Puma Future 2.1
At first glance, the Puma Future 2.1 Netfit looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the Future 18.1 Netfit. However, the second generation of Puma’s Future silo features a few upgrades that enhance the boot’s comfort and performance on the pitch. These upgrades include a softer midfoot area, more inner heel padding, and the removal of the fused-on top layer which reduced the softness of the 18.1’s upper. With a striking “Illuminate Pack” colorway to go along with these changes, the new Future 2.1 Netfit will light up the feet of Marco Reus and Antoine Griezmann on the 2018 FIFA World Cup stage in Russia.
The Future 2.1 Netfit carries over the same innovative and futuristic look from the 18.1 variation; from the unique netfit lacing system to the stretchy evoKNIT collar, not much has changed here except for a few Puma logo rearrangements. The “Illuminate Pack” colorway is the first of many for the Future 2.1, sporting a Biscay Green upper, gray edging, and white and black accents throughout. As the name suggests, this combination of bold colors will be sure to light up the pitch.
When placed side by side, the Future 2.1 Netfit doesn’t look all that different from what it replaces, so it’s not bizarre to think it wouldn’t perform any differently either. Surprisingly though, the minor changes Puma made add up to make a noticeable difference while playing in the boots. For starters, the 2.1’s upper is softer out of the box than the 18.1’s upper. The reason for this is because the textile base of the upper features a slightly different pattern, which you can see through the holes of the netfit lacing system. Not only that, but the upper also doesn’t have a fused-on top layer like we saw on the 18.1. Holding both generations in my hands, the difference in upper softness is pretty significant.
The upper of the 18.1 feels slightly thicker and a bit more plasticky because of the fused-on protective layer whereas the upper of the 2.1 feels softer and more flexible. Not to mention, with the improvement in the 2.1’s upper, creating different lacing configurations is much quicker and easier to do. I often struggled with lacing up the 18.1 due to the interfering fused-on layer that reduced the flexibility of the upper and restricted the lace tips from sliding underneath the net. Another difference coming from the 18.1 is a slightly more padded sensation due to more padding on the inside liner.
The overall touch on the ball is on the thinner side but it has a slightly more padded feel than the original. The innovative netfit lacing system, which provides infinite lacing options for any foot shape, lock-down, or style needed, remains the same as what was seen on the 18.1, with the exception of a slightly different netting pattern; where the 18.1 had a hexagonal net pattern, its predecessor has a teardrop pattern.
As for the soleplate and stud pattern, nothing has changed from the first generation to the second. The Pebax soleplate is lightweight, reactive, and flexible, and the mix of conical and bladed studs offer both aggressive traction and the freedom to twist and pivot. While the stud pattern is technically suitable for FG and AG, it performs best on firm, natural grass. If you’re concerned about the netfit system possibly ripping during play, don’t worry too much; it’s very unlikely to rip.
Fit & Feel
From the first moment you slip your feet into these boots, you can feel just how soft and comfortable they really are. Apart from a new slightly softer midfoot area, the 2.1 and 18.1 are just about identical with minimal break-in time required. Especially since the textile base of the 2.1 is softer, it breaks in slightly quicker than the 18.1, although with both boots, there really is not much to break in at all. The evoKNIT collar doesn’t provide any ankle support or performance benefits; it simply provides a seamless transition from leg to foot, and it’s thicker on the 2.1 than on the 18.1. The pull tabs at the front and back of the collar make the boots easier to put on and take off. The netfit lacing system gives you amazing adjustability to achieve your preferred lock-down or lacing style, creating a custom, snug fit for top on-pitch performance; the higher the laces are placed, the more expansion of the upper you allow, and the lower the laces are placed, the tighter the upper grabs your foot. On the inside heel, there’s more padding with the newer generation, making it more comfortable on foot. The Future 2.1 is heavier than a speed boot and wide enough for just about anybody; it’s just a matter of customizing the lacing system to attain a secure, locked-in feel. From the previous generation, sizing has remained the same; they fit true to size.
With a soft and flexible textile upper, an innovative netfit lacing system, and a few minor upgrades from the previous generation, the Puma Future 2.1 Netfit has a lot going for it. It shedded the unnecessary fused-on top layer that hindered the ability to lace the boots and it gained some extra padding on the heel and liner. It’s a boot that excels in providing an extremely comfortable fit and achieving the lockdown of your choice, whether it be narrow one day and wide another day. It’s a no brainer why this boot has got people taking a second look at Puma.