You know that guy on the 5-s-aide pitch that moans about his boots being too heavy every time he fails to score a double hat trick? Well, Adidas has just given him nowhere to hide when he air shoots and falls over next time.
Its new adizero 99g boot is, well, just 99g, making it half the weight of its current range of boots and among the lightest on the market. Holding one boot in the palm it’s impossible to believe that it’s really something you’d use to protect your feet when lumping a ball around the field.
But there’s a slight issue: you’ll probably never be able to wear a pair on the pitch. Not only is Adidas making just 299 pairs, they’re only coming in size 8.5 – this is limited edition that most won’t even be able to fit into even if they can find a pair for sale.
And even if you could find one, you’d surely be worried about wearing them. How can a boot this light protect your feet… surely we’re about to see a rise in the dreaded metatarsal injury if these boots become widespread?
And do we really need a boot this light? Can it really make players faster, or is it just a placebo effect designed to show off a new boot that’s low on weight just for the sake of it?
We spoke with Adidas’ product manager, Hazim Kulak, to find out more about the new lightweight boot to explain – he says the boot is not only strong enough to withstand the rigours of modern football, but is based on some technology from space too.
“Protection has been a key consideration all along, and is why we were in constant talks with professional players to make sure their needs are fulfilled,” said Kulak. “Since we introduced the [99g boot] concept in 2013 we’ve worked constantly to find smart ways to achieve this lightweight construction.
“We worked with NASA to learn what kind of light materials they use for their products, finding clever ways to apply futuristic and innovative materials to football products.”
The boot has been a long time coming – we first saw it appear in 2013 at the concept stage, and while that boot was more model than finished product, it’s been through a lengthy development phase to meet the insanely light level while still being able to function as an actual boot.
“For the boot’s upper, we went through more than 50 different materials through testing,” added Kulak. “We use the super thin materials as a base, which is an advanced textile mesh in one layer…we then add a special coated film on top which makes it super thin but still 100% durable.”
He stressed that this wasn’t a boot designed to just make players faster, but the perception of lightness, combined with a unibody design, gives players an ‘edge’.
This isn’t the end
It could be that in a decade we’ll thing a 99g boot is just FAR too weighty. Adidas reckons there’s loads of heft to shave off the boot, and isn’t giving up on making sure it grabs the title of ‘lightest boot on the market’.
“We’re not going to stop at 99g – it’s an ongoing development,” said Kulak. “There are a lot of hurdles though, such as the right selection of material, making sure there’s enough traction on the outsole and ensuring what we’ve reengineered ticks boxes like ball control.”
While the boot may seem a bit of a marketing gimmick over a big jump forward that will benefit players on the pitch, the exercise in lowering weight and developing new materials for sports gear hasn’t been wasted.
“[The findings] can be used in other areas,” says Kulak. “We’re sharing [across departments] to understand how much we can merge and create the ‘ultimate product’. We’re definitely looking to different categories to exchange ideas.”
So it could be that your entire football kit will weigh barely anything in a few years’ time. Which could mean you accidentally end up on the pitch naked, shorn as you would be of the mental signal that you’re wearing clothes. Watch out for that one, OK?