Adidas Nitrocharge 1.0 Firm Ground Review
The adidas Nitrocharge 1.0 is the latest and greatest from Adidas, bringing their silo tally up to four. While Adidas has really embraced change over the last few years, with complete redesigns being made to the Predator and adiPure ranges, its pretty safe to say that the Nitrocharge is a stand alone in today’s soccer market. While the concept of designing a shoe around being protective has been done before, I don’t think that it has ever been done quite like this.
The Nitrocharge is a very comfortable boot. The upper is made from a combination of three materials that all come together very nicely, not only making for a comfortable feel, but also a very solid fit. The front half of the boot, as well as the tongue, is constructed from Hybridtouch synthetic, which is designed to give the natural feel of leather while still maintaining the benefits of a synthetic. The Hybridtouch synthetic is very similar to what you’ll find on the Predator LZ from Adidas, but I would argue that the synthetic used on the Nitrocharge 1.0 feels just a little bit softer. From the mid foot back, the upper is constructed from Adidas’ protective mesh. While it may appear to be just a regular mesh in pictures, its actually much more rugged than you might expect, offering decent protection, without adding any bulk to the upper of the boot. The mesh itself feels as if it is made from some sort of tightly woven plastic material, with some very minimal padding underneath.
Cutting diagonally across the forefoot is the Nitrocharge’s main distinctive feature, the Energysling. The Energysling is constructed from a very flexible, slightly elasticated rubber, designed to act as reinforcement to stabilize the foot inside of the boot when performing hard cuts and turns. The Energysling starts from the base of the soleplate on one side, and wraps diagonally across the foot to the other side. While the two sides of the Energysling aren’t really attached, as its cut off by lacing system, it still does a great job of locking your foot down inside of the boot when you pull the laces tight. You’ll also notice an extra strip of rubber on the outside of the boot, running alongside the Energysling and extending diagonally to form a triangle. This extra bit of rubber also plays its part in providing great lock-down support inside the boot. What’s great about the Energysling support system, is that it really does give the boot a great responsive feel when making sharp cuts, but without the boot feeling too restrictive.
All of these materials combine to form a shoe that is more or less ready to go from right out of the box. Break-in time is very minimal, as I felt completely comfortable in the boots almost instantly. The Nitrocharge offers a great balance of support, stiffness and flexibility, which is a tough combination to achieve. The inside of the heel, as well as the insole, is lined in a synthetic nubuck material, giving the inside of the boot a very smooth and comfortable feel. The insole itself is removable, and for the most part is pretty minimal, so if you did want to swap it out for a different one, than you do have that option, although I had no issues with the insoles provided. The off-centered lacing system runs all the way down to the Energysling, allowing you to get a very tight and secure fit when you pull the laces tight.
One of the main features that Adidas is pushing with the Nitrocharge 1.0 is the Energypulse system. While the soleplate unit itself based off of the Sprintframe, you’ll notice a zigzag pattern running through the forefoot. Adidas does not give any real information regarding what the Energypulse system is made from, but from what I can tell, it appears to be a stiffer plastic layer in the forefoot of the soleplate. Adidas claims that the Energypulse system is in place to allow for a much more responsive feel, “explosive quickness” are the words they used, during the toe-off phase. While they never directly say that these shoes will make you quicker, it is implied, and a lot of people will believe that they truly are quicker with the Nitrocharge on their feet, but in all honesty, I could not feel a difference in “responsiveness” between the Nitrocharge 1.0 and any other Sprintframe based model from Adidas. With that being said, the forefoot of the soleplate on the Nitrocharge is a little bit stiffer in-hand, if compared to something like the Predator LZ, but this extra stiffness just doesn’t translate to a more responsive feel when the shoes are on your feet.
The fit of the Nitrocharge is also really good, and in my opinion is the most comfortable boot that Adidas is producing right now. In terms of shape, the Nitrocharge is most similar to the Predator LZ, offering a deeper fit in the heel and the same off-centered lacing system. The widest area of the boot is going to be the forefoot and toe box area, which has a similar shape to that of the adizero. When you pull the laces tight, the Energysling will grab both the medial and lateral sides of the forefoot, keeping everything locked in place, without squeezing your foot. The Hybridtouch upper, while it is synthetic, does have some stretch to it, so while the shoes feel pretty comfortable from brand new, they’ll feel even better after a couple hours of wear time. The tightest part of the boot is definitely the mid-foot, but again, nothing feels restrictive. When you pull the laces tight, the medial side of the upper lifts the instep slightly, giving you a secure yet comfortable fit. The deep fit of the heel plays its part in keeping the back of your foot well supported and didn’t allow for any kind of slippage. Overall, the Nitrocharge is suitable for most foot types.
Just like all of Adidas’ other models, the Nitrocharge 1.0 fits true to size. I wore my usual size 9US for review, and the fit in the length was absolutely perfect. So, if you’re looking to order a pair, I would strongly recommend going true to size. Keep in mind that you will get some minor stretch from the Hybridtouch synthetic at the front of the boot, so if the shoe feels a little snug from right out of the box, the shoe will expand slightly.
The Nitrocharge 1.0 weighs in at a very respectable 8.4oz, which is very lightweight for a shoe that provides this much in the way of protection. While I’m not surprised that the Nitrocharge weighs so little, as it uses the Sprintframe construction like the rest of the Adidas models, I’m just really happy that Adidas has introduced something all-new. The Nitrocharge 1.0 does not feel like a shoe that has been intentionally trimmed down to save weight. It features a solid, protective construction, and the lightweight feel is just a bonus, which is how it should be.
Unsurprisingly, the Nitrocharge 1.0 features the same Traxion 2.0 stud pattern used on both the F50 adizero and Predator LZ models from Adidas. While I would have preferred to see something different for the Nitrocharge model, what you get is still very good performance wise.
The studs themselves are triangular in shape, which provide a good mix of grip when pushing off and maneuverability when planted. In the forefoot, you’ll find three studs running along both the lateral and medial sides of the boot, with one support stud in the middle, along with four studs under the heel, two on each side. This is a proven layout from Adidas, which is most likely why they have implemented it on every model that they make, excluding the Copa Mundial of course. The studs themselves have a fairly large surface area, so they don’t penetrate the surface of the ground particularly well when playing on harder, natural grass surfaces. For the most part, you’re going to get great performance out of the firm ground stud pattern on nearly any type of natural grass playing surface, even on softer ground. If you’re playing regularly on natural grass, then you’ll be very happy with the traction that you’ll get from the Nitrocharge.
I have to say that I’m really happy with the overall feel of the Nitrocharge 1.0. Up until now, the only exposure that we’ve had to Adidas’ Hybridtouch synthetic has been from the Predator LZ, but since the feel of that shoe is so heavily influenced by rubber elements, it was hard to judge the synthetic for how it truly feels.
The Hybridtouch synthetic at the front of the boot is surprisingly soft and flexible. The concept behind the synthetic is very similar to Nike’s Kanga-Lite, in that it is a synthetic material designed to mimic the feel of natural leather, and it does that very well. The synthetic itself is what I would consider to be on the thinner side, giving a slightly padded feel when making touches on the ball. The leather grain finish gives the upper the appearance of natural leather, allowing the ball to slide naturally across the upper with very little added friction. You’ll also find pre-molded protection pads running through the inside of the forefoot as well as along the top of the toes. This is extra bit of padding is intended as a protective element, but also plays its role in providing a very soft touch on the ball.
The rubber Energysling is also positioned where it will make frequent contact with the ball when passing, shooting or dribbling. With very minimal texturing, the non-abrasive rubber element doesn’t provide much in the way of grip on the ball, unless that contact is very hard. I had anticipated the Energysling to be much more noticeable when making touches on the ball than it actually ended up being.
The mid-foot of the boot is made from what Adidas calls “protective mesh”. To the touch, the plastic mesh material is fairly slick, so to prevent a poor touch on the ball, Adidas has positioned their signature three stripes through the mid-foot in the form of a grip element. The three stripes are made from a very thin rubber coating, with a slight texturing to provide more grip on the ball when controlling and passing with the instep.
Considering how many different materials are used on the Nitricharge 1.0, the shoe feels very balanced. While I wouldn’t say that they provide a very uniform touch on the ball across the entire foot, but what you do get still feels very good. Everything feels well thought out, and every element serves a noticeable purpose. Visually it might not look like much, especially if compared to something like the Predator LZ, but the feel of the boot is fantastic.
Striking the ball in the Nitrocharge 1.0 feels great. Nothing on the shoe is intended as a striking element, but again, the Energysling is positioned to where it can and will make contact with the ball when shooting, especially if you tend to strike the ball lower on the foot. The Hybridtouch synthetic provides a slightly cushioned feel when striking the ball towards the front of the foot, while the protective mesh area is much less padded and feels less cushioned. Depending on what part of the foot is used to strike the ball, the feel that you get will be different. I did find the that Energysling is positioned quite nicely on the outside of the forefoot to allow for some extra grip when shooting some outside bends, but other than that, there isn’t much in the way of extra grip provided by the support element.
The off-centered lacing system leaves you with a very clean striking area, made up mostly of Hybridtouch synthetic. I was also a big fan of the deeper fit in the heel, which provides plenty of lockdown, preventing the shoe from moving around on your foot when striking the ball. The Sprintframe along with the Energypulse system also provide plenty of stiffness through the mid-foot and forefoot, giving the Nitrocharge a very solid feel. Overall, the Nitrocharge feels great when striking the ball.
Something that you rarely ever see is a shoe that is designed with protection as one of the main focal points. Its been done in the past, the most recent attempt would be the Puma v-Konstruct III, but for the most part, every time it has been done, the response has been underwhelming. With that being said, I think that the Nitrocharge 1.0 will break this trend, not only because of the brand behind the product, but also because of the product itself!
The Nitrocharge is impressive in that it offers plenty of protection, while still maintaining a fairly low-profile, which is tough to do. The first of the protective elements are the pre-molded pads located in the forefoot and toe box of the upper, as well as across the achilles tendon guard. While the padding itself is fairly minimal, it is just enough to have a major impact on lessening the blow should you take an impact to that particular area of the foot or heel. The pads along the back of the achilles tendon are such a good idea in my opinion, and I hope that this is a feature that can be implemented on other models from Adidas too.
The protective mesh is also a really great idea when it comes to protection. The tightly woven plastic, while it is fairly thin, is very strong and resilient to direct impacts. So, should you take a blow to an area of the foot that features the protective mesh material, it will do its part to disperse some of that energy away from the direct point of impact.
Other than the two features that I mentioned, the only other protective element would be the external plastic heel counter of the Sprintframe. While this might not seem like much, the Nitrocharge feels very solid on feet, but at the same time does not come across as bulky, which is important for any soccer shoe. In all honesty, do I think that this is the most protective boot out there? The answer to that question is no, but I do believe that the Nitrocharge features some unique protective elements that could potentially prevent an injury.
I’ve been wearing the Nitrocharge for the past two months, prior to the official release, and had no issues whatsoever with the durability of the boot. The Hybridtouch synthetic remains nice and soft with no maintenance required, while the protective mesh just feels very rugged and strong. I had no issues at all with separation between the upper and soleplate, and nothing really jumped out at me as a potential durability concern. The one complaint that I would make, and this really doesn’t have anything to do with durability, is that the protective mesh area of the boot can be difficult to clean, as it tends to lock in dirt and debris. Overall, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to get at least a season’s worth of play out of the Nitrocharge 1.0. One thing to keep in mind is that the firm ground version of the Nitrocharge, or any FG shoe for that matter, is designed for use on natural grass playing surfaces and not artificial grass/turf. Using the FG version of the Nitrocharge on artificial playing surfaces will have a major impact on the longevity of the boot.
I had very high hopes for the Nitrocharge, and I’m happy to say that they have lived up to most of my expectations. I’m glad that Adidas went for something different, not only in how they’re marketing the boot, which in all honesty doesn’t really mean much when it comes down to performance, but in terms of how the boot actually feels. You get a very solid yet lightweight construction, quality materials, great feel for the ball and several unique protective elements that keep you safe without adding bulk. It’s always cool when new ideas are introduced, and it’s even cooler when they actually work. If you were thinking about giving the Nitrocharge 1.0 a try, than my best recommendation would be to go for it, they’re great.
|Comfort/Fit||10 out of 10|
|Weight||8 out of 10|
|Traction||8 out of 10|
|Touch||8 out of 10|
|Shooting||9 out of 10|
|Protection||9 out of 10|
|Durability||9 out of 10|
|FINAL SCORE||61 out of 70 or 87%|