As we recount the past decade of skateboarding and reflect on the rapid development of the European skate scene, it’s easy to notice that some of the most interesting videos of street skating we’ve seen the last five years from the European continent have come from the land of Bangers & Mash. When we think of England’s crusty spots, our mind diverts to footage of Chewy Cannon, Mike Arnold, Kyron Davis, Lucien Clarke, Chris Jones, and Casper Booker, charging along rough pavement to skate “spots” that technically shouldn’t be labeled as spots. Over these years, one particular Brit, Tom Knox, has been delivering footage that continues to reinforce England’s iteration of the “In Crust We Trust” spirit of skating. Originally part of the Isle Skateboards team and brought under the wing of Nick Jensen and Paul Shier, Tom Knox made a global debut in the Isle Skateboards “Vase” video filmed by Jacob Harris. For the more recent skaters who may not know Jacob, he’s the filmer and brainchild behind the Atlantic Drift series released on Thrasher. Atlantic Drift and Tom Knox was a perfect match; the filming and editing style of Jacob perfectly complimented Tom’s creative approach to skating unique spots across the United Kingdom. The series drew a lot more attention across the international scene and helped propel Tom into a new world of global-reaching sponsors like Krooked, Dickies and New Balance. 2023 seemed to be quite the year for Tom. He released two parts, got a cover on Thrasher, and just last month, New Balance dropped his first signature pro model shoe, the NB# Tom Knox 600, solidifying a crucial roadmap to be considered a contender for 2023’s Thrasher Skater of the Year Award. With all the recent hype around Tom and his new shoe, we knew we had to get a pair of the clean cut court-inspired silhouette and put it to our weartest. Read on below to see how they performed.
The NB# 600 fits true to size.
Overall, the Tom Knox 600 has super solid durability. Let’s break it down. When it comes to the upper’s durability, there is one leather piece of the shoe that stretches from the midfoot and wraps around the toe area. This is the first layer in plain sight that gets attacked by the griptape during our 10-hour wear test. Despite clearly visible areas of abrasion, the material itself had a lot more life in it. This is especially the case because underneath this leather piece is an added durability layer, called FantomFit. Not only did the FantomFit help as a reinforcement layer, it also added structural support and increased the stabilization of the shoe. Although the material held up well from a durability point of view, the seams did not and ripped in several areas, which reduced the overall durability of the shoe.
The sole of the shoe proved to be quite durable, with most signs of wear in the kickflip area, resulting in more abrasion of the upper as the material of the sole wore down. The collar on the top lace had minimal wear, which resulted in more of a visual issue rather than a performance issue.
The sole construction of the 600 combines three prominent New Balance technologies, which include the NDurance outsole, FuelCell foam inlay and Ortholite insole. The outsole can be described as the cup which holds the cushioning foam inlay in place while the insole sits on top of it, providing comfort. The thickness of the foam in combination with the outsole in the heel and midfoot section, proved to create a very positive cushioning feeling during our 10-hour wear test. The toe area has a way thinner layer of the cushioning foam which reduces the cushioning effect but makes sure to maintain boardfeel and flexibility where needed.
Just from looking at the aesthetic of the classic New Balance running shoe inspired toe silhouette and the original New Balance 600’s roots in athletic footwear, will make you wonder how Tom Knox’s pro model shoe fits and skates. Looking down at the shoe, the shape itself runs parallel from the heel over the midfoot section and gets slightly wider in the toe area and finishes off to a square end. Moreover, the shoe itself looks a bit bulky from the side but from the top view it is rather slim; it’s worth mentioning the shoe doesn’t feel bulky when worn and skated. As aforementioned, the upper’s layered construction reinforced the upper of the shoe, which prevented it from sinking inwards and helped maintain the shape of the toe. All in all, the shape of the shoe was different than many other models we’ve tried, but it turned out to be effective, especially for flicking flip tricks.
The boardfeel of Tom Knox’s pro model barely took any time getting used to and performed really well. Initially, as a cupsole model, the midsole in the back two-thirds of the shoe proved to be quite stiff. However, after a few sessions the whole sole construction of the shoe broke in and the boardfeel in the toe area greatly enhanced. The thread pattern of the sole has a medium size and was grippy, with no blow out spots on the sole. Not to mention, the overall outsole of the shoe proved to be durable and grippy with NB# using its NDurance rubber outsole.
When it came to the comfort of the shoe, the shoe is super lightweight, which was great. However, despite the usage of mesh materials, breathability performed rather low. Also, the shoes did not have tongue fixing straps which is usually a standard for today’s skateboard shoes. The disadvantage of not having the straps, is that the tongue can move and cause pressure points which happened to us with the step-in.
The NB# Tom Knox 600 showed solid comfort and excelled regarding the stability, which was definitely a highlight of the shoe. All elements worked well together to ensure a tight and compacted fit for the feet. Firstly, the cut of the heel is higher to make sure no slipping out can happen. Secondly, the inner construction, which included the foam tongue, padding around the heel, ankle lining and the sole cushioning foam, created a stable feeling. Thirdly, the upper, with its multiple layer construction from toe to heel, maintained its structure over the 10-hour test.
All in all, the NB# Tom Knox 600’s 90’s inspired court shoe revamped for Tom Knox’s modern approach to skating didn’t have many flaws at all. The stability was excellent, grip was on point and the cushioning as well. If we were forced to pick out some points of improvements, they would include the durability/inclusion of seams and the need for 1-2 sessions before breaking in.