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The Essential Boot Buying Guide

Buying boots by position? Are boots worn by Messi and Ronaldo better? All you need to know about buying your boots right here.

There aren’t many things in life that gets me giddy with glee. However, scoping out for the next great boot to try on always gets me purring like a feline on catnip. They’re not just fancy shoes to be used to kick a ball around on grass. Each boot feels different and exudes its own unique character. From leather, to synthetic to the now popular knitted upper, there has never been more options for you to take to the field in today’s boot market.

That also means marketing from each boot manufacturer could cloud your judgement in picking out the right boot. Just like a wand picking its wizard, let’s see how you can pick the right boot for your feet.

Get 10% off any purchase from Ultra Football with the use of discount code “BOOTHYPE10” at check out. Discount is applicable to sale items as well but not applicable to shipping fees.

 

Buying boots by position or worn by your favourite player

Speaking of marketing, this is one of the biggest myths told by boot manufacturers. There is no such thing as a boot made for specific positions. This is a narrative created by the companies to better help frame the boot’s best selling point. The same goes for the player endorsing the boots, who most likely will be playing in the position that aligns with the boot’s marketing position.

We understand that some features are made with positions in mind. For instance, the X18 and the Mercurial Vapor are lightweight speed boots, made for the fast winger and striker to feel light on their feet. But if you’re a goalkeeper or defender, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear them if it makes you feel good on the pitch. A pacey winger wearing wearing the old school leather Nike Premier 2.0? Be my guest. Wear what makes you feel confident.

Lionel Messi in his Energy Mode Adidas Nemeziz 17+
The stars usually get modified boots that feel nothing like the one on sale.

Do keep in mind that the pros who endorse these brands also have custom built boots to fit the shape of their feet perfectly and on occasion, change out crucial parts of the boot to their preference. Messi’s Nemeziz 17.1 features a “burrito tongue” construction, possibly due to comfort issues with the stock version. Neymar also had his previous Hypervenom 2’s soleplate modified to feature the Tiempo Legend 6’s soleplate instead. #mindblown

Top range boots do not make you a better player

Boots don’t come cheap these days. An adidas Predator 18.1 can take you back S$300 and the even higher range 18+ is priced at about S$400. The truth is that while the top range boots are made with premium material and feel better on feet, this does not make you pass, tackle or strike better. Your footballing fundamentals are still key and don’t forget, much of football also depends on your movements without the ball as well.

Puma One 1 - Uprising Pack
Just because it’s not popular, doesn’t mean it’s not a good boot.

If you’re a little strapped for cash, the mid grade boots aren’t usually all that bad in its construction. They may use less premium materials but for the common player, this may be good enough for them. Alternatively, be patient and wait 2 – 3 months from the launch of your preferred boot colourway as stores tend to drop their price up to 30% after this period. There always new boot colours launching and boot prices depreciate quite quickly.

Do you need all the premium features such as laceless uppers and mid-cut socks?

In the past few years, the adidas and Nikes of this world have been quite innovative in producing boots at an even more premium level. This includes producing laceless variants of their top grade boots (the adidas 18+ range) and also mid-cut socks that come with the super premium Nike boots (The Mercurial Superfly and all the DF models come to mind).

For us, these features have mostly been gimmicks to get you to spend more on features whose performance may not always be better than its counterpart. The adidas Predator 18.1 provides a better lockdown of your feet versus the Predator 18+ while featuring an almost similar construction save for the laces. Lacesless uppers help you control the ball better. Despite looking cooler, laceless boot hardly gives you an edge in the control stakes during a game.

We can also assure you that the Nike’s dynamic fit collared boots are extremely tough to put on compared to their low-cut boots and have shown no incremental improvements in their performance nor ankle support for you guys with dodgy ankles.

The only thing we’re sure of is that they’re easily more fashionable, often coming with chrome soleplates or other visual upgrades that make them look more enticing on the eye. That’s where your money goes to – the swag and the bling. Do keep in mind that paying more isn’t always equal to better performance.

Nike’s All Conditions Control – gimmick or great feature?

It’s hard to know what “ACC” does. Nike has it in all their top range boot and ball models though they have not revealed its full features. We reckon that it doesn’t help with grip in wet conditions as each boot has a different surface texture that would react differently to water. What we reckon is that it reduces any water retention, keeping the boot lighter in heavy rain and also maintains the boot’s durability over multiples uses in the rain. Don’t expect ACC to allow you to control the ball like Iniesta.

However, if you play on soft ground often, one wet weather technology that definitely works is the Nike Anti Clog soleplate. It becomes more lubricious (is that even a word?) when in contact with water allowing mud to slide off. Pretty cool stuff.

Knitted uppers are more complex and varied than you think

The industry has moved away from full synthetic uppers to knitted fabrics since Nike popularised this in 2014 with the Magista Obra 1 using their proprietary Flyknit technology. Since then, we’ve seen adidas use a Primeknit base on 3 of their 4 silos (Predator, X and Nemeziz) with knitted fabric on the tongue of the Copas as well. Nike has full Flyknit uppers incorporated on the Mercurials, PhantomVSN (previously Magistas) and Hypervenom lines and also designed their leather Tiempos with Flyknit tongues.

Puma’s innovative Future is all about the NETFIT upper built on a textile based material and the PUMA ONE 1 contains evoKNIT material that forms the skeletal layer and the sock.

Puma Future 2.1 - Uprising pack
The Puma Future 2.1 Netfit

What does this mean for the user? For one, we can expect your upper to feel more plush, broken in and less plasticky than traditional synthetics of old. However, don’t expect to be wearing your grandma’s soft knitted sweater on your feet. For those of you who own Nike or adidas’ knitted running shoes, you can expect these football shoes to feel nothing like that. These uppers are reinforced to take on the pressures and impact of running, sprinting, sharp movement changes, kicking and tackles. They would usually have a thin coating of protection which makes the texture feel more waxy and ironically, just a little plasticky.

Each knitted boot is produced differently with varied density and rigidity so we would recommend for you to touch and feel them at your nearest store to see if there is one that fits your preference.

Love for leather

We can’t forget classic leather boots which have been a mainstay of the industry though they’re not as fashionable an option for manufacturers and consumers now. Leather boots today are treated to be lighter, softer and more water resistant than boots of old. If you love a slightly padded and plush feel on the ball and great durability, look no further than this. Once broken in, leather uppers are among the softest materials you will ever have on feet.

Mizuno Rebula 2 MIJ
The Mizuno Rebula (Made in Japan) offers an almost unrivaled plush feel and is one of the most expensive boots at over S$400.

A favourite of mine was the Nike Tiempo Legend 6 which softened up like butter after a few games – more so than the current Tiempo Legend 7. The current adidas COPA 18.1 would be a good option and the reliable Nike Premier 2.0 would get your great bang for your buck for a classic design and no-nonsense sensation.

Buy the right studs for the ground you play on

We covered this topic extensively in another article but we’d just like to remind you that you should be discerning in choosing the right stud pattern based on the type of pitch you’re on. This is to avoid ACL, MCL and sprain injuries that could severely affect your physical health. When in doubt, choose a stud pattern which may have slightly less traction to reduce the risk of injuries.

Nike Premier 2.0 sole plate
The short conical studs on the Nike Premier 2.0 FG makes for a great option on AG surfaces.

Most importantly, buy something that you’re comfortable in

No matter the upper material or position you play in, buy something that you are most comfortable wearing. Don’t rush to buy the newest model just because your favourite player dons them. Read some reviews (shameless plug) on BOOTHYPE. Visit a store and touch and feel and try on the boots. Many e-commerce stores offer free returns so don’t be afraid to maximize that opportunity to try them and return if necessary. There are an abundance of options for you to buy from so take your time to appreciate each boot for its merits and flaws.

Get 10% off any purchase from Ultra Football with the use of discount code “BOOTHYPE10” at check out. Discount is applicable to sale items as well but not applicable to shipping fees.

 

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