“A new generation of power boot” – that is how adidas labeled their latest Predator Mutator when it was released earlier this year. This version, the adidas Predator 20.1, has the look of a real Predator, with a low cut collar, laces and some unique technology across the forefoot providing a fresh dynamic for striking the ball.
We have tested the Elite level model and have found that a lot of people want a comparison between both versions. How does the Predator 20.1 compare to the Predator 20+? Does the collar make a big difference in how they perform? This is a mixed review with comparison to give you a very unique take on what they have on offer.
Find all the latest Predator 20.1 colorways available at soccer.com.
Just like the Predator 20+, we are looking at a mad, futuristic style release that holds some serious old school power vibes 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 with their more regular style ankle cut, 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.
There is no shoehorn included with these, so it might take you a minute or two to loosen the laces and open them fully up to make entry easier. That is the key to your first time wearing them, allowing the boot to truly breathe and loosely stretch around your foot. Plan to wear them with the laces completely open for the first five minutes, just to get a feel for them. Then lace them and tighten them to your own specifications.
On foot, they feel really nice. The fit and contouring inside the boot creates a perfect connection with your foot. And there is nice space in the forefoot cavity that gives you a comfortable sensation from first wear, you don’t have to break in the upper or hope that is stretches. There is already a spacious fit on offer.
Compared to the Predator 20+, I found these to be a lot more accommodating and much easier to wear. Having laces and a lower ankle cut just makes the material so much more pliable and easy to manipulate when on foot. And the upgrade in comfort found with these makes them a real winner on foot!
Low Ankle Cut Collar
Some players like a mid cut collar, others prefer a standard cut. It all comes down to personal preference and what you enjoy. For me, the freedom you get from a standard cut, where your ankle is more mobile and free from added material over the ankle bone, makes them much more appealable to me. It also means that the brand is spending less time trying to figure out how to make the materials through that area work in unison with stressing out other parts of the boot.
The cut on the Predator 20.1 is truly excellent in my opinion. First, it is knit right around, so there is absolutely no chance of discomfort. Around the front of your ankle, adidas leave a little tab that sits up along the angle of your ankle to foot. It is a knit material, so it again is very pliable. Where it proves extra useful is when you are putting the boots on, as you can grab the tab and use it for leverage to get your foot in.
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, the Predator 20.1 has a snug fit with little stretch on offer through wear. There is a difference, however, between the rubber spikes on the Predator 20.1 and the Predator 20+. On the latter, the spikes are much more aggressive, with a shape that hooks out toward the toes. On the Predator 20.1, they are toned down and in more of a pyramid type shape. And it is also worth noting that there are much less spikes across the upper, with adidas simplifying the design on the 20.1 in a way that I actually prefer.The idea is simple: create a “Predator” like connection with the ball, emphasizing the performance characteristics of a pure power boot.
Because the design is less aggressive, you don’t lose that natural touch on the ball. There is still plenty of grip on offer, but in a much more efficient way. On the ball, they provide a little extra ping, where the bal doesn’t sit on your foot but instead has a light bounce away. We are talking a minimal style bounce, one that makes it a little easier to get the ball out of your feet and into open space.
When striking the ball, it provides a 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 really 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 all important rubber spikes that cover the surface? From my experience with them, and this is my second time testing a pair, durability will not be an issue. adidas implement a layered system, designed to give the spikes a proper chance at long term survival. From inside-out you get 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.
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.
I don’t really have a lot of complaints, to be honest. They are the type of boot you enjoy wearing and want to wear again. This version of the boot is what I’d compare as being a “true” Predator release!
We have had several versions of the Predator 20.1 released over the past few months, each with a retail price of $224.99.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: The return of a Predator with true Predator DNA on show! Rubber elements on the upper to help when striking the ball.
Would I Buy Them: Yes, yes and yes. Even better value if you can find a pair that are on sale! Really enjoyed what they have on offer.
Player Position: This version will accommodate a wider variety of players, from wingers to strikers to defenders who want a little extra ping in their play!