I’m going to start this review with a pretty obvious statement – I am an absolutely huge fan of the Puma V1.11 SL! They are the perfect boot for my style of play and meet my expectations as a winger. With that in mind, I am trying to keep an open mind for this review and have focused on the needs of each player on the field (rather than just myself.) Puma has kept things on this release pretty similar to its predecessor, the V1.10 SL, with some slight alterations to the design of the upper. For testing, I wore a pair of size 10US in the Fluo Green/Midnight Navy/White colorway.
Getting the Right Size!
I ended up wearing a size 10US for testing, just as I did for the V1.10 SL review. Normally I wear a size 9, so ordering a full size up is recommended. And just to note, there were actually times when I felt a size 10US was slightly tight so don’t even think about getting a pair in your regular size – they won’t fit!
No problems to note here, with the V1.11 SL offering great comfort right out of the box. The soleplate is really flexible and easily starts to contour to the shape of your foot as you run. Puma has also altered the last to produce a slightly roomier fit at the forefront of the boot. One area that might cause concern for players is the width through the midfoot and arch. There is little support there, so if you need a wider fit from the middle of your foot through your heel these boots might cause problems. Something I like to try with each boot is simply slipping them on barefoot to see how they feel inside. The V1.11 SL seems well protected for a boot that weighs 5.6oz and the lining feels super soft. All in all, I ended up breaking these into game action after two training sessions, and because my sizing was correct, I didn’t encounter any hotspots during the games I wore them in.
Touch and Control
Puma use a microfiber upper that features a textured touch design around the pass and receive region. It is almost like a stamp has imprinted or punched the design onto the boot. I found that this plays two important functions. First, it allows the upper to bend and flex more easily, resulting in a more natural feel. Second it improves touch on the ball by allowing more cushion on contact. In a sense, it acts as an additional layer of padding on an extremely thin upper! On the ball, these boots are a dream and they really allow you to keep the ball close to your feet while dribbling at speed. They are also a great boot for crossing in, you definitely feel the impact of striking the ball hard but I see this as more of a positive than negative..
Lightweight – Designed for Speed
In a funny twist of fate, Puma has upped the weight of the V1.11 SL from 5.3oz to 5.6oz. If your reaction at this moment is “what were they thinking??” then you are officially addicted to light weight and need some time in rehab! Realistically, this has improved the release in my opinion and to be honest, I actually feel like the V1.11 SL has substantially more padding than 0.3oz, or the weight of the V1.10 SL. Puma definitely proved a point with that release, now it is about finding ways to improve the overall performance and protection offered by the super lightweight range – if that means adding more ounces, so be it!
Compared to the V1.10 SL
Without over complicating things, the differences in both ranges lies in the development of the upper. Obviously there are plenty of aesthetic changes, but it is the textured upper on the V1.11SL compared to the smooth V1.10SL that offers a difference in performance. The soleplate used on each is very similar, with the V1.11SL offering a slightly larger last giving a roomier fit. The V1.11SL picks up a full extra point for durability, a half point for responsiveness (improved touch on the ball), but loses a half point for innovation (since the overall weight of the boot increased slightly.) For those interested, I also recently ran a post comparing the V1.11 versus V1.11 SL.
The V1.11SL offers improved durability, primarily because of the angle at which the upper joins with the soleplate along the toe line (as seen above). Instead of the upper sliding straight into the soleplate, Puma has created a crease that produces a slightly larger lip. This doesn’t affect performance but it definitely will play a role in the boots lasting a longer life. Also, because there is more material used in the upper, you get slightly more protection and less scuffing through hard tackles.
The only real negative lies around protection, as is the case with all lightweight boots. This is particularly the case for defensive players who get stuck in on tackles more frequently, or attacking players who are on the receiving end of those challenges! I do feel like Puma has improved this release over its predecessor, but there is still a risk involved while wearing them. Personally, the protection issue didn’t concern me and I felt comfortable/confident wearing them in game.
Here is the one thing about this review that is very important to remember – I have a slight bias towards these boots and could easily give them a 10 out of 1o in every category. But, obviously, that wouldn’t make sense for you guys as players looking to find the most suitable boot. If you are a winger, fast forward, or a player who likes to take on defenders 1 vs 1, then the V1.11 SL is an excellent option. They offer great touch on the ball and have great weight distribution right through the boot. I don’t see these suiting defenders who like to tackle hard or players who need a power boot. Sizing is obviously key to ensuring you get the most out of a pair – they easily fit a full size small, so keep that in mind if you decide to order a pair. I’m not quiet sure why more professional players don’t wear these boots, maybe we will see more of them as the new season kicks up in August. But, ultimately, they sit as my personal favorite release to date!
*boots supplied for review by PUMA Soccer.