Tech Around the Horn: Nike Lunarlon

Nike Lunar Vapor Trout Spectrum Collection (All Star 2014 Cleats)

Nike’s long history of innovation started with Air, continued to Air Max, Zoom, Shox, and Lunarlon. Now, the Pride of Beaverton utilizes its cornucopia of technology in a new way by refreshing its old tech to make it more applicable to the ever-changing landscape of athletic footwear. Some examples of the new remixed tech would be Max Zoom, found on the Lebron X, and Lunarlon x Zoom, found on the Lebron XI and Vomero 10. Due to Nike delaying its introduction of tech into baseball, we rarely see this kind of innovation make its way to the diamond. One of the first implementations of Lunarlon in Nike Baseball was the Nike Lunar Huarache Carbon Elite, a full three years after Lunar’s debut in Nike Basketball and Running. Now the plush foam is a staple in all divisions of footwear at Nike and featured in two of the four models for this season, including the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout.

Adrian Beltre’s Nike Lunar TR1+ with Lunarlon via @GeminiKeez

Lunar originally debuted in 2008 under the moniker Lunarlite. Lunarlite felt spongy to the touch and featured a greater amount of comfort and responsiveness than its successor, Lunarlon, however it offered a shorter lifespan as it would “bottom out” in a matter of a few wears. Bottoming out happens when many of the tiny air pockets in the foam are popped or deformed. This no longer allows the foam to rebound back to its previous shape and would remain compressed. Eventually, the foam doesn’t rebound at all and it feels like running with slabs of plastic strapped to your feet. To remedy this, Nike reworked the chemical makeup of Lunar and redubbed it, Lunarlon. This is the current rendition of the foam. Due to the nature of the foam and its cushioning method, bottoming out still occurs, but at a much slower rate. Now Lunarlon typically can last a full season to season and a half of activity. For heavier athletes, the foam may bottom out sooner. Aesthetically, Lunarlon shares a design trend across all Nike sports divisions. Designers signify Lunarlon through ridges that run length-wise through the midsole. This signature of the foam serves a purpose other than aesthetically making the shoe more aggressive and forward moving, it also allows the midsole to compress to a greater extent than if it were a solid block. On Lunarglides, one will notice that the medial (arch-side of the foot) heel portion of the midsole is flatter than the lateral (outside of your foot) side. This creates a sort of motion control feature simply by means of geometry by restricting compression on one side.

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Mike Trout’s Lunar Vapor Turfs

 

Lunarlon feels spongy underfoot and very soft. For this reason, Lunarlon must be encased in a carrier, typically Phylon (Nike’s name for EVA). The denser foam carrier acts as a shell that contains the Lunarlon and prevents it from spreading out too much and becoming unstable. Double-lasting also helps stabilize Lunarlon. Double-lasting is a manufacturing technique where either a portion or the whole midsole is inside the upper, as if the upper is being stretched over the midsole. The outsole or cleat plate is then adhered to the upper. The Lunar Vapor Trout features this technique in the forefoot. As a side effect of the deformation, the Lunarlon molds to exactly the shape of your foot better than any other foam or insole. This also makes the foam more comfortable than many other foams on the market.

 

In comparison to Boost and Micro G, Lunarlon is a sort of middle ground between the two in terms of softness with Boost being softer and Micro G being firmer. In terms of comfort, again Lunarlon sits in the middle ground between Micro G and Boost. If you are looking for a shoe that is comfortable, but not overly soft, then Lunarlon may be the way to go. On a sidenote, Lunarlon has a minuscule lifespan in comparison to Micro G or Boost. Both Micro G and Boost will last for years before being unwearable, and in the case of Boost, the other components of the shoe will be worn out well before the Boost is done.

B. Lawrie

Brett Lawrie

Current cleats using Lunarlon include the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout and the Nike Lunar Vapor Pro. The Vapor Pro is essentially the low-top version of the Vapor Trout. Both cleats share Lunarlon, Flywire, and design lines and stylings. The Vapor Pro’s plate appears to be a variation of the plate on the Lunar Trout. These two cleats are basically sisters.  Depending on player’s preference they can choose either a low top or high top and receive the same performance. The Vapor Pro does tend to cater towards more speed-oriented players while the Vapor Trout caters to the more power-oriented players or pitchers. However, the Vapor Trout can clearly go fast.

jose-altuve-cleats

This season, many players have chosen to wear the Lunar Vapor series, more often the Trout than the Pro, however plenty of players have chosen the Pro. Among them include speedster Jose Altuve, and young phenom George Springer. Both Astros wear the same colorway. The Lunar Trout has been worn by many more athletes, including Mike Trout, Carlos Correa, Chris Davis, Jon Jay, Pedro Alvarez, Cameron Maybin, Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, Alexei Ramirez, Jason Castro, Mike Zunino, Justin Turner, Rob Refsnyder, Will Venable, Dallas Keuchel, and Brett Lawrie. Alcides Escobar has a pair of Lunar MVP Pregame Turf shoes customized into cleats.

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Cutch

 

Not to be forgotten is the Nike Lunar MVP Pregame 2, Nike’s most popular turf option that is specific to baseball. Lunar shoes have long been favorite BP/Turf shoes of the pros. Lunarglides and Kobes (8-10) can be spotted on the feet of many of the pros in the know. Andrew McCutchen, Michael Cuddyer, and Taijuan Walker are just a few who have favored using Kobe 10s over traditional turfs.

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