Under Armour Hydrastrike Pro II Review
The Hydrastrike Pro II is the real deal. Many have written off Under Armour in the world of soccer shoes, and while they have had some less than successful products in the past, the new Hydrastrike is truly a quality boot that many would love if they gave it a chance. The original Hydrastrike from UA was actually a pretty solid shoe, but the second version improves upon the previous model in every way. To start off, the shoe is extremely comfortable. Most of the problems that I personally had discomfort from past UA models were fit related, where the heel was too low cut, or the shape of the toe box was a little off, but all of that has been fixed with the Hydrastrike II. The kangaroo leather upper is nice and soft, especially after break-in, making for a very comfortable and very flexible upper that moves well with the foot. It is also worth noting that nearly the entire upper, apart from the heel area, is full kangaroo leather, something that you don’t see very often at all anymore. The Shoe also features a heel and ankle collar lined in soft, synthetic suede, an extremely cushioned 4D Foam insole, as well as an off center lacing system. To talk a little more about the 4D Foam insole, it truly is the most cushioned ride from any other soccer shoe on the market, aside from the UA 10K Force Pro II which also features the 4D Foam insole. The insole is made from a very unique foam that is very soft, while being very dense. Imagine a memory foam insole, but with more of a springy feel to it. This insole does a fantastic job of eliminating any kind of stud pressure, and the finish also makes for plenty of grip against your sock, preventing your foot from sliding around in the shoe. If you frequently play on hard ground, and find your feet getting sore from stud pressure and lack of protection upon impact when running, the 4D Foam insole is something that you will love. It is amazing how much cushioning that the insole provides, while still maintaining a fairly low profile.
As far as the fit of the shoe, this is one of those shoes that will fit pretty much anybody. The full kangaroo leather upper allows for so much flexibility as to what foot type will work with the shoe, mainly because the upper can stretch and form to the foot, with very few restrictions as to where the shoe can give. Like any leather shoe, there is somewhat of a break-in process. I had no issues with any type of discomfort during break-in, and I would say that after only a couple of hours of light use, the leather upper begins to soften up, and the shoe begins to feel like it was made for your foot. The unique stitching pattern in the leather allows for the leather to stretch where it needs to, but keeps the toe box and forefoot area from stretching too much, which is very important. The inside and outside of the mid-foot are pretty much full, un-stitched areas of leather, allowing for the shoe to form to nearly any foot width. From right out of the box, the shoe will fit at a width that would be suitable to 90% of foot widths, but for those with even wider feet, you should be able to get that extra bit of stretch out of the upper. Sizing is still a little off on the UA range of soccer shoes. Where I would normally where a size 9US in the majority of soccer shoes on the market, I needed to go up half a size for the correct fit in the length. So if you are looking to order online, keep in mind that the Hydratsrike II runs a little short, so going up half a size is recommended.
The Hydrastrike II is surprisingly lightweight, weighing in at just 7.9oz! This is well into a weight range of the “Speed Boot” and is actually lighter than some of the “Speed Boots” currently on the market. Take into consideration the full kangaroo leather upper, the very soft and comfortable fit, and the incredible cushioning of the insole, and you have a winner. For those of you who love that soft leather feel but still want something lightweight, this is a fantastic option.
The soleplate and stud pattern combo on the Hydrastrike II is fantastic. The newly designed CoreSpeed soleplate, features a wishbone shaped stiffener running through the mid-foot, while the forefoot features a thinned out flex groove to allow for maximum flexibility in the forefoot. The reason why the soleplate is important is because it provides a very solid base for the entire shoe, and the stiffness through the mid-foot gives the shoe a very responsive feel overall. The stud pattern is fairly unique, not so much in its layout, but more so because of the actual shape of the studs. The forefoot of the shoe features only three studs on the inside, and four studs on the outside, along with the standard two bladed support studs running through the center of the forefoot. The studs themselves remind me very much of the teeth, all positioned slightly on a slant, allowing for better ground penetration when pushing off. If you take a look at the pictures above, you should get a better idea of what I am talking about. Under the heel you will find a pretty standard four bladed studs, with two studs on each side. So how does it perform? I have to say that I was really impressed by this particular stud pattern. The unique shape and the slightly angled nature of the studs allowed for the best possible ground penetration when pushing off, which in turn leads to very good amounts of traction. The feel is more or less a combination of bladed and conical studs, but what I really like is that with all of the grip that these shoes provide, you never feel like your foot is locked into the ground, allowing for plenty of freedom to twist and turn. I would categorize this particular stud pattern as above average, and it will certainly perform up to the standard that you’re looking for.
Kangaroo leather is undeniably one of the best materials for providing a premium feel on the ball. One thing that is becoming more and more difficult is getting a full kangaroo leather soccer shoe, unless of course you go for something a little more “old school”. The Hydrastrike II Pro a full, high quality kangaroo leather upper, and the end result is fantastic. The leather upper is very soft and pliable, but does not have too much bulk to it in terms of natural padding. This is one of the thinner versions of kangaroo leather on the market, so for those of you that don’t like the feel of too much cushion when touching the ball, this may be one to look at. One of the more unique aspects of the boot is the modern styling of the shoe. While the material of the upper may be what many would consider “old school”, the off center lacing system and unique stitching pattern would suggest otherwise. With the laces pushed slightly to the outside, you are left with a very smooth surface through the top of the foot and the instep, giving the shoe a very clean, no nonsense feel on the ball. The tongue is a thin synthetic material, but still remains very soft and out of the way since the laces are pushed to the outside of the boot. Overall, kangaroo leather almost never disappoints, and the Hydrastrike II Pro is no exception. If you love that feeling of a nice and soft leather upper, the Hydrastrike will deliver.
The shooting experience in the Hydrastrike II Pro is a little different from what you would normally get from a pair of full kangaroo leather soccer shoes. Having the laces pushed to the outside leaves you with a very clean striking zone, which doesn’t necessarily help your shot, but it does offer a very nice feel when striking the ball. The natural padding of the leather offers a solid feel upon contact with the ball, and because the leather is a little on the thinner side, you get to feel plenty of the ball. The CoreSpeed soleplate also does a great job of stiffening the mid-foot, giving the shoe a very solid feel. Overall, shooting in the Hydrastrike II Pro definitely shows how a simple striking surface can provide a great feel when striking the ball.
Like any leather soccer shoe, there is a decent amount of protection from the natural padding of the leather alone. There is an internal plastic heel counter to provide not only stability, but also some extra protection from challenges from behind. All in all, the UA Hydrastrike II will provide enough protection for pretty much anybody.
I had no issues at all during the testing of the Hydrastrike Pro II. The upper uses high quality materials and is constructed very well, which generally means that the shoe is going to last. One unique aspect about this boot is the water repellent coating on the kangaroo leather upper. This coating is invisible and adds no extra feel to the leather upper, but it does a good job of keeping the shoes dry when it wet conditions. The H2Oi coating prevents the upper from absorbing water, and while it doesn’t completely eliminate any type of water absorption, it does dramatically reduce the amount of water intake. This is definitely a shoe that is built to last, and with proper care, you should easily get a season’s worth of play out of them. Keep in mind that this is a firm ground soccer shoe, designed for use on natural grass surfaces. Use of this shoe on artificial grass, or turf, will have a dramatic impact on the durability of the shoes. Also keep in mind that this shoe uses a natural leather upper, so some maintenance is required to keep the shoes in optimal condition.
Under Armour is still relatively new to the soccer shoe world, but they keep improving with every new release. The Hydrastrike Pro II is the first shoe from UA that I can honestly say is a great release. It offers a very high quality, full kangaroo leather upper, a very comfortable fit, a very lightweight construction and an awesome soleplate and stud pattern combo. Also take into consideration the price, and you’ve got a very good deal in the Hydrastrike Pro II. If you are on the market for that classic feel on the ball, with a weight range that you would normally get from a speed boot, than I would take a serious look at the Hydrastrike Pro II from UA.
Comfort/Fit 9 out of 10
Weight 9 out of 10
Traction 9 out of 10
Touch 9 out of 10
Shooting 8 out of 10
Protection 8 out of 10
Durability 8 out of 10
Final Score 60 out of 70 or 86%