What is the best cleat to buy this year? With so many choices, it can be hard to narrow down exactly what you want. More importantly, however, is to figure what you need when buying a pair of soccer cleats.
Not all cleats are created equally.
The type of cleat you need can be influenced by a number of factors including position, size, strength, and age.
Materials used to make the cleat can also influence your decision and change how the cleats perform.
This article will help you separate the social media/hype factors away from the actual buying decision and help you determine which cleat is best for your purposes!
Top Soccer Cleats Comparison Chart
Soccer Cleat Brand Sterotypes
The brand name of the cleats is very important to many people.
Brand loyalty is a real phenomenon in not only the game of soccer but throughout the market in general. However, we are going to be especially careful today when looking at cleats because we are not going to tie ourselves down to any one group of cleats. Some of the most famous cleat brands include Nike and Adidas. These are the biggest two names in the world of shoes. Puma is also a major player in the world of soccer, as they have an audience that spans the entire globe for both outdoor and indoor soccer boots.
However, there are many other brands of soccer cleats to look out for. Both Under Armour and New Balance are now making strides in the industry as they have signed various shirt deals with clubs and started providing footwear to individual players. How far these brands penetrate the Nike/Adidas bubble is yet to be seen. However, they are certainly starting to carve a niche through Puma’s once-strong “the other guy” brand. Other companies that must not be looked over include Italian brand Diadora, Lotto, Mizuno, and Joma. There are other brands out there, but in terms of visibility, they are rather small in this market compared to those we just mentioned.
Here are some of the things you get from the three “big” companies. Keep in mind that there is sometimes overlap between products. A company’s cleats will have more than one area in which they work on. Nike, for example, is known as the most flashy of the companies now. By boasting the likes of Neymar Jr., they have grabbed what used to belong to Puma in the “cool factor.” Whether by truth or not, Nike has been labeled to be style-over-substance, but they have started to peg this back with their newest ankle-high boot which protects players from twisting their ankles during a well-placed kick. This could be potentially helpful to the fastest of the fast (more on that later). Adidas is known for its more traditional look, and with the end of its F-50 type class, it has gone back to the more traditional look. It is clear that Adidas provides substance over style. Puma is much like Nike, especially in the third world and in hipster circles. It once boasted a pompously green kangaroo skin boot. This shows you the levels it will go to in order to attract buyers!
The material that a soccer cleat is made from is very important in determining if it is a good fit for your individual needs and to prevent blisters. There are many different types of material that are used, and I am going to go over each of the most popular quickly so you know the advantages and disadvantages of each. As with all things, there is give-and-take, and this is certainly the case with soccer cleats. The first material is, of course, leather. Leather (or synthetics- more on that in a moment) is used for the upper part of the cleat, which is anything above the midsole (essentially anything above the foot).
This is the most premium type of leather because it gives one a “great touch,” which is everything in soccer. Basically, it gives you comfort when controlling the ball, allowing you to keep the ball close when using the proper technique. Kangaroo leather is also very light and soft, however, it is not as durable as some of the leathers we will talk about in a moment because it is not waterproof. Many professional players prefer this because it allows them the best touch. Many are moving to this simply because of the possession-style game that is emphasized throughout the game now.
Calfskin leather is much like kangaroo leather, but it is waterproof. Despite not having quite as soft a feel as kangaroo and a slightly heavier build, it is still considered a premium leather. Calfskin is also usually less expensive than kangaroo, so it is commonly seen in amateur and recreational leagues.
This type is thicker and tougher than the two aforementioned types. It is water-resistant and can sustain wear-and-tear. However, it does weigh more than kangaroo or calfskin, so if speed is necessary, you might look elsewhere. Overall, if leather is the way you want to go and you want something that will hold up, full-grain may be your answer. In my middle school days, I once used the same pair of full-grain leather cleats for 3 years until they finally begun to wear out.
An alternative to leather cleats is synthetic cleats. These vary more greatly from company-to-company and shoe-to-shoe and do not offer the same level of comfort that the leathers do. They do, however, offer a lighter option as well as being more durable than the natural leathers mentioned above and allow for more “stretch” for players with wide feet. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering which to buy. The first is that the upper-end cleats that we will look at later on are built for performance and are very light. Secondly, as with anything product, the durability will come down to how well you maintain the product. By cleaning dirt off and wiping off the upper of the shoe, the product will last much longer.
Different Types of Soccer Cleats
Believe it or not, but the type of cleats (or “studs”) you choose will have a massive impact on your performance. Sir Alex Ferguson, a former manager of Manchester United, was said to have sold striker Diego Forlan due to a fall because of wearing the wrong type of studs. So this decision is VERY critical! For many amateur players, your purchase will determine what kind of cleats you will wear for an entire season. This means that we must get this right!
Firm Ground Cleats
The first type is the most common stud found. It is also a one-size-fits-all stud. When in a pinch, the safe thing is to always buy firm ground cleats because they translate fairly well to any outdoor playing surface. They can operate in wet conditions as well as super-dry ones. However, they are intended for exactly what it sounds like- “firm ground”. The majority of the time, this will not be an issue because the ground will be fine. However, there are times where it will not be the exact perfect conditions. For those times, these studs will not be optimal, but they will still perform reasonably.
Soft Ground Cleats
Soft ground studs are great for very soft surfaces. This means that when the field is wet or damp, they can be a very useful tool. This does not mean that this would be the right choice for a moderate rain, however. Soft ground studs are very long and oftentimes they can contain metal at the bottom or be comprised totally of metal (please consult your league guidelines to find out if metal cleats are legal).
The longer stud allows one to cut from side to side quickly while digging into the ground, thus preventing one from slipping over. Soft ground cleats are not good on firm ground, and they are even worse on hard ground. Please do not use them for either of these purposes as your risk of broken ankles and other injuries increases greatly!
Hard Ground Cleats
Hard ground cleats are for the most dried out of fields. These are for uses in various hot areas where the field has turned from grass to what is essentially dirt or times when severe mud eventually changes over to dirt. These are also very useful on grass that simply hasn’t had ran in some time. These cleats usually can take quite a beating. These are decent when the ground is normal, but these would be awful in wet conditions because they are too short to dig into the ground.
There are some combination or changeable cleats out there on the market. For a time, Adidas had a very popular brand called the F50 that allowed a person to change his or her cleats in any number of ways. They had different types of uppers, which could give you speed or durability. They also allowed you to change the inside of your cleat so that you could either be speedy or comfortable. The last thing they allowed you to change were the studs themselves. You would do this with a wrench. These cleats allowed you to change from soft to firm to hard and back again if desired. There are still some of these out there, but they are not as prevalent as they once were. Even professional players have moved on from these and have simply gotten a pair of cleats for each type of situation.
Position Specific Cleats
Before we get to these reviews of the top-rated cleats on the market, we need to look at what each position emphasizes and how that could affect the type of cleat that you need to purchase. There are a couple of different trains of thought here, and ultimately it is up to the wearer to decide which way they want to go. A speedy player, let’s say a winger could take one of these two ideas: to emphasize speed or to emphasize protection. For some, they’d prefer to be even faster. For others, they are plenty fast already. So, it is your choice ultimately as to what is best for you! As a common rule, the lighter the boot, the less comfort, and most importantly the less protection you have from the potential of being injured by being stomped on or kicked. The heavier the boot, the more durable it is and the more protection it will offer you.
Best Soccer Cleats for Goalkeepers & Defenders
Goalkeepers are one of the craziest breeds of players in the entire world of sports. At any moment, they can be diving at an attacker’s feet head first. As such, I would recommend that a goalkeeper that is mainly focused on saving shots to get a more durable, protective boot. Because you will eventually be stepped on! However, if you are a top-level goalkeeper and passing is a big part of your game, you may want to look at a lighter cleat that has a better touch on it. I would also recommend the same thing for defenders as I feel that most defenders are going to be in amongst the battles and will want the added protection. This is particularly true of center backs. Full-backs or wing-backs may want to look at the more agile boots.
Best Soccer Cleats for Midfielders
For midfielders, generally, I would recommend a boot with more protection for the players that play in the center. Wide midfielders or wingers, really have a tough choice to make, as mentioned above. Just remember it is hard to get both without paying quite a lot for it! With strikers or forwards, you also have this decision. With a striker, if you are fast, I suggest a boot with minimal protection. If you are a stronger-type, then you will need a more protective boot to protect you from the ruthless defending players. In the end, it all comes down to self-awareness of understanding what type of player you are and which cleats would best complement your style.
Now Let’s Review the Top 10 Soccer Cleats for 2018!
This Adidas cleat runs is priced in the upper range and it is top-of-the-line as of this time. This cleat is also very stylish, offering people the chance to play with the same cleat as Lionel Messi. This is a firm ground stud as well, so this should translate well to just about any outdoor surface. It is synthetic made, so it should last fairly well, but it is ultra-thin, so you will miss out on protection here if that is what you seek. Overall, this is an excellent cleat for the more skillful player that wants something that will allow you to have good touch and durability. Please keep in mind that a lot of Adidas cleats, including these, run long and narrow. So if you are looking for the best soccer cleats for wide feet you may want to try them on in a store, even if you are planning to buy them online.
Making a surprise entry to the list is ASICS. This cleat can be found at a moderate price many places online. This cleat combines a synthetic upper with a synthetic sole to provide the user a very lightweight experience in the field. At an approximate weight of 8.1 oz, it goes to show that this cleat emphasizes speed. This cleat has two different color schemes. One is a more classic white and red and the other is a neon-inspired yellow and green that will please the trendy side of your game. It does feature kangaroo leather on the upper part of the boot in order to give you added touch. This cleat has 12 studs and is a firm ground cleat, emphasizing its ability to be used just about anywhere. Overall, this is a very dependable cleat that provides maximum comfort.
Nike’s first pair included comes in with a combination of synthetic and leather for its upper, trying to take the best of both worlds and blend them together. The synthetic leather provides users with a comfortable shoe while the leather provides the player with a very soft touch for in-game situations. As the name states, these are firm ground cleats. They are mostly for short-grass situations, then of course. The price range for Nike Tiempos is pretty middle-of-the-road compared to its competitors. They also have many flashy color schemes but the two-toned orange seems the most popular of these. Tiempos have a long solid reputation in the market, and with this pair, you won’t be let down.
Next on the highest-rated list is Adidas’ second-tier version of the F50. The F30 offers players the same great F50 look and design with many of its features. However, these are oftentimes less durable and/or are not quite as good when it pertains to touch. It really depends on the person using them. The F30 is completely synthetic, allowing softness, performance, and a light-weight experience. They have a grip on the front that allows the player to maximize their dribbling by keeping the ball “glued” on the foot. It is a firm ground cleat, but it set up to allow for maximum acceleration and cutting. For a very reasonable price, these are a great option for any mid-level player!
These cleats, to begin with, are firm ground. They come from Nike’s famed Mercurial line of products, yet these are very reasonably-priced, despite the reputation of the line. These are totally synthetic with a tongue built to support you and provide you comfort. The studs provide you the ability to turn quickly and accelerate on firm, natural surfaces. These come in a very vibrant yellow/lime color, and for a very moderate price, this would make a great addition to a mid-level player’s game!
These cleats are getting right back into the classical wheelhouse of Adidas that fans have known and loved for years. These cleats are the classic black with the three white lines but are accented by a nice Cobalt-looking blue. These are full-grain and calfskin, making this a premium leather shoe that will produce great touches for you. They are very durable and they have a memory foam to ensure that your great fit lasts. The studs on the back are slightly longer than the front, as are common in this line of Adidas’ firm ground shoes, thus making it easier to cut across the field in a quick, efficient manner. It also is a very comfortable shoe with padding around the ankle and heel.
This cleat comes in a scarlet, red, and white color that is very easy on the eye. It is a mostly synthetic shoe, but it does include some leather on the very upper part of the boot to provide the player with an enhanced touch. Of course, it has the “M” design on it to signify that these are Lionel Messi’s trademark brand of cleats. So, these are very popular out in the fields with people of all ages and sizes. They have a raised texture on the front to provide you with added grip for dribbling as well. Like all of the others we have seen, these are firm ground cleats and because of their synthetic nature, they are very light. These cleats are typically pretty expensive, but as they as “You get what you pay for”. Keep in mind that this is a move away from the F50 line entirely. 10.1 is replacing the F50, so it is the top-of-the-line in this class from Adidas. The second tier would be 10.2 and third-tier is 10.3. This is a great shoe if you want to be like the world’s best (in looks anyway)!
Adidas once again finds itself on the list with yet another firm ground stud. This shoe claims to be 100% synthetic throughout. This provides the player with maximum comfort. This pair has a contoured front on the upper that will allow one to pad the ball better in the middle of the game. It is really quite a nice touch and very helpful to any player. This synthetic makeup happens to be very strong, so this cleat offers maximum protection to the wearer unlike some of the above cleats.
These are the most popular pair of cleats that I see when I go to the fields. They are very flashy with a combination of orange crimson, and a HUGE white swoosh across them. As the name says, these are firm ground cleats, but these are excellent for artificial surfaces as well, so that means that they are a little more expensive than most others on the list. These are synthetic and provide users with comfort and durability as a result relatively high price. The “Nikeskin” feature gives users the ability to control the ball with ease, and the amount of grip included allows you to strike the ball very well with the inside of the foot. Overall, this a great cleat for the money and for people with wide feet!
This shoe comes is a beautiful turquoise blue to help the player stand out without looking like a peacock! This shoe is different from many on this list because it is comprised of synthetic and kangaroo leather, which will instantly enhance the touch, comfort, and breathability. This shoe is exceptional with its All Conditions Control, which allows the player the ability to control the ball well in both dry and wet conditions. It is also has a groove-like design on the front to enhance your control even more. These are firm ground cleats, but these would be excellent in wet conditions (not pouring!). Please keep in mind that the kangaroo leather will not hold up quite as well as a purely synthetic cleat. However, this is still a great cleat for a great price!
Before I leave you, I want to make an honorable mention. We did not see anything other than firm ground cleats on our list, so I would like to point you toward the Adidas Performance Men’s World Cup Soccer Cleat. This cleat is simply outstanding. It is classic Adidas with its simple black and white design. It is THE classic soccer look. These cleats can be converted to soft, firm, and hard by the user. So, these are the perfect cleats for the very serious player! They aren’t the cheapest cleat on the list, but they would be well worth it to a player truly aspiring to be the best!