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.
Good to know
The Puma NRGY Neko Knit is a workout shoe created to endure high-impact training sessions. It is aptly named after the NRGY cushioning technology used in the midsole unit. Comprised of numerous thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) pellets, it delivers a responsive, shock-absorbing platform.
The trainer makes use of a slip-on design to help the wearer slide the foot in effortlessly. Once the foot is inside, it is safely braced by the laces that run across the midfoot. A snug foothold is also ensured by the woven material which makes up the upper unit.
The NRGY Neko Knit by Puma employs a full-length rubber compound to protect the platform against the wear-and-tear. Part of it forms a toe bumper at the front to guard this high-wear area.
The rubber is made textured to provide a sticky grip on gym surfaces. There is also a variety of lugs placed throughout the unit for enhanced traction.
The outsole features two apertures: a triangular one in the heel and an elongated one in the forefoot. Their shape and positioning help the platform be more flexible in the right areas.
The Puma NRGY Neko Knit utilizes the brand’s proprietary NRGY cushioning. It is a full-length compound which consists of small TPU balls. They are fused together to absorb shock upon impact and transform it into explosive energy. This unit is also made to be lightweight and flexible to accommodate agile footwork during the workout.
This Puma trainer makes use of a nearly seamless upper to offer a smooth, chafing-free coverage. The upper is comprised of a tightly woven fabric which wraps the foot in a snug, sock-like manner.
It is also designed as a slip-on trainer. The pull tabs at the heel and on the instep help the wearer put on the shoe faster and easier.
The footwear has a low-cut silhouette to allow for unhindered ankle movement. The front and the back of the collar are extended to create a secure foothold once the shoe is on.
Synthetic reinforcements are added on the sides and around the heel for extra support and protection. The ones on the sides have several holes which function as eyelets. The shoelaces run through these eyelets, securing the fit in the midfoot. They can be adjusted at the wearer’s preference.