Over the past 2 years, we have seen a dramatic twist in the direction companies are taking with their soccer cleat releases, Adidas and Puma being 2 of the more prominent. It seems that lightweight is the way to go, and a lot money is being invested in designing new boots that offer minimal weight with the same comfort found in similar classic boots. They are not quite there yet, but companies are making in-roads in producing a highly competitive final product.
But the most surprising aspect, in my opinion, is how several companies are now taking their staple boots and turning them into “SL” version. SL stands for Super Lightweight and is primarily used on releases that offer players a lighter weight in a traditional boot. We have already seen two boots hit the market with this approach in 2012, the Puma King Finale and Adidas adiPure, both of which produced produced plenty of head turning in the process. It is not something we are used to and it certainly goes against our norms and expectations.
In order to understand more about the trend and how it influences player buying decisions, we decided to take a look at and break down some of the current SL boots on the market!
Adidas adiPure 11Pro SL
The adiPure series has attained one of the most respected names in the heritage realm. But, the latest adiPure 11Pro release bucks a trend that we are familiar with: instead of a K-leather upper, it features a Taurus leather. Reaction to the news was mixed, until Adidas unleashed another surprise with the announcement of the adiPure IIPro SL. The SL version holds some attributes of the modern adiPure, with a newly developed K-leather upper offering a classic feel to a lightweight boot.
Weight Difference: 1.8oz – 11Pro = 8.2oz / SL = 6.4oz
Price Difference: $100 – 11Pro = $150 / SL = $250 (see current prices)
Puma King Finale SL
This one came completely out of left field! For decades, the King has been one of the most consistent performing boots – yet Puma has decided to jump on the lightweight train with this latest King Finale SL release. The look of the boot is very similar to the King Finale, but a thinner K-leather upper is used to lower its overall weight.
Weight Difference: 1.3oz – King Finale = 9.2oz / SL = 7.9oz
Price Difference: $70 – King Finale = $130 / SL = $200 (see current prices)
Adidas adiPower Predator SL
In order to create the lightest Predator ever to hit the market, Adidas trimmed the Predator Zone right down while swapping a Taurus leather out for a Microfiber upper. The resulting adiPower Predator SL is very much a hybrid, that performs well in-game. The basic design of the boot is very similar to that of the regular adiPower, but Adidas employ a very different color combination on the SL.
Weight Difference: 1.0oz – adiPower Pred = 7.8oz / SL = 6.8oz
Price Difference: $50 – adiPower Pred = $200 / SL = $250 (see current prices)
Puma V1.11 SL
One of the first ranges to move to an SL (and the first we tested), there is a substantial difference between the V1.11 and the V1.11 SL in terms of weight – a whopping 2.6oz to be exact! Removing the lace cover and switching to a lightweight carbon fiber outsole are the 2 primary differences. I am a huge fan of the SL, especially since there is not a prominent V shape around the toe! When it comes to the price you pay for weight, this is the boot that will give you most bang for your buck.
Weight Difference: 2.6oz – V1.11 = 8.2oz /SL = 5.6oz
Price Difference: $40 – V1.11 = $180 / SL = $220 (see current prices)
Why do Pro’s generally not wear SL boots?
The primary reason you don’t see pro’s wearing SL boots is because companies release them in smaller quantities, with the understanding that they won’t sell as many pairs. Instead, they like to focus on the mainstay releases and encourage their sponsored players to only wear those boots. But it depends on the company and there marketing strategy – currently Thierry Henry is sporting the Puma King Finale SL, showing that there are pairs that will be promoted.
Which pair should you choose?
I haven’t tested the adiPure 11Pro SL, but from the other 3 my preferred option in the SL range is the Puma V1.11 SL. They are the boot that match the requirements of speedy forwards and pacey wingers best. Defenders face safety concerns when they wear SL boots, but if you are a defender looking for a pair, the Adidas adiPower Predator SL is your best option since they have some padding through the strike zone (in the form of a toned down Predator Element).
What is your stance when it comes to companies releasing SL versions of staple ranges?