Two weeks ago, adidas officially introduced their first new boot silo in nearly a decade with the Nitrocharge. Thoughout the countless hours of planning, research, and development, adidas built an all-new boot for a new type of player that they dubbed "the Engine," the players with relentless energy, the players that help out on defense before starting the attack. For the Engine, adidas loaded the Nitrocharge with a number of new innovations and materials, stuffed neatly into a sharp-looking Blue Beauty/Running White/Electricity package.
For adidas, the Nitrocharge represents a dynamic shift in the heart and soul of the brand's other three silos (F50, Predator, and 11Pro) and the players that those silos respectively define. For years, the F50 has represented the Speed Demon, the Predator was all about power, and the 11Pro catered to finesse. Despite those relatively well-defined lines, the Predator has moved into the "control" category with the last two versions adding the adidas-dubbed "Lethal Zones" to take the game beyond just driving the ball. With that, the Predator line seemingly moved out of competition with the Nike T90 series and into position to take on the CTR360. As such, the power category was left vacant for adidas.
Enter the Nitrocharge, sporting a synthetic leather forefoot with mesh around the rest of the upper, a bright yellow (Electricity) band running across the leather (dubbed ENERGYSLING), and a black outsole bearing the familiar SPRINTFRAME moniker and a bright yellow zig-zag at the front which is called ENERGYPULSE.
It is those two Electricity-colored features that serve as Nitrocharge's value proposition. The ENERGYSLING "supports lateral movements to sharpen reactions on the field" while the ENERGYPULSE technology is "inspired by spring technology, with high-elastic material at its heart, providing added energy during the toe-off phase of sprinting." From the off, those two innovations sound a little bit gimmicky (for lack of a better word) but upon playing in the Nitrocharge, you can see their worth almost immediately.
The Nitrocharge boot is noticeably heavier than adidas' F50 adiZero (which comes in at 165 grams) but it is by no means heavy. The SPRINTFRAME outsole with its clever engineering, use of molded nylon, and hollow studs helps keep the weight figure down while the mesh half of the upper helps serve that purpose as well. The outsole is also noticeably stiffer than the F50 and the adiPower Predator before it.
That stiffness is provided by the ENERGYPULSE technology that calls the front half of the boot home, starting at the arch (just after the miadidas SpeedCell chip slot) and ending just ahead of where the outsole meets the upper. What the wearer loses in forefoot flex when running (which at full sprint is marginal at best), the Nitrocharge pays back in dividends by assisting shot power, providing a strong platform with which the ball back can make contact.
The ENERGYSLING comes in when the player makes sharp cuts during play. Just about every player has felt their foot slip around inside a boot before on hard turns or sudden stops, undoubtedly slowing them down (if for not more than a fraction of a second). The ENERGYSLING helps prevent that. When wearing the Nitrocharge, there is an assured feeling of perfect fit, one that lets you know that your foot is held in there well.
The upper, especially in the forefoot, is a synthetic leather akin to that found on the Predator LZ and LZ 2. The touch that you get from the synthetic upper is nothing short of fantastic and is nearly indistinguishable from the brilliant Taurus leather found in the adiPower Predator and 11Pro series. There is a real connectedness between the ball and foot. When striking the ball, the upper provides a nice response, if you can call it that, to let you know that you hit it on the sweet spot. The back half of the foot is covered with a lightweight, but still thick, mesh. Adidas placed some extra protection around the heel in the form of pads to help protect the players' Achilles tendon. I (fortunately) have not received any studs to the back of the foot yet and thus cannot really comment on how effective the protection is.
The adidas Nitrocharge is an all around fantastic boot. It is supremely comfortable and does the job that it set out to do with aplomb. The technology serves a purpose (rather than being a gimmick) and it looks spectacular. At $200, the Nitrocharge comes in at a competitive price point. It is $20 below the Predator, $25 below the new Nike Hypervenom.