Puma NRGY Neko Knit: The slipper shoe
You know when you have no intention to buy something, and then you decide to try it on, and it’s so comfortable that you have to buy it? That’s what happened to me with the Puma NRGY Neko Knit.
I have never been a fan of Puma shoes. To me, they seemed inferior (in technology and comfort) to the heavyweights of the sports footwear industry. I’ve never seen a Puma shoe and thought to myself: I have to get that shoe!
After trying this shoe on once and liking the initial comfort, this was my chance to finally give Puma a chance.
Upper & materials
The synthetic upper is soft and spongy. The material is super comfortable but also super warm. There is a seam on the inside of the shoe, which I can feel if I wear thin socks.
Going sockless is definitely out of the question. There are two synthetic reinforcements on either side of the shoe which the laces pass through. There is another synthetic panel around the heel for support.
The seam on the inside medial side is hard and unpleasant.
The fancy lacing system is inspired by the Netfit system that Puma uses on its more premium running shoes.
For casual use, I had to make the laces really loose because I could feel the lacing pressure through the upper because the material is so soft. For running, I had to tighten the laces to try to avoid heel slippage.
You have to be very careful when adjusting the laces: too loose, and you will get heel slippage, too tight, and you will feel the pressure.
SoftFoam+ is the name of the sockliner in the NRGY Neko. It is hands down the thickest insole I have ever seen, about twice the thickness of a regular sockliner.
When your foot compresses the insole, it gives you a sinking-in sensation similar to a slipper. It reminds me of memory foam. I wish more running brands would use this type of insole because the step-in comfort of the NRGY Neko is second to none.
The sockliner has a smooth material on the top with a large, spongy volume.
The midsole is not stiff, and the upper is minimal, so flexibility is great. The shoe flexes with ease in the forefoot.
Outsole & wear
The rubber outsole is thick, hard, and full contact.
The rubber outsole is so hard that you can feel the edges of the lugs when applying pressure.
It shows minimal wear after many kilometres. The forefoot has a lug pattern which I could feel underneath my forefoot when it comes into contact with the ground.
There is no sign of wear, even in places, I would usually see accelerated wear.
Midsole & ride
Puma’s NRGY midsole is similar to Boost but much, much firmer. It is also made of small TPU balls fused together.
The midsole does not compress much and overall borders on firm. All of the softness comes from the thick insole. I prefer my midsoles to be soft to medium soft, and the NRGY Neko is slightly too firm for me.
Puma, like Adidas, also coats the midsole. It will chip or scratch over time to reveal the white underneath.
There is much more cushioning in the heel than the forefoot, so it is more suited to heel strikers.
The Neko is more suitable for short runs because the midsole lacks deep cushioning. The ride is also not very smooth because I could feel the bumpy outsole underneath my forefoot.
My least favourite part of the shoe is the heel collar. It flares upwards but not far away enough from the Achilles.
What happens is that if you don’t wear high socks, there is friction between the collar and the Achilles. This shoe would have made a great casual shoe for walking long distances in if it wasn’t for this crucial flaw.
Redness and blisters will appear if you walk or run long distances in these without long socks.
The NRGY Neko would have been a great casual shoe if the high heel collar didn’t bother. If there is any running or fast movement, the heel slips, so I can’t recommend it for gym training.
There is a reason why Puma is not considered a serious running shoe brand. The NRGY Neko is marketed as a running shoe on their website, but I doubt any runner ever tested the shoe.
Step-in comfort is great, but this shoe is designed for running.
I can’t recommend this shoe to anyone unless you like wearing high socks and enjoy an unsecured feeling heel.