It has been a few minutes since we received the Puma evoPOWER 1.2 in, a boot intended to replace and emulate the original evoPOWER release, or “2014 Boot of the Year.” No pressure there, right? Sometimes it is tough to modify such a successful boot, but Puma has, and they are confident that the changes upgrade the overall performance of the range. Visually, they are pretty unmistakable with an almost machine-like upper pattern.
If you have been exploring the option of picking up a pair, here is our take on what you can expect. Since plenty of you have probably tested these, we’d also love if you added your thoughts in the comment section. That way, we can really help other players deciding if they should purchase a pair or not.
Find the current colorway line-up of evoPOWER 1.2 boots at soccer.com.
It is never easy releasing an updated version of a boot, but trying to do so when the original wins a boot of the year award is an unenviable task. Rather than creating a completely new boot, Puma took the true highlight of the original, that highly effective Gradual Stability Frame (GSF), and coupled it with a modified upper. Feedback was key in this area. Before taking them out, the real question is how does that all play out in a game type situation?
Breaking In and Comfort
The fundamental performance characteristics of this boot fall very much in line with the original version. But, Puma has taken a slightly different approach with the upper design and how it fits across the foot. Where the evoPOWER 1 had a full on stretch feel, the evoPOWER 1.2 is designed with sharper edges and the intention of providing players with a more streamline silhouette. As far as the soleplate goes, it feels just right. I’m all about the concept of bending as close as possible to the bio-mechanics of the bare foot.
The upper is where it all changes. On this latest release, things have been tightened up dramatically. I’m a medium/wide fit and found the original to be absolutely graceful – I loved them. But there is a much tighter, snug fit about the 1.2. Because the forefoot is angled down into the foot, it reduces the amount of free space available through running motion. That is turn creates an uncomfortable tightness through the heel. I’ll talk more about the actual fit in the relevant section below, but what you need to know here is that this is a tighter fitting boot than the original and some players will need to think about moving up a half size to get them right.
There was issue that popped up inside the boot. Puma has taken an unusual approach with the tongue, choosing to cut into the side as it goes down through the boot. It basically allows for easier movement of the tongue and decreasing the amount of material used. It is the bottom slit that proved problematic for me. As I slip my feet into the boot, the bottom piece of the slit bunches and basically feels like an extra piece of thick material in one spot. As you can imagine, through play it rubs against the region of my foot just above the little toe. Urrggghhhh. No matter how much I mess with it, it just won’t stay folded down. Again, this has a lot to do with the overall cut and shape of the upper and how it sits more snug across your foot. Puma might want to take a look at this design before future releases!
Outside of these issues, I’m all about how the materials move in motion so gracefully with your foot movements, and the soleplate is an absolute dream. Right from first wear, they are a super flexible boot that has full intentions to mold to your style.
Designed for Power
This is an interesting area, as again Puma look to use the bio-mechanics and movement of the foot to generate power rather than the actual surface of the upper. Across the forefoot, the Accu-Foam material has been dramatically reduced in thickness, and instead a texture called Grip-Tex is placed across the surface. This actually plays more of a role in gripping the ball, especially when the upper gets damp or wet. With the decrease in amount of Accu-Foam used, you tend to feel the ball a lot more while striking and there is the benefit of increased touch and feel as you move with the ball at your feet.
The huge positive with the evoPOWER 1.2 is the fact it is fully intended to be a power boot! With so many brands directing their boots away from the category, it is refreshing that Puma has continued to attack it with quality releases.
Here is a short breakdown of each piece of technology on this boot 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.
Gradual Stability Frame Performance
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 soleplate keeps your foot 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 in play? 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.
Compared to the Original evoPOWER
Under the hood, everything about both boots is the same. Puma used player feedback to find areas where the boot need to be improved. With the GSF receiving huge approval ratings, it all come down to the upper and what players expected from it. The first major change is the actual texture of the material used. Gone is the super soft microfiber upper with deep accu-foam padding. Instead, in comes a more defined and textured style adap-lite material with a much thinner layer of accu-foam. Why? To increase the amount of friction between ball and foot in wet conditions – something the original received moderate feedback on.
How do they Fit?
Slightly tight, actually. That wasn’t a statement I expected to come out with prior to testing, but these are definitely a tighter fit than the original. That has a lot to do with the actual materials used and also the fact that Puma decreased the angle of toe to midfoot on the boot. Purpose here being to increase the opportunity to get under the ball, but it makes the boot a lot tighter and for that reason my advice is consider moving up a half size to get the correct fit. Puma has a reputation for tight fitting boots, but that was something the dissipated with the release of the evoPOWER 1. This release takes a step back and will not accommodate the same wide fitting audience. In terms of width, they also move slightly in the opposite direction. Rather than being an ideal wide fitting boot, they are much more of a medium width boot now. This increases the opportunity for narrow fitting players to slip their feet into a pair, but it might prove to be a distraction for the ever-so-happy wide fitters that wore the original!
With the original, I couldn’t really find a great deal about the boot to fault. With these, I begin to get very picky and can find several areas that were not as perfected. The actual fit was a disappointment, and I really didn’t enjoy the feel of the tongue bunching up.
In saying that, I’d love to see Puma take some aspects from the original and place them with the positives of this boot (most notably the more textured upper and Grip-Tex that improves touch in wet conditions) on version #3.
Find the current colorway line-up of evoPOWER 1.2 boots at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Second generation power boot release in the evoPOWER series that again takes advantage of the bio-mechanics of the bare foot.
Category: As the name points out, there are about Power.
Would I Buy Them: There are players that are going to love how these perform, but they have to get the sizing correct first. Personally, it is the original version that gets my vote and they’d be the ones I’d buy at the moment.
Player Position: This is a very versatile boot, something that makes them attract to players all across the pitch. They have attributes that will provide quality performance for everyone from goalkeepers down to strikers.