Verdict from 10 experts and 95 user reviews

11 reasons to buy

  • Many users consider the Kobe 8 System as the most ventilated Kobe basketball shoe.
  • At around 9.6 oz., the Kobe 8 is said to be one of the lightest shoes in Nike's roster.
  • A couple of testers say that the mesh upper wraps around the foot securely, ensuring a snug fit.
  • The eighth Kobe System fits true to size and does not leave any dead room within the shoe.
  • Most wearers say that the storied herringbone pattern on the outsole performs well. Light wipes are all that’s needed to keep the shoe’s traction effective even on dusty courts.
  • A number of wearers love the comfort that the Lunarlon insert provides. "One of the most comfortable shoes ever," a tester remarks.
  • Because the midsole is usually the first thing that wears down in a shoe, one tester appreciates the fact that the Kobe 8 System’s midsole is easily replaceable.
  • Some users prefer these low-top Kobe shoes over the regular mid-tops because these signature sneakers allow them to wear ankle braces easily.
  • Because the upper is made of a thin material, the Kobe 8 System is reinforced with an internal cage to deliver the amount of support that surprise a few wearers.
  • Despite being a low-top, several purchasers comment that the shoe still offers ample ankle support. Reviewers say the same about the Under Armour Curry 6 and the Nike Kobe AD of 2018.
  • Most shoe owners describe the colorways of the Kobe 8 System as stylish and unique, making it look great both on and off the court.

2 reasons not to buy

  • The outsole rubber is quite soft and will burn fast when used on outdoor courts, the majority of users say.
  • One reviewer experiences internal slipping when he is in the Kobe 8 System; however, the issue was fixed after changing his Nike Elite socks into regular cotton ones.  

Bottom line

Overall, the majority of expert reviewers agree that among Kobe’s low-top shoes, the Kobe 8 is the best of the best. One tester says it perfectly, “The Kobe 8 System is the pinnacle of refinement from the V to VII.” Additionally, the shoe is considered as one of the best guard shoes of its time; and this goes even without mentioning that the low-top shoe can be rocked on-court and casually with its different colorways.

Tip: see the best basketball shoes.

Good to know

Since the fourth shoe, the Kobe line has been specializing in low-top, minimalist basketball shoes that have taken the industry by storm. Nike culminates the four-year effort in the perfected Kobe 8 that features the best of the best from the past four low-tops. The shoe features an engineered mesh upper, a Lunarlon insert as its midsole, and a pliable rubber outsole.

Cushion. A thick full-length Lunarlon insert acts as the Kobe 8 System’s midsole. The Lunarlon absorbs the force of impact and disperses it evenly, making the experience a lot easier on the joints and muscles.

Traction. Two types of patterns are featured on the Kobe 8 System's outsole. The traditional herringbone is on the medial forefoot and the lateral side of the heel. These areas are where the foot is usually planted, so they sure need a secure grip. The lateral side of the forefoot features diamond-esque shapes that resemble a snake’s head. This pattern runs across the outsole. At the ball of the foot is a small pivot circle.

Length and Width. The shoe fits true to size. One reviewer describes the fit as the same as the Kobe VI’s. If you have tried those shoes on, you can get the same size. If not, you are safe to stay with your standard Nike basketball shoe size.

Lockdown. The upper steals the show for the shoe's lockdown as the engineered mesh is soft and pliable enough to wrap and conform to the shape of the foot. The tongue is padded in the center, allowing the laces to be tightened as much as possible without the foot feeling constricted or pinched.

The TPU heel cage also contributes to the Kobe 8 System's secure fit as it limits the heel’s movements, ensuring no slipping within the shoe.

The Kobe 8 System has a thin, lightweight, and breathable Engineered Mesh upper. A thin layer of fuse lines the mesh as reinforcement while an internal support cage helps keep the shoe's structure. A stiff TPU heel counter and an arched midfoot plate keep the shoe stable and supportive.

The Lunarlon insert makes up the shoe's midsole. Together with the rubber outsole, they bring flexibility to the shoe.

As a low-top shoe, the eighth Kobe iteration does not stray far from the previous low-top models. However, for this model, more references to Kobe Bryant’s “The Black Mamba” alter- ego are inserted into the shoe’s design such as the diamond-shaped snake head on the shoe’s outsole and the geometric patterns on the upper that point to the reptile’s skin.

The stripes on the heel of the shoe are meant to be paired with the Nike Kobe 8 Elite Basketball sock as they complete the Kobe Sheath logo when worn together. On the shoe’s sole are four symbols that stand for “accuracy, speed, vision, and focus.”

One thing about the Kobe 8 System is that each colorway of the shoe tells a different story or uses a different graphic. The color combinations are quite flashy. Here are some of the popular colorways of the shoe:

Nike Kobe 8 System Blackout

Coming in an all black upper and midsole, the Blackout colorway was the shoe worn by Kobe Bryant in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers where Bryant dropped 42 points for the Los Angeles Lakers but still lost in a 100-94 game. Although the first to be seen in public, the colorway isn’t the colorway that the Kobe 8 System debuted in.

Nike Kobe 8 System Sulfur

Released in December 2012, the official debut colorway of the Kobe 8 System is the Sulfur colorway that comes in black/street grey-vivid sulfur-electric yellow. The colors are heavily inspired by a snake’s thermal vision ability.  The designers of the shoe tried to incorporate heat data from the athlete and snakeskin.

Bryant first wore the shoe in a game against the New York Knicks. Despite losing the game in a 116-107 fight, Bryant scored 31 points that night.

Nike Kobe 8 System Year of the Snake

2013 was known to be the Year of the Snake, and in true Mamba fashion a snake-inspired colorway was released (Not that the shoe couldn't get any more snake-themed!). It featured Port Wine/Pure Platinum/Team Red/Bright Citrus colors in a geometric patterned upper.

The shoe was worn by Bryant on their Valentine’s day game against the Los Angeles Clippers where he garnered 20 points for the Los Angeles Lakers.


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The current trend of Nike Kobe 8 System.
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Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.