“Wait, didn’t we just review the Puma Ultra Ultimate not too long ago?”
That was my reaction when the big cat dropped a pair of the Puma Ultra Ultimate (2023) on my lap for a review. This boot has got the exact same name as the boot that launched close to a year ago though Puma has launched a sizeable update to their speed boot.
Despite the same name and similar looks, the Puma Ultra Ultimate saw a few changes that makes it feel different from its predecessor.
What’s new in the Puma Ultra Ultimate (2023)
Puma’s ULTRAWEAVE synthetic material remains as the main star of the show on the upper but it’s now backed by PWRTAPE, a skeletal structure underneath the upper that promises to provide structure and lockdown while you make those quick turns and pivots in a game.
However, compared to last year’s Puma Ultra Ultimate, this iteration of ULTRAWEAVE feels a bit more rigid and plasticky, even if it is ever so thin. It doesn’t have the more velvelty and soft texture of the 2022 version, which I feel gave it a premium gloss.
2023’s boot still looks premium with the futuristic semi-translucent upper but I just preferred the softer touch of the 2022 model.
Looks wise, the boot does look very sleek and the ribbed texture does make the boot look like a serious competitor in the modern speed boot category.
Only for narrow feet
The fit has changed drastically, which is the biggest factor in whether one would choose the 2022 or 2023 Puma Ultra Ultimate model. The last boot has a moderate width fit which required you to go true to size.
The 2023 model however is easily the narrowest boot you can buy on the market.
I’ve got flat feet and I have slightly wider feet. Despite going half size up, I still had the widest parts of my feet (where the outer base of my big toe bone is) pushing out against the side. Sizing up led to extra room around the toebox, which has me conclude that this boot should be worn true to size by players with narrow feet only.
Despite its width, I didn’t have issues sliding my feet in, thanks to the elastic material across that midfoot that was accommodating. Shame that the shape of the boot didn’t.
Weight wise, the boot is pretty light at 219g in a US10, which would comfortably feel lightweight on most feet.
The Puma Ultra Ultimate keeps you secure
Fit plays a major role in how football boots perform, especially in a minimalist football boot. We didn’t start on the right foot (pun unintended) with my feet pushing out on the sides. And because of this, the bunching up of the upper when flexing was an early irritant due to the nature of the plasticky upper and the uneven fit (huge space around the toes, very tight around the outer parts of my toe bones).
Getting the right fit would reduce the bunching but the rigid upper would still see some bunching when flexing.
A few minutes in and those issues were a thing of the past.
Speed boots have recently been implementing skeletal cages to provide lockdown and PWRTAPE’s ability to provide security was just as good as any in the market. The lockdown was excellent and kept my feet in place as I swivelled and burst into space. The heel was also secure and comfortably wrapped by the synthetic suede lining.
The tight fit around the midfoot and heel does contrast quite heavily with the extra space and roomy toebox. I would have preferred a more uniform fit but a player who loves his/her toes to be free would enjoy this sensation.
The touch on the ball was very close as you’d expect on a thin upper which means your technique has to be on point when passing, receiving and dribbling. The 2022 version of the Puma Ultra Ultimate had some slight texturing to provide a teensy bit of grip in those dribbles. The 2023 version however feels more raw.
And you’ve got to be rapid when evading those tackles because you’ll have close to zero protection on that upper. Though, speed boot aficionados would not have it any other way. Am I right?
No change in the FG soleplate
The 2023 version retains the exact same soleplate as the 2022 model. The chevron shaped studs provide straight line traction with its slightly rounded edges giving you some mobility when twisting.
It’s a good balance while still providing you enough grip for a speed boot. It is relatively grippy on artificial ground though it just makes the cut for us to be AG-friendly. If you’re looking to err on the side of caution with the sole…. read on.
A nifty turf variant
While most turf boots are takedowns, the Puma Ultra Ultimate Cage is a top of the range turf variant to the Puma Ultra Ultimate 2023 for those looking to play it safe on artificial ground while wearing an elite model.
It carries all the same features as the FG, save for the rubberised sole. You get the thin ULTRAWEAVE and the PWRTAPE structure to keep your feet locked in.
The fit is slightly wider than the FG it’s still very narrow. One sensation you might need to get used to is the difference in weight between the upper and sole. The upper is, understandably, ultra light which contrasts greatly with the heavier rubberised sole. On first wear, the weight contrast may mess with your orientation but you’ll be used to it in no time.
A godsend for narrow footed players
My first impression was that I was disappointed with the fit. Naturally, as a wide footed player, I’ve seen brands accommodate players like me a lot over the years. Many boots out there now fit wide.
But in retrospect, this does leave our more narrow footed friends left in the lurch. With the Puma King Ultimate, and now the Puma Ultra Ultimate 2023, Puma has dedicated boots made for those of slimmer feet.
For years, such players have seen speed boots, once made for them, go extinct as brands built them with a wider fit. Now the Puma Ultra Ultimate 2023 is an option again for those who have been squeezed out of such a fit. There may not be as many clamouring for slimmer boots, but those who are, now have an option that doubles up as a solid speed boot.