Puma PowerCat 1 Review
The Puma PowerCat 1.12 has turned a lot of heads, not because it is the newest addition to the PowerCat line, but because Cesc Fabregas is now one of their sponsored players. It’s interesting how people’s opinion are swayed to give the new PowerCat a try because of one endorsement. The last thing that I wanted to clarify is that these should in no way be compared to the Nike CTR360 Maestri line. Fabregas did not switch out of them because he liked them better, but because he was paid to do so (and just so we’re clear, he was paid to wear those as well). Now that I have cleared the path of confusion and rumor, let’s start the review.
Puma is notorious for exceeding the boundaries of how a soccer shoe should fit, feel and sometimes even how they look, with the general consensus, at least in the last few years, that there shoes are just too weird and we should look away. This can be said true about the Puma V-series and even the PowerCat 1.10, two lines of shoes that are some of my personal favorites. So, what have Puma done with the PowerCat 1.12? What they have done is made a shoe that is similar enough to the likes of what Nike and Adidas are producing, in order to even be a considered shoe for most people. What I’m getting at is that the fit and feel of this shoe is very normal, and is not really going to take any getting used too, like you would from other Puma shoes. The main section of the upper is made from very high quality Kangaroo leather.
I found the leather to be a little stiff at first, but it loosened up after about an hour of use, something that is quite common with Puma. The leather part will feel very tight at first, but it is made like that on purpose, so when they do stretch, they will fit your foot perfectly rather than being over stretched. I also really like how the leather spans the entire instep of the shoe, rather than stopping shortly after the forefoot area, like most leather boots do. The outstep, starting at about the midfoot back, is full synthetic. At first, I though that it looked very cheap, but luckily, when it is on your foot, I would say that you don’t even notice it. If anything, it is a good thing because it will not stretch. The lacing system is slightly off center to the outside of the boot, like the adizeros, and allows you to tie the boots as tight as you want, allowing for the best fit possible. If I have one complaint, it is the tongue. It’s not a that it is a bad tongue, I just don’t feel that it goes with the overall feel of the rest of the boot.
The tongue is a thin synthetic material that doesn’t have any structural rigidity and it feels fine, but I just found it strange that Puma would put in a tongue that is less than half the thickness of the actual upper. The heel is lined with a very unique material that feels like a mixture of synthetic leather and suede. I didn’t really have any issues with comfort at all. The actual fit of the boot is very similar to the Puma King Finale, with a little bit of a deeper fitting heel. There is plenty of width in the midfoot, for those of you with wider feet, with the toe box and forefoot area being a little narrower from right out of the box, but will soon stretch to the shape of your foot. As long as you don’t have overly wide feet, these should give you no issues. As far as sizing goes, these fit true to size. I wore my usual size 9US for review, and although they did feel a little tight from out of the box, they felt fine after an hour or so of use. So for the best fit, order your normal size.
These shoes weigh in at 10.4oz, which is pretty much average weight for most high end soccer shoes. I really don’t think that the weight of a shoe like this really matters. When you are making a shoe that is going to be labeled as a “power” boot, designed with shooting in mind, I feel like having some extra weight on the shoe is important. I would rather a boot like this weigh 10oz rather than a more lightweight 8oz, as it gives the boot a very solid feel. Having a lightweight soccer shoe is not as important as most people think, so if you are worried about these being too heavy, don’t.
These shoes sport the exact same soleplate and stud pattern as its predecessor, the PowerCat 1.10. The stud pattern itself is somewhat unique and is unlike any stud patterns that can be found on any other shoe. It is an all-bladed stud pattern, with a unique formation of studs under the heel. I would describe running with this stud pattern as a very smooth ride. All of the studs are the same length, so it offers a solid amount of stability since all of the studs will be touching the ground when your foot is planted. This makes for very good traction for shooting when you plant your foot to strike the ball. Once you plant your foot for the shot, your foot is not going to move, which is very important. I think that part of the reason why you get such good traction when you plant your foot is due to the unique arrangement of heel studs. The heel studs are still blades, like the rest of the shoe, but instead of running the length of the shoe, they run across the shoe. There are also 6 studs rather than the usual 4, so the stability and traction that you get when planting your foot is really good. The overall performance of the stud pattern is very good, and they will provide plenty of traction for quick changes of direction. I’m not one to really go for bladed stud patterns, but I really liked this one.
The thing that I really loved about the PowerCat 1.10 remains true with the 1.12 and that is the shooting elements ability to disappear. What always bothered me about so many “power” boots, featuring some kind of rubber striking element, is that it would always be making contact with the ball, especially when dribbling. This is not an issue with the PowerCat because the striking element is not so much about the rubber element but the actual material of the upper in the strike zone. This makes for a shoe that feels like a very traditional kangaroo leather soccer shoe without the gimmicky rubber in the way. To me this is one of my biggest gripes with any rubber striking element on a soccer shoe, they feel good when shooting, but are generally just in the way whenever you’re not. The touch on this boot feels like that of a very high quality kangaroo leather boot. The leather is not too thin and offers some good cushion of the ball. To me, a soccer shoe should feel natural, and these do. The PowerCat 1.12, as well as the 1.10, allows you to have that no nonsense feel, while still having the striking element.
This is probably the biggest change, next to the fit and feel, from the PowerCat 1.10. The striking element is still made of Puma’s 3D PST material, which in my opinion is the best shooting innovation from any power boot. Basically it is a slightly thicker, firmer material that has very low rebound properties. This means that very little of the power generated between your foot and the ball will be lost when the ball leaves your foot. While this sounds like something that doesn’t really seem like an issue, which I though as well, you can really feel the difference when you shoot the ball. I am not one to applaud gimmicky “innovations” in soccer shoes, but this is one that I really did feel like I was benefitting, very minimally of course, from it being there. The big change from the 1.10 comes in the placement of the striking element. Where the 1.10 striking element was essentially the entire top of the foot, all the way up to the front of your ankle, the 1.12 seems to have shrunk down the striking element quite significantly. The striking element spans just after the toe all the way back to the third lace hole on the instep of the shoe. You also have these 4 rubber fins that stick up about 1/8 of an inch from the upper. I found the sweet spot, meaning that you are striking the ball directly on the striking element, to be a little lower than the current power boots on the market. I feel like it could have gone just a little higher up the foot, but it does the job. What makes me want to wear a “power” boot is that feeling that you get when you struck a really hard shot and you get that unexplainable feeling where the ball seems to have come off of your foot like a rocket, and I got that feeling with these. The fins that stick out also seem to help ever so slightly in gripping the ball when bending a free kick, but nothing dramatic. To me, this is what a power boot should be.
Puma builds very high quality products and the PowerCat 1.12 is one of them. Since the overall design of the shoe is very simple, there is very little that could go wrong. The leather is very high quality and coupled with strategically placed synthetic materials, the boot will hold their shape over a long period of time. Keep in mind that these are made of a natural leather and do require some maintenance care such as applying leather cream once and a while as well as a good cleaning when they do get dirty. This is a boot that you should have no issues with to last the season.
Due to the firmer material that makes up the striking element, the top of your foot will stay pretty well protected should you get stepped on. There is also an external heel counter that will protect from kicks from behind. One thing to note is that the tongue is on the thinner side, so there is a weak spot, but the overall package should keep you injury free.
I was a big fan of the PowerCat 1.10 and am still a big fan at the 1.12. Now that Puma has gained some marketing power through the signing of Fabregas, I really hope that people will begin to accept Puma as an option when picking out a new pair of boots. The PowerCat 1.12 is similar to the 1.10, but is more refined and will appeal to a lot more people. They have a very high quality kangaroo leather upper, a great fit and arguably the best striking element of any soccer shoe on the market. You really can’t go wrong with the PowerCat 1.12.
|Comfort/Fit||10 out of 10|
|Weight||8 out of 10|
|Traction||8 out of 10|
|Touch||10 out of 10|
|Shooting||10 out of 10|
|Protection||9 out of 10|
|Durability||8 out of 10|
|FINAL SCORE||63 out of 70 or 90%|