While the current focus in the soccer world might rest somewhere between a set of three stripes or attempting to locate Nike’s Camo Pack, the word is out that Puma is looking to make 2016 incredible for any fan of the big cat. From classic homages to the past, the lightest standard production boot ever released, and a sea of quality covering every release, Puma looks set to dominate for quite some time. However, not content to merely sit upon their recent success and watch the dollars roll in, Puma continues to peruse new avenues in their products and provide us with gear that fires up our imagination and holds our attention.
The newest toy is the evoSPEED Fresh.
A ridiculously lightweight cleat whose main idea is to provide quality feel on the ball while making sure that your feet stay cool (not only looking cool, but feeling cool). Definitely falling under a category of products that we never thought we need until AFTER Puma created it, the evoSpeed Fresh has a lot to live up to. Not because boots hoping to keep your feet from getting overheated are all that common, but because Puma has set their own standard for boots and products so high. It’s rare when your biggest competition might be your brand’s OTHER boots, but Puma has made that happen. Will this boot fend off the heat of competition, or be the first stumble from Puma in quite some time? We kicked it into high gear and put this boot to the test…
Puma know exactly what they are doing with the colorway of the Evo Fresh. An icy blue fades into a fluorescent yellow, which feels like a perfect fit for a boot meant to keep your feet “cool.” Unlike other Puma releases, the brand logos are fairly limited. We have the Puma Formstripe on the outside of the boot and two small cat logos on the heel and tip of the tongue. Fans of the brand or evoSpeed series will spot them from a ways off, but others might have a harder time nailing down the brand. Considering this isn’t a boot getting a lot of professional uptake, it makes sense that Puma wouldn’t make it look like a walking billboard.
Once you get up close, you immediately notice how thin the boot is because of how the upper is basically see-through! The upper looks like it is covered in a thin mesh (which, it essentially is!) with only a few spots looking different (mostly spots that need a bit of added durability). Flipping the boot over we see the standard SL soleplate from Puma, and it’s a soleplate that only further commits to this boot’s originality. One thing we want to note on the look is that this boot gets dirty quickly and can be a bit of a pain to clean within all that mesh…not something that is going to change the performance, but certainly something worth mentioning.
The evoSpeed Fresh covers some serious ground in terms of all the different sensations that it provides. First, it’s incredibly light. Sitting at 4.1 ounces, these bad boys feel heavier than the paper that Puma placed in the boot before shipping them! If you’ve been wondering what the speed race currently feels like, the Fresh makes you feel like on your first from the first whistle to the end of stoppage time. Is it incredible that this isn’t even the lightest boot on Puma’s roster?
The next thing you notice is the touch on the ball. The “Fresh” mesh upper molds well to your foot and gives you an incredible feel for the ball. If you want everything that you do on the ball to be completely free and unhindered, the Evo Fresh fits the bill to perfection. Quick shifts and dribbling leave you begging to have the ball at your feet and only a brush with someone else’s studs brings your mind back to reality.
Expect shots and any hard contact to be felt throughout your foot as there is zero padding across the entirety of the upper. This does give a great uniform feel on every spot of the boot, but anyone who likes to have a little padding on shots or something between themselves and a tackle is going to be left wanting. Receiving and making easy passes will also be completely unhindered, making this boot enjoyable whether being selfish with the ball or attempting to spread the wealth.
One small tweak that really helps the Fresh is that Puma slightly thickened a strip of the upper that cuts right through the middle of the instep. This is meant to prevent your foot from rolling over and to make sure that the boot is responsive. It’s always nice to see small touches like this have a big impact, and we definitely enjoyed it.
The soleplate on the Fresh is Puma’s SL set-up, and, despite looking incredibly unique, functions very well. The mix of blades and conical studs makes sure that you will have good traction on any firm-ground pitch. One thing that is incredibly important is that, because of the Fresh’s extremely thin construction, these boots should never be used on an AG surface if you hope for them to last longer than a few short hours.
With a boot whose upper is so pliable and thin, it’s no problem wearing these right out of the box. The soleplate will take a bit too get softened up, but the break-in time is fairly quick and smooth. Despite the boot being made out of a coated mesh, there aren’t any spots on the inside of the boot that would cause discomfort or make the boot uncomfortable.
Now, the one thing to definitely address with this boot is if it actually is “Fresh,” and if it performs the functions that Puma advertised. To be completely honest, the boot is so thin and light that it should never get too warm on your foot. With that in mind, it did keep our feet from getting sweaty or having our sock feel like they do after a normal day of testing. The one aspect that we aren’t entirely on board with is Puma claiming that they will keep moisture away. While rain was actually no problem, we felt pretty soggy after walking in the morning dew. We aren’t sure whether the “Fresh” aspect came into play shortly after or if it was the rising sun/rising temperature/drying grass, but our foot felt dry about ten minutes into play that day.
Bang For Your Buck
If you’re looking for ultra lightweight, this boot might be the best value on the market. Priced well under the typical range of top-tier boots, the Evo Fresh could actually pass as a budget boot for several players. This price range might have also negated the backlash that the original SL felt over the “10 game” sticker, but I suppose we’ll never know. This boot does not come with one of those stickers, but its construction suggests that you shouldn’t expect it to last much longer than one season. It’s a fun boot, an amazing sensation, and an incredible idea, but it does sacrifice some durability to achieve those things.
Who’s Wearing It?
To put it simply, nobody is out there in the pro ranks currently rocking the Evo Fresh. We find that slightly surprising, but considering the price point…Puma probably isn’t hoping this boot overshadows their other silos.
Puma still rules the roost in 2016, and it’s going to take a very impressive Euro 2016 outing from Nike and adidas to change that idea. The Puma Fresh only adds to their resume and continues to show the big cat as one of the most aggressive and risk-taking brands on the market, even though the Evo Fresh isn’t going to be labeled as a “perfect” boot anytime soon. The Evo Fresh might not win over everybody out there, but it will definitely have its fans. If you’re looking for something to freshen up your game or finally ready to step beyond the bounds of the Swoosh and the stripes, it’s never been a better time to switch to Puma.
Sizing: This boot fits true to size
Get your Puma evoSPEED boots at SoccerPro.