A few weeks ago, we featured the Italian brand Ryal and their classically designed boots for the first time. Unfortunately, their boots are not readily available here in the US and I asked you guys to hit up Ryal and let them know you wanted to read a review of their boots on SoccerCleats101. Well, your requests were heard and a pair of the La Storia (as well as a pair of 1976) arrived in for testing soon after. It only takes one look to know what the La Storia is all about. It is a boot inspired and crafted by the history of the Ryal brand, which has been in existence since the 1940s.
But, do they have the chops to be able to stand eye to eye with some already established, classic boots on the market? That is exactly what we set to find out – for testing, I took on a pair in an interesting size, 8.5US. For those interested, they are available to purchase directly from Ryal.nl.
What an absolutely classic, old-school appearance these boot have. They look reminiscent of something you would have seen worn in the 1970s or even earlier. The upper is very soft and the inner lining feels fantastic to the touch.
There is not a better word to describe the leather on these than exquisite, and they pass all the tests when you put them on to play. The upper provides a great feel from first wear that only gets better over time. Something to note is that the soleplate is slightly stiff out of the box, so I’d recommend spending a few minutes flexing them before wear. Under the tongue, Ryal use a soft foam that provides an extra soft feel on top of your foot, ideal for you hard hitting players out there. It also takes some of the impact of a hard shot. Another positive area is the ankle lining, where Ryal use an unusual amount of what seems like a foam padding. The squishy feel provides a really smooth fit around your ankle. I did notice, however, that this makes the heel region, closer to the sole, feel a little less protected and I suffered some discomfort starting out. Over time, and as the padding positions itself, it subsides for a very comfortable final product – as I said, they get better over time!
How do they Fit?
First of, I normally wear a size 9US but I went with a size 8.5US to test these. It resulted in a very snug fit. Wearing an 8.5US in most other boots would have resulted in a very uncomfortable fit. But, the inside of these boots is covered in a super soft padding that your foot sinks into, and the K-leather provides extra stretch. As a result, the 8.5US worked out really well. If you want a super snug fit, I would recommend going down a half size but in general I would simply stick with true to size.
If you have never had the opportunity to own a boot from the 60′s or 70′s, but have dreamt about it, these are the boots for you! It doesn’t really get any more traditional than the design used. The upper is all Black bar some Gold text on the tongue and a signature Ryal stamp on the side of the boot. Realistically, the only contrast comes compliments of the white tipped studs. Even the gold detailing on the upper has been stamped on rather than being stitched like on current day boots!
As you can probably tell, there is not a great deal of technology included in these boots and Ryal are not promoting any added performance benefits. Simply put, what you see is what you get. These boots are designed to signify tradition rather than challenge the more advanced boots on the market. If you are 16 or under, you probably won’t appreciate these as much – but ask anyone over the age of 30 and these boots are like a breathe of fresh air. They are the type of boot you put on and forget you are wearing over a 90minute game. In other words, they are comfortable and they don’t interfere with what you are doing.
Another plus was the spread-out stud configuration ensures weight distribution is even and I can report there is no noticeable hotspots. I wore them mostly on Turf and they proved to be a solid option, as was the case when I wore them on natural grass.
As is the case with most boots now, they arrived laced – except in a very unusual fashion. Ryal loop the 2nd from top lace back through the top hole, and it creates an all new way to tie your laces. In fact, it actually proved pretty effective, as I was able to wrap the laces over and back around before tying.
Compared to the Market
If I was to place these boots anywhere, it would be right between the Copa Mundial and the Joma Total Fit. They are built with the same quality leather found in the Total Fit, but without the one-piece upper. Instead, they have strategically positioned stitching that creates paneled areas. A lot of people swear by the Copa and place it as the centerpiece of the boot world, the La Storia definitely has qualities that allow it to compete as a leading traditional release but it doesn’t outwit the “Players Choice”.
The Critics Notes
My one issue lay with the feel down along the inside of the heel. I love the padding around the ankle lining, but it just created a hotspot on the bare area below it. If you a fan of technology and boot advancements, these are definitely not the right option for you – but I am sure you have worked that one out already!
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A tantalizing, old school release that oozes quality with its K-leather upper and unique “from a past era” design.
Category: Heritage – its pretty obvious.
Weight: A pretty nice 10.5oz, definitely lighter than I would have expected going into the review.
Would I Buy Them: Yes, simply put I love that awesome classic look.
Player Position: This is an absolute defenders boot. It is built to offer a no-nonsense look and defenders to get about their job without any fuss or worry about the important things, like comfort. Then again, if you simply like that old school look, they are not going to let you down!