When Puma originally launched the evoPOWER boot a few months ago, it made a lot of waves in both the market and the soccer footwear scene. For its launch, Puma had brought out the big guns in terms of athletes with Marco Reus, Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry, and (then-new signing) Mario Balotelli speaking out in favor of the boot.
The evoPOWER was certainly difficult to miss with its very bright Fluro Peach / Ombre Blue / Fluro Yellow colorway and it brought a number of new technologies to the fore with the introduction of Accu-Foam, the Gradual Stablity Frame, and Adap-Lite upper. All told, the evoPOWER was a very good boot with one concern / flaw.
For years, footballers with wider feet have largely steered clear of Puma do to their reputation of making boots with a narrower last. For people with average-width feet, this was never much of an issue and with some uppers (namely the various leathers to different degrees of flexibility), the material's ability to stretch allowed players to wear Puma boots without a problem. Puma's new Adap-Lite upper was advertised with the ability to "only stretch vertically." So, when your foot inevitably bows out over the outsole just that little bit, the upper simply did not have much give.
Not long after the release of the original evoPOWER, Puma unveiled a leather version of the boot that was, in a word, stunning. Launched in a black / black colorway with very small hints of yellow acting as accents, it is a boot that appeals to the traditionalists in its looks. That, however, is where the traditional characteristics stop.
Like its sibling, the leather evoPOWER brings with it the excellent Gradual Stability Frame that keeps the back two-thirds of the foot rigid while allowing a lot of bend in both directions at the front. The Adap-Lite upper is gone with supple black calf leather taking its place. The leather also features the Accu-Foam inserts in the necessary shooting and control areas that first appeared on the launch evoPOWER.
Puma didn't change much between the two versions of the boot and that is a very good thing because it all worked so well on the original evoPOWER. The new leather upper, on the other hand, makes the whole thing even better. Supple is one word for it but "heavenly" is definitely another. From the moment you put the boot on, you can feel it forming to your foot but doing it in comfort the entire time.
The leather itself is relatively thick but it doesn't hinder touch on the ball at all and when dribbling, you feel like you are in control the entire time. The Accu-Foam inserts, when coupled with the leather and the upper's natural flexibility, really help in bringing the ball down and feel as though they certainly enhance the player's first touch.
The same goes for shooting. The ball feels like it is connected to the boot on contact but it feels as though it hangs on for just that split second more, allowing for a sensation of really following the kick through the ball rather than just connecting with it.
As with the launch version of the boot, the Gradual Stability Frame is a wonderful piece of technology. The flexibility in the foot that the evoPOWER offers both in movement and shooting feels both protective and natural without being heavy or cumbersome.
With all things considered, the evoPOWER leather is a light boot for its category and actually did a very good job of keeping water out. During match play here in a rainy and muddy Buffalo, NY, the evoPOWER's leather upper did not absorb much water and was not noticeably heavier. The boot remained comfortable and maintenance after the fact was a relative breeze.
The evoPOWER leather is a sensational boot that unfortunately will not make too many waves in the marketplace. Puma has put its marketing dollars into the Tricks collection, and rightly so. After all, the point of that set was to stand out and the company is certainly doing that with both the evoSPEED and evoPOWER Tricks' design.
The evoPOWER leather on the other hand remains an option for those that want the latest and greatest technology in a comfortable package with a classic look. It is one of the best boots of 2014 but won't see much (if any) meaningful time on the fields in the world's top leagues.