For those that want something just a little extra special on a lightweight speed boot, you might need to check these out. Puma adds to the evoSPEED SL series with the introduction of an extremely classy blackout K-leather update. Built on the same base as the original SL and SL-S, this is another opportunity for Puma to cement their name along some of the more technically advanced, “lightning fast” boots on the market.
How does that all play out, especially from a durability stand-point? There is a lot about these that is similar to the other evoSPEED SL releases, so some of the review might seem familiar. But there is also a lot of other aspects that could impact whether you decide to pick up a pair or not!
You can find the evoSPEED SL K at soccer.com.
Loving that classy, super clean Blackout look! With the evoSPEED SL series going through a number of modified updates, the real test with these lies in how a k-leather transitions across one of the lightest boots on the market.
Breaking In and Comfort
Right out of the box, there is an air of ease with these boots. That is primarily related to the minimal materials used and how Puma has pieced them together. You can tell just from picking up and bending the 5.2oz frame that there won’t be too many issues with how they break in. You can pretty much flex the entire boot in any direction without having to exert much energy. After only one wear, they felt game ready and that is where I took them!
In terms of comfort, they do have an adjustment phase, where you need to familiarize yourself with the lightweight feel as well as the unique soleplate. Along the heel region, there is a tri-stud configuration that feels a little different. Once you wear them you will understand what I’m talking about. It is less uncomfortable and a little more clumsy for the first few wears. From a performance, the design is intended to provide more explosiveness as you release from the surface. That plays out well, but allow yourself a wear or two just to adjust to how it feels.
And of course, with minimal materials comes a thinner upper and you are bound to feel opposing players studs should they decide to stomp down on your feet. Keep that in mind if protection is an issue. There is also minimal padding around the ankle lining and the tongue is a single piece of material. In terms of insoles, Puma included a cool little carry case in the box that includes some comfort insoles. I would strongly recommend throwing them in your boots before wear, the benefit of a slightly thicker insole will play dividends as you familiarize yourself with them!
Upper, Touch and Control
Right across the forefoot and through the PUMA text, Puma use a strategic stitching that has multi purpose. First, any stitching through a leather material increases the amount of stretch in the material while improving its durability. It basically acts as an added support. The second benefit is that is creates some slight definition through the material. On other leather boots that have a little extra material, the definition is much more prominent. Here, it is less a factor since the material is so thin. But it does play a role by offering a little extra texture when you get on the ball and take some touches. I found that these were great for first touch and control, with that soft leather providing a perfect platform for gripping the ball and allowing for keeping it close to foot.
Something else I really like is the instep region, where a layer of cris-cross stitching provides really nice cushion as you like to take the ball under control in the area. We are not talking CTR360 Maestri control here, but we are talking a more natural and simple style cushion that feels comfortable for taking down long passes.
The same can’t be said about striking shots, where you are essentially soaking in the majority of impact. This is typical for most super lightweight boots, so if you are in the market for a pair it is something you should immediately take into consideration.
Traction and Soleplate
Under foot, Puma sticks with the same soleplate and SpeedTrack system that they have right across the SL range. It is super flexible and features some pretty unique design features. For example, on the heel you will find a tri-stud configuration, with a conical sitting on the inner side and two blades running along the outer edge. The single conical stud features a unique depth profile, with an inside groove surrounding its position. The concept of this style is to reduce material without affecting overall traction. In reality, it doesn’t provide quite as much natural underfoot support as you’d expect. This is related to the fact that the soleplate material is so darn flexible, and the distance between the conical heel stud and forefoot blade is so large. In terms of traction, it doesn’t have any negative implications. But at times, you do get that “oh, I could do with an extra stud there” type feel! To try compensate, there is a spine in place through the midfoot, and it does have benefits. Puma has made it one of the key attributes of SpeedTrack and its role of reducing overall boot weight is vitally important.
Back to the soleplate itself for a second. You really can twist and bend it in ANY direction without limitation. I obviously wouldn’t recommend you sit there and bend until it finally snaps, but rest assured that while you are wearing them, they will mimic your foot movement to perfection. Once you have the right size, it almost sticks to your sole.
Are they Durable?
First off, if you decide to pick up a pair, you should do so from soccer.com just for the following reason:
PUMA 90 Day Footwear Guarantee: SOCCER.COM and PUMA stand by the quality and performance of this PUMA shoe. If you are not 100% satisfied this PUMA shoe, send them back within in 90 days and we’ll send you a full refund. Some restrictions apply.
Using the SL K on artificial turf will increase wear and tear on the cleat. For optimum performance and maximum durability use on firm ground fields.
From our experience with the boot, they did pretty well from a durability perspective. Puma has developed a style that effectively meshes solid construction with minimal weight. I do have reservations, however. Even though they held together real well (upper to soleplate join, plus the stitching along the forefoot), it is difficult to confirm something that is so lightweight and built with little materials will last an entire season without some issue. What is really nice is the above 90 day footwear guarantee, as it ensures you have the opportunity to test the performance without having to stress about durability through the break-in period. If at the 90 day mark you are not seeing any problems with the overall construction, then you are likely to get good wear from them.
How do they Fit?
In typical Puma fashion, the term “snug” is easy to associate with the fit of these boots. In saying that, there is some give through wear. When you put them on for the first time, you will need to completely loosen the lacing up and allow the overall structure to naturally shape around your foot. Once you tighten the up, your only concern needs to lie in how they fit around the toes. I found that they were slightly tight through that area for the first few wears, but I would have gone up a size. They are right on the borderline of being too tight, so if you normally find your size fits pretty snug, considering a half-size up wouldn’t be a bad idea. For those in need of a wider forefoot fit, I’d also recommend looking elsewhere. Through the period of review, there was some give in the k-leather, so there is the potential for a more custom fit as you break them in.
Compared to the evoSPEED SL Series
Out of all boots released in the series to date, these have to be my favorite – how can you turn down a pair of boots with a K-Leather upper? You get a much more natural touch and feel on the ball as compared to the original SL and SL-S release. You have to give props to Puma for releasing a K-Leather boot that weighs in at an astonishing 5.2oz, it is quite remarkable when you consider how well they perform.
There are 3 aspects of these boots that you need to factor in; Fit, Durability and Price. If you are on the market for something that offers a completely different type of performance and just looks banging good, look no further. But for the general player that needs a fully reliable season long boot without breaking the bank, you might be better off skipping these completely.
If you need a pair of these Blackout K-leather boots, find them at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A beautifully crafted Blackout speed boot that features a quilted k-leather upper for touch and control.
Category: Super lightweight speed.
Weight: An incredible 5.2oz.
Would I Buy Them: Of the evoSPEED SL series, this is the boot I’d choose first. They have a lot to offer, with a unique feel on foot. But you really need to be confident in order to shell out $250 for a pair.
Player Position: A definite attacking style boot, designed for those that value speed and acceleration. Wingers and pacey strikers that like to take on defenders one-v-one are going to get the most out of a pair.