Matching heritage with speed seems to be the “in” thing at the moment, and Puma has got in on the act with this King Finale SL release. As you would expect, I was a little skeptical upon hearing Puma had plans to strip down the ever consistent King series. I mean, why would you tinker with something that works so well? At 7.7oz, they are not the lightest boots on the market, but they easily fall into the speed category and come in as one of the lightest K-leather boots out there.
Puma sent over a size 9US for testing in the Dark Navy/White/Team Orange colorway, and for those interested the range retails at the $210 mark.
In typical King fashion, these boots break-in with relative ease. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from them starting out, to be honest, but they proved to be another easy to wear out of the box boot. The extra thin K-leather upper is super soft and is more than willing to mold to your feet when you put them on. Puma’s strategy to decrease the amount of leather used means there isn’t any kind of stiff feel and it easily folds down with a little pressure applied. In other words, they are very responsive. In a similar fashion, the soleplate offers plenty of flexibility straight away. The inside of the boot is padded nicely and in the right spots and as a result I never encountered any feat of blistering – something that can be a concern when wearing SL boots.
There is one area of slight concern that needs to be pointed out – stud pressure. Unlike other recent lightweight releases, I feel like Puma fall short in the amount of cushioning provided in the soleplate. It wasn’t so much an issue on AG surfaces, but I played one game on a dry grass surface and it was more noticeable, particularly on the 2 front inside studs. With that being said, it is not prominent enough to make me want to store them in the back of my closet – keep it in mind if you are considering these boots, but don’t let it be the deal breaker!
SL – Lightweight Heritage Boot
These boots come in at 7.7oz, which is a 1.5oz lighter than the regular King Finale (9.2oz). From the perforated tongue to the super thin upper, you can tell that these are designed for speed players more than any other type on the field. One odd comment about the boot, the separation between both sides of the lacing system (above the tongue) seems much wider than it is on other boots. You see a lot more tongue on these than you do on other boots. Not sure if this is an intentional play by Puma to cut weight, but you will see what I mean when lacing them up!
The also recently released Adidas adiPure 11Pro weighs in at an even lighter 6.4oz, for those of you that like to compare SL releases!
This is a category where the King Finale SL really excels! Once you get them into a game in the right conditions, they are a beauty of a boot. I am a fan of the heritage/speed mix and I feel like Puma has matched the properties of both to a perfect balance. The soft K-leather upper is especially impressive as it offers a fantastic natural feel and touch on the ball. There is no technology in the boot, so Puma rely on the fact that players will enjoy and excel in the natural fit of the boot. It is a strategy that works effectively. You feel like you have a traditional boot, yet they offer the properties of a speed boot. But because of that, players that want a power boot or a boot that offers protection will not find their match in this boot.
Outside of the stud pressure issue, the configuration provides excellent traction and performance. The profile of the studs goes from low at the front to medium as you move toward the back. They are just the right height to grab the surface and allow you to accelerate quickly without dragging on the surface. I found them to be particularly useful through short sprints.
How do they Fit?
I am a fan of how the King Finale SL fits. They fit in a very similar fashion to the regular King Finale, with the thinner upper giving you just a little more breathing room starting out. Puma use strategic stitching through the upper that offers a very snug fit across the front of the boot. The upper sits pretty flat across your toes and this creates a very clean strike surface that is noticeable in play. The midfoot is on the medium width side, so they are not the best option for players who need a wide fit.
As per above, there is some stud pressure along the inner side of the soleplate that caused some slight concern – not enough to result in blisters or discomfort, but enough to be noticeable on harder surfaces. Also note that they are not suited for players looking for power or protection.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A boot that offers a traditional feel, natural touch and plenty of traction in a lightweight package. Puma manages to trim down the King Finale and create a top performing speed boot without dramatically reducing comfort levels.
Category: Speed – although some people will categorize them as a heritage/speed hybrid.
Weight: 7.7oz, which is a fantastic weight for a hybrid heritage release.
Would I Buy Them: Absolutely – they offer a great mix and come in at the same price range as many other top range boots. If you can get them at any sort of sale price, I recommend getting them.
Player Position: As a winger, these are one of the most natural suited boots on the market. Attacking players who want something that offers a traditional touch in a lightweight package, these suit the bill. Outside backs will also enjoy wearing them, but center backs might find some concern in terms of protection.