There has been an all-out war between the three major competitors in the baseball market between adidas, Nike, and New Balance. The battle of who can bring the put forth the best product, has benefited the consumer of incredible products, each of which bringing their own innovation and technology to the field. In a formerly Nike and New Balance dominated market, adidas has brought its boost technology to baseball cleats, which has seen them take market share. But what cleat is the best? The following article is a culmination of the best baseball cleats that each company has to offer at several different price points.
Known primarily as a soccer and running company, adidas has shifted its focus in the US market to focus more on baseball and football. The focus is on their baseball cleats and the benefits that come with them. The two main cleats that adidas offers are the Icon 4 and the adizero afterburner V. The two cleats are priced at $130 and $110 respectively.
The aforementioned boost technology is at the forefront of the Icon 4, its the main benefit. When it comes to extreme comfort, boost is second to none. The Icon 4 features a full midsole of boost while maintaining a lightweight. If you look closer, the Icon 4’s silhouette mimics two very popular running shoes adidas has produced in the last few years, the Ultraboost and the Alphabounce. Taking inspiration from these two running shoes gives the cleat a unique style and sneaker feel to it. In the white and gold model, the cleat looks especially clean, with the gold plate and white upper.
As we will see shortly with the afterburner, the plate on the Icon 4 is uniquely crafted for flexibility, reduced weight, and increased movement (area circled). The ‘windows’ on the bottom of the cleat show the full length boost.
But what about performance? The cleats look cool, does that mean they can perform on field? Player’s such as Kris Bryant, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Judge all are part of the Icon family for adidas, so this cleat can perform at the highest level with all shapes and sizes. The cleat comes in five different colors as well.
Adizero Afterburner V
The adizero afterburner V, or the adizero V in short, is adidas lightweight cleat made for the base stealers and players looking for the ultimate advantage on the basepaths. The adizero gets its name from its incredibly lightweight feel. Unlike adizeros before it, this adizero has a full length EVA midsole, giving ultimate comfort to a lightweight cleat. The trade-off used to be the lighter the cleat, the less comfortable it was; or the heavier it was the more comfortable it was. However, the afterburner is a marriage of those two concepts, giving the player comfort and a lightweight cleat simultaneously.
The innovation of the adizero lies in the plate of the cleat. Notice how there are two spikes in the back and five in the front. This strays from the typical baseball cleat structure, as there are usually studs throughout the entire foot. However, what this cleat has to offer is the unique area circled. These parts of the plate are inspired by a track spike, which is light and flexible. What happens when you bring track spike technology to baseball cleats? You are left with incredible response from the cleat to quick cuts and first steps. Not only do you get a lighter cleat, but you also get a more stylish cleat, like the Icon 4, the afterburner comes in five colorways, and the silhouette is inspired by the alphabounce running shoe.
adidas in review:
adidas has disrupted the baseball industry by bringing incredible innovation and style from all facets of their business into baseball cleats. The Icon 4 is great for all position players, but primarily corner outfielders, corner infielders, pitchers and catchers. The adizero is the best cleat on the market for shortstops, second basemen, and centerfielders. Those positions demand speed and agility, and the adizero afterburner absolutely provides the platform for those traits. For $130 and $110 respectively, adidas does no wrong with their current line of cleats and are the best up and coming cleats in baseball.
It should come as no surprise that Nike has been a giant in the sports industry for decades, despite a recent run from adidas, Nike still dominates baseball. This attitude is reflected in two of their cleats, the Trout 4 and the Vapor Ultrafly Elite. The two cleats are priced at $130 and $110 respectively. Note that the adidas Icon 4 and Trout 4 are priced at $130, and the adizero and Vapor Ultrafly Elite are priced at $110. This gives you the ability to directly and fairly compare the cleats for what benefits they give you without worrying about which one costs more.
This signature line is inspired by Mike Trout, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in baseball. It is a culmination of Nike’s strongest technological innovations that have made them the titan in sport the industry that they are. The cushioning system in the Trout 4 is a combination of Nike Air and Phylon foam, giving it a responsive midsole. Air has been the main technology that Nike has featured since it was first introduced in the 1980s, If it is on the feet of the best outfielder in baseball, then it certainly gets our approval to be on the feet of high school and college players.
As we can see in the plate, it is uniquely constructed out of TPU with an almost beehive-esque pattern. This innovation in technology from Nike eliminates unnecessary weight, maximizing the utility of the cleat, lighter weight, higher comfort. The holes in the upper, which is also made from a synthetic and textile material, allows for support, breathability, and durability. It is offered in seven different colorways as well.
Lunarlon Vapor Ultrafly Elite
This is arguably Nike’s most innovative baseball cleat. Beginning in the upper of the cleat. The upper is an engineered mesh that is meant to fit the foot almost like a sock, eliminating extraneous weight and materials in the upper. Nike brings its flywire technology to the upper as well, integrating with the laces to give a responsive fit to the foot, helping assist in lateral cuts and movements.
Moving down the cleat, the midsole of the cleat is made of lunarlon technology which is designed for a very responsive and comfortable stride. The vapor ultrafly elite also dons a patented Kurim toe cap. A toe cap that has a durable technology on it is perfect for pitchers, because it will not wear down nearly as fast. The cleat’s life in general, for all players, is increased by a strong toe cap like this one.
Finally, the plate and cleat configuration is what separates this cleat from the pack at the $110 price point.
As we take a closer look at the plate, we see that there are both metal and plastic spikes. In this configuration, the cleats provide the ultimate responsiveness to directional shifts on all playing surfaces. However it is more than just a mix of metal and plastic, the plastic studs are in those locations to help alleviate pressure off the foot and subsequently the body.
Nike in review:
Nike’s offerings at the $130 and $110 price points are directly competing with adidas’ cleats. The technology in both of Nike’s cleats are magnificent, they both bring a dynamic aspect to the cleat that changes the game. Both are designed for function, comfort, and durability. For the money that you would pay for Nike cleats, these are some of the best in baseball.
New Balance has been a mainstay in the baseball industry for years. Sponsoring All-Star players like Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano. NB is a company that has been renowned for its wide shoes that provide immense comfort. That was their key to success, bringing comfort to a previously uncomfortable aspect of baseball. The two cleats that are currently riddled throughout the Major Leagues are 4040v4 and 3000v3.
The 4040v4 is offered in both metal and plastic as two separate models. New Balance prides itself on comfort, so why not offer the most comfortable metal option while offering the plastic alternative as well.
New Balance offering a plastic spike opens the door for an interesting discussion regarding high school and college players. There has been a shift towards plastic spikes, even in the big leagues. Why? Because it is far less taxing on the body. Red Sox Outfielder/ DH JD Martinez is one of many players in the big leagues wearing plastic spikes.
Looking at the 4040v4 we see the wide plate, which takes immense pressure off the foot and the body and keeping you comfortable throughout the game. New Balance’s midsole is made from REVlite, which is New Balance’s take on a responsive foam built for comfort. The upper is made out of Nubuck material and is applied by a no-sew method, which means there are less opportunities for the cleats to tear. Like adidas and Nike, their plate and spike configuration is designed for ultimate grip around the bases and making cuts in the field going after baseballs. The Nubuck material is durable and easy to clean. These cleats come in several colorways, including a pack called the elements pack, which is designed to harness the elements, keeping the foot dry. This is specially tailored to rainy climate players and would be an excellent buy at the $99 price point.
The 3030v3 has been at the forefront of New Balance’s line for years now. This model has improved every year it has come out. It is one of the most comfortable and one of the lightest on the market, coming in at 12.5 ounces. Like the 4040v4, the 3030 has the REVlite cushioned midsole, giving extra comfort throughout the game and throughout the season. One of the features that separated the 3030 from the pack was its unique insert that will give you more cushioning in the heel. Looking more into the upper, it has a different collar design in the ankle area than the 4040 and the other cleats mentioned to this point. Similar to the mid of the Nike cleat, or the alphabounce inspired upper of the adidas boost, the 3030v3’s collar is built for ankle support at a full sprint or a standing in your position.
If your main priority is comfort over everything, New Balance is the buy for you. New Balance is a very safe buy, they’ve been doing it well for years. Mainstays in professional baseball like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia have been wearing New Balance for a long time, proving that their main selling points hold true at the highest level.
A recommendation for one specific cleat is hard because like many aspects of baseball, it’s all about preference and each player is unique. For the most innovative and stylish and up and coming cleat, adidas would be the best because they have two cleats that can be worn by anyone on the field and have the lightest cleat in the game. Nike has been creating a great product for years, and their Trout 4 and Ultrafly Elite models are no different. The anchor of the industry, New Balance, continues to churn out the most comfortable cleat in the game.
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