Under Armour is a company that continues to seek out new cutting edge technology to helps improve player performance. This latest release, the Under Armour Hydrastrike, takes on the challenge of moisture control. The concept is that if your feet are dry, you have better control. The bulk of technology used comes in the pretty advanced K-leather upper, and it does serve a valuable purpose. For testing, I used the White/Toxic/Black colorway, starting with a size 9US but ended up completing the review in a size 9.5US.
Finding the Right Size
It seems to be a trend with UA boots – fitting small. In similar fashion to the UA Blur, I had to go up a half size in order to get the right fit. Starting out with my regular size, I encountered some pressure through the heel. Since the upper is leather, you will have some stretch through wear but only the brave will try to stick out the first few weeks hoping they stretch enough!
Once I had the right size, it didn’t take very long to get these going. The leather upper is slightly stiff starting out and it took a full session before they loosened up. But given that they feature UA’s H2Oi treatment, everything about it is positive. I am a huge fan of how there is a soft layer of padding right around the ankle lining, it adds excellent comfort from first wear. The inside lining of the boot also has a slightly gripped feel that keeps your foot in place. Finally, you get to experience the absolutely fantastic UA 4D foam insert – taking it out of the boot, it is thicker than normal inserts and offers a very spongy and responsive feel. It is one of the best inserts that you will find in any soccer cleat right now.
H2Oi K Leather
Under Armour has worked to create an exclusive moisture-shedding H2Oi K-Leather upper that offers bone-dry touch, precision, and power on the ball. When water contacts the surface of the boot, it immediately seems to dissipate. I would compare it to how water slides off a car windscreen that has been sprayed with Rainex – the water just doesn’t stick to the surface.
There is an odd yet appealing look about this release. It is definitely not the best looking boot out there and it won’t win any catwalk awards, but it is does have a look that will match the most classic players. The addition of red stitching through the forefront of the boot removes any notion of a boring look and it really stands out on the black. Around the ankle and side, UA has included a perforated white microfiber region that allows some breathability through play. Personally, I think they look decent but the problem is that they won’t appeal to a mass audience. There is also a Black/Ivory colorway available for those who want a blackout look.
One of the areas where UA excel it is in their soleplate. On the Hydrastrike, the soleplate (or Armour Guide) enhances the foot’s ability to remain on the chassis of the outsole, which provided additional support. It is made of lightweight TPU and matched with the conical studs in the forefoot, is ideally suited for natural grass or artificial surfaces. There is continuous debate between whether conical studs or blades offer better traction – I found the Hydrastrike offers ideal feel for cutting and chopping and I felt confident at all times. In terms of the H2Oi K Leather upper, it does its job by ensuring the boot offers ideal touch even in damp conditions. The water really does slide off the surface!
Sizing causes the first concern, and you do have to ensure you have the right size if you want to get the most out of them. The top of the heel starts out padded, but near the base of the boot it becomes more rigid and you don’t want you foot pushed against it! I like pretty much everything else about them.
I like what UA has done with this release and I can really see them matching the requirements of many players. The problem is getting players to splash out on a pair without knowing what they have to offer. From my experience, I can tell you that if you are tempted then they are worth the money. In particular, the H2Oi treatment is pretty extraordinary – the water actually rolls off the surface, something I tested in the rain. And when you factor in the comfort offered by the insole, they make for an appealing package. Design wise, UA might need to change the colorways up to attract a wider audience. I don’t fault them for their choices with this release, but they are not going to grasp a large audience using red stitching on black leather! In terms of players, I can most players on the field benefiting from what they have to offer – they are more of a hybrid than anything else.
In terms of price, the Hydrastrike retails for $124.99.
*boots supplied for review by Under Armour Soccer.