If there is one thing that drives me crazy when playing in soft ground conditions, it is the amount of mud and dirt that ends up getting stuck on the soleplate of my boots. We don’t have a great need for SG specific boots here in California, so on the occasions when a few drops of rain drop from the sky, you will usually find me in a pair of FG boots. Of the 90 minutes in a game, I’d imagine 20% is spent trying to scrape some mud off so I’m not playing slip and slide.
So, when Nike announced earlier this year that they had developed an innovative new soleplate, it garnered a lot of attention. Nike Anti-Clog Traction soleplates are designed to keep mud off. And if they stand up to all the Nike tech talk about them, they have to be considered an absolute game changer. A few weeks back, we took a look at How Nike Is Creating A “Traction Revolution”, with Anti-Clog being one of the key focuses. A few days later, this awesome box arrived in with some special boots neatly tucked inside.
Nike Tech Talk
So, what is Nike saying about Anti-Clog, and what exactly is it?
Any boot that features the Anti-Clog traction symbol on the heel includes an adaptive polymer soleplate that becomes compliant when exposed to water. The technology was developed over the course of two years with insights from Nike’s design, materials and research teams. Dr. Jeremy Walker was one of several PhDs working on this project, with backgrounds in materials science engineering and chemistry.
Walker and his team initially pursued a variety of mechanical and water-repellent solutions, but concluded none were viable for the lifetime of the boots. Their next approach seemed counter-intuitive, but ultimately proved effective. “We stopped thinking about repelling water and started thinking about using it to our advantage to create a lubricious layer, without sacrificing traction,” continues Walker. “Understanding the molecular structure of mud was key to developing a hydrophilic solution, which helps keep mud from clogging the plate.”
Currently, Anti-Clog has been released on the Tiempo, Hypervenom and Magista series. But, none have been made readily available in the US to date. We still await anything official!
The version I had the opportunity to play in were the Magista Obra SG. Compared to the the FG version, everything bar the soleplate is identical. You get a highly textured upper an redesigned mid cut collar, both of which perform at top levels. In terms of general performance on the ball, make sure you check our Magista Obra FG review for a proper detailed breakdown.
What You Are Getting
In terms of the soleplate, Nike has gone with a dual level of traction that includes the all important SG studs and a series of half sized blades/studs. The blades/studs are spaced out across the plate and are intended to offer a little extra grip as you release from muddy surfaces.
Of the gold SG studs, there are 4 up front that have the #11 on them, while the back 2 feature the #13. This helps you discern which are which when it is time to change them out. Included in the box is a clear tube with a full set of replacement studs and a wrench to help loosen and tighten.
Does Anti-Clog Work?
If you are still reading, it is probably because it is the question you want an answer to.
Right out of the box, the soleplate feels very smooth and has a clear appearance. If you look at it up close, there is some extremely light texturing but you wouldn’t notice it as you run your fingers across the surface. It is almost like a continuous set of veins, where I imagine water running along creating that ubiquitous non-stick layer. Before wearing them, Nike advertise the fact you need to wet and clean the surface before you take them out on the pitch. It is an important step in ensuring you get the best performance, so important that Nike added a huge graphic on the inside of the box so you don’t forget. I just dipped mine in a puddle and they were ready to go.
The one thing I noticed after wear is the feel along the surface is extremely weird. The best way I can describe it is as slick, slimy, almost gooey water layer. I’m not over-exaggerating right here, it is so unusual. It is a feel you definitely don’t expect, but it is obviously the reason mud and dirt doesn’t stick to the surface.
As far as testing goes, everything I’ve done has proven the technology to be an absolute winner. When you factor in the slick feel of the soleplate after wear and the fact the entire surface flows and transitions without any deep groves, you can see why they are so different to regular SG boots.
If you follow us on Instagram, you might have caught the story where I wore them on a muddy pitch after rain and seen how they literally dropped mud off the soleplate, even when I dug and turned my feet in the surface. Apologies to the groundskeepers! There was one small area where the mud stuck, but the rest of the plate was extremely clean. I was genuinely impressed given how easily the surface was chopping up. Then, I tested them on a pitch that had just been cut the following morning after some rain. The results were again pretty conclusive – as seen below. On the right foot I wore an FG version of the Magista Obra and on the left I wore the SG Anti-Clog version. Over a short amount of time, the FG version became heavier and definitely provided a lot less traction because I of the grass build-up. It was easy to pull off the clumps and essentially “re-start”, but again that follows my statement in the opening of this article – who wants to spend time doing that throughout a game?
When Will Anti-Clog Be Available?
The wait for SG Anti-Clog to the hit the US market continues, with no definite release date. But when it does officially become an option, I’d fully recommend them as an option to all levels of player. For competitive players, they offer an added level of performance where other players might struggle. Anything that offers an advantage can only be beneficial to player development. For your general, amateur Sunday league player, the same is true. You are the player that is more likely to be playing on extremely muddy pitches so the option of being able to stay steady on your feet is sure to give you an edge over opposing players and allow you to enjoy the game more.
Once they are released, expect an update from us. What are your guys thoughts on Anti-Clog technology and is it something you would consider wearing on SG?
UPDATE: These boots are currently available at nike.com, retailing for $375.