When it comes to choices, more is always better, right? Only a month ago, Asics finally joined the US market with a full line-up of soccer boots, having successfully merged in several international markets. Up until this point, I haven’t tested any of their silos, so I worked quickly to get my hands on a pair of their most prolific boots – the Asics Lethal Tigreor.
In a similar fashion to their running shoes, finding a way to improve player performance seems to be a key focus for Asics. The inclusion of a 10mm raised heel on this release produces a completely unique fit and feel that will require adjusting from regular boots. There are also several other key areas that need to be cover, all of which are new to the market. You might find this review to be a little meatier than usual!
For testing, I wore the Pearl White/Navy colorway in a size 9US.
It is actually important to start this review by detailing the raised heel gradient, so that you understand my comments in several sections below. In the heel of the soleplate, Asics has raised the boot by 10mm. The idea is that it reduces the angle at which your body impacts the ground, reducing stress on joints and avoiding over stretching muscles right through the leg. You also start at a very different position, almost in a sprinters pose, and this creates an opportunity to increase acceleration from the right take-off position. Through its advertising campaign, Asics focus on the fact that footwear has been stagnant for the past 30 years, and this technology revolutionizes the boot. The image above details the unique shape of the soleplate, with a very visual bend through the midfoot to heel.
Asics has done a very nice job of ensuring you are getting a comfortable boot from first wear. They are designed to fit snugly while offering plenty of protection throughout. The region I like most is around the ankle, where the padding sits comfortably against the foot and produces a confident fit. The suede lining through the heel is also another area I like, as it has a slightly rubber feel that grips your ankle, ensuring it really doesn’t move through wear. Asics include their own unique insole that is soft around the toe areas, while providing a firm feel from the midsole down through the heel. This I didn’t notice so much, but it is quite possible that my focus was more on the heel gradient. Besides the heel gradient, they were very comfortable right through the first few training sessions and offered no hotspots.
But then there is that heel gradient….
So here is the thing, the raised heel is extremely unique and Asics claim it ultimately does have its benefits – but you are going to need time to really adjust to what it offers. Initially while wearing them, I had moments where I felt like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality wearing Stilettos for the first time (slight exaggeration, but you get my point!) It is a really new and unique feeling and there is a window of re-training that you need to go through. Your standing position is very different and causes you to position yourself slightly more forward than in a regular pair of boots. All-in-all, I wore them in three training sessions before I even thought about taking them into a game. One area I encountered issues was actually striking the ball, as you end up connecting at a different angle, sometimes a little too far over the ball.
Having said all that, I am very impressed with what Asics are taking on, even if it is a controversial area. If you are up for the challenge of a new type of technology they are worth trying – just note that even after testing, I can’t back-up any of Asics claims about them improving pressure on joints etc. It doesn’t cause any discomfort, but does produce a longer break-in period as you transition.
You get a super soft K-leather upper on this release, and it creates excellent touch and feel on the ball. There is very strategic stitching right across the front of the boot, intended to allow for more natural foot movement. It upper is soft enough to allow for excellent feel, yet thick enough to give you much needed protection. I also found they felt great to strike shots in – that was, of course, once I adjusted and became familiar with the heel gradient! Once broken in, the soleplate also impresses with terrific flexibility right through the sole. It all results in a surprisingly high performing boot.
There are currently several different colorways to choose from in the range, with all of them offering pretty appealing looks. The boot I tested comes in a clean Pearl White/Navy, while there is also a darker, more subtle option available, in a Black/Pacific Blue. Choosing the right colorway comes down to personal taste.
How Do They Fit?
Length wise, they fit very much true to size. In terms of width, they are a mixed batch. When you look at the soleplate, it seems like the midfoot is extremely narrow. But, when you put on the boots you find they offer plenty of width and decent support. If you need a wide fit they are worth checking out.
The biggest negative is obviously the adjustment period to start, and to be honest I can’t see the technology working for all players. If you need a boot that works right now, these are not the right choice. My advice is to buy a pair and use them over a few weeks to sync them with your movements. Another negative is the fabric tongue – it definitely soaks in water. Some sort of synthetic would offer an improvement for future releases.
Asics claim that the Lethal Tigreor is the most sophisticated soccer boot ever built, and to be honest I really don’t argue their point! In essence, you are getting a completely redesigned boot that offers a surprising, yet refreshing, new option for players. From the heel gradient to the insole, everything about them is different. I definitely enjoyed wearing them, but you have to consider the fact that time is necessary to adjust to what they offer. Some players will benefit from them, while others might be better sticking to a regular design. The opportunity to reduce injury is definitely an appealing aspect of the boot, and it doesn’t hurt to have an extra element to help you stay injury free. But ultimately the key to avoiding injury is stretching and taking care of your body and not a boot! In terms of player position, these fit the hybrid mold and will be useful for all types of player on the field. You get solid protection, while they weigh in at a decent 9.6oz. With this type of release, it is easy to foresee Asics becoming a player in the US market over the next few years!
(*boots supplied for review by Asics)