Comfort and Grip
Gavic is a brand that somewhat exists under the radar, even in Japan. While they have a bigger presence in the futsal side of the game, they still have made a space for themselves in the 11 a side game. The main line for their outdoor boots is the Mathieu series, which comes in two variations: Ten (天), which is the leather model, and Jin (人) which is the synthetic model. Ten refers to heaven, or natural, while jin refers to person, or manmade. Out of both, the Jin model invites the most curiosity by virtue of its all over grip elements. But its one thing to slap on some grip elements and call it a day. However, Gavic have gone a bit further.
Fit and Feel
Out of the box, the synthetic upper is fairly pliable and well-cushioned. Since this is a synthetic boot, there is still that typical bunching found on most synthetics when flexing the foot, with most of it occurring on the instep. The flexible upper breaks in quite quickly, requiring only about a session and a half (read: under about 2 hours) to feel like it has adjusted to the foot.
A good part of this quick break-in time comes down to the amount of cushioning available underneath the grippy upper. For a boot like this, you would not normally expect this much cushioning, but it was a pleasant surprise and meant that not only does the boot feel soft for a synthetic of this nature, but also that the foot is well protected from tackles.
The tongue also has a good amount of cushioning which eliminates lace bite. It is not overly thick, either, with the cushion placed with care to cover the parts of the laces that would bite down on the foot the hardest. This also again means that getting in tackles will not be as much of an issue since this part of the boot is also good at absorbing heavy contact. I also appreciate the inclusion of an extra lace hole so you can make a runner’s loop to enhance heel lockdown.
It is also appreciated that the heel comes with a good amount of cushioning and is covered with a nice faux suede top layer to help provide an extra bit of comfort and help grip onto the socks. There is a slight issue with this section, which is the fact that the foam used for the cushion is stiffer than I expected, and it needed a little bit of time to soften up. It is not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of.
The insoles on the other hand are some of the best insoles I have come across. There is Poron cushioning at the ball of the foot area and in the heel as well. In addition, the rest of the insole still has some good, solid cushioning. It is not overly spongy and is more on the firmer side, which I prefer. This is because it means there is good padding, and it will not lose its support easily. Overly cushioned insoles sometimes feel like you are working against them, rather than with them. The top of the insole is nice and grippy as well, which got rid of the need for a grip sock. In fact, when I wore a grip sock during testing, it did get bunched up when first putting the boots on. Again, just something to keep in mind.
In terms of the sizing, I went true to size and the fit was great. This is definitely not a boot to try and go half a size down on – stick with your normal size.
Touch and Dribbling
Obviously, having a grippy upper means that it benefits the touch and control of the user. Even in wet conditions, the upper performed well and I never felt like the ball was getting “stuck” under my feet when playing. It is a great balance of providing good grip without being over the top. This is nice considering the majority of the upper is covered with this material.
That previously mentioned cushioned upper also works to great effect here, because it helps to cushion the ball when controlling it. This is a nice aid to have when dribbling at speed and the combination of the grippy top layer and cushioned middle layer means the boot is pretty nice to dribble in, if you like that more cushioned feel.
The soleplate also deserves a mention here because it’s textured on the bottom of the studs, which is a preference of mine since I like to control and drag the ball around using the studs of the boot. It even has some studs located close to the edge of the foot to allow you to “bite” into the ball when controlling it with the front of your foot.
Passing and Shooting
Given the way the upper is designed, this boot seems like it is great for bending the ball and hitting long, pinged passes. And for the most part, it does well here. It is really enjoyable to put extra spin on the ball in these boots and since some much of the upper is covered in grip elements, it means that I can pull off some nice swerve in a lot of different ways.
Passing with the instep of the boot is also interesting because it reminds of previous boots that had cushioning in the midfoot area for passing, like the Mizuno Wave Ingitus 3 or the CTR360 Maestri. The boot is not on the same level as those two, but it is a nice feeling to have.
As enjoyable as the grippy upper is, there is a big issue with all of that cushioning underneath the top layer. Shooting and hitting long passes have a tendency to feel a bit “dull”. What I mean by dull is that I did not feel the full weight of the ball when hitting it. This is positive for some people, but I know that quite of lot people, including myself, like to feel a bit more of the ball when hitting it with power.
Down on the soleplate itself, it’s interesting because while there are mostly rounded studs, Gavic have designed the studs on the outer part of the foot to have a flat, outer edge in order to help provide some stopping power when going to cut.
The front two studs also provide some nice extra grip when going to push off to make a sprint. But do not go expecting some springback as the forefoot of the boot is fairly flexible and is designed to be more of a compliant soleplate overall. The flip side of this is that running in the boot feels more natural since the forefoot flexes with the foot. There is some good stability in the midfoot however, which will help with support.
Yet, there is a surprising issue with the soleplate: the middle midfoot stud is too long. This is a weird issue because most boots have slightly shorter midfoot studs so that the foot does not feel any pressure there. While the soleplate is good a negating most stud pressure, I can definitely feel the middle stud when playing. It is not painful and anything, but it is a weird feeling. It is surprising that this is not something Gavic figured out during testing because it is fairly obvious. I can see the argument that maybe they wanted the extra support at the bottom of the foot, but even so, there is no need for it to be so long. Just a strange decision to me.
Gavic have managed to provide an interesting boot that has an upper with plentiful amounts of grip while still maintaining a nice amount of cushioning between the top of layer of the upper and the midfoot and have even tossed in an excellent standard insole that has its own advantages. For its price (12650 yen or about $110 US), it is a solid boot with a lot of bang for your buck. It is pretty unique and a worthwhile experience. I could easily see this becoming a go to boot for some people.
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