Skechers SKX 01 Review: Nike Phantom GT in Disguise

What Skechers says about this boot: Designed for players who desire precise control on the ball
Boot style: Control
Weight: 235g/8.30 ounces (US 9/27cm)
Previous model: n/a

As far as an entrance into the boot market went, Skechers earned top marks.

Thanks to the intense transfer speculation around England striker Harry Kane, both boot nerds and international news outlets devoted constant attention to him and the blackout boots that he was wearing in pre-season.

It’s been a while since we’d seen this much curiosity, with detectives around the world scrutinizing every part of his boot, speculating which brand and silo it was. Skechers, to their credit, followed it up by selling limited quantities of the blackout “prototype variant” as well as sending it to reviewers to generate extra hype.

All this meant that when the eventual unveiling happened, Skechers as a football brand was met with more curiosity than suspicion, although I still argue that a more appealing launch colourway and not one that looked like a boot out of Temu would have helped it more.

But hype is hype; the boots still have to perform. Here’s what we thought about it.

The Skechers SKX 01 is a Nike Phantom GT in disguise

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. The boots look and feel a lot like a successor to the Nike Phantom GT2.

There’s the textured silicone bonded onto a knit upper formula. Semi-separated tooling. There’s also small details like the heel tab and the brand patch under the laces.

Word on the street is that Skechers poached hired a couple of ex-Nike designers who worked on the GT2 and the Vapor 14, among other boots, and it really shows in the Skechers SKX 01. Having said that, the Skechers SKX 01 does improve on several less optimal areas of the GT2, so the title of a GT3 the comparison isn’t the a big a slight as it sounds like.

The SKX 01 is built around precise control of the ball, with every part of the boot optimised to give athletes a 360-degree touch and unparalleled ball control. The upper seamlessly fuses knit and skin materials, with the knit offering a personalised fit and excellent breathability, while the strategically placed skin panels add durability and protection where it’s needed most.

It also features a unique combination of micro and macro texture, strategically placed to optimise ball control and touch – the micro-textured zones provide a delicate grip for precise dribbling and passing, while the macro-textured areas offer extra grip and power for shooting and striking the ball.

Another excellent knit option on the market

If there’s one thing we love about today’s market, it’s that knit uppers in general perform at a very high level, even from smaller brands. ‘Fitknit’, the knit upper on the Skechers, feels premium and well weaved, giving you a nice locked-in fit when you slip your foot in. And locked in did we feel, with the boot making that vacuum sealed sound “thup”, when we finally managed to slip it in.

The upper is also covered with Precise Strike Control (PSC), a layer of silicon textures consisting of micro dots and macro lines for added grip on the ball.

An anatomical fit for the SKX01

Sizing on the SKX01 was a mixed bag for me. The boot uses an “anatomical fit”, which means a rounder fit in the forefoot, and a slightly tighter fit in the mid foot. I went half a size down as there was a bit of dead space in the toe area for me when I went true to size.  

This meant that there was some break-in time required for me to get used to the tighter fit in length, but that went away after a short warm up. I’d recommend half size down for most, but if you’ve got a wider foot, go true to size.

I did face some issues with the heel area as the cushioning was in the thinner side and wasn’t able to lock in my heel well. While I never had any issues with heel stability or lockdown, the boot always felt loose, and was an unnecessary distraction in game.

A boring touch with the Skechers SKX 01

If you’ve tried on a knit boot in recent times, you know what to expect. The upper isn’t thin enough to feel sharp and barefoot, yet not padded enough to feel cushioned. It’s a middle ground sensation with a slight dampened touch on the ball.

A major disappointment was how little the PSC texturing came into play while controlling and in contact with the ball.

You’ll probably feel it more during wet weather, but if not, it’s kind of just there without doing much. I’d have much preferred something more aggressive, similar to what we saw on the Nike Phantom VSN 1 and 2 or the Phantom GX where you really feel the extra grip aiding your touch.

That same dampened touch on the ball comes into play when shooting or passing the ball. Striking the ball felt quite natural, with the knit taking that bit of sting when hitting the ball harder. The anatomical fit and the lower toe box did make it quite nice to make those chipped passes.

Overall, a pretty solid outing if not for the disappointment with the (lack of) grip from the PSC textures.

Comfortable all-direction traction

Perhaps the biggest worry when I first got the boot was the traction. The studs looked potentially too grippy for AG thanks to the diamond shaped FG studs. Thankfully I’m happy to report that the boot worked excellently on both FG and AG, as the studs are on the shorter side. The interestingly placed spine on the tooling doesn’t do that much for the boot and I’d label this as a gimmick rather than an actual performance feature.

What did work, was the Hyperburst insole that Skechers uses, which adapts technology from its running shoe line. It’s thick and slightly bouncy, which makes playing in the boot a comfortable experience.

An admirable, if not disappointing first attempt

I’ve had a number of debates with fellow reviewers and friends about the Skechers SKX 01. On one hand, it feels harsh to judge a new brand entering the market on higher standards.

On the other hand, it doesn’t feel fair to treat this like a new brand considering how much the boot adapts from the Nike Phantom GT 2. This doesn’t help Skechers’ reputation as it comes off as a copycat of another competitor instead of standing on their own innovations.

Yes, we know creating a new boot from scratch can be tough. New Balance, for example, took several attempts before getting their formula right in the Tekela and Furon. Yet even their first attempt – the Visaro had a unique proposition to it, with a nice synthetic and grippy upper that gave you a nice barefoot touch on the ball.

The Skechers SKX 01 is a pretty good football boot, albeit one that’s 3 years late considering the competition on the market. But it is absolutely disappointing that instead of bringing a fresh perspective to the table, Skechers went the route of peeking at their classmate, and pretty much copying it. Hopefully by the time the Skechers SKX 02 comes around, Skechers would have had more time to develop their own innovations to wow the boot world. 

Skechers SKX01 review football boots soccer cleats
Who is this for?
The Skechers SKX 01 is for players who want a well-fitting knit upper, with just a touch of grip.
Upper padding (1 for thin, 10 for thick)
Width (1 for slim, 10 for wide)
Value for Money (1 for less value, 10 for great value)
Stud traction (1 for slippery, 10 for grippy)
Lockdown (1 for loose, 10 for secure)
Sole rigidity (1 for natural, 10 for responsive)
Reader Rating0 Votes
The Good
Short break-in period
FG/AG tooling
The Bad
Touch on the ball is boring
Texturing doesn't feel aggressive enough
out of 10
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Jason's goal in life is to help everyone find their bespoke 100% Unfair football boots. His current three are the Nike Phantom GX, Mizuno Morelia 2 MiJ, and ASICS X Fly Pro. Your mileage may vary.
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