Football boot review: Umbro GT

Posted on February 1, 2011 by

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After hearing the news that Darren Bent was signing for Aston Villa for a gobsmacking £18million, possibly rising to £24million, our first thought in the office was, “What boots does he wear again?”

Ok, well, maybe it wasn’t. But Umbro have kindly sent us a pair of their first venture into the speed boot market, the Umbro GT, so it would be rude not to have a look at them.

What’s more, after reviewing other speed boots in the adidas adiZero and the Nike Mercurial Vapor SuperFly II Safari CR7 in recent months, Sport-Locker.net thought it was only fair to have a gander at ‘Benty’s’ less known pair of speedy bad boys, and put them through the ‘infamous’ rigorous play test too!

And this is what Sam Van Gelder thought of the Umbro GTs:

The Boot: Umbro GT
Colour Tested: Black/White/Volt
Category: Speed Boot
Price (RRP): £84.99
Weight: 236g

As always, here’s the technology stuff first:

  • Built using a lightweight Japanese Teijin micro-fibre, the upper on the Umbro GT is crafted from just one piece to reduce weight, improve strength and maintain a sleek, streamlined style.
  • Umbro GT also features the innovative A-frame cradle, a successful feature of their classic Speciali boot, which supports the middle of the foot, providing balance and protection.
  • Strategically placed perforations across the ankle collar, tongue and sockliner aid cooling and further reduce weight.

About the boot

The GT represents Umbro’s lightest boots ever. Weighing in at just 236 grams, the boot is Umbro’s first attempt at creating a speed boot.

And it’s evident that this isn’t quite as light as the adidas adiZero or Puma v1. 10 boots but this is still a brilliant move from the Greater Manchester based company. And this delve into the ultra-competitive speed boot market has to be down to Nike, who bought Umbro over three years ago.

What’s most impressive is the fact that they have managed to create such a sleek boot yet not charge massively wallet denting prices. At £84.99, the Umbro GTs are a cool £40 cheaper than the adiZero and a whopping £190 less than Nike’s Mercurial Vapor SuperFly.

If that doesn’t entice you into buying a speed boot, then I don’t know what will!

Initial Impression

And the GTs are like no other Umbro boot in history – lightweight and silky yet still robust.

What’s immediately apparent is how similar they look to one of Nike’s most popular boots, the Mercurial Vapor III (you football boot geeks like me will know exactly what one’s I mean). So Nike are clearly stamping their authority on the brand, and how.

So having taken them out of the box, I was surprised to see that although light in weight; they still seemed to look quite chunky and much more robust compared to other speed boots that I have tried out in the past.

On they go!

And this feeling transferred when they were on my feet. Despite feeling fleet of foot and quite nippy, I felt strangely protected. This is very rare in speed boots, as sometimes you can feel that you are just one 50-50 challenge away from a broken toe! But this is definitely not the case in the GTs.

So a very good start!

Running / Warming up

This good feeling continued when I began to run in the GTs. Again, they felt very different to any other speed boot I have worn before, most noticeably the much thicker upper, giving a much more secure feeling fit.

However, this also means because the boots were a little rigid, so there is a slight ‘breaking in’ period, but nothing that takes longer than a training session.

Because by the end of the session, the boots had definitely began to mould to my feet and feel much more comfortable.

The boots also felt responsive when changing direction quickly. And this is despite the fact that the GTs have rounded studs, unlike the adiZero and Vapor SuperFly, which have different stud formations with plenty of technology packed into them.

With the ball

By the time the ball was introduced, I was really liking the GTs. Despite this, the boot was a little disappointing here to begin with. The ball feel and touch wasn’t particularly great and running with the ball felt uncomfortable, with the upper taking a little longer than usual to get used to.

But yet again, as the ball session progressed, the GTs seemed to react better, and I gradually felt more comfortable receiving and distributing the ball at pace and with precision.

What’s more, the sturdiness of the boot was also proving very positive. The thicker than normal upper, along with the rigid pre-formed and contoured internal heel counter, definitely gives you a sense of security. Another trump card for the GT!

Shooting

It was then time for the best part of any training session – shooting! And perhaps also where the boots impressed me the most – And definitely where the effectiveness of the micro-fibre Teijin upper proved its worth.

If we are going to talk technology, this was probably down to the TPU medial striking zone, which is supposed to increase ball touch, accuracy and control.

But that aside, there’s no specific technology in terms of improving the shooting element of the GTs. Which is why I was so surprised to see just how well the boots performed when striking the ball at goal.

Every (well, almost) strike felt clean and true, and the shots were finding their way into all parts of the onion bag (see snazzy snaps if you don’t believe me!)

Pro Perspective

Unfortunately readers, I may have told a little white lie in my intro. You see, Darren Bent is supposed to wear the GTs (he’s done all the photo shoots with them etc.), and he has done at some points during the season. He’s even busted the new lime green colourway (due out in February) against Manchester United during a game over the festive period.

Bent also said this at the launch of the boot: “I can’t wait to wear the new Umbro GT. Not only is the boot incredibly lightweight, which will help my speed on the pitch, it also looks good. I like to play my football with a degree of style and it is great to have footwear that reflects this.”

So it sounds like he has found his boot for the season. Apparently not. It appears that he has moved back to the more traditional leather Umbro Speciali boot in recent weeks, and it looks as if he will continue to do so for the remainder of the season.

And with Newcastle ‘soon to be a legend/Alan Shearer-esque’ striker Andy Carroll recently signing a bumper deal with Umbro, the GTs could have been chosen as his boot of choice. But instead, like Bent, Carroll has opted for the Speciali.

So a little bit of negativity surrounding the GTs but then this can be seen as mere teething problems as Umbro look to crack the speed boot market. It’s their first foray into the niche so I’m sure they will strive to reach the heights of an adidas adiZero or Nike Mercurial Vapor boot in the future. Because if they did that, Dazza (and many more speedy strikers and wingers) would certainly wear them!

Good Times (that’s what GT stands for)…

Nevertheless, there may be a shining light at the end of that clichéd tunnel. Because there is one footballer supposedly destined for great, great things who is proudly wearing the GTs, week in week out.

He’s a striker. He’s 17. He’s English.

Got it? Well done for those that did. Indeed it is Connor Wickham. The Ipswich wonderkid is flying the GT flag for Umbro (he wears the black colourway which is also set for release in February). So the future could well be bright yet for the Umbro GT.

The Result

The Umbro GT is a wholly solid boot and a great first effort from Umbro in the speed boot market. Despite feeling a little rigid to begin with, by the time the session had finished, the GTs were really coming into their own. And the price is astounding. In today’s climate, where you don’t get much change from £150 with any boot, the GTs are quite simply an absolute bargain.

What’s more, this is Umbro’s first attempt! A couple of little tweaks, and Umbro could soon be sitting on a massive goldmine. Watch this space!

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