Since their release, adidas has invested a lot of time and effort promoting the X18.1 over the laceless X18+. It seem a little odd, but there is method behind the madness. The x18.1 reinvents the ideals of a speed boot while taking direct inspiration from f50 releases of the past. Each piece of material seems to integrate very effectively with the piece beside it, creating a quality boot that has been very highly received since their introduction. How do they rate against the market and if they really are that good, what is it that makes them special? Here is our take on the X18.1 and how they rate in the speed boot category.
Find the X18.1 available at soccer.com.
Right from release, there was a lot of positive buzz surrounding the X18 series. The designs are slick, and adidas placing an emphasis on comfort and stability in a speed boot has not gone unnoticed. We haven’t had a true winning speed boot from adidas since the f50 adiZero series was retired, but these have a lot of potential. Another important question will be how they compare to the laceless version, do the laces make a difference?
Breaking In and Comfort
Where the laceless X18+ came with a necessary break-in period, the X18.1 absolutely doesn’t. These are a dream boot right out of the box, with adidas creating perfect fit and form throughout. Take the area around the heel, where a memory foam style padding hugs the area as you slip into them. You just have to let your heel soak into the material and enjoy the feel through play.
The addition of laces allows you to really dictate how snug they feel around your foot. Key here is to loosen the laces right up, down to the last wrung, before you put them on for the first time. I’ll always be a fan of laced over laceless just because it allows you to determine how they fit rather than relying on a materials that might suit one player more than another.
When it comes to the upper materials and soleplate, both perform equally as well as each other. You are provided with plenty of flex and natural motion right out of the box. It might be worth testing them out in a training session just to be sure, but for most players these will provide the quality you expect right from first wear. I can’t think of many other boots that actually fit as well as these, or that performed like a well oiled machine right from first wear.
The Claw Collar found on the X18.1 is very similar to what is found on the laceless X18+, only that you have the addition of laces. It provides a very sleek and aerodynamic look. adidas use a compression material called TechFit that is also used effectively in many of their other products. It provides a snug tight feel without being overly restrictive through movement. In terms of where it is actually used, basically the black portion that runs through the lacing area and back around the higher cut heel region. When you pull the material laterally, there is a definite elastic feel that automatically springs back into place as you release it. So, it does its job effectively.
Personally, I enjoy the fit provided and like the fact adidas has used more of a traditional style low cut. The higher cut up along the heel is intended to provide a little extra support to the Achilles region, and it does that without rubbing against the area. When you run your fingers just along the collar, you might notice that is has a pretty thin but solid feel, something that might raise concern from players wondering if it causes any discomfort. It doesn’t. With socks on, it simple sits in place to keep you securely locked in, matching the shape of your ankle.
Touch, Control, Shooting
The upper on the X18.1 is called a SpeedMesh, and it very unique. adidas has created an extremely lightweight material that provides second skin-like fit with a barefoot-like touch on the ball. The blue upper material is perforated to create a little extra texturing, and it is then placed on a slightly thicker yellow under layer.
In terms of touch and control on the ball, they are very effective. Creating a little extra texturing by removing some of the material is a simple way to allow for better feel on the ball. The material is naturally lighter, and there is added grip on the ball. As a player that enjoys dribbling on the ball, they felt excellent in game. You really feel confident moving at speed as you get that natural feel you need, with less fear of the ball spinning away from the surface.
The one thing I was even more impressed with was the feel when striking shots. Note that the lacing on these runs down the strikezone, something that goes against what brands have been feeding us in previous years. A clean strikezone is supposed to provide a better strike on the ball, right? adidas has used the area to enhance the shape and fit by placing a stretch material over the more pronounced bones on your forefoot. Doesn’t this make sense? It is the most angled part, so a stretch material increases the potential of a better fit compared to a less pliable material. And how exactly does a lacing system affect strike on a ball? Isn’t their an argument that it might actually provide a little extra padding, allowing you to strike through the ball with more confident force?
They might be advertised as a speed focused boot, but they are a very complimentary option for players that want a strikers boot, something that can allow you to be expressive while also having the ability to get firm connection with your shots.
Traction and Soleplate
This is an area where I am a huge fan, and something that got me super excited when I seen them at first! Welcome back in the SprintFrame, a system you might recall from the days of the F50 adiZero. This version has been slightly modified and updated for the modern game, providing highly effective traction through tight cuts and into quick sprints. It features arrowhead shaped studs on the forefoot for optimal traction during rapid acceleration. I thoroughly enjoyed it through testing, and not just for the wildly imaginative iridescent color effect. Look good, feel good, play good!
Up close, you can see that there are little holes just beneath the surface. This is part of a process called drillium engineered tooling, where strategical pieces have been drilled out of the soleplate to decrease weight without affecting the durability of the design. It helps decrease the weight of the boot, provides more flexibility in the plate out of the box, and doesn’t play any negative impact through play. An absolute win/win in any situation! As I said, i enjoyed the soleplate, how it felt through wear, the flexibility out of the box, stopping and cutting. If I wasn’t able to notice any negatives about drillium, it must be a positive addition.
How do they Fit?
The answer: very, very nicely. For players in need of an accommodating boot option, these can definitely be added to the list. Once you squeeze your feet in through the tight opening, they deliver a very open fit that allows a wide fitting player to wear them.
The natural shape and contours of the upper hug your foot, with a little stretch to provide a comfortable end fit. I found that the Predator 18 provided a surprising good fit for wider fitting players, these are even better. It seems like adidas has reevaluated the shape of their boots to suit a wider variety of players and it is a welcome change. For those with a narrow foot, you will need to rely on the laces to really tighten up the fit. But unlike other laced boots, the tongue is built in and that means you might not get the constriction you need. Thus, I see them as a more appropriate boot to recommend to wide fitting players than narrow fitting.
Right around the toe box – as seen in images above – adidas has added what looks like a thin layer of plastic to enhance durability. Thankfully, it plays its role without reducing the pliable feel through the area. So, a welcome addition that should prove useless over time. I haven’t had enough time with them to say they are going to provide players with an entire season of play, but things have been very encouraging to date. The construction of the boot seems solid enough to ensure you get value for money out of them.
I don’t have much in the way of negative feedback on the X18.1. Going into testing, I expected them to be a quality boot, but they far outperformed my expectations. If there are some things to watch out for;
- they are tough to squeeze your foot in as the Claw Collar is intended to be tight.
- they tend to start smelling as the result of having a closed design, so you really need to air them out after play.
- personally, the only thing that would make them better is a configuration that included low profile conical studs.
There have been several new X18.1 colorways released since this World Cup version hit the market. Each look matches the style of its particular pack, offering players options based on style.
The X18.1 silo has an original retail price of $224.99.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: One of the best boots currently on the market. They are so well balanced, with a clean touch and lightweight feel providing excellent performance on pitch.
Would I Buy Them: Absolutely, yes! There are boots that fit a need and then there are boot that change the game; these are the latter. Everything about them oozes quality, one of the best boots on the market right now.
Player Position: They are definitely marketed as a more attack minded boot, but they are a fit for all players on the pitch. Think of them as a progressive hybrid that offer positives in all departments.