Adidas Predator LZ SL Review
The SL version of the Predator LZ is honestly nothing like the standard model. If you are looking for a slightly lighter feeling LZ, you are not going to get it from the LZ SL. Just keep in mind that while these two shoes are from the same line, and are both technically Predator LZs, I would classify the two as completely different shoes.
The Predator LZ is a stand alone in the Adidas line of shoes, where I would compare it more to the F50 adizero rather than the Predator LZ. The LZ SL features a Sprintskin synthetic upper, the same upper that is used on the synthetic adizero. The synthetic upper is very thin, one single layer, and also seems to be a little softer than the Sprintskin of the adizero. Other than the upper, the overall shape of the boot is pretty much identical to that of the standard LZ, but because of the Sprintskin upper, the comfort level, at least for me, was not the same. The upper is not as flexible, and because the Sprintskin has no stretch to it, the shoe is more suitable for narrower foot types. If you have about a normal width foot, you’ll be fine, but anybody with wider feet may run into some issues with discomfort. Other than the slightly narrower mid-foot, the rest of the shoe fits, and feels very similarly to the standard LZ. The heel is lined in a synthetic suede-like material, offering a very comfortable and secure fit, locking your foot in place. The off-center lacing system flows well with the shape of the boot, allowing you to tighten the boot without any kind of discomfort. As far as break-in time is concerned, they are pretty much ready to go from right out of the box. I would classify the LZ SL as one of the most comfortable thin synthetic boots on the market. In terms of width, like I said, wider footed players should probably look elsewhere, or just stick to the standard LZ. Sizing is remains true, just like the standard LZ. I wore my usual size 9US for review, and the fit was perfect. If you’re looking to order a pair, I would strongly recommend going with your normal size for the best possible fit. To sum things up, this is one of the more comfortable, thin synthetics on the market, but I definitely prefer the standard LZ in terms of comfort and the overall fit of the boot.
Being that the Predator LZ SL is supposed to be the “Super Light” version of the standard LZ, one would expect a significant weight difference between the two, and there just isn’t. The standard LZ weighs in at 8oz, which is already pretty light, while the LZ SL weighs in at 7.3oz, less than 1oz less! The difference in weight is slightly noticeable in your hands, but on your feet, there is no noticeable difference whatsoever. The shoe is definitely light, there is no denying it, but if you were expecting a dramatic difference in weight between the standard LZ and the LZ SL, it just isn’t there.
The LZ SL features the exact same soleplate and stud pattern as the standard LZ. In terms of the Predator line as a whole, the LZ is the first Predator in a while to not offer the classic Adidas bladed stud pattern. Adidas has instead opted to change all of their shoe lines to variations on the adizero stud pattern, which is the most popular shoe in the line. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it may upset some long-time Pred wearers who have been wearing the same stud pattern for the last little while. This is another move away from the label of a “power” boot for the LZ, offering a stud pattern that is arguably as solid of a stud pattern as perhaps the older bladed one was. When I say “solid” I am speaking simply on the basis of shooting, with the bladed stud pattern offering more of a stable feel when planting your foot to strike the ball. With all of that aside, the LZ offers a stud pattern that is nearly identical to that of the adizero. The studs are all triangular shaped, offering somewhat of a combination feel between blades and conical studs. The stud pattern is best suited for firm to slightly softer ground, simply because the studs are slightly on the longer side, and because of the larger surface area of the studs, they will not penetrate the ground unless the ground is a little softer. Given that the conditions are right, the stud pattern performs and feels very good. It offers plenty of grip when pushing off for a sprint, which is great. This is a stud pattern that is definitely usable on turf, but again, I do find the studs to be a little on the long side. If you’ve worn the adizero, which many have, than the stud pattern on the LZ should feel exactly the same for you.
If you read my review of the standard LZ, you would have noticed a very extensive walkthrough of all five Lethal Zones. The whole concept behind the LZ was to offer additional grip on the ball in all five of the most commonly used spots on the foot. The concept is unique, and on the standard LZ works well, but is certainly not for everybody. The LZ SL on the other hand, may as well not even have the LZ name. Instead of the five Lethal Zones that you get on the LZ, the LZ SL features only one “Zone” that I would consider noticeable, and even then it doesn’t have a major impact on the overall feel of the shoe. Starting off with the pass pad, it just straight up isn’t there. There is an outline of where the pass pad would normally be, but instead of a memory foam insert, you get nothing. The instep is plain and simply a single layer of Sprintskin. Moving on to the “Sweetspot”, located on the instep of the forefoot, there is not rubber, but instead an element formed from another layer of Sprintskin. There is some texture to the element, but as far as grip is concerned, there is no extra feeling that you will get from this particular zone. The same can be said for the two other touch zones on the boot, located on the top of the foot and the outside of the forefoot. They are made from what appears to be some type of rubber, but the rubber is very hard and offers no extra grip. There is a small amount of added bulk from the pads themselves, but nothing like the standard LZ in terms of providing grip on the ball. The last zone, being the strike zone, is also dumbed down on the LZ SL, but I’ll get to that a little later.
While all of this may come across as very negative, which seems to be somewhat of the overall response towards the SL release of the predator as a whole, I can assure you that the touch on the ball is actually pretty good. The thin upper offers that barefoot feel throughout the upper, while the small amount of extra bulk from the pads on the shoe offer somewhat of a unique feel on the ball. Imagine a slightly padded version of the synthetic adizero and you have the feeling of the LZ SL. If you like the overall idea of the LZ, but don’t want all of that extra grip on the ball that the standard LZ provides, than the LZ SL might be one to take a look at.
Striking the ball in the LZ SL feels pretty good, but don’t expect too much more than just a little bit of extra padding, on an already thin shoe, from the striking element on the LZ SL. The striking element, or the “Drive Zone” is made from a very hard, almost slick rubber material. It is not very abrasive at all, so when you strike the ball, it doesn’t feel like the ball is catching your foot, like a more abrasive rubber element would provide in terms of feel. Like a described earlier, image a synthetic adizero with a little bit of extra bulk to the upper. As far as all of the other zones are concerned, they seem to have no extra effect when striking the ball either, other than just providing some extra padding. If you’re looking for that “Power boot” feel, you just simply are not going to get it from the LZ SL.
This is where I think the LZ SL will be the most appealing to a lot of people. If you currently wear, or are into lightweight synthetics, but would like some extra protection, than the LZ SL is one to take a look at. The Sprintskin upper is very thin, offering that close to the foot feel, while the Lethal Zones scattered all over the shoe provide just a little bit of extra protection the upper. This little bit of extra bulk gives the shoe somewhat of a protective feel, and considering how light the shoe is, you will be getting a pretty solid amount of protection. If you find yourself taking a lot of blows to the foot, but would still like that barefoot feel, this is probably one of the safer options on the market.
The LZ SL seems to be a very solidly built shoe. The synthetic upper will not stretch, will keep its shape, and requires no maintenance whatsoever. The bond between the soleplate and the upper also seems to be very solid, so separation should not be an issue. One major thing to keep in mind is that the LZ SL with the firm ground stud pattern is not designed for use on artificial surfaces. Use of any firm ground shoe on artificial grass will have a major impact on the overall durability of the boot. Given that you wear the LZ SL exclusively on natural grass, I can see this shoe lasting well past a season’s worth of play.
The Adidas Predator LZ SL, just like the standard LZ, is not for everybody. If you really want to experience the extra grip that the Lethal Zones were designed to provide, than the standard LZ is what you’re looking for. If you want something more along the lines of an adizero, with a slightly more solid feel, than the LZ SL is something you should really consider as your next boot. Do I prefer the LZ SL over the standard LZ? The answer is no, but I certainly would not right off the LZ SL as a boot that you should not take seriously.
Comfort/Fit 8 out of 10
Weight 8 out of 10
Traction 8 out of 10
Touch 8 out of 10
Shooting 8 out of 10
Protection 8 out of 10
Durability 8 out of 10
Final Score 56 out of 70 or 80%