Review: PUMA RS 9.8 (Space)
PUMA can’t go wrong with their RS range of sneakers. The latest pack is the PUMA RS 9.8 – a not-so-chunky, retro, yet futuristic sneaker.
The RS 9.8 got its name from the speed of gravitational acceleration near the surface of the earth which is 9.8 m/s² – which means that free-falling objects will increase in speed by approx. 9.8 metres per second.
Now you guys learned something about science, let’s move on with the sneaker. There will be four colourways, Space, Core, Cosmic and Sci-Fi/Gravity.
There’s also a Puma RS 9.8 NASA Space Explorer that comes in white and silver. This special sneaker was launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission.
Let’s jump into the review – and find out if you should buy these sneakers or not.
The RS 9.8 is one in the handful of silhouettes that feature in the PUMA FUTRO range – PUMA’s range of futuristic sneakers, which are rebuilt and reimagined from their archive of retro sneakers. The first being the PUMA RS-X.
If you place the RS 9.8 and the RS-X side-by-side, you would either vibe with one or the other – seldom both.
When PUMA debuted their RS range last year with the RS-X, many people didn’t vibe with the chunkiness and the OTT use of layers, overlays and colours. With the RS 9.8 – we’re seeing a sobered down version of the loud, chunky, crazy RS-X.
The 9.8 is a lot more mature and serious. It’s almost like the RS-X grew up and got a job – while still holding on to it’s rebellious heart within.
The Space colourway features a mixed textile/mesh upper in a grey-to-white colour with six red overlays, three in suede and three in synthetic leather. The sneaker’s midsole also has 3 black oblong protrusions, adding to it’s futuristic design in order to create unique, space-inspired spheres.
The final pop of monochromatic colour comes in the form of textile formstrips, which is the usual ‘PUMA’ tapering stripes on both sides of each sneaker in grey.
We also have a plain rubber outsole with the PUMA logo under the heel. It isn’t very colourful like the RS-X – but it serves its purpose for traction and grip.
Lastly, in terms of text on the sneaker, we have the PUMA logo flanked by “RS-9.8” and “Running System” on the tongue. On the rear, you have “R\\SYSTEM” embossed on the heel guard – you can’t see it very well, but its there.
Why is the “Running System” so important? More below under ‘Comfort’.
I’ve used the RS 9.8 regularly for the past 3 weeks. On one of those days, after 11 hours in a pair of Air Fear Of God Raid’s, I threw on the PUMA RS-9.8 Space’s and I couldn’t be happier. Saying these kicks are comfortable is an understatement – and that’s thanks to their signature Running System (RS) technology.
PUMA broke the mould with their RS tech. They can throw any upper on that midsole, and the brand will have a hit sneaker. The midsole is made from lightweight polyurethane and almost changes to accommodate the shape of your feet.
Since the majority of the sneaker’s upper is constructed from textile and mesh, your foot doesn’t feel suffocated at all. While the sneaker does look quite smothering in pictures – thanks to the several overlays – it is far from it. The material used for and around the tapering ‘PUMA’ formstrips is incredibly light and breathable.
If you use this sneaker regularly, and to it’s full potential you needn’t worry. Mesh usually tends to loosen over time, luckily I don’t foresee an issue with the RS 9.8 as the sides and of the sneaker are textile.
PUMA’s are always true to size, and there’s absolutely no need to go a .5 size larger. Since the tip of the shoe is mesh and textile– wide feet would fit snug. And the additional polyurethane cushions in the insole would take care of skinny feet so everyone’s happy.
Since the RS 9.8 runs on the same Running System Technology as the previous RS model, midsole support is similar to the RS-X:
Follow me on this; let’s get a bit technical. The midsole supports the medial longitudinal arch, right from your heel to the ball of your foot. There’s a polyurethane protrusion built on top of the sole that effectively ‘fills in the gap’ right in the middle of your feet.
Now this is quite normal for several sneaker manufacturers.
Adidas do it, for example the NMD Racer features a Thermoplastic polyurethane stabilizer in the arch. However, it feels a lot more familiar here – a lot more natural and comfortable.
The only difference here is that the RS-X includes another polyurethane cushion higher up by the foot’s anterior transverse arch. (You would have to peek deep into the sneaker to see it, or shove your hand in to feel it.)
The T-shaped protrusion cushions the arch of your feet, right at the flex point of the sneaker. As that part of your foot takes the most pressure during a run.
However, and for some odd reason – the RS 9.8 does not include this additional cushion.
If you don’t have the courage to pull off a chunky loud sneaker, such as the RS-X, the RS 9.8 is for you. It’s a casual sneaker that you could even wear to work. If you’re over 35 and jealous of the fire kicks that the younger kids in your office wear – consider picking this up.
I would recommend the RS 9.8 to non-sneakerhead friends, who just want a comfortable pair of sneakers, one that is affordable but still gives them some form of street cred.
On the other hand, if you like loud chunky sneakers like me – go for any one of the numerous RS-Xs out there. There have been days where I contemplated wearing the RS-X over the RS 9.8. That being said – there’s no reason not to have this in your rotation. It’s classy, streamlined and a very good-looking sneaker.