When it comes to kicks with comfort, performance and quality, it all starts at the very bottom—that is, the sole. Over the years, sneakers’ foundations have seen a number of technical improvements that have made them lighter, more flexible and more ergonomic. The advances are far from over. These new soles have revolutionized the game in their own ways, and are destined to take the crown from the Foamposites and other innovations of yesteryear.
Adidas Ultra Boost
Announced last week, Adidas claims its new Ultra Boost outsole will improve upon the Boost foam technology we saw used for the Crazylight Boost and D Rose 5 Boost basketball models last summer. Debuting on Adidas’ newest running shoe, the thermoplastic polyurethane soles offer advanced cushioning and improved energy return compared to the original Boost. The new shoe is expected to drop Feb. 11, 2015. If Adidas’ track record serves as any indication, you can expect a basketball version to soon follow.
Introduced to the basketball world on LeBron James’ newest signature shoe, the LeBron 12, Hex-Zoom soles are actually a set of five Zoom Air bags that offer both cushioning and increased explosiveness with each stride. They hexagonal layout is tailored to how the foot falls, providing natural motion and flexibility both linearly and laterally. Nike has since incorporated the tech to running shoes, including the Zoom Agility and Zoom Hypercross models.
Nike Free/Natural Motion
Introduced in 2014, again on a running shoe, Nike’s Natural Motion soles feature a hexagonal flex-groove pattern that gives them multi-directional flexibility—linear stability wasn’t enough, because runners roll their feet when striking the ground. Two of the latest kicks to incorporate a Free/Natural Motion sole are the Free Run hybrid model of the insanely popular Nike Air Huarache and—wait for it—the new Nike SB Free, the first skateboarding shoe to be equipped with the tech.
Jordan Brand Flight Plate
Like many new outsole types, Jordan’s Flight Plate is concerned with providing exceptional energy return for every step and explosive liftoff. Like the LeBron 12, it uses Zoom Air cushions to do the job. However, it maximizes their performance with a Pebax moderator plate to create a large sweet spot under the forefoot and heel and provides an easier, more comfortable heel-to-toe foot roll. The improved Flight Plate made its debut with the Air Jordan XX8.
Under Armour Charged
That’s 7,500 pairs, if you’re counting
Get your kicks October 11
Looking ahead to sneaker season