Xblades aren’t a huge player on the market and I’ve never actually seen a pair in person. So, I was quite excited to hear that I would be getting a few pairs of Xblades in for testing. Seeing as more interest was expressed over the Sniper Speed, I made sure I got through testing them first before really getting to their counter part. Being from Australia where Rugby rules I can tell that there is a bit of influence from the sport in these boots but they definitely seem more suited for soccer as they are quite the light weights as the name may suggest.
Being that they are a synthetic speed boot on a synthetic speed boot dominated market and coming from a company that isn’t a big player on the soccer scene, the Sniper Speed has a lot of work to do to really stand out. For testing I got in a pair of size 9s in a Blue/Yellow colorway. As this is my first time dealing with Xblades I went into testing with an open mind and ready to be either impressed or disappointed.
At first glance they seem like they were styled by the same people who design soccer cleats for the Walmart brands, bland but sturdy with flashy but generic colors and here and there detailing. This actually makes the boots look distinctive as there are very, very few boots that have this kind of look. The upper also feels pretty plastic and smooth but no worse than a few other boots I’ve gotten my hands on. The length of the studs were also a bit concerning as they looked a bit on the long side. Overall not an overly impressive package aside from the light weight and the sturdy construction. It seems like a battle tank of a speed boot as it is light but the outsole is stitched and cemented and the top two eyelets are reinforced with plastic. They may not be the prettiest or coolest looking but they seem tough, which makes them stand out to me in terms of durability.
Though the upper doesn’t have any glitz and glam,we have a microfiber upper with off set lacing and an increased strike zone, the outsole is packed with tech, It isn’t obtrusive tech but the kind that makes the differences in a subtle but effective manner. Here is what they list off in the product description
- Compressed sealed EVA injected between outsole and upper to provide extra cushioning to absorb shock on heel strike.
- Bionic sole system with graduated blades lengths, to aid in reducing pressure on posterior muscles.
- Dual Density outsole allows a singe piece out sole to flex where needed and to offer stability and support in vital areas.
- XRS blade system providing maximum grip and a release system that may assist in reducing lower limb injuries.
As injury prevention is my thing the Bionic sole system, Dual density, and XRS blade system really stands out to me. Here is a better explaination of what the XRS blade system actually does.
XRS, otherwise known as the X Release System, is a cleverly engineered blade pattern that releases its grip when strain becomes too high. Where other patterns may hold for too long and cause injury in excessive circumstances, the XRS gives ultra grip only to the point of excessive force and then releases to save what could be lengthy times on the side-line.
So the real selling points lie in comfort and injury prevention which is a direction a lot of companies stray away from. It is good to see that some still care about injury prevention. This whole bundle of tech weighs in at a very respectable 7 ounces.
Fit wise they run a half size larger than usual, I am traditionally a size 9.5 but a 9 fits me very well. On the site it says they run snug and to go up a half size but from my experience I’d recommend the other way around. Width wise I think they are more of a medium/narrow fit than a wider fit but it is harder to judge. There is no real fit issues in the ankle and they are designed to ride high on the heel. Overall, I would say either go down a half size or just stick with your normal size.
Break in and Comfort
They pretty much broke in instantaneously once I ran around in them for the first time, I used them for a half hour before noticing that I was developing a blister on the back of my ankle on my Achilles. However after the initial blistering the back softened up so I didn’t run into this issue anymore. My advice would be to break them in a bit slower or use a blister pad for the smoothest break in.
Comfort is an area of almost no complaint other than the blister discomfort during break in. Also, comfort on lesser quality turf in the form of cramping calves and ankle rolling was obvious but they aren’t designed for turf so it is obvious that this doesn’t translate to overall comfort. Playing on high quality turf and firm ground was very comfortable. I would advise staying away from older turf in these boots. I would say they are more comfortable than the last generation of adiZero and the Pele Trinity. What makes it even better is the fact that the insole it comes with is very comfortable and I didn’t have to switch it out.
Performance and Durability
Virtually all of the performance benefits came from the outsole. The upper had very little gripping capabilities and on occasion it seemed like the ball was just sliding over the upper than really connecting with it, later into break in it did sink in a bit better as it softened up and the texture seemed a bit more grippy but not by much. Ball feel was superb as the upper is very thin and mold able which made up for the slick texture. The increased strike zone helped out minimally by giving a visual cue where to strike and a clean zone to do so. The outsole, however, was super flexible exactly where it needed to be flexible and the yellow forefoot was slightly more rigid which gave it a subtle spring board effect when pushing off. It synced up with foot movement in a why I would call ideal, this coupled with the 7oz weight made it easy to maneuver around the field. I quite enjoyed maneuvering in them. There was no snagging on firm ground or even turf despite the stud length and I think that is thanks to the XRS configuration as I snag on turf in virtually every fg boot.
In the intro I stated that they were a tank of a speed boot. At the end of testing this statement holds true. The only thing going on is scuffing but that is more aesthetic than anything and the upper is very firmly attached to the sole plate. Seeing as the out sole is so flexible I highly doubt it will crack or snap. Also completely forget about the laces tearing through the eyelets as they are firmly reinforced with plastic. This is one area where I have no concerns with the boot. Great stuff here, every speed boot should have this much reinforcement.
Where it sits in the Market
Compared to the main speed boots on the market there isn’t a lot of that “wow” factor that most of them have. There is not much texture in the upper, it doesn’t have that “speed” look and style that we are familiar in seeing with the adiZero, Mercurial or the evoSPEED. But what it has is staying power, I think that these would outlast all three of the aforementioned boots. Also XBlades is taking into account the rest of the body and not just the foot when it comes to the technology that goes into it. Injury prevention is at the forefront of it all which is a frequently ignored niche in the boot market. In the end the Sniper Speed does have a good place on the market as a more solid injury prevention boot and one that you won’t have to worry about falling apart.
A lot of people will point immediately to the upper texture but that wasn’t really an extreme negative for me. It did have an impact a few times during testing and it was annoying on occasion. A little less prominent is the blister factor, I was silly and wore it straight in and got blisters on my heel, this can easily be avoided if you have some extra time to spend with them. Lastly we have the generic looking upper, it isn’t much to look at and it scuffs easy. I went into this review expecting a much longer negative list than this, so overall I was pleasantly surprised.
If you want a speed boot that can take a beating and help prevent some injuries, these are perfect for you. I also absolutely love how the soleplate moves. I would personally choose these over most of the speed boots on the market for these three reasons. But the slick upper could use some work; I would really be in love with them if there weas just a bit more texture. Putting it all together, these would be great for a whole range of sports in addition to soccer and package is a welcome addition to the market. I’m quite impressed with what Xblades have to offer and I can’t wait to see what they will be releasing in the future.
Technology Efficiency: 70%
Total Score: 70%