Football widows might not believe it, but the season doesn’t truly run year-round – except for many amateurs, who are ready to play as long as the pitch isn’t completely buried in snow.
Our notoriously unpredictable weather can make things particularly difficult for players who don’t have the best football boots for the type of surface they’ll be playing on. It’s all well and good to choose the same brand or latest style of boot that your favourite player wears, or one which features the colours of your home city team. That’s not enough, however; you need a very different boot for a firm soil field than you’d use on a soft one, and playing on an artificial or indoor pitch adds an entirely new variable into the mix. Some even feel you should have separate sets of training and match shoes.
We don’t have to tell you that you’re faced with rack after rack after rack of choices when you walk into a shop to buy new football shoes. It’s the same story when shopping online; you have to sift through category after category and page after page of alternatives. It’s easy to understand why people most often choose their cleats based on brands, endorsements or colours.
We’ve done the sifting for you. We have reviewed the huge selection of boots on the market and selected the ten best choices for 2016 for everyday players. You’ll notice that we go heavy on firm soil models because those are the most suitable for all-around play, but you’ll find at least one great alternative for the pitch you’ll be playing on.
The first thing to do, of course, is figure out how to shop for one.
|Product Name||Outer Material||Ground Type||Closure||Our Rating||Price on Amazon|
|Full Grain Leather||FG||Lace-up||£55.71|
|Full Grain Leather||SG||Lace-up||£86.30|
|Synthetic||SG||Lace-up||Check on Amazon|
You probably already knew (or realised after our brief preliminary discussion) that the most important choice you have to make is between a boots designed for use on a firm field and those suitable for play on a soft one, so let’s take a deeper look at the differences between them.
Soft ground (otherwise known as SG) boots aren’t anywhere near as important in other parts of the globe as they are in Britain, where our often-wet weather creates boggy pitches on a regular basis. Those wearing firm ground (FG) shoes on a soggy pitch can find themselves taking tumbles and spending more time cleaning gunk out of their studs than actually playing and when they actually are, they kick usually doesn’t have the right amount of power.
The important features of SG trainers are their six longer studs, providing a much better grip on wet pitches. Many of the more expensive models of SG boots have sole plates that can be switched out, allowing professionals or serious amateurs to choose the length of stud that matches the condition of the pitch. Less-expensive ones allow you to screw different studs in and out. In the autumn and winter, SG models allow you to safely extend the season without serious injury – or at the very least, repeated and super embarrassing falls.
The pitch is more likely to be dry in the spring and summer, and that’s when FG boots are generally the most suitable choice. There are two primary types of FG models, conical and bladed.
Conical models feature between ten and thirteen cone-shaped studs on the sole plate, and are often called mouldies because the sole plates are moulded to the uppers. They are designed to ensure that the studs don’t get caught in the turf while reducing pressure on the foot and its joints, meaning they’re quite comfortable. These are most suited for super hard pitches. The other style of FG cleats are those with shorter, bladed studs; they dig into the pitch a bit more than mouldies so are a better choice for firm pitches that still have a bit of give.
Those who play on 3G artificial surfaces (those with rubber crumbs) would do well with purchasing boots with artificial grass (AG) soleplates which feature round, short plastic studs that grip well but still allow quick acceleration when needed. HG boots can sometimes be used on 3G surfaces depending on the governing rules of the pitch. For 2G (sand-based) or Astroturf pitches, turf models with extra heel cushioning and a large number of dimpled studs are the optimal choice and carry the added benefit of working pretty well on 3G surfaces, or even on a firm field if it’s completely dry. Finally, indoor (futsal) football boots have no studs, relying instead on vulcanized rubber grips that won’t mark up the floor.
Choosing the right style of football shoes and knowing your size are the primary considerations, but there are certainly other decisions to make. For example, some are designed with different fits to emphasise different important athletic attributes such as speed or power, so you’re often able to “play to your strength” or position when you’re choosing which one to buy. You’ll also have to decide whether you prefer leather or synthetic uppers. Leather is the long-time classic choice, and while high-quality animal hide will usually be heavier it should also be more breathable, feel more natural and give you better ball control. Synthetic materials have come a long way, however, and the top synthetic uppers can compete with animal hide in most categories – and will maintain their appearance better over the long term.
Finally, while we’re speaking of looks, we understand that they definitely matter. Our opening comments about people who choose boots based primarily on their colours weren’t meant to imply that you shouldn’t factor your favourite team’s colours into your buying decision – just that it should be left for last, once you’ve chosen the correct type of boot.
Let’s get to our football boots reviews, which are heavy on mouldies.
Copa Mundial cleats have been classic bestsellers since the 1970s, and at 2016, they’re still widely considered to be the best football boots for everyday players. The uppers are made from kangaroo hide that gives you a great feel for the ball, the dual-density polyurethane outsoles are comfortable, super durable and lightweight, and the sole plate with standard moulded studs is well-manufactured (as is everything else on the Copa Mundial). These are a little narrower than some of our other top ten (but will mould well to your feet over time), and because they have animal hide uppers they won’t last quite as long as synthetics. But if you fancy an extremely comfortable and high-performing boot – and don’t mind basic black – these are simply brilliant.
There’s no better way to ensure that aspiring footballers develop properly than getting them a new pair of good cleats. Of course, they have to want to wear them as well, and this Puma model will fit that bill perfectly, as the colour scheme was introduced in the 2014 FIFA Cup and worn by Arsenal in some matches after that. These Puma cleats are mouldies with lightweight synthetic uppers and thermoplastic polyurethane outsole, and heel inserts to ease pressure on the Achilles. This Puma model gives your younger players excellent ball control, and are comfortable and durable; even better, their design will be a big hit on the pitch.
We’ve already raved about the Copa Mundial boot, and the World Cup is basically the SG version of the Copa Mundials. They’re just as good, made with the same kangaroo hide uppers and dual-density polyurethane outsoles, but with the six longer, removable and replaceable studs required for play on SG pitches. This model has “only” been around since the 1990s (compared with the 40-year history of the Copa Mundial), but are just as beloved for SG play.
The kids will love this boot because they’re available in various combinations of black, grey and two shades of yellow. You’ll love them because made from durable synthetic materials so they’ll last and be easy to clean. And you’ll both love them because they’re versatile, made for FG but also suitable for many artificial surfaces; there’s usually no need to buy an extra pair for 3G pitches. They’re comfortable, provide good foot support, and are designed to help younger players with their ball skills.
The Kaiser 5 Cup are as well-known as the other best sellers from this brand, and these may be the most popular of the company’s SG cleats since they’re a bit more affordable. They are made from full-grain animal hide uppers, die-cut rubber-like EVA insoles that mould to the foot and polyurethane outsoles; they’re comfortable durable and have been on the pitch for many memorable football moments. The screw-in studs are fully interchangeable and the Kaiser 5s come with different sizes of replacement studs for play on any type of SG.
The Predator Instinct has gained fame as one of the ultimate pairs of cleats of the last fifty years. The Absolado is a redesign of that legendary pair with the same red, black and white colour scheme, but new features like rubber spots and a 3D print across the synthetic upper give the player added accuracy and power. This has an off-center lacing system, additional heel support, and removable screw-in studs, and gives new life to an already iconic line.
This is a very solid entry-level model that’s priced attractively. The Ace 15.3 is designed for FG but is suitable for many artificial pitches as well, and one of its primary features is its comfort. There are synthetic uppers along with synthetic outsoles and liners, making this an extremely light pair; the tongue is perforated to let air flow freely, and those who have difficulty finding football shoes for wide feet will appreciate the wide build of the Ace 15.3. And the boots’ striking colour scheme will make you feel like a star, even if you’re just a rank amateur.
No, Nike fans, we haven’t forgotten you. This is another entry-level FG boot sporting a synthetic upper with an intricate texture for increased ball control, a polyurethane soleplate that provides good balance and support, and a foam liner to boost comfort during play. As a lower-level model (with a price to match) the turquoise-and-black Ondas aren’t likely to give you years of use, but you’ll definitely enjoy them for the season.
Here’s an idea more manufacturers of football boots for kids should adopt: Velcro straps instead of laces. This model eliminates the never-ending struggle with dirty, wet laces in cold weather because they have no laces, and the strong Velcro that replaces them is a great feature for parents with younger footballers. These are billed as FG models, yet they have six removable studs for increased versatility. There’s a contrasting-colour fold-over tongue that looks good and is comfortable, and these Hi-Tecs are lightweight, comfortable and a good value.
Here’s a higher-level Nike FG boot that’s well-made and comfortable – as long as you don’t have wide feet. There are natural full-grain animal hide uppers, and unusual polyurethane sole plates with both conical and bladed studs which Nike says will improve stability, traction and pressure on the foot. The EVA inner lining makes the Nike Tiempo Genio easy to wear, and we can’t argue with Nike’s solid construction. These are a nice choice if you’re partial to Nike.
It’s time to stop dribbling around midfield and get the match started: you have plenty of information on the best football boots so you should be ready to buy a new one.
We’ve highlighted the top models for firm, soft and artificial fields in our football boots reviews, allowing you to narrow down the choices for the type of pitch you play on most often. If you want yours to last several years or a lightweight feel is most important to you, you’ll want to focus primarily on those with synthetic uppers. On the other hand, you may get slightly better ball control when buying animal hide models. And if you’re buying for the kids (and letting them participate in the decision), looks may trump performance and comfort every time.
Purchasing a new pair football boots – whether a classic or the latest release – which fit right will allow you to extend your season virtually year-round – even if you have a widow who’s not thrilled about that fact.