Puma evoSPEED 1.3 Review

The evoSPEED 1.3 is the latest lightweight offering from Puma, featuring a very similar design of the previous 1.2 model, a shoe that is was fairly unhappy with, but with some minor improvements. I think it’s safe to say that the evoSPEED line is still 3rd place in popularity to Adidas’ F50 adizero and Nike’s Mercurial Vapor/Superfly, so how does the 1.3 stack up?

Comfort/Fit

Coming from the evoSPEED 1.2, the biggest improvement with the synthetic 1.3 is definitely the overall comfort of the boot. That’s not to say that the evoSPEED 1.2 was uncomfortable, but the synthetic upper was a little stiffer than I would have liked, whereas the latest model is much more flexible, something that is particularly noticeable from right out of the box.

The evoSPEED 1.3 features a full synthetic upper, made from a slightly different microfiber variation in comparison to what we got from the 1.2. It’s definitely better, but in my opinion, still not quite at the same standard as some of the synthetics on offer from Nike and Adidas, or even Puma’s own evoPOWER 1 model. Don’t take this as me saying that the synthetic upper on this shoe is no good, because that’s not the case at all, I just don’t think that it’s quite as good as what’s available from competing models.

Out of the box, the upper is quite pliable in-hand, but when you slide the shoes on your feet and lace them up, there is a noticeable amount of stiffness to the 1.3. They aren’t uncomfortable, but there definitely is some break-in time required. After 2-3 hours of use, you’ll find that the boot starts to soften up, even stretch a little, becoming significantly more comfortable. I had no issues with blistering, but did suffer from very minor foot cramping during the first few hours of wear, but all in all, nothing that you wouldn’t expect from a new pair of boots.

The soleplate and heel counter combo, along with the stud pattern, remains completely unchanged coming from the 1.2, which is not a bad thing. Its base is a thin, flexible thermoplastic elastomer, with a Pebax “Speedtrack” stiffener running through the mid-foot and heel. The soleplate is flexible in the forefoot, and significantly stiffer in the mid-foot, making for a very smooth and natural running experience. If I had one complaint about the soleplate, it would be that it’s a little thin for use on harder playing surfaces. The firm ground studs are quite long and narrow, so when you are on harder ground where the studs can’t dig in, stud pressure can become a minor issue.

The heel is lined with a smooth synthetic material, backed by a decent amount of padding considering the lightweight feel of the boot, allowing for a comfortable and locked-in feel. The insole is also removable, and aside from having different graphics on top, is the same as the evoSPEED 1.2. It features a mesh top layer, backed by a thin layer of foam, with a thick layer of perforated foam inserted under the heel and forefoot. It makes for great step in comfort, but note that it will compress and become much less padded as the shoes are worn in.

The overall shape and fit of the evoSPEED 1.3 hasn’t really changed coming from previous models. It’s still a tighter fitting shoe, which in combination with the very thin upper, makes for a lightweight, minimal feel on feet. The boot also retains Puma’s signature anatomical shape, where the toe isn’t rounded, but instead comes to a bit of a point at the big toe, and then curves around, mimicking the shape of an actual foot.

The anatomical shape is one of those features that seem to scare away a lot of people when it comes to choosing Puma as their next boot. Yes, it feels a little different on feet in comparison to something with a perfectly rounded toe, but when it comes to actually playing in the shoes, it isn’t something that I really notice at all. I didn’t have any issues at all adjusting to the shape of the boot, and I think most people wouldn’t either. If anything, the anatomical shape is a major positive for this boot in that it helps to eliminate any extra dead space inside the boot, offering more a of a one-to-one sensation when you have these shoes on your feet.

Considering that this is a tighter fitting, lightweight shoe, you might expect them to be very narrow, and that’s simply not the case. The evoSPEED 1.3 is by no means what I would classify as a wide boot, but it’s wide enough to where it will be suitable for most foot types. You’ll get some very minor stretch from the upper after several hours of break-in time, but I want to stress that the stretching will be very minimal. If you don’t find them comfortable or they just don’t fit right from when they’re brand new, the overall shape and width isn’t going to change much.

In terms of sizing, just like the evoSPEED 1.2, the 1.3 also runs half a size small. Instead of wearing my usual size 9US, and went up half a size to a 9.5US for the proper fit. So, to keep things simple, if you’re coming from any of the previous evoSPEED models, or even the evoPOWER 1, stick with the same size, where as if you’re coming from most other shoes, I would recommend going half a size up.

Weight

When it comes to weight, given that the evoSPEED 1.3 is marketed as a lightweight “Speed Boot”, you’d expect these to be pretty light. In a size 9.5US, the synthetic evoSPEED 1.3 weighs in at 7oz, which is pretty much exactly the same as the 1.2, so no noticeable improvements when it comes to weight. 7oz certainly isn’t heavy, it’s actually quite light, but in comparison to similar models, like the Nike Mercurial Vapor 10 and Adidas F50 adizero, shoes that weigh 6oz or less in the same size, the 7oz weight of the 1.3 almost doesn’t cut it. Don’t get me wrong, these are lighter than most, but when the options from big brands like Nike and Adidas are lighter and more popular as it is, it just makes the evoSPEED 1.3 a tougher sell.

Another problem that I have with the weight of the evoSPEED 1.3 is that it is just barely lighter than Puma’s own evoPOWER 1, which weighs in at 7.4oz in the same size. The evoPOWER 1 is a shoe that has quickly become very popular, and for its weight, I would argue that it has more “interesting” features and tech in comparison to the 1.3, at about the same weight. The evoSPEED 1.3 is light, but in my opinion, not as light as it should be, but I’m sure we can expect an SL model somewhere down the line, as we often get from Puma.

Traction

As mentioned earlier, the soleplate and stud pattern combo remains unchanged from the evoSPEED 1.2. The stud pattern is made up of all conical studs that are quite long, and narrow in profile. You’ll find four studs under the heel, and 8 total studs in the forefoot, 3 on the medial side, 4 on the lateral side and 1 in the middle. The rounded shape of the studs allows you to very easily twist and pivot when planted, while the narrow profile allows them to dig in quite aggressively, providing tons of grip when pushing off in all directions.

The flexibility of the soleplate in the forefoot, largely due to the fact that it’s quite thin and also features some pretty significant flex grooves, allows you to have as many studs under your feet as possible at all times, no matter which way twist or turn.

One aspect of this stud pattern that is somewhat unique is the length of the studs. For a firm ground stud pattern, the studs are quite long, and also don’t seem to vary in length, so all of the studs are exactly the same height. This is a stud pattern that will perform amazingly well and is ideal for really nice, natural grass fields, ranging from firm to soft. If you find yourself playing frequently on firm and soft ground, the longer studs on the evoSPEED are well suited for both playing surfaces.

As mentioned earlier, because the studs are longer and soleplate is quite thin, stud pressure can be a minor issue if you’re going to be using these on harder natural grass playing surfaces. The issue is not to the point where the shoes become so uncomfortable that you can’t wear them on harder surfaces at all, but you will notice some slight pressure under your feet, which can become more and more uncomfortable over time.

Stability is also something worth mentioning, as Puma has implemented an internal and external Everfit Cage support system on the evoSPEED 1.3. As it is, the upper is quite thin, but doesn’t feel flimsy, and as extra reinforcement puma has fused thin, slightly more rigid synthetic pieces on both the outside and inside of the shoe. In all honesty, it’s a very minor feature in how impacts the overall feel and performance of the shoe, but given that the upper feels very stable, with little to no roll over when changing direction, I suppose that it serves it’s intended purpose.

Touch

When it comes to touch, I have mixed feelings. The microfiber upper is thin, but certainly not the thinnest upper around. It’s soft, but nowhere near the softest and as a whole it feels good, but nowhere near the best. This is the main problem that I have with the evoSPEED 1.3, and the “Speed” line from Puma in general, it’s good, but not as good as other options in this category.

The upper wraps your foot nicely, giving you that one to one sensation when moving and making touches on the ball. It’s thin, but nothing overly excessive. It’s unique in that yes it’s thin, but it’s also very dense, which it a certain extent takes away from the overall ball feel.

The finish on the surface of the upper is completely smooth, and has a matte appearance to it. You’ll also find Puma’s Grip-Tex texturing printed on the surface of the upper, which to the touch feels slightly grippy, but on the ball is hardly noticeable. There isn’t a lot of extra grip here, but I personally had no issues with that.

What it comes down to for me is that the synthetic upper on the evoSPEED 1.3 just feels too much like plastic. Yes it’s flexible and moves well enough with the bend of your foot, but when you make contact with the ball, you just don’t feel all of it, as you should with an upper that is this thin. Puma has had better synthetic uppers in the past, the v1.10 SL comes to mind, and has better synthetic right now in the form of the AdapLite synthetic found on the evoPOWER 1.

It honestly is a good shoe, and the touch certainly isn’t bad, but again, when compared to its competition, the evoSPEED 1.3 is not my first choice. If you’ve worn past evoSPEED models and enjoyed them, then you’ll love these, as they are by far the best evoSPEEDs to date, but if you’re open to all options, this would not be my pick if I were looking for something with a barefoot feel for the ball.

Shooting

Striking the ball in the evoSPEED 1.3 is nothing that you wouldn’t expect. The upper is thin, and offers no extra padding at all, so you feel every bit of the ball no matter what part of the foot that you use. The surface of the upper also features very minimal grip on the ball. If you’re a fan of thin soccer cleats, you’ll enjoy striking the ball in the evoSPEED 1.3.

Protection

There isn’t much to say about the protection on offer here. They’re thin, and therefore provide almost no protection should you get stepped on. The boot does feature an external plastic heel counter, which will provide some protection against kicks to the back of boot. If protection is something that you value in a pair of soccer cleats, you probably wouldn’t consider these in the first place, but if you did, just know that there isn’t much protection here at all.

Durability

If there’s an upside to the upper being very dense, it’s durability. The evoSPEED 1.3 is very solidly constructed, and seems to be built to last. I’ve got 20+ hours of wear time on the pair that I used for testing, and they have held up extremely well. No real visible wear, and nothing that jumps out as a potential durability concern. This is a lightweight boot that is built to last, and one that should easily get you through at least a season’s worth of play, if not significantly longer.

Please keep in mind that the FG version of the evoSPEED 1.3 or any FG shoe for that matter, is designed for use on natural grass only. Using any FG cleat on artificial grass/turf will have a major impact on the overall durability and longevity of your shoes.

The Verdict

I like the evoSPEED 1.3, and I think it’s a good shoe, the problem is that comparable models from other brands are just better. The synthetic upper needs improvement, but everything else about the boot is great. It’s light, although not as light as it could be, fits well, and offers a soleplate/stud pattern combo that performs extremely well.

It’s a boot that I can recommend, given that you are completely convinced that this is the boot for you, or if you enjoyed a previous evoSPEED model, and would like the latest variation. If you were just considering the evoSPEED 1.3, know that it’s a very capable boot, but exploring all of your options in this particular category is something to consider.

For me, if you absolutely must wear a Puma boot, and you want that boot to be lightweight, the evoPOWER 1 is a much more refined and quite simply a better option in comparison to the evoSPEED 1.3 with the synthetic upper variation.

Comfort/Fit7 out of 10
Weight7 out of 10
Traction9 out of 10
Touch6,5 out of 10
Shooting7 out of 10
Protection6 out of 10
Durability8 out of 10
FINAL SCORE50.5 out of 70 or 72%