The Puma KING has long been celebrated for its legendary touch and feel, thanks to the supple kangaroo leather upper. However, Puma has taken a bold step forward by introducing the 2023 version of the KING, now featuring their new K-BETTER technology. Departing from kangaroo leather, K-BETTER has been scientifically proven to outperform its predecessor in terms of touch, comfort, and durability. With unwavering confidence in this innovation, Puma has decided to cease the production of kangaroo leather football boots this year.
The new Puma KING Ultimate not only embraces sustainability with at least 20% recycled materials in its upper but also delivers exceptional performance benefits. The redesigned lightweight outsole, external heel counter, KING stability spine, and conical studs offer enhanced control over both your movements and the ball. Coupled with the lightweight removable sockliner featuring NanoGrip technology, the KING Ultimate ensures your foot stays firmly in place, minimizing power loss during quick changes in direction. With the KING’s iconic legacy and cutting-edge upgrades, these boots are ready to elevate your game on the pitch – or are they?
Let’s dive into the details and see how the KING Ultimate performs in our comprehensive review.
As I unboxed the Puma KING Ultimate with the all-new K-BETTER technology, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and curiosity. While the KING has a storied history with its renowned kangaroo leather, the switch to K-BETTER had me intrigued about its performance on the field. I must admit, my expectations were cautiously optimistic, considering it was the first time this material graced a KING release.
Right away, the boots impressed with their clean and sleek appearance, departing from the traditional KING style we’re accustomed to. In fact, they exuded more of a hybrid feel, reminiscent of Puma’s ULTRA series. The design hinted at the fusion of classic craftsmanship with modern innovations. This fresh approach added to the sense of anticipation as I was eager to test them out and see how they would perform in action. With K-BETTER taking center stage and a distinctly refined look, the Puma KING Ultimate looked ready to challenge perceptions and elevate the playing experience. But as any seasoned player knows, looks alone can’t define a boot’s true performance. Let’s delve deeper into the break-in process and comfort to see how they fared during wear.
Break-in and Comfort
Out of the box, the Puma KING Ultimate presented a modern and sleek appearance, setting it apart from the traditional KING K-leather releases. The new K-BETTER upper offered a touch and feel that were surprisingly comparable to leather. However, one noticeable difference was the absence of visible stitching across the vamp or forefoot, giving the boot a more seamless and contemporary look. While the switch in material may lack the nostalgic charm of a classic KING, it brings the silo into a more modern and performance-oriented era.
In terms of fit, I found the boots to be on the snug side, even more so than previous KING models. The K-BETTER material doesn’t stretch as well as leather, which posed some challenges during the initial wears. Unfortunately, this led to a blister on my left heel, an issue I hadn’t experienced in a while. However, the general comfort of the boots was still impressive, with the upper material flexing naturally with my movements. The padded tongue and collar further added to the overall comfort and support.
Breaking in the Puma KING Ultimate required some patience, as the upper material needed time to stretch and conform to my foot shape. Over time, the boots became more accommodating, but I realized in hindsight that opting for a half-size up might have been a wise choice to avoid initial discomfort.
In summary, while the Puma KING Ultimate delivers modern comfort and performance, the switch in upper material and sizing may present some challenges for players used to the traditional KING feel. It’s essential to consider the sizing carefully and allow for a proper break-in period to fully appreciate the boots’ comfort and potential on the pitch. Despite these minor hiccups, the KING Ultimate holds significant promise and introduces players to a new era of Puma’s legendary silo. Let’s move on to the next section to evaluate how the KING Ultimate performs in action.
On the pitch, the Puma KING Ultimate truly lived up to its iconic name. Once the boots were properly broken in and adjusted (I wish I could say right size here – but they were broken in to the level at which I could wear them) their performance capabilities came to the forefront. As a player who values touch, control, and precise movements, I found the King ULTIMATE to be quite impressive, even with the switch from kangaroo leather to K-BETTER.
The touch on the ball was smooth and responsive, allowing for excellent ball control and accurate passes. While the absence of traditional stitching on the upper might take some getting used to, it didn’t hinder the boots’ overall performance. The clean striking surface offered a consistent touch on the ball, enabling precise dribbling and passing, which are essential aspects of my playing style. Additionally, the boots’ fit did improved after the break-in period, providing a more secure and stable feel during quick changes of direction. The external heel counter and KING stability spine on the outsole added to the boots’ responsiveness and support, enhancing my confidence during dynamic movements.
Another noteworthy feature that doesn’t seem to be mentioned elsewhere is a subtle design detail that caught my attention. Around the forefoot vamp of the upper, Puma has incorporated light hexagonal shapes, forming what seems like a six-sided pattern. While I’m not entirely sure of the scientific reasoning behind this specific design choice, it does add an intriguing layer of texture and dimension to the boots’ touch zones on the ball.
These hexagonal shapes allow the upper to fold more naturally, contributing to enhanced ball control and touch sensitivity. It’s fascinating to see how Puma aims to optimize the cleats’ performance by incorporating such fine details into their design. While the exact technical benefits of these hexagonal shapes may not be explicitly explained, their presence showcases Puma’s commitment to innovation and attention to detail. For players who value precise ball manipulation and seek a unique touch sensation during gameplay, this design element could be an exciting addition.
It is a simple piece, but one aspect that stood out was the built-in tongue design. The ultra-thin, one-piece tongue contributed to the sleek and modern appearance of the boots. It sits comfortably across the front of the ankle, offering a smooth and seamless connection with the rest of the boot. Because it is made of a knit material, it also offers natural stretch around the midfoot.
Another area that stood out to me, and I’ll talk about more below, was the excellent traction provided by the conical studs on various surfaces. Whether playing on natural grass or artificial turf, the KING Ultimate delivered reliable grip and stability. The boots felt planted, enabling explosive sprints and quick cuts without any slipping or loss of traction.
Soleplate and Traction
The soleplate of the Puma KING Ultimate plays a vital role in delivering the boot’s exceptional performance. Puma has engineered a new lightweight outsole that complements the boot’s upper, ensuring a harmonious balance between agility and stability. The conical studs, strategically positioned on the soleplate, provide reliable traction and prevent unwanted slippage during high-intensity movements. If you know me, you will know how fond I am of a low profile conical stud, especially on turf where they ensure less drag through the surface. I found that the soleplate’s design allowed for smooth transitions and quick changes of direction, crucial for evading opponents and maintaining control of the game. The KING stability spine further enhanced the boot’s responsiveness, allowing for explosive bursts of speed without compromising on balance.
During testing on both firm ground and artificial turf, the Puma KING Ultimate demonstrated consistent and reliable grip, which significantly boosted my confidence on the field. Whether performing quick turns, executing sharp cuts, or engaging in aggressive maneuvers, the soleplate consistently delivered optimal traction.
How do they fit?
The fit of the Puma KING Ultimate is one area where I encountered mixed feelings. As mentioned earlier, the boot fits snugly out of the box, especially around the midfoot and forefoot areas. This secure fit is intended to provide optimal lockdown and prevent any unnecessary movement inside the boot during play. While the snug fit was appreciated for its responsiveness and connection to the ball, it did pose some challenges during the break-in period. The K-BETTER upper material, though offering a soft and flexible feel, didn’t stretch as much as traditional leather, leading to some discomfort in the initial wears. It took me a few sessions to break them in fully and achieve a more comfortable fit.
In terms of sizing, I recommend going up half a size if you prefer a slightly looser fit or if you have a wider foot. While I typically wear my regular size in most boots, I found that going up half a size would have provided a more comfortable fit, especially during the break-in phase.
Once properly broken in and adjusted to the sizing, the Puma KING Ultimate offered a secure and stable feel on the foot. However, it’s essential to consider individual fit preferences and possibly try them on before making a purchase decision.
While the Puma KING Ultimate impressed with its advanced technology and modern design, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The shift from traditional kangaroo leather to the new K-BETTER material might not sit well with players who cherish the classic feel and touch associated with the KING line. While K-BETTER performed admirably in terms of touch, comfort, and durability, some players may miss the nostalgic experience of wearing a classic leather boot.
Additionally, the snug fit and lack of stretch in the K-BETTER upper could pose challenges during the initial break-in period. Players with wider feet or those who prefer a more relaxed fit may find it necessary to size up to ensure optimal comfort.
Despite these considerations, the Puma KING Ultimate remains a top-tier option for players seeking a sleek, modern design, and advanced performance on the field. The use of sustainable materials, such as the K-BETTER upper with recycled content, showcases Puma’s commitment to environmental responsibility and innovation in football footwear.
The Puma KING Ultimate is available in several styles including a new striking “Silver Sky/Black/Fire Orchid” colorway. They are a hybrid style, so anew suitable to be worn on either firm ground (FG) or artificial ground (AG) pitches.
Check all the latest releases in the series at SOCCER.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: The Puma KING Ultimate features Puma’s innovative K-BETTER technology, offering clean performance without using kangaroo leather.
Category: A former heritage style release turned in to modern, speed-oriented cleat designed for players seeking cutting-edge technology.
Would I Buy Them: I don’t get the same nostalgic feel from these Kings, so I think I’d pass. For players looking to embrace the future of the silo and experience a different type of performance, the Puma KING Ultimate FG/AG is a worthwhile investment.
Player Position: Ideal for dynamic players who prioritize precision, control, and forward-thinking on the field.