Innovation is the key word referenced when talking about the new Nike T90 Laser IV! According to Nike, this is a boot designed around power, with the mindset of offering players an opportunity to experience top performance while striking the ball. They are not necessarily a boot that will suit every player type, but being that they have been advertised to a specific market, most players will be aware of what they offer before buying. For testing, I wore a pair of size 9US in the White/Total Orange/Black colorway.
Please excuse the images on this review; it is the first time I have tested the boots before taking pictures!
The Nike Release Event
A few weeks ago, I flew to New York for the T90 Laser IV release event. Not only did we get to test the boots first hand, but we were also given an opportunity to talk to designer, Doug Wilkens – something that proved hugely useful in putting this review together! Full details on the trip.
Smooth – that is the word I would use to define the first session in these boots! The first time I wore them was at the Nike release event, right out of the box and into a game. Under normal circumstances, this is definitely not something I would do but I didn’t really have a choice. Thankfully, they felt fantastic from minute one and they offer what is one of the most natural feels I have encountered in a boot. Having tested them several times, I can pinpoint exactly what provides this experience. First thing is that the synthetic upper folds extremely efficiently with the movements of your foot – it just feels really natural. Added to that, the tongue features a layer of padding that molds very quickly to the contours of your foot!
Since getting back from the event, I have had the opportunity to wear the boots on several other occasions with no problems. One thing I especially like is the sole that Nike employ. It is covered in honeycomb paneling and offers an excellent level of comfort as you play, almost soaking in any impact as you contact the ground.
The Perfect Strike
That is what this boot is all about, right? The Perfect Strike signifies Nike’s goal of creating a power boot that maximizes technology through the strike zone. We obviously know that this has been a focus of the T90 series, but how this is rank on this release compared to the others? The answer is very well, with this release offering a distinct improvement on the T90 Laser III, in my opinion. On this release, the strike zone is referred to as the Adaptive Shield, and it is broken down into separate areas.
- The upper region, or the strike zone, is designed to flex naturally with the fit as you contact the ball while giving you some added oomph.
- The lower region, or swerve zone, features fins that are strategically positioned and sized to allow for closer feel on the ball while supplying added bend when you need it.
Does it all work? It adds to the appeal of the boot and does have its in-game benefits. One huge positive is how the region really does bend in motion with your foot as you control the ball, making for a really smooth strike. The fins, for me, are one of those additions that really serve a 50-50 purpose. They are ideal when you need an increased level of touch, while they might also add some extra swerve. “Might” is the reasoning for the other 50%, as it is extremely tough to determine how effective the fins actually are. To test it out, I took a speed boot with little added features (the Puma V1.10) and struck some shots. My determination is that it offers a much more efficient strike, with less pressure on the foot. But, in terms of added swerve I am still on the fence.
From comfort to responsiveness, these boots offer excellent performance. From first wear they feel great, while the upper molds extremely effectively to the foot. Again, I appreciate how Nike has developed the adaptive shield in such a way that it really moves in unison with your foot. The soleplate is an interesting one. Nike has remodeled the stud configuration to maximize traction during game without increasing stud pressure. Looking at the blades, you can see how they have been altered with a ridge along the tip. On a natural grass surface they work extremely effectively, but I did find they were a little tricky on artificial turf, where I imagine a lot of people will end up wearing them. It is a slight concern, but definitely not enough to question performance – they are a top notch boot!
Being honest here – I am very glad to NOT be a designer, especially when it comes to the visual design of a boot. This White/Black/Total Orange colorway is pretty striking and very noticeable. In terms of reaction, it has been very mixed with players who love them and others who don’t like how they look. I can’t say that they are my idea of a stylish boot, but they are pretty clean. I do have a sweet spot for the Black/Metallic Luster/Tour Yellow version that come with a leather upper. Finally, the majority of the upper is actually covered by the adaptive shield.
How do they fit?
Very much true to size and extremely similar length wise to the T90 Laser III. In terms of width, they are roomy and will definitely be an option for players with a wider foot. I also found that they offer really good support through the arch. One other note is the redesigned tongue; it is padded and sits closer to the top of your foot – I found this to be a positive as it allows the area to mold closer and contour more efficiently.
Honestly, there are no major negatives about this release! One small concern I have is with the durability of the upper. On turf, it tends to easy pick up a lot of scuffing and does require some attention if you want to keep them in top condition. And of course, some will question the 10oz weight, with Nike focusing on finding the right weight rather than lightweight!
The best thing about this boot is that when I tried to look for negatives, I found it very difficult to come up with any! You get a solid boot with great performance that will suit an aspiring strikers game. They don’t offer the complete package, but that is understandable considering they have been designed and marketed for a specific type of player. Defenders and strikers will benefit from the technology featured in the adaptive shield more than any players on the field. As a winger, they are actually a decent option – but they don’t tick all the necessary boxes. Wesley Sneijder will be sporting them, so I guess they will join the list for attacking mids. Overall, another solid release from Nike that helps the T90 Laser range move in the right direction!
(*boots supplied for review by Nike Soccer)