An old dog has learned new tricks
The Copa has been a staple of the adidas brand for decades, and the latest generation is no exception. The adidas Copa 18.1, a boot with classic elements mixed with modern day innovation, remains true to its heritage while accommodating to the demands of present-day football. Engineered on comfort, a luxury fit, and a unique leather touch, the Copa 18.1 is a serious contender for players who want a classic look yet a modern fit, and the technology to match.
When most people think Copa, they think classic. While this is mostly true, adidas have successfully updated the silo with modern touches such as a one piece Primeknit tongue construction and an internal support cage in the upper. These improvements give the Copa a more modern edge from the stitched upper and separate tongue construction found on the previous generation, the Copa 17.1. The fold-over tongue on the Copa 18.1 isn’t folded over in many of the photos online, and personally, I think it looks better this way, but it can be folded over. The Copa’s low profile, especially in this “Cold Blooded” colorway, appeals to players who aren’t into flashy colors and designs (Adidas usually serves those players with unique colorways on the X and Predator models). The predominantly black upper with hits of red at the heel and the traditional three stripes in white makes me reminisce on the traditional Predator colorway, which was sported by the classic Predator PowerSwerve, Predator Mania, and Predator Precision. While the Copa still maintains its classic look that everyone knows and loves, it looks more modern now than ever before.
What draws players to the Copa silo is its signature leather upper. The Copa is currently the only modern leather boot on offer from adidas, with the Copa Mundial not quite comparable since it doesn’t feature any technology or modern innovation. The kangaroo leather upper on the Copa 18.1, despite being a bit thinner than the one on the Copa 17.1, remains super soft and supple. After a few training sessions, the leather upper begins to mold comfortably to your foot. When striking the ball, you notice that you don’t get as much of a padded sensation as you would with the Copa Mundial, and the leather noticeably feels thinner. However, this isn’t a bad thing. I actually like how thin and soft the upper is as it allows you to get a better feel for the ball while still keeping that classic leather feel. Directly underneath the leather vamp lays a thin layer of soft foam. This foam makes the touch on the ball more comfortable and reduces the ability to feel the internal support frame in the upper when making contact with the ball. The layer of foam is so thin that it doesn’t even come close to overwhelmingly dampening the touch; it simply adds a bit more comfort and softness for striking and intricately dribbling the ball.
While the Copa 18.1 doesn’t feature a plethora of new technologies (it is a “classic” after all), adidas have implemented a few modern updates to keep the silo up to par with today’s demanding game. The first major update is the compression inner sock construction made out of Primeknit, which is a knitted fused yarn that offers a flexible and supportive fit. This material wraps around your midfoot on the inside of the boot (the technical name for this is “compression inner sock”), serves as the “tongue” of the boot’s one piece construction, and wraps around the exterior of the heel and ankle simply for aesthetic purposes. For this Cold Blooded colorway, the Primeknit is black with fuzzy red speckling mixed in. For the launch colorway, also known as the Skystalker colorway, it is black with white speckling. The next feature isn’t unique to the Copa 18.1; it’s the fold-over tongue, which was seen on the previous generation Copa, the Copa 17.1. However, despite being dubbed “fold-over” tongue, it rarely stays folded over. The structured, one piece construction usually bounces back to its original form within minutes of folding it over. Personally, I prefer the look of having the tongue up anyway, so this wasn’t an issue for me. Next, adidas have replaced the stitching that stabilized the upper of the Copa 17.1 with an integrated x-ray vamp cage for the Copa 18.1. This new x-ray cage seems more durable than the stitching and more effective in securing your foot and adding structure in the toe box. Foam heel pads coupled with an OrthoLite sockliner make for a comfortable ride underfoot while the Sprintframe soleplate, the same soleplate found on the Copa 17.1, offers a good balance between light weight and stability with its eleven conical studs (four at the back, seven up front).
Fit and Feel
The fit and feel of the Copa 18.1 is exactly what I expected from a modern leather boot; comfy, lightweight, and a bit wide. Since the kangaroo leather upper stretches and molds to your foot during the “break in” period, the Copa 18.1 is suitable for players with wide feet, and due to presence of the double lace hole lockdown, it’s equally as suitable for players with narrow feet. No matter the foot size, the Copa will lock your feet down into place and that is one of the things I love most about this boot. Once you tighten and tie the laces, your foot isn’t going anywhere. In addition to the double lace holes, I found that the compression inner sock construction helped make the lockdown so great since it hugs your midfoot inside the boot. While the lockdown is impressive, the heel, however, presented me with a sizable problem. Since the heel sits pretty low, it sometimes felt like my heels were going to pop out of the boots when I was running. They never popped out, but it was a feeling that took time to get over. The fit, for the most part, is true to size. The length in the toe box runs a bit longer than I’d like, but this isn’t a big enough concern for me to go down half a size. The Sprintframe soleplate and conical studs did not disappoint while testing these boots. The soleplate is lightweight yet supportive and strong, and the conical studs offer great traction on firm ground and artificial grass; they dig into the ground well and rotate with ease, allowing you to quickly and swiftly change directions.
The perfectly balanced mix of technological innovation and classic elements is what makes the Copa so special, and that mix is ubiquitous with the Copa 18.1. It is undoubtedly a high quality, impressive leather boot, one that will always be a classic despite the 18.1 being the most modern and refined version yet. As long as adidas continues selling it, it remains a worthy option for players in search of that modern-classic combination that gives other leather boots a run for their money.