The Future of the King
Puma has had a lot of great hits recently, with the Future and Ultra series leading the line for the Big Cat. Unfortunately, the while the first model of the King Platinum was largely seen as excellent, the follow up has left a lot to be desired. But a solution to this, coming from Puma Japan is the King Mirai. The King Mirai is more of an evolution from the previously (very popular) Paramexico series, which was normally only widely available in Japan, rather than a whole new boot. As the boot as no become available in Europe, it can possibly be seen as the better alternative to the current King Platinum. If Puma are to keep up their good form, then they should be seriously considering pushing the King Mirai as the go to k leather boot in their line-up.
Fit and Feel
From out of the box, the kangaroo leather section of the boot is pretty soft, while the synthetic section is less so. The initial on feet feel is pretty good. The leather quickly takes the shape of the foot, and the deep lacing system means that there is a lot of adjustability in the boot. Surprisingly, the synthetic Speed Mesh midfoot is fairly flexible and does a good job of locking the foot into place rather than squeezing the foot. This means that because of this and the before-mentioned deep central lacing system, the boot can be worn by a majority of foot types.
One of the things that is also appreciated on the King Mirai is that the leather has a good amount of padding without being overly bulky. This means that while the leather is comfortable, it does not feel like the focus was only on comfort. The softness of the leather and the flexible Speed Mesh is also reflected in the ease in which the boots are broken in, which only takes about an hour or so and while the Speed Mesh is not as soft as some other synthetics found on the market, or even in the Puma brand, it makes up for this by providing a good amount of stability through the midfoot.
The stiffer midfoot also means that the boot provides good lockdown, though it will not be on the same level as something like a speed boot. However, it is better than one might expect, given the way the boot looks. The heel also provides good lockdown and the overall shape used here is good. However, one of the complaints that can be used against the heel is that it could use more padding as during the initial break-in period there are some hotspots (but no blisters) on the heel. Readers of the blog will know that I am more sensitive to the heel design on boots, but at the same time, a modern leather boot like this should have more cushioning.
This should not detract from overall fit of the King Mirai, which is good and gives a confident feeling when worn. Unlike the King Platinum series even the soleplate seems to be better designed. This is of course the same soleplate that is used on all of the hard ground models used on the Future and the Ultra in the Asian market. It is comfortable albeit slightly thicker on the King Mirai versus the other Puma models. It does mean that the soleplate does provide a comfortable ride and there was no stud pressure to speak of.
As far as sizing goes. The King Mirai runs slightly longer than other Puma boots so I went half a size down and the fit was excellent. If you normally have space on the end of your toe, go half a size down. However, if you have wider feet, I would recommend that you go true to size.
Touch and Dribbling
The King Mirai performs admirably in all sorts of conditions. The first session in the boots was in horrendous weather, but the boot did well and there is not a point which the boot failed. The touch is roughly what one would expect of a boot of this nature, good but not overly padded to the point where there was no feeling on the ball. Interestingly, the midfoot Speed Mesh has some of Puma’s NanoGrip technology and this is more obvious when the boot is used in adverse conditions, where the slightly added in grip is useful, but it drier conditions, it works without making itself known. Basically, there is no point in which it feels like you will trip over the ball but rather there is just enough grip available to enhance the touch.
When it comes to dribbling, the boot performs like it should. The leather is thin enough to provide a good feel for the ball. This is not to say that it feels closer to a barefoot touch like one might find on other leather boots, but it is still good and the leather has just enough thickness to be noticeable without feeling like they are thick pillows on your feet. There is no complicated tech to enhance the dribbling experience but sometimes having a nice, clean, feel for the ball without overcomplicating things.
Passing and Shooting
The same can be said when hitting passes in the ball. Again, it has to be mentioned that the NanoGrip technology is noticeable when the conditions are poor and this is the same case when it comes to short passes. Longer, driven passes where the forefoot is more likely to be used means that the leather is called into action and it performs well here as well. It also has to be said that the soleplate does a good job anchoring the foot to the ground when hitting the ball with power, which means that there is a certain satisfaction when hitting long balls.
The same goes for shooting, where again the leather will not offer any surprises but there is solid performance to be had here and the soleplate provides a good stability when shooting. There is a certain enjoyment to be had from the simplicity that kangaroo leather boots provide when shooting the ball and the King Mirai is no different in this regard, offering good, simple, and consistent performance. There is nothing to enhance your technique but at the same time, there does not always need to be.
As mentioned earlier, the soleplate is comfortable, stable and provides good grip when hitting the ball. There is no kind of rapid or crazy kind of performance on offer, but what you do get is a great soleplate that gives great grip on multiple surfaces. There was no “drag” on artificial grass and in fact the soleplte felt quite at home on synthetic surfaces. There is plenty of grip on offer and as a side note, it is appreciated that there is a second stud on the middle of the front part of the soleplate as I like to use that part of the boot to control and manipulate the ball with the bottom of my foot.
So, no surprises and no added tech but there does not need to be. In a time when soleplates seem to be getting over-complicated and there is a rise in knee injuries, it is nice to have a simpler soleplate that it aimed providing comfort first over performance.
The King Mirai gives us what should be the Future blueprint for the Puma King series and with the boots having been launched in Europe, hopefully Puma will put more trust in their Japanese division and let the Puma King Mirai become the international standard Puma King as the Mirai shows the way forward. Well, we can always hope. In the meantime, the boot should be appreciated as the “proper” modern King and it is well worth picking up.
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