Prince T20 Tennis Shoe Review
This third generation T Series shoe from Prince gives a new meaning to the word cushioning. The plush feel might remind one of a soft foam mattress that provides instant comfort. With Prince's ShockEraser heel insert and their SoftSpring technology in the forefoot, the T20 provides an equivalent, pillow-like feel for the feet.
With proven success in outsole durability, Prince adhered to the rule, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," by utilizing their PRC1000 outsole compound.
The mesh panels, lined by plastic on both sides of the upper have a dual purpose in that they aid in lateral support while offering more ventilation. A rigid, TPU shank wraps around the heel for a more stable ride.
At 15.5 ounces (in size 10.5) the T20 offers more substance than the speedy T9, but less bulk than the stability-inspired T10.
Looking back at the T20's predecessors, the T10 was very durable but took some time to break-in. It had a fit that was better suited to narrow and medium width feet. The T9 was cushioned and comfortable but has a wide toe box, which wasn't ideal for narrow feet, lacking some support. Our playtest team hit the courts to see if the medium-weight T20s could split the difference and offer the best performance qualities of both.
As you may have gathered from our introduction, we were immediately impressed by the comfort and cushioning qualities of the T20s. Granville enjoyed the instant comfort. "Exceedingly comfortable - one of the most comfortable tennis shoes I've worn in recent memory. While it lacks the elusive 'glove-like' fit, it is soft and supple over my entire foot. No pinching or rubbing anywhere." After a short break-in, Danny was thrilled with the comfort. "Out of the box, I was slightly worried about the Prince T20s. The upper and toe box region of the shoe was rubbing the outside of my right foot the wrong way. I experienced slight discomfort for about 4 hours, or 2 trips to the courts. After the initial break-in, though, this was actually a really comfortable shoe for aggressive tennis playing and casual wear. I liked the overall cushioning, along with the heel and surrounding heel cushioning."
Jason was impressed by the cushioned feel, but felt the fit was a bit tight for his wide feet. "From the moment I tried on these shoes, I felt that they were one of the most well cushioned shoes I've ever worn. I wasn't sure how it was going to translate on the court, maybe they were too cushioned, but it wasn't the case. Cushioning aside, the overall fit and feel of the shoe was nice, but the toe box was just a touch too narrow for me." Paul appreciated how comfortable the T20s were. "I was very impressed with the comfort and cushioning of these shoes. They were very similar to the Prince MC4, which received one of the highest ratings in this category by our playtesters."
Chris was impressed by both the supple cushioning as well as the fit. "I found a very comfortable fit and ride from these shoes. Walking around in them, they offered a very soft and pillow-like ride. On court, I continued to find a very high level of cushioning. As the test progressed the shoes molded to the shape of my feet and the comfortable fit continued to improve. The uppers felt very supple and the shoes flexed well, allowing for lots of comfort." Spencer gave top marks for comfort. "If my feet could express pleasure they would have said 'Ahhh!' when I put these shoes on. The most cushioned tennis shoe I've worn. On top of that, the fit was good for me. I could pull the laces tight and not be worried about any break-in issues. Straight from the box and onto the court, there was no pinching, sliding, or discomfort whatsoever. Excellent job, Prince." Ryan K agreed. "I loved the cushioning in this shoe. I think this is the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn."
Our team found the arch support to fit a little lower than a medium height. Though a tad on the low side for him, Paul felt the support held up well for the duration of the test. "The arch support and thick cushioned insole responded much like the Prince MC4. Low to medium in height, it held up throughout the test period and at work. If shoes don't have enough cushioning and arch support, I can really feel it by the end of the workday." Jason liked the low feel of the arches. "I had no problems with the arch because they seemed to be a bit lower than medium, which was great for my flat feet."
Ryan K thought the arches were just right. "The arch support fit my feet wonderfully." Granville agreed. "I didn't notice it and that is always a good thing. Just right for me."
Chris would've preferred a higher arch. "While not super supportive through the midfoot and arch, the T20s remained comfortable for the entire test. I never felt any untoward stress to my arches. The height of the support was appropriate for my arches, although ideally I would have like it to fit a tad higher." Spencer was happy with the comfort. "Though the support was decent, I would have preferred a little more reinforcement in the arch. However, this did not affect my play or comfort level with these shoes." Danny experienced plenty of support in the arch. "The arch support was a good fit for me. My arch felt more supported with this shoe than others. I will credit this to the arch bridge that Prince designed with the T20's."
Our team was impressed by the supportive fit of the T20s. Finding a secure feel was Jason. "I wouldn't say that my feet were locked in, but they were nice and secure. When sprinting from sideline to sideline, my feet seemed well supported. I thought that the uppers were a bit soft, though, and weren't as stiff and resistant to twisting as I would've liked." Chris was pleased with the support, but felt there was room for improvement with stability. "I found the T20s to be more comfort oriented than ultra stiff and stable. I never had any roll-over issues, but there wasn't much lateral stability from the midfoot shank or from the uppers. Support on the other hand was much better. The supple uppers allowed me to cinch the shoes very snugly around my feet to find a very supportive fit. My feet never slid around inside the shoes and I never had to worry about blisters etc." Ryan K also had no sliding issues with his narrow feet. "Even with my narrow feet, I felt good support and no sliding at all."
Danny liked the continued support and stability he finds with Prince shoes. "I wasn't surprised by how good the foot support and stability was with the Prince T20's. Most Prince shoes that I've tested are solid in this area. I don't think the shoes had a glove-like fit, but I felt like they firmly wrapped around my feet." Paul was pleased with the comfortable fit. "I liked the way these shoes molded to my medium wide feet. It felt like I had plenty of room. At first I was concerned that I could move my feet around inside the shoes, but I didn't experience ant foot slippage on court at all. Not a snug fit, but plenty of support. The mesh panels allowed these shoes to shape the lateral sides of my feet. Although, designed to reduce weight and ventilate, they reminded me of the Yonex SHT-305 SUPER ERGOSHAPE design (which I loved)."
Spencer was happy with the support. "I never felt in danger of rolling my ankles, even with hard-planting lateral direction changes, but the stability felt a tad soft. That being said, the fit of the shoe provided a glove-like, supportive fit."
Granville had some concerns with lateral stability. "These shoes are perhaps too comfortable for their own good. When in play, the cushioning around the perimeter of the outsole does give me a sense that I can roll over. Additionally, they are so supple and flexible that they lack some stability in the mid-foot area. I think some players may find this to their liking. Either way, once my ankle braces are on - nothing's holding me back."
Overall Sole Durability
As we've found with most Prince tennis shoes we tested, outsole durability was impressive with the T20s. Spencer was pleasantly surprised with the durability. "Getting such a soft cushioned feel from the get-go, along with the court gripping traction, I had a feeling these wouldn't last all too long. Gladly, my feeling was wrong in that the wear on the soles was very good. I'm getting a lot of mileage out of them." Finding the outsole to be more durable than other aspects of the shoes was Danny. "The sole didn't take too much of a beating from what I noticed. The upper portions of the shoes had noticeable signs of wear compared to the outsoles."
Finding improved durability in this latest edition of the T-Series was Paul. "I found good outsole durability. It was seemingly more rugged than the preceding Prince T-9, T-10 and MC4." Jason was happy with the durability results. "The first real signs of wear and tear were on the front lateral side of the shoe. Everywhere else, the rubber seemed to hold up pretty well."
Ryan K was pleased with the lasting results. "The sole on this shoe is awesome. I usually can see a good amount of wear on my shoes after 20 hours, but this shoe hasn't shown any significant signs of wear." Granville felt the durability was up to standard. "I did not notice any unusual wear. The outsole seems to hold up very well and in some very harsh conditions (heat and dirt on court.)" Chris saw minimal signs of wear during his playtest. "I was impressed by the durability of the shoes. At the end of the test I saw only minimal wear to the forefoot region of the outsoles. The rest of the outsoles looked to be in perfect condition."
At the toe of the shoes, the outsole wraps up to protect the toe tip. The upper is reinforced above the tip and around the medial side of the toe box to improve durability. Jason felt the toe bumper held up well. "The scuff guard seems to be made out of a very durable material and it showed during the playtest. The integrity of the material was not compromised as there was no actual tearing into the uppers, only light scratches and marks to the guard." Ryan K noticed a little wear, though nothing abnormal. "I can see a little wear on the uppers and the stitching in the toe, but nothing that would worry me of wearing through anytime soon."
Chris for the most part, was pleased. "The rubber toe-bumpers held up very well for the duration of the test. The abrasion resistant material above the toe-bumpers also held up well with the most wear coming at the stitching that runs along the toe." Danny had no concerns with wear. "I wasn't worried about the toe durability. The toe seemed to hold up well. Most Prince shoes perform well with aggressive play and the T20 was no exception."
A full herringbone tread pattern with pivot point provided impressive hard court traction for our testers. Danny felt the traction was right in line with the support and stability. "With good foot support and stability came good traction. I was confident with my movement and aggressive play. The Herringbone tread pattern is classic, however it was also very effective. Traction for Prince shoes is usually good and consistent, and the T20s didn't disappoint."
Paul enjoyed the response of the tread in the T20s. "Impressive grip. I felt quite comfortable when pushing the limits in these shoes. From launching off to return high velocity serves to serve and volley split-steps, the T20s responded very favorably." Ryan K was pleased. Period. "The traction here was as good as it gets for hard court play."
Granville had some issues with consistency. "I did hit the ground during this play test after an unwanted slide. Conversely, when I went to slide I did not. I attribute this to the 90+ degree temperature where I played my last match in these shoes. I offered the very solid score of "4" as in just about every instance the shoes responded as I had expected." Jason experienced some slippage when making hard plants. "Whether it was starting, stopping or a quick change of direction, I encountered some slippage issues. The problem really only came on hard sprints, otherwise, the traction held up well." Spencer felt the T20 sustained excellent traction throughout the playtest and beyond. "I was very impressed with the traction. This soft feeling outsole seems to sink its teeth into the hard court when changing direction. I've put more time than usual on these shoes, and they have continued to hug the court."
Chris was also impressed by the level of traction he found in the shoes. "I found lots of traction from these shoes. The outsole gripped the court very well. The flexibility of the shoes allowed the outsoles to stay in contact with the court. Even on aggressive lateral cuts, it didn't feel like the inside edge of the outsole was losing contact with the court surface."
Our testers found the middleweight spec of the T20s well suited to the overall performance of the shoes. Ryan K gladly accepted any weight considering the impressive durability. "Durable shoes always tend to feel a little sluggish. I would say I could feel some weight, but these were better than their competitors." Danny liked the light feel of the T20. "I felt like the shoes played lighter than listed. The Prince T20s would be great shoes for those tennis players who spend a lot of time on the tennis court or those who rely on their endurance."
Jason was impressed with the lightweight feel of the shoes. "Sometimes, a lightweight shoe on paper doesn't feel so lightweight on the court, but this was not the case. I was pleasantly surprised at how light the shoes felt because they provided great cushioning. From my experience, a well cushioned shoe is not necessarily lightweight, case in point, the Adidas Barricade IV's."
Paul enjoyed the dual purpose of the mesh panels. "The mesh panels provided excellent ventilation and must have contributed to the very maneuverable lightweight feel. At 15.5 ounces (size 10.5) per shoe, the T20s were deceptively light. At first glance, I expected these shoes to feel bulky and feel unresponsive around the court. It didn't take long to realize that I was cruising around the court effortlessly."
Granville felt the weight was in line with the other attributes the T20 offered. "Good (light) weight for a shoe that is comfortable and provides such awesome cushioning. I am very impressed with this shoe." The weight of the shoes did not affect Chris' play. "The weight of the shoes was not an issue for me. The T20s never felt heavy or clunky. The flexibility of the shoes allowed them to move with my feet and I never thought about their weight during play." The weight also went unnoticed by Spencer. "The shoes offered enough weight to feel supportive yet not so much weight to feel hunkered down. I noticed that I didn't notice the weight. That's good."
Offered in more traditional, classic looking colorways, the Prince T20 may not immediately catch the attention of fans of aggressive looking shoe styles. This is where the proverbial saying of "Don't judge a book by its cover" comes in, because if you pass on this shoe based on its aesthetics, you will be missing out on a true treat for your feet. While the styling might be understated, our playtest team could not ignore the outstanding comfort and cushioning. The soft and supple cushioning offered a comfort that was difficult to match on an everyday basis. With sufficient support and stability along with a six-month durability guarantee, the Prince T20 makes an excellent option for the frequently competing tennis player.