I, like every football obsessed kid in the nineties, always dreamed of wearing Adidas Predators. When I pictured myself kitted out in the blue of Everton lifting the FA Cup, or in the white of England scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup Final, I was wearing Adidas Predators. They were the dream.
With the dawn of the Premier League era came Adidas’ revolutionary boot, for the first time, here was a football boot that was more than a running shoe with studs, something that did more than stop you from slipping over. Here was a boot that, like the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, like the technology of Sky’s razzle dazzle television coverage, like the arrival of exciting foreign talents on our shores, actually enhanced the football itself.
And because of that, Adidas always have something to live up to when they refresh their iconic line of boots. The Adidas Predators, even so many years later and despite fierce competition from many other boot manufacturers, remains the most iconic football boot you can buy. So when SoccerPro.com offered me the chance to review the Adidas AdiPower Predators, what was I going to say?!
Right off the bat though, there were little departures from the Predator I knew and loved. They changed the naming convention, the main colourway wasn’t the traditional black, red and white. It mimicked the somewhat pretentious AdiZero and Nike’s Superfly line of boots in boasting of its lightness. And, most worryingly, it continued Adidas’ recent departure from that most iconic Predator feature of all – the big flappy tongue.
And it’s true. The AdiPower Predator is not the Predator as we’ve known it all these years, and there’s certainly some disappointment because of this.
I’ve always loved Adidas’ big floppy tongues, adorning their World Cups, their Copa Mundials, and of course, the original predators, they were almost comically large, but like a big spoiler on a sports car, they added something. And in addition to that pizzazz, there was always the feeling that it just made things a little bit neater, a little bit cleaner.
And on the Predators, they evolved. They streamlined a little, and they sprouted a little elastic loop. Now there was science in it too – they allowed you to tuck away those pesky laces, and gave you a larger, cleaner area with which to strike the ball. For people like me, who are finicky and compulsively neat to an extreme, they were a revelation to almost match the Predator element itself.
The AdiPower though, like the “X” before it, has shed its tongue. It’s also seen the drastic reduction in size of the aforementioned predator elements. This, of course, has evolved over many years. Long gone are the days of the original predator, where big, meaty vamps of rubber adorned both inside and outside of the boot.
Recent iterations have seen cutbacks, the rubber streamlined and hemmed back to the inside of the boot. With the AdiPower, it’s retreated further still, climbing up the foot away from the toes to a relatively small patch near the instep of the foot. The terrain of the rubber is as mystifying and intriguing as ever of course, but you can’t help feel that you’re getting less Predator for your money, on first impression at least.
But other first impressions are good. Let’s be honest, much of the appeal in football boots these days, as with any apparel, is how good they look. And the AdiPowers look great. For me, they strike a good balance in between the trend towards the garish evident in the range of super-lightweight boots on offer from both Adidas and Nike while remaining eye catching and stylish.
The electric shades of blue and yellow complement each other well, with the black heel and laces taking the edge of and preventing them from becoming too overbearingly bright. In terms of the design beneath the colours, they’re relatively restrained: three stripes on the inside, three stipes on the outside, a black heel component and a little texture added in the stitching of the leather – they have a classic look which is brought into the modern world by the unconventional blue/electricity colourway.
Much as they’re good to look at though, it means nothing if they’re not good to play in. I was fortunate enough to be able to give these guys their debut on a near-brand new artificial pitch at Wakefield Park in Wellington, and I could not have wished for a better surface to try them out.
From the very moment I laced them up and strode onto the pitch, the thing that struck me most of all was the sheer lightness of the boot. I’ve never gone for the AdiZero or Superfly boots, never really thought that the loss of a few grams in weight was a worthy sacrifice for wearing what seem to be essentially coloured cling film wrapped around your feet (Adidas, Nike – I’m willing to be proven wrong if you want to send me a pair…).
The impressive thing with the AdiPower predators is that they’ve somehow managed to create an extremely light boot which still features a classic leather upper. And boy do you notice the difference on the pitch. I felt as if I was barely wearing boots at all, and on the artificial surface which usually feels a little heavier than playing on a good grass pitch, that was a great realisation.
The boots were incredibly comfortable too. I’d been a little concerned breaking in a pair of boots in a competitive (and crucial) match, but from the start Adidas’ sprint frame sole seemed to wrap around my foot and gave great comfort and support. First impressions then, were very positive. But I was still worried about the lack of that flappy tongue.
For the past few seasons I’ve been wearing my Adidas Predator PowerSwerve boots, and to see laces flapping free on the AdiZero’s was a concern – I felt that the contact with the ball would almost necessarily be less clean without the tongue. The laces are aligned towards the outside of the boot of course, and the laces are very thin, but it was still a worry. Right up until I unleashed my first proper shot.
Looking back throughout the match, the main thing that strikes me about these boots was the crisp, clean contact that I felt with the ball. For the life of me I don’t know how, and probably the pitch deserves some of the credit after the swamps I’ve played on of late, but the AdiPower was a treat to play in. Every time I touched the ball, I felt in complete control, and judging the weight of passes was instinctive – they felt great.
Importantly too, they held up well throughout the match. Some tough tackles went in, they took some hits, I covered a lot of ground and I got stuck in, and they felt solid throughout. Inspecting them before and after the game too, the boots look and feel like they’re built properly, and with real quality. I’ve worn my old PowerSwerves for three seasons now, and they’re finally giving in – so expectations are high for Adidas to repeat the trick.
And they look good. The stitching is clean and consistent, the join of the upper to the completely separate one-piece plastic sprint-frame sole is neat and tight, and the rubber predator element slots into the leather upper perfectly. The leather itself looks and feels and – for now at least – smells great. The insole of the boot is soft and welcoming too, and all in all, the quality of the boot is reassuring.
It should be though, because the major drawback with this boot, and indeed, with all boots these days, is the price. To buy these in New Zealand where I live you would have to lay out NZ$320, and while SoccerPro.com currently list them at a more reasonable US$180 (roughly NZ$220), that’s still a hell of a lot of money for any pair of football boots.
It niggles too, when boot manufacturers consistently charge more money for seemingly less boot. Don’t get me wrong, I love these boots and this is a very positive review overall, but Adidas are selling these with the promise that they’re the lightest Predators ever. They’re also the most expensive Predators ever, and so in a very real sense you’re paying more for less, which can be frustrating.
That said, these boots do feel like they’re a real quality piece of kit. As I’ve mentioned, they seem to be built to last from quality materials, and they feel amazing to play in, offering excellent contact and touch with the ball in a truly amazingly light package. I guess you get what you pay for, but I can honestly say that if I wasn’t fortunate enough to receive these boots to review, I would not be able to afford them and you worry that Adidas are pricing the regular footballers out of their best boots.
Overall though, that’s a minor complaint for me, because the Adidas AdiPower Predators are a great pair of football boots, even if I do have to offer two conclusions here.
Firstly, if you’re buying these boots as a Predator lover, a child of the nineties who is a traditionalist and loves the features that Adidas’ Predators have consistently offered… these may not be what you’re expecting. They are a different breed of Predator, where the focus has shifted slightly from the ultimate in control and power.
Secondly though, and most importantly, I rate these as great boots. While Adidas’ focus has shifted from the power and control of previous Predators’ in favour of the general trend towards lighter, faster and more flexible boots, they have not really made any sacrifices. To my mind, they’ve taken the Predator formula and added new elements to it. This is the first step in the evolution of the Predators we’ve known and loved for many years.
They Think It’s All Over… would like to thank Matt and everyone at the wonderful SoccerPro.com for giving me the opportunity to give this review, please consider them (and their great prices) for any of your footballing needs. If you want to get your hands on a pair of Adidas AdiPower Predators (Blue/Electricity), click here.