Lately companies are overhauling tried and true traditional ranges in the boot market. It seems as if Puma have pursued the path of the Adidas adiPure Range and “modernized” the King series. This new release is designed to blend speed, comfort, and control. Puma abandoned the iconic fold-over tongue and the kangaroo leather upper creating a more modern design, they added an external heel counter and a number of eye catching colorways. Many long-time wearers of the King series have expressed their disappointment over this release, and it has given the boots a controversial aspect. For testing I went the Black/ Black/ Puma Silver colorway and tested them for over 50 hours.
Straight out of the box, these boots were nothing of what I was expecting. Quite frankly, the synthetic look in person is very different from online pictures. The synthetic on the instep of the foot felt very much like the synthetic used on the adidas F10. I was also concerned about the durability of the studs, the tips felt softer than normal. The tongue was one of the most padded I have experienced and I looked forward to seeing the actual performance.
The colorway is quite nice and I liked that the grey really stood out on this colorway. It is a simple colorway and perfect for those who despise the flashy neon colors on boots.
Blistering during break-in periods for leather boots have never been a problem for me. The leather is stiff out of the box but it will soften up and mold to your foot after two training sessions. I expected the break in time to be short and sweet. The leather surpassed my expectations in terms of fit but unfortunately, the synthetic is a major disappointment. The synthetic creased awkwardly which caused painful rubbing and discomfort early in testing, but it slowly subsided. I was a huge fan of the tongue on these boots, they have foam inserts that help eliminate lace bite. Further down the tongue there are small padded hexagons, some of which are perforated.
I used my usual size 12 Mens US and I would recommend staying true to size. The fit length-wise was about average. There is a slightly wider preset fit in the toe box and forefoot area for those with a slightly wider foot but it takes away from those with a medium width foot. You won’t get a tight fit that hugs the foot if that is what you are looking for. The leather used is very high quality and even though it is not kangaroo leather, it is similar in terms of fit and feel.
Puma used a mix of conical and bladed studs. There are four bladed heel studs and five bladed studs in the forefoot. In the instep of the boot there are three conical studs. There wasn’t any problems with stiffness when breaking in. I have worn the boots on both firm ground and artificial turf. On firm ground the stud pattern performed great, you can really feel the bladed studs digging in and they really help when pushing off. The conical studs added traction in all directions. I was pleased with how they performed on a high quality turf field. I would say it is one of the safer firm ground stud patterns to wear on turf. However, remember that it is always better to use a turf stud pattern than firm ground to prevent injury. The only complaint about this sole plate I have is there is some stud pressure when playing on hard ground. The bladed studs on the outside of your foot do not dig in well and you will notice the hard ground when running.
[Also See: Puma King – The 2013 Edition]
There is very little slippage in the heel area because of the external heel counter and the synthetic along the side of the boots. The synthetic running on the instep of the foot feels unnatural and Puma should have used leather or a synthetic leather in that area. Because the synthetic is so thin, it makes for an uneven surface which takes some time to get used to. Dribbling with the outside of the foot is perfectly fine and the textured synthetic actually adds a little bit of grip on the ball. The liner used in the forefoot of the boot is roughly textured and it performed similar to a suede liner. Getting stepped on in the synthetic area caused a rough few days and significant swelling, but the natural leather and external heel counter kept my foot protected in hard challenges. One area that the Puma King 2013 stands out in is weight which is usually not a focus when it comes to traditional soccer cleats. They weigh in at 8.4 ounces for a size 9 US mens, which is a solid weight considering that the last King weighed 9.2 ounces.
As with all leather boots, there is some maintenance required. Use a wet rag to remove all the dirt, and then rub leather balsam over the leather to keep it soft and in good condition. Dirt definitely does not stand out compared to the other brighter colorways. I had no major durability issues with these and the synthetic helps extend the life of these boots. There is some natural separation between the upper and the sole, but it isn’t major and it will not affect performance. I have no doubt that these will last past one season as long as the leather upper is kept in good condition.
[Also See: Puma King – Tier Breakdown]
The changes Puma made to this boot make for a love/hate relationship. The synthetic and external heel counter definitely change a traditional boot into a more hybrid boot. Its hard to avoid how the synthetic takes away from the overall touch of this boot. I would recommend these to any position on the field because the changes add versatility.