“Made in Japan” boots are often something special, they’re also something which are notoriously difficult to get ones hands on. Outside of Mizuno, MiJ boots are often designed solely for the Japanese market. There’s extra craftsmanship which goes into these products; only the finest quality K-Leather is used, and things like weight shedding and super light soleplates take a back seat to quality and durability. If you think about it the Japanese have the best market for boots in the world. They get the latest and greatest, most technologically advanced boots, AND they also get classic quality boots pretty much solely made for them.
It is said that the easiest way to get yourself a pair of MiJ Japan release only boots is to hop on a plane bound for Tokyo with an empty suitcase and a boat load of Yen. So you’ll imagine my surprise when searching on eBay one afternoon I found a pair of MiJ Puma ParaMexico Lite’s in my size up for auction from an owner in Charlotte, North Carolina. Following a couple of frantic days hoping no one else knew about this auction I was able to swoop in with a late bid of $74.99; and Bob’s your uncle it held out and I was the owner a slightly used (previous owner had worn them for an hour) pair of MiJ Puma ParaMexico Lite’s; and I couldn’t wait to get them into action.
Those who know me, know that one of my grail boots is the original Puma ParaMexico (along with several other iconic boots), the original ParaMexico is somewhat different the Lite that we’re discussing here. However, despite not being the original ParaMexico, I was really excited to get my hands on a boot which had spawned from them.
The ParaMexico Lite is very much a no nonsense offering in a High Risk Red/Black/Flash Orange colourway. The K-Leather upper is very supple to the touch, which is something you’d expect of a boot released with for the notoriously fastidious Japanese market. The major surprise for me considering that his is an MiJ release, came on the inside of the boot with the fabric used in the heel, it just didn’t seem like something which fit with what MiJ is all about, it wasn’t suede which I’d originally assumed and had a bit of a cheaper feel to the touch, although that could just be me being a bit pernickety.
Rather unexpected where a heritage style boot is concerned there’s actually a wee bit of tech hiding inside the ParaMexico Lite. Tucked away in the hard ground soleplate is Puma’s ArchTec system. It’s something which has been taken from Puma’s running shoe division. What does the ArchTec do? Well it’s a system designed to increase firmness while decreasing the weight of a shoe, but still allowing the necessary and natural twist of the fore and rear foot.
While I personally noticed no effects, ill or otherwise, of the ArchTec system I am curious as to why it’s the only time I’ve ever seen it included on a pair of soccer boots. My only hypothesis is that it may have something to do with increased arch support for players in the Japanese market where flat footedness is more prevalent. But even this is only a vague hypothesis.
Fit and Break In
It’s important to note that Puma have a reputation for their boots running a bit smaller and narrower than other manufacturers. That said boots released solely for the Japanese or Asian markets tend to be more friendly to the wide footed player, and the ParaMexico Lite is certainly more roomy width wise than a traditional global Puma release. So you can definitely count this boot as accommodating of players with a wider foot.Also, lengthwise, the boot I bought in was a size 9 US and I can confirm that it sticks to Puma’s traditional sizing system, which means while it might be a little tighter than other brands true to size is still the way you’re going to want to go, especially as you’re going to get a bit of stretch out of the K-Leather upper.
Now is the ParaMexico Lite a boot you can take out of the box and straight into a game? Yes it is, most heritage boots are designed with comfort in mind, and the knowledge that not every player is going to have the luxury of multiple training sessions to break in a boot before a match rolls around (coincidentally I am one of those players who lacks that luxury). That being said, if you have the opportunity to break in the boot over the course of a couple of training sessions you’re definitely going to want to take that option, as I did run into a couple of blisters on my heels during my first couple of wears, which I will cover later on.
The Stud Configuration
I don’t often devote too much time towards the soleplate of a boot, short of answering whether or not it provides decent traction on grass and artificial grass surfaces. However, the ParaMexico Lite, features a studs that I hadn’t come across before. Usually when a boot has conical studs they’re a thinner more circular and slightly longer stud. However, as there’s a shortage of available space in Japan a lot of pitches are of the artificial variety, and the lower profile fatter studs on the ParaMexico are easier to switch between the artificial surfaces on which most matches occur and harder ground natural surfaces.
A note: The ParaMexico Lite is listed as a Hard Ground layout, which differs ever so slightly from a Firm Ground layout. While these boots will play on a Firm Ground surface without incident, they’re definitely designed to offer better traction on those rock hard pitches you see here and there, as well as artificial surfaces.
Puma have definitely created a modern heritage boot with the ParaMexico Lite. Weight wise it hits that sweet spot of 9oz that the modern heritage boots these days tend to weigh in around. Everything about the boot is built for class, and it’s a boot which just works. No the ParaMexico Lite won’t make you a better player, but show me a boot which will? The ParaMexico gives you all the tools you need and leaves the rest to you.
A boot with a high quality K-Leather upper should give you a quality touch and feel on the ball, and the ParaMexico Lite is no different here. For me the most important thing about K-Leather boots is the touch on the ball, and the ParaMexico Lite won’t let you down; you get a natural unencumbered touch on the ball, which is ideal for dribbling and playing passes.
While you don’t get any kind of aids with a heritage release, the forefoot of the boot has a stitched pattern which adds some definition and padding for striking the ball, this padding follows through to the tongue of the boot which is a really nice touch when you need to give the ball “the laces”.
Durability is where the boot fully stands out, you’re getting something which will stand the test of time. With the exception of the last week and a half I’ve been wearing them in most of my matches (during the last 2 months) and they pretty much look right as rain. Just a bit of dubbin here and there and these boots should easily last you a full season and beyond. The construction of the boot sees durability as one of the most important facets.
If that seems like a short in play summary, it’s because it is, it’s something I’ve been struggling with because when you get a boot which just works it’s not always easy to go full on in depth, especially when you’re talking about a heritage release with no technology aids to speak of. So the good news is as said in the outset of this section, this is a boot which just works, and will work in any position on the pitch.
As a heritage boot fan, I’m a fan of nearly everything to do with the ParaMexico Lite. The major sticking point for me is the material used on the internal heel cup, unlike other heritage releases which tend to use leather or suede for the heel cup, the ParaMexico Lite uses a fabric material which has a bit of a cheap feel to it. The fabric also resulted in some blistering on my heel as it didn’t lock my heel down in the first several wears. It’s definitely something which rankles me when you consider that this is a top, top boot, and is built to last.
Where Do I Find Them?/Should I Buy Them?
Finally the big questions. If you’re trying to find a pair, eBay is your best bet if you live outside Japan; if you’re in Japan hop down to your local footy shop.
For those outside Japan, I’ve also widened the search to include the original ParaMexico as well as the Lite edition. That said if you’re looking for a pair outside of Japan, you should expect to pay a decent premium, often times the ParaMexico and ParaMexico Lite retail somewhere starting around the $200 mark.
Now, when you’re talking about spending $200 on a pair of boots, you really have to ask yourself, “Is any boot, really worth spending $200 on?”. In my opinion no boot is worth laying out $200 for, however, if you can find a pair for under $150 (the average price of most heritage releases) and you think the ParaMexico Lite is something you’d want to experience then you should definitely jump all over them, because you’ll be gaining a high quality boot which no one you’ll come across will have.
Have you had the opportunity to wear the ParaMexico Lite? If you have leave us a comment down below and let us know your opinion of this Made in Japan release.