The best Future in ages.
The Puma Future has gone through a lot of change in the last couple of years since it first launched. Puma’s flagship boot has always stayed true to its custom lacing concept but the upper has undergone massive changes in a short period of time – culminating with the most recent Puma Future 4.1 being the clunkiest and perhaps underwhelming of the lot.
The Puma Future 5.1 aims to change the game once again for the big cat with the upper going through a quantum leap in its update. Third time’s (within 2019 alone) a charm.
The Future 5.1 looks…. :/
My first impression of the Puma Future 5.1 was that it looked like Deadpool’s burnt flesh and/or a trypophobic nightmare. The design can be quite polarising as many I have met either love it or hate its new look.
Aside from cosmetics, the Netfit system has gone through another major change. The Netfit holes are now quite subtly installed within the knitted upper as compared to the previous construction of punching holes into the boot. Fascinatingly enough, the lace loops are only limited to the lateral sides of the boot. Because the Netfit loops are integrated into the upper itself, this intends to keep the laces tighter and closer to your feet when you pull on your laces or when pivoting and moving in a game.
And like with previous iterations of the Future, Puma are reducing the number of lace options – a real head scratcher when the concept of the Future is based around building custom lacing variations. Either way, you get an extra set of laces in coral that matches the accents on the boot’s launch colourway.
The Future at your feet
For a one-piece boot, the Future 5.1 is relatively easy to put on with a stretchy evoKnit tongue and collar accommodating your feet nicely. It’s safe to say that evoKnit is still one of the best knitted materials in the game with its comfort, compression fit and elasticity.
For all the stick I give Puma about the design, all my gripes went away the moment I put on the Future 5.1. I think Puma has designed the ultimate “sock” boot – not just because of its mid-cut design but the entire upper is so soft. Not since the first Nike Magista has there been a boot that feels as comfortable as a sock. I am thoroughly impressed.
The upper itself is so soft to the touch as it’s made from a slightly denser form of evoKnit material that rivals any knitted boot out there for comfort. Most of the upper is raw knitted material but you also get a thin silicone layer applied to the lower areas of the upper for some grip and protection against abrasion against the ground you play on.
I’m a US 9.5 (with moderate width feet) but was handed a US 9 pair and surprisingly, the boot fit, though it was a bit snug. This is because the Future 5.1 has a slightly wider fit and toebox. So if you have wide feet, I would recommend going true to size. Those with slimmer feet should look to go half a size down.
My first 15-20 minutes in the boots were a little uncomfortable from the tightness but the knitted upper stretched nicely soon enough and it was a dream to play in.
Believe in the Future
On pitch, the Future 5.1 has got me believing in Puma again. While I was a bit indifferent to past versions of the Future, this one played out like a dream and it’s all due to that knitted upper.
For an upper that is amazingly soft and pliable, Puma managed to ensure that lockdown doesn’t become an issue. This is down to how close the lace loops are to your feet, no matter what lace patterns you weave. So cutting, sprinting and changing of directions mean that the laces are always closely tucked in to keep your feet in place while the soft knitted upper ensures that the ride is also a comfortable one even when making sharp movements. Couple that with your custom lacing pattern and you can expect Netfit to have you well covered with foot security.
The raw knitted upper also stretches comfortably across your feet ensuring a perfect combination of a slightly padded sensation but also a close touch with the ball. There was no problem making short passes or pinging longer ones for my teammates and you feel connected with the ball without having the raw, bone-to-feet feel on traditional speed boots. I don’t think the complicated pattern on the boot aided with a grippy touch on the ball when receiving.
The grip, however, can be attributed to the waxy silicone layer and does aid you slightly when you look to dribble and the soft padded sensation of the upper makes it a seamless and pleasant experience when taking on your opponents.
But where I really enjoyed the Puma Future 5.1 was when striking the ball. The boot has quite a large surface area and hitting the ball with power was an absolute pleasure. No distractions as it allowed your feet to hit the ball cleanly while you lean into your striking technique. Something to consider for those trigger happy forwards who love nothing more than to strike on goal with every opportunity.
And finally, a word for the Rapidagility outsole. Despite all the changes to the boot’s upper, this has been the one constant. It works well on FG and AG pitches and it receives our mark of approval as an AG-friendly soleplate. Expect the same reliable traction and manoeuvrability that works for all players. That said, I felt that Puma could at least have had updated the design just a little bit to go with this new Future 5.1 revamp.
The Future is bright
I like how Puma hasn’t gone with the conventional silo of a slim and light “speed boot” or the “shooting boot” with strike zones. Their boots are a little more ambiguous and the Puma Future 5.1 doesn’t fall into any traditional categories.
Overall, the Puma Future 5.1 is an excellent boot. A fantastic lockdown, a ridiculously soft upper that will continue to melt the more you play and a boot that is super fun to strike and pass in. At 220g in a size 9 US, it’s also not too heavy.
It seems to be built for any forward thinking player who loves an elegant soft touch without compromising on a close feel of the ball. I’m still not so convinced about that design but once you’ve got a pair on, all those gripes will be in the past. I can only hope Puma can stop fiddling with and changing out their boots every 4-5 months because the Future 5.1 is one of their best boots they’ve ever made.
Special thanks to the good people of Puma Singapore for sorting us out with a pair of Puma Future 5.1s!