PUMA launched the latest version of the highly-revered King franchise ahead of the 2014 Holiday season in the form of the King II (now available at World Soccer Shop). While we have not seen any of PUMA’s big name footballers wearing them as yet the legacy of the King was established in its early days when the boot was worn by the legendary Pele, Eusebio and Johan Cruyff. Diego Maradona also wore the King in his prime in the 1980s.
After a two year wait, the PUMA King II arrived with several technology improvements over 2013’s PUMA King. While the focus of the King II is superior fit it does offer a host of features that modernize the series for 2014. They include:
- A soft, full-grain premium leather upper for improved ball feel and touch
- The PUMA EverFit lacing system for a snug molded fit
- A minimalistic 3D external heel counter for maximum stability and fit for increased performance and comfort
- A Pebax outsole with bladed and conical studs for superior grip, maneuverability, and speed on firm pitches
These are coupled with the other elements of the PUMA King to produce a multi-positional boot that comes in at a weight of 9.8 oz.
The 2013 King had a look that was skewed towards the minimalism of classic football boots. PUMA’s designers have taken a different approach for the King II and opted for a contemporary transformation of the line. In line with this approach is PUMA’s updated reissue of the 2001 King SL Classico for the boot purists among us.
The PUMA King II is a sleek affair whose key design features are emphasized via the use of a stunning Majolica Blue/White/Lime Punch colorway that is both elegant and modern. The Lime Punch on the boot is not overly used but its strategic placement on the tongue, underneath the EverFit system, on the PUMA Formstripe, above the heel counter and on the King II’s studs is nothing short of brilliant.
The use of mesh for the EverFit system brings a new look to PUMA’s current line of boots that is unlike anything else on the market today. It blends well with the rectangular stitching at the front of the boot that is quite reminiscent of that used for the now retired (but fondly remembered) PUMA PowerCat 1 that was worn by Chelsea FC standout Cesc Fabregas in his FC Barcelona days.
One of the best-looking King boots to date, the PUMA King II is definitely a head turner either on the pitch of in a display case. They capture the shoe’s storied heritage while signaling their intent as boots that mean business in 2015.
Comfort and fit are the two primary areas of focus for the PUMA King II. The EverFit lacing system at the center of the shoe’s upper is the key to achieving both.
First seen in the inside of the PUMA evoSPEED 1 in the summer of 2012, the EverFit cage has been present on all three versions of the speed boot and on the 2014’s evoPOWER 1. The heritage-inspired King II has become the third PUMA boot to use the innovative feature.
Upon lacing up the PUMA King II you will notice that pulling the lacing gives an amazing wraparound, cradle-like feel of the boot on your foot. This is particularly so in the midfoot area where the webbing that connects the laces to the outsole is present. The fit is easily adjusted by loosening the pull you put on the laces or by making them tauter.
If PUMA were to change the sole of the King II to one that can be of everyday use then the shoe would make a fantastic cross trainer sole because of its superior fit on the foot.
The PUMA King II fits as true to size as we’ve ever seen in a soccer shoe in the sizing department. Therefore we recommend buying your usual soccer bot size and width.
The only fit issue that we had with the PUMA King II was the fact that the base of the tongue folded inwards at its bottom the first couple of times our tester tried them on. As a result, he had to open them up them and put back on the boot. This problem disappeared with subsequent wears of the new King.
Being a happy wearer of the last three iterations of the PUMA King, I excitedly opted to forego the formal break-in of the King II and took it out of the box and straight to the park for a pick-up game on artificial turf. Action on a grass pitch followed a few days later.
The feel of the PUMA King II on my soles was positive from the onset as I warmed up in the new pair of boots. Once I got moving in them on the turf field they were easy to move in and supported me well during sprint, lateral moves and skill moves. I did feel a bit of stiffness on the soles of my feet after about 45 minutes of action but this was expected since I did not break the shoes in. The second time round in them (this time on the aforementioned grass field), my feet had become quite attuned to the King II and no sole discomfort was experience. Not bad for a new pair of shoes that I never practiced in!
PUMA has gone with the same tried and tested stud configuration and combination of rounded and bladed cleats used for the 2013 King in the King II soccer boot. The only stability influencing change that we could discern was the slimming of the external heel counter. While this may have reduced the heel area protection of the boot I did not find any decrease in stability. The PUMA King II remains among the most stable boots on the market.
The King II does an amazing job of providing traction on both turf and natural grass surfaces during every move you can think of when playing soccer. On turf you actually forget you’re even wearing cleated shoes and feel like you’re in a pair of running shoes that can keep your body in place as intended at all times.
The best known and most prized characteristic of the PUMA King series through its long history is the impeccable touch on the ball that the boot has provided year after year. The King II continues this tradition splendidly.
The already mentioned superior fit, ride and stability of the PUMA King II work in unison with its leather upper to make dribbling with the boot second nature upon slipping it on for the first time. Even though the King II is not a stripped down lightweight or SL boot the feel that it gives is very similar to one of its lighter counterparts.
The toe box of the PUMA King II has been reworked since the King 2013. However it isn’t totally unfamiliar since it is similar to the front of the PowerCat 1 boot in terms of look and feel. The end result is what I thought to be improved contact with the ball when shooting or passing with the front of the foot. As a former PowerCat wearer, I found that doing both with the King II was extremely easy to becoming acclimatized to. This is how I was able to take them straight out of the box and into a scrimmage.
The PUMA King II offers very good protection all around the foot thanks to a good layer of padding and its heel counter. The tongue is thin in order to aid with ball contact but does have a few strips of padding on it. These do offer some degree of metatarsal protection. I can attest to this since the top of my foot was stepped on by a player wearing bladed studs the first time that I played with them on turf. While the experience was painful I do believe that it would have been worse had I been wearing another boot with an unpadded thin tongue.
After over a month of use on turf and winter-weather natural grass, the PUMA King II is holding up very well. The expected creases that appear in the upper after use are there. Other than that the boot looks almost as good as it did coming out of the box once cleaned up. PUMA continues to live up to its reputation of making high quality soccer boots.
The PUMA King II was the last of the three new boots released by PUMA in 2014. The evoPOWER introduced an entirely new type of power boot while the evoSPEED continued to be an alternative for those wanting lightweight soccer shoes. The PUMA King II joins the lineup as a solid all-rounder that can be worn in any position on the pitch with confidence and the assurance of good performance. At an MSRP of $144.99 that will drop as new colorways are introduced, it is a steal compared to the $200+ average price point of a professional grade boot nowadays. If you’re in the market for new boots this spring then we highly recommend giving them a try.