Just over a month ago, the folks at the Double Diamond dropped some subtle hints that they had a new boot on the horizon, ready for release before the World Cup. Upon release, the Umbro UX-1 drew some gasps and set a new tone for the brand as they step up their resurgence post Nike era. This new release is extremely tech heavy and features some very innovative features, like for example Armor-Tex, which is a composite material 40% stronger than Kevlar!
We’ve had a pair in testing over the past few weeks, in the extremely British sounding Blackberry/Safety Yellow colorway, with plenty of interesting results. Check down below for a full recap of what you can expect if you pick up a pair.
These boots are available in the US – find them right now on soccer.com.
Umbro is one of the select brands that captures your attention once you hear their name, and it is refreshing to see them reinvested on the market (especially in the US). Visually, this boot has a very solid build and looks extremely well constructed. The rubber cage system has a unique appearance and leaves you wondering what category these boots are intended to fall into.
Breaking In and Comfort
The first thing you will notice about the UX-1 when you take them out of the box is that they are not designed to be a speed boot. There is a lot to these and Umbro hasn’t skimped on the materials within. Full bodied and seemingly very proud of that fact, the UX-1 takes to your feet with the confidence of a pair of comfy slippers. In other words, they are safe to wear right out of the box and into a training session. If you are so inclined, it is worth trying them on barefoot to feel how smooth the inner lining is – a clear indicator that they are not going to cause any issues unless you are wearing the wrong size. When it comes to size, make sure to check out the section on fit below, as they do provide a slightly different shape to other modern releases.
One thing to factor in is that these boots are tech heavy, and although that has the potential to be problematic, it really isn’t in this instance. The upper material is plenty flexible and you don’t notice the rubber cage covering the boot. It’s positioning is strategic and it doesn’t constrict the upper in anyway, which is opposite to what you might expect. Along the instep, you will notice Umbro has included their highly regarded A-Frame cradle, there to provide additional support and a cushioned region to control the boot. Once you tighten up the laces it acts to provide a locked in feel, supporting your foot right through the heel region. One other pretty cool addition is a Poron gel pad under the tongue that provides an additional level of protection and comfort while striking shots. Personally, I love its inclusion as it is simple, doesn’t dramatically increase the boots weight yet it is highly effective.
Soleplate and Stud Configuration Comfort
The soleplate is also very flexible from first wear with a linear bend under toward the front of the sole providing a natural motion. It is a very similar soleplate to the one Umbro used on the Stealth pro release from a few years back. But, there is one concern with the soleplate that needs to be addressed in this case. The conical stud configuration features ten forefoot studs intended to distribute pressure thanks to a mixed stud profile from low to medium. One particular stud that sits a little deeper on the plate, toward the middle of the boot. It is stud number 4 on the instep side and its positioning coupled with the width of the stud caused discomfort through the first few wears. Stud number 3 that sits just above it, lies right underneath the ball socket and it should be the final stud on that side. By introducing one deeper on the boot, especially with the wider diameter of each stud, it impacts the feel as you land and causes some unnecessary pressure. On softer, more cushioned ground, I found it was less of an issue and it did subside as I became more familiar with the boots.
The Important Tech Details
As stated above, these boots are extremely tech heavy and it is important to detail everything they have on offer. To simplify things, here is a recap of what the technology is intended to provide players, and down below you can check the actual performance results.
The UX-1 features a light and breathable one piece upper called Armor-Tex, which is a composite material 40% stronger than Kevlar. The upper also benefits from a rubber webbing thatcovers the forefoot of the boots, with the webbing designed to have a dampening effect while receiving passes and a rebound effect when striking shots. The proprietary A-Frame technology also features on this release, so you know you’re foot will be stable and secure in the UX-1. There is also solid protection to be had in the heel of the boot, which features a dual density cage and a protective spine that cushions the heel and protects the Achilles. Traction wise the UX-1′s soleplate has a 14 stud layout including 8 conical studs in the front of the boot and 4 rounded blades at the heel. This will ensure that the UX-1 will be a great choice for both firm ground pitches and play on artificial grass surfaces.
In Game Performance
The Armor-Tex upper material is probably one of the most unusual upper materials I have ever had the opportunity to experience. Touching it for the first time, it has a textile fabric type feel and when you rub your nail along it there is definite texture. You might imagine it is super soft, but that is not the case. The underlay material used gives it a much sturdier feel and that plays into the fact that Armor-Tex is 40% stronger than Kevlar. Important to note here is the fact that the upper is still very flexible and although it doesn’t provide a natural touch, it is extremely durable and an ideal partner for players who like to strike shots. When you get on the ball, there is a definite protected feel thanks to combo of the upper with the rubber cage system that sits across it.
Taking these boots firmly into the power category, that rubber covering adds a dynamic feel while striking the ball, whether it be shots or long passes. There is a definite rebound effect, depending on the region you look to use. Through the strike zone, each section gradually increases in definition, kind of like a tiered step system. If you are a player that values an added power element, these are a fantastic option. Along with the additional power benefits, the rubber elements provide an ideal region for adding some extra swerve on the ball, by increasing the overall friction between your foot and the ball.
The region inside the A-Frame Cradle is also useful performance wise, something I appreciate from personal experience. The two small paneled regions inside feature a memory foam like feel, and this allows for additional cushion as you look to take the ball out of the air. As a winger, looking to trap long passes, it is positioned perfectly and gives that slight edge compared to a standard boot with a flat instep region.
How do they Fit?
In terms of actual fit, these boots fit slightly long, right on the cusp of needing to go down a half size. One reason for this is the shape of the forefoot, with the upper sitting slightly higher off the foot and with a more rounded toe cap. My guess it that the Armour-Tex material needed to sit a little higher in order to avoid creasing of the material through wear, and because it is unlikely to stretch very much due to its strength. In turn, this obviously creates a more spacious fit. Personally, I am satisfied with my regular size 9US, but if you normally find your size to offer additional length, choosing to go down a half size would be a wise decision. Width wise, they are a wider fitting boot, although you do need to bear in mind the material won’t stretch too much through wear, so what you get initially is how they will fit.
Are they a Power or Control Boot?
Compared to the market, these boots offer a little of everything and are highly unusual. For example, they have a fabric upper, similar to the the Nike Magista and adidas Primeknit releases, yet that upper is covered in a rubber compound similar to what we see on boots like the adidas Predator Instinct and the Under Armour ClutchFit. And then they have a support system that makes them comparable to comfort boots. They are a sort of mix-and-match of everything, so where do they actually fall category wise?
It really has to be the Power category. Given the nature and development of the Armour-Tex upper coupled with the strategically positioned rubber cage, everything about this boot is geared to players that want to get on the ball and strike shots on frame. It places the boot in a category where competition has subsided yet fan desire has probably increased. In other words, this is a smart release from Umbro. Of course, they do have a control factor about them, but the elements of power is far greater.
The only major talking point with these is that stud pressure and the resultant discomfort if you are wearing these initially on a harder surface. It is something to keep in mind if you plan to take these out of the box and right into training in an area with less grass. As stated above, it does subside as the soleplate loosens, particularly if you are playing on a more cushioned surface. Also to note, the entire composition of these boots won’t satisfy all players. They weigh in at 10oz and are designed to be tough and durable. This is not a fancy, lightweight boot designed for wingers and explosive speed. A positive in a negative remark here is the fact they are extremely durable and should easily out live most other boots currently on the market.
Now Available in the US!
We were not sure if Umbro were going to release these State size, but we are excited to announce that they have and the UX-1 is available at soccer.com. They also have several other Umbro boots available, so it seems like we are in a min-resurgence for the Double Diamond.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A highly technical and advanced boot that is designed tough yet flexible enough to play an impactful role for any player wanted a new power boot. Armour-Tex upper sets these apart from any other boot on the market.
Category: Power – perfectly proportioned for players who want to strike shots.
Would I Buy Them: When it comes to Power options, they are absolutely solid and I’m impressed to date at how durable they are.
Player Position: Defenders, hard tackling midfielders, playmakers that want something a little more solid with technology across the forefoot, and strikers that like to hold up the ball or take plenty of shots.
Excited to see Umbro back on the market with the UX-1 – and would you be interested in wearing them? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can always find us on Twitter and Facebook.