Nike Zoom Courtlite 3 Women's Shoe Review
- No break-in
- Only moderate support
- Distracting feel from cushioning pad in heel
The design of the Nike Zoom Courtlite 3 women's shoe is quite different from the first two Zoom Courtlite models. Instead of the mostly leather upper we saw in the first two Courtlites, the Courtlite 3 has a mostly mesh upper. Gone is the classic tennis shoe look, replaced by a fast, eye-catching design. The lightweight comfort remains, though, and our testers found them comfortable right out of the box. Those mesh panels provided great ventilation and breathability. Comfort was high, with the arch support and cushioning functioning well, although some cushioning in the heel was a little distracting for some of our playtesters. The durability was decent for a lightweight shoe, and Nike has done a great job creating a shoe that not only looks great, but functions well, too. All in all, the Nike Courtlite 3 makes a bold fashion statement while allowing you to move around the court with lightning speed.
Comfort - Score: 3.8
Flexible and comfortable from the get-go, the Nike Zoom Courtlite 3 was a hit with our playtesters, although some were bothered by the air bubble cushioning in the heel. Tiffani found the shoe light and flexible right out of the box. She said, "Even with my wider feet, this shoe required no break-in time to feel comfortable. I hit in them minutes after trying them on and had no issues. The cushioning is surprisingly plush for such a lightweight shoe, while maintaining the low ride I prefer. One oddity to note, though, is that if I wore thinner socks, like those for running, I could actually feel the Zoom Air unit in the heel."
Brittany agreed with Tiffani on comfort, but found some of the cushioning disconcerting. She said, "The comfort of the Courtlite 3 is difficult for me to explain. On one hand, it is very comfortable out of the box. I experienced zero pinching, rubbing or poking from start of the playtest to the finish. However, there is some extra cushioning directly under the heel. It has the weird sensation of an air bubble, and I kept pushing down on my heel to try and pop it. The bubble felt like it reduced in size during the playtest, but it was still noticeable."
Siobhan shared the same issues as Brittany. She said, "These shoes felt great out of the box. It was easy to just slip into them and play. The cushioning was great, and the shoes were comfortable and easy to move in. The balls of my feet would be a little tender after a long training session, but I could put up with that because of how light and how low to the ground they were. Unfortunately, I felt the presence of what felt like an air bubble in the heel of the shoe and got pre-occupied with it. Although the shoe was easily one of the most comfortable I have worn, and the bubble didn't hurt or cause pain, this really irritated me."
With no complaints, Karly loved the shoes from the start. She offered, "I especially liked that there was no break-in period. I could jump on the court immediately after taking them out of the box. I also thought they offered the right amount of cushioning. The padding wasn't overbearing and didn't weigh the shoes down, but there was enough to prevent any poking or pinching."
Ventilation - Score: 4.3
The mesh paneling offered great breathability and ventilation. Siobhan praised the ventilation, saying, "I had no issues here. Lots of mesh paneling allowed air to move within the shoe to keep my feet from overheating. Breathability was definitely not something that caused any issues."
Noting the effectiveness of the mesh paneling, Brittany said, "Due to the mesh panels on the upper, there was plenty of breathability in this shoe. I didn't have any problems keeping my feet cool during a workout. I could keep these on after a workout and my feet would stay at a comfortable temperature."
Karly also thought the shoes had great ventilation. She said, "The mesh throughout made them extremely breathable and helped prevent my feet from ever feeling sweaty or overheated. I didn't think twice when I forgot to bring extra socks to change into because my feet felt dry after any amount of play."
Agreeing, Tiffani said, "The Courtlite 3 is right up there with the most breathable shoes I've worn.The mesh panels on the side offered enough venting to keep my feet from ever feeling hot during or after play. I also went to the gym quite often in them, and my feet never warmed up during my workouts, either."
Arch Support - Score: 3.9
Most of the playtesters liked and found the medium arch support comfortable. "The arch support of this shoe hit my arch just perfectly," said Brittany. "I had zero issues with placement or height. My medium arch felt fully supported even with the arch support feeling just under medium."
Siobhan also liked the arch, despite it not perfectly matching her foot type. She said, "I have a high arch but don't necessarily need high support, so there were no issues here. I felt supported and comfortable all the time."
Karly felt this was an area with room for improvement. She said, "I have a medium arch and don't usually have any issues with arch support. However, the support was just too low for me. My feet generally felt achy and sore after playing in them."
Tiffani didn't even notice the arch support. She said, "I can't recall thinking about the arch support even once. That must be a good thing! With my low arches my feet can ache sometimes, depending on the shoe. I had no problems with the Courtlite 3."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.3
Our testers were moving well and felt secure, but the Zoom Courtlite 3 got mixed reviews on stability. Tiffani said, "I am of two minds in this section. I liked the level of stability the Courtlite 3 provided, meaning that I never feared rolling over or spraining my ankle. My disappointment comes in what I perceive to be the shoe's support. My foot is wider than average, so I'm not sure if that created my issues, but the shoe had a sloppy feel in the forefoot. My foot was sliding on top of the shoe, stretching the uppers. I never felt compromised as far as safety goes, but I did feel that I was losing some speed because my feet had to stop sliding in the shoe before I could pick up and move."
"I liked the support of most of my foot," said Siobhan. "I didn't move around inside the shoe, and aside from the heel, the rest of the support was really comfortable. There was just enough flex to move easily. The ankle support was OK as I didn't feel like I was going to roll an ankle. In a nutshell, I wouldn't rave or complain, but it just felt a little too flexible."
Brittany found the shoes held her feet securely. She said, "In fact, I felt the shoe ran a tad on the short side in length so there was no extra room in the shoe for movement. However, I thought the ankle stability was just average. I didn't find any extra stability, but enough to be confident in moving."
Finding the shoe to offer average support was Karly, who said, "This shoe made it easy to make quick lateral movements, but the ankle support was too low my for liking. I was a little hesitant at times to change directions quickly, as I prefer shoes with higher ankle support."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.4
The sole durability was good for a lightweight shoe, but our playtesters thought that there could be improvements in this area. The sole lasted longer than Karly thought it would, but not as long as she would like. She said, "Though the durability was good for a lightweight shoe, I felt the durability was subpar, especially when comparing to most of the other shoes that are on the market today."
Tiffani praised the durability, saying "I felt pretty light on my feet with this shoe, and I did little damage to the outsole. The durability was pretty impressive for a lightweight shoe."
"I think the durability was right in the middle of the pack when comparing it to other shoes," said Brittany. "It wasn't the most durable shoe, but it definitely wasn't the worst, either. Overall, the shoe had some smoothing in the toe area, but nothing that stood out."
Siobhan said, "Durability was fine. For the amount I played there was a little bit of wear on the ball of the foot, which is expected."
Toe Durability - Score: 3.1
The Courtlite 3 could have been improved for toe draggers, as dragging the upper of the shoe caused wear and cosmetic damage. The toe durability on this shoe was too low for Brittany. She said, "The bumper only goes halfway up, and the leather is exposed on top. After my first hit in this shoe I had already shaved off a thin layer ofleather, and as I continued to play the toe got more and more scuffed. It even started to tear away at the seam."
Karly also noticed issues with durability on the top of the shoe. She said, "The top of the shoe was where I noticed the least durability. For me, the area around the toe was where the sole wore out the fastest. I would like to see more coverage and better durability around the toe."
Finding the uppers to scuff easily was Tiffani. She said, "My shoe looked beat up and dirty after just a few hours. I don't think that I'll be putting any holes in the shoe soon, but it didn't take much to scratch it up."
Traction - Score: 3.7
Some playtesters had issues with changing direction, while others felt confident moving in the shoes. Siobhan found good traction. She said, "Traction was fine. I wasn't completely comfortable changing direction, in the sense that I didn't feel like I could do it as fast as I would have liked. I didn't feel like I was going to slide out, which is a positive!"
Karly, however, thought the traction was average. She said, "I didn't feel a tremendous grip on the court, but I also never experienced any sliding. I don't think I was fully able to put the traction to the test because I was afraid to change directions too quickly due to the low ankle support."
Having absolutely no problems was Tiffani. She said, "The shoe gripped the court well and I always had good heel to toe flex, so I made optimal contact with the court. Whatever the movement, I was confident the Courtlite 3 would not slip or slide."
Brittany had some issues with the traction. She said, "I found the traction of these shoes to be average. I didn't feel like I could grip the court exceptionally well, but I was able to start and stop with just a little effort. I also found I was sliding a little bit, especially when I was changing directions quickly in the middle of the point or when someone hit behind me. There was just enough traction in the shoe for me to play competitively."
Weight - Score: 4.4
As one of the more lightweight shoes available, this shoe was well received in the weight department. Finding the shoe very light was Siobhan. She said, "I've worn some light shoes recently, and this shoe was definitely comfortable to wear for an entire match. I didn't feel like they were weighing me down at all."
Brittany agreed, saying weight was the highlight. She added, "It was very light and comfortable. I felt the weight was perfect, there was still some support but it was light enough for me to feel quick on my feet. It is one of those shoes that you put on and then forget you are wearing."
"This shoe certainly lived up to its name in my mind," said Tiffani. "It is definitely a light court shoe. The design of the shoe didn't feel bulky to me at all. However, as I mentioned earlier, I felt that, despite the lightweight, I wasn't moving as fast as I could in this shoe because of the sloppy feel in the forefoot."
Karly thought the design of the shoe helped with the lightness, but she still felt slower than she'd like. She said, "The shoes felt extremely light. I think the mesh material helped make them lightweight and fast, but the lack of support slowed me down. I think the low support keeps very light shoes from being as quick as they should be."
Overall - Score: 3.7
Siobhan - "Cosmetics and weight. Like playing on little clouds."
Tiffani - "The shoes are super light and comfortable, with no break-in needed. I loved wearing them for off-court training. Cosmetics are also a plus."
Karly - "I liked the breathability and lightweight feel of the shoes."
Brittany - "The light weight and fun color scheme."
Siobhan - "The bubble! I got preoccupied with it."
Tiffani - "The shoe was not supportive enough in the forefoot. I also felt the shoe ran short. I think going a half-size up would be a good idea."
Karly - "I wasn't able to move as aggressive as I would have liked because of the shoe's lack of support."
Brittany - "The cushion in the heel was a bit of an annoyance."
Comparing the Courtlite 3 to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Siobhan - "I thought the weight and the out-of-the-box comfort were similar to the Asics Gel Solution Speed."
Tiffani - "The Asics Gel Solution Speed comes to mind. Both shoes have a lightweight, airy feel about them. I think the two are on par with each other when it comes to design, weight and comfort. The Courtlite wins out in traction, but the Solution Speed wins the durability and support categories for me."
Karly - "I thought this shoe was similar to the Nike Air Max Mirabella III in terms of feeling lightweight, but the Mirabella offered the support I would've like to have seen from the Courtlites."
Brittany - "I found this shoe similar to the Prince Poise and New Balance 1187 in terms of comfort. The weight rivaled the Asics Gel Solution Speed in being light as a feather."
Playtester Foot Types:
Siobhan - Medium width / High arch
Tiffani - Wide width / Low arch
Karly - Medium width / Medium-low arch
Brittany - Narrow width / Medium arch
Review date: March 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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