First Impressions: adidas X Ghosted

Classic speed vibes from the adidas X Ghosted.

The adidas speed boot category has seen some interesting developments since they formed the “X” brand and moved away from the F50 concept. The F50 was a direct competitor to the Nike Mercurial series, with a focus on the most barefoot feel and a stiff and responsive soleplate – all while trying to shave down as much weight as possible.

The X was a way for adidas to detach itself from their never-ending weight loss battle and freed them to chart their own path. It culminated in the adidas X18.1, which balanced a light weight with 2 key game-changers within the speed category – it was comfortable and accommodated wide-footed players.

The new generation X, the X20 Ghosted, however, seems to be a throwback to the traditional speed boot days of the F50.

Ghostly upper

The biggest draw of the X Ghosted is its paper thin, translucent upper you see in the images of the laceless X Ghosted+. This upper is called “mirageskin” and it looks ridiculously light. For a boot to be this thin and be durable enough to last you through the season and be developed for mass adoption is impressive.

The only other time we’ve seen uppers like these have been on limited edition Puma evoSpeed SL and the 99 gram adidas F50 adizero Crazylight. Both of these were seen as concept boots that were not expected to last you for months on end.

adidas X Ghosted

While previous X models were slightly padded, this mirageskin upper promises the ultimate barefoot touch when it comes to passing, dribbling and striking. Personally, I would have loved for adidas to keep the slightly padded upper but I understand why they’d want to revert to a barefoot sensation to appeal to a wider audience.

Curiously enough, they described mirageskin as a “high-performance material” and not a knitted upper. This is pretty refreshing as they don’t seem to be forced into doing knit just because it’s in fashion now. We might see a return to synthetics that performed well like in the days of the F50.

Spectral form

From the looks of the boot, it seems to be based on the same last and shape of the X18 and X19. I still do hope that it can fit wide footed players and perhaps there is an incentive to keep the boot wide so as not to put too much pressure on that paper thin mirageskin.

Like many classic speed boots, the X Ghosted looked to the sprinters’ track shoe for inspiration. The studs have gotten even more aggressive with arrow head-shaped studs in the forefoot while the conical studs in the heel from the X19 have also been replaced by the same arrow head-shaped studs.

And lastly, we see the return of carbon fibre for the X Ghosted+. adidas claims that it was “crafted via an open source approach, and harnesses the extreme power and performance of carbon fibre but in a flexible form. X Ghosted is the first football boot available at scale with the integration of a dynamic carbon plate.

I’m genuinely curious to see how flexible carbon fibre feels as it does sound a little contradictory considering how carbon fibre is meant to be stiff. Personally, I expect the soleplate to be the stiffest one yet out of all the X boots.

It’s X Ghosted, not X20

For the past 5 years, adidas has named their shoes across all categories, including football boots, by the year of its launch. This is something we’ve gotten used to and was also adopted by Puma to some extent.

It was a very logical and functional way to present your products and it builds anticipation and hype for each year’s launch. However, this also means you put pressure on your brand to launch a new product annually despite the common football boot lifecycle of 2 years. This meant that we saw adidas launch “new” boots that were merely cosmetic updates such as the Predator 19 (with its modified external heel counter) and the Copa 20 (with its wavy design on the upper). It can be confusing and for some customers, quite underwhelming.

adidas X Ghosted

Moving away from naming the product based on the year of launch would seem like a good step forward for adidas who won’t be pressured to launch new updates until the proper 2 year lifecycle has come to an end. Let’s hope the other football boots will be renamed in time to come.

X Ghosted – The friendly ghost

The sleek silhouette, thin mirageskin upper and that soleplate look extremely promising. However, I worry that with adidas’ attempts to return to a classic speed boot formula, they will be undoing the great work of the X18 and X19 in providing attributes hardly seen in speed boots – the wide fit and comfortable feel.

I’m all for lighter boots but adidas must not lose these attributes which have made the X a big favourite in recent years. Of course, we’ll find out in due time on how comfortable the X Ghosted can be on feet.

adidas X Ghosted

In the meantime, we’ll all have to wait to get our hands on a pair of the boots as we hear that there is a worldwide shortage of the X Ghosted. Until then, we’ll pray that this is a ghost that is more Casper than the Poltergeist.

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