If there is one company on the market that are headed in the right direction, Under Armour tops the bill and this UA Hydrastike Pro II release pays homage to that fact! Right from the moment they arrived, I could tell that the changes UA implemented on this release were gearing it to a wider and more probable audience compared to their predecessor. It starts with a cleaner, less informal upper that is matched with a really sleek and stealthy soleplate, producing an appealing boot! Then there is a very affordable price and a lightweight feel….this is starting to sound like a Nike review (minus the price) – except it definitely isn’t.
On top of the review, we actually also had the opportunity to feature these boots in a recent edition of the Gear Show – make sure to check it out down below the review! In terms of retail, they are current available for $124.99, keeping them at a very affordable price-point compared to the market.
Breaking In – The First Few Wears
These are a pair of boots that you thoroughly enjoy taking out of the box and into a game, you want and can wear them right away. Although it doesn’t have that buttery soft feel, the upper is still decently soft from first wear. After a few sessions it does loosen substantially, with the benefits of the H2Oi treatment staying consistent throughout. I really like the Corespeed soleplate, especially the bend that lies just along the toe bend. It works really well and creates a flexible feel that makes the boot move naturally with your movements. Finally, you again get to experience the absolutely fantastic UA 4D foam insert. Taking it out of the boot, it is thicker than a normal insert 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 Water Intelligence Technology
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. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to really test it out (see video below) and it worked effectively. By the end of testing, my feet were pretty wet through the ankle and there was some leak through the laces, but my toes were bone dry. More importantly, touch on the ball never really changed and they continues to offer efficient control on the ball.
There are several aspects of these boots that make them a top performer on the pitch. First off, UA has reduced the weight of the boot down to a pretty awesome 7.9oz. You can definitely feel that difference when holding the boot in your hand, and considering the H2Oi treatment has proven successful, these are a boot that won’t weigh you down in-game, especially in wet conditions. UA use a cross stitching that provides extra cushion and a raised area to help control the ball on first touch. It doesn’t have that high class look found on something like the Tiempo IV, but it serves its intended purpose.
What makes them an even better option if you do play in wet conditions, is the fantastic Corespeed soleplate. Again, it offers great traction whether you play in dry or wet conditions. I had the opportunity to wear them on natural grass and artificial. It was on natural grass where they performed at their best, with a high level of stability provided by the futuristic configuration. On artificial surfaces they were effective, although at times they were a little slippy when the surface was slick.
Design and Better Colorways!
UA has used a pretty sharp set of colorways on this release, and it really makes a positive statement. Between this SC101 exclusive colorway (not yet on the market), the White/Red/Black that has just been released, and the phenomenal Blackout you are getting a great selection of boots. The upper is extremely clean, with some cross stitching adding a traditional look. However, the stitching does look slightly tacky as it runs down through the toe, especially after they are well broken in, but that is simply part of the heritage look UA are going for.
Corespeed and a Sleek Stud Configuration
Gotta love the futuristic looking soleplate on these boots – it looks like something you would see in Star Wars! The CoreSpeed plate is designed to enhances the foot’s natural ability to accelerate from a planted position, in any direction. Check the performance section above for details on how it performs, but in terms of visuals it is one of the best looking soleplates currently on the market!
Compared to the Hydrastrike Pro
This boot is miles ahead of its predecessor and really signals UA’s ability to take what they have created and make it better. The design is obviously substantially better, the fit through the forefoot is more appropriate and the stud configuration is much more advanced on the second edition. For those interested, here is where you can check out the initial Hydrastrike Pro review.
How do they Fit?
The simple answer to this is “very well”. UA has definitely worked on making a better fitting boot and it has definitely paid off. One of the consistent problems I have had with UA boots is the sizing and finding the right fit. This boot offers a much more natural shape right throughout. I went true-to-size and they fit perfectly. They are a medium-wide fit, with the ability to be a comfortable wide fit due to the nature of the K-leather and stretching. I would go so far as recommending them to players who crave a wide fit!
Can UA be Taken Seriously?
They say it was David Beckham’s goal from the halfway line that paved way for him to become the face of the Adidas Predator range – something he has owned since Zidane retired – Under Armour and this release are on the look out for their Beckham, and if they continue releasing boots like this it is only a matter of time until they become a semi-leader in the US. They will never catch Nike or Adidas, but they do have a positive future!
The big negative is that this is a UA release – and UA won’t achieve a high profile in the US without mass marketing. It is a shame considering the list of positives these boot have going for them – testament to the fact that the Blackout version has received plenty of positive attention. The stitching along the front of the boot sits as a design negative for me personally. Finally, I did have an issue with the bottom lace holder, which seemed to snap during wear. After a little investigation, it turns out that this was a known issue for UA when sending the boots – this was a sample pair delivered and intended for testing before the colorway was released. On release pairs, it is not a problem UA expects players to encounter.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A very affordable, easy to break in, high performing and very comfortable K-leather boot that will impress even the most angst UA oppressor!
Category: The Hydrastrike was initially intended to be a Power boot – I see these as more of a Speed/Heritage hybrid.
Weight: An extremely light 7.9oz, which is a whopping 1.7oz drop between it and the initial Hydrastrike release.
Would I Buy Them: Considering the price and the knowledge I have after testing, it is an absolute yes. Sadly, because it is a UA release I don’t see this being a common theme amongst general consumers.
Player Position: This is very much an open boot, but I feel that defenders and players through the middle of the pitch will enjoy what they have to offer most.