If there is one thing the adidas Predator has always been, above all else, it’s innovative.
Whether it be from a design or tech perspective, virtually every iteration of the iconic silo series has brought something completely fresh to the football boot market.
From 1994 until now, the aim has been to shock rival manufacturers, athletes and the consumer, and in true Predator fashion the latest boot has done just that.
Indeed, the adidas Predator Mutator 20 is one of the most ferocious boots we’ve seen for a long time.
It’s DEMONSKIN technology has got everybody talking and it is the latest in a long line of unique Predator innovations.
It’s a boot which has always pushed boundaries…
1994 – RUBBER FINS
The genesis of the Predator is a tale well told, but, essentially, former Liverpool forward Craig Johnston wanted a training aid to help guide young kids. Inspired by the grippy texture of a table tennis bat, he developed the idea then sold it to adidas. The game changed forever. Aggressive vulcanized rubber fins were etched onto the Predator’s upper and adidas’ testing proved an increase of 10 per cent more power and over 20 percent more swerve in comparison to a traditional leather forefoot – even in wet conditions. Bend or blast, the Pred wed them both.
1995 – FOLD-OVER TONGUE
There are certain Predator features which are iconic to the silo and one is most certainly the fold-over tongue. It’s come in many guises, shapes, colours and sizes – the velcro and elasticated straps remain fan favourites. But the original tongue was introduced on the Predator Rapier as a mechanism to cover up the laces for a cleaner strike zone. The tongue has been personalised with embroidered names and the Predator red has frequently been used effectively on it.
1996 – TRX (TRAXION)
Within two years the Predators featured yet more pioneering tech, but this time on the bottom of the boot. The sole-plate of Predator Touch featured the ‘Traxion’ system for the very first time, a hybrid of traditional and reshaped directional studs. They were positioned in a way to achieve better grip, helping players turn in tight spaces at high speed, giving less resistance when players ran.
2000 – REPLACEABLE TRAXION STUDS
In the early ’90s there wasn’t even a thought of boots being any other colour than plain black. By 2000, there wasn’t just a myriad of options when it came to colour combinations, but also the studs. Customisation was made possible when replaceable Traxion studs were introduced for the Predator Precision. A little screw was used to fit and tighten studs of various lengths making the boots adjustable to different pitch conditions.
2002 – ELASTICATED STRAP
The Predator Mania will go down as one of the greatest boots of all time and a big part of their success is undoubtedly the rubber band to lock the giant fold-over tongue to the sole-plate. The velcro used on the Precision struggled against the dirt and so adidas fixed that on the Mania with the elasticated strap. But more than anything, it made for a sensory experience with the snapping of the band acting as a trigger for gametime.
2004 – POWERPULSE SYSTEM
The adidas Predator lab must have looked like NASA in the 2000s because power became the name of the game. Welcome to the PowerPulse System, a snazzy sockliner which was designed to increase power on strikes of the ball by shifting the boot’s centre of gravity closer to the point of impact, creating more weight behind the ball. These would later become interchangeable and even included tungsten powder for even more momentum.
2007 – SMARTFOAM
The rubber was bounced for the legendary PowerSwerve with SmartFoam introduced to improve striking contact with the ball. Essentially, the innovative microfibre strips on the upper acted as a shock absorber, allowing the ball to remain connected to the foot for just a millisecond longer to put even more power and swerve into strikes.
2009 – POWERSPINE
Notice a trend? Power appears again in the form of PowerSpine, technology which was introduced on the Predator X. The science behind this is interesting as the Powerspine runs along the sole-plate, preventing the foot from bending too far backwards and thus lose power when striking the ball. The idea was to create maximum power by minimising the energy loss through the kicking flexion. A good piece of science but it did make the boot a little rigid.
2012 – LETHAL ZONES
Five lethal zones: first touch, dribble, drive, pass and sweet spot. Introduced for the Predator LZ in 2012, the zones were strategically placed on different areas of the boot to help invigorate the traditional Predator traits. ‘First Touch’ was sat on the front of boot, ‘dribble’ on the side while the classic Predator power was on the ‘drive’ zone in the strike box. Extra foam was added for ‘pass,’ while ‘sweet spot’ was on the instep to help generate more spin. Lethal by name, lethal by nature.
2018 – LACELESS UPPER
Predator was brought out of its three-year hibernation in 2018 and it returned as a different beast. For the first time ever the Predator was laceless with the 18+ and not only did it make for one of adidas’ most comfortable boots, the Primeknit red reveal when stepping into them was a nice touch. The structure of the whole boot was super snug for a laceless design with the Primeknit upper reshaped from the ACE series to ensure there was no movement in the boot. It would form the base for what was to come next…
2020 – DEMONSKIN
Think of the 18+ as Spiderman and the Predator Mutator 20 as Venom. DEMONSKIN is the latest innovation from adidas and it is absurd. A unique layer of skin on the boot’s upper, DEMONSKIN makes for one of the grippiest boots of all time, creating an entirely new connection between boot and ball. The 406 rubber teeth are in a formation which aligns to key contact points with the ball and they’re anchored underneath the upper, connected to each other rather than stuck on top to ensure they don’t fall off. In testing, the teeth are sturdy, but there is so much grip the boots actually require some getting used to. Ultimately, not only do they look mean, they plan mean as well and the Predator Mutator 20 feel “100% unfair”.
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