New Trout 5 Cleat Lightens Up with Different Materials, Construction
Mike Trout’s five-tool playing style provides an extra challenge for Nike’s cleat designers. In the fifth iteration of the signature cleat for the Los Angeles star, Mike Ekstrom, product line manager of the Trout 5, says a mix of data and new materials improves a cleat line for a special type of player.
“At 6-4, 230 pounds, Mike is a linebacker that happens to be the best baseball player in the world,” says Ekstrom. “It is a challenge for us to keep him locked on the (footbed) platform. The (Trout) 4 did a great job and we wanted to build off that in a more lightweight manner.”
The new Nike Force Zoom Trout 5, debuting ahead of the July All-Star Game, recreates the cleat upper in a “big departure” from the line. “It is a very different looking shoe, but the performance benefits are very much the same,” Ekstrom says.
Nike brought Trout to its Sport Research Lab on its headquarters in Oregon in 2017, using pressure mapping to create the plate and Zoom Air cushioning system—two hexagonal air bags in the forefoot and one in the heel—for the Trout 4. Ekstrom carried that same design into the 5, but used additional data from the lab to remake the upper. “We put him through the paces,” Ekstrom says. “It was awesome he could come out. He made throws, took swings and we were able to see how his foot interacted with the shoe in all those movements.”
The Trout 5 builds up stability in the ankle and heel and becomes more minimal is it moves toward the midfoot and toe. An engineered woven panel on the inside of the foot cinches tight for stability, while a bootie tongue wraps the foot. New for the 5, the bootie features an easy entry system on the neoprene that allows Trout to slide into the cleat quicker, but closes tight when laced.
The upper expands perforations for more breathability and reduced weight. “With Trout being such a big, strong guy and so athletic, we could keep adding and adding onto the cleat, but we would end up with a heavier cleat,” Ekstrom says. “The challenge is to get the same fit, feel and comfort in a more lightweight manner. The perf holes are bigger, making it more breathable, lightweight and flexible.”
While cutting weight was a goal, it wasn’t the ultimate goal. “We are not trying to make the lightest cleat for Mike Trout, it needs to match his performance,” Ekstrom says. “But if we can shave weight out, baseball is such a long season, every half ounce we shave here and there adds up to a lot of weight.”
With the performance set, designers ensured the cleat had touches Trout. “This is our signature model in Nike baseball, so we want to do stuff that is authentic to Mike, not only the ball player but also the personality,” Ekstrom says. “We met with him a half-dozen times, if not more, on this cleat and learned what makes Mike Trout click. We want to tell those stories in the cleat.”
The Trout 5 features the debut of Trout’s new personal logo on the heel tab. The “856” area code of his hometown of Milville, New Jersey, shows up on the back and his love of fishing colors the entire All-Star design. “Mike loves to hunt and fish and loves it when we tell the Trout trout story,” Ekstrom says. With the All-Star game across the Chesapeake Bay from his hometown, where he grew up fishing for striped bass, the design team tried to bring that particular fish to life with a white, red and grey design.
Moving forward, expect a bounty of new colors flowing throughout the rest of this season and into next season. “We have mild and wild and everything in between,” Ekstrom says. “Whether you want to match teammates or be seen from the upper deck, we are trying to serve all consumer needs with color.”
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.