I can nostalgically remember my first pair of adidas Predator football boots.

It was 1994 and former Socceroo Craig Johnson had convinced adidas that slapping a few slabs of rubber onto a football boot was a genius move. He was right.

The original adidas Predator (1994)
The original adidas Predator (1994)

I was only nine years old, but I needed those boots. I didn't care that they were heavy, clunky and fairly impractical – I had seen an ad where the extra rubber made free-kicks swerve violently into the top corner. I was sold.

14 years later the adidas Predator is one of the most iconic boots in the history of football. There have been over 15 designs since conception and I've been a huge fan of most of them.


Except this one.

The adidas Predator X (2010)
The adidas Predator X (2010)

Annnnd maybe this one.

adidas Predator Instinct (2014)
adidas Predator Instinct (2014)

For three years I had my Predators custom made at the adidas shop in Newmarket (one of my feet is half a size bigger than the other and the Auckland store was the only one in New Zealand that catered to my awkward needs through their 'Miadidas program') but when the 'custom' concept fell down around 2012, so did my affair with the Predator.

Until now.

Adidas have just re-released the Predator – version 18+, and they sent me a pair to review.

The boot has been released as part of adidas' Skystalker pack which includes the 18+ (laceless boot, retails for $440, worn by the big guns) the 18.1 (with laces, retails for $320, the boots sent to me) and the 18.3 (slightly more basic version, $150)

The adidas Predator 18 + (laceless, retails for $440
The adidas Predator 18 + (laceless, retails for $440

My football ability has followed a bell-curve from my first pair of Predators to my (likely) last. But my excitement for opening a box of new boots has remained the same.

The first thing you notice about the new range is that they don't look like Predators. No red tongues, no leather uppers, no rubber chunks, no free-kick fire.. gimmicks have given way to optimal technology.

The 18.1 boot looks far better on feet than it does off. It has a 'sock fit collar' which was painfully difficult to squeeze into with my old-man bad back, but once they were on they felt fantastic.

The Predator feels like a boot that is created to be on the ball. Some 'speed' boots are designed for getting to the ball, for racing the opposition, but the Predator 18+ is built for control. Once on, I felt locked in and secure.

The upper is made of a 'Primeknit' material that provides 'optimal grip in any condition' and the studs are set up in a new hybrid configuration which 'amplifies rotation and traction.'

Does it feel like a Predator of old? No, because it isn't. This feels like a Predator 2.0.
The famous Predator ridges on the upper aren't as prominent as previous Predator generations, but the emphasis is far more on control than bending in free-kicks.

They are super comfortable, light and feel good to play in. I still prefer the look of the earlier edition Preds, but for quality, there is no comparison.

How good did the Predator Pulse's look in 2004?
How good did the Predator Pulse's look in 2004?

The adidas Predator 18.1 is the complete football boot. Locked in comfort, technology that aids touch, passing and shooting, and a lightweight feel that makes you feel a lot quicker than you are. Would recommend to anyone who doesn't have a bad back.

What: adidas Predator 18.1
How much: $NZD 320
Short summary: Comfortable, lightweight, supportive, iconic
Rating: 4.5/5