Updates across the entire Nike Huarache Elite 2 cleat puts a focus on both comfort and containment.
Launched on Oct. 1, the new cleat from Nike comes in both a low-top and mid-top, but with plenty of upgrades compared to its predecessor, all designed around the idea of making a cleat that didn’t look or feel like a baseball cleat, even if it acted like one on the field.
“In the new Huaraches we really honed in on the idea of bringing a sneaker fit to the diamond,” said Mike Ekstrom, Nike’s project lead for cleats. “Comfort and containment are huge components of this.”
New for the Huarache Elite 2 comes a mix of Nike’s Zoom Air—not seen on the previous Huarache—for the forefoot and Nike Air in the heel.
“Ballplayers want an extremely comfortable cleat, but also need responsiveness for the game’s critical moments,” Ekstrom said. “Nike Air in the heel provides a soft ride and protection against repetitive impact, while Zoom Air in the forefoot provides responsiveness for first-step explosiveness.”
The design team also blended mesh with synthetic leather for the first time in the Huarache, with the goal of providing the same fit in a cleat that a player expects from their glove. The top cap features TPU and rubberized screen print for abrasion resistance, while the mesh areas offers breathability.
“Athletes want a comfortable, lightweight upper but also have critical needs for durability,” Ekstrom said. “We aimed to solve this in the new Huarache.”
Through wear-testing, the design team saw the areas of the cleat most prone to abrasion and then worked in breathable mesh panels for lightweight comfort in areas not given to breaking down.
“We feel the new Huarache provides for both durability and lightweight comfort,” he said.
While the low has a “supportive comfort collar,” the Huarache mid-top features a textile double-strap at the mid-foot. The ankle has a hook-and-loop closure with the back of the strap opened for easy entry.
“Many of the past Nike Baseball Huaraches have used straps and we wanted to bring this back to provide great lockdown in the upper,” Ekstrom said.
By providing a more open back portion on the mid, Ekstrom says they fulfilled the goal of making cleats as easy as possible to get on, especially in mid-cuts.
“The idea of ‘mindless entry’ was tossed around,” he said. “Essentially, a ball player shouldn’t need to think to get his cleat on. The heel loop on the mid helps the athletes get the cleat on extremely easily.”
The Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 2 cleat ranges from $90 (low) to $95 (mid), while a turf version runs $80. All three models come in a variety of colors.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.