Best Football Cleats 2023

Someone standing on a field wearing a pair of white high-top Under Armour football cleats.
Credit: Under Armour

Someone standing on a field wearing a pair of white high-top Under Armour football cleats.
Credit: Under Armour

Choosing the best football cleats is a game-changer, elevating your performance through enhanced grip and support. To simplify the overwhelming task of buying a pair, we've curated a selection of top-notch cleats based on price, reviews, and features, ensuring you find the ideal match for your game-day needs.

The football arena boasts a diverse range of exceptional cleats from renowned sportswear and sneaker brands, meaning there's no shortage of great options. Tailored to various positions on the field, the cleats we've ultimately picked out cater to specific player requirements. For example, the adidas Ultraboost 1.0s offer agility and freedom for nimble running backs with their lightweight, low-cut design. On the other hand, the Nike Alpha Menace Elite 3s, featuring higher collars for robust ankle support, suit linemen seeking stability for impactful defensive manoeuvres. Our comprehensive list has all bases covered.

To further aid your decision-making process, we've addressed common queries regarding cleats at the end. So, whether you're a quick and agile player seeking freedom or a lineman in need of stability, our selection and insights will guide you toward the perfect cleats to elevate your game.

Best football cleats

  1. adidas Freak Ultra 23
  2. Nike Vapor Edge Speed 360 2
  3. Under Armour Highlight MC
  4. Under Armour Blur Smoke 2.0 MC
  5. adidas Ultraboost 1.0
  6. Nike Alpha Menace Elite 3
  7. Under Armour Spotlight Franchise RM 2.0 Jr.
adidas Freak Ultra 23 product image of a white and red laceless, knitted football cleat.
expand image
Credit: adidas

1. adidas Freak Ultra 23

Best football cleats overall

Brand: adidas
Material: Primeknit
Closure: Laceless

We're starting out with cleats designed to leave your opponents in the dust. The adidas Freak Ultra 23s are lightweight, flexible, and supportive to help you excel in every facet of the game.

To help you get the most out of your expended energy, these cleats feature Boost foam in the midsoles to give greater returns each stride you take. The inclusion of Boost also helps make these cleats comfortable to wear during a game or in training.

What's more, they're made from adidas' renowned Primeknit material, particularly around the collar, which conforms to the shape of your feet and ankles while also keeping weight to a minimum. This material also provides a locked-in, secure fit as these cleats are laceless.

Underneath you'll find strategically placed moulded studs that are designed to provide traction during multidirectional movements, allowing quick changes of pace with ease and, in turn, making the Freak Ultra 23s a great option to consider for your football games.

Nike Vapor Edge Speed 360 2 product image of a red cleat featuring a white Swoosh outlined in black down the side to match the cleats underneath.
expand image
Credit: Nike

2. Nike Vapor Edge Speed 360 2

Best budget football cleats

Brand: Nike
Material: NikeSkin
Closure: Lace-Up

These Vapor Edge Speed 360 2s offer excellent value for money thanks to their impressive design, built specifically with speed in mind, and relatively inexpensive price tag.

This is partly due to the revamped, lightweight upper, which is covered by NikeSkin for added durability and comfort as well as moulded elements around the heel for an improved fit.

To help with sharp turns of pace, the cleats come with separate internal plates that sit closer to your feet for more flexible support, plus wide stud placement for improved agility and grip with the field.

As a result, we'd say these Vapor Edge cleats are hard to ignore if you're looking to upgrade your football footwear for less. There's no doubt they're some of the best budget football cleats on the market today.

Under Armour Highlight MC product image of a dark blue high-top featuring volt yellow details.
expand image
Credit: Under Armour

3. Under Armour Highlight MC

Best football cleats for wide feet

Brand: Under Armour
Material: Textile upper with 3D printed cage
Closure: Lace-Up

If you often struggle with football cleats that feel too tight, the Under Armour Highlight MCs might be the perfect choice for you. These cleats prioritise comfort and offer a snug fit without causing discomfort.

Similar to some of the best baseball cleats, these boots feature molded 4D foam footbeds that mold to the shape of your feet. This design not only prevents slippage but also alleviates pressure that can build up during prolonged use.

Moreover, the uppers of these cleats incorporate strategically placed synthetic materials. This clever arrangement ensures breathability and stability, which are particularly important considering the high-collar design.

In conclusion, if you seek football cleats that provide exceptional comfort and a secure fit, we highly recommend considering these high-quality boots.

Under Armour Blur Smoke 2.0 MC product image of a white cleat with silver Under Armour branding on the side.
expand image
Credit: Under Armour

4. Under Armour Blur Smoke 2.0 MC

Best football cleats for wide receivers

Brand: Under Armour
Material: Textile upper / TPU skin / Knit collar
Closure: Slip-on

Drawing inspiration from track spikes, the Under Armour Blue Smoke 2.0 is engineered for speed. Its lightweight build and flexible design can help you shift into overdrive and find that extra inch of pace to outperform your competition.

The cleats weigh just 9.9 oz. thanks to their low-top design, textile upper, and ultra-thin TPU skin for extra protection around your feet. What's more, you get knitted collars for a more secure, sock-like fit in-game.

Performance-wise, the cleats feature Perf X insoles. These are designed to absorb shock, provide comfort, and, crucially, deliver exceptional energy returns during each stride you take to help you hit your top speed with ease.

Then, to help you maintain grip, the cleats come with a track spike-inspired one-shot plate with a central stud to help you maintain your grip on the field. Overall, these are some fast-paced, high-performance cleats that should suit anyone playing as a wide receiver.

adidas Ultraboost 1.0 product image of a yellow fabric cleat featuring white TPU overlays and maroon details.
expand image
Credit: adidas

5. adidas Ultraboost 1.0

Best football cleats for running backs

Brand: adidas
Closure: Lace-Up

If you're in search of a lightweight pair of boots that provide ample support as a running back, adidas has the answer.

Crafted from PRIMEKNIT fabric, these cleats are designed to be exceptionally lightweight, ensuring you don't feel weighed down while trying to hit top speed. Additionally, their low-cut collars are specifically engineered to enhance your ankle's range of motion, allowing you to swiftly maneuver, change direction, and evade defenders without any hindrance.

The inclusion of adidas' Boost foam in the midsoles offers enhanced support with every stride. You'll also experience improved energy return, enabling you to quickly reach your maximum speed when launching attacks against the opposing team.

All in all, we believe that the adidas Ultraboost 1.0 is an outstanding choice if you desire a lightweight cleat that delivers exceptional on-the-field performance.

Nike Alpha Menace Elite 3 product image of a black higher-cut cleat with a Swoosh outlined in white down the side.
expand image
Credit: Nike

6. Nike Alpha Menace Elite 3

Best football cleats for linemen

Brand: Nike
Material: Flyknit
Closure: Ghost Lacing

Linemen are renowned for their explosive speed and agile maneuvers, necessitating cleats that provide exceptional traction and additional ankle support.

The Alpha Menace Elite 3 cleats seem to fulfill these requirements admirably, as they are primarily constructed from Nike's lightweight and flexible Flyknit material, commonly used to construct some of the best running shoes around.

The outsoles have been upgraded with stiffer plates in the heel and midfoot regions, enhancing stability compared to the previous version, the 2s. Furthermore, these cleats boast a unique Ghost Lacing system, specially designed to work in harmony with the plates, securing your feet firmly in place. The added padding contributes to comfort on the field, alleviating any pressure points.

While these cleats are engineered with linemen in mind, they are versatile enough to be worn by players in other positions as well, as exemplified by Saquon Barkley donning them during the 2022 NFL season. Thus, regardless of your role, we recommend exploring these exceptional Nike cleats

Under Armour Spotlight Franchise RM 2.0 Jr. product image of an all-white and grey mid-top youth cleat.
expand image
Credit: Under Armour

7. Under Armour Spotlight Franchise RM 2.0 Jr.

Best youth football cleats

Brand: Under Armour
Material: Synthetic
Closure: Lace-Up

If you're a young player who hasn't quite figured out your ideal position yet, you might find the Spotlight Franchise 2.0 cleats to be the perfect solution.

These versatile cleats offer a 5/8 height, carefully designed by Under Armour to provide an optimal combination of speed and support. This is especially crucial for protecting your ankles during contact situations.

They're equipped with rubber moulds too that deliver both aggressive traction and safety, making them suitable for youth games. What's more, they feature EVA midsoles, which offer cushioning and comfort for your feet.

All in all, the Spotlight Franchise 2.0 cleats appear to be an excellent choice for any young newcomer to the sport.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

With so many football cleats available, you may have a few questions about what makes each of them stand out. Don't worry though because we've answered some of the most common queries right here.

Why do you need football cleats?

The primary function of football cleats is to enhance traction and prevent slipping on the field. Those who have played in regular trainers understand the increased risk of losing footing without proper cleats or studs.

Therefore, football cleats are meticulously crafted to ensure stability and balance while executing maneuvers like running, sprinting, and quick changes of direction.

This notion is corroborated by Prabhakar's research, which underscores the positive correlation between cleat design and player performance, particularly concerning agility on the field.

Cleats refer to the incorporated spikes affixed to the undersurface plates. These spikes penetrate the ground upon foot planting, augmenting grip and traction. That said, modern football cleats tend to include a plethora of additional technologies aimed at elevating gameplay and improving traction.

For instance, some cleats utilise a combination of conical and chevron-shaped studs strategically positioned across the plates. This arrangement optimises movements like deceleration, rotation, and pushing off during play.

In short, football cleats are engineered to provide maximal performance and grip on the field, making them an indispensable asset for anyone seeking to engage in the sport.

How much should you spend on football cleats?

The cost of football cleats can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the brand, the level of technology and materials used, and the style of the cleat. Generally, football cleats can range anywhere between double to triple digits, so figuring out how much to spend can be tough.

That said, the amount you should spend on football cleats depends on your specific needs and budget. If you're a recreational player who plays occasionally, you may be able to get away with a lower-priced option. Still, if you're a serious player who practices and competes regularly, investing in a higher-quality and more expensive pair may be a better option.

It's crucial to find a pair of football cleats that fit well, provide ample support, and are comfortable to wear for extended periods. Price is not always an indication of quality or suitability, so it's essential to do your research and try on several pairs to find the right one for you. Ultimately, you should aim to spend as much as you can afford to get the best quality and most comfortable cleats for your level of play.

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!

Are there specific cleats for different playing positions in football?

In order to find a good set of football cleats, you need to know what you're looking for first. This extends to knowing what type of cleat will best suit your position on the field.

For example, if you're a wide receiver or running back, your game will likely be focused on speed. Therefore, a pair of mid to low-cut cleats may be best for you since they're often lighter and less restrictive, which is ideal for quick turns of pace and direction.

However, high-cut cleats have their place too, particularly for linemen who may need additional ankle support at the gridiron. More support should reduce the risk of injury as well.

In fact, a field study comparing low, mid, and high football cleats found high-top cleats limited ankle motions associated with injury without deleteriously influencing performance.

Some players take this a step further by 'spatting' their cleats, which is described by Dicks Sporting Goods as taping your cleats to lessen the risk of rolling or twisting your ankles during gameplay.

Can you wear soccer boots for football?

While soccer boots and American football cleats may appear similar, there are a few minor differences between them that make them the optimal footwear for their particular sport.

For example, soccer boots tend to be low cut and don't include a midsole to help maximise ball control and speed by reducing weight.

By contrast, American football cleats are typically low, medium, or high cut according to adidas, and feature thicker outsoles and studs near the big toe for added traction.

That said, you can wear soccer boots for American football as the differences between them are relatively minor. In fact, you'll often find kickers wearing soccer boots due to the shape being designed primarily for their role. If so, check out our list of the best places to buy football boots right here.

However, it's worth noting that most referees do not allow football cleats to be worn during a soccer game, mainly due to the additional stud near the toe, so the same cannot be applied in reverse.

Do you need to break in football cleats?

Yes, it's important to break in your football cleats before using them in a game or practice. Breaking in your cleats allows them to conform to the shape of your feet, which can help prevent blisters and other foot injuries.

To break in your football cleats, wear them around the house for short periods of time before wearing them to practice or in a game. You can also wear them during light training sessions to help them mold to the shape of your feet.

It's important to note that different cleats may require different amounts of time to break in, and some may require more time than others. If you experience discomfort or pain while wearing your cleats, stop wearing them immediately and try adjusting the laces or seeking a different type of cleat that fits your foot better.

Should you buy football cleats a size bigger?

To minimise slipping, it's important for football cleats to have a snug fit around your feet while still allowing movement, especially for your toes. Clarks suggest leaving approximately one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe.

This guideline can also be applied to football cleats as it allows your toes to move freely and prevents lateral compression. It's generally recommended that football cleats fit true to size. However, it can be helpful to measure your foot's dimensions and refer to the manufacturer's size guide to ensure you select the correct size.

However, if you have wider feet, going up half a size may provide a more comfortable and secure fit during a game.

How long do football cleats last?

This can vary depending on several factors, including the quality of the cleats, frequency of use, playing conditions, and individual usage. On average, football cleats can last anywhere from one to three seasons, with some high-quality cleats potentially lasting longer.

It's important to note that the playing surface can significantly impact the wear and tear on cleats. Cleats used on artificial turf or hard surfaces tend to experience more rapid deterioration compared to those used on natural grass fields. Also, rough or abrasive surfaces can cause the studs or outsole material to wear down more quickly.

Additionally, personal usage and care play a role in the lifespan of football cleats. Players who regularly clean their cleats, properly store them, and avoid excessive wear outside of games and practices can help prolong their lifespan.

Signs that indicate it may be time to replace football cleats include worn-out studs or outsole material, loss of traction, significant damage or separation of the upper from the sole, or decreased comfort and support. If any of these signs are present, it's advisable to consider investing in a new pair of cleats for optimal performance and safety.

Ultimately, the longevity of football cleats depends on various factors, and it's important to monitor their condition and replace them when necessary to ensure optimal performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Are there any rules or regulations regarding cleats in football?

National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and many youth football leagues have specific guidelines for cleats. Generally, only non-metal cleats are allowed, and some leagues may require the use of moulded or rubber cleats.

Also, cleats usually must not exceed a certain length to prevent injury to other players. The maximum allowable length varies depending on the league or association but is typically around 1/2 inch.

In terms of removable cleats, some leagues allow it. However, they must be properly secured to the shoe, and any metal studs must comply with the regulations set by the league or association.

It's also worth knowing that different field surfaces may have specific requirements for cleats. For example, some artificial turf fields prohibit the use of metal cleats due to potential damage to the surface.

Overall, specific rules and regulations regarding cleats can vary depending on the level of play, league, or organisation. It's always best to consult the rules provided by the governing body or check with your coach or league officials to ensure compliance.

What are the advantages of moulded cleats?

Moulded cleats offer several advantages that make them a popular choice for football players. Straight off the bat, moulded cleats are incredibly versatile as they can typically be used on a range of playing surfaces, including natural grass, artificial turf, and firm ground.

Moulded cleats are also usually quite durable as they're made from materials like rubber or hard plastic. This ensures that the cleats can withstand the rigors of regular use and last for an extended period of time.

There's also an element of ease to moulded cleats. There's no need to worry about replacing or adjusting studs. The cleats are permanently attached to the sole, making them easy to use and maintain. This convenience is particularly beneficial for players who prefer a hassle-free option.

And finally, moulded cleats are usually more suitable for younger players to avoid injury and for the convenience of it all once again. Ultimately, though, it's a good idea to consider your specific needs to determine the best type of cleats for you.

Are there specific football cleats for different field conditions?

While soccer boots commonly incorporate various types of studs tailored to different field conditions, football cleats typically offer a single type of cleat. The sole difference lies in whether these cleats are moulded directly onto the boots or made detachable for convenient cleaning and replacement in case of damage.

You can also buy footwear designed for turf. Known as rubber bottom cleats or turf shoes, they feature rubber studs on the sole to avoid damaging artificial surfaces. Generally speaking, these type of cleats aren't all that suitable for grass as they lack the traction needed, especially in wet weather.

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!