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When it comes to pushing the boundaries with unexpected releases, Puma are pretty much the leaders. They like quirky colors and designs that go against the norm; this release sits in the latter category. Labelled as the King EF+, there is not much about these that replicates a King styling. Rather than a simple, classic leather upper, Puma has added some unusual texturing via the addition of Kevlar cables. It is all a little more technically advanced than we are familiar with!
We’ve had time to check them out in person and run them through some games to figure out what they are all about. Are they actually a “King”? Here is our take on what they have on offer.
Find this limited edition release currently listed at soccer.com.
What an interesting release from Puma, with the King name associated you expect heritage. But these are beefed up with an unusual upper pattern that turns them into a much more technically advanced boot. How that plays striking the ball is going to be the key question, and how effective will those Kevlar cables be?
What does “EF+” Stand For?
When the current King II silo was released, it came with a new support system through the midfoot labeled the EverFit cage. Puma take that system up a notch by adding a new type of system right across the upper, and that qualifies the boot for an additional “+” to the title! So, it reads “EverFit+”
Breaking In and Comfort
This is a boot that is designed for comfort and fit, as you might have gathered from the naming convention. Normally, I’d reserve all of the comfort speak to this section, but because certain elements are placed on the boot for such specific reasons, you will find plenty of technical details elsewhere. What you need to know about these boots is simple; Puma is winning in the comfort department and there are no problematic areas to report. Out of the box, the soleplate is flexible and supportive thanks to the midfoot spine in place. The upper is very soft, and for those concerned with how the textured design will fell – don’t! There is a lot of natural movement that allows them to fit comfortably across your foot.
Lets move on and break it all down in different sections.
Kevlar Lacing System
Across the boot, you can clearly see where the textured ridges sit. It is actually part of the comfort system placed on the boot. In order to implement strategically positioned Kevlar cables that cover specific bones in the foot and allow for a a more natural and secure fit, Puma creates channels for it to run from lacing into the soleplate. Now, we are familiar with the fact that Kevlar is not the type of material that will offer stretch or move with your foot. And that is why Puma has offset, or misaligned each individual strand across the boot. Thus the term “strategically positioned”. By doing this, it reduces the constrictive nature found on the boots like the original Superfly. And, it also ensures the boot offers a consistent, long term fit without overstretch.
From images, you can see the Kevlar cable via its yellow color. It becomes an integral part of the boot not only for its supportive properties but also because it is the lacing system! There are no punched holes, instead you use the loop created by the Kevlar to pull them tight against your foot. As you tighten the laces, you definitely feel the upper cradle in around your foot. Technically speaking, it makes complete sense and Puma is on to something with its design.
Performance wise, it also fits the expected bill, and as I said you can feel it as you pull those laces tight. But, I had an issue with one of the Kevlar cables on the lateral side of the boot coming loose. It is clear from its positioning that there was a lack of stitching in place to keep it adequately locked in place – definitely a concern. As a result, I made the decision to re-route the laces, bypassing the loose one. When I contacted Puma, they assured me it was a design element they had focused on extensively, and that the pair I received was one of the first manufactured. Consider this my word of warning to you on the issue!
Since their arrival, the key question I have received from players is if the lined, textured regions create any additional power? There is definitely a lot of definition in these boots via the Kevlar cables, and although there is no direct push to promote them as a power boot, I have to admit that I really enjoyed them as a striking boot. Positionally, each lined region sits in a pattern that is appropriate for connection with the ball. Whether that was intended by Puma or not is unknown. But adding some additional padding is never a bad thing if it is not overkill. Now, if Puma added a light grip texture on each of the lined panels, these could be really special!
The upper itself is a super soft leather material that has been shaped by the inclusion of the cables. They provide extra support, so durability should definitely not be an issue. Puma also choose a great color, with the white material offering a gleaming, milk like appearance.
Final notes go the the SL soleplate, an area where Puma has been able to reduce the weight of the boot to an impressive 7oz. The pebax material used is very, very pliable and they bend easy right from the first time you take them out of the boot. Through the midfoot, you have an orange labeled spine that works perfectly in keeping you supported. The stud configuration matches what we have seen on previous Puma SL releases, so its performance is unchanged and matches the trusted expectations that Puma fans are familiar with. Why change something that has a positive reputation? Through testing, I wore these on both FG and AG surfaces with positive results. If you play on both, these are a definitely a boot that can be considered for multi-purpose use.
How do they Fit?
Shape wise, the upper bends in toward the big-toe, so these will prove a little less accommodating for players with a wide forefoot. It is a styling we have become familiar seeing Puma implement. In saying that, I found they fit my medium/wide fit very sufficiently. Even with the Kevlar cables in place, there is some room to maneuver thanks to the structure of the upper. Loosen the laces, it loosens those cables and you get a more spacious fit.
Is It Actually A “King”?
That is a very debatable question that is going to have a variety of differing opinions. Given the focus on comfort and overall fit, you can see how Puma has classified it as a King. But, these are a much more advanced style of boot than what we traditionally associate with the iconic silo. If anything, it as the evolution of the range as Puma look to further advance performance. They have not replaced the King with this boot, so this is simply an extra option for players that want something just a little different.
As per above, the issue I encountered with one of the Kevlar eyelets is worth noting. It is an area that could be problematic to players as there are not many other options available for tightening the laces! I’m going to be monitoring player feedback on this one to see if there is a larger issue. Something else I noticed through wear is that the Puma hit on the outer side of the boot started to peel off. Traditionally, a panel is stitched on the side of the boot as a signature of the particular brand – here Puma has applied a print that seems to rub off easier than you’d want!
There are some cautionary tales to take with you should these be a boot you are considering, but they are definitely worth checking out thanks to the unique level of performance they provide. Plus, as a limited edition release, they are one worth adding to any boot collection.
Currently find the Puma King II EF+ available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Puma take the King to an advanced level, all while ensuring comfort and fit are not compromised.
Category: They have a mix of everything! Lightweight, comfort focused, elements of Power.
Would I Buy Them: Given their price, I’d have reservations. Performance wise, they are solid and a thoroughly enjoyable boot to wear. But you could easily get 2 other pairs for the price of these.
Player Position: Very multi-purpose. Defenders will enjoy the combined characteristics of the boots, including the added padding through the forefoot, while they are light enough to suit attacking styled players.
HIGHLIGHTS: Puma take the King to an advanced level, all while ensuring comfort and fit are not compromised. A very multi-purpose hybrid boot that defenders and attacking styled players will enjoy.