Best Football Kicking Cleats

by Purposeful Footwear - Last Updated: April 10, 2018

Wondering which football cleats are perfect for kicking? I did a lot of research and found that the Nike Vapor Carbon Elite shoes are more or less the most efficient kicking cleats out there. The design pretty much incorporates all the features you would look for in a kicking cleat. That is, they’re lightweight, flexible, and give you a substantial feel of the ball for greater control.

If you’re thinking about copping a pair of the Nike Vapor Carbon Elites for your next game, but you’re not quite sure if they fit the bill – don’t sweat it. I’ve got all the reasons why these shoes can definitely help you step up your game.

Lightweight, Streamlined Construction for Optimal Control

One of the main factors that makes a good kicking cleat is the weight of the shoe overall. Heavier cleats tend to be harder to control, weighing down your feet and requiring you to exert more effort to kick the ball where it needs to go. That’s why the Nike Vapor Carbon Elite was designed to feel like a second skin.

The uppers are made from lightweight synthetic which is often the material of choice when manufacturers design football kicking cleats. But there’s more to the material than just reducing the weight of the cleat over all. Synthetic tends to create traction with the material of a football. This means that when your foot makes contact with the ball, it won’t slide along the surface and produce the wrong trajectory.

The synthetic material also gives you more flexibility. In a lot of ways, the perfect kick depends on the finer movements of your feet. Because the Vapor Carbon Elite uses forgiving uppers that move along with your feet, you can really fine-tune your kick to maneuver the ball with precision and accuracy.

Lastly, I do want to mention the thought and consideration that went into designing the lacing system for the shoe. Unlike other football cleats like the CJ3 Flyweave Elite TD Cleats that use rounded laces, the Vapor Carbon Elite features a flat lace system. This helps maintain the streamlined silhouette of the cleat and prevents any sort of texture from interfering with the outcomes of your kicks.

Don’t Expect a Lot of Traction

The main difference between kicking cleats and running cleats is that they don’t offer the same traction. As a general rule, running cleats need to provide much greater traction which is why they’re fitted with much longer studs that are designed to dig into muddy surfaces to give you stable footing.

Kicking cleats on the other hand need to be designed without the heavy studs. This makes them easier to lift, reducing unnecessary weight on your feet. The trade off is that  they’re far less capable of giving you any stable traction when your foot lands.

That said, there really isn’t a lot to expect out of the Vapor Carbon Elite in terms of bite. Sure, it won’t cause you to go sliding and gliding across the field, but it also won’t be able to plant your feet firmly enough in the ground to give you the footing you need to start a sprint.

For that reason, it would be preferred to use a different football cleat on your opposite foot. In fact, most football kickers use mismatched shoes during games to get the best of both worlds. This is particularly the case for players who like fulfilling both the roles of a kicker and a runner during a game.

If you want a Nike cleat that offers a little more bite without being too heavy on the feet, consider the Alpha Pro 2 TD. These cleats feature a much more prominent stud design giving it more grip despite being a kicking cleat.

Great Comfort Despite a Snug Fit

Running a tad on the narrow side, the Vapor Carbon Elite cleats aren’t really designed for users with wide feet. So if you’ve got a bigger toe span, you might want to consider checking out other choices like the Nike Alpha Menace Shark Wide Football Cleat which are specifically designed with a roomier toe box.

If you don’t have issues with wide feet though, the Vapor Carbon Elite can provide a very comfortable fit despite hugging closely against the feet. The material is pretty breathable as well, so there’s really no issue when it comes to interior climate.

The tight fitting shoes are forgivable and flexible, so they feel very natural. The snug fit also makes users feel a lot more confident with their feet, knowing the shoes won’t come flying off in the heat of a game.

It’s also worth mentioning that Nike has deliberately designed the cleats to be particularly tight because this makes it easier to fine tune your kick. The tightness gives you a better feel of the ball all together. This makes it possible for users to adjust their movements to achieve the best outcomes with each kick.

Some of the Hardest Wearing Cleats You’ll Find

Not every shoe will survive the onslaught of mud, high impact kicks, and constant running. So it’s important that football cleats are designed with the highest level of durability in mind if they’re going to last. Fortunately with the Vapor Carbon Elite, you won’t need to worry about looking for a pair of replacement cleats too soon.

The synthetic uppers are smooth and somewhat polished, giving off a glossy look to the entire shoe. Aside from giving the cleat a clean and edgy look, this also makes them easier to clean. Any mud, grass, and moisture that makes contact with the shoe easily slides off. So you can get your cleats looking clean and new with very little effort.

The stitching that puts the different parts of the uppers and outsoles together is nothing short of outstanding. Even with daily wear and tear from football games and practices, the shoes maintain their shape and integrity with flying colors. Some users even claim that they’ve been using the same pair of Vapor Carbon Elites for over a year without it showing any signs of wear or damage.

What I Like About the Nike Vapor Carbon Elite Football Cleats

  • Ultra lightweight construction makes it easy to navigate the field without anything weighing you down.
  • Snug fit gives you better ball control for precise kicks.
  • Comfortable on the overall, preventing aches and pains that could develop later on.
  • Breathable material keeps your feet cool and helps control sweat production.
  • Easy to maintain, with the upper materials practically resisting stains and dirt.
  • Impressive durability means you can enjoy the cleats for a while without worrying about wear and tear.
  • Solid aesthetics make you look and feel like a real football pro.

Possible Problems

  • Not designed for people with special feet conditions like wide toe spans and flat feet.
  • A little bit on the pricier side of the cost spectrum, so they’re not really practical for everyone.

A Few Honorable Mentions

Not sold on the Nike Vapor Carbon Elites? Don’t worry – they’re not the only football cleats for kicking that are worth your hard earned dough. Here are two other top picks that just missed the top spot on my list by a downside or two.

Adidas Adizero 5-Star 6.0 Football Shoe

Sleek, streamlined, and subtle, the Adidas Adizero 5-Star 6.0 Football Shoe is yet another impressive kicking cleat. Much like the Nike Vapor Carbon Elites, they feature synthetic uppers that make the cleats lightweight and flexible.

In terms of comfort, durability, and control, these cleats are definitely some of the best performing. But with substandard fit and inefficient cleat patterns, they fall just a notch below the Vapor Carbon Elites.

What I Like About the Adizero 5-Star 6.0 Football Cleats

  • Killer aesthetics are definitely unlike any other football cleats you’ll find.
  • Comfortable and breathable ideal for extended periods of use.
  • Easy to clean so you can easily maintain their appearance with little effort.
  • Made from durable materials that are stitched together with premium craftsmanship.

Possible Downsides

  • Fit can be a problem as the lacing system doesn’t extend too far towards the toe box.
  • Stud pattern isn’t really ideal if you’re looking for decent traction and grip.

Adidas Performance Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe

What’s a soccer cleat doing on this list of football cleats, you might be wondering. Well, what a lot of people don’t realize is that professional American football kickers actually use soccer cleats a lot simply because they’re often designed to be more lightweight and more efficient for kicking.

For instance, renowned athlete Ryan Succop uses the Adidas Performance Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe on his kicking foot, and for good reasons. Firstly, the shoe is a lot lighter than any other football kicking cleat on the market. This makes it easier to control and feel the ball as it makes impact with your foot. Secondly, the cleats are extra flexible thanks to their ultra forgiving kangaroo leather uppers which is a favorite material for a lot of kickers.

Why didn’t the Copa Mundial rank higher, you ask? Again, it’s not technically a football cleat so I didn’t think it deserved the top spot. Other than that, it’s not quite as durable as other choices either so you may need to find a replacement not long after making your purchase.

What I Like About the Adidas Performance Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe

  • Ultra lightweight design perfect for those who really want to be in control of their kick.
  • Flexible materials let you adjust and fine tune your foot position for optimal kick outcomes.
  • Classic cleat aesthetic can definitely tickle your fancy is you’re a fan of vintage style.
  • Studs are pretty reliable on wet, muddy terrain.

Possible Downsides

  • Not designed for the high impact nature of American football.
  • Might not be able to last you as long as other designs available on the market.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a kicker looking for a great pair of kicking cleats, then the Nike Vapor Carbon Elites are the perfect purchase. These top performing shoes are designed to give you that extra edge to help bring out the best of your skills on the field.

Of course, there are a few other practical choices available if you’re not sold on the Vapor Carbon Elite. For those on a budget, the Adidas Performance Copa Mundials might be a reasonable choice. If you’re willing to spend a little more for a comfortable pair of cleats that are really designed for American football, then the Adidas Adizero 5-Star 6.0 Cleats are definitely worth checking out.

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