Despite the world turning towards the collar, PUMA has never had any intention of forcing themselves to join the fray or copy a competitor's toy. The evoTouch may have the world thinking the German brand is finally joining the collar game, but Puma is still making sure that they colour outside the lines on their own terms.

Is PUMA finally succumbing to the strong tug of the current? Or is the evoTOUCH going to be strong enough to swim its own lane?

Whenever a new boot silo emerges, most are willing to give it a fresh slate unless it has connections to a silo that was discontinued (i.e. CTR360 - Maestri). The evoTOUCH has zero previous attachments, so we were excited to see what the newest offering from the big cat happened to be. Whenever you hear of a boot crafted from kangaroo leather, it certainly becomes an interesting proposition to any player. Add in that PUMA doesn’t produce anything other than top-notch leather, and the evoTOUCH was already a “must-have” before we even got it in our hands. The addition of a collar-esque silhouette merely upped our curiosity. Will the evoTOUCH have the gas to push PUMA back into the often two-way Swooshed and Striped conversation?

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What’s gotten into the water at PUMA HQ?

While we expect PUMA to reach into the farthest stretches of the color spectrum in the coming months, the initial colorways they're going with are a safe duo of classic "Black/White/Safety Yellow" and "Birch/Peacost/Black" for a stylish new look for the boot. The soleplate has the bright yellow spine of the SpeedTrack, but this boot still flies in well under the radar. Considering the amount of press that we normally see with a new boot launch, it almost feels like PUMA wants this boot to sit on the sidelines for now. The only actual “evoTOUCH” branding sits at the top of the “tongue” and near the heel. We’re loving the look, but is this the greatest way to have a major impact upon release?

One of the more noticeable things about this boot, especially to leather purists, is the entire lack of stitching until you reach the heel.  It almost gives the presence of the boot being made of a synthetic, but, make no mistake, that’s leather on there. If you take away the evoKNIT sock, you’ve basically got a classic King style boot. Add in the sock, and it’s a whole new ball game.

The evoTOUCH Pro comes with a set of insoles that you can use to add some extra comfort. In true PUMA fashion, the boot has some very unique characteristics. One of those being the fact that the boot functions without an insole. PUMA just made the build underfoot soft enough to work instead of what we see on most boots: an extremely stiff and hard piece of plastic underfoot (making an insole an absolute necessity). For testing, we tried it with both set-ups and, surprisingly, found the boot performed similarly with either set-up.

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PUMA knows comfort. Kangaroo leather almost requires comfort. Can the combo work its magic again?

Anyone that has used the evoSPEED SL in kangaroo leather or any other PUMA offerings that use the supple material knows that PUMA can rock this particular build. It’s the evoKnit that adds in a new wrinkle and could send this down a crash course, but we were still optimistic about PUMA giving us a smooth ride. It could have amazing touch to match with its name, but if the comfort isn’t there to match... we could have a full-collared flop on our hands.

One thing that PUMA nailed with this boot is how easily it slips onto your foot. The evoKNIT that PUMA used might be the most pliable and softest knitted material that a brand has placed on a boot to date. Adidas coats the ACE+ with a thin coat of synthetic, so the evoKnit certainly sits closer in the world of the knitted materials to the Flyknit of Nike. Still, the thickness of the Flyknit in the areas where it hasn’t been coated with thin coatings makes it feel a little bulkier and stiffer than the evoKNIT does right out of the box.

Once you slip your foot in, you notice that the evoKnit actually lines 90% of the boot. The kangaroo leather merely sits atop the evoKNIT in order to provide structure and extra padding to the touch. As we mentioned, PUMA’s knitted material is incredibly soft. It makes the boot feel like a warm glove as soon as you slip the boot on, and it helps make the boot feel nice while the leather is shaping to your foot.

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There’s only one negative in the comfort of this boot and it comes right at the edges of the Formstripe. It isn’t anything too negative, but the boot is a bit tight right in this area because of the mold of the leather. It disappears after only a short while in the boot, but be aware that there might be some tightness when you first try the boots on. It’s always a good sign that the leather starts a little tight so that it can still fit well after the natural stretch... if a leather boot is loose when you start wearing the boot, it’s not going to end well after your break-in.

The comfort of the collar is aided by how soft the evoKnit actually is. If PUMA had put any degree of stiffness into the material or added a spot on the back like Nike used on their first few collars, blisters would have been an issue. The way PUMA has constructed the evoTOUCH actually has the closest feel to a sock of any of the collared boots in existence. This rings true in terms of thickness, elasticity, and just general feel. In fact, there were times where we forgot it was even there.

The soleplate isn’t as flexible as the evoPower, but it still has some serious flex. In fact, if the boot didn’t have the spine running down the middle, the flexibility would be almost identical to what is found on the evoPOWER. All in all, there’s nothing but positives on how the boot’s comfort pans out... add in that all these goodies come in a fairly lightweight package, and the boxes just keep getting checked.

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If you’re going to label your boot “Touch,” then it better deliver on the goods, right?

The evoKNIT feels great. The kangaroo leather quickly molds to your foot. The comfort lends itself perfectly to a boot that wants to base itself on ease on the ball, but it’s going to take more to bring home the bacon. Slippers are incredibly comfortable... but you don’t see any of your mates wearing them on the pitch. The evoTOUCH was nice out of the box, but it’s when we get the ball zipping around that decides whether boots shine or fade into the distance. PUMA isn’t known for going quietly into that good night... so we were keen to get the evoTOUCH on the ball.

As soon as you start jogging around, the whole boot offers an incredibly uniform feel. We normally only list this type of thing in the comfort section, but the use of the non-tempered evoKnit all over the boot means that the area on your instep provides the exact same feel as the spot just above your pinky toe. PUMA has employed a fairly thin kangaroo leather to sit on top of the knit, so it doesn’t get too dampened from ball to foot.  The only area that has a different feel is the area where the tongue would normally be, as it is the thinnest area of knit (to stretch to accommodate your foot) and the only spot devoid of leather. Having the ball at your foot shows off the smooth and close touch that PUMA would have used their decades of experience with the PUMA King to aid in the creation of such a quality upper on a new boot.

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Whether dribbling at pace or bringing the ball out of the air, it always feels like the feel for the ball is incredibly clean for a boot that has two materials making up the upper. Passing is very enjoyable in the evoTOUCH, and receiving the ball feels fantastic. The padding on the boot finds the sweet spot for great touch and avoids the downfall that padded boots can sometimes find (getting to the point where it hurts your actual touch). Receiving the ball somehow feels even better, as the knit and leather cushions the ball right into your foot. Shots that ping off the area that is mostly knit feel great as they leave your boot. Everything off the leather has a slight bit more padding, but still that great warmth you’d expect from putting your foot through the ball.

The biggest talking point about this boot has to be the addition around the heel... ok, we’ll call it a collar. Covered in GripTex arrows that are supposed to aid in lockdown, we had a lot of questions facing this piece of the boot. Our first interaction actually showed us that it feels like a great complimentary piece to the way PUMA used evoKnit to build the whole boot. By not having the material go further up the boot, it let’s it feel more like it functions together with the boot instead of an unnecessary extension. A nice slight squeeze above where your ankle sits helps make the fit feel great, but isn’t going to make players that worry about the collar style boot have anything that is going to make them uncomfortable. Looking at the boot, we think it’s how low PUMA cut the heel and let the evoKnit carry that load that makes it work so well. Any higher, and it’s useless... and lower, and it wouldn’t have the structure to lock your heel in.

The soleplate on the evoTOUCH shows that PUMA knows what to put under the hood. The spine that PUMA placed on the boot makes it stay responsive while still being incredibly flexible. This makes sure that you can make those quick cuts effortlessly while still smashing through a shot using your foot’s natural flex and motion.

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It’s got the comfort. It’s got the touch. But, will it have the backing to go the distance?

We loved every second in the evoTOUCH Pro and it has the potential to still be in the conversation when we’re tossing out our favorites at the end of 2016. Still, are we crazy in feeling like this boot has garnered about as much attention as... well... we’re hard pressed to remember a boot launch that felt like it’s gone as unnoticed as this one. Could it be that PUMA missed their window by waiting until after the major tournaments?

PUMA has a very strong front-line to move forward into 2016 and the beginning of 2017. If the evoTOUCH starts to have some players give it a try, we have no doubt that they will become a fan immediately. The difficulty feels mainly in the exposure that the boot has gotten and will continue to get. Perhaps PUMA are hoping to start to get the amount of “word of mouth” exposure that brands like Mizuno uses to their advantage. With boots like they currently have, it’s possible... but that kind of push takes years to develop.

The future has incredible potential for the big cat... it’s all just a matter of seeing if its realised. Keep giving us stuff at the level of the evoTOUCH, and PUMA’s array of product will be undeniable.