BY BEN STOCKTON
Adidas follows up on one of the best lines in baseball footwear with the Afterburner 2017. Along with the Energy Boost Icon 2, Adidas top models have adopted similar design philosophies and really aim to merge the sneaker world with cleats. The Afterburner and Energy Boost Icon 2’s bootie constructions and eye-popping color schemes increase the movement away from baseball and into the sneaker world at large.
Adidas deploys the best colorways in baseball on these two models. Nothing looks as good as a simple white and gold or black and gold mock-up. But Adidas doesn’t shy away from more exotic styles either, as evidenced by their Roberto Clemente Day and Jackie Robinson Day Celebratory cleats.
This spring more and more players can be seen wearing Adidas, and while they have primarily been the Energy Boost Icon 2 and Power Alley 4, we can expect more and more guys to be donning the Afterburner 2017 after the release date on 3/27 and as the regular season kicks off. Currently, Billy Hamilton is tearing up Goodyear, AZ in his Afterburners, while the other Adidas speedsters take it easy in the Icon 2.
After two seasons of being the lowest and most minimal cleat in baseball, the Afterburner 2017 starts creeping upwards in collar height. This is a trend across Adidas’ departments, from basketball and football to running and Originals. While this trend makes the Adidas models more iconic, it can result in some issues with fit. Not everyone is able to lock-in their ankles with the bootie construction and high tongue, as they could with the more traditional separated tongue or even a burrito style (tongue connected on one side).
The 2017 edition also scales up the durability of the Afterburner with a focus on being more abrasion resistant. The uppers on the past editions trended more towards a synthetic leather or soft touch plastic style, while the 2017 edges towards heavily textured and stiffer plastics. As the forefoot beefs up, the heel slims down, at least on first glance. The sleek heel cup is crafted from TechFit, and coated in polyurethane for protection. The curvature of the heel cup looks perfect, especially after considering the ample foam padding internally. This looks to be the most comfortable Afterburner yet.
Based on the lineage of the Afterburner line and its predecessor, the adiZero 5-Tool 2.0, we’ve come to expect aggressive and streamlined Three-Stripes branding. Over the past few models, the historic branding had drifted from near the collar to the midfoot to finally come to rest on the toe of the Afterburner 3. The 2017 edition bucks this trend and adopts Adidas’ traditional midfoot wrapping Three-Stripes. While this move likely will speak to traditionalists and differentiates the model from the toe-branded Energy Boost Icon, I will be sad to see my favorite branding style in footwear go the way of the dinosaur.
Not all adiZero tradition is lost, as the midsole and plate from the previous two editions of the Afterburner return. Developing a lightweight plate like this along with its LiteStrike EVA midsole takes time and lots of research, so it’s not a surprise to see Adidas running it out there again.
Ultimately, the Adidas Afterburner 2017 blends comfort with speed and modernity with tradition to produce one of the more remarkable cleats available. Despite no new ground being broken, the Afterburner 2017 refines what it’s predecessors did well, while beginning to mix in the comfort of the Icon Boost into its upper.
The 9.5 oz Adidas Afterburner 2017 releases on March 27, 2017 for $100.