Puma evoSPEED 1 SL Review
The evoSPEED 1 SL is arguably the most comfortable sub 6oz boot currently on the market. The upper is made from a one-piece, single layer, microfiber synthetic with perforations throughout. The ultra-thin upper is relatively flexible from right out of the box, requiring very little break-in time, and is comparable in feel to the Sprinskin synthetic used on the Adidas F50 adizero. The soleplate is exactly the same as what has been used on previous SL models from Puma, being made from a very flexible thermoplastic elastomer. This gives the shoe a very natural feel when running, due to the extra flexibility through the forefoot. To give the shoe some structural integrity, there is a carbon fiber shank through the mid-foot of the soleplate, giving the shoe a much more solid feel than you might expect from such a lightweight boot.
Like most ultra-lightweight soccer cleats, the boot is very low-profile. Given the lack of padding in the boot, the fit is still very comfortable. The heel and ankle collar area of the boot is very low-cut, allowing for plenty of mobility at the ankle while still maintaining plenty of heel lockdown. The boot also features an external plastic heel, which does its part in keeping your heel locked in place and preventing any kind of slippage. The insole, as you might expect, is extremely thin and doesn’t provide much in the way of padding. With that being said, I didn’t experience any issues with discomfort, but since the insole is fully removable, if you wanted something with a little more padding, you do have the option to swap it out for something different.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the evoSPEED 1 SL is the fit. Unlike most ultra-lightweight soccer shoes, the evoSPEED 1 SL does not have a narrow fit. With that being said, the evoSPEED 1 SL doesn’t fit like most shoes either. One of the first things that you’ll notice when looking at the evoSPEED 1 SL is the shape of the toe box area, which comes to a point right around the big toe. Instead of having a toe box that is completely rounded off, like most soccer cleats, the toe box and forefoot area on the evoSPEED 1 SL is anatomically shaped to flow with the natural curves of the foot. This has been a feature in Puma’s line of “Speed” boots for a number of years now, and is still one of the major reason’s why so many people are hesitant to go for a pair of Pumas.
The logic behind the anatomical fit is pretty self-explanatory. The toe box is designed to closely wrap to the shape of your foot, while still maintaining a comfortable fit. The forefoot area has a slightly wider base, allowing your foot to expand inside of the boot without feeling restrictive. The pointed shape of the toe is what scares a lot of people away, mainly because they’re under the impression that it is going to get in the way, but this is not the case at all. In reality, the boot wraps the front of your foot very closely, eliminating what would normally be extra space inside of the shoe. There is a very small adjustment period due to the shape of the boot, but I feel like the adjustment period is more mental than physical. After about 20 minutes or so, you’ll forget about the slightly pointed shape entirely, and its actually one of the best features of the evoSPEED 1 SL.
One feature that is also exclusive to the evoSPEED 1 SL that can have an effect on the comfort of the boot is the perforations across the entire upper. While they are completely unnoticeable when the shoes are on your feet, they can allow for water to easily pass through, making for very wet feet should you wear the boots in wet playing conditions. While that may seem like a huge negative, the perforations also allow for very nice ventilation and breathability when playing in very warm weather that you would not normally get from your average boot. So, to sum things up, they’re great for playing in warm weather, but not so great for wet weather (unless you enjoy playing with wet feet).
The evoSPEED 1 SL is the only sub 6oz boot that is well suited to fit wider foot types. As previously mentioned, the toe box and forefoot area of the boot is designed to fit the natural curves of the foot. Due to this unique shape, there is some extra width to the boot that you wouldn’t normally have in most soccer cleats. The tightest fitting part of the boot is the mid-foot area, but I still wouldn’t say that it’s overly narrow. The central lacing system allows you to easily adjust the tightness of the majority of the boot, while the internal EverFit cage keeps the upper well supported and prevents any over-stretching. The evoSPEED 1 SL is one of those shoes that will fit pretty much everybody.
The sizing on the evoSPEED 1 SL is also a little tricky, but this is nothing new to the SL models from Puma. If you have worn previous SL models, than the sizing is exactly the same. In comparison to your average soccer cleat, the sizing is way off. I normally wear a size 9US in most shoes, but in the evoSPEED 1 SL, I needed a size 10US for the proper fit. So if you’re looking to order a pair for yourself, I would strongly recommend going a full size up for the best possible fit.
The listed weight for the evoSPEED 1 SL is 5.6oz, which is extremely lightweight. This is a very similar weight range to the 5.8oz Adidas F50 adizero miCoach 2 in synthetic, making the evoSPEED 1 SL one of the lightest options currently on the market. Both in hand and on feet, the evoSPEED 1 SL feels extremely lightweight, and given the comfortable fit and feel of the boot, you forget that you’re even wearing shoes. If you’re looking for an ultra-lightweight feel, than you’ll definitely be happy with the evoSPEED 1 SL.
The evoSPEED 1 SL features the exact same soleplate and stud pattern combo as previous SL models. Unlike the non-SL versions in the evoSPEED line, the SL features a bladed stud pattern. You’ll find three bladed studs on both the lateral and medial sides of the forefoot, with one small support stud in the middle, along with four bladed studs under the heel, as well as an extra support stud at the back of the heel. The studs themselves are fairly short with a tapered design, and don’t provide quite as much grip as you might expect from a bladed stud pattern. When playing on firm natural grass, the stud pattern provides a good combination of grip when pushing off and maneuverability when planted. The flexibility of the soleplate in the forefoot also ensures that you have as many studs under your feet at all times as possible, no matter which way that you twist and turn.
One thing to note about the stud pattern is that it is made exclusively for use on firm, natural grass playing surfaces. The short studs are not well suited for softer playing surfaces, and using the shoes on harder playing surfaces, or even artificial grass, can result in the studs wearing away prematurely. On the proper natural grass playing surface, the performance that you get from the evoSPEED 1 SL is great.
Like most ultra-lightweight boots, the evoSPEED 1 SL is designed to provide a barefoot feel on the ball. The one-piece synthetic upper is very thin, and provides absolutely nothing in the way of padding. The thin upper in combination with tight fit, allows you to feel as much of the ball as possible, and since the upper is the exact same thickness across the entire boot, the touch on the ball is the same no matter what part of the foot you use.
The finish on the upper is very smooth, allowing the ball to slide freely against the surface of the upper. On either side of the forefoot, you’ll find some very minimal dimpling, similar to the Speed Control dimpling on Nike’s Mercurial series, but I found the very small amount of texture to add nothing in the way of grip. Also keep in mind that the perforations across the entire upper have no impact on your feel for the ball. So, if you’re looking for a very close touch on the ball, with very little added grip, than you’ll love the feel of the evoSPEED 1 SL.
Striking the ball in the evoSPEED 1 SL feels very solid considering the lightweight nature of the boot. The thin synthetic upper does not feature any type of striking elements, so the feel that you get is very natural and clean. You feel every bit of the ball when striking through it, which gives a nice sense of precision. The mid-foot of the boot is supported with a carbon fiber shank, which provides tremendous stiffness through the soleplate when striking the ball. If you’re looking for that barefoot feel when striking the ball, while still maintaining a plenty of stiffness, than you’ll enjoy shooting the ball in the evoSPEED 1 SL.
One of the downsides of nearly every ultra-lightweight soccer shoe is the lack of protection that they provide. The thin synthetic upper of the evoSPEED 1 SL provides very little protection against direct impacts, so should you get stepped on, you will feel every bit of the blow. The boot does feature an external plastic heel counter, but its very small, and for the most part won’t do much should you get kicked in the heel. If you really want that sub 6oz feel, don’t expect to get much in the way of protection.
The lighter the boot, the less durable it’s going to be. The thin synthetic upper feels very strong, and the bond between the upper and the soleplate also feels very solid. After putting a large number of hours on the boots, I haven’t experienced any major durability problems, but one area of concern is definitely the studs. The plastic material that was used to make the studs seems to be a little softer, almost rubber-like, than the average firm ground stud. For this reason, the studs will wear away at a quicker than average rate should your wear the shoes on harder playing surfaces. If you stick to firm ground, natural grass playing surfaces, than the studs shouldn’t be an issue for you. I wouldn’t personally recommend the evoSPEED 1 SL as a shoe to buy if its going to be your only pair for the season, but as a pair of match boots, you shouldn’t have any issues getting at least a season’s worth of play out of these boots.
Keep in mind that the firm ground version of the evoSPEED 1 SL, or any FG shoe for that matter, is designed for use on firm, natural grass playing surfaces, and not for artificial grass or turf. Using any FG shoe on an artificial playing surface will have a major impact on the longevity of the boot.
I’ve always been a big fan of the SL models from Puma, and the evoSPEED 1 SL is no different. It offers an incredibly lightweight feel, solid construction, high-quality upper and a unique fit. The evoSPEED 1 SL is also a great option for wide footed players looking for that ultra-lightweight feel. If you’re looking for one of the lightest boots possible, and aren’t afraid of trying something new, than I would definitely take a look at the evoSPEED 1 SL.