There can be no doubting that the boot world has taken a moment to review whether lighter boots are genuinely better boots. The newest adidas Predator Instinct, the Mizuno Wave Ignitus, and Umbro UX-1 have been well received in the market without attempting to shed off any excess ounces. For the UX-1, the added weight brings a plethora of features that make sure that the weight is the last thing on your mind. While some may claim that this boot’s sole selling point is protection, we find it amazingly difficult to pigeonhole the UX-1 as any particular type of boot. Why? Because it does almost everything so well.
While it still amazes me that Umbro did not “go gentle into that good night,” once they were dropped by Nike, it still surprises me that one of their first major moves was to create a brand new boot. While some may see it as a gamble, the UX-1 definitely feels a lot like a “sure thing.” New boot companies can botch new creations because of inexperience, but Umbro has more experience than most companies combined. Mix in a willingness to put out something completely different and the experience that comes from being one of the most iconic brands in world football, and you get the beautiful marriage that is the UX-1.
Considering that I could spend this entire section simply gushing over the names that Umbro have labeled this boot’s colors with (Grape/Blackberry/Safety Yellow), it is definitely a boot that will not appeal to everyone. The purple is aptly named “Grape” as it as a very/very deep shade and the Safety Yellow has been used as an accent, a combo that comes together nicely for me. Umbro has never shied away from purple in the past few years, but it does seem to be a color that does not get as much time on equipment as the other colors of the rainbow.
While I love this colorway, Umbro has already released a GORGEOUS white/orange colorway update for the UX-1 so those of you that tend to shy away from purple can find a home in the newest release. Still, for a company trying to stand apart and be noticed, Umbro have slapped a launch colorway that is meant to draw attention away from everyone else on the pitch. A deep purple might not be the brightest color, but people are drawn to it and it will get you noticed.
This area of testing was what had, initially, scared me the most. The UX-1 has a full-on Poron insert in the tongue, the Armor-tex is fairly thick, and the shooting elements are fairly aggressive…to think that would be able to feel anything, much less a ball, was a huge question mark. However, addressing the ball in the UX-1 is very enjoyable. While it would be unfair to place it next to the barefoot feel of the F50 or Morelia Neo, the UX-1 offers a decent touch on the ball. The Armor-tex lends itself well to cushioning balls out of the air and also blends nicely with the shooting elements for a satisfying strike.
While the shooting elements on the inside of the toe-box may not add any spin to your shots, the medial section of the boot does have something very akin to a “pass pad” that does take a bit of heat off of any pass that you receive with your instep. Once again, the cushioning available on this boot is well above any other release currently on the market. So, if you hate for your touch to ever be dampened or you do not want your boot to change anything about how the ball feels, the UX-1 is not for you. However, for those of you looking for something similar to how some sections of the early CTR series felt (the sections with extra memory foam padding), the UX-1 is a great place to find that.
The one area where I feel that the UX-1 could improve a bit here would be to, actually, lose the elements across the front of the boot and let the Armor-tex completely shine. The instep pass pad and padded tongue are the only real elements that you can feel working while you are wearing the boot, and the upper has a surprising quality to it despite being such a strong material. Perhaps feeling the need to fill the control boot area that boot fans thrive on nowadays, Umbro have added the raised elements. While they do not negatively change anything, it seems like an unnecessary addition.
As should be required by a boot with a thicker upper, the UX-1 does not disappoint in terms of comfort. While it can occasionally feel like the lacing system leaves some looseness, the boot is amazingly comfortable. And, thanks to the material used by Umbro, that comfort even extends into a situation where a player decides to try and take your foot off! This is one of those boots that I was able to take directly into a game without any blister or foot pain issues, but the padding did take a few wears before it felt like it was truly broken in.
The soleplate of the UX-1 is a bit of an Umbro hybrid with mostly conical studs and a set-up meant to accommodate the A-Frame construction that Umbro seems to be addicted to. The area directly below the beginning of the toe-box has been created to add a bit of extra flex, so that a boot with a thicker upper does not feel akin to wearing a block of wood during the first few sessions. While I am a huge fan of conical studs, it should be noted that no firm ground boot should be used on AG or indoor surfaces.
THE VERDICT – WHO IS WEARING IT – BANG FOR YOU BUCK
As we mentioned earlier, this boot showed up on our doorstep and had us overflowing with questions and ideas about possible problems with the release. However, after significant time testing the UX-1, there is little doubt that it should be given proper respect and a proper chance. Worn by the likes of Joe Hart, Andy Carroll, and almost every player still contracted to the iconic diamond, the uptake has been decent for a brand struggling to get back in the limelight.
As far as pricing goes, this is where the UX-1 falls a bit flat. The cheapest you can currently find the UX-1 concept is for about $220. A price that sits either on par or above most non-sock-attachment releases that are on the market today. While the intrigue factor should help Umbro with this release, trying to be competitively priced should be another high priority.
SIZING NOTE: TRUE TO SIZE
While we have heard of some having some extra space in the boot, ours fit true to size and we loved the fit we had after a bit of movement with the upper breaking in.