Puma famously released the lightest mass-produced cleat on the market last year in the form of the evoSpeed SL. However the boot was made to only last about 10 matches. So Puma listened to the people and released the more durable, but still light, SL-S. Getting the SL-S in hand, you realize the more durable option is not as light as the SL, but is still much lighter than your standard speed boot. The upper seems a bit stiff but let’s see of that loosens up a little bit once I get the boots on foot.
The look on the SL compared to the SL-S is extremely similar. Everything appearance-wise stays the same: the same layout, same design, same stud pattern, and even same evoSPEED SL branding placement. The only thing different on the boot is the new upper. Now the new upper looks different, as it is not the thin mesh we saw on the SL. The support frame, which was inside of the SL, seems to be more of an aesthetic design more than anything.
This is where the SL-S and SL become completely different boots in terms of tech and performance. The SL is made from an extremely lightweight mesh material that leaves little to no material between your foot and the ball. The SL-S has been given a new, stiffer, and thicker upper that Puma just simply states as a thin perforated synthetic.
The upper feels firm and plastic-y straight out of the box, but really forms to your foot well over time. The SL-S is only around 5.3 ounces, which is up compared to the 3.6 ounce SL. The added weight comes from the upper and added durability enhancements that come with it. With such a lightweight cleat already, the SL-S added much needed durability in terms of the upper, but the SpeedFrame that was on the inside of the boot on the SL becomes more crucial to the integrity of the boot’s durability. The SpeedFrame and upper combine into one to create the added durability, while also maintaining the ability to wrap around your foot for a locked in and comfortable fit.
The external heel counter remains a part of the SL-S and is really used more only as a heel cup rather than to offer in real protection. The outsole has also remained the same from the SL to the SL-S. The conical and bladed studs on the outsole come together in one weight-shedding stud pattern. The Speedtrack system on the outsole helps the boot stay stiff in the back while allowing more flexibility in the toebox.
The SL-S feels great on feet while running down passes that the midfield put through for you past the defenders. The thicker upper does not have as thin of a feel that was found on the SL, but I don’t mind sacrificing a bit of thickness for more durability.
The outsole has given me zero problems over the testing period and I do not see any problems coming in the future. The outsole provided some of the best traction I have received on a speed boot’s outsole to date. The combination of the studs provides a light but effective pattern that any attacking or fast player will love.
Striking the ball feels fantastic on the SL-S because you can feel the ball as well as any other speed boot on the market and you can feel that little sting that comes with a solid strike. Passing and controlling the ball is smooth in terms of feel and the lack of distractions on the upper. The weight difference is slightly noticeable but, once again, it’s something worth sacrificing for a more durable speed boot. Now this won’t last as long as something like the ACE or Tiempo just because speed boots will not last as long as another style of boot.
Despite remaining fairly stiff for the testing period, the SL-S is actually pretty comfortable. The comfort insoles for the SL-S feel great underneath your foot and I did not feel much stud pressure when playing on natural grass. I tried playing with these on an AG pitch and I felt the studs pressing up on my foot so I would highly recommend only using the SL-S on firm natural grass. The fit is just right for me and I have slightly wider than average feet. You can fit into these no matter what your foot size, unless you have extremely wide feet.
Bang For Your Buck
The SL-S normally retails for $200 but you can sometimes find it for cheaper. I would say if you want a light speed boot and have about $100-$150, then it could be worth copping. However, if you are really in the market for something crazy light and have that extra bit of money, then I would go for the standard SL model.
Who’s Wearing It?
The SL line is being worn by a number of high profile athletes around the globe. Sergio Aguero, Antoine Griezmann, Marco Reus, and Michael Bradley headline the evoSPEED SL silo. It is hard to spot which boot the players are actually wearing on pitch, but they are certainly all wearing a form of the SL.
While I would prefer the SL if I were to choose one of the two, I would still rate this as a quality shoe. I wish the upper was a bit thinner and loosened up a bit more as you played in it. Even with that complaint on the shoe, I found the SL-S to be a decent option when it comes to ultra lightweight cleats. If you can justify the price for a lightweight shoe, this one will last much longer than the SL. If you take care of the shoe and only wear them on firm ground fields, they should last a season or longer. If you mind having a bit stiffer of an upper to have a lighter shoe, then give the SL-S a chance.
Sizing: Runs true to size
Take a look at the evoSPEED lineup at SoccerPro.com!