What is more fun than playing in a game and having an opposing player look at your boots with a little bot of confusion as to why you don’t have any laces! Yes, laceless boots are much more prominent in today’s game, but there is still something really unique about seeing them in person.
The adidas X19+ has been released with a very important roll to play; prove to players that laceless can be improved and has a place on the market. With some minor updates, this latest version has a lot the needs to be uncovered. Will a more pliable upper enhance feel on the ball? And how will it effect the fit any lockdown? We’ve been testing a pair in this Metallic Silver colorway over the past few weeks, and there is a lot of important factors that you need to know about if you are considering buying a pair.
Check all the available X19+ colorways right now at soccer.com.
adidas look to enhance laceless performance with some slight upgrades to the X19+. One of the most noticeable aspects is the thin, translucent-in-parts upper. It provides the boot with a very unmistakable look. The collar also has an elastic feel and stretch, leaving you to wonder what the entire fit will be like in play. Again, these are advertised as a speed style boot, so it will be interesting to see how the latest enhancements effect performance.
Skeletalweave vs X-Layskin
On the laceless X18, adidas introduced a material called Skeletalweave. To the touch, it wasn’t very pliable because of the weave and it sat a little higher than all other adidas boots on the market. This shape held right throughout wear, so there was always a little gap between the top of your toes and the surface of the upper. As opposed to leather boots, where the material cups the surface of your foot, Skeletalweave acts as a support for the upper, ensuring it keeps its shape through wear.
X-Layskin is a much different material as it is softer, more pliable and lighter, hugging your foot for a streamlined fit and a minimal feel. And as you can see from images, it has a translucent appearance under the right lights. That is how thin the material is! It is pretty insane to see in person, especially since they have an silver outer coating that looks like a solid color. The actual construction is put into place thanks to a foam inner skeleton that is covered in a very thin upper film layer. That outer material features textured lines to add a little extra grip on the ball with the benefit of maximum feel thanks to the thin nature of the design.
Breaking In and Comfort
So, with a better understanding of what X-Layskin is, lets talk a little bit about comfort. Using a more pliable material actually comes with its own set of unique challenges. I actually found that the added stretch in the material caused more bunching around the top of the toe joints, so right under the bottom of the area where a lacing system would normally sit. Over the first few wears, this caused some discomfort to the point where I actually got a long blister on the top of my foot. Very odd, and definitely not the type of blister I have ever got before. It took several wears before this subsided and the material felt like it fit right around my foot in a snug, yet comfortable fashion.
If you go X19+, take some time to break them in properly. I’m talking a 10 minute run to start, maybe the jogging portion of your training warm-up. Then switch to something more reliable. Maybe even try to wear them around the house at home.
In summary, there is an unpredictability that comes with going laceless. At this stage I’ve tested at least a dozen laceless style boots, and they have all fit differently. There is something to be said about laces and the ability to dictate your own tightness.
Getting Them On
Included with the boots is a shoehorn, and trust me when I tell you that you will have to use it through the first few wears. These are tight to get into, but very manageable. And after a few wears, you start to adjust to the movements needed in order for your foot to slip in. My advice; maybe stretch a bit before getting them on so you don’t pull a muscle (lol), and do yourself a favor by remembering to use the shoehorn.
Touch, Control and Shooting
As you’d expect, and because of the laceless style, you have to expect losing some natural feel and touch on the ball. Yes, the X-Layskin upper is more pliable than its predecessor, but they still have a solid feel compared to the likes of a leather boot. Sounds odd saying that for a speed focused boot, but the upper is a little thicker than you might expect with a pretty rigid feel right throughout. Given the purpose of the boot and the fact it is laceless, the rigid feel is needed and should be expected. The one area where it proves to be a positive is when you are striking the shots. The force of impact is dispersed across the upper material so you can really shoot to your heart’s content in these. In a sense, that makes them more like a speed/power hybrid.
Because of that, I don’t see them being an ideal playmaker boot, where you need that extra sensation to get a proper feel for your pass or to play the perfectly weighted ball. You don’t get the natural sensation as you take small touches, something that you definitely get from other laceless boots that feature knit uppers.
One other note here, and something I really do like is the texture across the upper. adidas use a series of parallel lined micro-ridges to create a better connection on the ball. Inside each ridge is a wire that adds support to the upper, while also giving you the added surface area and traction when controlling or striking the ball.
Traction and Soleplate
This is an area where I am a huge fan, an area of the boot that has successfully transitioned from the original version! Welcome in the SprintFrame soleplate, 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!
Visually, adidas has gone with an iridescent effect on the plate that allows it to shine under the right lights.
How do they Fit?
They fit very tight, but that is absolutely needed. If you are a player that hates a tight-fitting boot, or a boot that is snug right around the ankle to midfoot, you might as well move onto the your next option. In order for these to work, your ankle has to be locked down in place just like a racing car driver is buckled down into the bucket seat. The compression collar and added padding through the heel lock you down into place with no reason for them to slip off your feet.
When you slip them on, expect to hear a suction sound as your foot pushes through the density of the collar. It is like a welch type noise that locks your foot in place. In fact, it sounds very similar to when you put your feet into a tight fitting pair of wellington boots. And as you take them off, don’t be surprised to see the forefoot suction downward as you condense the air pressure with your foot out of the boot. It is an interesting experience the first few times you put them on.
Ok, so what is my advice on size? If you are going to wear them, stick to your normal size. Going up in size would prove detrimental as the material needs to be as snug as possible for best performance. If your normal size proves to be too tight, move onto the next boot! This is not a release you are going to want to mess around with.
Do They Provide Lockdown?
The ultimate question! In effect, yes they do. You get a boot that fits very snug right around your foot. BUT, and here is the problem, every player needs a different fit. So, what works for my foot shape might not work for your foot shape. Through sprints, cuts and changes in direction, I felt secure in them. Even so, there were still times when I felt a strong desire to be able to lace them up, almost like the laceless fit created a false sense of security. They won’t fall off, but you still have to adjust to the mindset of wearing a boot that doesn’t have any laces to tighten.
Ok, so here is the thing. Laceless boots are pretty cool to look at, and there is a market of players out there that want to be able to wear them. But, I’m kind of over the whole laceless fad. It just doesn’t work for me anymore. Why pay more for a boot that doesn’t allow you to dictate your fit? Why not buy a pair of X19.1 and take the laces out? As a result, their rating drops in my opinion. Give me a pair of f50 adiZero any day over a pair of these. Just my honest opinion!
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No laces, but a higher price-point. This is something else that drives me a little crazy about the X19+. They drop in at $274.99, but this metallic silver version is the first to go on sale for $219.99. There are already several different colorways available to chose from. My preferred to date would have to be the Blue/Gold version.
Check all the available X19+ colorways right now at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: The latest in laceless performance, with adidas upgrading the upper material for a more pliable feel on foot.
Category: Speed, with a little bit of power mixed in.
Weight: 6.7oz – extremely light!
Would I Buy Them: I’m not a big laceless fan. Plus, I didn’t enjoy the level of initial comfort. Give me a pair of X19.1 and I’d be much happier.
Player Position: Because of the touch and feel provided, they are better suited to players that are not central midfielders who rely on a natural touch in play. In other words, they are not an ideal playmaker boot.