FireLabX
Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Helen just dropped the newest release of her Boost 350 replica. We quickly ordered them and put them through the paces in the lab…

To say people were excited when Helen showed the first replica with the boost nipples in the correct location in her 3rd version, would be an understatement. Currently, she’s still the only supplier to be selling shoes with correct placement. She calls it “real” boost. Is it real? Our eyes say “no”.

All About the Boost

The boost in the 3rd version was a huge step forward. It looked a lot like the retail version, but it didn’t feel like the real thing. Unfortunately, version 4, is the opposite. It doesn’t look like retail boost. The bubbles are smaller and look to be a “sheet” of bubbles, as opposed to individual larger bubbles. On the bright side, it feels much closer to retail boost. How will this work out, on foot, remains to be seen.

As a side note, from the early reviews, it looks like there may be more than one factory supplying the boost (and other parts of the shoes) for Helen. We found differences in our Pirate Black and Turtle Dove, as well as being completely different from another poster showing the boost on his Oxford Tan from Helen.

Version 3 Boost: Looks good, Feels bad

Helen 3rd version turtle dove

Version 4 Boost: Feels good, looks bad

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Version 4 Boost – Oxford Tan: (not our photo)

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 10.01.43 AM

Fit:

A major problem I had with Helen’s 3rd version, was fit. The shoes were HUGE! I estimate them to be a full size big, but they might actually be more. Keep in mind, this is right out of the box. Others claim they will stretch even more, which would be a serious issue for me.

The 4th version seems to make progress on fixing the length, now considered to be a half size too big, but again, just like the boost, takes another step back in the width. These shoes are narrow. Pinky toes will be smashed against the prime knit. This is an are where stretching will be a benefit. All things considered, the fit is better, but they still don’t fit true to size, like retails.

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Prime Knit:

When we talk about the top-tier reps, we are often comparing them against retail versions. For one, they cost just as much as retails, with the big difference being, you can actually buy reps. Replicas haven’t exactly found that magic material Adidas refers to as Prime Knit. If you’ve ever had a pair of retails on your feet, you know how amazing these shoes feel. Helen’s make some progress here, but they still haven’t cracked the code to truly premium prime knit.

Helen’s 3rd version was tough, scratching, firm or some other descriptive word I’ve seen used in other reviews. And while that helped the shoe keep it’s shape, it didn’t feel as good on your foot. The new 4th version is softer and that’s a welcome change. It puts the Helen version in the same league as the Repnation version.

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Pattern:

Is the pattern better? Probably. Can you tell? Not really. Helen has always had a good pattern. This pattern is much of the same. It’s good, but still room to improve. The pattern doesn’t curve as much as a retail version or have that 3d look, where the pattern has depth. It looks very 2d, printed on top of the material. Not something an average person would notice, from 5ft away.

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Pull Tabs:

Once again, the pull tabs are better and worse. They are wider, which is great. They appear to be very similar in size to a retail version. Where they take a step back, is how folded they are. Where the pull tab folds over and is sewn together, in the middle, it’s thinner than version 3 and not as thick as retail versions. Again, not something average people will be concerned with, but again, one step forward, one back.

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Laces:

If you’ve ever owned a pair of Helen’s reps, a major headache has been the cheap, thin, monotone laces that come in the shoes. They are easily the worst of any replica out there. Well, that’s been improved in the 4th version. These Pirate Black laces still won’t be confused for retail laces, but they are much much better. They are on par, or maybe even better than most other top-tier replicas. You won’t be disappointed with these laces…

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Patches:

Maybe the best improvement on this shoe, are the patches. Helen’s 2nd and 3rd version had enormous, odd shaped patches. Aside from the laces, the patches were a dead giveaway as to what supplier these shoes came from. I could see a Helen patch from 20ft away. It was that obvious…

No more. Helen’s patches are clean, green and shaped correctly. The only rub left, is the material they are made from. The suede just isn’t the quality product that retails have on them. They look great though and more importantly, don’t look bad!

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Insoles:

We rarely discuss insoles, because we really want to focus on the shoes, as they would be used, on your foot. In this case, I want to point out, Helen has made a big change to the insole. That Adidas logo got really flat, a lot like the retail insole. It’s far less puffy. This used to be a dead giveaway for a replica and made reps easy to spot when it came to resellers. With this new insole, we have to be very careful about buying replicas, which may be passed off for retail versions.

Helen 4th Version Pirate Black

Conclusion:

Did Helen do enough to take the crown from my personal favorite, Repnation? No, she didn’t. Her prime knit is closer. The shape is improved. The patches took a huge step forward.  The laces are no joke. But in the end, the fit of this shoe, doesn’t work as well as Repnation, which I think is nearly identical to retails. The minor annoyances with pattern, color and the pull tabs can’t be overcome with the proper boost nipple replacement. If, at some point, she is able to get the boost bubbles to look right, and have the correct nipple replacement, that would put these over the top. But we aren’t there, yet, at least, with the pair I have in my hand.

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