Not every boot needs to have an attached tongue, once-piece upper

Restrictive in more ways than one

The majority of the boots by the bigger brands these days all have one thing in common: one-piece uppers. It makes sense why they have decided to do this. A one-piece upper, or one with an attached tongue provides a more “on the foot” fit and it is supposed to provide better lockdown since the attached tongue acts as part of that lockdown. However, it is not always a benefit for every boot it is included with and at times seems unnecessary.

The first issue with boots that have a one-piece upper is that they tend to force a certain type of fit. For example, if you have a taller midfoot, these newer type of boots will be overly constrictive on the top part of your foot. And while there is still adjustability with attached tongues, there is not as much available as there would be with a separated tongue. In some cases, no matter what you do, there is a limit to how much adjustability is available.

This reminds me a lot of the trend of having an off-centered lacing system that existed previously. In that case as well, the fit of the forefoot was largely pre-determined fit, and your foot did not fit the forefoot you were out of luck. And so it goes with the current one-piece upper craze. You have to have a certain shape to your foot otherwise you are excluded from several of the current models on the market.

Photo Credit: BOOTHYPE

We can also make the cases that one-piece uppers do not make sense for some boot series. The current Predator is a good example of this. While it is understandable that this is a carry over of the Ace series and the fact that there is a laceless model, the fit of the Predator Mutator and the Predator Feak means that having more adjustability would do a world of good for the boots considering all the complaints about the fit of these boots. People would be able to tighten and loosen up the boots wherever they needed.

It is especially true because of the fact that for a long time the Predator was popular with wide-footed players as well. But a one-piece upper limits that capacity for adjustability. Along with this is the fact that historically, Predators almost always had a floating tongue, the exception being the Predator X, which had a burrito-style tongue. Maybe I am in the minority with this one, but I feel that I am not the only one who would prefer to have a more traditional style Predator with a separated tongue so that I can achieve the fit I desire.

Photo Credit: SoccerShopKamo

Another boot that does not seem to make sense with a one-piece upper is the Tiempo Legend series. While the Tiempo series has had a variation of an attached tongue since the Tiempo Legend 6, one wonders if a modern leather boot really needs a tongue that was designed for speed boots more than anything else. Even as much-maligned as the current Copa Sense.1 is, it at the very least has a detached tongue, which allows for a great variation in fit. And leather boots are normally seen as the go-to boots when everything else seems like a worse option.

At least for many of the people I know who wear leather boots, they prefer to have a floating tongue and have the greater ability to change the fit of the boot to their preference. After all, leather boots are supposed to be the most utilitarian boots available on the market. It is not very flexible if your leather boot is constricted by the forced fit of an attached tongue.

Photo Credit: SportsWebShoppers

Puma has gone down this path as well. While the first model of the King Platinum threaded the needle well on making the boot still somewhat adjustable even though it was a one-piece upper, it is quite revealing that many people likened it to a leather speed boot, which somewhat confirms that a leather boot of that nature seems to be more focused on being speed-like, rather than delivering what is generally expected, and wished-for from a modern leather boot.

Maybe some of the Phantom GT’s issues could have been fixed with a two-piece upper. Photo Credit: SportsWebShoppers

Lastly, boots with an attached tongue, one-piece upper are limited in their design. It does seem as if many of the designers from the bigger brands start from the idea that the boot will be a one-piece upper. Which means that it already limits what designs the tongue and the boot will take on as a whole. The tongue will be some kind of stretchy knit, with the same knit being used on the upper somewhere, so that the tongue can stay attached to the upper. This is turn means that what is done to the upper or whatever material is used for the upper starts from the base fact that the materials have to work with knit or be knit based, which seems very close-minded and limiting. And the boot industry needs more variance in design, not less.

Do you prefer boots with a one-piece or two-piece upper? Please share this with your friends and make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!


Header Image Credit: Unisportstore


4 thoughts on “Not every boot needs to have an attached tongue, once-piece upper

  1. 100% agree with this. I’ve never been a fan of one piece tongues, they’ve always made the boots harder to get on and get comfortable. Lace bite was more of an problem when tied tight, due to the thinner stretchy material used, as was a lack of a little bit of protection to the top of the foot you generally got with a floating tongue.
    I’m with you that it seems to be the latest design gimmick of the moment like side lacing – also like when blades were all the rage or some kind of rubber element incorporated into the boot for supposed increases in power/control etc.
    I can’t deny that one-piece tongue systems give the boot a modern, sleek profile that lend itself well to endless cool design iterations – all using the manufacturer’s proprietary technologies. And I imagine its much cheaper to produce and assemble one piece of material than several, so profit margins are increased, especially as these shoes are typically marketed as high end models.
    I’m sure this ties in with the modern retail business model that increasingly sees big sportswear manufacturers as really just brilliant marketing companies that use products as a means through which to effectively communicate powerful branding and aspirational messaging to an audience with the sole aim of making a sale. But maybe I just like an old fashioned tongue in a leather boot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and the comment, definitely agree with your comments as well.
      It really seems like a lot of protection on the top of the foot has just been completely ignored. It was ridiculous when every brand seemed like they only wanted bladed boots, there was a noticeable increase in knee injuries at that point. I do not mind rubber elements on a boot too much, but they have to be done well. In the past, too many brands just slapped whatever on the upper and called it a day. It does seem much cheaper to produce boots with a one-piece upper. Typically with synthetic boots the initial development of the material can be high, but using the same material will only changes at the very top of the upper saves a lot more money than using leather.
      Inside the sports industry Nike is often called a “marketing company that just happens to sell footwear”. The whole goal is not just to dominate sales but dominate people’s thinking when it comes to sport. I’ll admit they have a very well-put together marketing team, in pretty much every sport.
      Never anything wrong with going with a good pair of leather boots with a proper tongue. I mean my current go to boots are the Morelia II Japan and a pair of Ryal Artisan. They just work.


  2. I can speak for the skinny footed fraternity a one piece upper is just a pain. It started for me with the Vapor 11s , I have to pull the laces so tight I instantly get bunched up material in the middle This looks and feels weird. I like Mizuno boots for the very reason of the free tongue , deep lacing and shallow sides. Not sure why brands overlook this , why make two Vapor models re dynamic fit collar and a low. Just make a normal tongue and a enclosed tongue much better idea. I also hate it when the stretchy material does not match the external material , the new Tiempo is like a padded lump with a thin mesh in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s a huge miss by the big brands to make only one piece up boots. It’s not great narrow feet, it’s not great for wide feet. Just weird. I hate the material bunching up. I’m glad that Mizuno only did this with one of their boots. Think people would riot otherwise


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