What’s changed in the refresh of the Puma Future?
When I concluded my review of the Puma Future 19.1 back in February, I was pretty impressed. I felt like Puma meant business with their flagship football boot. The redesigned Netfit system improved upon its predecessor to still give a customized, locked-in fit without feeling like there were too many distractions. The Rapidsprint outsole was as reliable as you’d expect, giving a nice natural stride with bite when pushing off.
Its Achilles Heel though, was the its 3D Havoc Frame Upper. It was stiffer than one would expect out of the box and it softened up only after a few hours. Most importantly, the upper was thin yet dampened which felt stifling to my touch on the ball.
I had this to say – “While I thoroughly enjoyed my ride in the Puma Future 19.1 and would happily use it for the season, I can’t help but feel like it’s a boot that could have been so much more. The upper could have been more grippy and aggressive with a pattern that could acted as a curve or control element.”
So when I first received the Puma Future 4.1 and saw its redesigned upper, it seemed that the big cat took my ‘professional’ advice, sort of. Was this the change that would finally make the Puma Future into a legit contender for Boot of the Year? The answer is… complicated.
All About That Upper
This was meant to be a minor refresh for the Puma Future. The well working RapidAgility outsole makes a return, as does the evoKNIT Pro and Netfit Construction. Puma also brings back the collar, which is still one of the best collars around.
The 3D Havoc upper though, has radically changed from the previous wavy pattern to a scaly design similar to the pods on the Nike Hypervenom Phantom 3.
The new upper of the Future 4.1 boot is still engineered out of the evoKNIT Pro material, but it’s now also fused with TPU yarns which supposedly brings a perfect mix of softness and stability. Puma also claim that the new ‘pods’ help to ensure a superior touch on the ball.
Havoc On Your Feet
While the Future 19.1 provided a crisp, near barefoot feel of the ball, the new construction brings a 180 degree turn to the Future 4.1.
The dotted upper does exactly what you would imagine it to do – act as a control element. It also continues to provide a dampened feel on the ball. Puma’s combined more layers in together to provide a really dampened and padded feel, akin to their old school Puma Powercat 1.10. Depending on where you stand on this issue, this is either an inspired update, or the worst move Puma could have made.
On the ball… you feel nothing. Where the Puma One 5.1 strikes that Goldilocks balance of a padded yet natural touch on the ball, you hardly feel the ball with the Future 4.1
Striking the ball with the Future 4.1 felt like a throwback to the old power boot era. The padded upper takes the sting out of blasting the ball which imbues you with the confidence to blast it as hard as possible. The flip side of that is that you feel really disconnected when passing or controlling the ball.
The ball feels dead on your feet when playing with it which is a really strange thing to say in 2019. Especially coming from boots like the Puma One 5.1 and the adidas Nemeziz 19.1, the Future 4.1 seems to have the worst of both worlds.
A Boot For.. Defenders?
Where the boot truly shines though, is when you start putting in more robust challenges. As a box-to-box midfielder who breaks up opposition attacks for my team, I found the boots a godsend for its protection. In one of my less even-tempered games, an opponent caught my feet in a challenge, but I barely felt anything thanks to the Future 4.1’s padded upper.
The only yellow card I can give to the Future 4.1 is its fit, which is really strange. Despite not changing the upper, the boot was terribly tight to the point where I was getting midfoot cramps. It took about 5 full training sessions before I could properly wear them without discomfort, despite trying out various lacing systems.
Puma may have taken feedback about the previous Futures being excessively wide too seriously and seem to have made a radical switch in fit entirely.
(Still) Waiting For The Future To Arrive
The Future 4.1 could have been much better. The Future 19.1 had so much going for it, that it seemed like its successor could only do better, not worst.
Yet somehow, Puma seem to have taken a step backwards. The boot took way too long to break in by modern standards. Sponsored Puma players such as Marco Reus and Griezmann hint at the boot’s intended style of players (your creative types) but the lack of ball feel makes it difficult for me to recommend this to the same flair players it wants to appeal to.
Instead, the boot feels tailor made for your old school defenders, the players on the field that specialize in breaking up attacks. Players that would benefit from a protective upper and a padded upper for blasting the ball into the other half of the field. If you’re one of those players who’ve been complaining about how thin football boots have become, this is a love letter that Puma has written for you.
For the rest of us though, the wait for a proper Puma Future continues.