5 Best Football Cleats in 2021

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5 Best Football Cleats in 2021

Athletic brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour release numerous football cleats making it quite a challenge to choose the right one for you.

We have tested over 20 pairs to help you narrow down the choice. Low-top or high-top, cheaper or premium, we have selected our top picks in various categories so that you can choose what works best for your game.

In the guide section below, you will also find some helpful tips on choosing between laces, straps, and slip-ons, as well as molded vs. detachable cleats. You will also understand the difference between football and soccer cleats.

How we come up with the top cleats

Here at RunRepeat, we are able to get the ratings of around 16 experts and more than 2,000 users. Their scores and then weighted and averaged to get the corescore of all football cleat models in our database, which we then rank to come up with the top football cleats.

Best overall

The gridiron is surely not for the faint-hearted. It’s a vast battlefield where warriors literally shed sweat, blood, and tears to win. Nike understands this, so the Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3 is a beast with features that make wearers always ready to mow down opponents, or simply move past them.

This Nike soccer cleat boasts one of the best tread patterns on the market. It just dug in so well that we didn’t have qualms making sharp cuts and turns. Accelerating and keeping the momentum were also never an issue. The fact that the shoe is breathable and light just made these things a lot easier.

Aside from that, the soleplate is also very springy; so we didn’t have to spend so much energy just to bring ourselves forward. Now, this is true efficiency. It surely saved us the energy that we needed to grapple opponents and break through their defences.  

The upper materials conformed well to the foot. The fit, therefore, was so close to the skin; hence, the airflow was smooth and nothing distracted us as we charged aggressively forward.

Given all these goodness, the fact that this soccer cleat is affordable is already the icing on the cake. Waste no time; grab a pair of these bad boys now!

See our full review and facts

There is no question about it; winning is all about being the fastest and just getting there first. However, the gridiron is such a merciless field for relentless bloodbath. Being fast is not enough; a player also has to be strong to get past opponents. The Under Armour Spotlight MC provides affordances for both speed and power, and still more.

The outsole of this football cleat combines the powers of two outstanding materials: TPU and BZM. This lethal combination provides strength and stability that we can really feel. Not once did we have to worry about tripping or making embarrassing missteps.

As if that’s not enough, the stud configuration also delivers exceptional bite on the ground. The spikes just dug so well that our feet were securely planted so that we could come up with an effective resistance against even the strongest push from the enemy. 

To support the sole plate’s amazing work, the upper is made of lightweight yet very supportive woven upper. In key areas are TPU-coated yarn that help in holding the foot down. This afforded us the confidence to accelerate, make daring cuts and turns, and ultimately break down the opponent’s defense. 

Even if the UA Spotlight MC costs a fortune, it’s still worth buying. It’s just so good!

See our full review and facts

Best value

It is totally understandable for any footballer to prefer cleats that cost less but deliver more in terms of performance. However, getting such a pair is not always easy to do. Fortunately, Nike was able to come up with the Alpha Menace Pro 2 Mid, which easily  bested the dozens of football cleats that we’ve tested.

This model delivers everything that a football player will ever need on the gridiron. Its spikes are firm and sturdy; they dug through the ground so well. Such an enhanced grip has the unique ability to stabilize even the sharpest and most abrupt cuts. When we were playing in this, there was never a moment where we had to second guess our moves. 

Besides an excellent grip, this Nike model also delivered a pretty springy response. We just felt like we were propelled forward by some unseen force. As a result, sprinting toward our side of the field was never a problem.

Given such strengths, we surely wouldn’t mind paying a lot for this one. But Nike just had to make this football cleat more affordable than others. Not only that, this cleat also came with aesthetics that never put us to shame. Surely, there is nothing to complain about.

See our full review and facts

We have been told that the Nike Force Savage Pro 2 is a football cleat that we will surely love. They say that it just delivers on every aspect that matters. We were skeptical at first, but when we tried it ourselves, boy were our expectations shattered! This just deserves all the hype that surrounds it.

For starters, this Nike football shoe has a really good grip on the ground. It doesn’t matter if it’s totally dry or a bit wet, it just dug in so well and provided all the stability that we needed. As a result, we were able to run, cut, and even pivot with a lot of confidence.

Aside from that, the Force Savage Pro 2 was also very comfortable. Really! No matter how aggressive our movements were, our feet still felt like they were being cradled because of how breathable and soft the materials were. Of course, this was not at the expense of support and lockdown. 

When it comes to fit, this Nike shoe is also a pleaser. Because of the flexibility of its materials, it was able to accommodate the wide-footers within our ranks. This was indeed a huge plus! 

If all that we’ve shared is still not enough to convince you that the Nike Force Savage Pro 2 is good, then we really don’t know what will.

See our full review and facts

Best high top

Like soccer cleats, football cleats usually have low collars. However, this does not mean that high-tops do not work for football. It’s more convention than science, actually. And among the handful of high-tops that make it to the mainstream, it’s the Under Armour Highlight MC that truly left an indelible mark for us.

You see, this shoe just puts comfort above all. When we were playing in this, we felt as if the shoe became part of us instead of just being put on us. As a result, our movements were truly unrestricted whether we were mounting a good offense or putting up a good resistance. Running was also not a problem because of how light this UA model was. 

Aside from that, this shoe also has a really good grip. And it didn’t even matter if the ground was crispy dry or a bit wet; it just dug right in and gave us the stability that we needed to perform as aggressively as we could.

If we are nitpicky, we would say that being narrow is this football cleat’s waterloo. But it’s not something that can’t be remedied. We just went half a size to a full size up. With this, what issue is there left to talk about? None.

See our full review and facts

3 quick steps to get the right football cleats

Choosing the right one out of the best ten football cleats is already a daunting task. You can make it easier by following the 3 quick steps below.

Consider your playing position

Playing positions in football are pretty distinct. They allow us to predict what movements a player most likely does during the game. Good football cleats correspond to the needs of the wearer’s playing position.

low top.png Mid top.png high top.png

Low-top football cleats are lightweight and allow maximum maneuverability.

Mid-top football cleats provide a mix of ankle support and mobility. 

High-top football cleats are bulkier and offer more support than mid-tops or low-tops.

Practically, low-tops and mid-tops don’t differ much. They work best for the following positions:

- Running backs

- Quarterbacks

- Wide receivers

- Defensive backs

- Other skill positions

High-tops work best for those who do lateral movements:

- Linemen

- Defenders 

Understand the anatomy of a football cleat

All the top football cleats have three major components, each with a unique contribution to how effective a cleat is.

Upper. The upper is typically made of leather or synthetic. Other materials that provide varying levels of support, durability, and comfort are also used. How securely attached the shoe is to the foot is determined by the upper’s lockdown system.

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Lace-Up — This is the most common type of closure system found in most football cleats. This type of lockdown system offers a fully-customizable fit.

Strap.png

Strap — Some football cleats feature hook-and-loop straps to provide increased support and lockdown.

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Slip-On — Most premium football cleats feature a one-piece knit construction that provides a snug one-to-one fit.

Midsole. The midsole provides internal support and underfoot cushioning. This part is usually made of a type of foam.  

Outsole. Being the part that comes in contact with the playing surface, the outsole must provide the right amount of traction. Based on how the outsole is constructed, spikes on football cleats are either molded or detachable.

Molded.png

Molded

Detachable.png

Detachable

Generally cheaper

More expensive

Provides enough traction on both natural and artificial grass surfaces

Affords flexibility given changing surfaces, playing style, and weather conditions

Usually used for practices and in actual games by high school and other younger players

Usually used in actual games by professional players and college athletes

In order to maximize the use of football cleats with  detachable spikes, you need to know how many spike variants are available and when to use them. 

Length

General Usage

½ inch

Dry start-of-the-season surfaces

⅜ inch

Normal surfaces that have been played on numerous times

¾ inch

Soft muddy surfaces

1 inch

Extreme surface conditions (too much moisture or even ice)

See to it that the cleats fit you well.

It’s obvious that you should get the right size to maximize a shoe’s potential. Here are a few tips that you can follow to get the best football cleats that fit you perfectly.

Take into account potential stretch. The upper is made of either leather or synthetic materials. Bear in mind that leather tends to stretch over time, so an initial tightness might be OK. 

Shop or at least measure your feet late in the afternoon. Our feet tend to swell throughout the day. Their size later in the afternoon is said to be the most accurate. Do measurements or actual shopping during this time.

Consider the thickness of your socks. A sock adds more bulk to your foot, and might affect how snugly the football cleat fits you. Try the cleat with the sock on to ensure optimal fit.

Learn how to gauge size online.  Brands fit differently. Whenever possible, stick to brands that fit you well when you shop online. If you must, use sizing tools provided by some online retailers to get the right size estimate.

Football cleats vs soccer cleats

In the UK and the rest of Europe, the word ‘football’ is used to refer to a sport that the United States calls ‘soccer.’ There’s also football in the US but it’s entirely different from Europe’s football, from the rules of the game down to the cleats that the players wear.

Football cleat.png Soccer cleat.png

Football Cleats

Soccer Cleats

heavier

lighter

come in 3 types: high, mid, and low

are usually just lows.

has a toe stud

has no toe stud

less responsive striking area

highly responsive striking area

Compared to soccer cleats, typical football cleats have the following characteristics:

Feel heavier. Football is a contact sport that involves players defending against or tackling each other. To keep them supported, their shoes need to be made of heavier and sturdier materials.

Have toes spikes. The extra stud near the big toe provides the additional traction needed by a football player as they block opponents or push against their tacklers. 

Come in low, mid, and high versions. Football has fourteen identified positions, and each has its own unique functions. Each type corresponds to specific needs of a group of football positions. Learn more about this as we discuss playing positions below.

Less responsive striking area. Though there are special positions that do it, kicking is not a common move among football players. Hence, their shoes are not engineered for it.