The Three Stripes have laid siege to 2016 and the newest ACE 16.1 Primeknit will be one of the biggest weapons in the adidas line-up, especially if laces are still your thing. So, is it an early contender for the best boot of 2016?
The adidas ACE 16.1 Primeknit may still be a youngster in the adidas family, but the boot has already been heralded as one of the best aspects of the revolution since we first saw the creation back in 2015. Now, adidas are back with a new version of the knitted wonder, and the goal is still the same: create a boot that successfully blends the fit/comfort of Primeknit while still giving great feel on the ball. However, with all the headlines going to the laceless PURECONTROL, can the Primeknit still have enough quality to swing a few roving eyeballs away from its laceless brother? We put on a pair of laces to find out – you know, just for old times sake.
The first thing that you notice, no matter which colourway you behold, is the dominating three stripes on the midfoot. Adidas might have only put a few markers on the PURECONTROL, but the rest of their stable is going to be blazing their maker from 100 yards away. Adidas have given us either a solar slime option with hints of black and pink, or a classy black option with hints of slime and pink. Either way, it actually comes together quite well and is a look that we’ve seen grow on us during testing. We do wonder how many more buckets of slime paint are left in adidas production facilities, but if Nike is going to drown stuff in Volt, then adidas needs their own signature colour as well.
The low cut collar adds an interesting silhouette to the boot, and is definitely a welcomed addition. There's no doubt there's a place for the technology in football and with Nike's higher collar making boots look slightly bulky, we reckon the adidas ACE 16.1 Primeknit is a nice middle-ground.
The ACE 15.1 Primeknit had supreme comfort – has the new generation stood the test of time?
Comfort is an aspect of your footwear that you should prize above all others. The Primeknit 16.1 checks every box in this category, and more. Unlike the PURECONTROL, the Primeknit isn’t crafted to feel like a glove as soon as you slip your foot inside. There is a short break-in period, but after a session or two, you start to experience the bliss of trademark Primeknit comfort.
The laces intertwine with a tongue set-up that might be one of the most underrated and brilliant things that the German brand has given us in quite some time. Inside the midfoot of the boot is essentially a sleeve of Primeknit that sits underneath the thin synthetic you see on top. The tongue is actually a part of this sleeve, which helps provide the great fit and helps the boot feel like one sleek unit. When the upper softens, this will still give a great one-to-one feel and tightness so that the comfort matches up with how this boot feels on the ball.
As far as the low-cut collar goes, you barely notice it. It’s a much thinner material than what we see on Nike’s collared boots, so you might actually have a tough time telling that it is actually there. For the first real effort into a collar, we like what this boot offers and can’t wait to see where adidas uses this tech in the future. As for function, it blends well with the other Primeknit and allows it to feel like it flows with the rest of the boot’s build instead of being a late extra that adidas tacked on.
The soleplate on this boot has a nice blend of stiffness and flex to make sure that it isn’t an issue during wear, but that the responsiveness is still there.
Will it boss? It is capable of bossing? Or, is it stuck in middle-management with a cheap oversized suit and a second hand Vauxhall Astra?
The ACE has never stepped away from its claim about being a boot styled on control. The whole campaign from adidas has been centered around bossing the game, and of course that comes from the player, but the ACE 16.1 Primeknit does provide everything you need to perform in the middle of the pitch. Top level technology and execution in every way.
The Primeknit delivers. Adidas has made some slight shuffles with the Primeknit build on this version that actually had us feeling like it was a blend of the Primeknit X 15.1 and the Primeknit ACE 15.1. The feel offered is extremely close to something we’d expect from a lightweight option, while still giving you the padding that the Primeknit material and ACE series is looking for (all while still being surprisingly light). We're definitely continuing to see a positive evolution from adidas and this material, and it shows whenever you find yourself on the ball. The addition of the low-cut collar will appeal to those that love shifting their movement quickly and making quick flicks as it sits low enough to not feel like it’s impeding anything (all while making the boot feel extremely fluid).
All of that thin Primeknit that covers this boot offers a perfect cushion and gives that desired warm sensation whenever you really connect with a ball. The only real negative comes in the form of adidas claiming that this boot, like its predecessor, has NSG (Non-Slip Grip). This shows in the form of small bumps all over the upper designed to aid in control during any type of weather or field condition, but the bumps are so (so!) tiny that we really don’t think that they do anything at all. It isn’t like the control, whether wet or dry, actually needed any help, but the whole NSG thing just feels like a bit of a myth.
Adidas has shifted away from one of our favorite innovations of 2015 by giving the ACE series a fairly standard 11 stud layout, and the German brand still claims that the boot can function on both AG/FG surfaces because of the conical shape of the studs. But it's far more suited to FG and the most advanced 4G pitches. 3G and astro-turf? Better off with something else.
How does it fit?
The adidas ACE 16.1 Primeknit is a boot that we found to fit absolutely true to size, and also a boot that will accommodate most foot types. Not to mention that it feels like it is built like a well-oiled machine and will stand up to the beating of a few seasons before finally going off to that beautiful grass pitch in the sky.
What's the verdict then?
The 15.1 version was always going to be a hard act to follow, and so was the laceless PURECONTROL. So, how was this boot supposed to garner any attenion at all? By being a stone cold winner, that’s how. Adidas only continues to improve their Primeknit with time, and it’s great to see them not letting the revolution stall simply because they found something that worked as it is. We love the comfort, enjoyed how the boot played, and it still lets you keep your full attention on the task at hand.
When we laced up the previous incarnation, we were left begging adidas to shift Primeknit into everything they made. With the new boot, our request remains the same and also has us looking forward to seeing what the low-cut collar could do for other silos. We’re certain that, despite giving us another winner, adidas still has quite a few surprises to drop in 2016. The revolution gets collared, knitted, and laced...and, yet, still marches on. Viva la revolucion!
Want a pair? Get them here.