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Nike | Adidas | Puma | and more Best soccer cleats of 2023

Best Soccer Cleats of 2023

From lightweight speedsters to heavy-duty leather for serious soccer games, below are the year’s top soccer cleats

The best soccer cleats are paramount for optimal performance on the pitch, yet this doesn’t mean they have to be cumbersome or overly rigid. The trend leans towards designs crafted from lightweight materials that continue to deliver the vital support a player needs. Our top recommendations for the best soccer cleats of 2023 are divided into three categories: lightweight cleats, ideal for agility and quick maneuvers; midweight options that are versatile for various play styles; and heavyweight designs tailored for players who demand added durability or play on challenging terrains. For a deeper dive into their features and to find the perfect fit for your needs, consult our detailed comparison table and buying guide below. If you’re leaning towards a more tactile feel during your matches, do check out our review on the best soccer shoes.

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Our Team's Best Soccer Cleats Picks

  • Best Overall Soccer Cleat: Nike Mercurial Superfly 9
  • Best Budget Soccer Cleat: Adidas Predator Accuracy .1
  • Best Soccer Cleat Kangaroo Leather: Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Pro
  • Best Max-Cushioned Soccer Cleat: Nike Tiempo Legend 10
  • Best for Fast-and-Light Skill Positions: Puma Ultra Ultimate

Best Overall Soccer Cleats

1. Nike Mercurial Superfly 9 ($275)

Nike Mercurial Superfly 9 Mbappe Primal Keeper

Stud Type Category: Firm Ground (FG)

Weight: 6.9 ounces

Upper: Knit

What we like:

  • Lightweight and streamlined design
  • Snug and supportive fit
  • Excellent ball feel
  • Great traction on firm ground surfaces
  • Durable

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Can be difficult to find in certain sizes

 

Built like a racing car but with added stability and control, the Nike Mercurial Superfly 9 is our favorite all-around soccer cleat for 2023. Updated last summer with a sleeker upper and revised soleplate, the latest version of the cleat offers an impressive combination of speed and responsiveness—all while retaining solid ball feel, traction, and agility. You also get Nike build quality, which we’ve found tends to stand up to more abuse on the pitch than other cleats in this weight and price range. For fast-moving attackers, lightweight midfielders, and even defenders, we heartily recommend the Mercurial Superfly 9.

Naturally, there are a few compromises that come with the Mercurial’s lightweight construction. The most significant is the lack of underfoot cushioning, which is thinner than the burly Nike Phantom GT2 and max-cushioned adidas Predator Edge below. In addition, the Mercurial is fairly flexible and doesn’t offer as much ankle support as the Phantom, so it isn’t as supportive on uneven surfaces or when playing at a high intensity. However, it beats out other ultralight options like the Puma Ultra in durability, protection, and support. And a final bonus: The Mercurial is one of the few lightweight designs that is available in wide sizes…. In-depth review coming soon

Best Budget Soccer Cleats

2. Adidas Predator Accuracy .1 FG ($150)

Adidas Predator Accuracy Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm Ground (FG)

Weight: 7.4 oz.

Upper: Hybridtouch synthetic leather

What we like:

  • Comfortable and durable upper
  • Technologies that improve accuracy and power
  • Good traction on firm ground

What we don’t:

  • Can be expensive
  • Some players may find the upper to be too tight

 

For football enthusiasts and professionals who engage mostly in well-maintained pitches, our top value pick is the Predator Accuracy FG. What sets this cleat apart is its foot-friendly, comfortable design combined with its competitive edge on the field, and all at a fairly reasonable price of $199.99 USD. For that amount, you secure exceptional Hybridtouch synthetic leather for the upper, a reliable TPU soleplate with conical studs, and unique features like the Powerpulse zone in the forefoot. While there are comparisons drawn with boots featuring the Nikeskin upper, the Predator Accuracy FG carves its niche with its special grip elements. There have been murmurs of comparisons with other models, but the Predator has kept its distinct identity intact, reminding us of those models prioritizing striking capabilities.

So, what are the hitches of the Predator Accuracy FG? In comparison to other premium cleats on the market, some might feel the boot lacks in adaptability, especially given its snug upper, which might not suit everyone’s foot shape. Furthermore, despite its mid-range weight, some players have expressed that the boot feels a tad heavier than its specs suggest, especially when put head-to-head with some sleeker models in the category, akin to the nimbleness offered by SpeedUnit technology designs. Yet, considering its technical features and performance enhancements, the Predator Accuracy FG strikes the right balance for many players seeking precision and power in their gameplay…. In-depth review coming soon

Best Soccer Cleats Kangaroo Leather

3. Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Pro($290)

Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Beta Primal Keeper1

Stud Category: Firm Ground (FG)

Weight: 7.2 oz.

Upper: Premier Kangaroo Leather

What we like:

  • Soft and pliable upper provides a great ball feel
  • Synthetic material in the midfoot and heel provides support and stability
  • Conical studs provide good traction on firm ground pitches
  • Lightweight and comfortable

What we don’t:

  • Expensive
  • May not be suitable for players with wide feet

 

If you’re in the market for a top-tier soccer cleat that embodies both tradition and modernity, the Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Pro is the real deal. The latest model in the series presents an exquisite blend of premium kangaroo leather and supportive synthetic materials, ensuring a pristine touch on the ball and unwavering support. The outsole, crafted from TPU and designed with conical studs, firmly grasps those firm ground pitches, ensuring optimum traction. Furthermore, this iteration, weighing just 7.2 ounces, effortlessly blends lightweight construction with robust performance, making every minute on the field feel like a dance. Altogether, the Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Pro is a monumental cleat that distinctly marks its presence on the pitch.

Despite its lightweight nature, which is notably lesser than some older models, the Mizuno Morelia Neo IV Pro remains steadfast in our elite tier. It’s tailor-made for those grueling matches and exhaustive training drills, particularly when the game demands quick footwork and powerful strikes. Yet, it might come across as a bit over-engineered for those who play occasionally or prefer leisurely kickabouts on plush grounds. Such enthusiasts might tilt towards a more versatile and nimble option on this list… In-depth review coming soon

Best Max-Cushioned Soccer Cleats

4. Nike Tiempo Legend 10 ($275)

Nike Tiempo 10 Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Hybrid

Weight: 7.1 oz.

Upper: FlyTouch Plus a soft and supple synthetic material

What we like:

  • Soft and supple upper for a comfortable fit
  • Lightweight and durable soleplate
  • Hybrid stud configuration for good traction on a variety of surfaces

What we don’t:

  • Synthetic upper is not as durable as leather
  • Some players have reported that the cleats can be a bit tight in the toe box

 

Soccer cleats sure are evolving rapidly these days. Prominent brand Nike, renowned for its innovative and performance-oriented designs, has made a significant mark in the soccer footwear arena. Our favorite from their recent releases is the Tiempo Legend 10, boasting Nike’s unique FlyTouch Plus upper, mimicking the feel of premium leather, paired with a lightweight and durable soleplate. In testing the Tiempo Legend 10 on various soccer pitches, we relished its impeccable balance that seamlessly combines the comfort of a classic leather boot with the performance and durability of modern synthetic materials, all complemented by a highly functional hybrid stud configuration.

Our primary reservation with the Tiempo Legend 10 lies in its upper’s longevity. While the FlyTouch Plus does an excellent job mimicking the softness of leather, it doesn’t quite match up in durability. Furthermore, the inclusion of this synthetic material, particularly in areas exposed to high stress and friction, has shown some early signs of wear. To its credit, when used on smooth pitches, the boot excels; but it might show signs of wear faster on rougher terrains. That said, if you are a player who values a combination of comfort, aesthetics, and traction, the Legend 10 deserves your attention. A note on the side: murmurs in the market suggest that Nike might be coming up with a Tiempo update, and we’re all ears, waiting to see what they’ll bring to the table next… In-depth review coming soon

Best Fast-and-Light Soccer Cleats For Skill Positions

5. Puma Ultra Ultimate ($230)

Puma Ultra Ultimate Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Combination (conical and bladed)

Weight: 6.8 oz.

Upper: Lightweight and Ultra-Thin Woven upper with a GripControl Pro coating

What we like:

  • Lightweight and responsive
  • Close-to-the-ball feel
  • Good traction on all surfaces
  • Affordable price

What we don’t:

  • Upper is very thin and may not be as durable as some other cleats
  • Can be a bit tight for players with wider feet

 

Best Fast and Light soccer cleat goes to Puma’s latest entry into the soccer cleat universe: the Ultra Ultimate. Straight out of the gate, one cannot help but be impressed by its feather-light weight of just 6.8 ounces per cleat. When you pair that with a close-to-the-ball feel from its ultra-thin woven upper, you know you’re dealing with a game-changer. While its SpeedUnit technology, ensconced in its Pebax outsole, promises agility and a rapid acceleration on the pitch, there’s a stark contrast to, let’s say, Nike’s offerings with their Nikeskin upper. However, Puma edges ahead with its GripControl Pro coating that ensures a superb grip, come rain or shine.

Diving deeper into its stud design, Puma has struck a commendable balance by integrating both conical and bladed studs. This balance ensures excellent traction on firm ground as well as artificial grass—a feature not so distinct in many Adidas models, which tend to be either/or in their stud configurations. As much as we heartily recommend the Ultra Ultimate for its weight and agility benefits, there’s a tad bit of caution to be had. Its uber-thin upper, while giving an unparalleled ball feel, raises questions about long-term durability. When compared to some robust cleats out there, one wonders if the Puma Ultra Ultimate can withstand the brunt of more aggressive matches. But, if you’re willing to potentially trade a bit of durability for top-tier agility and acceleration, this might just be the cleat for your next game!… In-depth review coming soon

Best of the Rest

6. Nike Mercurial Vapor ($230)

Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm Ground

Weight: 6.9 oz.

Upper: Knit

What we like:

  • Lightweight and streamlined design
  • Snug and supportive fit
  • Excellent ball feel
  • Great traction on firm ground surfaces
  • Durable

What we don’t:

  • Expensive
  • Can be hard to find in certain sizes

 

One cleat has caught the attention of many speedsters: the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15. This isn’t just any soccer cleat—it’s a game-changer. Specifically crafted for those who aim to be the fastest on the pitch, its featherlight design weighs in at a mere 6.5 ounces per boot (Elite tier). First impressions? That Vaporposite+ upper truly steals the show. For those in the know, the Vaporposite+ is more than just a synthetic material; it’s a testament to Nike’s commitment to offer superior touch and control. Pair that with the Zoom Air cushioning system, and we’re looking at responsive energy return that might just give players the extra edge. Now, when pitted against other cleats in its category, the Mercurial Vapor 15’s tri-star stud pattern, optimized for firm ground (FG), offers traction that is hard to beat. That said, the cleat isn’t free from its share of criticisms. While the Academy and Pro tiers are reasonably priced, the Elite tier can burn a hole in the pocket, coming in at $275.

But here’s where real-world testing comes into play. Many might argue, “Is it worth the hefty price tag?” And from our hands-on experience, the answer swings towards a yes for those who prioritize speed and agility. The cleat’s weight, materials, and cushioning are tailored for rapid players. But, a word of caution for the rugged terrains—the Mercurial Vapor 15 might not be the best fit. While its tri-star studs work wonders on firm grounds, they might falter on rough terrains. Another minor gripe is its support; some other cleats in the market offer a tad more. But at the end of the day, weighing the pros and the cons, we heartily recommend the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 for those chasing unparalleled speed, with the added bonus of touch and control. It’s an evolution in the cleat world, and Nike’s innovation is commendable. So, if budget isn’t a constraint, the Elite tier is the way to go. If not, the Pro and Academy tiers are worthy contenders… In-depth review coming soon

7. Nike Phantom GT2 Elite ($275)

Nike Phantom GT2 Elite Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm Ground

Weight: 7.5 oz.

Upper: Flyknit

What we like:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent performance on firm ground
  • Durable construction
  • Stylish design

What we don’t:

  • Expensive
  • Studs can wear down quickly on artificial turf

 

When we think of Nike, the first thing that often springs to mind is their iconic line of athletic footwear, reminiscent of classics like the Mercurial. The Phantom GT2 Elite FG, however, symbolizes where soccer cleats are unmistakably headed: a tad pricier and a bit more avant-garde, yet packed with top-notch technical prowess. We gave the Phantom GT2 a whirl across various soccer terrains, from lush green pitches to the more challenging artificial turfs, and the results were commendable. It’s meticulously crafted, offers sheer comfort straight out of the box, and stands up to the rigorous demands of the beautiful game.

The most glaring hiccup with choosing the Nike Phantom GT2 Elite FG is its stud durability on artificial turf, which can be classified as moderate. For those accustomed to cleats that last eons on synthetic grounds, the Phantom might just not cut it. Yet, when fitted snugly, we wore it across matches and rigorous training sessions across a plethora of terrains, from muddy patches to dry, hard grounds with minimal snags. For those who can overlook the slightly reduced longevity on artificial pitches and desire a combination of style, comfort, and performance for their soccer endeavors, the Phantom GT2 is truly a star player… In-depth review coming soon

8. Puma Future Z 4.1 Elite ($250)

Puma Future Z 4.1 Elite Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm Ground (FG)

Weight: 9 oz.

Upper: Synthetic leather with FUZIONFIT+ adaptive compression band and GripControl Pro technology

What we like:

  • Lightweight and agile
  • Comfortable and supportive fit
  • Enhance Features combine to help stabilize the foot and prevent injuries

What we don’t:

  • Cleat is a bit stiff at first but it breaks in with use.
  • Only available in firm ground (FG) configuration.

When we think of Puma, the first thing that comes to mind might be their classic, streamlined soccer cleats from years gone by. The Puma Future Z 4.1, however, encapsulates where soccer footwear is undeniably advancing: a tad lighter and more form-fitting than the conventional cleat, but brimming with technological prowess. We tested the Future Z 4.1 on various turf conditions, including a rather intensive match day after rainfall, and the results were commendable. It’s meticulously constructed, feels astonishingly snug straight out of the box, and manages to stand up to most on-field challenges you could introduce.

However, a slight hitch in opting for the Puma Future Z 4.1 is its initial rigidity, which we’d describe as moderate. For those accustomed to a cleat that offers instantaneous flexibility, the Future Z 4.1 might need a brief break-in period. But once it molds to the foot, it has facilitated smooth ball control and maneuverability across terrains, from muddy patches to well-maintained grass turfs. For those not entirely vested in extreme pliability from the get-go and seeking a harmonious blend of innovation, lightweight construction, and performance, the Future Z 4.1 stands tall in our books… In-depth review coming soon

9. Adidas X Speed Portal 3+ ($250)

Adidas X Speedportal+ Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Conical

Weight: 7.2 oz.

Upper: Lightweight, coated textile material

What we like:

Comfortable

Responsive

Good feel for the ball

Good traction on firm ground surfaces

What we don’t:

Can be expensive

Not as durable as some other cleats on the market

The Adidas X Speedportal 3+ is emblematic of contemporary soccer cleats: light as a feather but robust enough for intense matches and rigorous training sessions. Its most notable features are the lightweight coated textile upper and the TPU plate with two additional forefoot studs. Essentially, the lightweight coated textile upper ensures a remarkable ball feel, akin to traditional leather, but without the added weight. The TPU plate, on the other hand, offers that much-needed traction on firm ground, especially with its strategic stud placement.

Where the X Speedportal genuinely stands out from other cleats in its weight class is its price-to-performance ratio. The cleat employs a more premium material palette rather than the typical synthetic or basic textile found in other models. The result is a boot that promises rapid response and consistent performance. Traction remains stellar on both dry and slightly damp firm grounds. All in all, the X Speedportal 3+ is a leap forward in terms of performance and craftsmanship when juxtaposed with a cleat like its predecessor or other market counterparts, though at a heftier price. However, potential buyers should be wary: durability can be a concern with frequent and aggressive play. Additionally, while the cleat is standard in fit, it might not cater to everyone, especially those with unusually broad or narrow feet… In-depth review coming soon

10. Predator Freak 4+ ($250)

Adidas Predator Freak 4+ Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Hybrid studs (conical and bladed)

Weight: 9.4 oz.

Upper: Soft synthetic upper with Demonskin rubber spikes and a Primeknit collar

What we like:

Good ball feel and control

Versatility

Comfortable fit

Hybrid studs provide good traction on a variety of surfaces

What we don’t: 

Can be expensive

Some players have reported that the studs can be too long

Adidas’s Predator Freak 4 is a vanguard in the soccer cleat panorama, striving to blend control and power without compromise. We recently put the Predator Freak 4 through its paces on a series of varying terrains, and it performed admirably on both firm ground and artificial pitches, embodying a combination of grip and flexibility. The soft synthetic upper, reminiscent of some premium soccer footwear, melded with Demonskin rubber spikes, ensures precision and control. The sticky hybrid studs ensure versatile traction, covering a wide array of grounds effectively. And for those questioning comfort, the Primeknit collar ensures a snug yet relaxed fit, warding off unnecessary stress even during intense play durations.

In the past, we’ve lauded Adidas’s older Predators, but the Predator Freak 4 seems to surpass its predecessors in multiple arenas. The Freak 4 feels more adaptive than its older counterparts, boasting a design that promises better ball control, and it comes at a price point that might intrigue many, given its offerings. However, it does come with its caveats, particularly for those who tread on simpler terrains where its advanced studs might feel over-engineered. Yet, for players pushing boundaries on varying pitches, the Predator Freak 4 is a revelation. For others who play more recreationally, Adidas’s classic lines might be more apt… In-depth review coming soon

11. Copa Pure 23 ($150)

Adidas Copa Pure 23 Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm ground (FG)

Weight: 7.4 oz.

Upper: Soft K-Leather

What we like:

Excellent touch and control

Soft and comfortable upper

Versatile outsole provides good traction on a variety of surfaces

What we don’t: 

Can be expensive for some players

K-Leather upper can require some break-in time

With an impressive meld of comfort and innovation, the Adidas Copa Pure 23 has quickly risen to be a preferred choice for many in the world of soccer cleats. The Copa Pure 23, now a staple on the pitch, has its foundation in a soft K-Leather upper, offering an unparalleled natural feel on the ball since its release. The boot encompasses a distinctive tongue-less design for that perfect foot wrap, complemented by a TPU outsole specifically tailored for firm ground. Its conical and bladed studs configuration, though reminiscent of certain Nike models, empowers players for quick, decisive moves. However, while the Copa Pure 23 stands tall in terms of touch and agility, it doesn’t quite match up to the sheer durability of some top-tier models, like specific variants from Puma. Still, for those pursuing finesse and responsiveness on the field, this Adidas piece fits the bill seamlessly

Directly entering the competitive fray with the Copa Pure 23 is the Nike Legend series. While the Legend boasts of its own unique selling points, the Adidas variant edges ahead with its unique K-leather blend and snug fit. However, the Legend, on the other hand, boasts of better ventilation, coming in at a slightly lesser price point. With Adidas’ introduction of the Copa Pure 23 at its price, the battle in the soccer cleat market has definitely intensified. Although some might tilt towards Nike for its price-to-features ratio, the Copa Pure 23 remains an enviable choice, especially for players prioritizing touch and fit… In-depth review coming soon

12. Adidas Nemeziz 23+ ($250)

Adidas Nemeziz 23+ Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Hybrid

Weight: 7.5 oz.

Upper: Tension Tape, Primeknit collar

What we like:

Excellent ball feel

Lightweight

Comfortable

Responsive cushioning

Stable and supportive

What we don’t:

A bit expensive

Upper can be tight for some players

Studs can be too short for soft ground

Diving into the realm of soccer cleats, adidas’ Nemeziz 23+ strives to strike that balance between agility and security, drawing parallels between an ultra-responsive track shoe and a grounded soccer cleat. During our tests in challenging field conditions, the Nemeziz 23+ showcased its prowess in navigating unpredictable pitches with the elegance of a gazelle yet retaining that essential firm grip players yearn for. The Tension Tape upper coupled with the rubbery Agility Band paints a picture of exceptional durability and ball control, while the Boost midsole remains steadfast across varied field intensities. Additionally, the cleat offers impeccable moisture management, thanks to its snug Primeknit collar, ensuring players remain at their best even during those rainy matches.

Reflecting upon adidas’ previous Nemeziz models, the 23+ clearly takes the cake in numerous domains. The cleat is perceptibly more adaptive than its predecessor, boasting a spacious toe region, ensuring instant and prolonged comfort, offers that springy cushioning underneath, and despite its high-end features, is not exorbitantly priced. Except for the most complex of play styles and conditions, the Nemeziz 23+ is a more inviting proposition. However, for lighter matches on easier grounds, the Nemeziz 23+ might come across as slightly over-engineered. But, for those intense face-offs where every second counts, the Nemeziz 23+ deserves serious consideration. Players opting for more laid-back games might want to explore adidas’ lighter alternatives… In-depth review coming soon

13. Nike Phantom GX Elite ($275)

Nike Phantom GX Elite Primal Keeper1

Stud Category: Firm Ground (FG)

Weight: 7.8 oz.

Upper: Nike Gripknit upper, Flyknit collar

What we like:

Exceptional grip on the ball in all weather conditions
Very lightweight and comfortable
Supportive and responsive
True to size fit
Wide toe box

What we don’t:

Expensive

The Nike Phantom GX soccer cleat has developed a robust reputation among elite players, making its innovative features a talking point. Combining a Flyknit collar with the Phantom’s iconic Gripknit upper, expansive toe box, and responsive Phylon midsole, the Phantom GX promises immediate performance boosts (with no adaptation period) alongside precision and agility. Moreover, at 7.8 ounces (for size 9), it stands out as one of the lighter options available, revolutionizing gameplay for extended durations. We must confess, initial impressions suggested it might just be another high-end cleat with a familiar design, but the Phantom GX truly delivers on its promises, positioning itself as a prime choice for those committed to the game.

However, when evaluated as a premium soccer cleat, the Phantom GX has its nuances. On wet and tricky pitches, while the Gripknit offers unparalleled ball control, one might yearn for a tad more slip resistance. Furthermore, its zero-drop design makes the Phantom GX feel more like a foot’s natural extension than a traditional soccer cleat, and the ankle support might not rival some higher-profile boots in the market. But for those plagued by uncomfortable gameplay or unpredictable ball control, finding a more competent cleat might be a challenge. With its luxurious Gripknit upper, when juxtaposed with Nike’s more durable yet heavier models, the Phantom GX shines brighter, firmly rooting itself as the superior pick for impeccable gameplay on well-maintained fields… In-depth review coming soon

14. Mizuno Morellia II ($280)

Mizuno Morelia Alpha Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Conical

Weight: 7.2 oz.

Waterproof: Kangaroo leather

What we like:

Excellent fit and feel
Lightweight and comfortable
Provides excellent ball control and traction
Made with high-quality materials
What we don’t: 

Expensive
Not as durable as some other cleats

Mizuno’s Morelia II has long been a revered name in the soccer community—the luxurious kangaroo leather is a favorite among pros and amateurs alike. But they ramped up their game even more with the design and performance of this specific iteration. Like its predecessor, the Morelia II has a snug fit and prioritizes ball touch and comfort. We sported the cleat right from the box in a grueling 90-minute game—a true test in a professional-like setting—and were thoroughly impressed with its blend of agility, grip, and lightweight feel. It was evident that this cleat is ideally suited for players navigating through tight defenses and those requiring precision touches.

So, what are the Morelia II’s pitfalls? Durability tends to waver a tad: after multiple intense matches, there’s visible wear on the upper, especially given the delicate nature of kangaroo leather. For those yearning for a sturdier, long-lasting cleat, the Morelia II might present some hesitations. The leather, while offering an incredible ball feel, becomes more flexible over time, akin to the softening of the TX Hike’s mesh upper. However, the flip side is unmatched comfort—we had zero issues, even in extended play durations. Wrapping things up, it’s apparent Mizuno has sculpted yet another masterpiece with the Morelia II, intertwining the classic leather touch with modern football boot performance… In-depth review coming soon

15. Adidas X Crazyfast ($270)

Adidas Crazyfast Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Firm ground (FG) and soft ground (SG)

Weight: 5.7 oz

Upper: Thin and durable synthetic material

What we like:

Lightweight

Durable

Excellent traction and ball control

Good stability and support.

What we don’t: 

Expensive

Upper may be too thin for some players

Based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Adidas has long been a juggernaut in soccer footwear innovation. Our standout cleat in their expansive lineup is the X Crazyfast, which, in many ways, feels like the more elite sibling of Nike’s Mercurial Superfly. It’s deftly lightweight and exhibits nimbleness underfoot, boasting features like the durable synthetic upper and the carbon fiber Speedframe plate, but doesn’t quite embrace the cushioned feel of other market favorites. The upside? The cleat is unwaveringly stable—its synthetic upper can resist substantial wear and tear, and the dual stud option ensures versatile ground play. Whether you’re sprinting on a pristine grass field or maneuvering through a muddy patch, the X Crazyfast promises to be a performer.

What are the hurdles with the X Crazyfast? On the pitch, the cleat, although light, might seem less cushioned than rivals like the Nike Tiempo or Puma Future Z. Moreover, Adidas’ dedication to keeping it thin may cause it to feel a bit bare, especially in colder conditions. The notable B-Dry waterproofing membrane in the Oboz Bridger finds a parallel here with the Crazyfast’s pricier tag, making budget-watchers second guess. If looking for a more pocket-friendly Adidas variant, the Predator might come to mind—it does incorporate a more traditional upper but may lack the Crazyfast’s weight advantage. Those playing in varied conditions might wish to explore both the Crazyfast and Predator, with the former being the prime pick for sheer performance… In-depth review coming soon

16. Mizuno Alpha ($200)

Mizuno Apha Primal Keeper

Stud Category: Conical

Weight: 6.7 oz

Upper: Synthetic

What we like:

Lightweight and responsive
Comfortable fit
Good traction and stability
Good feel for the ball

What we don’t: 

A bit expensive

It’s always a treat when a soccer cleat exceeds expectations, and Mizuno’s Alpha certainly steps up to the plate. At a casual observation, one might just consider it another player in the market, but on wearing them, the game changes. The Mizuno Alpha boasts a snug fit that truly complements the foot’s natural shape, with commendable support from its synthetic upper. That lightweight tag, clocking in at just 6.7 ounces, combined with its firm ground conical studs ensures traction that competes well, whether on wet surfaces or dry patches. Impressively lightweight and with a design that screams performance, the Alpha is a force to be reckoned with in the soccer world.

Having worn the Mizuno Alpha in a few intense matches, it did shine, but not without revealing a few caveats. The foremost is its price point, which may leave many divided: it’s either a worthy investment or a splurge. A deeper concern is the longevity and durability of the synthetic material, especially when compared to some offerings from brands like Adidas. The wear and tear on the upper, especially after a few rigorous games, raises eyebrows. However, for those looking for a superior gameplay experience on more controlled terrains, the Mizuno Alpha promises to be an exciting choice.

In-depth review coming soon

17. Nike Phantom Luna Elite ($275)

Nike Phantom Luna Elite Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

Nike is no stranger to high-performance soccer gear, and their Phantom Luna clearly attests to this pedigree. Similar to designs like the Adidas Predator and the Puma Future, the Luna offers a modern take on the soccer cleat, with a lightweight Flyknit upper, a responsive Lunarlon foam midsole, and a Hyperstability plate with chevron studs for unparalleled traction on firm ground. Throw in its unique design aesthetics (which is sleeker than most), and it stands as one of the more nimble and high-tech cleats on the pitch. And with the addition of a polyurethane top layer over the Flyknit, we emerged from our testing mighty impressed with the Luna’s durability and on-ball feel.

However, owing to its specific design, the Nike won’t sit well with those who possess wider feet or prefer a more flexible upper. Fit-wise, the cleat seems narrower than Nike’s traditionally accommodating designs, and—to make matters worse—some might find the upper a tad too stiff, especially during the initial break-in period. In the end, most players might lean towards a more forgiving design like the Adidas Copa series, but those looking for a snug fit and lightweight feel will undoubtedly appreciate the Luna’s state-of-the-art build, which beautifully bridges the gap between performance and style. It’s essential to note, however, that with its premium price tag, the Luna might not be everyone’s first pick… In-depth review coming soon

18. New Balance Furon v7 Pro ($250)

New Balance Furon v7 Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

For a dash across the competitive fields of Academy Soccer, we turned to New Balance’s Furon v7 Pro. This cleat combines the feather-light weight of a speed boot with the ball control and support of a technical playmaker’s dream, which is quite a blend. Over intense 90-minute matches and rigorous training sessions, the Furon impressed: Its snug-fitting synthetic leather upper, top-notch construction, and reliable traction exuded confidence during lightning-fast sprints and precise ball handling.

Among cutting-edge and performance-driven soccer cleats, the Furon v7 Pro and, say, the Nikeskin-uppered models stand tall. The Furon boasts immediate comfort, weighs significantly less, and offers a more dynamic range of motion for those fast-paced plays, but the Nikeskin models with their traction-focused designs might provide even more grip during wet matches. Depending on your pitch conditions and style of play, both are game-ready designs that aim to elevate performance… In-depth review coming soon

19. New Balance Tekela v4 Pro ($215)

New Balance Tekela v4 Pro Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

New Balance is predominantly celebrated for its running shoes, but the Tekela v4 Pro has resonated with the soccer elite. Its simple lace design is refreshingly lightweight, offers unexpected flexibility during rapid play, and looks sharp with its stretch-knit upper and high-quality construction. This iteration isn’t merely a cosmetic enhancement; it has been intricately designed for those who are in constant dialogue with the ball. The nylon plate foundation, accentuated with TPU studs, ensures grip on firm ground pitches. And while its foundational tech is commendable, the cleat does call for a wear-in period and poses a tad challenge with laces during intense dribbles. A spectrum of player feedback suggests an evolution in its design, enhancing both durability and player affinity.

When you value instant fit, sleek design, and versatility for different play styles, the Tekela v4 Pro stands as a distinguished cleat option for matches and regular practice. Priced at $229.99, it offers a decent balance of comfort and performance. Yet, when in juxtaposition with stalwarts like the Nike Mercurial with its Nikeskin upper or Adidas Predator with its controlskin surface, it may not entirely clinch the gold. The Tekela doesn’t boast the sheer dynamism of models like the Adidas X Ghosted or the finesse of the Puma Future. However, the sheer durability of this New Balance marvel and its promise of consistent performance does lend it a unique spot, making it quite an enticing choice for those who prioritize both style and function… In-depth review coming soon

20. New Balance 442 v3 ($200)

New Balance 442 Pro Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

New Balance is well-respected in the soccer domain for their performance-driven cleats, but not every player requires an ultra-aggressive design. Enter the New Balance 442 v3, which takes inspiration from its predecessors and refines aspects for a lighter and more dynamic experience. Importantly, the 442 v3 retains most of the on-field prowess we admire about the brand’s elite models but with broader appeal for a range of players: It’s highly comfortable, thanks to the premium k-leather upper that ensures an exquisite ball feel, offers a mix of support and flexibility with its synthetic midfoot, and surprises many with its robust TPU outsole. Final takeaways include a well-structured design that aptly covers various foot contours, the use of conical studs ensuring great traction on firm grounds, and a commendable durability to withstand intense gameplay—all for a modest 7.5 ounces.

Like many versatile designs, however, the New Balance 442 v3 does have its trade-offs in the quest for balance. The most evident is support: While the synthetic midfoot offers decent mid-section sturdiness, it’s not as robust as some competitors’ designs that go full-throttle in the support department. Protection around the ankle isn’t extensive, leading to potential vulnerability during aggressive play, and the k-leather, though soft and tactile, requires an initial break-in period. A final point of contention is its specificity to firm grounds. While it thrives on such surfaces, players might need to adjust when transitioning to softer terrains, but it does ensure optimum comfort on its preferred ground. In the grand scheme, the 442 v3 might seem like it’s tailored for a particular segment, but it bridges the gap between ultra-specialized cleats and more generic ones, like the Adidas Copa Mundial… In-depth review coming soon

21. Adidas X Speedportal 99 Leather .1 FG Firm Ground ($270)

Adidas Speed Sense 99 Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

Adidas has been a giant in the soccer cleat arena for years, but in recent times they’ve unveiled their newest premium entrant, the X Crazyfast. While they have a range of offerings, the X Crazyfast emerges as a distinctively lightweight design, retailing at a steep $249.99 USD. Instantly catching the eye is its synthetic upper, reminiscent of top-tier football boots, bestowing the cleat its distinctive appearance and a snug, foot-hugging interior. Combined with the advanced carbon fiber Speedframe plate, TPU studs for firm ground, and aluminum variants for soft terrains, the Crazyfast promises a perfect amalgamation of stability and responsiveness, ideal for intense matches and rigorous training sessions.

Yet, the allure of the Crazyfast isn’t merely its innovative design. Priced slightly higher than many rivals (with some counterparts being $20-$40 less), Adidas tries to justify its tag with cutting-edge technology. They’ve been lauded for certain features, yet there’s room for sustainable innovations, perhaps integrating recycled materials as seen in some competitor boots. However, a chink in the Crazyfast armor emerges with some users pinpointing the thinness of the upper. This thinness, much like the padding issues in REI’s Flash, results in concerns about insulation during unfavorable weather. Some users, drawing parallels with issues in similar designs, find this to be a common critique. While this might not deter the loyal Adidas aficionado, it’s significant enough to make potential buyers pause and reconsider… In-depth review coming soon

22. Puma King Ultimate ($200)

Puma King Ultimate Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

The soccer cleat world has been evolving with lightweight synthetic materials for a while, but there’s an undeniable allure to the classics. In this niche, the Puma King Ultimate stands out as a contemporary masterpiece: Its synthetic K-Better upper brilliantly channels the legendary touch of kangaroo leather, the sole’s TPU plate with conical studs promises precise traction on firm ground, and the overall design offers the reliable performance that serious players seek. For intense matches or even practice sessions that demand the best, the Puma King Ultimate is a go-to choice.

However, the Puma King Ultimate isn’t without its challenges. A pricier option at $225, it can be a hefty investment, especially when you consider the vast sea of cleats available. Weighing 10.5 ounces in a size 9, it’s certainly not the heaviest, yet there are lighter options that provide a swifter feel on the field. Ultimately, many might lean towards models like the adidas Predator for a similar touch or Nike’s range for a feather-light experience. But the Puma King Ultimate retains a unique position for enthusiasts who cherish a modern-day classic, ensuring it remains a prominent player on the field for years to come… In-depth review coming soon

23. Under Armor Clone Magnetico 2 ($250)

Under Armor Clone Magnetico 2 Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

The Under Armor Clone Magnetico 2 seeks to hit the sweet spot between performance and weight savings, covering the spectrum from agility-driven designs (akin to Adidas’ X Ghosted) to the Clone Magnetico 2 itself. We recently took the Clone Magnetico 2 for a spin on a local league match, where the cleat displayed prowess on the grass, all the while maintaining a feather-like touch on the foot. The engineered knit upper and Fusefilm overlay provide unparalleled durability and support, and the TPU soleplate with its conical studs offers impeccable traction on a plethora of firm grounds. Finally, for those worried about the fit, this boot promises a snug embrace, ensuring foot comfort during those intense dribble sessions.

In past debates, Nike’s Phantom GT often held our top recommendation, but the Clone Magnetico 2 is working hard to edge it out in several aspects. The Magnetico 2 offers a more flexible fit than the Phantom and features a softer touch on the ball (ensuring immediate and lasting game comfort), comes with a sturdy foundation underfoot, and yet, warrants consideration for its premium pricing. While it handles most of the pitch scenarios with flair, it might be a tad overengineered for casual kickabouts. However, if you’re diving into the heart of competitive play or striving for that match-winning goal, the Clone Magnetico 2 demands your attention. For those focusing on light training sessions, perhaps a glance at Under Armor’s more relaxed Spotlight series would suffice… In-depth review coming soon

24. Lotto 100 Solista ($230)

Lotto 100 Solista Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

Unless you’re one of those dedicated athletes constantly on the lookout for the next game-changing soccer cleat, the importance of speed and agility might elude you. With agility and quick-footedness in its design ethos, Lotto’s innovative 100 Solista has quickly become our cleat of choice when our game demands rapid changes in direction, intense sprints, and nimble footwork. We’re thoroughly impressed with this cleat’s dedication to detail, which encompasses a laceless design, snug-fitting synthetic upper, and a strategically placed EVA midsole. In terms of performance on natural grass, the 100 Solista showcases Lotto’s finesse in cleat construction, featuring a TPU outsole with firm ground studs designed for optimal grip, ensuring that players can trust their footing in crucial moments.

We’ve trialed the 100 Solista in varying conditions, from dew-kissed morning grass to rough evening matches, and we consistently appreciate the boot’s secure fit, stable traction, and lightweight feel. However, while the Lotto is crafted as a high-performance agility cleat, we find it slightly leaning towards speed chasers: Its laceless design might feel a tad restrictive for some (more so than, for example, cleats with traditional lacing), and the synthetic upper, though comfortable, might not offer the longevity of a leather counterpart. Naturally, striking the perfect balance is challenging—those yearning for a more adaptable fit might gravitate towards cleats like the Nike Mercurial Vapor, but some compromise on sheer speed might be inevitable. For us, the 100 Solista strikes an impressive balance, and we’re optimistic about its durability in the long run… In-depth review coming soon

25. Adidas Gamemode ($100) Cheapest Cleats

Adidas Gamemode Primal Keeper

Category: Light/midweight

Weight: 2 lb. 0.7 oz.

Waterproof: Yes (M Select DRY)

What we like: Standout price for a proven and extremely comfortable day hiking boot.

What we don’t: Lacks the nimble feel of many modern alternatives.

If you’re in the market for a soccer cleat that caters to players shifting between casual play and competitive matches, the Adidas Gamemode might be right up your alley. Pulling features from both the worlds of premium and budget cleats, the Gamemode introduces players to the soft synthetic leather HybridTouch upper, reminiscent of some offerings in higher-end cleats, bestowing a commendable touch on the ball. Players accustomed to the feel of pricier models will recognize the comfort without the rigorous break-in period that some top-tier boots demand. The current Gamemode, however, omits the flexibility seen in elite models, offering instead a tactile experience, especially on firm grounds. Conversely, with its TPU soleplate and conical studs, it’s trail-ready for the football pitch, reinforced at the top and cushioned enough to protect from those rigorous tackles and runs.

That said, given its semi-premium aspirations, the Gamemode shouldn’t be stacked against the heavyweights in the cleat world. If you’re playing in extremely competitive matches or on challenging terrains, the grip, stability, and overall feel might come off as a tad underwhelming, even for those new to the sport. By adding a few more bucks, you could jump to something like the Nike Mercurial series, renowned for its advanced features tailored for seasoned players. Yet, it’s also possible to find mid-tier options comparable in price, offering unique advantages. However, for casual games or for players juggling different terrains and styles, the Gamemode emerges as a commendable choice, offering solid value for its price point… In-depth review coming soon

  • How to Choose a Soccer Cleat
  • Soccer Cleat Types
  • Weight
  • Flexibility and Stability
  • Weather Resistance
  • Breathability
  • Lacing Systems
  • Soccer Cleat “Upper” Materials
  • Midsole Comfort and Support
  • Stud Patterns and Traction
  • Toe Protection
  • Insoles
  • Soccer Cleats vs. Indoor Soccer Shoes
 
Rank Cleat Name Price Category Weight Stud Type Lacing Upper Material
1 Nike Mercurial Superfly 9 $275 Speed 6.2 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
2 Puma Ultra Ultimate $230 Speed 6.5 oz FG/AG Laceless Synthetic
3 Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 $250 Speed 6.1 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
4 Nike Phantom GT2 Elite $275 Power/Control 6.4 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
5 Nike Tiempo Legend 10 Elite $275 Comfort/Durability 7.2 oz FG/AG Laces Leather
6 Puma Future Z 4.1 Elite $250 Agility/Comfort 6.9 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
7 X Speed Portal 3+ $250 Speed 6.6 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
8 Predator Freak 4+ $250 Power/Control 7.5 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
9 Predator Accuracy.1 FG $150 Power/Control 7.1 oz FG Laces Synthetic
10 Copa Pure 23 $150 Comfort/Control 7.6 oz FG Laces Leather
11 Adidas Nemeziz 23+ $250 Agility/Control 7.3 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
12 Mizuno Morelia Neo IV MD $290 Touch/Feel 7.1 oz FG/AG Laces Kangaroo Leather
13 Nike Phantom GX Elite $275 Power/Control 7.6 oz FG Laces Knit
14 Mizuno Morelia II $290 Touch/Feel 7.1 oz FG/AG Laces Kangaroo Leather
15 Adidas X Crazyfast $270 Speed 7.8 oz FG Laces Synthetic
16 Nike Phantom Luna Elite $275 Touch/Feel 7.2 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
17 New Balance Furon v7 Pro $249.99 Speed 6.6 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
18 New Balance Tekela v4 Pro $249.99 Agility/Control 7.0 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
19 New Balance 442 v3 $199.99 Comfort/Durability 7.6 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
20 New Balance Fresh Foam More v2 $179.99 Comfort/Cushioning 8.2 oz FG/AG Laces Synthetic
21 Adidas X Speed Sense 99 $270 Speed 6.6 oz FG Laces Synthetic
22 Puma King Ultimate 23 $199.99 Comfort/Durability 7.8 oz FG Laces Leather
23 Under Armour Clone Magnetico 2 $250 Touch/Feel 9.1 oz FG/AG Laces UA Clone 3D Print
24 Lotto 100 Solista $230 Speed 7.9 oz FG/AG Laceless 3D Knit Upper
25 Adidas Gamemode $100 Comfort/Performance 9.1 oz FG/AG Laces UA Clone 3D Print

How to Choose a Soccer Cleat

Selecting the best soccer cleat is no small task and will come down to a variety of factors, including the style of play (position, field conditions, and frequency of use) and your own preferences (desired feel and fit). We used to think it would be helpful to our readers to have our picks above divided into categories—a sort of “you tell us what type of field you play on, we’ll tell you what to wear.” But then we took a deeper look at our own cleat choices. We were consistently opting for a “firm ground” cleat for dry grass fields (the Adidas Predator) and cursing our “soft ground” Nike Mercurial when playing on damp turf (the studs are great on muddy fields, awful on slightly wet ones). In the end, we realized that most soccer cleats defy categories and are far more about the synergy between the cleats, the field conditions, and the player. However, there are still a good number of clues that can help you narrow down your choice, which we dive into in greater detail below.

How to choose a soccer cleat Primal Keeper Academy

Soccer players on a field playing soccer and each player is wearing a different style of football boot.

The good news is that most of the cleats here are great all-rounders, sufficient for most players on most fields. Where you’ll really need to start thinking is if you have specific demands for a cleat, including if you play in a particular position, frequently change pace, or play on varying terrains. Here is where the specialists come in, which we detail in the write-ups above. In general, cleats with more cushioning are great for midfielders and defenders (such as the Nike Tiempo Legend or Adidas Copa Mundial), lightweight and streamlined cleats are ideal for forwards and wingers (the Nike Mercurial Vapor, Adidas X Ghosted, for example), and those who play on unpredictable terrains might want to prioritize traction, stability, and a snug fit above all else (check out the Puma Future Z). And take heart: this is a big decision but hopefully one you won’t have to make often. Most players find a cleat (or cleats) that they love and just stick with it, year after year.

Best Soccer Cleats Types

Firm ground (FG) cleats

Firm ground soccer cleats in this category are, not surprisingly, designed with optimized traction and agility but are sturdy enough for regular play or intense matches. Options range from the more traditional Nike Tiempo Legend to the sleek and agile Adidas Predator. Synthetic uppers are the norm, but they’re typically the less premium type (read: non Flyknit or Primeknit). Materials used in the construction trend toward a mix of synthetic leather and mesh with some genuine leather variants. This keeps cost and weight down, but doesn’t make them as durable as some pricier full-leather options. You also won’t see as much ankle support, as these cleats prioritize mobility and responsiveness. As long as you’re playing on natural grass, that shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Player sitting on a soccer field holding a Nike Vaporposite Soccer Cleat at Primal Keeper Academy

Player sitting on a soccer field holding a Nike Vaporposite Soccer Cleat at Primal Keeper Academy

The rise of speed-focused soccer styles has spawned a new variation in this category of lightweight, speed-enhancing cleats. The basic concept is to take a popular design like Nike’s Mercurial or Adidas’ X Ghosted and streamline it for maximum speed. This provides a boost in agility and touch sensitivity but retains the lightweight and fast feel of that footwear category. As we’ve found, however, there are a number of trade-offs, including durability, foot protection from thinner materials, and stability in varying conditions. But those who prioritize rapid play and precision might find that the advantages of a nimble cleat like Adidas’ X Ghosted outweigh the drawbacks.

Soft ground (SG) cleats

Soft ground soccer cleats are skilled performers, with enough traction to handle muddy conditions but without feeling like you’re being dragged down into the mud. It’s a specialized category, reflecting demand from players who regularly find themselves on damp, soft pitches. It’s also home to some of our favorite cleats (the Adidas Predator SG and Nike Mercurial Vapor SG are both notable in this category). Solid stud configurations give the cleats a slightly aggressive traction profile, yet they maintain a responsive feel. Because of the quality of materials and specialized designs, prices in this category usually start at around $200. At that price point, the quality of the upper construction often improves and you’ll typically find high-end materials or technology names associated with the model.

Player wearing Breathable Leather Nike white cleats on a lush green grass soccer field

Player wearing Nike white cleats on a lush green grass soccer field

Artificial grass (AG) cleats

Cleats in this artificial grass category are, not surprisingly, designed for optimal traction and performance but sturdy enough for regular play or intensive matches on synthetic turf. Options range from the more traditional Adidas Mundial Team to the sleek and agile Nike Mercurial Vapor TF. Multi-stud configurations are the norm, but they’re typically designed for better grip and less abrasiveness on turf surfaces. Materials used in the construction trend toward a heavy use of synthetics and mesh with some genuine leather variants. This keeps cost and weight down, but doesn’t make them as durable as some pricier full-leather options. You also won’t see as stiff of a plate, as the cleat’s responsiveness and agility are prioritized. As long as you’re playing on artificial turf, that shouldn’t be a deterrent.

Soccer player wearing Artificial Grass soccer cleats on an artificial grass soccer field at Primal Keeper Academy

Soccer player wearing Artificial Grass soccer cleats on an artificial grass soccer field at Primal Keeper Academy

The popularity of speed-focused soccer styles has spawned a new variation in this artificial grass category of lightweight, speed-enhancing cleats. The basic concept is to take a popular design like Nike’s Mercurial or Adidas’ X Ghosted and tweak it specifically for turf play. This provides enhanced agility and touch sensitivity on artificial pitches but retains the lightweight and rapid feel of that footwear category. As we’ve found, however, there are a number of trade-offs, including durability, foot protection from thinner materials, and stability in varying playing conditions. But those who prioritize rapid play and precision might find that the advantages of a nimble cleat like Nike’s Mercurial Vapor TF outweigh the drawbacks.

Weight

From a quick look at our comparison table above, it’s clear that soccer cleat weights vary a lot. You can choose a high-ankle style ranging from over 9.5 ounces down to under 6.5 ounces, epitomized by ultra-light options like Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite (6.5 oz.) and Adidas X Speedportal.1 (6.9 oz.). What’s equally obvious is how the various weights impact a cleat’s performance. To start, while the correlation isn’t perfect, a lighter cleat generally will offer less protection, support, stability, and durability over the long term. This can be challenging if playing on hard surfaces or in intense plays, but for athletes prioritizing swiftness and agility, going lightweight is ideal.

Adidas Predators on display

Adidas Predators on display

Whenever we can, we aim to keep the weight of our cleats to a minimum, providing enough comfort and support for various playing conditions without any unwarranted heft. Depending on the game’s nature, this can mean a streamlined cleat like Nike’s Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite for speedy plays or a more robust model for enhanced protection. If you’re going to choose one cleat to do it all, the Adidas Predator strikes a great balance between weight and performance.

Flexibility and Stability

In general, a soccer cleat is designed to provide stability, typically involving a stiff soleplate made of materials like TPU or carbon fiber. The rigidity of this soleplate can vary, ranging from providing ultimate stability to allowing more foot flexibility, depending on the player’s needs. The advantage of a stiff cleat is that it prevents the foot from rolling inwards or outwards, aiding in stability during gameplay. This is why the stability of a cleat will increase based on its design purpose, culminating in highly stable cleats suitable for players requiring maximum stability, like those playing in the back line. On the opposite end, some lightweight cleats prioritize agility over rigidity, resembling the footwear choice for players focusing on speed.

Puma Soccer Cleats

Puma Ultra Orange Colorway

For fast-paced games or players who are more attacking in their style, we can’t recommend an agile cleat enough. Cleats like the Adidas X Speedportal.1 or Nike Phantom GT Elite are standouts for these roles. As players shift towards a more balanced game or perhaps midfield roles, a medium stability cleat offers a great balance. Consider the Adidas Predator Freak.4 or the Puma Ultra 1.4 as exemplary choices. On the end requiring maximum stability, cleats like the Adidas Copa Sense.3 are excellent for players whose game style demands utmost traction and steadiness, be it tackling aggressively or holding the back line firmly.

Weather Resistance

The vast majority of soccer cleats are water-resistant, and the advantage in wet or muddy conditions is reason enough for most players to choose a model with such features. To make these cleats water-resistant, most designs incorporate a synthetic upper material or a waterproof bootie inside the outer material. Popular materials like kangaroo leather or Kanga-Lite are preferred, but even in-house options provide similar levels of water resistance. Additionally, a water-repellent coating is applied to the cleat to help ward off water.

Nike Mercurial Cleats worn by a striker at shooting training on a sunny day

Nike Mercurial Cleats worn by a striker at shooting training on a sunny day

Most soccer cleats are water-resistant, but is this always a necessity? It’s beneficial to have water-resistance when playing on wet fields, but in certain dry conditions, all that water-resistance does is reduce the cleat’s breathability. And an argument can be made that, during very wet games, feet will inevitably become wet regardless of the cleat’s design. Some players might opt for non-water-resistant cleats with gaiters for protection. While these might not prevent water from seeping in from the sides, they will dry faster. And the gaiters prevent water or mud from entering from the top.

Our stance on water-resistance is that it’s ideal for most players, especially those who frequently play in unpredictable weather or wet fields. The designs are not infallible, but a quality water-resistant material will keep feet relatively dry in most conditions. However, for those playing in uniquely dry conditions, a non-water-resistant cleat might be more appropriate, even if options are limited. Some notable mentions in this category include the Adidas DryField Pro, Nike AirMax DryFit, and Puma AquaShield Pro. For a more comprehensive discussion, see our guide on water-resistant soccer footwear.

Breathability

Regardless of promotional claims, ensuring a soccer cleat is waterproof will inevitably affect its breathability. By preventing water from getting in from outside, it becomes harder for moisture (in the form of sweat) to escape from inside, which implies all waterproof soccer cleats can feel warm during summer matches. Yet, there’s a wide variation among cleat models when it comes to ventilation capabilities.

Breathable Puma Soccer Cleats we love

Breathable Puma Soccer Cleats we love

We’ve observed that natural leather cleats without mesh panels often lag in performance, whereas those made of synthetic materials like the Kanga-Lite in the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite show enhanced breathability. In the middle ground, the Adidas X Ghosted.3 and Puma Future Z 1.4, with their synthetic uppers and unique features, perform decently, making them appropriate for summer games. However, cleats with water-resistant tongues and laces like certain budget models tend to underperform when compared to the aforementioned options. If you’re open to skipping the water-resistant features, choices like the Mercurial Vapor and Adidas X Ghosted.3 stand out as top contenders for soccer players seeking cooler feet.

Lacing Systems

Laces may seem trivial but are vital for the fit of soccer cleats. While many cleats use conventional lacing, brands are innovating with systems like “Quicklaces” and “Ghostlaces” on modern soccer footwear. We’re impressed with Quicklaces on both budget-friendly and high-end cleats for their speed and simplicity. Just one tug, tuck in the extra lace, and you’re set. Surprisingly, these tend to stay put better than some traditional laces. The Ghostlaces, found on premium cleats, offer a sleek appearance, hiding laces under the upper. However, there’s a catch. Those seeking specific tension at various foot points might find it challenging with these systems. They uniformly tighten across your foot. Hence, if you frequently adjust laces for an impeccable fit, these modern systems might not be for you.

Traditional laces

Nike Mercurial cleats that use a traditional lacing system

Nike Mercurial cleats that use a traditional lacing system

Some models, including the Nike Tiempo Legend 10 Elite, use traditional laces. The design is highly prevalent and they’ve shown no less durability than quick lacing systems. One thing to remember, however, is that you have the flexibility to adjust the fit between eyelets, ensuring a tailored fit for every foot section. Those with specific fitting preferences who want to adjust their laces for maximum comfort might find traditional laces more suitable.

Quicklaces

Adidas advanced lacing system

Adidas advanced lacing system

Recent football boot releases, including the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite, feature quicklaces. The design is incredibly convenient and they’ve proven as durable as traditional laces. One thing to remember, however, is that you can’t adjust the fit between eyelets, ensuring a consistent tightness throughout. Those requiring specific adjustments for comfort might be better off steering clear of quicklace systems.

Ghostlaces

Adidas football boots with different lacing systems

Adidas football boots with different lacing systems

Kevlar, a renowned material for its strength, is employed for Ghostlaces, while traditional laces are more prone to breaking. These laces aren’t as recognized for their ease of use, but they excel in offering a streamlined appearance. Exceptions comprise cleats such as the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite and the Adidas X Ghosted.3, which integrate Ghostlaces underneath the cleat upper, achieving a durability comparable to some conventional lacing systems.

Adaptive Fit

Adidas Predators that form to your foot

Adidas Predators that form to your foot

Elastic materials, along with other stretchable components, are frequently incorporated to enhance customization. These systems aren’t as known for their simplicity, but they shine in delivering precise comfort. Exceptions involve cleats such as the Puma Future Z 1.4 and the New Balance Furon v7 Pro, which utilize adaptive fit, achieving a customization comparable to some traditional lacing methods.

Soccer Cleat "Upper" Materials

The kind of material utilized in a soccer cleat’s upper, which is the fabric connecting to the outsole, directly relates to its comfort, durability, and breathability. Predominantly, cleats are crafted from a blend of leather, synthetic, and knitted materials. Exceptions arise, especially in innovative designs using solely knitted constructions. Below we outline the advantages and drawbacks for the most typical materials used for soccer cleat uppers.

Leather Materials

Black Adidas Leather Copas with gold soles Soccer Cleats

Black Adidas Leather Copas with gold soles Soccer Cleats

Constructed from authentic leather, but presented with a natural finish reminiscent of classic soccer aesthetics, leather uppers are frequently seen on high-end cleats. The genuine leather touch is more plush and tailored than modern synthetic alternatives, yet its intricate build might not be as enduring. It is, however, more resilient than many knitted materials, leading to a blend of leather and knit in some cleats, with the leather sections granting added longevity. Additionally, leather naturally conforms to foot shape better than rigid materials and maintains its pristine appearance despite potential game-time challenges, owing to its traditional finish.

Synthetic Materials

Black Cyber Nike Mercurials

Black Cyber Nike Mercurials

Polyurethane combined with polyester and nylon constructs are frequent on entry and mid-level cleats for their versatility. They’re not as acclaimed for their classic feel but excel in being lightweight. Furthermore, these materials resist wear better than some traditional materials. Exceptions feature the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite, which is designed with intricate synthetic layers that match the durability of some leather uppers despite extensive detailing.

Knit Materials

Adidas Predator Cleats with knit materials upper

Adidas Predator Cleats with knit materials upper

This type of upper is most often found on agile, performance-driven cleats. You’ll find knit materials uppers on high-end cleats like the Nike Phantom GT2 Elite and Adidas Predator Freak.4. These designs are not as durable as leather, but are incredibly lightweight and breathable. They do require some care to maintain their texture and appearance, but they’ll reward those efforts with a design that optimizes comfort and agility. As an added bonus, some cleats like the Nike Phantom have advanced weave patterns, ensuring better support and fit even during rigorous play.

Midsole Comfort and Support

While playing soccer, it’s common to make aggressive moves, which puts a lot of stress on your feet. Combined with the studded outsole, the midsole plays the essential role of cushioning from impacts and offers an additional layer of stability during play. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very lightweight (speed-focused cleat) to robust and supportive (control-oriented cleat). Most incorporate EVA, TPU, Pebax, or a combination of these materials in their construction.

EVA Materials

EVA Foam Materials

EVA Soccer Cleat Materials

While playing soccer, it’s common to make aggressive moves, which puts a lot of stress on your feet. Combined with the studded outsole, the midsole plays the essential role of cushioning from impacts and offers an additional layer of stability during play. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very lightweight (speed-focused cleat) to robust and supportive (control-oriented cleat). Most incorporate EVA, TPU, Pebax, or a combination of these materials in their construction.

TPU Materials

TPU Materials

TPU Soccer Cleat Materials

In the realm of soccer cleats, it’s prevalent to find midsole TPU materials in many designs like the Adidas Predator Precision and the Puma Future Z 1.1. The durable and responsive attributes of this material provide optimal cushioning during intense matches and is why companies use it to make flat studs. However, not all TPU materials are crafted alike, and the distinctions in specific versions can range from exceptionally soft to notably firm. For enduring rigorous matches and agile maneuvers, a robust and reactive midsole outweighs excessive softness. Those exceedingly soft midsoles might not stand up to the wear and tear similarly to cleats over extended use.

Typically, a heftier investment results in a superior midsole construct and a premium TPU blend. Nike is one brand that innovates with their cushioning needs. Leveraging their in-house React or Zoom Air technologies for certain models. With a pedigree rooted in everything from basketball to soccer, their proficiency is evident. The caliber of performance and resilience is on par with other top-tier offerings, from anything from their swift Mercurial Superfly cleats to the sturdy Tiempo Legend boots.

Pebax Materials

Pebax Materials

PEBAX Soccer Cleat Materials

In the realm of soccer cleats, it’s prevalent to find Pebax foam in the midsole of standout designs like the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite and the Adidas X Ghosted.3. The responsive and lightweight nature of this material aids in enhancing the energy return during intense matches. However, not all Pebax materials are crafted alike, and the nuances in proprietary versions can range from exceptional responsiveness to impressive durability. For enduring rigorous games and dynamic sprints, a resilient and robust midsole is more beneficial than mere compressibility. Those highly responsive midsoles might provide a distinctive edge similar to running shoes during rapid gameplay.

Typically, a greater commitment tends to yield an elite midsole composition and a top-tier Pebax blend.
Puma is one brand that stands out with their in-house innovation, often employing the Pebax advantage. Drawing from vast experience in everything from sprints to gameplay, their expertise is evident. The caliber of performance and endurance aligns with top-tier offerings across the spectrum, from the agile Puma Future Z 1.4 to the formidable Under Armour Magnetico Pro 3.0 soccer cleats.

Stud Patterns and Traction

One of the main reasons to upgrade from a basic soccer cleat to an elite soccer cleat is for enhanced traction. In a way that beginner cleats can never compete, elite soccer footwear is significantly superior when the ground becomes soft, wet, and challenging. And much in the same way that Messi is renowned for high-quality performances on the pitch, Conical and Bladed stud patterns inhabit a similar realm for soccer cleats. Their designs are synonymous with solid grip and traction on various pitches. However, not all Conical or Bladed designs should be viewed uniformly, as the stud configuration is tailored for specific playing conditions and brands. Some have pronounced studs for deep grip on muddy grounds, while others have a design optimized for wet grassy conditions. There are also introductory patterns like Rounded and Flat studs, reminiscent of the traction found on basic indoor soccer shoes or turf boots.

Adidas white and pink soccer cleats 💖 with luminous studs

Adidas is one brand that has crafted its in-house traction technology. Rather than relying on generic patterns, they use their signature stud designs for all their cleat models. With decades of experience in the realms of professional football to casual play, their mastery is evident. The quality and performance of their elite cleats, from their agile Nemeziz range to the robust Predator line, stand shoulder to shoulder with other top-tier soccer footwear in the market.

Conical studs

Conical studs Soccer Cleats

Rounded studs, Cylindrical Studs, Dome Studs, and Conical Studs are all the same thing 🤯

Conical studs for soccer cleats—also thought of as versatile or all-around studs—are the top-performing models. These studs tend to be more durable than their blade or triangular counterparts, but durability need not compromise performance. Certain cleats with conical studs offer the best performance for various surfaces, quick maneuvers, and stability (the Adidas Predator, for example).

Blade studs

Bladed studs Soccer Cleats

Blades, Razorblades, V-studs, Speed studs, and Traction studs are all the same thing too 🤓

Bladed studs for soccer cleats—often considered for maximum traction on firm ground—are the top-performing models. These studs might pose challenges on soft or muddy terrains, but challenges need not compromise acceleration. Certain cleats with bladed studs deliver the best grip and rapid changes in direction (the Adidas Predator Edge, for example).

Flat studs

Flat studs Soccer Cleats

Square studs, Rectangular studs, Artificial grass studs, AG studs, and Turf studs all refer to the same studs too 😎

Flat studs for soccer cleats—also thought of as specialized for artificial grass—are the top-performing models. These studs tend to be gentler on artificial turf than their rounded counterparts, but gentleness need not compromise traction. Certain cleats with flat studs offer the best performance for artificial grass, optimal grip, and comfort (the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite AG, for example).

Insoles

When wearing soccer insoles, engaging in high-intensity movements is a regular occurrence, subjecting your feet to substantial stress. Working in tandem with the cleated outsole, the insole assumes a crucial role by providing cushioning against impacts and contributing an extra dimension of stability throughout your game. The composition of these insoles can range from exceptionally lightweight, catering to speed-focused cleats, to sturdy and supportive, designed for control-oriented cleats. Typically, these insoles are constructed using materials such as EVA foam, Boost foam, Lunarlon foam, or a combination of these materials, depending on the specific design and performance requirements.

EVA foam

EVA Soccer Cleat Insole

EVA Soccer Cleat Insole

In the realm of soccer cleats, it’s prevalent to find EVA foam in the midsole of many designs like the Nike Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite and the Adidas X Ghosted.3. The responsive and lightweight nature of this material assists in lessening the impact on your feet during intense gameplay. However, not all EVA foams are made alike, and the distinctions in proprietary versions can range from highly responsive to fairly firm. For enduring prolonged playtimes and rapid movements, a supportive and sturdy midsole is more advantageous than excessive cushioning. Those exceedingly cushioned midsoles might degrade similarly to running shoes over extended use. Typically, higher investment leads to a superior midsole structure and a premium EVA blend.

Boost foam

Boost Foam Soccer Cleat Insole

Boost Foam Soccer Cleat Insole

For more challenging matches or when players require optimal energy return, manufacturers will utilize a Boost foam midsole. This innovative material provides less immediate softness compared to midsoles with only EVA but offers superior energy return and better endurance over extensive playtime. Moreover, they maintain their responsive nature over prolonged use and aren’t as susceptible to wear as EVA. Cleats like the adidas Predator Edge.1 incorporate Boost foam, but its adoption is spreading to mid-tier models—despite a potential premium—with the adidas X Ghosted.3 being a contemporary instance.

Lunarlon foam

Lunarlon foam Soccer Cleat Insole

Lunarlon foam Soccer Cleat Insole

Lunarlon foam, often highlighted in advanced soccer cleats, is an innovative cushioning composite prevalent in high-performance footwear. Cleats that incorporate Lunarlon foam tend to offer a different feel compared to those using just EVA, delivering a responsive yet lasting support. Furthermore, they maintain their form over time, resisting the typical compression seen in EVA-centric designs. Recognizing the merits of various midsole materials and the fact that Lunarlon comes at a premium, it’s not uncommon for brands to combine a Lunarlon core for responsiveness and durability, supplementing it with EVA elements for enhanced comfort on the pitch.

Characteristics EVA Foam Boost Foam Lunarlon Foam ✅
Weight Lightweight Lightweight Soft and Lightweight ✅
Responsiveness Not as responsive Highly responsive ✅ Not as responsive
Cushioning Can bottom out over time Excellent energy return✅ Cushioned ride
Durability Durable ✅ Not as durable Durable ✅
Price Affordable $ Expensive $$$ Moderate $$✅

Getting a proper fit in soccer cleats can be a real challenge, and often the culprit is a generic, flat insole. Thankfully, taking out your default insoles from cleats is a breeze, and swapping them for aftermarket ones tailored to your foot size and shape can address most fit issues in cleats. New insoles can offer more or less volume to snugly fit the cleat, enhance the support under the arch, and increase or decrease the cushioning and impact absorption. We recommend exploring Superfeet insoles for their broad range of choices and esteemed reputation in soccer cleats, sports shoes, and athletic footwear.

Here are a few of the top-rated soccer cleat insoles on the market that we recommend:

Soccer Cleats vs. Soccer Turf Cleats

One of the key decisions in choosing soccer footwear is selecting either a traditional soccer cleat or a soccer turf cleat. Each style has its respective strengths, and we use them interchangeably for different playing surfaces and matches. We’ve found that soccer cleat models vary just as much as the soccer cleats listed above, so you can choose from stiff and supportive down to light and nimble.

Should you buy the best soccer cleats or the best turf cleats?

Should you buy the best soccer cleats or the best turf cleats?

In the end, the differentiators between soccer cleats and soccer turf cleats are traction, design, and surface compatibility. For natural grass fields, especially those that might be wet or muddy, a soccer cleat is our preferred option. But the turf cleat design optimizes traction on artificial turf, making it the clear choice for those playing on synthetic surfaces without the unpredictability of natural ground (especially in consistent weather conditions and on well-maintained pitches). There isn’t a definite right answer in this debate, but the type of field you’ll be playing on can make the decision a lot simpler. For many dedicated soccer players, it’s worth having at least one pair of the best soccer cleats or even a pair of each in their collection 🤑

Connor Callahan Primal Keeper

Connor Callahan

Connor Callahan is a Youth Soccer Coach and Entrepreneur, best known for founding the highly successful Primal Keeper Academy and the soccer training program, Better Ball Control. With over a decade of experience, Connor has a proven track record of leading hundreds of youth soccer players across competitive South Eastern Soccer Tournaments like Nona Cup, Space Coast Clash, SOSC Labor Day Cup, and many more. His expert advise has been been viewed by over 100,000 viewers on YouTube. Additionally, Connor’s soccer coaching strategies shared via Primal Keeper Academy’s social media platforms reach thousands of viewers annually.

Connor Callahan is a Youth Soccer Coach and Entrepreneur, best known for founding the highly successful Primal Keeper Academy and the soccer training program, Better Ball Control. He coaches at South Orlando Soccer Club and Boone High School. With over a decade of experience, Connor has a proven track record of leading hundreds of youth soccer players across competitive South Eastern Soccer Seasons and Tournaments like Nona Cup, Space Coast Clash, SOSC Labor Day Cup, and many more. His expert advise has been been viewed by hundreds of thousands of viewers on YouTube. Additionally, Connor’s soccer coaching strategies shared via social media platforms reach thousands of viewers annually.

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