Laceless Football Boots
The concept of a laceless football boot was made into a reality when Lotto released the Zhero Gravity in 2006. However, ten years later, adidas started their current dominance in the laceless market with the launch of their Ace 16+ Purecontrol and today, all the top end (+) models of their present silos, namely the Predator Freak, X Ghosted, and Copa Sense, are all laceless. Other brands like Umbro and New Balance have produced their laceless boots with the Medusae 3, the first leather laceless boot, and the knitted Tekela V3 (NB's first laceless soccer cleat), but the adidas silos still top the current laceless list.
Why Wear a Boot Without Laces?
A laceless boot is made to provide a cleaner surface which gives off two primary benefits; one, this cleaner striking surface extends the striking area to the top space of the boot for a better contact with the ball for passing and shooting. Secondly, the removal of laces tends to also reduce the bulk of the boot, allowing the wearer to have a more connected feel to the ball. The trend of creating a laceless boot, to a certain extent, may have been indirectly caused by society’s inclination towards convenience.
The idea of having less effort in wearing your boots by the removal of laces is understandably attractive especially to younger generations who are very immersed in a plug and play system. Another trend that coincides with the development of a laceless boot is the use of stretchy elastic knit material on the upper which to a certain extent already gives the boot a particular degree of lockdown.
Best Laceless Boots
Since the release of the ACE 16+ Purecontrol, laceless football boots have been the bread-and-butter of adidas, making the flagship + models with a laceless construction. The brand's current lineup offers a significant degree of variety, with the Predator Freak going for a knitted upper filled with grippy rubber spikes, high-cut collar plus a split soleplate, the X Ghosted offering a thin and translucent synthetic upper called Mirageskin and a soleplate with carbon fibre inserts, and, lastly, the Copa Sense showing the laceless closure in a leather-knit fusioned upper.
However, a great percentage of football boot wearers still go with laced boots and no other than Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah have gone on to wear the laced .1 versions of the X Ghosted. Much of the lockdown of a laceless boot is coming from the structural reinforcement of the upper, and as such there tends to be some amount of foot slippage and movement even if you have a near perfect fit. Apart from that, nowadays a soft and flexible upper is preferred because of the comfort it brings.
So when wearing a laceless boot that has a soft upper, it can feel like your toes are in a car without the seat belt strapped and as it stops your toes crash into the front of the boot. In addition as you lift your foot to run, the heel slips and your foot comes out of the boot slighly, like wearing an ill fitting pair of slippers. To counteract this, a laceless boot has a narrow opening and a tighter midfoot, both of which understandably is designed to lock the foot down but also make it harder to put on a laceless boot in the first place especially if one is on the wider range of foot width. The Copa Sense specifically tries to address heel lockdown by introducing the Sensepods around the heel liner.
Kids Laceless Boots
The Kids-specific Predator Freak+ and X Ghosted+ do provide a sized-down version of the Primeknit w/ Demonskin and Mirageskin respectively. They are slightly more padded to provide more comfort and security to the feet of younger players. The outsoles are single layers of TPU instead of the adult Predator's split soled Controlframe and the senior X Ghosted's carbon fibred Carbitex Speedframe. The laceless Copa for Kids only comes in with the .3 takedown, which arguably has more leather component than the top-end +model. Like the previous two boots, the Kids laceless Copas are outfitted with a plain TPU soleplate.
Affordable Laceless Boot Options
The Three Stripes brand does have cheaper laceless boots that are visually based on the high-end models. To cut corners, adidas uses less premium materials and build execution. For instance, the Predator Freak.3 replaces the rubber spikes of the Demonskin technology with a sticky graphic called Demonscale. The X Ghosted.3 has a dual mesh-based synthetic upper to loosely replicate the Mirageskin upper. The Copa Sense.3, on the other hand, has a hard transition between a textile tongue and a leather upper, taking cues from the seamless merging of knit and leather in the Fusionskin material of the Copa Sense+. It's important to note that the common observation among football boot reviewers is that .3 laceless takedowns suffer from a shallow heel, thus negatively affecting the fit overall. However, it is also a consensus that the X Ghosted.3 has the best fit and lockdown among the three takedown boots because of its more structured shape and material and a little bit deeper heel.