Adidas Predator Instinct Review

It seems like the Adidas Predator series has been around forever, and that’s because it has. With the release of the Predator Instinct, we’re now 20 models in with one of the most iconic lines in soccer cleat/football boot history. The Instinct maintains many of the same elements found on the Predator LZ and LZ 2 models, while also making some pretty significant changes, not only in the overall appearance, but also how the shoe is built.

Comfort/Fit

The Predator Lethal Zones models took the Predator series in a whole new direction. The Predators went from being leather to synthetic, and also implemented a variation of the very popular SprintFrame, making them very light in comparison to classic Predator models. The Instinct maintains the synthetic upper, but drops the lightweight SprintFrame, making for a much more significant difference in feel and performance than you might expect.

Just like the LZ models, the Instinct features a HybridTouch synthetic upper, a material that aims to provide a leather-like feel, while still maintaining the benefits of a synthetic. The HybridTouch upper is on the thinner side, but still has a slightly padded feel to it, giving it a somewhat leather-like sensation on foot. Due to the repositioning of the rubber Lethal Zones, where the upper is free of any rubber mainly across the top of the forefoot, the upper flexes and moves much more naturally with the bend of your foot. This minor change makes the Predator Instinct by far the most comfortable of all the synthetic Preds.

Another noticeable change coming from the LZ 1 and 2 to the Instinct, is the much more natural feel of the boot. With the first two LZ models, the rubber elements didn’t necessarily make for an uncomfortable fit, but they did restrict the overall flexibility of the upper. With the Instinct, the redesign and repositioned rubber elements, which in my opinion seem to cover even more of the upper, are very well positioned, not restricting the shape and flexibility of the upper in any way. If I were to wear the Instincts blind folded, I would never guess that there were so many rubber striking elements across the entire upper. It just feels very natural.

The inside of the shoe is also worth talking about, as Adidas has incorporated some interesting new features. You’ll find that on the underside of the very top part of the tongue, there’s a Velcro-esque material. Imagine the rough side of Velcro that is fine enough to still be tolerable and soft enough to not create any significant discomfort against your skin. The idea is that this Velcro material will grip your sock, locking the tongue in place and not allowing it to slide over while playing, a very common issue for soccer cleats. It sounds great, and again, did not cause any discomfort, but I honestly didn’t find this feature to be all that effective. After a two hour playing session the tongue would still slide out of place. No big deal, but still worth noting.

The heel liner is also pretty interesting. If you get the launch Battle Pack colorway, the liner is made from a smooth synthetic leather material. It’s nothing special, but definitely gets the job done, both in terms of comfort as well as locking your heel securely in place. The colorways that have been made available after the original, feature a combination of synthetic suede and the same Velcro material found on the underside of the tongue. Top part of the Achilles area as well as the sides of the shoe is lined in very soft, synthetic suede, while the deeper portion of the heel features that slightly rough Velcro material. Again, the purpose of the Velcro is to prevent any kind of heel slippage by gripping your sock. It’s effective as long as your shoes fit snug. If your shoes are a little too big, it isn’t going to 100% eliminate all heel slippage, and because of the rougher texturing, you may run into some issues with discomfort. With that said, I didn’t have any issues with either version, and as long as you buy the right size and the shoes fit you properly, you shouldn’t have any issues either.

As far as the insole is concerned, its still removable, still features a smooth mesh liner and is still made from a fairly thin layer of thin foam. It’s nothing special, but certainly gets the job done.

In place of the SprintFrame, the Instinct now features what Adidas calls the Control Frame. Aside from not being as lightweight, more on that later, it’s made from a thicker, very flexible plastic material. The flexibility of the soleplate gives the boot a very natural, smooth sensation when running. Aside from the feel, the Control Frame also has an impact on the fit of the Predator Instinct, in that it’s slightly wider than what we got from the LZ 1 and 2 with the SprintFrame.

Yes the base is wider, but nothing excessive. If you have really wide feet, this may not be the best option, for the simple fact that the Instinct upper is synthetic, so it won’t stretch much, and the rubber Lethal Zones run from the base of the soleplate, directly into the lacing system, on both the medial and lateral sides of the upper, again restricting the boots ability to stretch. The way they fit from right out of the box is more or less the way they’ll fit for the entire lifespan of the boot. It offers a nice snug fit all the way through, very similar to that of the LZ 2, but more flexible due to the repositioning of the rubber elements and new soleplate. As long as you don’t have excessively wide feet, the Predator Instinct should fit you quite comfortably.

In terms of sizing, I wore my usual size 9US for testing, and the fit in the length was absolutely perfect. It’s the same size that I wore in the LZ 1 and 2, so if you’re upgrading from an older Predator model, stick with the same size. If you’re coming from a different line, just know that the Instinct runs true to size, so pick your size accordingly.

Weight

Weight is one of the most significant changes coming from the first two LZ models to the Instinct. The LZ 2, in a size 9US, weighs in at 8oz, where the Instinct, in the same size of course, weighs in at 9.8oz! The increase in weight came as a pretty big surprise to a lot of people, including myself, especially considering that the stud pattern has not changed.

Again, the weight difference is all down to the lack of SprintFrame soleplate. The Control Frame soleplate of the Instinct is significantly thicker and made from what I would describe as a more “heavy-duty” plastic. Of course, its very possible that other elements aside from the soleplate also made for the increase in weight, but its difficult to pin point exactly what those elements are.

We haven’t had a Predator in this weight range since the Powerswerve, but I’m not complaining. Yes the shoe weighs a little more, but it’s more comfortable and fields more solid in comparison to the lighter weight LZ models. If you’re upgrading from the LZ 1 or 2, you’ll definitely notice a difference in weight. With that being said, I didn’t personally have any issues with the weight, but I know some that are more finicky about that kind of thing may not be as happy about the change.

The Predator Instinct is not going to weigh you down, and certainly does not feel “heavy”, but just know that it no longer falls into the “lightweight” category as previous models have. It’s a step towards a more traditional Predator.

Traction

As far as traction is concerned, not much has changed. The new Control Frame soleplate is visually different, but the actual stud pattern remains 90% untouched. You’ll still find four triangular studs under the heel, with six more studs in the forefoot, three on each side. The only change that in my opinion has no impact on the overall performance is the center support stud in the forefoot, which has been moved forward ever so slightly.

In comparison to the LZ 2, other than the Instinct soleplate being a little more flexible, the feel and performance remains the same. The triangular studs have a larger than average profile, so they offer great stability, but don’t penetrate the ground particularly well. The triangular shape is designed to provide a combination of characteristics from both conical and bladed studs, and I would say that this stud pattern provides that feel quite effectively. Its best suited for slightly softer, firm ground, natural grass playing surfaces, at least if you want optimal traction from this particular pattern, but as whole, it gets the job done.

One design aspect of the boot that has somewhat of an impact on the traction experience is actually the rubber elements across the upper. You’ll find that the rubber elements through the forefoot on both the lateral and medial side of the boot, run from the base of the soleplate, directly into the lacing system. This allows the upper to wrap your foot very securely when you pull the laces tight, as the strong rubber material acts as a supportive elements for the soft HybridTouch upper. It’s a similar sensation to that of the EnergySling found on the Nitrocharge 1.0m making for a more responsive feel than you might expect.

I would have liked to have seen something new for the Predator Instinct stud pattern, but what Adidas has delivered definitely gets the job done.

Touch

The Instinct features a new design, a new look, and dramatically different Lethal Zone rubber elements, but the same basic concept remains the same, extra grip on the ball. I’ve always described the LZ 1 and 2, and the same goes for the Instinct, that its one of those shoes that simply isn’t for everyone. If you like having extra grip on the ball, nothing does it better than the Instinct, but if you prefer a more slick touch on the ball, stay away, these are not for you.

As you already know, the upper is made from HybridTouch synthetic, which believe it or not, has very little impact on the overall feel when making touches on the ball. It’s a relatively thin, soft and flexible base layer for the shoe, that feels great, but what makes the Predator Instinct unique, are the rubber Lethal Zones that span the entire upper.

In comparison to the Lethal Zones featured on the LZ 2, the Intinct’s Lethal Zones are thicker, more aggressive and made from what seems like a much softer, more pliable rubber. The rubber elements are still positioned in strategic points on the upper, but due to there larger size, and new zig-zag shape, they span pretty much the entire upper, which makes for a very consistent touch.

The extra grip is something that definitely takes some getting used too, but once you do, it provides a nice sensation of control. That’s not to say that these will improve or aid your ability to control the ball, but it certainly is a unique sensation. Having been familiar with the feel of the LZ 2, a boot that I spent a lot of time wearing, I felt very comfortable almost right away with the Predator Instinct. If you’re new to the concept, just give it some time, and it will all make sense.

It’s a similar experience to that of the LZ 2, but if I had to pick out one noticeable improvement, it would be that the more aggressive, raised elements still grip the ball nicely, but don’t feel quite as clingy, making the extra grip a little more manageable. Either way, its one of those things that certainly isn’t for everyone, and whether or not the Predator Instinct is for you, is something that you have to determine for yourself.

The extra grip is very noticeable no matter what you’re doing. Dribbling, passing, juggling and controlling the ball feel great, as you get that sensation of precision when making more precise, faint touches on the ball.

Along with the redesigned Lethal Zones, Adidas has also included a gel pad on the medial side of the mid-foot, again something that they’re marketing as a control element. As a concept it makes sense, but the final product I found to be a little underwhelming. To the touch, the gel pad is actually quite firm, and features a faint texturing on the surface. It doesn’t really add any significant bulk to the upper, nor does it provide much extra grip. In fact, it really doesn’t do much of anything! You don’t notice it with the shoes on your feet, and honestly, if I wasn’t paying attention, I wouldn’t even notice that it was there. Its not a bad feature, just one that doesn’t have much of an impact on the overall feel.
I suppose its also worth mentioning the ControlFrame soleplate features some texturing around the edge of the soleplate and even the outer sides of the actual studs. It’s a cool looking aspect of the boot, but in terms of it having any benefits when it comes to controlling the ball, there is no impact whatsoever.

Shooting

While the Predator line has more recently been marketed as a “control” boot, the Instinct still maintains that premium striking experience that I have come to expect from the Predator line.

Just like the rest of the overall experience, when striking the ball, you’ll notice a solid amount of extra grip on the ball. The extra grip feels awesome, and as of right now, this is one of my favorite boots for shooting. You get a very aggressive striking element across the top of the foot, a large elements on the outside of the foot, smaller elements that span the top of the forefoot, and rubber elements that border the edge of the soleplate. This means that no matter what part of the foot you use to strike the ball, that extra grip is present and consistent.

Again, you get that sensation of precision due to the extra grip, which feels great, but certainly is not going to improve your power or accuracy. You definitely will find that the rubber elements allow you to more easily generate spin on the ball, but again, I would be hesitant to say that it enhances you ability to hit a particular type of shot.

If you value a great striking experience, the Predator Instinct definitely delivers. Pending that you like having the extra grip when dribbling, passing, controlling the ball, etc, you’ll love the feel of the Instinct when it comes to shooting.

Protection

As far as protection is concerned, the Predator Instinct just feels more solid than what we got from the previous LZ models. You get the slightly padded feel of the HybridTouch upper, with fairly thick rubber covering the majority of the upper. The rubber elements do a great job of providing above average impact protection should you get stepped on, and should you get hit directly on the mid-foot, the gel pad will also provide some excellent protection. The boot also features an internal plastic heel counter, for both stability, as well as protection from kicks to the back of the foot.

If protection is something that you value in a pair of soccer cleats, the Predator Instinct is a very suitable option.

Durability

The Predator Instinct is built like a tank. I have put a ton of hours on the two pairs that I wore for testing, and both pairs have held up extremely well, with no signs of wear at all. The synthetic upper requires no maintenance, and the tough rubber elements act a very protective layer. This is a boot that should easily get you through a season’s worth of play at the very least, but if longevity is what you’re looking for, the Predator Instinct is a great choice.

Please keep in mind that the Firm Ground version of the Predator Instinct, or any FG boot for that matter, is designed for you on natural grass playing surfaces and nothing else. Using any FG boot on turf/artificial grass will have a significant impact on the overall durability of your shoes. What’s nice is that it looks like Adidas is making the Predator Instinct in AG, FG and SG variations, so there’s a model for all different types of playing surfaces.

The Verdict

Overall, the Predator Instinct is not a major change coming from the LZ 2, but in my opinion is a definite improvement. While some may not be happy with the weight increase of the Instinct, I personally feel that it makes for a more comfortable and solid feel, so I personally view this as a plus. The upper is more flexible than its ever been, and the Lethal Zones provide that extra grip, that in my opinion is more easily manageable for first time Predator wearers.

I still stand by the fact that the Predator Instinct quite simply is not for everybody, but if everything in this review sounds good to you, you will most likely have a very positive experience. The Predator Instinct has quickly become one of my go to boots, which is funny because this isn’t generally the style of shoe that I tend to go for. If you were thinking about getting a pair of Instincts, my best advice is to go for it.

Comfort/Fit10 out of 10
Weight7 out of 10
Traction8 out of 10
Touch10 out of 10
Shooting10 out of 10
Protection9 out of 10
Durability9 out of 10
FINAL SCORE63 out of 70 or 90%