adidas has unleashed an all new type of SL performance, and this one packs on some radical design elements. Built to provide players with a new level of Chaos, the 7.2oz adidas X15+ SL offers a standout colorway with “windows” along the side. Yes, adidas has introduced see through panels on the side of the boot that create a dramatic visual effect. They have also redesigned the tongue and heel to ensure players get a little bit extra over the standard X15.1.
After several games and multiple training sessions, here is how the special edition boots worked out for us.
Find the X15+ SL currently at soccer.com.
From initial PR images, the boots looked like they were a little rugged or worn across the forefoot. It actually took holding them in person to understand what they were all about. I’ve found the X15 series fits pretty tight, so I’m interested to see if the minor modifications on this SL version make any noticeable difference through wear. And the see through windows along the side – what are they all about?
Breaking In and Comfort
There is no way of getting around it; out of the box, this is a tight fitting boot. The process of just trying to get my feet in for the first time took a little extra work! In order to make it happen, I loosened the laces to the max and wriggled my foot in. Starting out I was very nervous as my little toe was wedged up against the outside of the boot. Not the most comfortable feeling in the world. So-much-so that while wearing them for the first time I stated to some friends it wouldn’t be long before I was changing out of them! Through warm-ups, I kept the laces loose and let the boot figure out its own fit around my foot. It wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, so I decided to take them into some game time, simply tightening the laces to the produced fit. I won’t say it was perfect, but it worked out decently well, and more importantly they lasted right through a complete game.
One of the significant changes on this version is the toned down tongue design, with adidas removing the synthetic overlay and leaving a fabric instead. The result is a more comfortable feel across the top of your foot, as the material allows for a more natural stretch and fit through that area. This also reduces the structured nature of the Techfit collar, resulting in a toned down cut and more simplified fit around the ankle line. I’m indifferent on this one as I enjoyed the slightly higher cut on X15. But, I also didn’t encounter any negative experiences with this version.
Outside of all that, these were a decent boot to work with initially. I liked the feel of the upper material (something I’ll cover a little more below) and it provided enough of a natural feel through the first few wears to ensure focus was placed on playing the game rather than what was happening with the boots.
Touch and Striking Shots
Lets start with the actual material used. adidas have taken a smooth, soft synthetic and crafted it right across the forefoot and through the midfoot X-Cage. From first wear, it has a buttery feel and molds through your fingers if you try pinch it. But, it is a very different type of material to what we have seen on any recent adidas boots due to the fact it holds a slightly thicker, padded feel. The best way I can compare it is to the foam padded poster strips that you use to hang up posters. It has that slightly spongy feel. On the ball, it plays out real well as you get a controlled feel through the right areas. Plus there is enough material to reduce impact while striking shots, producing a smooth follow through. I wouldn’t place them anywhere near the power category, but as speed boots go these are a solid option for players that possess the ability to score from long range shots.
I mentioned that the upper felt smooth to the touch, well that is only half accurate. It is a lot smoother than any other adidas boot on the market at the moment, but still has a little bit of roughness to help with control on the ball. Actually, the material itself has a faux-leather feel, so that in itself creates added grip when you look to take the ball out of the air or cushion a touch forward as you move. As an attacking style player, it is all positive. As is pretty much the norm for defensive players, this SL boot won’t provide a great deal of protection against opposing player’s studs.
Although listed as a White/Black/Shock Blue, the colorway is anything but simple. From a distance and in some PR images, they look slightly worn or even a little dirty. Up close it is very different; you get what looks like a White/Silver Shimmer effect across right across the upper. It is difficult to tell if the silver breaks through a white base or it is vice-versa, but it creates an upgraded light speckle effect. In person they look so much better than I expected.
Continuing on the theme of visual effect, the side of the boot is particularly important to focus on. adidas has gone with transparent see-through panels along the side of your boot that add a really dramatic effect, especially if you wear different colored socks. Below, I’m wearing a pair of neon yellow socks and you can see how the color can be seen through several portions of the panels. So basically, you get a different style that is “custom” pending what color socks you are wearing!
Does it provide any performance benefits? No, not really. The material is slightly lighter as a result, but we are talking minimal difference here. adidas might point out some performance enhancements as a result of the design, but in a real world situation it is more about the visual effect.
Just a final note on visuals; I’m well aware that there has been a mixed reaction to how these boots work but I’m on the positive side. In person, these look pretty tasty with that silver shimmer and lime/blue detailing creating something quite unique. Definitely a colorway that I very much enjoyed wearing!
How do they Fit?
As per the break in section, they fit tight out of the box. I definitely wouldn’t recommend these to players in need of something with a wider fit. Yes, they eased into play and were efficient through testing, but there was a definite snug feel about them throughout. I’d compare them as being similar to the X15.1, with a slightly more unexpected give that is related to the tongue design and some extra stretch across the top of the foot. If you do decide to purchase a pair, they are true-to-size. But again, be wary if you need a wide fitting boot!
Underfoot, the AG/FG traction system is the same as we have seen through the X15 series, thus performance hasn’t changed too much. The X-CLAW base is built to give complete traction with a lightweight feel. On FG, they are pitch perfect and I’m all about the smaller nubs that line the inner lining of the plate. This is a boot that is less about straight-line speed and more in tune with changing direction at speed. The addition of that inner line seems to create a more dynamic motion and connection with the surfaces. So, for example, lateral movement seems much more supported as your foot connects, grips and releases from the surface.
You get the similar positive results on AG, although it is really dependent on the quality of the surface. If you are playing on a newer, softer surface, they will work really well. I had the chance to test them on a semi-height AG material, with little spring to it. And I wasn’t impressed. My recommendation is to strongly consider where you will be playing with these boots. If it is a newer material, they are a lock-in. But if you know that there is a possibility of older materials with less bounce, stick with a more reliable low profile conical stud config.
In terms of visual design, this soleplate is on fire! I love the color combo between Black and Blue with the Silver panels adding some dramatic variance in between.
My only concern is getting the fit right. Not all players will be able to enjoy wearing them due its slightly thinner design. The fact adidas reduced the amount of material across the tongue helps, as there is more stretch through the top of the boot when you open the laces – and that proves to be hugely beneficial. Cost is another factor for players looking to pick up a pair. If you can budget for them, I’d pick them over the regular X15 any day of the week!
Again, you can find limited edition pairs of X15+ SL at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A well built SL boot that provides very tidy touch on the ball in an elegant fashion. Side window panels create a visual appearance you won’t see on any other boot!
Category: Lightweight Speed.
Would I Buy Them: If I could budget for a pair then yes. I enjoyed the performance they provided even if they were very tight starting out.
Player Position: Created more for attacking players than defensive. If you fall into the “Built For Chaos” category, then they are for you!
How durable are they?