For most players out there, playing in a boot that features a soft, supple, leather upper is the absolute best way to go. Fresh off the release of the evoPOWER 1, Puma took a bold leap and introduced not only a Leather version of the same power boot, but a traditional “Blackout” leather version that just oozes class. Reaction to their visual appearance has been extremely positive, with some claiming they rate among the best looking boots released in a long while. But it is performance where any successful boot is judged and because of that we stocked up on a pair to put through their paces.
As you will find out below, they pass a lot of the important tests, but the question is how do they compare to the AdapLite synthetic evoPOWER?
Currently find the evoPOWER L at soccer.com.
Initial Reaction to the Release
It is no secret – I’m always excited by the release of a Blackout boot in any silo. A clean, classic version gives you the opportunity to wear a boot and really experience its performance without the distraction of the uber funky colorways we have become accustomed to of late. There is something extra special about this release though, and from initial release they piqued a lot of player’s interest. Something worth noting is that some of the initial release images online do not do these boots justice, with several retail sites posting images that make them look oversized and clunky. Thankfully, our images give you a more detailed and accurate look at them – as well as the video below.
Breaking In and Comfort
Creating a boot that is able to bend to the natural bio-mechanics of the foot was one of Puma’s goals with this range. By implementing the GSF (Gradual Stability Frame) soleplate, the boot has the ability to bend in both directions and is very flexible right out of the box. From first wear, they feel like they are ready to hit the pitch. If you want a boot that arrives in the door and is ready to go, you need to add these to the list. And it gets better with the upper. Normally, leather uppers take a few wears to ease in and adjust to your foot shape. It might take a session for the stitching to loosen up in the right fashion, but the implementation of foam adds a natural touch and feel.
When reviewing the synthetic version, I compared the upper and the Accu-Foam to one of those memory foam beds you normally fall into when at a mattress store, well the same is true with these, to some respects. Where the foam is more easily recognizable on the synthetic version, the leather takes center stage on these and it is not as noticeable from a performance perspective. In terms of comfort, it acts in the very same fashion and both are comfortable across the top of your foot.
Leather vs AdapLite
There are several differences between the upper materials and how they interact with the boots overall performance. One thing that Puma has done really well is create the synthetic upper, called AdapLite, in a very effective and impressive fashion. It is soft and its functionality with the GSF soleplate makes it one of the most advanced boots currently on the market. What makes it work so well is the level of stretch it provides, allowing the boot to actually bend in a downward motion. The same GSF is found on the leather version, but the leather doesn’t have the same stretch factor and the combo lacks the advanced final result. That doesn’t take away from what the boots have to offer on pitch but it does mean you can expect different levels of performance between both styles.
Another difference lies in the implementation of the Accu-Foam technology, designed to enhance power when striking the ball. On the leather version, there is a vast amount of stitching and this allows Puma to mold the overall shape of the upper and the power elements along the strike zone. In essence, it softens up the area and allows for a more rounded, uniform padded region. On the synthetic version, the Accu-Foam is cut in a more square fashion and doesn’t offer the same smooth, clean feel. Both versions are absolutely solid additions and perform exceptionally well, leaving it down to personal player preference on which style works better.
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.
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.
By wrapping the Accu-Foam in a leather casing and adding several layers of strategically positioned stitching, Puma has provided a pretty phenomenal strikezone that fills a huge void currently on the market. With Adidas and Nike stepping away from the “Power” category, they have embraced the use of a foam across the forefoot that improves the feel as you strike the ball. In reality, it isn’t going to add a new level of power behind your shots, but it adds some protection across the strikezone and increases the pop. In other words, you are going to have more confidence and an ease in forcing more power behind your shots. The only thing you have to get right is strike on target!
Less Puma Markings, More Blackout
It is very rare to see a company release a boot and not blast their logo right across it in the most vibrant colors possible! Puma take a vastly different approach with this release by removing the majority of branding off the boot, leaving a very clean one-tone finish. The only real identifying text comes with the word “evoPOWER” on the side. There is no Puma logo or Cat anywhere to be found on the upper of the boot. Simply put, this is about as “Blackout” as you will get from any of the big companies and it sets a statement.
How do they Fit?
Given the comfort of the boots is a go, finding the correct size is the only thing you need to get right. A wide fitting boot, the leather version has the ability to suit a wide ranging variety of players. But, they do fit tight length wise and I definitely recommend shifting up a half size to really get a game ready fit. Over time, the leather does have the ability to stretch but that takes time and out of the box they are very, very snug. Going a half size up should give you the same type of fit you would get from your regular boot, with that extra bit of width to create a comfortable fit.
Just to clarify, we noted in the synthetic review that they fit tight, but going up a size wasn’t really necessary. The leather version is definitely tighter, so the circumstances are different and it is recommended going up a half size to get the right fit.
Is there anything to be critical about with this release? Nothing major to be honest! They are not the perfect shooting boot, for that you would need to look at something like the Mizuno Wave Ignitus series, but they are a boot that fills a void in the market. I’m a little wary of durability, but that will only play out over time and with more wears.
If you want my honest final take on both boots, I would love to be able to combine elements of both into one. I’d take the Blackout, no marking design found on these and place it on the Synthetic version. Yes – this means I preferred the performance of the latter. It is not often you will see me choose a synthetic release over a leather, but on this occasion I like how the technology works with Adap-Lite more than with the leather.
If you are looking to pick up a pair of evoPOWER L, find them at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Adding a very classy black leather upper to a standout boot is a smart move, Puma pull it off pretty perfectly in what is the markets leading power boot package.
Category: As the name points out, there are about Power.
Weight: 7.7oz, slightly higher than the synthetic version (7.2oz) but still light.
Would I Buy Them: There is no doubt that I’d invest in this particular blackout release – it is super sophisticated and I love that there is no direct Puma markings. But, if you put a non-blackout colorway against the AdapLite upper version, I’d choose the latter.
Player Position: Very suitable for most player types, but obviously those that are partial to striking shots or playing long balls sit top of the list.