Here is the first thing to note about the 2013 Puma King SL - although it is termed as a “King”, it is definitely not a direct relation of the traditional range. Instead, this new release is an off-spawn, designed to offer players an exciting and completely different type of performance in a super lightweight package. There are certain characteristics that create an “is it a King” feel, but lets be honest, everything about these is slightly wilder and more vibrant than what we expect from the normally conservative range. That is what Puma seem to be targeting and it is something they have clearly achieved.
I’ve been wearing a size 9US for the past few weeks and the results have been pretty much as I would have expected. Which is…..
Puma has completely transformed this new release and basically turned a traditional boot into something with a lot more speed. I’m a fan of the look, which is very sleek and provides a new generation like appearance. There are several performance areas that create immediate intrigue, including the changeover from a Leather to Synthetic upper, and a completely re-engineered soleplate that feels flexible out of the box. Offer a similar look to Adidas initial F50 adiZero release in Vivid Yellow.
In a pretty obvious twist, the King SL fits decently tight starting out and it does take a solid wear for them to really loosen up. Puma use a microfiber upper and there is a definite quality about it, as it holds an almost leather like feel. In fact, I’m sure there will be plenty of players who end up being confused by how it actually feels. I did have a hot spot area around my center toe after wearing them for the first time and this had a lot to do with the shape around the front of the boot. It is something worth noting if you prefer a wider fit, or something in the shape of the old V1.10 style. These boots are very different to that and have a pointed shape toward the front. Although they are not the easiest boot that I’ve broken in, my advice is to give them a chance even if you notice some hotspots after first wear, there is a good chance it will ease up quickly.
How do they Fit?
I wore true to size and they worked out well. In saying that, these are a typical Puma fitting shoe and it would be a wise decision in most cases to go up a half a size to ensure you don’t encounter a tight fit and blisters toward the front of the boot. If you enjoy a tight fit or are familiar with how Puma design their SL boots, then this should work out pretty well as a true to size option.
Compared to the King Finale SL
There are plenty of difference to take note of between this release and their predecessor – I think the easiest way to break the down is with a simple cross comparison:
|Boot||King SL 2013||King Finale SL|
Having now had the opportunity to test both, I can confidently say that the newer version is easily my preferred choice. There are several reasons for that, with visuals playing a key role. I just feel that the new design embodies what Puma are looking to achieve with this version as they are sleek and streamlined. I am also a huge fan of the tongue redesign and like how it seems to blend in a more effective manner on the new boot.
Obviously, Puma has worked some new performance characteristics into this boot in an effort to really update the range from its original release. And a lot of what they do is extremely effective. Lets start with the new soleplate, which has a very futuristic look. You are getting a Pebax and Nylon combined design, with a spine through the midsection to provide much needed additional support. I was concerned that the spine would create some stiffness through the soleplate but it really didn’t proeve to be the case and I never really even noticed it was there. The benefit of including it is the fact that Puma has been able to substantially drop weight through the soleplate without impacting its durability. In terms of traction, you got an extremely uniquely mixed Bladed and Conical stud configuration. The blades look like misaligned blocks with the outer portion coming in slightly longer. Through wear, I did have some concerns when it came to lateral drag, and to be honest the jury is still out on the actual impact of the design. I’ll update on this more in coming weeks, but it is something to be aware of.
One area where I was surprised was in the performance of the upper. Puma used a Leather on the previous King Finale SL, so I was surprised to see they transitioned to a Japanese microfiber on this release. But it actually proves to be a smart move as it has a very natural feel and mimics a regular leather quite effectively. This can be an area where companies fall short, but through wear I felt comfortable on the ball and the upper has a slightly course feel (rather than smooth like other microfiber designs on the market) meaning you get a nice close control feel. It is a thin upper, so don’t expect to generate Hulk like power when striking balls and you should be ok!!
On a final performance note, I found the new 3D tongue design to be particularly effective. Not only does it look much improved, it also sits closer and more comfortably along the ankle lining. In essence, it is more natural and conforms more effectively through wear.
As Worn By
As is the norm, we are really not going to see a great deal of top level players wearing the SL version of the range. Instead, most players will stick with the regular King or their own altered version due to requirements from the brand (Puma). Once we catch some players wearing them, we will let you know. For now, know that I have tested them and can offer advice in the comments section below if you should need it!!
The Critics Notes
Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, I don’t have any major negatives to offer about these boots – but that could have a lot to do with my bias toward how they suit my style. But there are some areas to point out, including the fact that these are in no way a typical Puma King release – it does hold the name, but definitely none of the same performance properties. Puma has trimmed this version down and pretty much made significant changes in all areas. In turn, these are designed to be a speed boot and they don’t offer a great deal of protection against strong challenges. Finally, what is with the $250 price tag, Puma, again that is not cool!
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Another top lightweight option for speed junkies who want a little more from their boots, they are similar in performance to other Puma boots, just with an updated look.
Category: Speed all the way!
Weight: A super lightweight 5.8oz, leaving them just under the weight of the Puma evoSPEED SL.
Would I Buy Them: If it was simply based on performance, that would be a definite “yes” for me. But with that price point included, it is difficult to state I’d actually recommend players fork out to buy a pair.
Player Position: Wingers and pacey forwards rejoice, you now have another speed boot option. But as well as that, I can see a lot of defensive minded players giving them a chance seeing as they hold the trusty “King” name.