Allow me to let you into the life of some of us reviewing for The Instep. When we get a boot, we truly hope that a brand provides us an easy finish and a boot that we can write a searingly horrible review in order to offset when we get the truly fantastic boots…sadly, the Neo provided us with an easy finish, but not because it was a horrible boot, but because it is a PHENOMENAL boot. Once again, reviewers hate to gush…it makes us seem biased…but the Neo deserves all the praise I can give it during this review.
Lightweight marrying with extremely high quality kangaroo leather, it blends two things that the boot world has become increasingly fond of. Leather and speed boots are not a new invention, but Mizuno have attempted to stake claim to being the “best” instead of claiming the “first.” While most Instep reviews lead into the sections with a question of whether the boot would meet standards, this review leads in with us assuring you that the Neo meets and exceeds everything we looked for.
While the blue/yellow “Brazil” colorway we obtained looks amazing, it is a color combo that is visually appealing but can be seen as a color attached to many divisive teams with the same colors. Not a Michigan Wolverines/San Diego Chargers/Golden State Warriors/Leeds United/Brazil fan? If that’s the case, then this boot might be tough on you. Still, after seeing it in person and on Hulk’s feet on the TV, it is a gorgeous boot. There is a slight color change from the midfoot to the toebox (it shifts a bit from the deep blue closer to a purple), but it is only noticeable if you look extremely close.
In a world with boots getting brighter (even within Mizuno’s silos), this particular Neo waltzes the line between being classy/understated or being bright. The only other thing about the boot is that it might be the only speed boot to ever hit the market that is not colored/styled in a manner that screams “I AM REALLY LIGHT AND WANT TO GO…FAST!!!” I wonder what people would think of F50s if they looked nothing like a speed boot…I doubt it would have the same draw.
While it would seem difficult to screw up having a decent touch on the ball given the thin kangaroo leather, other brands have faltered with leather speed boots. For the Neo, it has excelled. While that construction feat is great, somehow blending the padded nature of leather with the close touch on the ball is what makes the Neo stand above its counterparts. The tongue also has a nice padded feel, making sure that the ball feels great at your feet whether attempting to control it or strike it.
The stitching on the toe-box seems to be how Mizuno get the leather to feel padded, but you get the same barefoot feel that speed boot fans will crave. The instep of the boot makes receiving and passing a ball feel as if you were wearing a heritage boot (i.e. Tiempo/adiPure). While it may seem obvious, there are no frills here on the Neo that will change how your shots feel or add any grip to any section of the boot. Still, if this is the type of boot you are in the market for, this is exactly what will have drawn you to the Neo in the first place.
6 oz. typically means you are dealing with the thinnest synthetics and a touch as close to barefoot as you could possibly imagine. The Neo changes this idea completely as it has every game-related action providing the satisfaction that a quality leather can give. While the other speed boots we encounter here at The Instep always feel dangerously similar…the quickest comparison for an F50 is an evoSPEED (and evo to F50) and the ease with which every speed boot can be compared to a different speed boot is commonplace in the boot world. However, for the Neo, it stands completely alone. Leather F50 or leather evoSPEED? Great boots, but not in the Neo’s class.
While speed boots typically avoid comfort in order to sacrifice as much weight as possible, the Neo feels like a house slipper from the second you take it out of the box. The deep lacing system that Mizuno employs across their boots allows you to tighten the boot for a very snug fit and allows you to tighten the laces as the kangaroo leather forms and stretches. A suede-like heel cup helps avoid blisters and hot-spots, but it did house my one negative aspect from the Neo as it had a slightly odd fit during the first few wears. This gives way as the boot is broken-in, but it had me worried about the finished fit for a few hours. Comfort and speed? Nobody has done it better.
The soleplate is composed completely of conical studs in a pattern that Mizuno has shifted from the heritage style Morelia over to the Neo. The soleplate is thinner and more flexible (to help keep the weight low), but the traction and stability are still the same. Nothing flashy or pushing the bounds of boot technology, but it gets the job done without any slippage or stud-pressure. While some may advocate that studs allow a boot like this to shift over to AG surfaces with ease, this is a Firm Ground boot and should be treated as such.
With Mizuno moving into the U.S.A. and having products on show like the Neo, it should scare some of the bigger players in the boot world if Mizuno choose to truly begin pushing their boots here. A dream in terms of comfort, a joy in terms of in-play use, a beauty in terms of looks, and a build that brings it all together in a fantastic package.
With boot-spotting guru Jordon never stopping his endless praise of the Neo, it seemed unlikely that anything could match the standards of his relentless praise. However, I now hold the Neo in rare company as it easily creeps into my top 5 boots that I have ever tested (I’ve been testing every major release for SoccerPro since 2010). If you have the chance to snag a Neo, take the leap and discover why Mizuno has nowhere to go but up. What are you still waiting for?
SIZING: True to size
While there will be some stretch to the leather, the deep lacing system and initial last of the boot will allow you to stay true to size and still get a great fit.