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Pros & Cons of Leather vs. Synthetic Soccer Cleats

by C.C. Curtis 4 years ago in product review

What's the perfect type of cleats to wear to all of your soccer matches? See the pros and cons of leather vs. synthetic soccer cleats to figure out which one suits you the most.

Some people believe that the material of soccer cleats doesn't play an important role when you're out there on the field. In reality though, it plays a significant role, especially when there's a major difference between leather and synthetic cleats. I always tell my nephew this since he plays soccer. When he was picking out what type of cleats to wear, I told him to be aware of the material that he's picking out. He wouldn't want to wear a pair of cleats created with a material that would make his feet ache when playing.

I knew there was a difference between leather and synthetic cleats, but I wanted to research a little more just to see what's up between the two. Why do people prefer genuine leather over synthetic and vice versa? These are the pros and cons of leather vs synthetic soccer cleats that you should definitely be aware of next time you're buying a new pair of cleats.

  • Synthetic cleats are actually much lighter than genuine leather. When it comes to soccer cleats, we want a very durable pair that’s lightweight so it doesn’t weigh us down when we’re running, kicking, and dribbling with the ball; for comfort and more freedom.
  • The leather vs synthetic soccer cleats situation mentions that synthetic cleats have the ability to mold to the shape of your feet and are incredibly thin. The reason you want your cleats to be thin is to give you the capability to handle the ball better. You wouldn’t want your cleats getting in the way of your performance with the ball, right? They're usually the best soccer cleats for strikers because of this.
  • These type of cleats certainly dry a lot quicker than leather, and this is a major positive aspect, especially if you’ve been playing in the rain. Synthetic material doesn’t absorb much water, which makes these cleats more bearable to wear when playing out in the rain or wet turf. After a match, they dry in an instant if you leave them out.
  • Some of us have come across cleats where we stretched them out after wearing them after just a couple of soccer matches. However, synthetic cleats hold the same shape from when you bought them and never stretch out. Cleats that don't stretch out are a blessing because many of us have dealt with cleats resizing in shape and this leads us into having to buy another pair of cleats. Synthetic cleats immediately fit right over your feet and don’t need much to break in. The material is designed to be super flexible and capable of handling all of your movements when you’re playing on the field.
  • Another great aspect about synthetic cleats is that the material can be created in nearly any design and color—such as this one by Under Armour. These synthetic cleats are very lightweight and the synthetic upper helps you have better control over the soccer ball when you’re dribbling or using your skills to outplay an opposing player. The Firm Ground TPU cleat plate and studs are there to give players durability on firm, natural surfaces to prevent any slipping when you’re trying to dodge opposing players during matches.

Synthetic Cons

When it comes to leather vs synthetic soccer cleats, there are a few cons of synthetic cleats.
  • The material is actually less durable than genuine leather because of its thinness and ability to mold to the feet. They’re usually designed to last about one to two seasons at the most. If you’re a soccer player who needs to buy different cleats every season, then synthetic won’t be a problem for you.
  • Yes, synthetic cleats do have the ability to mold to your feet, but not as much as leather. They also don’t stretch at all which is why they don't mold to the shape of your feet as well as leather. These type of cleats are constantly in the same shape.
  • These cleats also don’t provide as much protection as leather does. The material is much thinner and more lightweight than leather, which unfortunately won't protect your feet from the ball and opposing players. Synthetic is definitely far more lightweight than leather, but it's not as tough.

Leather is a popular choice in the leather vs synthetic soccer cleats debate and there are a few reasons why.

  • Players with wider feet prefer leather over synthetic any day because of its custom fit. Genuine leather offers that soft, custom fit around our feet and can precisely mold to them. It’s difficult for people with wider feet to find cleats because many cleats can be uncomfortable, but leather tends to be the best soccer cleats for wide feet.
  • Many of us are searching for the best form of protection for our feet. If we play like animals on the field, we expect great protection from our wild action and movements. Genuine leather is a thick material compared to synthetic and these cleats provide players with maximum protection.
  • Real leather is much thicker and it can also last much longer than synthetic cleats. Leather cleats can actually go for a couple of years if you care for them properly. This is great because many of us hate having to constantly buy new cleats after wearing a pair for a season or two. We want to stick with our one pair of favorite cleats for a long time, and genuine leather cleats can grant us that desire.
  • These Adidas soccer cleats are genuine leather with synthetic lining for great comfort when moving around on the field. The die-cut EVA insole makes these cleats lightweight, which is important when you want to feel like your shoes aren’t holding you down when playing. Since they’re made out of leather, you know these cleats offer the best form of protection that you need.

Leather Cons

  • When it comes to leather vs synthetic soccer cleats, leather is much heavier than synthetic cleats. These types of cleats are constructed from actual leather, and this is the main reason why they’re much heavier, but still provide great protection for your feet. Some soccer players don’t like the weight of leather cleats on their feet when playing because they can prevent the players from performing their best during games.
  • Leather does absorb much more water than synthetic. The thin material from synthetic doesn’t really take in much water, but leather is thicker, which leads the specific pair of cleats to soak in more water when playing in the rain or in any other wet conditions. When water gets soaked into leather cleats, it causes the pair of soccer shoes to be much heavier, and this is something many soccer players loathe.
  • Since leather soaks up a lot of water, if you leave them out to air dry after getting them really wet, your cleats can end up cracking and hardening. When your cleats do crack and harden, this causes them to be very uncomfortable when wearing them to your next match. They won’t properly mold your feet and they wouldn’t be able to bend and withstand your movements like before. However, there are many ways you can properly treat your leather cleats, so make sure you know how to clean your soccer cleats properly.
  • Real leather isn’t anything like synthetic, so you have to care for leather cleats more. Leather can easily be stretched and molded to your feet’s shape, so if you want your leather cleats to last for years, then it’s crucial to take major care for them.
  • Lastly, leather cleats don't provide an array of color and design options you can pick from. It's tough to make the material into various colors and designs, and this leads the majority of genuine leather cleats to be the basic color—black.
product review

C.C. Curtis

Enjoys lounging in NYC bars, loves traveling to foreign countries, and volunteers at the homeless shelter twice a month.

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