The X18+ from Adidas Football has surprised many by offering a laceless football boot designed for speed whilst maintaining the lockdown and tight fit. The Adidas X range has changed a few times over the last 4 years.
The current iteration of the range, the X18, features a design that can be likened to the fan favourite F50 Adizero range that was popular between 2010 and 2015. At the top of the X18 range is the X18+, a laceless boot that is designed for explosive speed.
When it comes to football boots, the ones designed for speed have always been my preferred choice. Since my main position was always on the wings, having a boot designed specifically for sprinting, accelerating and quick changes of direction truly made a difference.
The main aspects that these boots generally have are thin uppers for a close feel on the ball, combined with an aggressive soleplate that allows maximum traction on the pitch.
The X18+ was released just prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and were worn by many stars including the Egyptian Wizard Mohamed Salah. The futuristic design and the fact that they were laceless meant that I had to get my hands on a pair.
Having previously tried the Nike Mercurial range, I was also keen to see how the X18+ stacked up against the other speed boot giants in today's market.
On first sight, I was amazed by the look of the boots. The colourway I got was part of the energy pack from Adidas which was made for the World Cup.
The deep blue engulfs most of the shoe, making it pop against the green pitch. The iconic three stripes of Adidas are placed on the lateral side of the forefoot in a shiny yellow that contrasts nicely on the blue.
The upper also has a unique design that appears to be thin cables running across in varying shades of blue against a white backing layer. The most visually appealing aspect about this boot is the soleplate.
The soleplate comprises of an aesthetic chrome yellow towards the forefoot while towards the heel, there is an effect like the chroma flair paint jobs on cars. This is where the colour appears to change based on the angle you view it from.
The heel area of the soleplate changes from a chrome blue to pink and this makes the boot look stunning.
Size & fit
I went true to size with the X18+ in a size 9 US. It was a challenge to figure out the best way to get my foot into the boots but after some trial and error, I managed to determine the easiest way to do so.
I did this by first holding the opening of the boot on both sides, then stretching it to allow my foot to go in. Once my foot was mostly inside the boot, I grabbed the back of the opening, towards the heel, then pulled to allow enough room for my heel to squeeze in.
Upon my first wear, the boots felt snug and tight. Despite the boots having no laces, the upper felt like it was conforming to my foot around the top due to the elasticity of the tongue area.
However, it still did not feel the same as having my laces tightened to my exact liking. It would be difficult to determine the ideal size for these boots as different players prefer different types of fit.
I prefer my football boots to be very tight, so I probably could have gone half a size down with the X18+ to achieve the tight sensation that I like.
Adidas has used a thin multilayer upper for the X18+ which they have dubbed the skeletal weave. It comprises a central layer that contains an array of woven string or lines that run across the upper.
They contribute to maintaining the structure of the upper whilst keeping the weight of the upper at a minimum. The backing layer underneath the woven string can be seen too.
On feet, the upper is more on the stiffer side when compared to the knit materials used on other elite tier football boots in the current market. After wearing the boots around for a while, I got used to them as they felt familiar to boots I’ve worn around 2012-2014 that all featured similar synthetic uppers.
Along the tongue of the upper is where the magic happens. This is the feature on the boot that allows it to be a laceless boot. The matte feeling elastic material here is dubbed the Tech Fit.
It essentially holds the boot snug and tight while on feet but also stretches just enough for you to put your feet into them. I think it works quite well and keeps the foot adequately locked in.
The X18 range does not feature ankle collars or socks like the Predator 18 boots. Instead, Adidas have used what they call the Claw collar.
This collar design consists of raised material along the front (top of the tongue) and the back of the opening, like a claw shape. I think the purpose of this shape was to add to the locked down feel to keep your feet feeling secure within the chassis of the boot.
The only complaint I had with this was that the claw collar portion around the front of the boot did slightly fold when on feet in a neutral position. It was not uncomfortable in any way but just felt slightly awkward initially.
Outsole & traction
The outsole is one of the best features of this boot. As I previously mentioned, the X18 range is very similar to the old school F50 range from Adidas. What was good about the F50 Adizero range was the soleplate they used.
They felt amazing to sprint in and allowed a seamless change in direction too. I was happy to find that Adidas had brought this sole plate design back with the X18+ boots.
The studs are all triangular shaped and strategically placed along the outsole to provide traction in areas that aid in acceleration, deceleration, and change in direction. They felt great with no stud pressure on the bottom of my feet either.
Due to the thickness of the studs as well, I thought that the studs offered enough grip and traction without being overly aggressive on the pitch.
- Very lightweight
- Eye-catching and futuristic design
- Thin upper for a close touch on the ball
- Soleplate and stud pattern feel excellent
- Mental boost of feeling faster while wearing them
- Upper is on the stiffer side
- Takes a few wears to get used to the laceless fit
- Lockdown is good but not the same as having laces
- Very high price point
The X18+ offers a unique experience for any footballer looking for a modern speed boot. With a thin lightweight upper and a fan favourite soleplate, the boots can help enhance your game.
Being a laceless boot, the boots did not provide the same lockdown as a boot with laces would have. However, it still felt snug and responsive when moving around in them.
The upper is a bit stiff for my liking, but the touch on the ball still felt good with a slightly grippy feel. The visuals of the boot are amazing and very eye-catching.
I firmly believe that a good pair of football boots can help boost your confidence while playing and the X18+ did that for me. I felt faster and more agile with these boots on my feet.
If you can afford the high price point of the X18+, I think it is a very good option if your playstyle revolves around using your pace and quick feet to influence the game.
Lastly, if you would like to check out our full video review of the X18+, check it out through the link below.
Good to know
- The Adidas X 18+ Firm Ground is definitely not just your ordinary speed cleat. This flagship from Adidas does not only wow with a bright and bold silhouette, but it is also packed with the brand’s top innovations that truly make it one stand-out cleat on the pitch. Compared to its predecessor, the Adidas X 17+ Purespeed Firm Ground, this new generation soccer cleat has underwent a major redesign.
- Crafted to perform with a highly-responsive touch, this soccer cleat is lined with a Skeletalweave upper, which consists of an ultra-thin grid of woven yarns. This lightweight upper provides a direct touch as well as a form-fitting wrap around the foot, resulting in a second-skin feel.
- This Adidas cleat also highlights a low top Clawcollar that has been carried over to the Adidas X 19+ FG model. Engineered to somehow resemble a claw, this collar works to fasten the foot into the shoe for supreme stability. Moreover, this firm lock-in, alongside the upper’s skin-tight fit, eliminates the need for laces. Hence, its sleek laceless design.
- Another feature of this soccer cleat is its Standout 3D molded heel that reinforces a secure fit. This detail also provides cushioned zones that allow optimal movement of the ankles.
- On its base, the firm ground version of the X 18+ sports an Ultralight Speedframe outsole. This lightweight sole utilizes a perforated design that facilitates acceleration. Moreover, firm ground stability owes to the cleat’s stud configuration that combines Arrowhead forefoot studs with round heel studs. This setup enables players to make smooth shifts in movement on the pitch.
A skin-tight, locked-in fit is what wearers can expect from the Adidas X 18+ Firm Ground. Constructed with a laceless design, this soccer cleat relies on its low-cut collar and its Skeletalweave upper to ensure a snug wrap around the foot. This soccer cleat has been released in a men’s version only and comes in the standard sizes. It is known to fit true to size.
For its sole, this soccer cleat wears the Ultralight Speedframe outsole that utilizes perforations for acceleration. It also features a unique combination of Arrowhead forefoot studs and round heel studs that deliver excellent traction on natural grass pitches.
For its upper, Adidas has fitted this soccer cleat with an ultra-lightweight and super-responsive Skeletalweave upper. This upper wraps snugly around the foot and caters a direct touch on the ball. It also highlights a low cut Clawcollar that gives the foot a locked-in fit, eliminating the need for laces.
- The Adidas X 18+ Firm Ground is also available in trainers variation. This model also has a kids' version.