As part of the Battle Pack collection released prior to World Cup 2014, adidas introduced us to the latest incarnation in their fabled power boot series – the Predator Instinct. In recent times, the Predator has become more of a hybrid release, but on this version they have restructured the overall make-up of the boot and taken it back toward its roots. Other than the wild colorway, this can be viewed as a more traditional Predator release, but how does that correlate with performance?
I’ve had these in testing over the last few weeks, and things have definitely got interesting. Here is a detailed breakdown of what you can expect should you decide you want a pair.
The Predator Instinct is currently available to order from soccer.com.
Initial reaction: One of surprise at both the overall design and composition of the boot! As part of the Battle Pack, adidas gave these a slightly different look by choosing a primary Black/White design rather than a White/Black as seen on other boots in the range. We were expecting a new Predator release at some point prior to the World Cup, but its delivery as part of the Battle Pack was a slightly unusual move as it took some focus off of its introduction. As is the case with most new releases, I was anticipating flashing lights and a lot of technical talk, but none of that really transpired as adidas stealthily took the boot to market.
Evolving From the Lethal Zones
In a slightly unusual move, Adidas has gone back in time to create this latest edition. A more potent and specific power element with a much meatier design brings back memories of high profile Predators like the Precision and the Accelerator. Over the past few generations, specifically the Predator LZ, adidas looked to completely alter the range by decreasing the boots weight and moving it toward a control hybrid mold rather than power. It is a move that left many fans confused and disappointed at what the range was becoming.
This latest update sets a new tone and almost acts as an apology from adidas as they look to take back some of the hard-core power fans they lost in the recent transition. Of course, prying those players back is going to be tough – especially with the popularity of the Puma evoPOWER.
Breaking In and Comfort
When a boot is built on a Comfort Frame, you can immediately tell what the company making it is looking for players to experience. These are most definitely a comfortable boot and they are perfectly structured for wear right out of the box. The soleplate is flexible and the materials through the upper are plenty soft to adapt to your foot shape.
One area that might create initial questions is the rubber power elements placed across the forefoot. It is important to note that the rubber is very pliable and folds with the movements of the boot. It obviously takes away from the natural flex of the boot but it doesn’t affect general feel or comfort levels. The boot does have a slightly heavier feel that the Predator Lethal Zones, it is reminiscent of previous models like the Powerswerve or Absolute. One of the fundamental differences between these and any previous versions is the design of the soleplate, its overall flat shape, with the lip around the joining with the upper providing a wider, flatter base. This in turn gives a much more uniform landing area and decreases any stud pressure whatsoever. In other words, they provide a very smooth ride.
In Game Performance
In similar fashion to their predecessor, adidas has gone with several different “lethal zones” where they use a rubber compound to improve power and touch on the ball. Each zone has its own purpose and the compound of each is shaped and positioned very differently. There are 4 primary regions and then a new gel pad region that sits along the instep.
Starting with the gel pad, its inclusion provides players with an option for the retired CTR360 Maestri range, and it pretty much mimics what Nike placed on their control boot. When you look to take balls out of the air, it is ideal for cushioning and taking the impact out of a pass. That is the theory behind it anyway; in reality it works but you don’t notice it very much through play. In other words, you are not going to control a pass and start screaming in joy over the difference in feel on the ball. It is very minimal but it does serve a useful purpose.
The same is true with some of the zones, including the Dribble and First Touch – both of which sit along the toeline of the forefoot. Neither offer an immediate change in performance or how you play the game. They are simply there and if you can make the most of them, they are useful additions. The Zones that add some noticeable performance characteristics are the Drive and Swerve zones, one sitting along the strike area and the other covering the outer region of the boot, providing a perfect area for adding some bend on long balls played with the outside of the foot. The Drive Zones is of course, the most important part of this boot and it is the area that every player wants to know about. Does it mimic old school Predator releases and will it actually make your shots more powerful?
First, it is important to note that the zig-zag design of the Drive Zone actually serves a dual purpose. It allows the upper to be more flexible by ensuring there is an available shift in the material through play so that the upper can still stretch in both directions. The second purpose is for added traction on the ball and a more dynamic strike as you connect. The rubber is also slightly ridged and there are different profiles to each individual section.This in turn provides a rebound effect with the ability to add more spin to shots. Overall, it serves a valid purpose and that definitely relates to additional power. Players that wear the boots after lets say for example, the adiZero F50 range will notice an immediate difference. It will be a mix of feel on the ball from first touch to finishing chances. You don’t feel very much impact as the ball encounters the region, while there is a definite pop and immediate rebound as you strike shots.
Ultimately, these boots won’t make you an overnight legendary striker who burns the palms off goalkeepers, but they are a boot that pave the foundations for players that want to improve the striking part of their game and work on first touch. They are most definitely a “Power” boot!
New Soleplate and Overall Traction
A new transparent outsole is introduced with a control frame design to help improve flexibility while also offering some underfoot touch benefits. From the images, you can clearly see how the lip sits a little wider than the upper Plus, there is a ridged design along the side that is intended to offer control properties as you get on the ball. Underfoot, along the sole, adidas also add an unusual region of pointed spikes. They are very minimal in size and they sit in between the studs along the forefoot. Their purpose, again to improve control with adidas research ascertaining that a majority of players use the base of the foot to control or stop the ball. Personally, it is not something I had the pleasure of using too much, but I can see a reasoning for its inclusion.
When it comes to traction, the positioning and implementation of the overall design plays into the hands of the boots overall comfort. So much so that these can easily be worn on natural surfaces or high quality artificial turf. I had the opportunity to wear them on both and they worked out very well, offering good solid traction without stick and keeping my fit snug in place.
Sticking with what works, a Hybridtouch upper is again put into play. Hybridtouch has received rave reviews on several recent releases for its leather like feel and 40% lighter properties. It is more resistant under stress conditions and maintains it’s snug shape for a longer period of time, while it also takes 4 times longer than a traditional leather to absorb the same quantity of water.
How do they Fit?
In terms of length, they are very much true to size with very little variation to how they fit compared to the Lethal Zones or adiPOWER. Where they are slightly different is in width, and I wouldn’t label these as an ideal shoe for players that need a wider ft or a boot with the ability to stretch. They are a medium/wide fit and I wouldn’t push them on players who need something more spacious.
Battle Pack Design
Released as part of the World Cup collection, these boots are not going to be the top choice of many players design wise. If you want a pair now, then this is the colorway to choose. For those that want something different to the 50/50 Black/White design, there are some less obtrusive versions on the way over the coming months!
I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that adidas was bold enough to step back to previous models and chose to dramatically increase the overall weight of the boot. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a negative or a criticism. It is merely an important note that actually has me applauding on the inside! My criticism is the fact that adidas continues to avoid the term “Power” with these boots, when they clearly fall perfectly into that category. There is obviously some background marketing reasoning behind the decision, it is just a shame the three-stripe won’t bow to those loyal fans that criticized the boots switch from Power to Control.
Performance wise, they are a top notch boot and there are no drawbacks. It is important to note, however, that they are geared towards players more centrally localized on the pitch. Wingers and pacey strikers might want to give these a miss as they look for boots that provide a base for fast acceleration and quick changes in pace.
For those interested in a pair, the Predator Instinct is available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A definite power boot that takes the Predator range back towards it original routes. Very comfortable to wear.
Category: We say Power, but adidas will tell you Control Hybrid.
Weight: They hit the 10oz mark, which is a dramatic shift from previous models (and the “lightweight = better” trend).
Would I Buy Them: I like everything adidas has done with this version and I commend their decision to base the release on comfort, thus increasing the weight. A refreshing release that I would fork out $200 for.
Player Position: Defenders, central midfielders and even playmakers can make the most out of a pair.
What is your take on this latest Adidas Predator release and do the changes impress you or leave you avoiding the range all together? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can always find us on Twitter and Facebook.