfortable in this shoe from the get go. It was maneuverable, and there were no signs of clunkiness."
Feeling the weight slowed him down a tad was Jason. "They do feel a bit weighty. Coming off the Asics Gel Resolutions, I can definitely feel the weight of these shoes on my feet. I wouldn't say that I lost a full step in these shoes, but maybe a 1/4 step."
The HEAD Prestige shoes have lived up to the expectations associated with the Prestige name. Our playtesters were pleased and impressed with the performance and durability of this shoe. The comfort and fit was excellent from the start, and the durable outsoles made sure our testers continued to enjoy them for the duration of the test. The high point for the majority of our team was the support and stability the Prestige provided. A competitively priced high-end performance shoe, the Prestige was a hit with our testers.