Having put many a speed and power boot through their paces in the past six months, SportLocker thought it was about time we gave some more ‘classic’ boots a few more column inches (of the World Wide Web variety).
So it was ruddy lucky that Puma sent us a pair of the newest editions of perhaps the most iconic and well-recognised football boot of all time, the legendary Puma King, to try out!
Fresh from his recent review of Nike’s CTR360 Maestri II Elite, Sam Van Gelder stepped up to the plate yet again to put the new Kings through the usual rigorous playtest.
And here is what he found:
The Boot: Puma King Finale
Colour Tested: White/Black/Team Gold
Category: Heritage / Touch Boot
Price (RRP): £100
Who wears them: Mikel Arteta, Loic Remy, Martin Palermo
As always, let’s ‘kick’ things off with a look at the technology that is involved in creating such a masterpiece:
- Anatomically Shaped AptoLast: The PUMA AptoLast sets a revolutionary benchmark for football footwear. Ergonomically as well as optically it closely follows the foot’s natural shape and provides a glove like fit that allows the upper to mold perfectly to the players foot.
- K-leather: The premium supersoft and ultra thin K-Leather provides long lasting high quality, a glove like fit and great touch to the ball.
- Reinforced vamp stitching: The tight-row stitching in the vamp improves longevity and helps to avoid excessive stretching of the K-leather.
- Central lacing: The central lacing provides comfort and secures wearability for various foot shapes.
- Foldover tongue: The traditional foldover tongue which is kept down by a hook-and loop fastener provides a cleaner kicking area and improves pressure distribution upon ball impact.
- Leather heel tap: The soft leather heel tap increases comfort and reduces pressure on the Achilles tendon.
- Outsole: The outsole is made of a lightweight high-performance thermoplastic elastomeric material which helps to keep the weight of this classic football boot down.
- Conical studs: The conical stud configuration ensures optimal stability, pressure distribution and maneuverability.
- Anatomically shaped sockliner: The anatomically shaped sockliner with a memory foam insert in the heel provides cushioning and enhances comfort.
So despite the Puma King Finale being a leather boot, it has still been boosted with plenty of technology to progress from its predecessor. Although, it’s worth noting that these advancements are in place to improve comfort and fit, rather than power, swerve and such like. But then that’s exactly what a Puma King is about, so no real surprises there!
About the boot
So we have established that the latest innovation of the classic boot is called the Puma King Finale. And this is because the new King takes its classic design inspiration from Puma’s 1986 Mexico Finale boot, and added a modern day twist to the design, technology and materials.
The original Puma King was first launched 42 years ago. Not many boots on the market today can boast such a history, and it’s testament to the brand that they are still churning out improvements year after year.
The Puma King has built a reputation on quality and comfort. Designed with Eusebio, and worn by legends of the game including Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Kempes and Matthaus, the Puma King has an outstanding pedigree.
Which is why I couldn’t wait to get the newest editions on my feet – and see if they could live up to the name?
As I opened the box I was immediately impressed with how striking yet simple the boots appeared – they looked stunning! I’m not normally a fan of ‘non-black’ boots but these looked really great.
One thing that particularly caught my eye was the leather. It was nice and soft, but more surprisingly, it looked a little ‘glossy’. I hadn’t seen this in any leather boot before, so I was even more eager to see how or if this impacted performance.
Another observation was the new tongue. It’s certainly much larger than I can remember any King tongue being in the past, but it certainly makes the boot stand out.
To be honest, I’ve never understood why a football boot actually needs a tongue but I guess it’s part of the Puma King heritage (although the most recent adidas Predator does not have a tongue for the first time in their history).
On they go!
It was then time to stop perving at them and start playing in them!
What I have to admit is that despite thoroughly enjoying my time trying out the newest boots on the market; I have missed (barring the CTR IIs) the complete out-of-box comfort that you get with traditional leather boots.
Yes, I have stated in previous reviews that all of the boots have been comfortable (because they have) but these are a new level of comfortableness! There’s no constriction in any way and this is down to the new wider boot last.
Yet they still remain sleek, and not ‘clumpy/chunky’ like some traditional leather boots can. It’s also noticeable that the upper is softer than the previous Kings, the XLs (which had a horrible boxed toe area), but the new Finales have an all-over soft toe area which is a massive improvement.
Running / Warming up
And this supreme comfort continued on as I began to run and warm up. This is largely down to the leather heel tap which noticeably improves comfort and reduces pressure on the Achilles tendon (that part of the body that Becks snapped at AC Milan last year which saw him miss the World Cup.)
What’s more I also felt stable when running and in particular when changing direction quickly. Cue more technology talk. This is because the King Finale features a high density heel counter integrated into its construction.
Furthermore, the memory foam insert under the heel also lead to further cushioning and therefore improved comfort.
The boot really was ticking all the boxes at this point.
With the ball
By the time the ball was introduced into the session, it felt as if I had been wearing the Kings for years!
The quality of the leather really has to be seen and felt to be believed. Puma have really upped their game from the Puma King XLs and the standard of leather really is superior.
What’s more, the boots weren’t causing any rubbing or blisters which is a great sign for a first wear.
Another issue which I believe is worth bringing up is the studs. They are conical (that’s round to me and you).
This is fairly unusual in today’s market as many brands are placing massive importance on stud technology, namely adidas for their adiZeros and Nike for their Mecurial Vapor series, and studs seem to appear in different shapes and sizes with every new boot launch.
But Puma are keeping with tradition with the studs on the Finales, and I had no problem with them at all.
Having said that, it’s all about personal preference really, and what you feel most comfortable wearing. In the current climate, a pacy winger or striker isn’t going to opt for the Puma King Finale which I find a massive shame.
The current boot market is rife with boots swamped with technology to ‘improve’ and ‘enhance’ this and that (by this and that I mainly mean ‘power’ and ‘swerve’ to be honest).
There is no such specific technology in the new Kings to improve shooting capabilities. However, I had no issue with this either.
The Finale certainly doesn’t let you down when striking a ball at goal – as a clean and true strike can be felt when driving an effort towards the onion bag.
Plus, because they are leather, I felt as if I could manoeuvre the ball a lot more effectively.
With a lot of the boots I have tried out it seems as if the ball stays hit on impact, whereas here I felt like I could place or curl a shot towards an area in the goal (intentionally the top bin of course) with greater ease.
Perhaps this is why so many spectacular goals were scored by the legends who wore Puma Kings in the past!
I think the major problem the Puma King Finale faces is player backing. With the greatest respect, the marquee players wearing them at present (Mikel Arteta and Loic Remy) are not exactly big hitters in the footballing world. They are certainly no Pele, Maradona or Cruyff etc anyway.
So why is this? After all, it’s a fantastically crafted football boot.
I strongly believe that it is down to the constantly changing environment of football boot technology and how dramatically it has changed over the last 15 years or so.
Get your Euro 96 DVDs (or more likely VHS) out. Look what boots every player is wearing. I can pretty much guarantee that almost every player wore black leather boots (with a few exceptions of course).
Before this time, it was the standard. Black and leather were the only two combinations when buying boots. Fast forward a couple of decades and now you can get pretty much any colour football boot under the sun!
The likes of the adidas Predator, and Nike Mecurual Vapor (I know I keep going on about them) but they really have had a massive influence on the changing of thinking in terms of developing and designing new football boots.
Now players want the lightest or most powerful boots they can get their hands on.
Which begs the question: if the likes of Pele et al were still around playing today, would they still be wearing Puma Kings?
I would like to say yes, but the reality is, the likes of Ronaldo, Iniesta and Rooney are potentially the legends of this era, and not one of them wear leather football boots.
It’s a massive shame because the new Puma King Finales really are a classic pair of football boots and I can’t see why more players are flocking to wear them.
Yet again, Puma have created another King classic in the Puma King Finale. The latest incarnation ticks all the boxes that it should: comfort, quality and performance.
With such a heritage to keep alive, there is huge pressure to deliver. I wasn’t a fan of the previous model, the Puma King XL, but the new Puma King Finale is back up there again as one of the best leather boots on the market.
Now let’s see if Maradona, Cruyff, Pele and co. fancy coming out of retirement to don a pair!