BY BEN STOCKTON
Debuting Charged cushioning in baseball, the new Under Armour Yard evolves the baseball cleat in a new direction that really melds baseball and basketball footwear. The upper is reminiscent of the Clutchfit Drive 2 and carries over the ArmourVent perforation patterns from the Apollo Vent, Curry 2, Fortis, and apparel. Charged cushioning and its now characteristic grooves are also carried over from the Curry One and the Speedform Gemini.
At the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, UA athletes wore the Yard and the Deception in gold and team colors during the Homerun Derby and the Game itself. On field these colorways were less than optimal, in my opinion. The gold clashed with the team colors and blended in with the infield dirt a bit too much. Despite the onfield visual cacophony, the Yard stuns when viewed on its own.
The aggressive design lines elevate the model to a new level of aesthetic appeal. The different toebox and midpanel materials and colorblocking have been distinctive in the past of the Yard line, i.e. the 2013 model, and are a standard in baseball spike design.
In the 2014 iteration of the Yard, a new spike plate was created for the Yard line and it is carried over to this years model. The previous version had been in use since well before Micro G, and badly needed an update. Not straying too far from the original plate, the new plate features similar spike placement and similar stripes on the plate itself. The major change is in the way the design now flows as compared to the angular plate of the past. Under Armour typically extends the life of a plate for much longer than other brands do as a way to keep production costs down. (Nike has done this, too, as they cannot seem to develop a new plate for the Air Show/Air MVP line.) Often extending plates for 3+ years, the platforms of Under Armour are very consistent and reliable, so if the previous Yard, Heater, etc. worked for you, then the new model should be more of the same fit and comfort in a better looking package.
I have never had the chance to play in the Yard series of cleats, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my playing time in the Heater (2011 & 2012) and the Natural from 2012. I’d expect much of the same from this model. Most Under Armour cleats are comfortable, durable, and provide average traction. As with any cleat, I’ll issue the same warning about pitchers tearing through the toe quickly as seems to the case with excessive toe drag. Under Armour does provide pitchers with a synthetic leather toe box and a fuse overlay on it, so there will be more life in these than the previous two Yards, which had separate toecaps from the toe boxes.
In the 2016 Yard, Under Armour makes major changes to the cushioning department, swapping Micro G for Charged Foam. UA claims that Charged Foam “is cushioned AND responsive.” This foam is extremely resilient, not to be confused with being firm, but easily returns back to its original molding. Just from a touch standpoint, this should spell for a very comfortable shoe with an adequate amount of cushioning and an ample amount of responsiveness.
The Under Armour Yard 2016 is available in Mid- and Low-top forms at many athletics retailers for $85-$90 retail. Because this year’s Yard is so drastically different than the previous seasons, I would highly recommend trying out the new version, especially if you’re interested in the Charged Foam.
Shop the new UA Yard cleats here.