A speed boot worth trying
Disclaimer: I work part time as a sales rep for Adler
Thanks to BOOTHYPE for helping me get the boots.
The Big Cat has done well in the past few years increasing their presence in the football world. Partially this is because of the signings they have made but that would mean nothing if Puma did not have the boots to back them up. While other brands have increased prices, Puma has kept their prices relatively low and have some excellent boots at said prices. Probably the most popular series recently has been their Ultra boots so changing the formula is always a risk with a popular boot, but the Puma have not only made a great speed boot but made some additions that makes the boot stand out in general.
One of the most impressive parts of the boot is the fit through the midfoot. Normally, with a one piece upper there are struggles when it comes to getting the boot to fit properly that does not require the boots to need adjustment. And aside from a few select boots, like the Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 Beta or the adidas Speedflow series, I do not often find myself liking one piece uppers. However, the fit throughout the Ultraweave midfoot was excellent, providing no issues to speak of.
It is also notable how quickly the Puma Ultra Ultimate softened up to feel more natural around the foot. While the Ultraweave upper is a little plasticky out of the box, they soon broke in and were ready for harder sessions. As an added bonus, the upper molds well to the feet rather than the foot having to “get used to” the shape of the boot. This is also noticeable on the sides of the forefoot, where normally a boot might have a certain shape. There was initially some worry on my part when I first put the boots on but after a session the forefoot soon took the shape of my feet, except something we will cover soon.
The lockdown is also great as the laces get snug across the top of the foot without squeezing the foot too much and there was some adjustability to the laces. However, these boots are probably not going to be good with overly wide feet as the soleplate and upper are too narrow to properly support wide feet. If your feet are of a slightly wide to slightly narrow fit, then the boots should fit well.
After a couple of shorter sessions, the boots were ready for a longer session. But there were a couple of issues. While the midfoot and sides of forefoot feel great. The front of the toebox could be taller and require a few more sessions than the rest of the boot to stretch upwards. The heels also have a slight issue in that the heel cushions seem a little too low for my liking and could do with sitting slightly higher upper the heel. The rest of the heel fits great but just the cushion kind of messes with the overall fit.
This is a shame because it feels somewhat like Puma knew they needed some cushioning on the heel but they either did not do enough testing or ignored their testers completely when designing the heel. It does not hold the rest of the boot back, but if it is improved it would enhance the good fit that we find throughout most of the rest of the boot.
As far as sizing, I went true to size and while I found the fit to be good, the toebox being lower than needed means that some people might prefer a half size up. This is one I recommend trying on first, if possible.
Touch and Dribbling
This area is one of the parts of the boot that sets it apart from others. Normally, speed boots do not have a ton of extra grip on the upper, but Puma has added extra grip with the inclusion of PWRPRINT on the Ultraweave upper. It is not overly grippy, but it is nice to have on the upper and gives a little bit of extra confidence when receiving a long pass or running onto a through ball.
Which brings us nicely to dribbling in the boot. Because the outside of the boot also has some PWRPRINT grip on it, it is not as smooth as one might find on other boots, but this does not mean it takes much getting used to. The upper is razer thin, which means the feel on the ball is raw but especially in wetter conditions, the slight grip to the upper is appreciated. The grip is there when needed and does not necessarily get in way after you have a session or two in the boots and overall it feels like a good addition to the upper.
Since the Ultraweave upper also gets softer quickly this means that it feels more natural when dribbling because the upper matches the shape of the foot closely which shows it does not feel sloppy and the snug fit makes it feel like a joy when dribbling. It is a fun boot.
Passing and Shooting
This joy continues when it comes to passing and shooting. The PWRPRINT is grippier and there is more of it on the instep, and it provides a nice confidence boost when hitting short or long passes, but it is more noticeable with those long, driven passes or crosses as the extra grip allows for more whip on the ball.
Interestingly, in spite of the added grip on the instep, the ball does not feel as caught up under the feet as one might expect. This seems like it is partially down to the placement of the PWRPRINT on the Puma Ultra Ultimate and in the small spaces, the grip is there to help but does not feel like it hinders play. When it comes to long passes, this means the ball is still easy to put in front of you when going strike the ball.
Because the upper is so thin, you still have that pingy sensation when hammering the ball. Shooting is really fun in the Ultra Ultimate. There is enough grip available to put some extra spin on the ball when curling it, but that thin upper means you can really smash the ball when putting the foot through it.
But it really is the most enjoyable when it comes to powerful curling shots and whipping in set pieces. It also should be noted that the slightly off centered lacing means that there was much more of a clean striking area for ball, but unlike some boots that have off centered lacing, it does not create any weird bulges on the upper which means there fit allow the player to take advantage of having a bit more of a striking surface available.
The Big Cat lists the Puma Ultra Ultimate as being compatible for both firm ground and artificial ground surfaces and to their credit, the grip performs well on both surfaces with no issues. On firm ground, there is plenty of grip available for speedy players while at the same time allowing the foot to pivot easier than expected given that the studs are somewhat a bladed shape.
On artificial ground the studs have great grip without giving that dragging sensation that is sometimes found when wearing a firm ground on a synthetic surface. The boot also never feels like it gets stuck in the synthetic grass, and this is partly down to the way the studs are designed as an oval shape with a half circle on the front which means that again it is easy to pivot in the boots. This particular stud shape is also great when it comes to making quick cuts and dashes. Once more, there is enough grip available without feeling like the grip will stop you from moving unless want to.
The springback is quite good and provides a nice little push off when going into a sprint. It is not as aggressive as other boots that use KaRVO or carbon fiber, but it is just strong enough to be noticeable. The soleplate is also strong enough that there are no awkward twists in the boot, and it provides plenty of support on the bottom of the foot.
Puma have designed what at first seems to be a pure speed boot. But some clever additions like the PWRPRINT on the upper means that it is more than an average speed boot and it could be argued that given the Ultra Ultimate’s performance, as well as the price point (23,000 Yen, 200 USD, 190 Pounds, 300 SGD, 200 EUR) means that it could be the speed boot to try this year and I would argue if you are a speed boot lover, you are missing out if you do not try the Puma Ultra Ultimate.
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