In what could be one of the smartest moves by a brand in recent times, Puma has tackled the Power category and produced a boot that goes against our natural expectations of a conventional “Power boot”. Aptly named the Puma evoPOWER 1, this is a release that combines the foots natural motion new technology to provide a completely different shooting experience. At least that is what we can take from the advertising campaigns. So, how do they actually hold up against the hype?
I’ve had a pair of evoPOWER in testing for the few past weeks and after some rigorous training and games, here is what you can expect.
Find your pair at soccer.com >> Puma evoPOWER 1
Puma has radically changed their Power release and it comes as a much needed change-up. The PowerCat ran it’s course several months back and this latest release is packed full of new innovation, making it an even more exciting proposition. The concept of providing a more natural strike, with downward flex will be interesting to test, as well as the actual performance of the new strike zone.
Breaking In and Comfort
One of the aspects that Puma immediately pointed out about the evoPOWER was its ability to bend as close as possible to the biomechanics of the bare foot. It is a bold statement and one that sets the tone for the boot. Right out of the box, they do flex extremely easy in both directions and when you put them on for the first time there is a very natural feel. Into a training session, they feel like you have been wearing them for several weeks! Coupled with that soleplate is the super soft synthetic upper, that in itself would probably feel pretty snug across the foot. But the addition of Accu-Foam really sets these into a new level comfort wise. Think of it this way. You know when you go to a bed store and take the opportunity to lie on those devilishly inviting memory foam beds? As you do, the mattress soaks you in and envelops around your body. This is exactly what happens with the evoPOWER. As your foot presses against the upper, the foam acts like a pillow and softly runs around the contours of your foot.
When we compare this to something like the PowerCat series or even the current Predator LZ, it takes these boots to a new level of comfort. The Predator LZ, for example, has a layer of rubber material on the outside (these are the lethal zones) and although they are very pliable and comfortable, they don’t offer that natural, perfectly in-tune fit across your forefoot. The most comparable boot would be the recently released Nike Tiempo V that has a layer of honeycomb mesh along the inner lining. But the difference is Nike kept the fit of the boot as is, where Puma has made them wider to accommodate.
There is a lot of new modifications included with this new release. Here is a short breakdown of each piece and the basics of what you need to know.
GSF – Gradual Stability Frame. Basically, there is a spine bar that runs from the heel through the midfoot in the shape of ribs. It is very stiff but gradually loosens as you approach the midfoot. Then, underneath the toe bend, it becomes very flexible, with the ability to move on both an upward and downward direction, as close as possible to the biomechanics of the bare foot and replicate its natural power.
Adap-Lite – The upper is a Japanese synthetic that stretches vertically from the toes, allowing for a stretch in both direction with the soleplate, but not laterally.
Accu-Foam – A foam insert located on the upper which, upon impact, creates a smooth and flat kicking surface. There are 19 individual pieces on the upper and 2 on the tongue.
EverFit Cage EXT – Normally located inside the boot, Puma added a durable system on the outsole to ensure the boot keeps its shape along the instep and last through many wears.
It seems to be standard that all companies look to develop a soleplate that only flexes upward with the movement of your toes and not in the opposite direction. This seems to make sense for stability and to remove any rocking motion as you take off on short, quick sprints. But here, Puma has gone against that norm by producing an all new type of soleplate. This falls in line with the idea of true foot movement, or the natural shape a barefoot takes as it strikes a ball. As a result, the soleplate flexes down and away from the laces. You can feel the difference by simply pushing your toes down against the soleplate.
In a regular boot, it wouldn’t do much as the more rigid soleplates keep your feet in place. But with these boots you can feel the soleplate bend. Obviously, you can’t push it into an irregular shape, but it does give you some indication that they will flex with the movement of your foot as you strike shots.
Is this beneficial? It is tough to say, but it definitely doesn’t cause any discomfort when striking shots. In fact, there is a more natural feeling when you are using them and it has the potential to add some additional spring back on your follow through. Durability is something I will be interested to hear more about over the next few months, and I realize that Puma has probably done extensive research and development to ensure it doesn’t snap from repeated flexing. Pulling off a soleplate with top level durability properties would be a real coup.
Next up is the upper material, which is called Adap-Lite. This is the first time we have seen this material used on a soccer boot and it makes for a pretty interesting addition. The properties of the material allow it to stretch length wise, but not laterally. This proves useful as you strike shots and the soleplate bends back, it actually stretches across the contours of your forefoot. It is a very soft material and although it has a smooth texture, there is a slightly tacky feel as you run your fingers across it.
Then there is the Accu-Foam that sits underneath the surface of the upper. It comes in rectangular chunked pieces and when you couple it with the Adap-Lite it makes for a fantastic strike surface. There are 19 individual pieces in total that are far enough apart to remove any notion of stiffness and allow for the upper material to mold around your foot shape.The foam has a squishy feel to that serves a dual purpose; it cushions as you control the ball in close situations, while it acts like a rubber rebound as you strike shots. Since the upper material is so thin and light, you get some much needed added protection – as you would expect from a power boot.
The other thing to consider is the fact that these boots weigh in at an incredibly light 7.2oz. Not only is that an ultra light weight for a power boot, it also destroys our prior opinions of the PowerCat, which weighed in at 10.4oz. If you look at the PowerCat SL that still weighed in at 8.4oz. It goes to show how Puma has re-engineered theit thinking and adjusted to the market. There is a completely different level of performance from a power boot that weights in the 7oz region compared to the 6oz.
How do they feel to strike shots?
From my experience, I feel like they provide as much power behind shots as you would expect. Power comes from your own technique, so the benefit of a power boot comes into play when it aids and improves the movement of your foot by allowing you to comfortably strike with a full, natural motion. There is some common sense behind allowing the soleplate to flex in both directions and I am on board with Puma development on the evoPOWER. When combined with the upper and the addition of some foam in the correct areas, it makes for a really clean strike. And the real positive lies in the fact that you don’t feel the sting of striking shots like you would with a thin material, giving you the opportunity to be more confident striking with full power.
How do they Fit?
This is a very comfortable, wide fitting boot that will feel natural for a wide selection of players to wear. Right through the boot, they have a wide girth, we are talking along the lines of the T90 Laser or Hypervenom mold here. Even though the upper is a synthetic, it has an unusually high level of stretch that allows them to mold with your foot shape. When it comes to length, they are very much on a true-to-size level, maybe a tiny bit tight starting out, but definitely not enough to consider anything other than your normal size.
Something to note here is that the lacing system is cut wider than regular boots, which again provides a more spacious feel about the boot as you slip them on. It is when you tie the laces that they grasp on to your foot for that glove like fit.
As Worn By
There is a wide selection of players sporting the new boot, as we covered in a Puma evoPOWER Opening Weekend Recap last week. But the primary players to watch for include Mario Balotelli, Cesc Fabregas and Marco Reus.
The only important note here is that they are a wide fitting boot, something that won’t work well with those of you in need of a thin, snug fit. Obviously, for players who need a wide fit that is a positive. Other than that, there hasn’t been anything critical to note about the boot yet. Well played Puma!
Find your pair at soccer.com >> Puma evoPOWER 1
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A soleplate that can flex in both directions, an upper material designed to stretch laterally but not vertically, accu-foam through the forefoot – there is a lot to love about this new style power boot.
Category: As the name points out, there are about Power.
Weight: 7.2oz, which makes them one of the lightest Power boots we have seen released.
Would I Buy Them: I would, there is a lot of positives to take from this one and it is the type of release that is worth investing in ever with his high price-point.
Player Position: The selection of players currently wearing them shows how broad their reach is. Anyone that likes to strike shots is goinf to love them, but they also have that extra padding that ensures they are a top option for defensive players also!