Nike Cosmic Unity Review: OUTDOOR Performance Breakdown

Materials made up of 25% recycled trash. A full-length Zoom strobel. A name that lets you know this one is serious. Let’s put all this hype aside, take away the environment-friendly marketing push from Nikey and break it all down in this in-depth 2-month OUTDOOR Nike Cosmic Unity review.

I’ll break down the shoe’s fit & comfort aspects, on-court performance & versatility, value for the $$$, and provide potential alternatives. If the shoe happens to be a banger – you’ll have a flagship performer which also happens to at least partially contribute to protecting the environment.

Never thought I’d say that about a Nike product.



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Nike Cosmic Unity Review: Spec SheetPin






In a hurry? Here’s the gist of it: the Nike Cosmic Unity is a fantastic overall basketball sneaker that should make most players or styles satisfied. I said it.

It offers a comfy, secure fit and most guys should stick with TTS if you don’t want to end up comprosiming security.

The herringbone traction is nothing short of deadly and you’ll even be able to hoop outdoors for a while.

The Air Zoom strobel needs no introduction – it’s a stellar cushion setup that will give you impact protection and step comfort but since it’s so thin and sitting directly underfoot, you won’t be feeling mushy or unstable in these. It’s the complete setup.

Support is no slouch either thanks to a great fit & beefy tooling that cages the foot.

The comfy knit & textile build is made from 25% recycled materials but despite that, it’s a great upper for the money and we should expect nothing less for $150.

The only slight downside is I never reached a consistent, optimal level of comfort being a wide footer. The widest of feet will likely experience the same thing but it was still playable.

The alternatives would be the Air Jordan 34 to accommodate a wide foot better and the ANTA RR5 if you’re on a tight budget but want a similarly performing shoe.

> The full review is below


Do they fit TTS or should you adjust? What’s the comfort level? Anything else you should know?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: TopPin
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The Nike Cosmic Unity should fit most people true to their size. Expect a snug, almost one-to-one fit with minimal room for your toes, as well as width-wise.

If you like a roomier fit, you could go up half a size but I don’t really see much benefit with that for most people. Especially with more forgiving textile-based builds such as this one.

The upper allows for stretch to mold to your foot and you’ll likely end up feeling more secure with your regular size. I was never a huge advocate for going up from your regular size as long as it’s not needed.

This fabric upper won’t do you any good if there’s more room inside than it should be.

For wide footers, I’d still recommend going true to size despite the frame being on the snug side. I’m a prominent wide footer myself and even though the first couple of weeks weren’t a picnic, I’m glad I stuck with them as these fit me pretty well now.

It’s still not the best option for wide footers though, let me make that clear.

The last, especially at the forefoot area, is definitely on the narrow side and even though the upper did stretch out to an extent, my feet never got to a point where it’s a 100% consistent, comfortable fit.

It might be fine for one day, and then I’d feel the suffocation the next day, especially during lateral movements or when the shoe bends torsionally. It can be annoying at times but it’s acceptable overall.

So if you really want to try out the Cosmic Unity while being a wide footer – it’s OK, your feet won’t suffer from a stroke.

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: BackPin
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Provided you got the size right for you and gave the shoe some time to adjust & break in, the end experience in terms of comfort is solid as it was for me.

The shoe definitely gives you a super-secure feel mainly due to the beefy midsole coming up and cupping your foot all throughout the shoe.

Weight distribution seems alright, as I’ve never felt bottom-heavy with these. However, the shoe is on the heavier side. I usually don’t really care about the weight as it’s just a number and doesn’t really mean anything on the court.

This time though, the combination of some seriously beefy midsoles that don’t move too much with your feet as well as an overall heavier weight did bring up a slightly clunky feel initially.

The midsoles are definitely stiff and barely budge during the first few sessions but that wasn’t much of an issue going forward.

Patience is key with the Cosmic Unity, as the experience after 1-2 weeks felt great.

Not the lightest feeling shoe ever nor the quickest or most minimal one either but if that’s not #1 on your priority list, you should end up feeling just fine in the shoe. Unless you’re super picky.


Does it bite various surfaces under different conditions? How long will these last outdoors?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: OutsolePin
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If you’ve followed some older Nikey shoes back in the day or you still got a soft spot for some classics – the outsoles on the Cosmic Unity should definitely ring a bell for you.

Forget about “next-gen” outsoles, computer-generated patterns or any other marketing gimmicks brands love to throw at us.

This is straight-up herringbone in the rawest way possible. Solid rubber, a nicely spaced-out pattern, and mildly deep groves for coverage no matter the movement.

I exclusively hooped in these outdoors on two surfaces: a traditional blacktop and a synthetic rubber court.

Badass traction, consistent, not overly prone to picking up debris from the ground either, so all you have to do is lace ’em up and forget about them. Seriously, I don’t even have much more to talk about.

The traction on the Cosmic Unity works really well and I have no reason to believe they don’t perform a similar way indoors.

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: TractionPin
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As for long-term outdoor play, things aren’t as peachy but they aren’t terrible either.

While this pattern might bring some classic vibes out of you, the rubber used isn’t the most durable herringbone variant I’ve seen, even when stacked up against other modern releases.

However, there’s always a however now isn’t it. I’m just under two months in with these – the rubber is definitely fraying along the sides, the forefoot, and most other high-use areas.

But the awesome thing is, these bite just as well as they did with the rubber being new.

Do I think the shoe would last and perform the same way in a couple of years of pure outdoor play? No. But I do think these will last you a while if you don’t have better outdoor options at the moment.


What’s the level of impact absorption & energy return? What about step comfort, stability, and ride height?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: Side 1Pin
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A full-length Zoom Air strobel is sitting right under the foot and it’s every bit of awesome. Remember the KD 12’s and the KD 13’s full-length Zoom? Yeah, those were ridiculously fun setups to play in.

However, KD’s shoes are usually on the narrow side, and the cushion implementation those utilized made you ride fairly high off the ground. What do you get as a result? Questionable stability & lack of court feel.

Not to say maximum court feel is needed for everybody, but having a bit of everything is still awesome no matter what, and speaks volumes in catering to many different players/styles.

This is where the Cosmic Unity comes in. Or jumps in. This full-length Zoom strobel is sitting directly underfoot and it’s seriously thin. The moment I stepped on the court in these, I was shook. In a good way.

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: ResponsePin
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The cushion feels just as bouncy, explosive, and fun as it does on a KD 13/KD 14 but sits low to the ground as a Kyrie or a Curry shoe would. It’s every bit of awesome. There’s tons of impact protection even for the largest of players but you’re not going to feel slow in these as a result.

And don’t even think about feeling unstable either, as the aggressive midsole cupping & low to the ground ride take care of that.

This is Zoom Air done right. Not the usual “let’s shove a small, subdued Zoom unit in the forefoot/heel, make it visible and market it as an explosive setup” stuff we’re so used to getting from Nikey, sometimes even in the $150 range.

One thing though, make sure to give the midsole some time to soften up and adjust to your foot.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, it can feel a little stiff at first but once you play in them for some time, the shoe will start moving well with your foot and this is when you’ll realize the full potential of Zoom.


How much all-around support is offered? What about lockdown, containment, and possible restrictions?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: HeelPin
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There aren’t an abundant amount of support features shoved in here but that’s because they aren’t needed.

It’s all about the fit & the sculpting on the Cosmic Unity and I’ve had no security issues in my 1.5+ months of playtime as an explosive two-guard. So, it all starts with the fit.

The shoe provides you a snug, condensed fit that ensures security. The upper isn’t your sturdy leather or beefy plastic stuff but the fabrics used there are thick, stitched very well and as a result, I’ve had no foot containment issues even on the deadliest of lateral strides.

The platform of the shoe isn’t among the widest but it’s almost flat, so stability is on par as well. However, it is the midsole that handles a big part of the load in the support department.

As you can see, it comes up and cups your foot in forefoot & midfoot areas, as well as extends to the heel, acting as an absolutely HUGE external heel counter. I didn’t have any heel slippage but some reviews are reporting on it.

So regular/narrow footers – watch out for that. It does go away for all the testers I’ve seen online though.

Torsional support comes from the midsole and it’s fine. Nothing crazy once broken in, but enough for just about anyone. There were no awkward bends torsionally that would cause concern or anything like that.

All this bulk around your foot can feel a bit clunky but like I’ve said a few times now (hopefully this is the last one), it’s temporary.

I’d be lying if I said there aren’t any setups that are lighter, more minimal, and provide a similar amount of support but this setup here is completely solid.

And Nikey needed a reason to call this one the Cosmic Unity now didn’t they?


What are the upper materials? How do they perform on-foot? How’s the reliability of the build?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: UpperPin
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The upper utilizes knits & textiles. The tongue is also fabric with cut-out holes for some ventilation. The forefoot portion sports a thinner layer of knit while the back portion thickens things up, though the ankle area is a bit more stretchy for easier entry for one’s foot.

The lacing system is traditional, attached to Flywire cables that pull down the upper once you tighten the laces. The construction is a standard lace-and-tongue build.

We like to yap about “premium” setups or lack thereof. So many builds have fancy names attached to them which causes the consumer to believe it’s a high-quality choice.

And on the opposite, we’ve had plenty of setups that weren’t advertised as much but proved to be just as good as your Flyknits, Battletknits, or whatever.

This setup, made up of 25% recycled waste, doesn’t have a name but it’s really damn good.

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: LockdownPin
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I gotta be honest, I don’t really care much about the whole environment-friendly agenda here but all I know is that this upper’s comfy, wraps around the foot really well, it’s light, and it’s thick & reliable for a fabric.

Seriously, I always crowned the LeBron shoe series (mainly the 16, 17, and 18) for having the most durable knit-based uppers but the Cosmic Unity might just sneak into the back door.

It’s neatly stitched & layered, and I’m not seeing any serious damage almost two months in.

Would this upper lose in a durability battle to a leather Nikey Heritage N7? Sure. But if you’re looking for comfort, a high-quality build that also happens to last longer than a traditional knit, this is a very good choice.

The $150 price tag falls right in the KD territory but I think the Cosmic Unity is mostly a more versatile choice. Probably even a more durable choice as well. Not a bad price for flagship tech & materials.

And if you happen to support Nike’s Move to Zero movement, you’ll also be doing the environment a favor. A very marginal one but still a favor.


Rounding the Nike Cosmic Unity review up: are they versatile? Who’s best suited for it? Is it a good deal?

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: PairPin
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The Nike Cosmic Unity is a fantastic shoe from the Swoosh. It really does feel like more of a consumer-friendly product as opposed to the overpriced & overhyped stuff we’re getting so often these days.

The shoe works in all ways I put it through, and for $150, it’s not a cheap shoe but neither an overpriced one in my opinion when stacked against other signatures or higher tier team models of today’s era.


The Cosmic Unity fits true to size but be sure to give ’em some time to break in as the beefy tooling can feel stiff & clunky at first.

Traction is fantastic, and it should last you a while outdoors. The full-length Air Zoom strobel is a thing of beauty – there weren’t many setups that deliver on such a note lately.

Support is fine, as long as you get the size right. Don’t go overly roomy with these – the upper is made to closely wrap around your foot.

Some people do report on heel slippage but that goes away eventually. If it doesn’t for you – refer to my heel slippage guide which could help you out a bit.

The upper is a breath of fresh air – a knit-based build that’s durable and plays extremely well. Great stuff.

The only downside I’ve found personally is the fit for wide footers. I never felt 100% on certain days in terms of comfort, while sometimes they’d feel just fine.

So if you’re looking for that ideal wide footer’s shoe – this might not be it. However, I still ended up loving the shoe despite feeling a little too suffocated at times. The good overshadowed the bad.

Nike Cosmic Unity 2 with a lighter build, but the same amazing Zoom setup? Let’s wait and see 😉

The scores of the shoe are below!







Perhaps you’ve found the Cosmic Unity not ideal for you but looking for something similar? Here are some of the potential alternatives

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: AlternativesPin
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For a super well-rounded basketball shoe such as the Cosmic Unity, I could name you a whole bunch of alternatives that achieve a similar end result in a similar price range.

However, some of you might be concerned with some of the shoe’s aspects such as the fit for wider feet, outdoor capabilities, or the price.


For those who don’t want to risk it and have very wide feet, I’d recommend the Air Jordan 34. Yes, not the 35 since those had an issue that many people had and even though I personally had a very mild case of it, the older 34 is still the safer option.

The AJ 34 will get you super similar performance, a comfy textile-based upper, fantastic cushion, and a roomier construction that didn’t bring any issues to my boat-like feet. No reason to think it would for you.


If you can’t afford to spend $150 for the Cosmic Unity or $175 for the AJ 34, I’ve got a near-perfect solution for you.

Ever heard of ANTA? The Chinese brand produces some of the most consistent basketball sneakers to date and most of them are extremely affordable. Take a look at the ANTA Rajon Rondo RR5.

You can get these for about $100 nowadays and you’ll get a fantastic thick knit build, balanced cushion, durability even for multiple seasons (yes, outdoors too) and since most Chinese sneakers are built on a wider last, it’s also a viable option for wide footers.

Those are a little tougher to get in the U.S. so if you can’t find ’em – refer to my $100 shoe list which will get you even more options that are affordable & well-rounded.


Share your thoughts below – they’re super valuable to the future reader/buyer!

Nike Cosmic Unity Review: Your TakePin
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That’s a wrap for the Nike Cosmic Unity review! I loved playing in these to be honest, despite my wide clown feet getting in the way sometimes. Be sure to check out my full guide & shoe list in the $150 range! The Cosmic Unity is sure to be added there soon!

Ready to step up a notch? Check out my $200 budget guide where I put together the best basketball shoes at this range.

I’m curious to see what you think of these though! Will you be getting them? Do you have ’em and feel different about them? What’s your take on this Move to Zero movement by Nikey? Gimmick or nah?

Or perhaps you’ve got a question I haven’t answered here?

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!








My final scores, takeaways, and recommendations

Nike Cosmic Unity


Fit & Comfort


On-Court Performance


Value for the Price




Main Takeaways

  • True to size is optimal for most & wide footers included
  • Can feel stiff at first. Needs 1-2 weeks of breaking in
  • Some people reported heel slippage. Goes away though
  • Beastly overall performance

Recommended For

  • All positions
  • Versatile players
  • Athletic players
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4 thoughts on “Nike Cosmic Unity Review: OUTDOOR Performance Breakdown

  1. These shoes from the Swoosh really have a cool design. I like the fact that they choosed these exciting colors. I prefer the orange, green and purple one.

    Thanks for mentioning they are resistant. This combination of 25% recycled waste has been a good choice. And environment friendly thing is a cool bonus. 

    Thank you very much for your review.

    1. Yep, the ‘Amalgam’ colorway you mentioned is also a favorite of mine. I’m waiting for those to drop in my location!

      I don’t honestly know how impactful this environment-friendly thing really is, especially when Nikey is literally among the leaders of produced waste due to their massive production of products. But hey, if you’re someone who truly cares about saving the environment, these might at least bring a more positive feeling when grabbing a pair lol.

      Always a pleasure Paolo!

  2. You definitely detailed on how to choose a pair of Nikes. I am a huge fan of Nike shoes but I stick with Nike Metcon. I didn’t know this pair is made up of recycled waste!

    Usually, people just buy without knowing how to be selective. Great review and tips you have in this post.

    1. Thanks Katt! Nikey Metcon’s are dope shoes for general/versatile training – I’ve got a pair myself and loving ’em for lifting workouts, some light plyometrics, that sorta thing.

      As far as people buying shoes without being selective – you can mostly blame the big brands for that. Nike, adidas, Jordan – they’re all responsible for their marketing shenanigans, hyping their stuff up by attaching fancy names, “groundbreaking” tech that isn’t really that groundbreaking in practice, etc.

      And hey, it’s Nikey – if they say it’s good, most people will believe it. The nature of human beings – it is what it is.

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