Rebuilding a classic with modern technology and materials.
Born in 2000 as a lighter sibling to big brother Mizuno Morelia 2, the Mizuno Morelia UL (Ultra Light) holds a special place in the hearts of many Mizuno fans around. While the Morelia 2 was already well known for its fit and trademark leather comfort and touch, the Morelia UL took it to the next level.
By reducing the amount of foam under the leather, the Morelia UL had an even more barefoot touch, with the boot almost melting onto your foot, like a leather sock.
As part of their Mizuno Rebuild Project, which saw Mizuno bring back classics such as the Mizuno Wave Cup Legend and the Mizuno Morelia Zero, Mizuno has brought back and updated the Mizuno Morelia UL Japan, fusing in some of its modern features to bring back a past favourite for the modern era.
Old school Morelia UL construction, new school materials
Full leather boots have long enjoyed a reputation of moulding around your foot for the perfect fit. To a large extent, this is true. The enduring contradiction of a leather boot is its ability to be extremely soft and comfortable, whilst not over-stretching. The original Morelia UL was extremely susceptible to over-stretching, with most players having to go down at least half a size to account for this.
As part of its modern update, the new Morelia UL Japan uses a new micro taffeta material for its inner liner. First used on the Mizuno Morelia 2 (2020), the material is extremely adept at preventing over-stretch, while being able to still mould to your foot shape. To ensure that the boot remains as barefoot as it was back then, Mizuno further reduced the amount of foam between the leather and the inner layer.
The Morelia UL Japan is a full 20g lighter than its 2000 counterpart, despite its construction remaining fairly similar – a sign of far we’ve advanced when it comes to manufacturing plastics. Most of the weight has been shaved off due to the use of a new resin to construct the tooling, which is now lighter, stronger and more durable.
Your personal leather slipper
Out of the box, the Morelia UL Japan is every bit as comfortable as you’d expect. Due to its modern shape and fit, I had to go half a size down from my usual 27.0cm – something that is getting more commonplace with the latest Mizuno boots such as the Morelia 2 (2020), the Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 as well as the Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 Beta. While sizing down meant some initial snugness at first, the boot quickly stretched and moulded for an extremely comfortable one to one fit.
However, when I started moving around in the boot, a huge flaw quickly surfaced. The Morelia UL Japan, retains its lower heel and ankle cut from its 2000 counterpart but uses a snug heel cup, on the same one from the Morelia 2 (2020).
This created a lot of pressure on my heel, making it slightly uncomfortable when running and changing direction. While I was eventually able to get rid of it after some break in time as well as the use of a runner’s loop, it was still an unpleasant experience, especially for a Made in Japan product.
The lowered heel and ankle area also meant that I never quite felt as locked in as I’d have liked. However, this is more of a personal preference thing as the free-er feel was a unique selling point of the Morelia UL (2000) back in the day.
A consistent, all round bare-foot touch
Modern day advertising will always try to convince you that “new is always better”. The truth is that when treated in the right ways, old-school leather can also have very similar outcomes as modern synthetics. The reduction in foam as well as use of micro-taffeta gives the Morelia UL Japan a very barefoot touch, not dissimilar to more modern synthetic speed boots on the market.
This means an extremely crisp and one-to-one feel of the ball. Due to the entire boot being constructed out of k-leather, touch on the ball is also extremely consistent throughout the boot, be it scooping a lofted ball out of the air, or killing a driven pass from your team mates with your instep.
Of course, this also means that there is no hiding place with the Morelia UL Japan. You will get punished for your lack of technique when it comes to controlling the ball due to the lack of padding to help take the sting off. The same applies for shooting, with the thin upper giving you a very clean touch on the ball where your technique has to really shine through.
That bare-footedness also means that dribbling on the ball is very intuitive and predictable. How much force you put into the ball dictates how it moves. Having said that, I did miss the slightly more padded touch of the Neo 3 Beta when dribbling, but again that’s more of a personal preference.
A timeless stud pattern that just works
The Morelia series is synonymous with its 9 x4 stud pattern, which gives you a very stable platform when making hard cuts, sprints or jogs on pitch. It’s a stud pattern that just works, and receives our BOOTHYPE stamp of approval for AG use due to its lack of cling on both surfaces.
Additionally, the tooling on the Morelia UL Japan does feel noticeably more flexible than the Morelia 2 (2020), which gave a very natural sensation when running in the boots, almost like running barefoot. Combined with the thin leather upper, you get a boot that almost disappears on your foot – until that heel begins to bite you back to reality.
The Mizuno Morelia UL is for the collectors, not for performance Nazis
When it comes to limited collections, my philosophy has always been simple – the boot has to be playable, and not just produced for the showcase. And while the Morelia UL Japan is a very competent boot in its own right, the boot has long been surpassed by other boots such as the Morelia Neo 3, which offers a fairly similar experience with next to none of the downsides, such as over stretching etc.
What the Morelia UL Japan is, is a fascinating look into how much technology has improved over the years. Despite the Morelia UL Japan looking identical to its Morelia UL (2000) counterpart, the new materials have vastly improved the performance of the boot, such as the use of newer plastics in the tooling as well as the improved micro-taffeta inner lining.
It is a nice personal reminder that, despite all the advertising and branding about the latest and greatest fancy technology like carbon fibre or knit, the old methods do still have a place in the modern boot world, especially when done correctly.