If there is one boot that visually matches its name to perfection, it has got to be the adidas Predator Freak. Covered in a very unique, aptly named rubber DEMONSKIN pattern, the Freak leaves nothing to the imagination, creating an effect that matches the wildest Predator looks we have seen released in the past.
As is the case with every Predator release, there are high expectations and a desire for a complete performing power boot. It comes with the territory, and adidas has pulled out all the stops on this latest laceless version. We’ve had them in testing the past few weeks, here is our breakdown on what exactly you can expect from them.
Find all the latest FREAK+ colorways at SOCCER.com.
There are a lot of similarities between the Predator 20+ and Predator Freak+, something that is very apparent from the first time you place them side by side. But there are also key visual differences, like the new ankle cut and the additional rubber elements placed up around the midfoot. Do these make a difference performance wise, and are those differences for the better? Also, wondering how exactly you are are supposed to get your foot into them!
Breaking In and Comfort
When you take them out of the box for the first time, expect to spend some time trying to comprehend everything there is to the design. There are not many boots that offer up the type of dramatic introduction you get with the Predator Freak+. Once you have taken it all in and are ready to get them out onto a pitch, prepare for another type of dramatic introduction. They are not as easy boot to get on, like not in the slightest. Check out more of the how do they fit? section for more details.
It took me a few wears at practice before I felt comfortable getting them into a game, and I feel like many of you will have a very similar experience. It is just tough to adjust to the laceless style and compression fit, they cause you to cramp and take several wears to loosen up and mould to your foot shape. So, if you can, take your time breaking them in. Really allow them to stretch and open up before pushing them into game action.
PREDATOR FREAK features 360° coverage of adidas DEMONSKIN technology. First introduced last season, the performance innovation is created by a layer of rubber spikes – calibrated by a computer algorithm – laid in a formation that aligns to key contact points with the ball. Informed by direct elite player feedback, the adidas product creation team have now extended this coverage of spikes for the 2021 design, deliberately positioning them with the aim of enabling superior control and increased ball swerve.
Touch, Control, Shooting
The obvious purpose of the Predator range is to enhance and compliment ball striking, especially for players that like to get extra power behind their strikes. If we are to look at the Predator Freak in terms of power, they fit the bill and provide some extra pop behind shots. That I can completely agree with and it is something you will notice as you are strike shots or long passes.
But, at the same time you give up something else; touch and feel on the ball. For some, the extra tackiness that comes from rubber elements will improve your first touch and give allow you to cushion the ball on impact. Maybe it is something you look for and need in a boot. But, I found that the tackiness affected touch and never really provided the natural touch and feel I expect as a winger. I like to be able to feel the sensation of the ball against the upper of the boot. Each of the rubber elements remove that sensation, creating a thicker buffer, reducing the feel you get on the dribble. So, for what value the elements add in terms of power, I found they detracted in terms of touch and feel.
Lets go back to striking shots for a minute and what you can expect. If you go for straight up power, you will get a little bump in responsiveness off your foot, exactly what you expect from the DNA of a Predator. They really deliver and allow you to ping shots off your foot. The same is true when it comes to placing shows or adding some curl on your strikes. You are able to get some extra spin and curvature after the ball leaves your foot, with the enhanced surface contact creating additional friction with the ball.
How Durable Is DEMONSKIN?
This is the third pair I’ve worn that features Demonskin. To date, I’ve had no issues with its durability. That includes wearing these in about a dozen practices and games. Each of those little rubber elements have stayed in place without any noticeable damage. So, from my experience it stands the test of play. But, I also have to take into consideration feedback I have received from other players who have worn them. Some state that the rubber power elements tear and break off. Again, this is not something I have seen happen, but if others are experiencing an issue it is worth taking note of and following up on over time.
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?
I’m not a huge fan of laceless boots, but I have to admit that these fit pretty well. You do have to work your way in through the tiny opening and that definitely proves challenging. The included shoe horn in the box will be a necessary tool to use the first few times you wear them. I found that angling your foot sideways, then twisting with the shoehorn against your heel is the easiest way to get them on. Seriously, the opening is super tight and very narrow. This obviously helps create a locked in feel, as the material wraps snug around your ankle. I felt more pressure on the front of my ankle than with any other laceless boot, and the higher cut ankle to Achilles flap can seem a little daunting. That Achilles flap sits really nicely against the area and doesn’t cause any discomfort. It’s purpose? I don’t really know. Maybe to protect the area against heavy challenges from behind? But in reality, I haven’t needed it on any other boot, so I’m not sure its inclusion adds any true value here.
Inside the boot, expect to experience a decently accommodating fit. I can’t say they are a perfect option for wide fitting players, but they offer up a very decent cavity size with enough space to at least cater to a medium to wide fit. Stick true to size length wise, and hope your foot fits in through the opening!
As a Predator release, they match the DNA you expect from the silo, maybe more so than other previous releases because of how aggressive they are. But, I get the get feeling that adidas are trying a little too hard, adding elements just to create more of a WOW factor. The collar is a little challenging to get into, and the added DEMONSKIN seems a little over the top. So, for me, the low cut version that is trimmed down seems like a much more “sensible” boot option.
Included in the updated Predator box, you get a perforated boot bag and the much needed shoe horn. We are already on the fourth or fifth colorway in the series, with this version that I tested being the original release. Retail wise, they drop in at $274.99, with some pairs already on sale.
Find all the latest colorways available at SOCCER.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: The latest generation of Predator, featuring updated rubber DEMONSKIN across the upper – true Predator DNA.
Would I Buy Them: I do enjoy Predator releases, but these are a little too over the top for my liking. They offer everything Predator fans crave, I just don’t fall into that bracket.
Player Position: Any players that enjoy a little extra power while striking the ball will definitely enjoy these!