The supple fit and feel of natural leather is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Major companies have stated their intent to do away with kangaroo leather because of the environmental impact. To compensate for their changes, they have developed synthetics with similar properties of leather. The concept of synthetic leathers is to mirror the fit and touch of leather. Synthetics have low water retention, and they require no maintenance to stay in top condition-two benefits that leather lacks. Synthetics that are used on speed boots such as the f50 are lightweight, single-layer synthetics that are used to drastically reduce weight. They sometimes include internal support to help maintain shape.
The synthetics I focus on are some that are currently popular and I believe will continue to set the bar for synthetics in the future.
Kanga-Lite – Used on the Tiempo Legend and CTR360 Maestri
Used on the Nike Tiempo Legend and the CTR360 Maestri, Nike claims that Kanga-Lite offers the soft and supple fit of kangaroo leather and the lightweight durability of a synthetic. ACC (All Conditions Control) is paired with Kanga-Lite to make it effective in both wet and dry conditions. The Kanga-Lite Synthetic takes a couple of training sessions to loosen up and mold to your feet but after breaking them in they will fit very closely to leather. The slightly padded touch resembles the natural cushion leather provides. If Nike continues the quality of Kanga-Lite on future releases, it will play a leading part in replacing leather.
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Hybridtouch – Used on the Predator LZ and Nitrocharge 1.0
The adidas Hybridtouch synthetic leather first appeared on the Predator LZ. Although featured on the Predator LZ 1st and 2nd generations, it is hard to tell actual performance because of all the rubber zones… until Adidas used it on the Nitrocharge 1.0. Hybridtouch is a super soft hybrid that provides the benefits of leather and durable synthetic (similar to Kanga-Lite). It has a very minimal break in time because it is soft and flexible. There is also a leather grain finish which helps make the visual appearance more realistic. According to adidas, Hybridtouch is 40% lighter than leather and maintains its shape for a longer time period. With benefits of leather and synthetic, Hybridtouch is one step closer to the end of leather.
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SprintSkin – Used on the F50 adiZero and Predator LZ SL
The adidas Sprintskin is a single layer synthetic used on the adidas F50 adizero. The sprintskin has a 3D textured pattern, which is designed to increase performance in wet conditions. The pattern allows water to slide off the cleats instead of being absorbed. It doesn’t add extra control or grip, but the synthetic still has a quality fit and feel. I’m happy to say there isn’t a sticky touch similar to that of a lower quality synthetic. I wouldn’t want to relive one of the most embarrassing moments of my soccer career; tripping over the ball. I was wearing the second generation adidas f30 and while dribbling in open space the sticky synthetic caught on the also sticky ball. I’ve avoided low quality synthetics ever since. There is also an inner Sprintweb band which increases stability and support for lateral and medial movements. The Sprintskin upper is partly why the F50 adizero is so popular. We will likely see more of the Sprintskin because it is a very lightweight synthetic that still has adequate support.
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Nikeskin – Used on the Hypervenom Phantom
Recently introduced to the boot market, Nikeskin is a soft mesh bound by a thin polyurethane film found on the Hypervenom Phantom. After a short break -in, it will stretch and form to your foot. It was designed for a barefoot feel, and it resembles a second skin because of how thin the synthetic is. The textured dimples add grip while dribbling and it gives an unique touch on the ball. ACC coating allows for better performance in wet conditions. There is no unnecessary weight which is an increasingly important factor in today’s market. Due to the popularity of the Hypervenom, there will be no surprise when Nike Skin is used on releases in the future.
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