The evoSPEED boot has a healthy following among the pro ranks while Mario Balotelli has signed on to represent the black cat, a brand that has also just shelled out a lot of cash to serve as Arsenal's sponsor for the next few years.
With all of that in mind, it really is not a major surprise to see Puma making a major splash with their latest boot release, the much-hyped evoPOWER. Launched in a very vibrant Fluro Peach / Ombre Blue / Fluro Yellow colorway, it certainly was a difficult product to miss and while it looks mostly good, it's far from the only outstanding thing about the evoPOWER.
The boot comes with a pair of big innovations that serve as its main selling points with Puma bringing a new "Gradual Stability Frame" (GSF) and an "Adap-Lite" upper to the fore.
The former is best described as a spine that runs down the center of the boot from right ahead of the arch and all the way down the center of the last to the middle of the heel. This spine provides rigidity where the foot needs to be stable while allowing for maximum flexibility through the ball of the foot and toes with strategically thinner sections that allow the foot to bend both up and down, to good effect (but more on that later).
The latter is known as the Adap-Lite upper and it is an interesting bit of tech in its own right. Like many other options on the market, the evoPOWER comes equipped with a synthetic, waterproof, and durable upper. Unlike the other options, this upper only stretches vertically and comes with foam inserts (called AccuFoam) that aim to create a cleaner, more even striking surface (while being uneven to begin with).
Both of these innovations work together for one common goal: power. After testing, I can say that the Puma evoPOWER hits the mark and does it with aplomb, mostly. I tested the bright boot in two very distinct conditions (an indoor turf field and the frozen tundra that is Buffalo, NY in the winter), with each one producing very different results.
First, the good. Indoors and in warmer climes, the evoPOWER's performance was spectacular. The boot is lightweight (a point that Puma should probably push more than they do) and comfortable. In nicer conditions, the touch on the ball is solid and the AccuFoam inserts don't hold the feeling back at all.
Passing feels connected and simply running in the boot is nice thanks to the outsole's flexibility. The stud configuration, a mix of the conical shape found on boots like the Puma King and blades found on the evoPOWER's predecessor, the PowerCat, grip well and turning feels sharp. Shots legitimately feel more powerful without any added effort and that may well be down to the AccuFoam's input. Either way, just about everything with the boot feels good.
The Gradual Stability Frame that makes up the boot's spine is particularly impressive. From the ball of the foot, running all the way to the center of the heel, the GSF does a very good job of keeping things nice and rigid. From the ball of the foot to the tips of the toes, the evoPOWER bends just like the foot naturally does in the best way possible. That flexibility works in both directions, allowing the toes to flex up like any other piece of footwear would let you but also allowing the foot to bend down a little bit, which is a natural occurrence when striking the ball. Giving the foot this flexibility adds not only comfort but power as well, allowing the foot to rebound a little bit in a fraction of a second to give the ball an extra push forward.
While there are plenty of positives that the evoPOWER brings to the table, it does have some minor downfalls. For one thing, it is a relatively narrow boot and the upper doesn't seem to have the give that a number of other options, both synthetic and genuine leather, have. Additionally, the evoPOWER performed decently well in (very, very) cold weather but it certainly could have done better.
In the (kind of but not really) permafrost of Western New York, I struggled to really feel the same touch on the ball that the evoPOWER offered in better conditions. The Adap-Lite upper felt stiff and, at times, slippery on the ball. These conditions are not representative of what most players will face but it's a good question of "what if?"
As a brand new boot, the evoPOWER is a success for Puma. As the successor to the PowerCat, it's even better. While its predecessor featured some of the most comfortable leather to ever be on footballers' feet, it was a largely clunky and heavy offering. Puma have done well to take the best of what the PowerCat have to offer and carry it through into the evoPOWER.
When all is said and done, the evoPOWER from Puma really does what it set out to do. For many players, it will be a lightweight, comfortable option that offers good performance at a competitive price point. It will be very interesting to see how Puma carry those technologies forward. AccuFoam and the Gradual Stability Frame are particularly impressive and could well be fixtures for Puma in years to come.