Nike Dart Parkour Shoe Review by Cody Robinson

Parkour Shoe Review- Nike Dart
Cody Robinson

Nike Dart full

 

I have used just about every Parkour specific shoe out there; but I will be the first to tell you that a generic running shoe by a well-known company is great for Parkour. Nike Darts have been on the market for as long as I can remember, but they shine as a Parkour shoe for more than one reason. I have used Darts since the 5th generation (now on gen 9), little has changed about the shoe, which make them a solid choice. They’re also affordable and durable. The strangest thing is that Darts have been consistently cheaper than other Nike shoes across the board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tech- First let me say that this shoe comes in both a mesh/trainer model as well as a leather model. I’ll be addressing the mesh trainer specifically. The shoe is made of the typical Nike mesh/synthetic build on the outside. Nike Dart close up

This material takes a pounding, though the threading on the gen 7’s can fray a bit near the outside toe portion of the shoe. This problem has seemed to be addressed in the gen 9’s (what you’ll find in stores). The sole is made from Nike’s “Phylon” rubber. Providing consistent grip on all surfaces (more on that later). I’ve always been happy with the bonding used in Darts, they seem to over use glue and threading (which adds to weight), but that also makes for a wickedly solid shoe.  TECH- 8/10

 

 

 

 

 

Nike Dart sole

Grip- The main point I’ve always preached about Darts is that they might not have the same grip as 5.10’s on brick, or Feiyues on rails, but they have consistent grip across the board. The Phylon rubber is used in a large amount of Nike running shoes for a good reason; it’s predictable. With correct form, grip on course brick is excellent, but natural feeling. Grip on slick brick isn’t much worse. They naturally work great on concrete (that’s what they’re made for), but are also very nice on rails. Rails tend to get special treatment in the Parkour community when it comes to rubber types. I reality, what it comes down to is the shoes ability to form around the rail to get a “hold” on the rail. Since the Dart’s Phylon rubber is also consistent on metal, it helps, but the main thing that helps them on rails is the foam padding on top of the sole. This allows the shoe to form around the rail. Also, the arch is rubber, so it will not surprise you if you land funny. What sets the Dart apart from the KO, Kalenji, Ariake, or Feiyue is the WAFFLE SOLE. I train on a University. So grass is very common (sorry city folk). As a result I have found that slick soled shoes can cause traction issues on grass when jumping, rolling, and turning. A waffle sole allows the wearer to move from concrete to grass with little change in traction. In conclusion, the Darts have the most versatile grip among shoes being used for Parkour today. If 5.10’s and Feiyues received 10’s in their respective surfaces, The Darts would get 8’s across the board.

Grip- a SOLID 9/10 (for versatility)







Durability- I discussed the build in the Tech section. This shoe is durable, no doubt, although the older generations have had a small cosmetic issue with the synthetic area on the outside toe area coming unstitched. Gen 9 does not have this issue! I’m into my second pair of Gen 9 with no issue. I haven’t experienced any toe sole rubber peeling off. The sole is thick enough to endure my hard style and training 2-3 times a week for 4 months before thinking about buying another pair. The soles break in, and around the 3-4 month mark, may make you think about buying a new pair due to not having the support they once had. 

Durability 8/10


Comfort- I have read generic reviews on other shoe sites about the darts that complain about arch support. I have very high arches and have not experienced any pain or discomfort there. Like I said before though, the shoes are great after a week of wear, but you might notice the foam padding beginning to become unbalanced after month 3-4. The Dart’s comfort level is what you would expect from a heavier padded running shoe. 

Comfort 9/10

Padding- These shoes have thicker foam padding as well as a waffle sole. I’ve had problem with minimalist shoes in the past giving you acorn bruises from stepping on rocks and accidently landing hard. The Dart does not have this problem. The padding is not excessive though. You can still very much feel the ground beneath you. They are still flexible once broken in, but retain enough rigidity to protect your toes and the balls of your feet. Also it’s good to note that the heel padding is great when you do that perfect heal landing onto a curb. It is fairly forgiving. Padding 10/10


Flexibility- If flexibility were determined by Feiyues being the most flexible and combat boots being the least. Darts would get a 7. Personally I chose Darts due to the running shoe style as opposed to the minimalist. If your looking for a slipper, they may not be your style. But they are by no means stiff or rigid.

Flexibilty 7/10

Nike Dart side


Comparisons -5.10- Darts are much more flexible than 5.10’s, but do not have the stealth rubber grip on brick/concrete. They have much more versitle grip though, and they are more flexible. They also have great grip on grass, which 5.10’s are horrible with. 5.10’s can feel like boots. Darts feel like running shoes.
        KO- The grip is about the same. However the Dart offers a thicker sole that lasts longer. The waffle sole wins again as the KO is a slick bottom. The KO is a bit more flexible. There is no comparison between build quality! The Dart is made by a reputable company which has specialized in shoes for decades. The KO is a flimsy piece of commercialized junk that falls apart in the first weeks (sometimes first days) of use.
        Ariake III- I didn’t wear the original Ariake. The Ariake III’s are wonderful. The rubber is slightly stickier than the Dart. They are a bit more flexible, but are more prone to give acorn bruising. I also found the Ariakes to not be as durable as the Dart, which is a bit unacceptable since the A3’s are 150 bucks as opposed to the $50 tag on Darts.
        Innov-8 F-lite PK Series- I’m including this series of shoes since they still market them as a Parkour shoe. I wore the 320’s the 301’s and the 230’s. I stopped wearing them due to the high price tag and the decreased durability. They have about the same grip and also have a waffle sole. The Innov-8’s are more flexible, but surprisingly protect against acorn bruising quite well.

Conclusion-  The Nike Dart is a time tested, street proven model of shoe. It’s no wonder that Traceurs in the US are buying them more than ever. They provide a versatile shoe that is equipped for consistency in all conditions. They used to only set you back around $30, the price has increased to $50, but is still very acceptable for such a quality shoe.







About the Author- Cody Robinson has been training since 2006. He is the founder and leader of Auburn Parkour. He is also a APK sponsored athlete. Cody is best known for his large size compared to other Traceurs ( 6’02’’ 200lbs). Cody’s style is said to be more based on strength and athleticism and focusing on the reality of foot chases. Cody has been a Police Officer for over 4 years and has had a large amount of actual foot pursuits in his daily patrol work.
Contact Cody at: cody@americanparkour.com


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Written by Mark Toorock   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 12:24
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 13:17