Two weeks ago, adidas mailed five pairs of boots housed inside a large wooden chest. The boots, mostly carrying some minor upgrades and a connected series of unmissable colorways, made up the Battle Pack. The one exception to that rule, colors notwithstanding, was the Predator Instinct. For the boot's 20th anniversary, adidas decided to do something different.
The rubber strips that cover the boot from the toe to the tip of the tongue, known as "predator technology" use a 3D-engineered rubber that doesn't add too much to the boot's overall weight. Instead of the five individual zones that were the feature point of the last two generations of the boot, adidas have combined three zones (dribble, first touch, and sweet spot) into one strip that surrounds the player's toes. When moving with the ball, this new zone is the player's best friend.
The "drive" zone from the previous versions of the boot remains but is more pronounced in the new version of the boot now extends past the laces, connecting the tongue of the boot to the outsole and surrounding the front-most part of the pass zone. The extended strip of rubber comes in very handy if you are trying to add some extra bend to the ball. When powering through the ball or attempting to swing it in, this is your spot.
The predator technology on the Predator Instinct legitimately feels like a massive upgrade rather than an incremental improvement. On both of the previous generations of Predator boots, you certainly knew that the rubber strips were there, especially when connecting with the ball and seeing the effects of that extra millisecond of meaningful contact. It was a huge improvement (in that regard at least) over every predator that preceded the Lethal Zones due to the fact that the focus had been placed on power and swerve rather than total control. On the Predator Instinct, the technology feels like it makes even more of an impact. Rather than just connecting with the ball, the predator technology feels like it bites in and grips, helping the player to absorb the ball's impact when trying to control it or to add to the spin that you would otherwise put on the ball.
Another massive improvement that the Predator Instinct brings to the fore is in its new outsole. The studs, their pattern, and their placement have all been redesigned but the Sprintframe, which adorned the adiPower Predator and both pairs of Lethal Zones, is no more. It has been replaced by what adidas are calling the "Control Frame" and it has been described as the sixth lethal zone. adidas have responded to the added emphasis on forefoot flexibility in the current market (with Puma's evoPOWER to thank) by introducing an outsole that flexes where and when it should to help the player control the ball.
The new outsole is comfortable and stud pressure on normal surfaces was just about invisible. Right in the center of the forefoot, surrounding the central stud, are little "teeth" that protrude from the mostly transparent plastic. When moving at speed, it feels as though those give you just a tiny bit of added grip against the turf, natural or otherwise.
The boot's upper, the latest generation of Hybridtouch, is a synthetic that mimics many of the properties of leather. It is soft and has some give to it as well as plenty of padding without being too thick or cumbersome. In terms of fit, the Instinct is very similar to the LZ2, if not a little bit snugger. The difference, however, is negligible. The Predator Instict is on the narrower-to-average side and those with wider feet will definitely want to try a pair on before purchasing.
The Predator Instinct's design is, in short, eye-catching. It has a love/hate effect on people due to the fact that its black-and-white polka dot-esque design is very different from just about everything that the market has seen before. It certainly isn't for everyone and that is a good thing. The marketplace is full of various innovations and the only way for companies to get ahead without spending tons of advertising dollars is to have their products stand out. The Instinct looks different and weird in its own wonderful way. From the top down, it looks like a skeletal foot, reinforcing its lethal namesake. The predator elements are camouflaged against the upper while the outsole carries it to the ground with sharp ridges throughout.
The dots will be an important part of the Instinct's design going forward and adidas has made it clear that they are not going away. Yes, they will be more subtle in future colorways but they will still be there. Want proof? Take a look at the miadidas configurator and see for yourself. Even when creating a blackout boot, the dots are there in a subtle tonal pattern.
Love-it-or-hate-it looks aside (and this writer loves it), the Predator Instinct is another wonderful effort and addition to the storied Predator family from adidas. The boot is comfortable and the lightweight rubber elements that surround the boot do their job and do it well. The footwear is comfortable and the look on the pitch is unmistakable. The price point with the boot retailing for $220 from adidas is a bit higher than the Nike Magista Opus, which is the second-highest level of the boot (below the FlyKnit Obra version which comes in at $275), but slightly less than Nike's Hypervenom meaning that the price is right in line with the rest of the market.
The Predator Instinct from adidas is a very, very good boot in its own right and a marked improvement on its recent predecessors.