Puma’s ambitious Future line of football boots has seen a notable boost in interest with the inclusion of Neymar Jr. on their roster of endorsed athletes, with the Brazilian making his jump from Nike’s to the German brand at the end of 2020; but does the revamped Future silo, the Future Z, deliver something worth taking note of.
Firstly, Neymar will now always be associated with this particular boot, but while the PSG striker has made his switch from Nike’s Mercurial speed boot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the same thing. The Future Z 1.1 is less of a speed boot and more of a balanced, all-round football shoe, giving you a much more dynamic experience, with everything from the fit, feel, traction, and performance being geared towards a more general audience.
From the first appearance, there’s no denying it: these boots are bright in-person. The Future Zs are quite striking with the ‘Alert Yellow’ colourway, which lends itself to being more lumo-yellow that has popped up on past Puma models over the years. It looks good alongside the black accents on the midfoot, along with a striking inclusion of Puma’s leaping cat on the toe box. There is also an embossed ‘Future’ printed in white on the medial side, which does well to break up the colour combo. Overall, it’s a pretty good-looking boot that’ll undoubtedly draw some attention on the pitch; and for those who want to be a little more stealthy, there is a black colourway too.
Construction-wise, Puma has shifted away from the full knitted-upper from previous Future iterations, and now opting for a hybrid material that they refer to as Fuzionfit. This is a combination of a synthetic plastic (which is pliable, comfortable, and light, but also durable) along with a black and white knitted band around the midfoot. This acts as an elastic band around that mid part of your foot, providing some additional compression and delivering a snugness around that area. Of course, it also has its purpose on top of fit, as the band provides some impact absorption when controlling the ball.
There is still some additional knitted material on the collar and tongue area though (although, there’s no tongue), which compliments the softness of the upper and gives your ankle that comfortable and tender touch, making your ankle feel like it’s wearing its favourite granny-knitted beanie.
X Marks the Spot
To further iterate the tension and tightness in that midfoot area, Puma has gone with an interesting lacing configuration, which sees no lace-holes over the black Fuzionfit band, which creates a larger, tighter crossing area with the laces on the upper of the midfoot. This bigger ‘X’ of lacing creates some good lockdown and only emphasises that band’s tension, which really does highlight that this is a boot for comfort and control.
Turning it around
On the flip-side of the boot, the soleplate is made up of one-piece of reinforced plastic, which has a notable stiffness to it thanks to the diagonal-running bar connecting the forefoot and heel area. Its toe area does have some snappiness to it, but this really is a more stable and supportive soleplate to give you a more responsive feel rather than it warping to your every foot-movement.
The stud layout is an interesting one too, falling in between a conical and bladed stud, with 6 half-moon shaped studs on the front, 4 on the heel, and one supporting stud in the centre of the forefoot. Why the half-moon shape? Well, this is to give you more rotational and pivoting ability (something that many speed boots fail to deliver with their more-aggressive traction), along with a bit of bite with the flatter sides of the studs, so that you get a bit of purchase when pushing off in a certain direction. It’s a much more dynamic and ‘friendly’ stud pattern that should suit most players.
Fit and feel
With the boots on, it is clear that this is a much wider boot than Puma’s Ultra speed boot range, and also gives a bit more space in the toe-box. In my size UK9, I had a little more space in the tox-box than usual, but not enough to warrant changing up the size.
It’s hard not to admire what Puma is trying to do with their Future boot line. The Future Z, while aiming for a radical reinvention, surprisingly offers a very versatile and dynamic boot that should appease Puma fans and those looking for something that’ll deliver the goods, no matter your position, play-style, or sport.
The Puma Future Z 1.1 boots are available from Puma’s online store for R3,600, with takedown models available at lower prices too.