Just as ardent fans of James Bond or Breaking Bad always have their favorite installment or season, certain venerable tennis-racquet lines draw similar reactions. Players who faithfully use the Wilson Six.One or Head Prestige undoubtedly have a incarnation that is their unquestioned favorite; and just as likely will have a disappointing version that represents their Diamonds Are Forever of the franchise.
It’s not nearly as common with tennis shoes, but if there’s one that has earned such a following, it's the Adidas Barricade. Loyal wearers of the shoe keep coming back for more, trying to recapture the feeling they had for their favorite model—not to mention that it’s one of the better high-performance lines out there. For me, nothing beat the Barricade II. In fact, I found the next installment such a letdown, that I stopped wearing the shoe—I gravitated more towards lighter options such as the Feather line—and missed out on the Barricade V, which holds "best of" status for many players.
Since it had been quite a while, I was eager to try the new Barricade 8+ ($130). It’s a slight update to the most recent edition—hence the “+” sign instead of a number increase—with a change to a Kurim upper. The modification is designed to improve the comfort and flexibility from the previous version, which took its inspiration from outdoor furniture. The new layer does add a little more than half an ounce (my size 12s weigh 17.1 oz.), but Barricades have always been on the heavy side.
Once I put the shoe on I immediately got that locked in and secure Barricade feeling. They’re not cushy or forgiving, but they’re unmistakably solid. I wore them around for several hours before playing in them for a minor break-in period. They don’t soften up much, but I find it helpful for my heel to slightly sink into the shoe. This can offset the initial high-heeled feeling from all the cushioning in that part of the shoe, which does gradually dissipate with repeated use.
The upshot to its chunky heel is superior shock absorption. I first tested these Barricades over a two-hour match on a rigid hard court, which would normally have my feet and ankles barking the following day. Instead, they felt like I had a quick session on a soft clay court. It’s the type of cushioning that protects, rather than coddles. The shoes are like your best business suit: They’re perfect for the big presentation, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to wear them outside the office.
From a performance standpoint, my lateral movements were assured with zero rollover or imbalance when planting or stopping aggressively. Coming from a lighter shoe, the added weight was noticeable, but far from cumbersome. The AdiWear 6 outsole grabs the court well without being overly sticky, making sharp cuts seamless. It also has a six-month warranty, but given how little wear I’ve noticed after several subsequent playing sessions, I highly doubt you’ll ever need it.
It wasn’t a totally perfect playtest, as there were some slight demerits. I suffered a few instances of toe-jamming when I put on the brakes after chasing down drop shots, but they were rather minor with no residual effect. I also thought the shoe ran a little hot and could maybe use a bit better ventilation. However, it was a warm and humid day, and it wasn’t such a problem that I wouldn’t use them again under the same conditions.
Overall the Barricade 8+ reminded me why these shoes have been so popular for so many years. I’ve felt quicker in other shoes, and there are certainly more comfortable options. But the protection and support it offers allows you to move with confidence that few other shoes can match. For high-performance players that have come to expect nothing less from this line of shoes, the Barricade 8+ certainly lives up to its reputation.
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