Puma King 2013 Review
The Puma King is one of the longest going series of soccer shoes still around today, and for good reason. With each new King release, we’ve seen Puma give this classic boot minor tweaks here and there, but for the most, the King hasn’t changed much over the years. For 2013, Puma has more or less taken the King Line in a new direction, opting for a more modern, streamlined design that some are going to love, while long time fans of the series might not be so happy with. The Puma King Lux version is a limited edition release made from premium kangaroo leather and limited to 999 numbered pairs.
Along with the new look of the King comes a new feel, and contrary to what many are saying, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of having a predominantly kangaroo leather upper, the King 2013 is now made from high-quality calfskin and synthetic. The calfskin leather spans the entire forefoot and toe box area of the boot, and the overall quality is really good. While it could be argued that previous Kings featured higher quality leather, something that I would personally agree with, the calfskin leather featured on the shoe is still what I would consider to be premium. You’ll find a fairly thin and rigid synthetic running through both the medial and lateral sides of the boot in the form on the Puma signature stripes. These strips of synthetic really do their part in giving the King a more modern feel, providing a slightly more secure and locked-down fit than you would normally get from a full leather upper.
The tongue is made from a thin synthetic, with targeted padding throughout to prevent any kind of lace-bite. The heel is lined in synthetic leather as well, with plenty of padding throughout to provide a comfortable yet secure fit. To provide that step-in comfort, the King features a relatively low-profile, removable insole which gives some decent cushioning considering how thin it is. Running in the King also feels very natural due to the flexibility of the Pebax soleplate.
Like any leather soccer shoe, some break-in time is required for the leather soften up slightly and form to your feet. From right out of the box the shoe felt a little bulkier than I had originally anticipated, but after an hour or so of wear-time the Kings felt great. The one thing that I did notice was that I really had to tighten the laces in order to have a secure lockdown in the heel, mainly because it has a wider than average opening, but as long you tie the laces tight, you shouldn’t have any issues with heel slippage. I had no issues with discomfort at all, and after about two hours of wear-time, the Kings felt really good.
The fit of the King is much wider than you would expect from Puma. The toe box and forefoot area of the boot, made from leather, has a slightly wider, more roomy fit, which is somewhat unusual for a leather soccer shoe, and pretty much the exact opposite of how the previous model fit (the King Finale). Through the mid-foot, made from synthetic, the shoe has a slightly tighter fit, but is still suitable for wider foot types. When you pull the laces tight, you’ll feel the inside of the boot hug the instep of your foot, but not to the point where the boot feels too tight. The fit is unique in that the shoe offers the comfort of a more traditional leather soccer shoe, with a more secure fit through the mid-foot than you wouldn’t normally get from this style of soccer shoe. The only issues that you might run into with the fit is the wider than average toe box and forefoot area, as I would have liked to have seen a slightly more snug fit through this part of the boot. Since the width of the toe box and forefoot is so wide from right out of the box, you run the risk of having the leather over-stretching, which could lead to a sloppy fit. While I didn’t have any of these issues, it is something to keep in mind.
When it comes to sizing, I would say that the Puma King 2013 fits true to size. I wore my usual size 9US for review and the fit in the length was a touch larger than average, but I think that this is mainly due to the extra width through the toe box area of the boot. With that being said, should you go down half a size? The answer to that question is really up to you. I personally like my boots to have a fairly snug fit, and I didn’t mind sticking true to size, but if you did want to go down half a size, and you probably could, but you would have to count on the stretch of leather. So if you’re looking to order a pair for yourself, I would personally recommend going true to size.
Perhaps one of the most attractive new features of the Puma King 2013 is the lightweight construction of the boot. While the previous model, the King Finale, was by no means a heavy shoe, weighing in at 9.2oz, the new King weighs in at a very impressive 8.4oz! In a world of ultra-lightweight, hybrid leather/synthetic soccer shoes, 8.4oz might not seem that impressive, but when you take into consideration the solid construction of the King 2013, anywhere near the 8oz is not too shabby. There aren’t many shoes in this weight range that are going to offer the same solid feel that you’ll get from the King.
Instead of using the same King stud pattern that we’ve seen on the last couple models, the latest King features an all-new stud pattern. Instead of conical studs throughout, this time around the King features square shaped studs with rounded edges, as well as one targeted area with conical studs. While the studs themselves are shaped a little differently, the layout of the studs is exactly the same as previous King models. I feel like it was a good decision to modify the stud pattern to fit the modern theme of the latest King, but in all honesty, the overall performance of the stud pattern is not much different from what we’ve seen in the past.
For a firm ground stud pattern, I wouldn’t call this one particularly aggressive, which is what you would expect from a shoe like this. It offers a good balance of grip when pushing off and making quick lateral movements, but still allows for plenty of freedom to twist and turn when planted. The flexibility of the soleplate also plays a role in the traction of the boot. Made from Pebax, the soleplate twists and bends very naturally with your foot, allowing you to have as many studs under your feet as possible at all times. If you’re looking for a more traditional feeling stud pattern for use on firm, or even slightly harder, natural grass playing surfaces, than you’ll be very happy with the performance of the King 2013.
Perhaps the most controversial change that has been made to the latest King model is the lack of kangaroo leather, as well as the lack of leather in general. For 2013, the King features calfskin leather, in combination with different synthetics to make up the upper. As mentioned earlier, the quality of the calfskin leather upper is pretty good, but I wouldn’t say that I prefer it to the kangaroo leather used on previous models. The leather itself is soft and is a little thicker than most leather soccer shoes, which is great for durability, but not necessarily the best in terms of providing good ball feel. By no means am I saying that the touch on the ball is bad, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, especially if compared to previous models of the King. Another small complaint that I have regarding the touch of the leather is the overly thick liner on the inside of the boot, which takes away from some of the ball feel that you would have otherwise had.
One of the major concerns that I had regarding the King 2013 was the instep of the boot, being that it is 100% synthetic. Its one thing to change the King design, but to make the most commonly used part of the foot anything but leather just seems silly to me. While the touch that it provides is not bad, it just doesn’t flow well with the front of the boot, which is made from leather. The synthetic itself is fairly thin, making for a touch on the ball that is not nearly as padded as the rest of the boot. Something that is important for any soccer shoe, especially one that is supposed to provide a traditional feel, is a uniform touch across the entire upper, and this is something that the King 2013 just doesn’t have.
I don’t want to knock the King 2013 for trying something new, because I really did enjoy wearing them, and they do provide a nice feel for the ball, but its tough to call this a “heritage” boot. So much of the “heritage” has been removed from the King to where I almost wouldn’t compare it to previous versions at all. If you’re looking for a blend of modern and classic feel, you’ll get that from the King 2013, just don’t expect anything too traditional.
Shooting the ball in the King feels really good in my opinion, especially if you prefer a more padded feel. The majority of the leather on the upper covers all the parts of the foot that will be making contact with the ball when shooting, with the only exception being the tongue, which is made from a padded synthetic. As mentioned earlier, the thicker leather upper provides a very cushioned feel, which is something that I really liked when striking the ball. The King 2013 does not feature any kind of striking elements, leaving you with a very traditional striking surface with no extra grip. The King 2013 is not going to surprise anybody in terms of how they feel when striking the ball, and will certainly get the job done.
Don’t let the lightweight construction fool you, as the King offers plenty of protection. The leather upper and padded tongue provide some very good impact protection across the entire foot should you get stepped on. Another plus when it comes to protection is the external plastic heel counter, providing some fantastic protection should you take a kick to the heel. If you’re looking for a shoe that’s going to keep you safe out on the field, and is still going to offer a relatively lightweight feel, than you should probably take a look at the Puma King 2013.
The King has always been a solid option when it comes to durability. While the latest model takes the King in a new direction, the build quality of the boot has not been compromised. The calf leather featured at the front of the boot isn’t overly soft, and for the most part feels very rugged, which is great for the longevity of the boot. Another plus is the synthetic running through the mid-foot of the boot. Since the synthetic will not stretch, the boot will maintain its shape and tight fit over a long period of time. I personally did not have any issues at all with the boot during testing, and I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to get at least season’s worth of play out of the King 2013. One thing to note about the firm ground version of the Puma King 2013, or any firm ground soccer shoe for that matter, is that they are designed specifically for use on firm, natural grass playing surfaces. Using any FG shoe on artificial grass or turf will have a major impact on the durability of the boot. Also keep in mind that the upper does feature natural materials, so some maintenance is required in order to keep the upper in optimal condition.
Puma has taken the plunge, making some pretty dramatic changes to the classic King model. Instead of looking at the King as a classic shoe with some modern touches, the latest King should be viewed as a modern shoe with some classic elements. The combination of calf leather and synthetic used on the upper makes for a really nice blend of classic feel and comfort, with a more secure fit through the mid-foot. While the reworked classic stud pattern, Pebax soleplate, lightweight construction and external heel counter make the total package even that much more enticing. The King 2013 is definitely not for everybody, especially if you’re looking for a more traditional feel, but if you’re looking for a shoe that is going to provide a combination of classic comfort with modern performance elements, than you will be very happy with the Puma King 2013.
|Comfort/Fit||8 out of 10|
|Weight||9 out of 10|
|Traction||8 out of 10|
|Touch||7 out of 10|
|Shooting||8 out of 10|
|Protection||8 out of 10|
|Durability||8 out of 10|
|FINAL SCORE||56 out of 70 or 80%|