More than you think it is
Concave have one of the most well-known pieces of tech in the boot otaku community. Their Concave element that’s on every boot they have released has split opinion for as long as the company has been around. Almost as well known is the fact that many influencers, youtubers and bloggers seem start out with a Concave boot as one of the first boots they talk about. What I have tended to notice is that while many of these people make content, they are not a lot of actual reviews on the boots. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation. I am also aware of some people’s perception of Concave as a brand being a one-trick pony. The issue is, I’m not sure that’s the case any longer.
Before we dive into the meat of this review, I want to state something that some people might be surprised with: I paid for these boots out of my own pocket. There are a few reasons for this. We can start with the fact that since my blog is a relatively recent creation, I think it’s rude to expect or ask for free product. This is approach I have taken with every brand I have talked to. Another reason is that even if you set out to be as fair as possible, it is still difficult to do when you get product for free. Though, I am sure this isn’t as difficult for people who get almost everything for free.
With all that out of the way, on to the review.
Fit and Feel
The first thing that struck me about these boots was how good the fit was. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the boot seemed to fit my feet. The Halo+ doesn’t have the softest upper for a synthetic, but this turned out to be good thing when it came to performance. In spite of this, it was still plenty soft and the break-in time was fairly minimal. It compares decently with other synthetics on the market as well. After a couple of times wearing them, the upper felt broken in and it had enough of a give in order to feel like I got a good fit.
The one issue people have had when buying Concaves in the past is the sizing. I can confirm this is still the case. I usually wear a 26cm (US 8) or 26.5cm (US 8.5) depending on the boot, but in the Concaves I went down to a 25.5cm (US 7.5). Not everyone should go down a full size, but at the very least I recommend going down a half size from usual. Having got past that, the fit in the length was good.
One of things I wasn’t expecting was how comfortable the neoprene sock and sockliner was. An issue I have had with boots that had something similar to the neoprene sock is that sometimes they can be too tight or too thin. This isn’t the case with the Halo+, which also cushioned enough to the point there was little-to-no lace bite. I also want to give a special shout out to the laces. They are quite nice, thin and feel premium. The part of the neoprene sock that protrudes out of the heel of the shoe also isn’t noticeable during play. All of this combined with the upper allows you to have a good amount of lockdown in the Halo+.
The heel also has good fit and lockdown with a nice bit of cushioning as well. Personally I would have preferred a bit more cushioning to the sides of the heel as the sides felt somewhat stiff out of the box.
It did feel as though there was a bit of excess material on the upper. This partly might be down to the shape of my foot or the fact that the upper is made to fit a majority of foot types. I will add that it isn’t uncommon for me to have this issue with other boots, especially synthetics.
Touch and Dribbling
There is a bit of grip to the vamps on the forefoot of the boots, and although it doesn’t seem anything spectacular, I was impressed with how well it functioned in wet conditions. It gives just enough grip on the ball without being over the top. The rest of the upper feels nice when it comes to touch on the ball as well. The design of the vamps is such that the ribs located on the instep have more grip to them than the ones located on the outstep. This shows that Concave was responding to how most players dribble the ball with their outstep and you tend to not want as much grip there as elsewhere.
It is because of the vamps that dribbling in the Halo+ feels nice. The thin upper gives a fairly barefoot-like sensation when it comes to dribbling and the it feels complimentary instead of getting in the way. In other words, you’re not fighting the boot when it comes to dribbling. I feel like this is something that does compare decently with other brands’ boots.
The midfoot instep has a continuation of the control ribs found on the forefoot. While not providing as much grip as the forefoot, it does provide a slight dampened sensation when it comes to passing and controlling the ball. It’s a nice touch, but not as aggressive as something like the old CTR360 Maestris.
The Halo+ has a markedly different soleplate from previous Concave models. At this point, I have tried the boots in a lot of different conditions and surfaces, from waterlogged and muddy pitches to artificial grass surfaces. In every case, I found that I enjoyed the soleplate. The addition and the location of a second middle forefoot stud goes a way towards preventing the boots from having much stud pressure, even on harder surfaces.
It can’t necessarily be said that this makes it a hard ground or artificial ground boot per se, but the boots worked well on both surfaces. There is a slight bit of drag when it came to playing on AG surfaces and while it wasn’t enough to cause issues, it is enough to for me to say that the boots might not be the best option when it comes to playing on artificial pitches. That being said, these boots are designed for firm ground surfaces only, so keep that in mind.
Although this plays a bit more in the touch section, since we are already talking about the soleplate I wanted to point out how easy it was to drag the ball around with the bottom of your foot in these boots. A lot of this comes down to the fact that the stud layout feels “balanced” for lack of a better word. What I mean when I say this is that the studs themselves are more even with each other than other boots I have tried or played in. Often, brands purposely make their studs have different lengths and sizes in order to make you feel more “dynamic” when playing. So, it’s nice that these boots have studs that feature very similar lengths and sizes.
Shooting and Ping
This is part where Concave prides itself and its technology. In the past, the Concave element has been overly bulky and even when it was slimmed down, it took some getting used to. The new AccuStrike Railing System is a large improvement over previous incarnations of the sweet spot technology that Concave had used in every single way. You no longer feel like the striking area is something you need to get used to. Now, its just a nice bonus to have when shooting or pinging the ball. I honestly forgot it was even on the boots until I struck the ball with that part of the boot.
The previously mentioned grip that is on the vamps located on the forefoot of the boots also provided good feedback when it came to shooting the ball. There is just enough grip for you to notice a bit of a difference but it isn’t overly noticeable like an Ignitus or an older Predator. It reminded me a bit more of the Laser IVs, which weren’t overly aggressive when it came to the grip elements. I know it’s not popular at the moment, but I would love to see the forefoot vamps be more aggressive in the future. That’s more my personal taste than anything though.
Since we are talking about shooting the ball, I once again want to bring up the soleplate. It is quite obvious when holding the boot that the soleplate is the heaviest part of the boot. The upper feels very light in comparison. It is one of those things that was done on purpose and this is noticeable when striking the ball. There is “oomph” when you hit the ball and it is very satisfying and because the soleplate feels like it has an even weight distribution, it never feels awkward when shooting.
Another thing that soleplate brings to the table is the grip provided by the rear studs when shooting. They feel very solid and I didn’t feel unbalanced when shooting. When you put all of these elements together, you get a boot that is very fun to shoot and ping the ball in. Given that shooting and its sweet spot tech are Concave’s pride, they have more than succeeded in this department. It is really that good.
Overall, I have come away from this review thinking how happy I have been with the boots and far Concave have come, even over the past few years. The Halo+ is a great boot for set piece takers and strikers while at the same it feels well-rounded enough to work for almost everyone. Its namesake technology may still split opinion, but this feels like a large step forward for the brand and if you have ever wanted to try Concave boots, but were one the fence because of the tech, this is the boot you should start with. If Concave continue to refine their technology on other models as well, then I believe that they will have more of an impact on the market. After all, with proper power boots being so rare these days, we should definitely tip our hat to Concave for keeping the style alive. I’d argue that we should all pay more attention to Concave from now on.
But what are ya’ll’s thoughts? Feel free to drop me a comment and make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
PS Rant incoming. This isn’t something limited to Concave but a lot of brands are doing this right now. Enough with the wearable finishes on soleplates! Yeah it looks cool when its cracking but it gets everywhere and I doubt its even environmentally friendly. Given that we have already found microplastics in our food chain, we should quit with stuff like wearable finishes now!