We take a deep look under the hood and spend some quality time with the creation currently at the top of every boot fans list. Let’s see if the adidas ACE16+ PURECONTROL is capable of bossing everything...or, barely bossing its way out of its own box.
The adidas PURECONTROL easily takes the case as the most risky, yet intriguing, standard release that we have seen from a major brand since...well...have we ever seen anything this crazy from the big boys? The next big step for the revolution is laceless, collared, and headlines what promises to be an incredible 2016 for the three stripes.
Questions were raised from the first moment that this boot emerged on the scene. Will the boot be able to provide a great fit without being able to tighten up laces? Will the touch actually be improved by removing something like the laces? Is there any chance that this could be the future of football boots? Perhaps the biggest question is whether this boot, with or without laces, can perform at a level higher than anything else on the market.
You could probably see the PURECONTROL from space...but, what’s it like in person?
Although the three stripes has already dropped a much more conservatively styled version, the launch PURECONTROL was absolutely meant to steal everyone’s attention. The bright green that adidas pours on in similar fashion to Nike’s “volt,” the ACE16+ is dominated by a wealth of the bright green. There are three stripes on the lateral side of the boot, but (with the exception of two incredibly small adidas logos (one on the heel and one behind one of the front two studs) that is the end of the connections to the brand that has created this laceless wonder. There is a front pull-tab at the front part of the collar along with the tips of the studs that are adorned with a bright pink, and there’s nothing that anyone could consider “conservative” here.
A closer look at the material reveals specks of yellow mixed in with the green, and the stretchy portion where the laces should be is striped like a Norwich fan’s daydreams. One major thing to note is that the metallic green finish on the soleplate does rub off after wear, which reveals just a plain green to match the upper underneath.
Has adidas continued to craft comfort from the last year's Primeknit? Or has it lost more than just the laces?
Adidas has really made great strides with the comfort of their Primeknit series, and we still have dreams about turning our ACE+ 15.1 PrimeKnit boots into house slippers once their days on the pitch are over. You would think that a next generation boot’s use of the Primeknit material would be superior, and that the adidas boot covered with more of the material than any boot before would get a budge in the comfort department as well.
Although we usually wait to talk about sizing until the end, it is a big factor in the first encounter with this boot and the fit/comfort that it can achieve. This is one of those boots where some will be able to go down a half-size and others will want to go with their standard size, and we strongly (strongly) suggest trying the boot on before you snag your own to find the right size. If you end up with a boot that is too loose, it will ruin everything that this boot is hoping to make happen on your foot. If there is no way that you will be able to try the boot before snagging it, then we would suggest going true to size (unless you already snag your boots with a bit of space in the toe).
We also usually don’t have to talk about simply getting the boot on your foot, but the PURECONTROL does come with a bit of a learning curve. The first two/three times we put the boot on, it was tough for anyone watching to keep from laughing or wondering why anything without laces could possibly take longer than a few seconds to slip them on. After a few wears, we are now experts and can slip the boots on with speed and ease, but there are a few things you should know. First, the shoehorn that's included is invaluable for 90% of people putting this boot on. Slipping the plastic horn into the heel in order to get your heel to slip in is the absolute best method for putting the boot on. Just know that this is not a boot to shove the heel down and try and force on, and it’s going to take some work and shifting around before you really get the hang of it.
Once the boot is (finally) on your foot, you immediately notice a squeeze around the entirety of your foot. This is the fit and comfort, minus a bit of softening in the Primeknit upper, that you will be experiencing during your duration in the boot. If you snagged the right fit, it’s an intriguing sensation to have such a tight fit without having to really adjust anything. The heel does feel odd at first, but the material provides a nice cushion in the heel (felt like a synthetic suede...the same thing lines the boot near the toe box as well).
The added collar also aids the laceless fit stay decent by keeping a good fit right around the ankle. There is a sleeve (connected to the pink pull tab) that sits around the middle of the boot to make sure that your foot feels wrapped snugly inside the boot. There is some intense rigidity that you immediately feel in the lateral side of the boot, and that isn’t going to go away after a few wears. While it might be a bit of a negative in the “comfort” area, this is crafted in order to keep your foot locked in and prevent it from rolling over during quick cuts and movements.
The toe-box reminds us almost exactly of the Primeknit 2.0. A similar cut and application of Primeknit to the older model, and the material does soften up a bit after wear. However, unlike normal boots that a user can help counter material stretching with lace tightening, adidas knew that the boot would need to stay as solid as possible to avoid overstretching and letting the fit disintegrate. This rings true in several other areas of the boot, as adidas had to match areas where a boot can usually be left to its own devices and fixed by tightening laces by making sure that the original level of fit from the PURECONTROL would stay at a high level.
It’s an odd combination as we were all so surprised by how amazing the fit was as soon as you slipped on the boot, but the comfort is never really anything that has us immediately throwing away everything we own that has laces. It all makes sense considering what adidas had to sacrifice and change in order to create such a boot, and we still loved the sensation. Adidas still markets the soleplate set-up as AG/FG, and we found it to be very effective on newer artificial surfaces.
Laces or not...can this thing boss the pitch for 90 minutes?
An impressive fit as soon as you slip the boot on, but all that did was have us itching to take these boots for a spin doing proper testing. None of the flash and pizazz of adidas would be able to cover up for their biggest bomb dropping of the revolution ending up floundering once you got the ball at your feet. Adidas is plastering the ability to “boss” practically anything while wearing these boots, and we threw them straight into action to see if they can live up to all the massive amounts of hype.
The first thing you notice about the PURECONTROL is that the upper is a bit thicker than you would have expected before you got to try the boot. From pictures, it seemed like this would be a laceless F50, but, in order to cope with the lack of laces, the upper has snagged some beefing up in several areas that changes the feel. The lateral side of the boot, which we mentioned has been altered to aid in responsiveness and avoid rollover, is really stiff and thick on the ball. As for the toe-box and instep, there is more thickness than you would expect, but the touch whenever you were on the ball was impressive and provided a good feel.
The boot does have a nice bit of cushioning for whenever you are taking a ball out of the air or trying to take a little extra zip off of an incoming rocket-pass (seriously, how did they expect me to control that?), but it might scare away players hoping for a barefoot feel and a wafer-thin material between you and the ball. One thing you definitely notice is also some odd creasing at the edge of the laceless are when running, but it never fully shifts the shape of the upper or changes the feel on the ball.
Whenever you start trying to “boss the game,” the boot is nice to pass with and the slightly padded Primeknit shines in this area. Passing and receiving from the instep of the boot gives you the warmth and feel that any player wants whenever you have your head up looking to play a through ball.
While every turn of this boot just leaves us wide-eyed because of how unique and new it felt, shooting did present a few issues with the PURECONTROL. The part where the stretchiest part of the boot meets the structured side on the lateral part of the boot (right above where the three stripes end) created an odd feel. We also found that, after a few shots, our foot felt like it was shifting forward and then settling backwards in the boot with every strike. While that might seem like an issue that could be solved with TruSox, the movement is actually not an issue with the foot sitting on the insole...it’s more of an issue of your foot not being totally locked down as tightly as possible with laces. The shifting wasn’t far (probably only a few millimeters each time), but we started to notice late in the session when our foot was tapping the tip of the boot.
Considering everything adidas has gotten right with this boot and all that this bot stands for, it’s still an extremely impressive outing. While we are absolutely terrified (terrified!!!) of either of the pull tabs ripping and leaving us with no clue on how to put these boots on, the boot does seem to be well constructed and seems like it will last for a fair bit of time. This is one of the main reasons why adidas made sure that so many parts of the boot are so sturdy, and it shows through in terms of durability.
Is the PURECONTROL the future or are laces here to stay?
We’ve worn these boots over a dozen times, and they still fire up our imagination. The fact that there is even any semblance of fit in this boot still boggles the mind, and the boot still provides a level of play and comfort that either rivals or stands above a host of laced creations. There’s a reason this is one of the most talked about releases of the last decade, and its performance, while not without a few kinks that adidas can work out, is impressive for such a crazy release.
We aren’t quite sure that the next ten years is going to be fraught with boots that are laceless, but the PURECONTROL is definitely going to set-up 2016 for one of the best boot battles of all time. Adidas, for the first time in quite some time, has taken a step that we hadn’t already seen from their rivals. Laceless might not have been totally original, but the PURECONTROL’s approach to the idea is completely their own. If the revolution hasn’t already won you over, then the fact that adidas is taking these kinds of risks show how amazing the next few years in the boot world have the potential of being.
Adidas has thrown down the gauntlet on 2016. Whether the German giants are standing tall at the end of December definitely remains to be seen, but the PURECONTROL would be a huge step for any brand hoping to take their offering to the next level.
No laces? No problem.