With the introduction of the Predator 20+, adidas heralded in a new generation of the fabled power boot. This version sees the return of a power element, adding a rubber component on the upper that enhances rebound when striking shots just as the original Predator intended to do. But rather than gently ease back in, adidas has gone full on extreme with a material called DEMONSKIN. You will hear a lot about that below, just know that it plays a huge role in the boots performance and you will definitely notice its impact through wear – these boots are intimidating!
We have been testing the Predator 20+ for the past few weeks, and here is a breakdown of what you can expect from a pair.
Find all the latest adidas Predator 20+ colorways available at soccer.com.
We are talking mad futuristic, with the Predator 20+ really having that old school power vibe about it. The big question is how all of those rubber spikes will play out on the ball, how they will impact touch and control, and I’m also wondering just how durable they will be over time. Visually, they seem to tick all the boxes that many expect from a true Predator release, but will that play out on pitch?
Breaking In and Comfort
Right out of the box, you are going to spend valuable time trying to comprehend what the wild upper styling is all about. Take them out, explore the design and become familiar with the radical upper texturing. There really isn’t anything else like it on the market, with adidas cornering the power category via a release that follows the true DNA of what a Predator release is supposed to be.
When you try them on for the first time, don’t be surprised to really struggle getting them on. There is a shoehorn included in the box, and I’d recommend using it to slip your feet in the first few wears. You will get a little bit of stretch out of the collar that allows them to slip on and off a little easier over time. But there isn’t enough to create overstretch, I can safely say that you will never experience the issue of them falling off your foot. This is partly due to the new weave structure that adidas employ through the tongue, provided a high level of added compression when combined with the higher heel cut. adidas use an extremely high ankle cut that goes right up over the Achilles, something that a lot of you have questions about. It is there to improve comfort, creating a locked in fit higher up the boot. But in reality, I absolutely don’t think it is necessary or that it improves the fit in anyway. A lower cut like what was on the Predator 19+ would have provided just as much performance wise. You really don’t notice it a whole lot in play, and it doesn’t cause any discomfort against the Achilles.
In general, I actually found the Predator 20+ to be a little stiff during wear. Given the fact they are laceless and feature a huge number of rubber spikes across the offer, it is not surprising that they need to be a little more rigid on foot. You do notice it in play, and to be honest I was never 100% comfortable wearing them, there was always a slight feeling of relief taking them off after a game. It would be the one real downfall I have the release.
What is DEMONSKIN?
DEMONSKIN is a new breakthrough technology made up of a textured spike layer on the Predator upper. And this is where the design goes all futuristic! Informed by years of data-based research and testing, DEMONSKIN is the result of a computer algorithm being used to create an entirely new interface between boot and ball. It’s spikes have been deliberately crafted to wrap the front and side of the boot in a formation that aligns to key contact points with the ball, combining to give players enhanced control and touch on the ball, while also promoting spin when striking. Each spike ranges in height, to a maximum of 3mm off the surface.
Touch, Control, Shooting
DEMONSKIN itself is actually decently rigid, something I imagine has to be the case considering it has to keep all these spikes locked down on the surface. As a result, they Predator 20+ has a snug fit with little stretch on offer through wear. From images, the spikes that flow right across the upper surface are very radical. Each features an attacking shaped design, pointing away from the boot and hooking out toward the toes. Inn other words, as I run my finger along them from the tongue through the toe, it forces the elements down and creates a smooth surface. But, if I run my fingers in the opposite direction there is a lot of resistance, with each rubber element not wanting to be forced in that direction, they end up snapping back quickly. The idea here is to create a “Predator” like connection with the ball, emphasizing the performance characteristics of a pure power boot.
On the ball, you definitely notice it’s impact, we are talking next level grip to the extent that it takes away from your natural touch. In fact, it almost seems overly aggressive, adding an unusual barrier between you and the ball as you dribble or take touches. There were moments when the ball was skimming across the surface at speed, and that first touch felt like it glitched my foot back off the ball. Consider a leather boot that soaks in impact and keeps your foot close to the ball, not picture the Predator that jolts back ever so slightly. It is a very slight, unnatural motion that proves a little distracting compared to what I am used to. So, I don’t see them as an ideal option for players out wide that use speed and quick touches as part of their game.
When striking the ball, it provides a little extra spring and cushion, which actually plays positive to their performance. In fact, that is kind of what the DNA of a Predator is all about, and as it goes, adidas has really created a material and style that does capture the vision of a Predator. In game, I had several moments where I reallly appreciated what they had on offer, one example being when I rounded a keeper and shot from a very tight angle. The added grip allowed me to truly manipulate the ball in those circumstances. So, they definitely fit the bill as top power boot option for players that value striking shots in or around the box.
How Durable Is DEMONSKIN?
Here lies a very valid question given the importance of the rubber spikes to the actual performance of the boot. What can you expect from those 406 spikes that cover the surface? From my experience with them, durability will not be an issue with adidas implementing a layered system designed to give the spikes a proper chance at long term survival. From inside-out, adidas has gone with a soft inner lining, then a second layer that includes the rubber elements placed through the Primeknit material. On top of that, a very thin membrane creates a bonded upper casing that secures everything in place. Across the entire time I’ve worn them, none of the spikes have been damaged or shown sign of probable wear.
But, I have to add to this area with some additional insight from a friend wearing the Predator Pro gloves. They feature the same rubber elements (or spikes) along the backhand of the glove. And my GK friend offered very disappointing feedback stating that some of the rubber spikes had broken off after only 2 wears. They seem to have ripped away as his fist contacted the ground. Not a fun thing to happen with gloves priced over the $100 mark.
Traction and Soleplate
Underfoot, adidas again use a ControlFrame traction system, but this time it has been modified with a split-plate design The studs have also been re-configured to reduce weight. Looking at each of the studs, you will notice the design is more of a Hybrid style, amplifying the boot’s level of rotation and traction. Each stud is a lot thinner than you might expect, and this actually allows them to be an ideal option on both FG and AG surfaces. In fact, this is an area of the boot where they really excel and I was more than pleased wearing them on both surfaces. Playing on turf, they give you solid traction without unnecessary bite, so they release from the surface very quickly allowing for quick acceleration.
Just like the upper, though, the soleplate has a rigid feel to it and it never seems to loosen up like you’d want over time. It almost has a Nitrocharge “EnergyPulse” feel to it, where it always wants to snap back straight while you are flexing you foot. In other words, it just doesn’t provide that natural, responsive underfoot feel that you want.
How do they Fit?
One thing is for sure, there isn’t a lot of difference between how my pair felt the first I wore them and how they feel after testing. In other words, when you try them on a pair, that is the fit you can expect from them. Any stretch in the material has been very minimal. I’d compare them as being a “snug” wide fit. Odd, right? I don’t think I’ve ever used that description before, giving you some indication that they are very different from other boots on the market. What I mean is that they are on the wider side, but the material and upper shape sits snug across the forefoot.
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Taking a very up close look at the adidas Predator 20+ with a direct focus on the DEMONSKIN upper and wild rubber spike pattern!!! I’ve worn these twice already, so it was also a chance to see how the spikes have held up so far. 👹 #adidas #adidassoccer #adidaspredator #predator20 #laceless #demonskin #predator #upclose #unboxing #soccercleats
Honestly, I’d choose a pair of Predator 19+ over the Predator 20+ if you were to give me the option of only owning one pair. Give me a clean and responsive strikezone that I can make the most of today over a highly tech advanced upper that might or might not suit my style over time. adidas has put a lot of work on creating a boot that embodies the true DNA of a Predator release, but I’m not sure that is where the market needs to go. The entire constructive produces a rigid boot that never feels truly comfortable on foot. If you are craving a power boot, it is likely to be your best option on the market right now. but it isn’t anywhere near the best boot on the market.
To get your feet in a pair, you are going to have to drop around $275 with several colorways available right now. Just like many other current elite level releases, that is a huge investment on a very tech heavy boot. I think there is better to come from adidas in the Predator silo as they find ways to enhance performance. But until then, this is the only true laceless power boot available for you to choose from.
Find all the latest Predator 20+ releases at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A return to the true DNA of the Predator silo, as adidas create an ultra aggressive power boot that features 406 rubber spikes across the upper.
Would I Buy Them: From a personal perspective, it is not the style or type of boot I ultimately want as I’m looking to maintain ball control at speed.
Player Position: They are better suited to centrally positioned players that rely less on speed and more on control and shooting. So, centerbacks, centermids and strikers who want to get quick shots off with a little extra power.