Maybe we need to pick a new name for this feature? As another laceless boot drops onto the market in a summer of speed we're slipping on the adidas X 18+ to see what the latest lightweight innovation to carry the Three Stripes is all about. 

After a strong month of World Cup spotlight attentions turn to pre-season, and the X 18+ is the leading lightweight choice for adidas. Oh yeah, and the laces have gone. Naturally a laced X 18.1 is an option, but it's the X 18+ that adidas have positioned as their front-runner. The most dramatic shift in design of the X series, it's a boot that has intrigued. We've been putting them through the paces over the past month, and we're about to tell you what we think of them. All set? Let's go...


Fresh out of the box

On first inspection the adidas X 18+ is everything that the previous X series should have been. It's streamline, it's seriously light, it's flexible. It's the most F50 looking adidas boot since they killed off the popular line. It looks and feels like it belongs far closer to the F50 adizero family than it does to the X clan, and that is definitely a strong tick in the box for us. In short, it feels like a speed boot. A trait that was sometimes forgotten by the X 17 and X 16.

That stunning combination of blue and yellow screams speed and the laceless technology gives it a bullet-like silhouette fit for a sprinter. No question about it, when you open the box you instantly know that you're driving in the fast lane. Buy them a fair few days before you have to wear them. Trust us, you need time to appreciate these clean. The soleplate alone is mesmerising, as are the glistening stripes.


How does it fit?

After wearing the Predator 18+ earlier in the year, we were expecting a very tight fit that almost overcompensates for the lack of lacing by squeezing the foot to a slight uncomfortable level at first. However, when the boot is on there was nothing but positives to report back. The toes weren't pressed too hard, the fit was true to size, and the overall feel was thin but secure, lightweight but strong.

The new low-cut CLAW COLLAR construction features a new stretch material that secures the foot in place, and it's this tech that allows the foot to push against the boot for a tight but very comfortable feel without being restricting. Easily the best fitting laceless boot from adidas in our opinion, perhaps we've just become used to having no laces?

The 3D MOULDED HEEL is possibly the most underrated feature. It provides a snug and stable fit, and genuinely caresses the foot into place rather than locking it. The foot feels harnessed and this eliminates any danger of slippage inside the X 18+. It's the upper that takes most the plaudits thanks to the SKELETAL WEAVE. Compiled of an ultra-thin woven grid of optically charged speed yarns to allow for responsive touch and lightweight feel. The tech combines with the new, ultra-soft SPEEDMESH to create a lightweight boot that feels incredibly strong – a combination that has previously proved hard to nail.


Crossing the white line

Once you're locked in and the session begins the X 18+ is the first boot that genuinely has us thinking that there's no need for laces any more. The Predator and ACE generations were impressive, but the laced versions were needed and quite possibly more suitable. The X 18+ however, well, it could be the first laceless boot that works better for lock down than the laced edition. It's certainly the first laceless boot that has us thinking it could be the future rather than an alternative.

It's difficult to explain how strong the upper feels, but how it also feels so flexible at the same time. Although we suppose that is basically our job, so we'll have to have a go at it... You know previous lightweight boots when some centre half who thinks he's the big man picks it up and says something like "one stud on there and it'll rip?" Yeah, we don't reckon he'd say that after he's felt these.


The upper doesn't necessarily mold to your foot like a softer material would though, it's firm on the outside and maintains its shape rather than melting around the foot. All of that happens on the inside of the boot, where a soft cushioned material runs above the toes and foot to provide that snug feeling.

Striking the ball is as clean as it comes. No, the X 18+ doesn't give you that extra bit of boom that the Predator, but that's exactly why the Predator co-exists with the X. The X 18+ provides a clean surface and no distraction. When you pull the trigger, it's all you.


The Verdict

The adidas speed boot is back. The X has arrived. It may have taken four generations but adidas finally have a streamlined, lightweight football boot that picks up from where the F50 adizero left off.

The laceless upper is the most impressive yet, thanks to its blend of strength and thinness. You could argue that it's a match-fit edition of the adidas 99g boot. You can scrunch it up in one hand, yet it's strong, durable and smooth to drive. Overall, this is everything a speed boot should be, despite being nothing like the Mercurial line. It challenges the Mercurial with a completely different concept that works just as well.

Pick up the adidas X 18+ football boots from