The world of the big cat rotates a little differently than what we see from everyone else. It’s rare to ever see a moment from Puma that makes the brand seem to be following some other brand’s lead, because Puma soccer cleats certainly have been carving their own niche for years. Power boots are dead? Creates the evoPOWER silo. Adidas sets the lightweight bar at a ridiculous, unobtainable spot? Creates a boot that hits the same weight, but makes it actually able to function during a game. So, with the world finally turning to collars, it felt obvious that Puma might totally avoid the fight. It wouldn’t surprise anybody, would it?
Instead, they have decided to join the fray with the Puma evoTOUCH Pro, but on totally Puma-like terms. You guys knit your boots around fully knitted materials or fancy synthetics? We’re going to coat our knitted material in the plushest kangaroo leather. You want to pretend your boot can act like a sock? Well, ours can function without a sock. At every turn, Puma makes sure that, even when they could easily just follow the market trend and play it safe, this boot could be released without the iconic FormStripe and you’d still know who made it.
The only question remaining is whether the trademark Puma comfort is under the hood or if Puma has pushed themselves just a bit too far with this item…let’s get to it.
The first two launch colorways for the evoTOUCH have been fairly conservative. With Puma, we normally expect something that is incredibly loud and flashy. With the evoTOUCH, the brand has gone for a housing that feels better suited to the kangaroo leather upper than for something that is supposed to launch themselves deep into the collared fray. The leather upper, of black or off-white, is cut through by a white FormStripe that runs along the side of the boot. Looking for the typical stitching that runs with a high quality leather? Nonexistent. It’s one massive piece of quality leather running from the heel to the edge of the toes.
The neon yellow does set the boot off in a way that’s actually slightly understated. Normally adding a volt-esque color pushes a boot into the tacky stratosphere, but it makes this boot just look unique. The soleplate on this boot showcases neon yellow stud tips and the bright yellow spine that runs down the middle of the plate. It all blends together for a really well-crafted look, but we’re still not quite sure that this type of styling is what a brand new boot silo needs to use for its launch. (We don’t mind…we love how ours look!)
The evoTOUCH follows in the Puma naming set-up, and it made us head into this review looking for a boot with stellar touch and feel on the ball. If the big cat is incapable of executing the one thing that the boot is named after, then this boot has zero chance of becoming a success for Puma. Expanding to another silo is a stretch, but it better be good in order to make sure that the brand stays on the hunt for a great 2016.
While the collar might certainly get all of the focus in terms of viewing the boot for the first time or in pictures online, it’s all about a great, universal feel with the evoTOUCH Pro. From the second that you get the ball at your feet, you notice that the ball has a great, close feel from any area of the boot. While there is the evoKnit liner and a kangaroo leather upper, it never feels like the touch has been dampened to the point where it hurts the boot’s performance. In fact, it straddles the line perfectly. While we wouldn’t necessarily say this is going to be a quick cutting dribbler’s ideal boot, there’s not a spot on the pitch where this boot wouldn’t shine.
If you bring a ball out of the air or try to take the heat off a zipped pass with the evoTOUCH, the padding is obvious and helps make the entire experience highly enjoyable. However, if you try and play a ball through the air or zip a pass yourself, you can get a great feel as you push through a pass with any part of your boot.
Shooting and driving passes with the evoTOUCH is impressive for a boot that has us wishing we could just keep the ball at our feet at all times. A nice warm impact from the blending of leather and knit makes sure that a pinged shot gives an ideal sensation right after you pile-drive through a shot or volley. We really couldn’t have enjoyed our time with the ball any more with the evoTOUCH Pro, and it feels like the only hindrance for this boot is merely that not enough players will give it a proper chance.
The evoTOUCH soleplate is a conical set-up that is dependable and allows you to forget about the boots on your feet and focus on the task at hand. It bears some similarities to the evoPOWER build, but the SpeedTrack spine gives it a bit more rigidity to provide an elite level of responsiveness while still have the flex to give your foot the natural movement that has been a staple of recent Puma outings.
Puma evoKnit material might be the softest knit that we’ve seen from the big three. Although you only see it around the ankle and where the tongue would be, the material actually coats the entire inside of the boot. This means that you immediately have a great fit out of the box and a soft, plush liner that will remain throughout your time with the boot. The evoKnit is soft enough that you don’t get any real hot spots or blistering during break-in, even with Puma’s small no-slip griptex arrows covering the inside of the boot’s make-up. The collar has most of its effect taking place during performance, but it all also gives a great feeling as soon as you slip the boot on…immediate, top-notch comfort.
The leather that sits on top of the knit is a little bit tight out of the box, but that’s exactly what you want (too loose off the bat and it’ll be too loose after break-in, little tight at the beginning of break-in means a perfect fit after the leather stretches). We did find a bit of a tight squeeze right where the thickest part of your foot sits, but that quickly dissipates once you start running around. It all blends together with a soleplate that has enough flex to avoid causing discomfort underfoot, and it gives you the type of comfort that Puma’s leather creations has become synonymous with over the last few years. Puma knows what they’re doing…and we’re happy to be along for the ride.
Bang for your Buck
The evoTOUCH Pro isn’t going to be very kind to your wallet, but it is priced slightly below where Nike’s top-tier boots are set. Considering the kangaroo leather and the amount of tech in this boot, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The boot also feels capable of lasting for quite some time and taking a heavy dose of abuse. If you do end up springing for the Pro, expect a quality boot for multiple seasons…exactly what you’d want and look for at this price point.
Who’s Wearing It?
Santi Cazorla seems to be the star man until Cesc Fabregas starts getting some time on the pitch. The big guns from Puma seem to be housed inside the evoSPEED silo, but we imagine that more players will start showing up in the leather boot before too much longer. Until then, keep an eye out for its presence to slowly increase on pitches across Europe.
Puma has had a strong 2016, but the evoTOUCH Pro might end up being the best thing we’ve seen from Puma in a while. We were won over quickly with its comfort, short break-in time, and feel on the ball. This certainly feels like a silo that we’ll be keeping a close eye on throughout its life cycle. The only real negative that we can put our finger on is the slight tightness out of the box and the feeling that this boot isn’t being given the amount of press and focus that it deserves.
Sizing: This boot fits true to size