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Tech Around the Horn: adidas Boost

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Prior to the inception of “Boost,” adidas had a reputation for firm midsoles constructed of EVA, adiprene (a marginally softer EVA) or adiprene+ (markedly softer than adiprene but often used sparingly). They tried out new techs, Bounce (a series of hard TPU tubes) and climacool (EVA midsoles with holes in them). All of these failed to ‘wow’ consumers the same way Nike’s Air Max or Shox did. In 2010, adidas collaborated with BASF (a chemical company) and created a midsole compound composed of steam-expanded TPU beads designed to cushion runners’ feet longer and more consistently than any other midsole (air- or foam-based) in all conditions. Dubbed Boost, the foam revolutionized the running world, and athletes from other sports were dying to for some Boost in their shoes.

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Adidas made the unique and unprecedented choice of introducing Boost to baseball before any other division of footwear, aside from running. Baseball typically drags behind other divisions, for example Hyperfuse and Lunarlon existed for a few years before being introduced into baseball on the Lunar Huarache Carbon Elite (one of the most tech-packed cleats ever). Boost debuted in baseball on the adidas Energy Boost Icon. Staying true to the adidas baseball design style, the Three Stripes were placed horizontal to the midsole. The midsole featured a sizable wedge of Boost in the heel surrounded by a thick EVA midsole. Boost’s extreme compression capabilities demand a companion EVA casing to stabilize the midsole.

adidas Energy Boost Icon  https://twitter.com/adidasBaseball/status/522528514356948992

Close-Up of Boost

Boost is truly unique in its cushioning properties. It is a foam with greater durability than Air-units. Runners astoundingly put upwards of 600 miles on their Supernova‘s and Energy Boost 2.0‘s, well beyond the lifespan of any other shoe. It is soft but extremely resilient. The Boost on those 600+ mile shoes is structurally identical to when it was brand new. Boost absorbs impacts and slightly pushes back on the foot. Easily my favorite cushion, the only thing keeping me from buying many of the Boost-equipped models is the premium price. Ultimately, the longevity of the shoes makes up for the price, but it can be hard to stomach at first.

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Billy Burns in the adidas Energy Boost Icon

One thing to note with Boost, is its inherent lack of stability. The nature of the beads’ compression and eagerness to return to their natural state creates a feeling of slight mushiness when standing still, but responsiveness when active. These attributes greatly benefit comfort and casual use, and are a saving grace for the legs of ballplayers. With Boost, one may be able to receive the benefits of wearing molded spikes (less wear and tear on the body than metal) while still enjoying the traction of metal. Boost truly is a technology everyone should try on and try out.

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The Energy Boost Icon has been spotted on the feet of adidas baseball athletes, but is often replaced by the Power Alley and Afterburner series. There are many possible reasons for this, the Boost may still feel too unstable for the athletes to feel comfortable, instead opting for the more low-to-the-ground Afterburner 2.0 or more traditionally constructed Power Alley 2.0. Potentially, the Boost may feel too soft and give the sensation of a delayed reaction time. Ultimately, cleat choice comes down to the athletes’ preferences, and it may just be that the Afterburner and Power Alley are some of the best cleats on the market. Adidas seems to give their athletes the most freedom of choice in PEs as most players switch up their cleats often. Kris Bryant, James Shields, Carlos Gomez, and Josh Harrison have worn them early in the season.

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Adidas Baseball always hooks up their players, and often the public, with special edition Energy Boost Icon cleats  from “Movember” and Fourth of July to Jackie Robinson Day and the All-Star Game. Many prints and design cues for these special editions are reminiscent of adidas basketball and football products. Adidas likely employs one team of designers for all of these sports. One of my favorite special edition cleats is the Jackie Robinson Day 2015 editions inspired by Robinson’s days at UCLA (an adidas school).

@adidas Energy Boost Icon Jackie Robinson Day 2015

 @adidas Energy Boost Icon Jackie Robinson Day 2015

The Energy Boost Icon is currently the only cleat available with Boost technology. Hopefully we will see a new model or a follow-up release or be announced shortly. Many potential trainers/turfs feature Boost:

  • Basketball shoes: Crazylight Boost 2014/2015, Rose 5
  • Running shoes: Energy Boost 2 ESM/ATR, and Ultraboost. I highly discourage use of climachill (vents allow dirt in if used as turfs) and Pure Boosts (lifestyle shoes, not for performance) .
  • Training shoes: Crazy Train Boost

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