Comparing the adidas Predator 20.1 and Predator Freak.1

adidas predator 20.1 adidas predator freak .1 football boots soccer cleats review
out of 10

The new Predator Freak .1 comes with some upgrades.

The adidas Predator 20.1 is a curious boot. It was one of the most hyped football boots in years with its provocative design. Those Demonskin spikes promised grip for days and adidas delivered excellently with a boot that really helps you swerve and bend the ball like Becks.

However, unlike classic Predators, it was uncharacteristically narrow in the midfoot which took a longer time to break in than usual. The adidas Predator 20.1 would have been our 2020 Boot of the Year if not for its longer break in time, a piece of feedback that many of our readers shared too.

Despite this, I have come to really love the Predator and while this was initially meant to be my Post Hype Review where I share my thoughts on the boot after playing in them for the past year, the good people of adidas has shared with me the latest version of the boot for review – the Predator Freak .1.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to discuss my growing relationship with the Predator 20.1 and how it has evolved with the latest iteration, the Predator Freak .1.

What I first said about the adidas Predator 20.1

Going true to size, it was obvious that the fit in the boot was different from most boots. It had a wide forefoot and heel while its midfoot was uber narrow and tight. Our team at BOOTHYPE concocted a solution for the fit.

  1. Go half a size down to close the space in the forefoot and heel
  2. Loosen up the laces generously and wear the boots at home for 30-60 minutes to have the upper stretch.
  3. During your game, put on your Predator 20.1 midway through your match after your feet has warmed up and take it slow in the boots.

Once it broke in, I absolutely loved the contact on the ball and the grip it provided me. It gave me security when looking to control balls that were whipped in at pace and if you have some skill with striking or crossing the ball, you can rely on the Demonskin spikes to help amplify your technique on the pitch.

It fits better now

When I opened my Instagram stories up to questions from our followers, dozens of them came in asking if the fit has changed with the Predator Freak. Fit is the biggest talking point when discussing the Predator.

With the Predator 20.1, I traded in my FG (firm ground) variant for the artificial ground (AG) variant and it worked wonders for me.

The AG variant still had a wide forefoot and heel but its midfoot was much wider in comparison to the FG. I went half a size down though I never spent any time breaking in the boots at home. I loosened up the laces and took them to the pitch immediately. They were still tight but within 15 minutes, they eased up completely and I trained cramp free.

This difference in the fit completely changed my experience in the Predator and it has become one of my go-to boots in my rotation when I’m not doing busy reviewing another football boot. It is that good once the boot fit my feet.

With the new adidas Predator Freak .1 (in FG), I went half a size down as I assumed not much has changed since the previous generation. As expected, going down half a size reduced the excess forefoot and heel space but to my pleasant surprise, the midfoot isn’t as tight as it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still very tight and I’d still greatly recommend you loosen the laces and break them in at home. However, it doesn’t pinch my midfoot as much as it used to as the textile-based upper softens up a little more quickly in the Freak than the 20.1. This helped quickened up the breaking in process on the pitch.

The split sock is an underrated innovation

Another great innovation is the split sock construction. The “sock” boot has been a popular trend the last several years but one of its drawbacks is that putting them on can be really tough. The same can be said for boots with a one-piece construction. The Predator is both a one-piece boot with a mid-cut sock design. I’ve gotta give adidas massive credit for this split sock format because it makes putting on the boot ridiculously easy. Surprisingly, it was easier to put on the mid-cut Predator Freak .1 than it is to put on a low cut one piece boot.

You don’t get a compressive sock fit around the ankle but I honestly am not too fussed about that as I don’t expect socks to give you ankle support like many expect them to. If you like your mid-cut socks and have always found it hard to put on your boots, this new feature on the Predator Freak .1 is a godsend.

More brands need to take a cue from this if they are looking to find ways to improve ease of wear in their mid-cut boots.

You get to feel the ball more in the Predator Freak

The big innovation in the adidas Predator 20.1 was its grippy Demonskin rubber spikes. It is so grippy that you’ve got to get used to them when it comes to managing your first touch, passing, shooting, dribbling and any other contact on the ball. Once you do, it’s a great tool to help you with control.

I often found myself sticking my foot out lazily to control an incoming ball and I’d be surprised how well I was able to stop the ball in its tracks. That grip effect is made even more obvious through a squeaky sound of the rubber spikes when making contact with the ball – especially when the ball is of the cheaper, plasticky variety.

What I’ve come to realise is that while the Predator’s upper material is very thin, the Demonskin spikes take away a lot of that close touch on the ball because of how firm and densely populated the spikes are across the upper. I don’t see that as a problem but it may be for some players who want a closer feel of the ball. With the adidas Predator Freak .1, the designers in Germany found a solution for this.

In the newer model, they’ve made the Demonskin spikes softer and thinner and have spread them out more across the boot. They’re more spaced out and you can find them in areas that were bare in the previous generation, namely the lateral and medial sides of your foot.

The generous spacing between each spike and the softer nature of each spike allows the ball to come in greater contact with you foot, unlike in the previous generation where it was a rubber barrier between your foot and the ball. This was something I truly noticed when carrying out my shooting drills as I worked on my striking technique. I just felt more of the ball and I loved that.

You still get copious amounts of grip all across the boot so it’s a win-win for me.

Demonskin’s devilish good looks

adidas’ decision to rearrange the Demonskin spikes is not just for function but also for form. It gives the boot a more primal, animalistic look – an aesthetic they have improved on. The extended sock is a great look for those who love the mid-cut look though I have to say I do like the low cut variant more.

A very nice touch with the adidas Predator Freak .1 is the paint coating on the external heel counter. It looks to have had a lovely spray painted effect which is rare in the industry and that’s something I look forward to see more of with future Freak colourways.

The sole of a Demon

Having worn both the FG and AG soleplates, there are some minor differences which evens out over time. As previously mentioned, the AG soleplates have a more natural midfoot which is not as tight as the FG. The FG’s narrow midfoot also causes the insole to produce a slight curve, almost like an anatomical soleplate, that rests just below the balls of your feet. The curvature flattens as the boot’s midfoot stretches but I don’t recall feeling this very curve on the AGs.

Performance wise, they both do a good job on firm natural grass and artificial ground though I find the FG studs to be a bit more aggressive than the AGs. That comes from the FG studs’ slimmer profile that digs into the ground more while the AG studs are broader and slightly shorter for those with more sensitive (read: ageing) feet.

Looks-wise, you can’t beat the handsome good looks of the FG soleplate with its split sole and spikey design. One of the big drawbacks of AG soleplates (on any brand, not just adidas) is that they focus more on function than looks. They’re not as good looking as their FG counterparts despite costing just as much. Still, the adidas AG soleplate is one of the nicer ones out there as compared to its competitors.

The adidas Predator Freak .1 is an improvement

Overall, I am impressed with the adidas Predator Freak .1. With cosmetic updates, brands don’t usually make too many changes but adidas put in some work to make this a better boot. The boot still needs breaking in but that is made easier with a slightly softer material. The split sock construction is brilliant and above everything else, I love how you can feel much closer to the ball without compromising on the grip.

It’s not the perfect boot yet but it definitely took some steps forward in ways that I was not expecting so kudos to adidas for that.

adidas predator 20.1 adidas predator freak .1 football boots soccer cleats review
Who is this for?
The adidas Predator Freak .1 improves on the previous generation with an easier-to-break-in upper, split sock construction and a closer touch on the ball. It is for everyone who wants more grip with every touch they get on the ball.
The Good
Upper is slightly easier to break in
Good looks
Ease of foot entry
AG compatible FG soleplate
A much closer touch on the ball
Grip for days
The Bad
Midfoot is still tight
out of 10
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