With the release of FUTURE Z, Puma was able to introduce a new type of game changing boot while also highlighting Neymar as the feature player set to wear them. That is a pretty nice way to be able to promote a new silo!
Engineered to enhance the playing style of the world’s most exciting and entertaining players, FUTURE Z is built around an adaptive FUZIONFIT+ compression band. That immediately gives them an innovative look, something we have clearly seen Puma take advantage of over the past few weeks.
A high profile player wearing them, a wealth of tech specs, an aesthetic design with a lot of potential. It is the type of release that ticks all the right boxes. The last thing to figure out, of course, is in-game performance! How do they fit? What do they feel like on the ball? Do they provide comfort right through a 90 minute game?
Find all the latest FUTURE Z colorways at SOCCER.com.
From release images, my biggest question surrounding the FUTURE Z is how pliable the upper material would be? Being a knit material, you would expect them to stretch around your foot, but pictures make them look a little rigid. Also, the lacing is very interesting across the midfoot. That large gap between eyelets (basically the large X across the middle) has me wondering what the comfort is like when you tighten them.
But, overall this is a release that I’m extremely excited to test since they are heavily advertised as a dynamic, attacking style boot. Neymar had to have played a huge part in their development before his big switch from Nike over to Puma. So, that also adds another element of intrigue.
Breaking In and Comfort
It is worth taking a few minutes to really enjoy FUTURE Z out of the box, don’t rush your time with them. There is so much going on with the design; you will want to inspect them, get a feel for the materials, check out that unusual soleplate, stretch and flex them a little. Then, get ready to enjoy what they have on offer!
From first wear, you will encounter a very responsive level of performance. The materials right throughout offer natural movement and adapt to your foot shape very quickly. As a result, they break in very quickly. After wearing them for a simple kick around, I was confident they would feel good in game. So, I broke them right out and it went about as well as you could expect. I’m a huge fan of the knit band around the midfoot upper as it creates a lockdown feel without being overly constricted. You feel as one with the boot without feeling like it is strangling your foot, that little bit of lateral stretch really makes a difference!
And again, I’m loving the knit collar. It is one piece of innovation in recent years that has elevated boot performance. It creates a sung connection around your ankle, with the added stretch ensuring you don’t experience unnecessary rubbing or discomfort.
“Influenced By Neymar”
Even though he just joined the Puma brand in August, these boots just have the look and feel of a boot with Neymar’s influence right throughout. We did see him test some unnamed blackout boots over the past few months. And given it was a huge decision to switch from Nike to Puma, I’m sure he offered some requests on a signature boot before switching brands. The FUTURE Z seems to tick all the right boxes.
Touch, Control, Shooting
Run your hand across the upper and you will notice that there is a lot of texture and definition. Across the forefoot, there are raised ridges that flow across in a set pattern. The actual upper is a thin layer of GripControl Pro that is placed over a knit underlayer. The ridges definitely enhance and improve touch on the ball, giving you an extra layer of grip to work with. As the ball connects, those ridges create friction to keep the ball a little closer to you and allow for better ball manipulation.
The material itself is so incredibly supple that it folds with ease as your squeeze it. That was one area of concern I had going into testing, and I’m glad to report that it is one of the most responsive uppers you will find on the market. If you are looking for natural touch on the ball with enhanced touch, then this will be one of the best options available.
Given they are an attack minded boot, the last piece would be how they feel for shooting. The first thing to note is that I wouldn’t place them anywhere near the power boot category. The raised texturing is more pliable knit than firm synthetic, so you are getting a more agile touch that will allow for a controlled strike rather than a firmer strike zone.
What is FUZIONFIT+?
Time for some tech talk! The one key component you will continually see Puma promote with the FUTURE Z is the adaptive FUZIONFIT+ compression band. Sitting as the darker colored band across the midfoot, it has been engineered to “enhance the playing style of the world’s most exciting and entertaining players.” It’s purpose is to provide optimal lock-in and support for explosive movements.
“The biggest innovation of the FUTURE Z is the FUZIONFIT+ compression band, placed at the mid-foot. The band was developed using a special combination of polyester and spandex yarns, along with special technical yarns to create the perfect balance of compression, comfort and durability, giving the wearer that second-skin feeling.”
Traction and Soleplate
Underfoot, you will find a cutting-edge new Dynamic Motion System outsole that has been developed for advanced traction. Flip the boots over and you will immediately notice where Z comes into the naming convention, with the eye-catching Z-shaped soleplate reducing weight, providing 360-degree lock-in around the foot and maintaining a stable plate for playmakers to perform devastating accelerations, movements and skills.
In play, you will immediately get a feel for what is has to offer. First off, the stud configuration is very balanced, ensuring you feel comfortable with no pressure points. Visually, they actually remind me of orange slices, in shape with a unique little pattern on each one. And they are the type of boot that can be worn on FG and AG surfaces, I had the opportunity to test them on both with positive results.
How do they Fit?
Without a doubt, the FUTURE Z sits as one of the most relaxed fitting boots on the market right now. They have a naturally accommodating space right through the forefoot cavity, my medium to wide foot shape felt very comfortable tucked inside. The upper material also has some stretch, so for a wide fitting player they become one of the better current market options to consider.
Also worth noting, they fit a little longer than what you’d expect from Puma. They even fit longer than the ULTRA, Puma’s other current market option. I wouldn’t call it a dramatic change, but I would call it a necessary upgrade that puts Puma releases more on par with other brands’ top silos. It is the type of release you can be confident ordering in true-to-size.
There isn’t a whole lot of negatives to report, they match up really well with the best options on the market. I do think, however, it is time for Puma to get in on the boot bag game. Any sort of addition with the cat proudly showcased would only add to the release.
Again, Puma has resisted the temptation to increase the price of a new release, keeping the FUTURE Z listed at a very commendable $200 price point. Having a top tier option that offers such quality performance is pretty awesome! These could easily listed at $250, so kudos for Puma keeping them priced lower.
Again, find everything FUTURE Z available at SOCCER.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Built around an adaptive FUZIONFIT+ compression band that provides optimal lock-in and support for explosive movements.
Category: Agility, with a focus on attack.
Weight: A well balanced 7.4oz.
Would I Buy Them: Absolutely, yes. They have so many positives on offer, are dynamic, adaptable and very comfortable to wear.
Player Position: Even through they are advertised as an attack focused boot, they are the type of boot that will suit a very wide variety of playing styles.