Puma have been the company to watch throughout this and last year. A couple of quality releases, namely the Puma V1.11 and the Powercat C1.12, signified that “the Cat” was well and truly back following a period of mediocrity. Arguably the most intriguing release from Puma was the boot that represented their entry into the relatively new lightweight leather/heritage boot market, the Puma King SL. Puma took a classic boot in the form of the King, and gave it the ‘super light’ treatment. Initial images of the Puma King SL made them up to be an absolutely quality looking boot and I was understandably thrilled when I got my hands on a pair of the white/black/orange release colourway for review. However, I did have my reservations after the adiPure SL, which conceptually was a perfect boot, came up short and was ultimately a lackluster release from adidas. Would the Puma King SL prove to be the same type of release, or would Puma release the benchmark for the light weight heritage market? This is the Puma King SL review.
Design (4/5) - People will be drooling over your boots and begging to try them on
Simply put, the Puma King SL are a great looking boot. The Puma King Finales were always a classy boot, and Puma have transferred the great looks of the regular King to this super light version. The colourway we received was the launch white/navy/orange Puma King SL. While normally I’m not a huge fan of white boots, something about the simplicity of the design really appealed to me. Puma have taken a number of steps to shed weight on the King SL, and they have all contributed to the overall design of the boot. Visually, the biggest change is the omission of the rather symbolic Puma King fold over tongue. As someone that’s not really a fan of fold over tongues, this was a great move by Puma, as it sheds a lot of weight and makes the boot look a lot sleeker. Going back to the colourway, while it is not ‘flashy’ per say, I really loved how Puma added the orange studs and lining to the boots. You get a great looking boot, that is easibly recognizable on the pitch as one can quickly recognize the orange tipped studs.
Obviously, the only downside of a white boot is that it gets dirty pretty quickly. While this was one of my major concerns coming into this review, I found that while you do lose the pristine white-ness, it really doesn’t make the boots look any worse, and they can be cleaned pretty easily. Also, the “King SL” printed on the side of the boot did lose it’s shine and become a bit faded after a while, but it’s nothing that damaged the design of the boot very much. As you can tell by the images, I did choose to ‘personalize’ my Puma King SLs, and opted for red laces instead of the standard white ones that come with the boot.
Comfort (5/5) – One of the most comfortable boots on the market
In my opinion, comfort is one of, if not the most, important aspect of a boot. Why wear a boot if it’s not comfortable? In keeping with the standards that the King Finale set in terms of comfort, Puma have created a supremely comfortable boot in the form of the Puma King SL. It is hands down the most comfortable lightweight boot on the market, and blows the likes of the adiPure SL, and Tiempo Legend IV Elite (both of which have a considerable breaking in time) out of the water. Lots of this is in thanks to the supremely supple K-leather upper. The Puma King SLs take no time to break in, and I actually wore them straight into a match without any problems – something I wouldn’t recommend for most other boots. While the boots are extremely comfortable initially, the more you wear them, the more comfortable they become. This is because the leather starts molding to the shape of your foot and becomes less stiff, and literally starts to hug your foot, giving you a really secure feel. I’m also glad to report that Puma have fixed the problem that many people had with the King Finales, due to the weird fit of the Finales, it was common for ones heel not to be super secure, thankfully with the King SLs, you get a really secure fit and your heel is locked into the boot.
Sizing wise, unlike previous Puma releases these do fit true to size. I am a size 9.5US, so I tested out in that size and they fit perfectly. Puma have notoriously had some trouble with the fit of their previous Kings, but for the SLs they’ve hit the nail on the head and created a great fitting boot.
Performance (3.5/5) - A no-nonsense boot that will do everything you need it to
As a heritage boot, the King SL really don’t have any ‘performance enhancing’ features. That being said they do perform really well on the pitch. Coming in at a really light 7.7 ounces, the King SL do make you feel lighter on your feet. Nike took a similar approach with the latest Mercurial Vapor in acknowledging that under a certain weight, ‘light’ almost always feels the same, the same applies for the King SL. While they aren’t the lightest on the market by quite a bit, they don’t make you feel much bulkier than say the Pele Sports Trinity do – an obvious plus performance wise.
In terms of the touch that you get with the King SL, as expected with any leather boot you get a great feel on the ball. This can be attributed to a bit of a double-edged sword, while the thinner leather upper does make your foot that much closer to the ball, giving you a better feel, it does mean that you feel the full force of any crunching tackles that come your way. There is something about striking a ball with a leather upper that a synthetic upper will never come close to achieving, and you certainly get that great feeling with the King SL as you get a clean and crisp strike. The thin sole plate, mentioned before, also contributes to the good on pitch performance that the boot boasts. Due to the thinner sole plate, you do get a much more flexible boot, that reacts better to the movements that you make.
Value (4/5) - Worth more than you paid for, a great price for a good boot which lasts over a year, where extras are available
Puma generally make really good value boots, and the Puma King SL is no different. The boots have been used for about two months now, and although the King SL on the side is fading, I’ve experienced no serious durability problems. The upper has not started to split from the soleplate, and the studs haven’t been blunted or beat up. It is important to note that a majority of the time I was playing on a high quality turf surface, meaning that they should hold up even better on natural grass surfaces. Considering these are a k-leather boot I have been using leather cream to take care of the upper periodically. Leather cream is cheap and is a must have for any football player, so if you haven’t already go out and buy some as it’ll extend the life of leather boots considerably. In terms of extras you get a super classy black boot bag which is the perfect size for popping in your King SLs, socks and shinguards if you’re going out to play football. It’s not a draw string bag like the the ones you get with adidas/Nike boots but it’s still a much appreciated add on. In terms of pricing, this colourway is priced at a very affordable $150 US. To put this in perspective, the Nike Tiempo Legend IV release colourway is now retailing at $150 US, the now outdated adiPure IV SL are retailing at $150 US and the Tiempo Legend Elite will set you back about $210 US. Simply put then, the Puma King SLs are priced very well and you get a great value boot that should last you for a good while.
Total (16.5/20) – 82.5%
Conclusion: Puma have come out with a phenomenal boot in the form of the Puma King SL. It blows away the competition when it comes to a lightweight leather boot simply due to its superior comfort, better value, durability and great looks. I certainly wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this review but coming out of it I’m pretty sure I’ve found my favourite boot release of the year, if not ever. In some ways you get the perfect package with the King SL as they are supremely comfortable and light weight, so in my mind there really is no point in buying a pair of King Finales when you can just get the SLs. The Puma King SL definitely completes Puma’s meteoric reascension to the top of the football boot market, and it quite simply is the best lightweight leather boot around.