I thought so but it turns out I was wrong.
Cleats are vital to both safety and performance on the gridiron and they are not all equally suited for any individual player.
I’ve created this list of the 10 best foot football cleats, including a few for kids. I hope this list helps you narrow down which cleats are the right ones for you or your child.
You’ll find nice contrasts in features, price, and style. All of these cleats have something to offer
Table of Contents
- 1 Under Armour Men’s UA Highlight MC – Our Top Pick
- 2 Nike Mens Lunarbeast PRO TD Football Cleat - Great Ankle Support
- 3 Nike Men's Force Lunarbeast Elite TD - Designed for Defensive Positions
- 4 Adidas Performance Men's Freak X Carbon Mid Football Shoe - Nice Combination of Power and Speed
- 5 Reebok Pro Workhorse ATF Men's Football Shoes - A Custom-Fit Cleat
- 6 Reebok NFL Burner Speed 5/8 SD3 - Custom-Fit Technology and Detachable Cleats
- 7 Men's Nike Alpha Pro 2 - Good for All Positions
- 8 Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD - Great Speed Cleats for Wider Feet
- 9 Under Armour Boy's Crusher Mid Jr - Good Football Cleat for Young Beginners
- 10 Nike Kids' Vapor Shark 2 - Take Your Kid's Game to the Next Level
- 11 Football Cleats Buyer's Guide
- 11.1 Which cleats are comfortable for extra wide feet?
- 11.2 I have flat feet, what should I wear?
- 11.3 Any cleats is best for a wide receiver?
- 11.4 Any cleats is best for a defender?
- 11.5 How about artificial turf?
- 11.6 Safety tips - Avoid Injuries
- 11.7 Which one has the best grip?
- 11.8 What type of cleats should I get to prevent heel pain?
Under Armour Men’s UA Highlight MC – Our Top Pick
The cleat is made from ultra lightweight material and the UA ClutchFit® upper wraps offer incredible support.
There are extended cut outs over the laces, providing extra flexibility on the field and also great style.
A molded 4D Foam® footbed fits the exact shape of the foot, reducing pressure, preventing slippage, and providing optimal comfort.
Cleats are molded into the rubber sole.
The UA Highlight cleats are available in a range of colors, letting many players stylishly match their footwear to their school colors.
Nike Mens Lunarbeast PRO TD Football Cleat - Great Ankle Support
This is a mid-cut boot that provides good ankle support.
A wide strap adds some stability to the midfoot and a 3/4-length phylon wedge provides flexible cushioning. The cleats are a molded plastic.
Nike’s unique NIKESKIN wraps around the foot, providing a tight fit and durability.
Nike Men's Force Lunarbeast Elite TD - Designed for Defensive Positions
These cleats are similar to the Nika Lunarbeast PRO cleats but they are designed specifically for defensive ends, linebackers, and linemen.
NFL defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was consulted for insight into the particular needs of defensive players.
The high-cut collar provides the ankle support these players need while the flywire cables provide midfoot stability.
Lunarbeast Elite shoes come in a range of colors and styles, but the price varies quite a bit between the different styles and sizes.
Decent arch support also provides propulsion technology that helps the football player achieve a faster toe-off.
The unique NIKESKIN provides a tight fit and support around the foot.
Three different kinds of cleat studs are molded into the thermoplastic polyurethane sole.
Adidas Performance Men's Freak X Carbon Mid Football Shoe - Nice Combination of Power and Speed
A DuPont Kevlar-reinforced plate gives this cleat superior strength and traction while keeping it lightweight.
The sock-like upper sleeve of this mid-cut cleat gives good stability and support.
Though it’s a mid-cut cleat with good support, it has the feel of a low-cut cleat, something some players prefer.
In addition to support, comfort is taken into consideration, with quite a bit of cushion at the tongue and back in the Achilles tendon area.
The lacing system is customizable, letting you get the right fit and tightness depending on the size of your foot.
An Ironskin toe cap provides abrasion resistance and helps prevent toe-drag injuries.
The cleats are a hard molded plastic and provide good traction, especially on turf.
The inside is lined with moisture-wicking material, offering great breathability.
Reebok Pro Workhorse ATF Men's Football Shoes - A Custom-Fit Cleat
Finding a cleat that fits you perfectly is hard, so Reebok offers a game-changing approach.
They actually found a way to give you a custom fit with what they call U-FORM footwear lining technology.
It’s important that the cleat be basically the right size to start with but then you just heat up the shoe, lace it tight and wait for the technology to work.
This will ultimately give you a cleat that is custom-fit for your particular feet.
Perfect fit is key for both safety and performance.
This football cleat offers good stability, aided by a midfoot support strap.
An antimicrobial footbed with anti-friction technology provides some cushion while also reducing friction and helping to keep the foot cool.
Reebok isn’t making cleats anymore at all, but these are good cleats and the remaining ones you can find are available at a great price.
Reebok NFL Burner Speed 5/8 SD3 - Custom-Fit Technology and Detachable Cleats
Like the Reebok Pro Workhorse ATF, this a cleat that Reebok isn’t making anymore since they offloaded all football boots production to Adidas.
However, the still available cleats of this model are very much worth considering.
They offer that revolutionary custom-fit technology, letting you create a fit that perfectly conforms to your foot.
The upper is made from a soft, synthetic leather that is both lightweight and comfortable.
Its collar is a breathable, moisture-wicking mesh, helping keep your foot cool and dry.
The antimicrobial footbed is comfortable while also helping to reduce friction and heat.
Another important feature of these cleats is the Two-piece TPU Pebax® speed plate with HardLink arch stability, providing arch support and overall stability.
Good stability helps improve both traction and propulsion.
There is a hard plastic outsole with detachable cleats and you do get a full second set of cleats with this model.
This is a really nice feature that can extend how long they last. Detachable cleats tend to provide better traction, especially on grass. Unfortunately, durability is a real concern with these cleats.
The outsole, in particular, has a tendency to come apart. Especially when compared to the Reebok Pro Workhorse ATF, these cleats have a pretty sharp design with a nice use of a flashy-looking Reebok logo.
Men's Nike Alpha Pro 2 - Good for All Positions
Like all of Nike’s cleats, the Alpha Pro 2 cleats have NIKESKIN.
This material is lightweight, easy to clean, and remarkably durable.
It also looks pretty cool, adding to an already nice design.
There are a number of different color options and some unique designs that a have new-age kind of feel.
Looks are only of secondary importance when it comes to football, though, and these also offer the stuff that counts like good traction and stability.
The cleats are molded plastic and offer superior traction on both grass and turf.
Comfort is another positive with the Alpha Pro 2, with extra cushioning in the heel as well as a 3/4-wedge midsole with a lot of cushion.
Although the NIKESKIN is lightweight, these are a bit heavier overall, so that’s something to keep in mind.
A really tight fit goes a long way towards making a shoe feel light and respond accordingly.
The Flywire Tech wrap gives you that tight, locked-down fit for stability, support, and that responsive illusion of being really lightweight.
Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD - Great Speed Cleats for Wider Feet
These cleats from Nike aren’t great for linemen but they are ideal for skill players looking for speed.
They have thin blades near the toe as part of a unique traction pattern.
These will help you really cut into grass or turf, driving you forward and providing great responsiveness.
The power-plate outsole includes quite a bit of carbon fiber that aids in propulsion and flexibility.
Stability is good, thanks to the tight, locked-down fit that only flywire can provide.
Adding to the tight fit, the tongue is built right into the bootie which also helps get that custom-fit feel.
The tongue is ventilated but that’s the only spot that is so these aren’t the most breathable cleats.
Because these cleats are all about speed, there isn’t as much cushioning but there is adequate support and it is a comfortable fit.
These are decent cleats for players with wider feet.
In fact, if you have narrow feet, you’ll likely need to go down half a size to get the right fit.
Because these have NIKESKIN, they’re quite durable. Like the other Nike Football boots, these do offer a lot of great colors and design options.
Under Armour Boy's Crusher Mid Jr - Good Football Cleat for Young Beginners
The synthetic upper is easy to clean and quite durable.
The rubber outsole with molded cleats offers good traction on both grass and turf.
A cushioned footbed offers shock-absorbing comfort.
There is very good ankle support and a power strap locks the foot down for additional stability.
Inside, there is a mesh lining that is both comfortable and breathable.
Despite the mesh lining, these are lacking on breathability overall so they can get a bit warm. The style on these are pretty basic but they are still a nice looking shoe.
Nike Kids' Vapor Shark 2 - Take Your Kid's Game to the Next Level
These are a nice looking football boots with a flashier design that a lot of kids will like.
There are also a number of color options to choose from.
A synthetic leather upper is lightweight and easy to clean.
The design helps you to get a nice tight fit when laced up, providing the stability you want. There is decent ankle support. Comfort is also pretty high, with a foam insole cushion and a phylon midsole for shock-absorbing comfort.
The molded rubber outsole uses Nike Fast Flex technology. This unique placement of the cleats helps provide great traction, speed, and responsiveness.
Football Cleats Buyer's Guide
Which cleats are comfortable for extra wide feet?
It's important that your cleats have a nice, tight fit but you don't want them to be too tight either.
With wide feet, it can be hard to find that perfect balance of a tight fit without pain.
Some cleats do have special sizing specifically designed for wide feet.
The Under Armour Men's UA Highlight MC cleats, the Adidas Performance Men's Freak X Carbon Mid cleats, and the Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD are the best football cleats for wider feet.
I have flat feet, what should I wear?
Players with flat feet might want to invest in orthotic insoles to make their cleats as healthy and as comfortable as possible.
You should also look for cleats with good anatomic arch support for your foot.
For kids, both the Nike Kids' Vapor Shark 2 and the Under Armour Boy's Crusher Mid Jr cleats provide excellent anatomic arch support that will work well for those with flat feet as well as those with a higher arch.
People with flat feet also tend to have wide feet, so looking for football cleats designed for wide feet can be a good idea.
Any cleats is best for a wide receiver?
Wide receivers need speed and agility, so you need a cleat that will help you achieve these goals.
This means you're looking for cleats that are lightweight and provide good lock-down support and ankle support to help you cut across the field with ease.
Any cleats is best for a defender?
Defensive players need a lot of ankle support, a tight fit, and great traction.
The Nike Men's Force Lunarbeast Elite TD is a good choice since it was designed specifically for defensive positions.
The Adidas Performance Men's Freak X is another good option for the defensive line.
How about artificial turf?
Molded football boots tend to be better when playing on artificial turf.
All of the cleats on this list will do well on turf.
Safety tips - Avoid Injuries
Good cleats that fit well will help keep you safe by minimizing your risk of injury.
It starts with finding the right cleats. Longer cleats can get stuck in the turf which can cause a player to twist a knee or ankle which could potentially be a very serious injury.
This is why high school football has a cleat length rule.
A study on injuries in the NFL and injuries in high school football found that the rotational traction of cleats has a big impact on football injuries.
Football Cleats with more forward-motion traction resulted in fewer injuries while cleats with more rotational-motion traction resulted in more injuries.
The safest cleat will also be a good fit for the player's foot type and any past injuries.
A player with a past ankle injury, for example, should consider a mid-cut or high top cleat for better ankle support.
You should also make sure you have the right cleat for the position of the player. High impact players tend to need more ankle support.
For kids, you should never buy cleats that are a little bigger for the player to grow into.
Cleats must be a perfect, tight fit. If they are too large and there is any sliding around inside the shoe, it could be dangerous.
You should retie your laces regularly, always tightly. Tight laces help keep your foot locked down and stabilized. It's a good idea to buy extra laces and replace them if your laces are starting to get worn down.
It's important to always take your cleats off when not on the field. Wearing cleats on other surfaces like asphalt wears down the tips of the cleats. This decreases their traction ability on the field which makes them less safe.
Which one has the best grip?
Cleats that provide good grip, helping the player really dig into the ground, are safer and help you perform better in the game.
Check out this review of the UA Highlight MC (our top pick for best football cleats):
What type of cleats should I get to prevent heel pain?
If you have heel pain, it's important to get the right fit. It should be snug at the heel, but not painfully rubbing.
You want to look for cleats with enough cushion and support in the back.
You also might want to consider orthotic insoles, since a flat foot without the right support can lead to heel pain.
Football cleats are just as vital to the safety and performance of a player as the helmet and pads.
Good cleats can help make a good player into a great player.
Have you tried any of the cleats on this list?
What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about cleats as well.