There are few better feelings for a football player than slipping on a new pair of boots.
Something about an upgraded silo makes you think skills will be upgraded, because there’s a sense of confidence gained from a fresh look.
Yet with the adidas Predator Mutator 20+, there’s a degree of trepidation because on first sight, they are genuinely menacing.
From the 406 rubber teeth of its unique DEMONSKIN technology, to its acid red, white and black design, when unmasking the Mutator you don’t quite know what’s going to happen next.
Does the wearer become part beast or gain supernatural abilities? Well, not exactly, but it does open up an avenue for some beastly ball striking that’s for sure.
Indeed, the Predator Mutator may just be the grippiest boot of all time and we’ve tested them out to see just how savage they are.
First to the technology. The DEMONSKIN spikes were twice as long on early prototypes, but in initial testing players responded that they were simply too grippy.
We can’t even imagine what they must have felt like considering the aggressive final product because the DEMONSKIN is no gimmick, they take some adjustment, especially with striking the ball.
Indeed, the 3 millimeter spikes are formed along key contact points and the experience on foot is that generating spin becomes so much easier.
Granted, technique is still king so accuracy and power are different traits, but in terms of grip, the Mutator make curling the ball noticeably easier.
We know what you’re thinking ‘they’re going to fall off’, but the spikes are anchored underneath the upper and connected to each other, rather than stuck on top so we’re confident they won’t fall off easily.
The Mutator is thinner through the mid and forefoot than the Predator 19+ and with DEMONSKIN, there’s stimulation from where the ball is struck – crucial in developing better technique, as necessary adjustments are easier to gauge.
Now, the Predator isn’t exactly known for being lightweight. But the new two-plate stud configuration does reduce weight and allows for a stunning 360 design where the upper material wraps under the foot.
The split sole harks back to some of the classic Predators – the 2002 Mania immediately springs to mind – and the inclusion of hybrid studs certainly enhances the boot’s level of rotation and traction.
THE FIT AND FEEL
With any laceless boot, the lockdown is crucial and there are improvements in that regard.
adidas have struck the right balance with a tight mid-foot and spacious forefoot so the lockdown is great without squeezing the foot and causing those notorious bruised big toenails.
Naturally, the pretty intimidating silhouette created by the high collar would make you think there’s impact on the ankle, but it’s not something really noticeable when on the foot, just make sure to use the provided shoe horn when putting them on.
Quite simply, there’s nothing else out there that feels like the Mutator – it’s unique.
The DEMONSKIN doesn’t get caught up when striking the ball at all and the experience is that they’re super effective in generating spin.
We even warmed up in the Predator 18+ before switching to the Mutator and the difference was stark.
The thinned out Primeknit – a layer of foam was taken out of the inside – means there is that synthetic feel but with zero stiffness and the close sensation remains, however, it’s not claustrophobic at all.
These boots are good to go from the first wear. They get softer once broken in as well, and unlike previous versions, stay true to your size, there’s no need for half sizes up or down.
One of our favourite features is the obvious Predator DNA when slipping them on as the red peaks through the black Primeknit.
And that brings us nicely onto the look of the Predator Mutator. Genuinely, they’re beastly, it’s as if they’ve emerged from the molten remains of a volcanic eruption.
The sharp extended collar is what captures the eyes first, but honestly once on the feet it’s not noticeable at all.
The rubber elements on the striking zones are the real tour de force here. DEMONSKIN is exactly what Predator has always been about.
You immediately want to get your David Beckham on and that’s the Predator DNA, they seed your mind with the possibility of savage swerve and curl.
There’s a strong Predator identity to the Mutator, but with all the modern upgrades.
Ultimately, the 18+ and 19+ have served as the foundation for this release and the wildness of the Mutator is precisely how we should feel about Predator boots.
They’re marketed as “100% unfair” and that is 100 per cent a fair tagline.
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