12 months ago, we only had one lightweight kangaroo leather boot on the market. And, if anything, the adiPure IV SL was a concept boot more than anything. Today, the market is swimming with lightweight kangaroo leather boots. While we reviewed the Puma King SL earlier this month, Mizuno’s Morelia Neo has floated under the radar when it comes to player uptake. Yet it is on the feet of Hulk and Dzagoev, two of the most wanted players on the market at the moment. We’ve had the Morelia Neo for a little while, now it’s time to see whether Mizuno’s creation will be able to make it in a cut-throat lightweight boot market.
Design: (4.5/5) – It’s gorgeous and one of the best looking boots on the market
Come on. Take a look at it. It is an absolutely beautiful boot! The green colourway went against the grain of the traditional and conservative Morelia range, plus it was definitely a bit too bright for my tastes. But one look at the White/Black/Red colourway and I knew it was the football boot that I wanted. Plus the Black/White/Red colourway looks gorgeous too. The Mizuno Morelia range is going through a development stage at the moment; it’s had to contend with the lightweight boots on the market. It’s hard for Mizuno to keep the tradition of the range with this new concept, and I think they’ve absolutely nailed it with the White/Black/Red colourway. With so many bright football boots on the market, you can be assured that the Mizuno Morelia Neo does have two more conservative options if bright isn’t your thing.
Something that you might not pick up on when you see the boots on a computer screen is the low cut of the boot. If I place the boot next to my Puma PowerCat 1.12, it’s right there to see. The Morelia Neo doesn’t rise very much from the laces, plus the cut is about .5-1 cm shorter at the ankle than the Puma PowerCat 1.12. It does give off the impression that the boot is down to its bare bones and that it screams ‘speed’. Whether that affects the user wearing the boot is another thing that we discuss later in the article, but it’s something that I picked up on with the boot.
Comfort: (4/5) – A decent level of comfort, might have some sore feet after wearing it though
Mizuno arguably make the most comfortable football boots on the market, but has that carried through to the Morelia Neo? Sort of. The old Morelia is known for its supreme levels of comfort, but with Mizuno shaving about 110 grams off the Morelia MD to create the Morelia Neo (280 grams to about 170 grams), it’s near nigh impossible for the boot to keep the same levels of comfort. If I could, I would give the Morelia Neo a 3.75/5 for comfort, but I’ll round it up to 4.
What prevented the Mizuno Morelia Neo being the most comfortable boot on the market? While the break in period for the boot was pretty smooth sailing (it was blister free for me), once you use the boot over a relatively lengthy period, the sockliner gets really worn out and thin. I’m using the boot now and there is only a little bit of padding offered by the sockliner that protects me from the hard base underneath the sockliner. You really start to feel it in the first 15 minutes or so each time you wear the boot or if you’re wearing it beyond a 2 hour period. Besides that, it is a pretty comfortable boot. The upper offers a nice snug fit; it’s certainly something you won’t need to worry about. Plus the low cut that I mentioned earlier has no effect on the comfort levels of the boot. Having had a colourful history with speed boots, it beats the synthetic miCoach adiZero that I reviewed earlier this year in the comfort stakes plus several other speed boots I’ve reviewed in the past. It is my first experience with a lightweight leather boot, and while I may have stressed the negatives of the boot in the comfort section, it’s still a comfortable boot, especially when you consider the weight of the boot.
In terms of sizing, these fit true to size. It may feel a little (and I stress, only a little) loose around the toes, but you should still be okay with the regular shoes you wear. As I always say when I talk about the sizing of the boot, make sure you try and get down to your local store (if they have them, bit hard to find them around) to try and get the right size before you buy them online.
Performance: (3.5/5) – A reliable boot that does everything you expect it to
What I like about the Morelia Neo is that it’s simple, traditional and untouched. A lot of the sub 200 gram boots on the market come with strange stud configurations or technology that probably doesn’t work (I’m looking at you miCoach F50 adiZero). But with the Mizuno Morelia Neo, what you see is what you get, and it is this reliability that I thoroughly enjoyed in the Mizuno Morelia Neo. Plus it comes in at 170 grams, making it feel nice and light on your feet.
The upper on the Mizuno Morelia Neo has been slimmed down to reduce the weight of the boot down. Much like what Isaac experienced with the Puma King SL earlier this week, this is a double edged sword. When I compared the upper of my Neos to my Nike Tiempo Legend IVs (my refereeing boots), the upper of the Nike Tiempo Legend IVs not only had a soft feel to it, but the quilted sections almost have a raised puffiness about it. The upper of the Morelia Neo is just as soft, but it is thinner and doesn’t have the puffiness to it. If anything, it could be the thinnest leather upper I’ve ever seen on a boot.
While this does mean dribbling is a delight in the Morelia Neo because you feel so close to the ball, you are sacrificing protection at the same time. In saying that, kicking in the Morelia Neo feels like what kicking in a K-Leather boot feels like. It’s outstanding, it’s not like the thinner upper hurts your foot when you kick the ball. From 30 yard driven passes to finesse shots, you can do it all in the Morelia Neo. The upper provides such a clean kicking surface, plus the satisfaction you get from kicking in a K-Leather boot is something that you’ll never achieve with a synthetic leather boot. Something I really liked about the boot is the breathable tongue. The tongue gives the Neo a really solid feel, and kicking the ball through the laces really doesn’t make it feel like you’re kicking with a 170 gram football boot with the quality tongue.
Perhaps one of the more interesting points of the Morelia Neo is the use of a traditional conical stud configuration. Over-engineering the stud shape and configuration of a boot can spectacularly fail; take a look at what happened at Nike’s SenseStud in the Superfly II and III, as well as the supposed inferior durability of the stud configuration on the MV VIII. But by sticking to the conical stud configuration, it ensures that the stud pressure is distributed evenly, and I’ve had no issues with traction. In fairness, triangular shaped studs shouldn’t necessarily make you any faster and it’s good to see Mizuno staying with a tried and tested stud configuration.
Value: (3.5/5) – Decent value with a boot bag thrown in
While there’s a lot of lightweight boots on the market these days, the boots that are in direct competition with the Mizuno Morelia Neo are the Puma King SL, Tiempo Legend IV Elite, KL EvoSpeed and the K-Leather Pele Sports Trinity. The Mizuno Morelia Neo retails for £150, which is the same as the Puma King SL and the KL EvoSpeed. It’s a competitive price tag, plus it comes in with a boot bag. Okay, it’s really little more than a drawstring bag, but something with the name of the boot you’re wearing is better than nothing! But while you can look around and get the Puma King SL for less than £150 (especially the launch colourway), the Mizuno Morelia Neo isn’t going to be discounted any time soon.
The durability of the boot is rather difficult to talk about. I mentioned how the upper is one of the thinnest uppers I’ve ever seen on a boot. Even though leather does generally have the benefit of decent levels of durability, when you’re wearing a 170 gram football boot, there’s always going to be an issue with durability. While the boot has been solidly built and Mizuno has a fantastic reputation for building durable football boots, you’ll need to keep off the synthetic turf and look after it well (i.e. leather food, wash it every time you use it etc) for it to last the whole season and beyond. However, the quality of the boot cannot be denied, you’re going to have to go a long way to find such a lightweight boot that can match the Mizuno Morelia Neo in terms of quality.
The Final Score
Total: 15.5/20 (or 78%)
The adiPure IV SL first introduced the concept of super lightweight kangaroo leather boots last year. We thought it was the perfect combination, a light boot and a K-Leather upper, what could go wrong? In the end, that boot left us slightly disappointed. This is why the current batch of lightweight K-Leather boots had big shoes to fill. There was a massive storm of excitement when the Mizuno Morelia Neo was revealed to be weighing in at 170 grams, and in my eyes, it has delivered. When you look at the whole package, then you can say that Mizuno have delivered. The upper, while very thin and may be susceptible to poor durability, is unique and offers an amazing feel for the ball. The conical stud configuration offers no traction issues, while the Pebax soleplate does a good job in keeping the weight of the boot down. But when you consider that Mizuno have been able to keep the tradition of the Morelia within the Neo through the K-Leather upper, clean looks and conical studs, that is what makes it an impressive football boot.