Puma evoPOWER 1 FG Review

As the successor to the Powercat, the evoPOWER 1 takes Puma’s “Power” boot line in a completely new direction. Everything about the evoPOWER 1 is new and never been done before, which not only makes for a very unique feel, but also for a boot that doesn’t really compare to anything else currently on the market. Puma really put a lot of thought into this boot, as seen by the overwhelming amount of tech specs and new technologies, but what’s even more surprising is that it all performs extremely well!

Comfort/Fit

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the Puma evoPOWER 1 is the extremely comfortable fit. Much of the overall design is based around the natural flexibility of the foot, something that is very apparent upon wearing the evoPOWERs for the first time. The upper is made from Puma’s new one-way stretchable, microfiber AdapLite synthetic. While I’ve heard complaints here and there regarding the “cheap” appearance of the synthetic, an opinion that I don’t necessarily agree with, trust me when I say that the feel is undeniably premium when on feet.

The AdapLite synthetic upper is on the thinner side, but at the same time remains almost leather-like in terms of how pliable it is. From right out the box, the upper fits and moves very closely with the bend of your foot, allowing for a high-quality snug fit while still maintaining a great level of comfort. It is a one-way stretchable microfiber, again something that is unique to the evoPOWER 1. You’ll find that the synthetic will stretch vertically ever so slightly, but maintains its shape very well horizontally, allowing the boot to maintain great lateral stability. An external Everfit Cage has also been implemented for added support on both the lateral and medial sides of the upper.

AdapLite synthetic truly feels like a hybrid between leather and synthetic, but does so differently from other high-quality synthetics out there. It’s thin and has a tighter feel against the foot, but due to its softness and non-restrictive flexible feel, there is a certain leather-like quality to the upper that feels amazing. If I had to compare it to another material, I would say that it feels like a combination of NikeSkin from the Nike Hypervenom Phantom, and Kanga-Lite from the Nike CTR360 Maestri 3, which is a huge compliment.

Other comfort elements of the boot include an extra flexible Achilles tendon guards at the back of the boot, which eliminates any kind of unnecessary stiffness, and again makes for a very natural feel. The heel is lined in a textured synthetic, backed by plenty of soft padding, making for a secure and comfortable feel. The tongue is made from the same AdapLite synthetic as the rest of the boot, but also features two strips of soft memory foam running down the middle, which are positioned perfectly to cut down on lace bite, allowing you to tie your boots very tight without any discomfort. The insole is fully removable, and surprisingly well padded considering the lightweight nature of the boot. The insole features a smooth mesh liner, and is constructed from one fairly thin layer of foam, with two thicker, perforated foam inserts in the forefoot and heel, making for great step-in comfort.

When it comes to fit, the evoPOWER 1 is one of very few boots that has the ability to almost instantly form to the exact shape of your foot, and that has everything to do with the thin yet flexible nature of the upper. Similar to the Hypervenom Phantom, the evoPOWER 1 has a very comfortable sock-like fit with pretty much no break-in time required. Other than simply getting used to the overall feel, I never found myself in any kind of discomfort throughout testing, and blisters were never a concern. The flexibility of the soleplate also plays a fairly large role in the overall natural feel of the boot, as your foot truly feel unrestricted to flex and bend in pretty much any direction.

As we’ve come to expect from Puma, the evoPOWER 1 features a slight anatomical shape in the toe box area, as opposed to just being perfectly round. This is a feature that seems to have been tweaked ever so slightly on the evoPOWER, in comparison to the slightly more extreme anatomical shape of their evoSPEED line, making for a fit that leaves very little extra space inside the boot, which is great.

In terms of width, I would say that the evoPOWER 1 is wider than average, in comparison to most thin synthetic soccer cleats, but definitely isn’t an excessively wide fitting boot. It is also worth noting that the AdapLite synthetic upper did not stretch much at all throughout my testing, so for the most part, the way they fit from right out of the box is the way they’ll fit for the majority of their lifespan. I would say that the boot is average in width through the heel and mid-foot, while the forefoot and toe box area is ever so slightly wider. The off-centered lacing system also does a great job allowing you to properly secure your foot inside the shoe whether you have narrow, average or wide feet. As long as you don’t have excessively wide feet, the evoPOWER 1 should fit you just fine.

The evoPOWER 1 does not fit true to size. Instead of wearing my usual size 9US, I found that I needed to go half a size up to a 9.5US for the proper fit. So, if you’re looking to order a pair for yourself, I would strongly recommend going half a size up.

Weight

The evoPOWER 1 weighs in at a very lightweight 7.2oz, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the synthetic upper and thin soleplate. While this weight range is somewhat unusual for what is technically categorized as a “power” boot, nothing feels missing or stripped away for the sake of weight. The boot is light, because for the most, the design is simple. So, if you’ve always wanted a boot designed around striking the ball, but didn’t necessarily want something with a little more bulk to it, than the evoPOWER 1 is the boot for you.

Traction

The stud pattern of the evoPOWER line has been completely changed coming from the PowerCat. The stud pattern features a combination of conical and bladed studs, allowing for a good blend of different performance characteristics. Under the forefoot, you’ll find four conical studs, positioned at the front and medial sides of the boot, with three bladed studs on the lateral side, while the heel features a much simpler four bladed stud layout.

What’s great about this stud pattern is that it provides a really solid blend of grip, stability and maneuverability. The four conical studs have a fairly narrow profile about them and are slightly above average in length. These four studs act as your main point of grip when accelerating, as they do a great job of penetrating the ground and providing solid push-off traction. Also, because they are conical in shape, you still maintain the freedom of maneuverability, making it easy to twist, turn and adjust when on your toes. The bladed studs on the lateral side of the forefoot and heel act as your stability studs. Not only do the bladed studs help with achieving a firm plant when striking the ball, but they also help with added traction when making hard lateral cuts.

While the stud pattern is certainly very simple, you can tell that it was very well thought out, which shows in the overall performance. The very flexible soleplate also plays a role in the overall traction. No matter which way that your foot bends or twist, the soleplate follows very closely, allowing you to have as many studs as possible under your feet at all times, which translates into better traction.

The evoPOWER 1 introduces a slew of new technologies, and because of it, the new stud pattern seems to have been one of those features that most people seemed to have overlooked. With that being said, the performance is fantastic, and is not only one of the best stud patterns on offer from Puma, but also one of my personal favorites.

Touch

I would describe the touch of the evoPOWER 1 as having a modified barefoot feel. As mentioned before the AdapLite synthetic is very thin, which makes for more of a barefoot feel. With that being said, there is a slight plushness about the synthetic, which gives the upper somewhat of a leather-like quality. It’s tricky to describe, but imagine AdapLite synthetic as a very soft, second skin, if that makes any sense. There is very little material between your foot and the ball, but there is still a slightly cushioned quality about it, something that reminds me very much of NikeSkin synthetic, found on the Hypervenom Phantom, but at the same time very different.

As great as that sounds, that’s not the only factor that comes into play regarding touch. Through the instep, forefoot and toe area of the upper, you’ll find foam inserts that modify your feel for the ball. These inserts are made from what Puma calls AccuFoam. The foam inserts are thicker than you might expect, and also have a very soft, spongy feel to them. While the AccuFoam pads are intended as a striking element, they definitely give the thin upper a more padded, leather-like quality, which is something that I really enjoyed about the boots. For those wondering, the foam pads don’t take away from your feel for the ball, but instead change how the shoe reacts.

When dribbling and making softer touches on the ball, the evoPOWER 1 has more of a barefoot feel. When controlling the ball, passing and juggling, you still get that barefoot feel, but with a really unique cushioned quality provided by the AccuFoam inserts.

One last aspect of the boot worth mentioning is the finish of the upper, which is totally smooth with a slightly shiny finish. It doesn’t provide any additional grip on the ball, and for the most part felt very natural.

It’s tough to sum up something as unique as the evoPOWER 1, simply because it doesn’t really compare to anything else that I have ever worn. With that being said, I loved the feel of the boot, and if you’re not opposed to trying something new, than I would strongly recommend checking these out.

Shooting

As Puma’s marketing would suggest, the evoPOWER 1 design is largely based around striking the ball. In comparison to past “power” boots from Puma, as well as other brands, it is clear to see that the evoPOWER 1 takes inspiration from none of its predecessors. Instead, Puma decided to go back to drawing board, did some testing, with and without shoes, and came to three separate conclusions that largely influenced the final design of the evoPOWER 1. Keep in mind that these are facts given by Puma, and of the actual results or numbers from these tests have not been released to the public.

According to Puma, when striking the ball barefoot, with no shoes at all, the natural flexibility of the foot, including the curling of the toes, allows you to generate more power in your shot. The motion of curling your toes and flexing your foot backwards, is something that would normally be restricted in the average pair of soccer cleats. To solve this problem, Puma implemented an ultra-flexible soleplate on the evoPOWER 1, called GSF, Gradual Stability Frame.

You’ll find that the Pebax soleplate in the toe and forefoot area is very thin, and features flex grooves allowing for great flexibility in both directions.  Moving towards the mid-foot, you’ll find more flex grooves with a plastic spin-like insert running through the middle. Again, this area of the soleplate is more flexible than your average boot, but does not lack the rigidity to maintain a stable and supportive feel. The flexibility of the soleplate and one-way stretchable synthetic upper allows your foot to more naturally flex and move with the shoe when striking the ball, just as your foot would react when striking the ball barefoot.

The second test result given by Puma, again has to do with striking the ball barefoot. They found that having less material between your foot and the ball translates to a more powerful shot. In order to replicate the barefoot striking experience, Puma implemented a thin synthetic upper, AdapLite, which we’ll talk about more in just a second.

The final test result had to do with accuracy. Puma found that while less padding between your foot and the ball resulted in more power, it also resulted in less accuracy. To counteract that problem, Puma implemented AccuFoam inserts through the main striking zones across the upper.

All three of these features come together to make what it essentially the only boot on the market designed specifically around barefoot shooting mechanics. While the tech side of the boot is incredibly interesting, what matters at the end of the day is performance, and I am happy to report that the evoPOWER 1 does not disappoint.

One thing that I want to get straight right off the bat is that these shoes will not increase your shot power or accuracy. While the concepts and test results given by Puma make sense, there isn’t a significant performance difference in comparison to other high-end shoes currently on the market. With that said, the feel of the evoPOWER 1 when striking the ball is very unique, in a positive way.

The first, and arguably the most interesting feature of the evoPOWER 1 that must be discussed is the GSF soleplate. While an intentionally flexible soleplate is unique, it isn’t necessarily something that has never been done before. There are plenty of cleats out there that feature very thin plastic soleplates that will flex backwards when enough force is applied. They may not flex quite as easily as the evoPOWER 1, but the point is that flexible soleplates have existed before, but this is the first time it has been presented as a feature.

As far as performance goes in regards to the GSF soleplate, it feels good. It isn’t something that you’re going to notice with every strike, but when you connect with a lot of power, you will get that flex back sensation from the boot. Again, I did not find that this resulted in an increase in power to my shots.

The upper is my personal favorite aspect of striking the ball in the evoPOWER 1. The AdapLite upper makes for a very responsive feel, simply because it’s very thin, while the AccuFoam pads provide a slight cushion that does make for a slightly more controlled feel. Just like I don’t think that the boot increases the power of your shot, I also don’t feel like it increases your accuracy. What it does provides is a slightly more controlled feel in comparison to a true thin, barefoot synthetic upper.

For those wondering about the feel of the AccuFoam pads, they feel much more natural than I was honestly expecting. The foam is very spongy, and when you strike through the ball it is very apparent that there is a little something extra between your foot and the ball aside from the AdapLite synthetic upper. While the AccuFoam inserts add some padding to the upper, it does not feel like it takes away from the overall responsive feel of the boot, and actually compresses to the point where you still feel every bit of the ball. It’s there simply to take the edge off, and I can confirm that it does make for slightly more controlled feel to your shot.

The finish of the upper is pretty straight forward and doesn’t provide any additional grip on the ball. Unlike many “power” boots, the evoPOWER 1 does not feature any rubber striking elements, but instead relies on providing a very clean and uniform striking surface across the entire foot.

Overall, the striking experience provided by the evoPOWER 1 is much simpler than the tech specs would suggest. The feel is responsive, consistent and unique to the evoPOWER 1. If you’re looking for one of the cleanest possible strikes on the ball, than the evoPOWER 1 is a very strong option.

Protection

While protection isn’t necessarily the strongest aspect of the evoPOWER 1, it definitely has a little more to offer in comparison to other thin synthetic soccer cleats. The upper is thin, and provides very little impact protection, but the AccuFoam pads do help the issue to a certain extent, and will absorb at least some of the blow should you get stepped on. The boot also features a fairly small and thin, internal plastic heel counter that will provide some minor protection should get kicked towards the back area of the foot. The evoPOWER 1 is safer than most boots in this weight range, but is still on thinner side. If protection is a major concern for you, this probably isn’t the choice of boot.

Durability

When it comes to durability, I had no issues at all throughout testing with the evoPOWER 1. While the upper and soleplate is on the thinner side of things, the construction of the boot is pretty seamless, and there just doesn’t seem to be much that could go wrong. If I had one concern regarding the longevity of the evoPOWER, it would definitely be the thin soleplate, mainly in the forefoot area of the boot. Since the studs are fairly long, if you are somebody that frequently plays on hard ground, natural grass playing surfaces, I could see stud pressure being an issue down the line. Please keep in mind that I did not have any issues with stud pressure whatsoever, and if you play on firm or soft ground, natural grass playing surfaces, this will not be a problem.

The evoPOWER 1, while it isn’t incredibly solid, should get you through at least a season’s worth or play, if not longer depending on how hard you are on your shoes. Also keep in mind that the Firm Ground version of the evoPOWER 1, or any FG boot for that matter, is designed for use on firm, natural grass playing surfaces, and nothing else. Using any FG boot on turf/artificial grass will have a major impact on the overall durability.

The Verdict

There is so much to talk about the technology of the evoPOWER 1, but the overall experience is much simpler than you might expect. I can appreciate the story and reasoning behind the design of the boot, and while it doesn’t necessarily result in “next level” performance, the boot still performs incredibly well. The combination of AdapLite synthetic with AccuFoam inserts feels awesome when making touches and striking the ball, while the close and comfortable fit of the boot just enhances the experience. Not to mention the unique soleplate design and fantastic stud pattern.

It’s cool to see a company release a shoe that is truly unique, especially when the design makes sense. There are performance features that you can’t get from any other boot, which is something that doesn’t happen all that often. The evoPOWER 1 is a truly unique design that appeals to the masses and really does have something for everybody. If you were considering the evoPOWER 1 as your next boot, my best advice would be to go for it.

Comfort/Fit10 out of 10
Weight9 out of 10
Traction10 out of 10
Touch10 out of 10
Shooting10 out of 10
Protection7 out of 10
Durability8 out of 10
Final Score64 out of 70 or 91%