Way back in 2015 (remember that?), Puma decided to destroy the concept of how lightweight a standard speed boot could be by releasing the evoSPEED SL at 103 grams. An incredible boot that Hunter and everyone else that has come into contact with the product has praised nearly every aspect about it, the Evo SL did have one rather glaring negative aspect about it. No matter how light and amazing the boot was, it took a huge risk by placing a sicker on the soleplate warning that the boot would probably not last ten games. Perhaps an even bigger risk was the fact that most have found that the warning rings true…the Puma SL rarely lasts up to, or beyond, ten games.
So, Puma decided to go back to the drawing board and give us a boot that, while still being lightweight, would be able to have a higher level of durability. Enter the Puma SL-S, and a boot that gives Puma three legitimate speed boot options…but, what separates it from the standard SL?
First, we’ll talk about what hasn’t changed. The insole, soleplate, lacing system, and silhouette of the boot are totally unchanged. The three studs in the heel remain intact, and the look of the boot (cosmetically) is totally unchanged.
However, the thing that made the standard SL so incredible has been given a completely different feel and look. Where the standard SL was very soft because of how thin the upper was, the upper on the SL-S comes out of the box extremely stiff. After a few break-ins, it is an enjoyable ride, but the boot definitely takes more breaking in than its SL brother. The feel on the ball is also a bit different, but this is mainly due to Puma giving the upper a bit of added texture and thickness to take the boot’s durability out of the ten-game range. As far as texture on the upper, you notice a big difference in hand, but the feel on the ball is still what you would want from a superlight release.
While we do think that proper care of the SL-S will see a more durable product than the standard SL, we hate how much of the magic is removed via the change in the upper. Would we love the SL-S if we didn’t have the standard SL to compare it to? Probably. In fact, it would be one of the best speed boot options on the market (after you get past the initial stiffness). But, with how we feel about the standard evoSPEED 1.4, we think that it will be tough for the SL-S to find success. Do we expect the SL-S to last beyond ten games? Yes. Would we rather have the SL-S or the SL? No contest, we’d rather have the mind-boggling SL.
Still, if you aren’t in a position to have a boot that may/may not last you ten games, the SL-S is a perfect option to stay within the highly impressive Puma speed line and get a boot that can last you a full season. It is always a great thing when a brand fills a void or responds to a problem voiced by their fan-base, so we applaud Puma for creating the SL-S to satiate their fan-base. If you haven’t hitched yourself to the Puma bandwagon yet, then 2016 will be the perfect time to find your next boot with the big cat.