TOKAY Ultimate boots: a review

Reviews, TOKAY

TOKAY Ultimate boots have begun to become more and more widespread on fields across the world – it hasn’t been too long since the Kickstarter and they’ve already distributed around 900 pairs in just a few months. TOKAY generously sent two pairs to ShowGame towers for us to review – so Hani Pendlebury and Sean Colfer stepped up to the mark. Here’s what they thought.

SEAN: So, Hani, we are here to talk about the TOKAY Ultimate boots. I have a pair of the black, mid-cut boots and you have a pair of…

HANI: I have a pair of the grey low-cut ones. The difference is that yours look like they have a little bit of a sock going on there.

SEAN: Yes, mine go up over my ankle and are quite tight around there. We’ll go into some detail about that later but they do look very different from each other. We have a few different categories to talk about here and then we’ll come up with a summary at the end. Let’s go into the first category: the look. Hani, you go first.

THE LOOK

HANI: They are quite wide and low in terms of the spacing of the shoe. When you’re looking at the baseplate with the studs on it, it really is quite wide. We’ll talk about that more later in terms of how it impacts the way they feel, but I think they are pretty nice looking. I like the colour of the logo against the grey. They grey works for me, it’s very distinctive and you really notice when playing against other people in them.

SEAN: I notice for sure when people are wearing them playing against me. You can see pretty much immediately, particularly the grey ones since the colour and the logo on the side is pretty noticeable. My black ones, perhaps because of the fact that they’re mid-cut and so they go significantly higher than your low-cut ones, look a bit bulkier than yours do. It could also be that they’re black, the grey seem to look a bit sleeker. They look to me like they’d be quite heavy.

HANI: I think they look blunt. The toe of the boots is quite rounded, which is not a criticism but just a note – they’re more rounded than other cleats I’ve seen. I guess it’s quite nice because they aren’t going to pinch as much on your toes.

SEAN: The big difference between what you’d buy in this country and these is that whatever you buy in this country is for football, so they’re moulded to your feet so you can kick a ball. These are designed for nothing except running so there’s no function they’re performing other than that.

HANI: They’re certainly not that heavy, holding them in my hand, and I suppose the other thing is that with football boots you have the toe protection element which these don’t need. It sort of makes it a bit more balanced in terms of look.

SEAN: I love the tongue with all the colours. With my mid-cut I don’t have that, which is a shame.

HANI: It’s so pretty! I have to lace mine quite tight so you can’t see it but it is a delight to see the fade effect.

STUD PATTERN

SEAN: Second category: stud pattern. It is obviously designed for Frisbee, so it’s designed to help people cut. We have a toe stud, we have half sized studs on the side to help with changing direction and we have longer studs at the back than the front, as well as one right at the back of the heel. It seems to me that it’s a significant variation to what you’d find on football boots. Have you found it helps at all?

HANI: Well in football, you can’t have the toe studs because of the tackling element of the game.

SEAN: You’d slash people’s legs to bits.

HANI: Exactly. So I quite like the fact that there’s the variance here. The outer edge studs are also a little bit longer than in the middle, and then there’s the addition of the little teeth on the edges. They have a really good grip. Underneath the arch you also have a criss-cross pattern intended to stop you twisting your foot, so they’re incredibly stable. As someone who wears orthotics, that’s extremely helpful. Overall I think they offer very good grip and the only thing I would say is that it could use one more toe stud at the very top.

The stud pattern and base plate are obvious here. Photo courtesy of TOKAY.

SEAN: I found them very good in terms of grip. I have played on several different surfaces with them and never had any issues. With football boots I sometimes feel like there’s a degree of instability under my feet, in particular when it’s a bit damp. I’ve never felt like that with these, even in the worst conditions we’ve played in. It’s difficult to say with conviction because we’re talking about marginal gains here, but I do believe they have better grip than most of the boots I have owned previously.

HANI: I think you’re onto a winner with the stud pattern. I’ve not been on a surface where I’ve found them unstable.

THE FEEL AND FIT

SEAN: In terms of feel, we have relatively differing views for a very particular reason.

HANI: One thing we agree on – these are perfect straight out of the box.

SEAN: Yeah, there’s no wear in period. Like, at all.

HANI: They’re super, super comfy.

SEAN: The padding on the bottom, and in particular the padding on the heel, is great. I have real issues with boots around there and I always get blisters for the first few weeks with new boots, but neither of us had any issues at all with them. That is a good sign. They come with different kinds of insoles too, but I have relatively broad feet so they fit me pretty much perfectly. I still need to lace them firmly in the middle but no complaints from me on fit.

HANI: There are two things with my feet I need to consider when buying boots; they are quite narrow and small for my height, and I have to wear orthotic inserts. There are bigger insoles for narrow feet included with these boots, but even when cutting today I can feel the boots getting looser as the game goes on. I need to re-lace them tightly because my feet start moving around in them. If you have narrower feet then they’re slightly more challenging. There’s not much precedent for women’s-specific boots but it’s getting a bit better with the rise of women’s football in this country, but it might be nice to see in future some women’s specific sizing – something slightly narrower, or at least an option for that.

SEAN: It does seem that women’s sports kit in general, outside of running, does seem to be difficult to come by. I think it’s a very good point to bear in mind given that women’s feet do tend to be narrower, generally, than men’s.

HANI: They do feel really good though, they’re very comfortable and they’re easy to lace up. They’ve held up pretty well.

SEAN: I have size eight feet and these are a little roomier at the front than size eight football boots I’d usually buy, but that could well be a good thing since I haven’t jammed my toes at all or killed any toenails which, again, has been an issue early on with boots in the past. For me, overall, pretty positive.

HANI: The resounding thing for me is that it hasn’t made my feet worse.

SEAN: The mid-cut thing is a little odd to start with. If you’re playing on grass regularly then it doesn’t really make much of a difference but the one thing it’s there for is to stop the black rubbercrump bits getting into your boots if you play on 3G. And that works perfectly, not a single bit got into my shoes.

HANI: If you wear orthotics then I would recommend the mid-cut, since mine have pushed my heel out of the shoe a little bit. The mid-cut will keep you anchored a bit better.

PLAYING PERFORMANCE

SEAN: In terms of on the pitch while you’re playing, then, how have you felt them?

HANI: Grippy. I have played, even just in training on Clapham Common, in a lot of different conditions. We’ve trained in snow and rain, and these have been good for those sludgy conditions. It’s quite hard underfoot now and they’ve been good for that too because of the stud pattern. They’re a sold all-rounder.

SEAN: I agree. I’ve played on all those surfaces and on 3G as well, and on every surface I think they’ve reacted pretty well. There’s been no surface or situation where they’ve felt like I’m not getting grip. The baseplate of the shoe is incredibly rigid and there’s been a couple of times when I’ve stepped on the side of my foot and I feel like these have kept my ankle from turning. They’re very solid and I feel like they’ve kept my ankles safer.

HANI: The word I would use is stable. They’re really stable.

THE COST

SEAN: So far, so good for the boots in review then. I think the next thing to talk about is the cost. I don’t know how you feel about football boots, but usually I go to Decathlon, find some bright ones for about 40 quid and I buy them. I don’t spend too much money or time on it, and I am fine with replacing mine every year. Would you spend the money on these boots?

HANI: I am the opposite, because I have to be careful with my feet. I invested in a pair of American football boots last season – I say invested, I was bought them as a birthday present – and they were north of £100. They weren’t cheap, but you can pick them up for about £70 now. It’s something I really invest in, so for me it’s a tricky question. I like these boots, but you can see the difference since this is their first year post Kickstarter so they haven’t had the level of product development that you see out in the States. I think the build quality is very good for the price, these are going to last you I think and seem to be well made. I’m not sure you could convince me to run away from my brand giants since at every Tour we went to, I took both. If it was a big game I’d go with my NFL boots because they’re like socks with studs on, the fit is so good. That’s no disrespect to these boots, just personal preference. If you aren’t used to that higher price point then it’s quite a shock to go up to it I think.

SEAN: It seems like we have two different reasons to not go up to that price then – I cycle through a cheaper pair every season, and you invest that kind of money in the higher quality boots. I’ve been wearing them pretty much exclusively since we got them…

HANI: How are you finding the upgrade?

SEAN: I like them. I don’t think I’ve had any downgrade in big games – the opposite, in fact – and I like how they feel and how they’ve performed. My issue with them would be, having mentioned marginal gains earlier, that I have never found that boots make a significant difference. So would I spend over £100 on boots? I’m not totally sure that I would, but admittedly I have at least noticed small, positive differences that I never have before.

HANI: And you’ve been saying that there’s greater ankle stability too. I don’t think these are the boots for me, but my podiatrist would have lots of positive things to say about them. They’re super stable, they have good grip and if you’ve got the money to invest and that’s what you’re after than I think they’re good. The other good thing is that if you’re around when they’ve set up a stand at a tournament, they’re happy for you to go and try them on, so definitely do that if you see them. They’re really well designed, so who knows; if they do offer some slimmer options I might change my mind. They’re cracking shoes.

SEAN: I think the big thing is that if we talk about this again in three years and I’m still wearing the same pair then I very well may pay £105 for another pair.

HANI: Mate, don’t wear the same boots for three years in a row.

SEAN: Oh, I wear them until they break. I replace mine every year but that’s just because they fall apart. If these are still going in three years then I’ll still wear them and I’d say they’re probably worth it. If not, then I probably wouldn’t. They look well made though, I have no reason to think they’ll fall apart.

Justin Foord wearing TOKAYs at Tour 3. Photo courtesy of TOKAY.


FINAL SCORE

SEAN: So final category then; score out of 10. This is from your personal perspective, rather than for someone else.

HANI: So with my feet as they are, I’d give these a solid 6.5. The issue is just the fit, as my feet are too narrow for them. In actual games, I wasn’t wearing them because of the fit.

SEAN: I’m going with an 8. I found them good, I found they made a small but positive difference to how I’ve been playing and how my feet have been this year. The only thing is that look-wise they’re a bit bulky and price-wise it’s a lot for an initial outlay. The mid-cut is something I haven’t tried before and it’s a little odd but I’ve not found anything negative, other than when I tore it pulling them on – and that was probably my own fault – they do tell you not to do that…

 

So there we have it. If you own a pair of these boots then get in touch and let us know what you think! And if you want to read more about them, you can visit the TOKAY website here. They have a wide variety of sizes and go all the way down to 3.5 and up to 12, so hopefully you’ll find one that’s right for you.

Featured image by Claire Baker.

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