Testing the Prototype version of Puma Ultra 1.1
Puma and speed boots, a combo that goes together like Peanut butter and Jelly. It is a mainstay staple that you can rely on and get excited about when you get them (a pair or a sandwich) in your hands. The latest edition, Puma ULTRA 1.1, is engineered for unstoppable speed by utilizing a fully engineered, technologically advanced, lightweight MATRYXEVO upper with reactive kevlar and carbon yarns for support during fast-forward motion. And at 5.8oz, they are one of the lightest boots to hit the market in the past few years.
In reality, this is a new era for Puma as they look to replace the underwhelming ONE series with a reinvented evoSPEED style release. But, the big question is do they actually stand up to the task? We’ve had the prototype pair in testing for several weeks, and here is a breakdown on how they perform!
Find the latest Puma Ultra 1.1 colorways at soccer.com.
I’m not surprised to see Puma head in a fresh new direction, given how the popularity of the ONE seemed to diminish over the past 12 months. There were many pairs that dropped as far as 50% off. A fresh approach and redirection to what seems like an evoSPEED remake makes a whole lot of sense. Take what had worked, and re-imagine it for a 2020 market. I’m interested to see how that new upper reacts performance wise in play.
How do they Fit?
This is a very important piece of the review, so I’m going to talk about it early. First off, it is a speed boot. So, you have to expect it to be sleek and streamlined, tight fighting and compact to reduce overall weight. On foot, they have the feel of an evoSPEED or a Vapor, and if you are familiar with those boots you will know that they are not ideal for wide fitting players. I wore them in a size 9US, the size I normally test. But, I definitely could have done with going a half size up. What turned out to be the biggest issue was pressure on my heel, where I definitely started to blister before switching into other boots. There is a layer of padding on the heel that is intended to absorb energy, but in my case it didn’t help all that much.
The MATRYXEVO upper doesn’t offer a lot of give either, surprisingly. So, they won’t stretch a whole lot through wear, meaning the shape stays pretty consistent through wear. I’m labeling them as an ideal medium fit option, not a pair I’d recommend if you are looking for a wide fit. Although, going up a half size might change that a bit.
To the touch, Puma’s new technologically advanced, lightweight MATRYXEVO upper feels very unusual. It almost has a textile like feel, or something that mimics a jean jacket like texture. Again, it is odd and definitely not like anything we have had on the market recently. That is thanks in part to reactive Kevlar and carbon yarns that are woven through the structure of the material for added support. To compliment touch on the ball, a GripControl Pro coating is added for decisive command when on the attack.
Touch, Control, Shooting
How does that upper material play out on the ball? Well, it definitely has a more compact feel and reduces that natural sensation you get while wearing a leather like upper. It is still a thin material, but by adding Kevlar, carbon yarns and a GripControl Pro coating the material reacts a lot differently than you might expect it to.
Yes, the added grip across the upper makes them a solid choice for players that want to get on the ball as much as possible. But, loosing out on the natural feel leaves something to be desired. Where they are extremely useful is in wet conditions, as the grip layer acts perfectly to wick water away from the surface. Whether wet or dry, you can expect the same consistent level of textured touch on the ball.
It isn’t a boot that you can add to the power category, or label as a top option for taking shots. But, they definitely don’t disappoint when it comes to striking on target. Because of the design, like we have talked about above, the material dissipates energy and allows you to really put power behind shots without feeling the full impact.
Ankle Collar Design
One thing I really like is the cut around the ankle, where Puma use a gentle stretch collar that locks in snugly when you put them on. It is a standard ankle cut, with a V shape design just under each ankle bone. This style provides a comfy fit, as the materials follows the contours and shape around the area. It plays out really well and is a style that I really appreciate.
Soleplate and Traction
Underfoot, the ULTRA is fused to a running inspired Speed Unit outsole, increasing their appeal as the ultimate weapon of speed. Each stud/blade is strategically positioned to take advantage of ultimate traction much like a track running shoe does. Interestingly, Puma actually label the super light Pebax SpeedUnit outsole as FG/AG compatible, which is actually a very interesting move. Rather than conical studs like we normally associate with AG soleplates, the studs are a mix of toned down tri-demensional blades. And, lets be honest, Puma’s history with speed boots on AG isn’t all that good. A few years back, I had a pair of evoSPEED SL that the soleplate melted off.
The only real reason I can see Puma choosing to attach the AG title is because of the upgrades they have made. In general, the construction seems far more durable and you can tell there was a direct intention to create a boot that locks together in a very dynamic fashion. This is turn might also contribute to the overall snug fit feel through wear.
The fit is definitely something that created a challenge through wear, and I feel like many of you will have the same issue. In reality, I recommend choosing a half size up to get the optimal level of performance. I’m also surprised with how constricted the upper material feels. Puma has done a good job with synthetic uppers in the recent past, although durability has been an issue. Shoring up the design might be their attempt to tackle the longevity of pairs.
As reference, the pair I’ve been testing is a prototype version. On the outside, you get a large ULTRA hit, while along the instep Puma place the Speed Prototype label along with a nod to the test/release phase of Spring 2020. But that is just the colorway and detailing, everything about this version replicates the currently available releases – there are several different style already available with a retail of $199.99.
Something else worth noting here is the fact Puma has made a direct play on keeping the ULTRA more affordable than comparable boots from other brand like the Nike Vapor and adidas X. We have seen this highlighted effectively in some of their online promotion, it is refreshing to see a brand support fans by keeping prices lower, especially when dropping a new release.
Find all the latest Puma ULTRA 1.1 colorways available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A new type of speed boot from Puma that is completely geared toward unstoppable speed.
Category: Lightweight Speed
Would I Buy Them: If I could get the sizing right, they are definitely worth exploring. But compared to other speed boots on the market, the ULTRA is just a little overly complicated.
Player Position: Wingers and playmakers. Ideally, players in the middle of the pitch who want to get quick touches on the ball. The added control component on the upper gives them a huge advantage.