A Unique Piece
Back in 2020, adidas dropped a bombshell when they revealed that they had collaborated with The Pred Collective and The Predator Pro to create the Predator Archive as part of adidas’ return to a “proper” Predator. Which is a Predator that has the grip and all the aggressiveness that one expected of the Predators. Much has been written and talked about the design of the boot and the unfortunate colour choice, which appears to have been forced by adidas, but little has been said among reviewers about the actual function of the boot.
(Ed’s note: Most of this review was written in 2021, as was the actual work put into it)
Fit and Feel
From out of the box, the first thing that is noticeable is the uniqueness of the boot and the elements that make up the boot. After that, the leather is very soft and makes me wish that leather Predators were still a thing these days. The first time that the Predator Archive are on feet, they are comfortable and seem to be made with the view of fitting most foot types fairly easily.
In spite of the various elements that make up the boot, when on feet the fit is uniform, and nothing feels awkward or out of place. It is impressive given that the pieces of the boot are literally stitched together in such a unique fashion. The various pieces are more obvious when it comes to manipulating the ball with them, but more on that later.
Unlike the complaints that have been aired about the Predator Mutator models, the heel fits well and only the most aggressive of cuts is there any slipping to be found. Despite this, grip socks are still probably the way to go with these boots. The rest of the boot follows the shape of the foot well and again adidas must be applauded for how well these fit, given the outer design. This is also likely because of the fact that the boots are leather and adjust to different foot shapes pretty easily. Again, adidas needs to be offering leather Predators as I feel that would solve a lot of the fit issues people have been having with various generations of the Predator series.
If I had to complain about the fit, I would say that the knit tongue makes sense but does not offer the same amount of flexibility that a “floating” tongue would. A classic tongue would be a bit more aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion. A floating tongue would allow for a lot more adjustment to be made to the fit and thus allow more people the ability to wear the shoe. The flip side is that even though there is an attached tongue, the midfoot does not feel tight, unlike the Predator Freak. Also, I know it is a modern mix up of Predators from the past, but I feel that adidas did us a disservice by not having a fold over tongue with straps.
As far as sizing, I went with my normal size with adidas, which is a half size down from my true size. So if you do manage to find a pair, go that half size down and the leather is soft enough to stretch and form around a variety of foot shapes.
Touch and Dribbling
The touch on the forefoot of the Predator Archive is excellent and this is partially down to the soft leather on the upper, but also because of the Predator elements found here. It does take a slight adjustment period to get used to the fact that the left and right boot use two different types of Predator Elements. Since I am predominately left-footed, I am pleased that the left shoe uses the elements from the Powerswerve, because it is my favourite Predator. The modern Predator Freak elements found on the right boot are no slouches either and give a nice feeling when controlling the ball.
I might be alone in saying this, but I do find myself wishing that the Powerswerve and LZ elements on the left foot had more grip to them, as the ones on the Predator Archive are not nearly as grippy as the elements found on the original boots, which is a minus point for me.
Despite the fact that both boots have different midfoot insteps, the ball touch here was solid but unspectacular, which is fine by my measure. And there is a little bit of cushioning put in this area to help control the ball. It could have been more, but I think it terms of balance, it is more than good enough.
Dribbling with the outside of the foot is great in the Predator Archive since all there is here is soft leather. Which means that you get a great touch on the ball with zero distractions. This makes for a great experience as I am sure there was a temptation to put something there, but fortunately it has been left all leather.
Passing and Shooting
This is where the adidas Predator Archive comes into its own. One of the best things about the Predator Archive is how enjoyable it is to play in them. Having two different elements on the left and right boots means that there are also different experiences on offer.
First things first, these feel like a proper Predator when hitting the ball. There is a good amount of grip on offer and the weight is just right so that there is some oomph to shots. It is fun to experiment and see how the left and right feet of the boots react when hitting the ball with power. I am pleased to note that it is a lot of fun and there is a good amount of whippage available. Shooting is solid and spectacular. This has been a strong point of most Predator models and it is the same here. The ball can be absolutely hammered, and the boots respond as expected of something carrying the Predator name.
The same goes for long field crosses and passes, and there is still good accuracy when hitting the ball. It can also feel fairly natural at times, which while that seems to juxtapose the earlier statement about having spectacular shoes, if you try the boots, you will understand. There is a lot of performance on offer here and it is silly not try and make use of it.
Having the Powerswerve element on my stronger foot is a boon and means that the ball can be manipulated in different ways with satisfaction. Take an early, whipped cross for example. The Predator Archive responds nicely even when more power is added, and it is a great feeling to pull off these types of crosses in the boots.
The soleplate is the same that has been found on the Predator Mutator and the Predator Freak. It is a solid soleplate and works decently well on multiple surfaces. However, it does feel like it could do with a couple broader studs in the forefoot to help with stability. At least one more stud in the middle of the forefoot would not be a bad idea either since there can be some ever so slight stud pressure here. Also, a Predators normally have broader studs that help anchor to the ground when shooting and passing.
At the same time, while the studs worked well on every surface used on, there can be some drag when used on turf. This is surprising since there are times when it feels as though there is not enough grip available. This is probably down to the shape of the studs themselves. They seem to not be focused enough on overall balance.
There are no issues on firm ground and the studs overall do grip well on FG surfaces, there is still that feeling that the boots would be better served with the use of broader studs.
Overall though, the adidas Predator Archive is an enjoyable piece that any Predator fan should try. It is a release that reminds us all that sometimes boots do not have to be so serious and can just be about having fun. And to reiterate the point, the Archive are a fun boot to play in. That classic Predator feeling when curling the ball or whipping in a cross is there, and while there are various designs incorporated into the boot, they are surprisingly balanced and adidas deserves credit for managing to pull the rabbit out of the hat with this one.
There is the issue with the colour, which according to rumours was not the choice of either The Pred Collective or The Predator Pro. Given that they were both given mockups in other colourways, I am not sure I am not alone in thinking that I would have preferred more colourways in the Archive over all of these colourways we have be getting in the Predator Accelerator.
But if you get a chance, it is worth picking up the Predator Archive, a unique boot that will be more fondly thought of in the future, in my opinion.
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