Our verdict

The Adidas Harden Stepback 3 is good news to those who want to perform like they're on the NBA but they don't have the NBA's players salary. This shoe worked wonders when we were in a triple threat position or when we tried any related moves. If you are more of an offensive player or go for that post up plays, we totally recommend it. It's definitely one of the best picks in its price range. Give it a shot, you'll definitely score!

Pros

  • Incredibly good traction
  • A lot of court feel
  • Accommodates orthotics
  • Comfortable wraparound fit
  • Sufficiently supportive
  • Wide platform for stability
  • Great for centres and guards
  • Affordable

Cons

  • A bit weighty
  • Not the most breathable
  • Poor upper durability

Audience verdict

88
Great!

Who should buy

Point guards, shooting guards and pivots are gonna love this shoe, and you might as well if...

  • you have a limited budget
  • you need something wide that keeps your feet in place
  • you love explosive moves or posting up
  • you think the best defence is a good ofence

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 who should buy

Who should NOT buy

This shoe's sole makes it perfect for pivots' moves. But if you're more of a heavy player and need that extra impact protection for your rebounds, we suggest you try the Nike Lebron 20.

If you're looking for an economic pair that will be your teammate for a while, we think you should go for the durable Nike Ja 1.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 who should not buy

Breathability

We started the Adidas Harden Stepback 3's big lab day with our breathability test. With our smoke-pumping machine, we check the shoe's breathability by the amount of smoke that goes through its upper.

As you can see, not much is coming out. Feeling a bit toasty, aren't we?

Basketball shoes are normally not as well-ventilated as we would think. Thing is, if you want them to last, you'll need to use sturdy materials in their design. This usually means that you'll have to sacrifice some breathability for durability.

By using a bright light, we can see if the shoe has some holes or pores that would let that light, as well as some air, come through.

But... we're afraid you're the one who's gotta be flashy here, pal! Zero transparency!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Breathability

We used our microscope to look at its material closely. Check how tightly woven it is!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Breathability

In conclusion, we've decided to give it a 2/5, which is pretty close to the average.

If you don't want your feet to become the Niagara Falls after hours and hours of playing, have a look at the breathable Nike Lebron Witness 7. It scored a wonderful 4/5 on this same test!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 2
Average 2.4
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

As we've seen in the previous category, this shoe's breathability is slightly lower than average.

And... does that mean that it's a sturdy pair, then?

Well, not quite! By just looking at the first seconds of this video of our Dremel going all out in the toebox, we can see how the materials start flying around!

And not in the cool Michael Jordan 5-metre jump dunk it in typa fly, more in the "get this thing away from me" way of flying!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Toebox durability 2

As we can see, there is some damage, but it's actually not thaaaaat bad.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Toebox durability both

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 (right) vs. Adidas Trae Young 2 (left)

Okay, okay, its toe box isn't as durable as the Trae Young 2's. But, to be fair, the Harden Stepback 3 is also way cheaper! 50 dollars even!

So a 3/5 in our toebox durability test doesn't sound that bad anymore, huh?

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 3
Average 3.8
Compared to 41 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Not strong at the front, and... not very strong at the back either!

After seeing the one-to-one attack our Dremel pulled off on the Harden Stepback 3, we closed our eyes and called for Kawhi Leonard to help with the defence!

We had to give this shoe a mere 2/5 in our heel padding durability test. Uh-oh!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Heel padding durability

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 2
Average 3.6
Compared to 38 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

But Harden is not the one to give up, and neither are his shoes!

This pair came back stronger with its sole. Using a durometer to check its hardness, we found that it's way higher than many other hoop models.

With a promising score of 85.5 HC, its hard-wear outsole is here to save the day!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Outsole hardness

Also, as we can see in the picture, the rubber from the sole comes up all the way up to the sides of the shoe. Not only protecting its foam, but also our feet!

Point guards will absolutely love this when the coach calls for a one-on-one defence, and shooting guards will definitely find it useful to avoid extending their stance in the offence. The sole's material is grippy enough to keep you on your feet even if you need to do extra quick moves like those.

Work hard, play hard!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 85.5 HC
Average 81.7 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
59.5 HC
Outsole hardness
91.0 HC

Outsole durability

Wait up, wait up... We might not actually need to ask "The Claw" for help in our defence strategy.

When we performed our outsole durability test and went full offensive with our Dremel, we were absolutely flabbergasted with the results.

22 seconds of constant damage here. And the Hard Stepback 3's outsole is like: "Sorry, did you call?".

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Outsole durability

Our tread gauge showed 0.2 mm of damage when the average is around 1 mm. We're trying to stay calm here, but listen up. Not even some specific mountain models are THAT strong.

The Harden Stepback 3? Yeah, easy peasy. Basically unbothered.

Do you think this what Shaq feels when you bump into him?

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 0.2 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 29 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Before we move on, let's not forget we're talking about an affordable pair of basketball shoes here!

When we measured this shoe's outsole with a calliper, we found it to be lower than average at 3.6 mm.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Outsole thickness

Even though this would mean that the shoe would not be the best for outdoor use, its outsole hardness and durability might let you enjoy some hoops in the sun.

When we went balling to an outdoor court, we did not feel the sole was specifically weak or about to break.

It let us enjoy some cool free shots out there too.

Game on, Harden Stepback 3!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 sole 2

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 3.6 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.9 mm

Weight

When we put this shoe on our scale, we realised it's almost 20 g heavier than average with its 14.9 oz (422.0g)!

To be honest, most Harden's shoes aren't what we'd call featherlight, so we weren't that surprised.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Weight

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 14.89 oz (422g)
Average 13.90 oz (394g)
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.29 oz (320g)
Weight
17.46 oz (495g)

Cushioning

When we measured the forefoot stack, our calliper showed 21.0 mm.

This is just slightly lower than the category's average, but don't worry, the ball of your feet will be protected from any impacts when you go for a rebound!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Forefoot stack

Heel stack

If you love basketball as much as we do, you probably already know that cushioning is a key feature your shoes must have.

We need our landing to be as safe as possible, protecting our knees and ankles from any potential injury.

So we KNOW you're gonna love the fact that the Harden Stepback 3 has a higher heel stack than average!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Heel stack

It's just 5% though, so if you're a big player (in every single aspect of the word) or your joints tend to hurt and you're looking for something more plush for your jumps, we recommend the Reebok Question Mid.

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 31.5 mm
Average 29.3 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
23.6 mm
Heel stack
38.4 mm

Forefoot stack

When we measured the forefoot stack, our calliper showed 21.0 mm.

This is just slightly lower than the category's average, but don't worry, the ball of your feet will be protected from any impacts when you go for a rebound!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Forefoot stack

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 21.0 mm
Average 21.7 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
18.0 mm
Forefoot stack
29.2 mm

Drop

The Adidas Harden Stepback 3 makes 2vs1 sound easy.

The heel-to-toe difference in this pair is 10.5 mm. We were pretty impressed by this, as it's 21% higher than the average!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Drop

But... what does this actually mean? Well, as the stack height at the front part is slightly lower than average, the ground feel is a bit better.

At the same time, this difference shows that your heel will land happily every time you jump.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Lug depth

Great combo, Adidas!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 10.5 mm
Average 7.7 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
4.0 mm
Drop
14.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

But... alright, we admit it. This is not the most plush basketball shoe out there.

Our durometer had something to say about this, but so do we!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Midsole softness

With a score of 21.6 HA, the Harden Stepback's midsole softness is lower than average.

Yet, when we played ball with it on, we did not feel like that at all! Our feet were comfortable and protected, and our knees did not ask even once for some mercy!

If you're still looking for a pair with a softer cushioning that won't cost you an arm and a leg (maybe just one hand, though), have a look at the Jordan Luka 1.

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 21.6 HA
Average 25.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
38.6 HA

Insole thickness

Padded insoles usually add some extra cushioning to the shoe.

At 3.8 mm... this pair's insole is slightly thinner than average. So no extra plush here, our calliper says!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Insole thickness

You might think this is bad news. But what if we told you that this translates into a better ground feel?

Not so bad anymore, huh?

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 3.8 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Another key part of basketball shoes: stability.

This is a low-top pair, which meant our ankles moved freely to perform back-door cuts or change-of-pace dribbles.

Still, it's really important that our feet feel safe. And, honestly, they did!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 lace detail

Even though that extra lace you can see at the side heel is just for aesthetic purposes, the lace-up closure of this shoe kept our feet locked in comfortably.

Despite not being a high or mid-top pair, the Adidas Harden Stepback 3 gave us the confidence we needed in our step. And it wasn't only the laces, its tight fit helped a lot too!

Torsional rigidity

As stiff as a good block, the Harden Stepback 3 got a 5/5 on our torsional rigidity test!

We tried bending, twisting, squeezing, and everything in between. But nope! It refused to do so!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 5
Average 4.5
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Are you familiar with the term pick and roll in basketball? If so, the stiffness difference of this shoe regarding torsional rigidity and heel counter could easily be explained by that.

In other words, once you block (you stand still) you roll over with your hand up to get a pass (smooth moves again). So even though the Harden Stepback got a perfect score on its torsional rigidity test, it got a 2/5 on the heel counter stiffness one.

The meaning of this? Well, the overall structure of the shoe will protect your feet from getting hurt, and the plushness of the heel will make you forget about hot spots and blisters.

Time out talk: Even though this figure is lower than average, we did not feel there would be any heel slippage or any of the kind.

Back to the game!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 2
Average 3.6
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

A wider midsole equals a wider platform to land. This also means that you'll feel more confident when jumping, which sums up our experience playing with this shoe pretty well!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the widest part of the midsole at the forefoot at 117.0 mm, so it's wider than average! We really felt surefooted with these baddies on.

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 117.0 mm
Average 114.5 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
106.2 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
122.2 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Following the forefoots path, the width in the heel is also higher than average. At 96.4 mm, we felt the platform of this shoe was wonderful.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Midsole width in the heel

But this does not only mean that the shoe accommodates wide feet. Let us tell you that, after playing for some time in the sun, our feet started swelling. This is totally normal, though, but if your foot grows, you'll obviously need a wider surface for it, right?

Thanks to the Harden Stepback 3, we felt ready for anything even after some time playing.

Jump ball, ref!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 96.4 mm
Average 90.4 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
82.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
105.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We were left in awe after finding this out.

But wait, wait. Let's build up expectations. Before we say anything to you, just have a look at this video:

What we're doing is using a gauge to measure how much force it takes to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle. And it doesn't seem like it's putting a lot of effort, right? Turns out it was just 38.2N!

Even though this is lower than average, we know from previous tests that this pair is not the Nadia Comăneci of basketball shoes. So, wow! Great surprise!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 38.2N
Average 39.8N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
23.8N
Stiffness
67.2N

Grip / Traction

Another win!

The traction of this pair on the court is just phenomenal!

Look at that!! Our feet landed right where we intended to, just wonderful! No slips, no instability, no wobbliness. Just the Adidas Harden Stepback 3 biting the court like a lion!

If we look at the sole closely, it has 3 different pivot discs. This means that we can pivot easily with them right before or after passing. This comes in really handy for pivots, as many of their moves posting up rely on this kind of turning motion.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 sole

It's true that pivots are usually tall and heavy (not all of them, though). And this shoe does not have the plushiest sole out there to support heavier players or their jumping. Still, its platform is wide enough to keep them safe, so it's not like we totally advise these types of players to stay away from this pair!

But not only pivots are gonna love it. Look at its multidirectional pattern right there. Can you see those waves? That means that you can easily try many types of cuts, steps in, and steps back with it.

And it's usually guards and forwards who go for these quick and unexpected moves!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 back

So whichever position you play, don't hesitate and give it a shot! (Like, literally!).

Size and fit

Internal length

This pair is not only wider than the average, but also longer!

With an internal length of 274.2 mm, people with big feet should have no problems enjoying this shoe. Our average-size ones loved it!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Internal length

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 274.2 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

Wider, wider, and... wider again!

We measured the Harden Stepback 3's toebox width at the widest part with our calliper at 107.0 mm. MVP of the beating average scores game!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Toebox width at the widest part

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 107.0 mm
Average 101.5 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
92.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

And the same goes for the big toe!

At 78.8 mm, wide footers have nothing to fear.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Toebox width at the big toe

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 78.8 mm
Average 76.7 mm
Compared to 44 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
71.2 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
85.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue of this shoe is what we call bootie type.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Tongue: gusset type

It's attached to the sides but not all the way up, and it has a loop in the middle to offer a lock-in feel. Even though it's not an incredibly padded tongue, it hugs your feet comfortably and it doesn't move around.

We can see the different loops, as we mentioned before, right in the middle of the tongue and a little bit up, and on the sides and at the beginning of the toebox.

Apart from being very stylish, these pieces will also make sure the shoe's laces wrap around your fit nicely and safely.

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 Bootie

Comfort

Tongue padding

Even though the padding of the Harden Stepback 3's tongue got a lower score than average, we didn't feel any tongue bits or hotspots when we were having fun in the court.

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Tongue padding

You might see this as a disadvantage, but let's think about it twice.

In the previous tests, this shoe got a lower-than-average breathability but a higher-than-average weight. In fact, if you recheck the video of this first test, you can see that the smoke is actually coming out from the shoe in the tongue section.

So, in order to keep things balanced, its designer probably decided to include less padding in the tongue.

Smart move, Adidas!

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 8.3 mm
Average 9.5 mm
Compared to 50 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1.3 mm
Tongue padding
15.9 mm

Heel tab

This shoe has 2 finger loops at the back. Even though the small one is there probably just to look cute (and it really does) we've found this very helpful.

Like, imagine your feet are already swollen because of the heat. Or worse... you're late for training and that means you gotta run suicide drills. You're most likely thinking: "Oh, please, no. Just no, anything but that!".

Anyone who has tried that exercise knows how incredibly exhausting it is. So, even though this pair has a big opening, that might not be enough to put it on in a rush. This is where the finger loop shines! Hurry up, put your feet inside, and start pulling.

Let's make running out of time also running away from punishments!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 heel loop

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 Finger loop

Removable insole

Remember we mentioned before that this shoe sacrifices plushness in order to get some extra ground feel?

If you wanna change that, you can just use custom orthotics with it. The Adidas Harden Stepback 3 has a removable insole!

Adidas Harden Stepback 3 Removable insole

Test results
Harden Stepback 3 Yes