How is Phylite Used in Basketball Shoes?

The midsole is considered one of the most important parts of a basketball shoe, and some would even say that it is actually the most important, as it is the part that provides comfort, support, and protection for the feet of basketball players. Midsoles are often made from various materials, like polyurethane and EVA, but there is one particular material that is soft enough for comfort and dense enough for support. 

The material is called phylite, and it is supposed to be a combination of rubber and another popular midsole material called phylon. To learn more about this interesting material, here are pieces of information about phylite and how it is used on basketball shoes.

What is Phylite?

Phylite is a midsole material developed by Nike in the early 2010s to serve as an upgrade to regular phylon, which was a popular type of midsole material for many basketball shoes in the 2000s and 2010s. Phylite is made using a combination of 40% rubber and 60% phylon. Phylon is supposed to provide the softness and comfort that we are used to in modern running shoes while providing rigidity for extra support for the feet, as well as a little bit of durability, which phylon usually lacks.

Furthermore, phylite is much lighter than rubber, although it is also heavier than phylon. But, because phylite combines the best of both worlds for the two mentioned materials, phylite can act as both a midsole and an outsole, so creating a separate outsole is not required anymore when Nike uses Phylite as a midsole. Therefore, phylite doesn’t really add too much weight to the shoe, unlike phylon that is not durable enough for outsole use, so it would often need to be accompanied by a stronger and heavier outsole material.

using basketball shoes on the court

Advantages of Phylite over Other Midsole Materials

Phylite is regarded by many basketball players and shoe enthusiasts as one of the best midsole materials on the market because of its numerous advantages over other materials. 

Phylite vs. EVA

When compared with another common midsole material called EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate, phylite is significantly more durable, as it isn’t as soft as EVA and can withstand scratches while worn and used on the basketball court. In addition, phylite doesn’t bottom out fast compared to EVA, which compresses so much that it wouldn’t return to its original shape. When EVA bottoms out, it will become denser and more rigid, so it doesn’t provide a steady level of cushioning or comfort when working constantly.

Phylite vs. Phylon

Phylon is a softer and lighter form of phylite, so it is very suitable for runners that want shoes that are both comfortable for their feet and light enough to not hinder the speed of the runner. However, it suffers the same problems as EVA, as it can usually bottom out too quickly and may not offer the same comfort as when it is brand new. In addition, phylon is not really as durable as phylite, so it wouldn’t last for more than two or three years, depending on how much you use your shoes.

Phylon vs. Polyurethane

Polyurethane is another midsole material that provides stable and comfortable support for your feet. However, this material fell out of popularity in favor of EVA and phylon, so you would usually just see polyurethane midsoles in retro basketball shoes, like several early Air Jordan models. 

The reason why they are not popular anymore is that they are heavier than phylon and EVA, and they are also prone to crumbling over time when exposed to too much moisture. So, it is no surprise that phylite is a better material than polyurethane, as it can last longer and is lighter in terms of weight.

Phylite vs. Rubber

Rubber is a material that is typically used in casual shoes, as they are durable enough to last for years. However, rubber doesn’t usually offer the same level of comfort and support as phylon or EVA, so it is rarely used as a midsole. But, rubber is utilized in the outsoles of basketball shoes, especially the ones that are designed for outdoor basketball.

Because phylite is made of 40% rubber, it can get away from not having pure rubber as its outsole. One of the biggest disadvantages of rubber is that it is significantly heavier than phylon and EVA, so basketball shoes with rubber midsoles can feel like bricks on your feet. So, with phylite, you wouldn’t need rubber outsoles anymore since it has the durable properties of rubber while still having the soft and comfortable qualities of phylon.

Nike Zoom HyperRev

One of the first basketball shoes in Nike’s catalog that used phylite as both a midsole and an outsole is the Nike Zoom HyperRev, which was revealed by the company in 2013. The Nike Zoom HyperRev is a high-top shoe that embodies the “less is more” design principle, as it is a simplistic shoe that is packed with useful features for most basketball players.

The responsiveness and great court feel of the Nike Zoom HyperRev is mainly brought by its phylite midsole, which is durable enough for years of use while also soft enough to provide comfort for the feet. In addition to Phylite, the Nike Zoom HyperRev also has a full-length Nike Zoom unit, which is a unique airbag found within the phylite midsole that offers the wearer a bouncy feel that is effective for shock absorption while jumping to take a shot or getting rebounds on the court. 

blue Nike basketball shoes

As for the upper of the shoe, the HyperRev features lightweight mesh material that has reinforced sections for durability. The mesh upper also has the Nike Flywire system that allows the upper to hug your foot for better support. The HyperRev series would continue to be produced until 2017, when it was replaced by the Rev series with the introduction of the Nike Zoom Rev 17.

So, these are just the essential details about phylite and its use in basketball shoes. A lot of Nike basketball shoes that you can buy today have a phylite midsole, so check them out and see if their comfort and support are suitable for your playstyle on the basketball court.