In order to grab the markets attention, companies often come out with boots that claim to feature the next greatest technology of all time, some are worthy of the shout while others are nothing more than want-to-be pretenders. From added rubber across the strike zone to large pieces of plastic designed to help with protection, we have been treated to plenty of interesting pieces of art. With that, let's look at some of the more unique and unconventional boots that have been released, taking into consideration a mixture of both the actual success, and in some cases less fortunate fates, of the release. These are The 10 Most Unconventional Soccer Cleat Releases of All Time.
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No. 10 – Puma PowerCat 1.10
Known as the boots that featured a stairway from the toe to the ankle, Puma placed a new type of futuristic looking 3D Power Shooting Technology through the strike zone. The lime green stripes that run across the strike zone have the feel of little ridges that overlap across the front of the cleat. The official term for them is SpringTech foam ridges, and they are designed to increase shooting power while maintaining touch and feel on the ball. The benefit of having this technology is that it has a high rebound property that does not absorb the typical amount of energy on ball impact, meaning more power is released when you shoot.
Surprisingly, Puma rolled these out in the imaged Black colorway, taking a step away from wild colors and flashy graphics. It represented their intent to prove the technology on this boot was more important and I have to agree that there were a lot of positive behind them. Of course, once the initial roll-out was complete, we were treated to some more rather illuminating colorways.
No. 9 – Aspero Classic
One of the newest and probably less known boots on the list, the Aspero classic features an absolutely funky design and what can only be described as sandpaper like finish to the upper. The upper itself is a Nappa leather, something we normally don’t see used in footwear due to its more expensive cost. On top of that is the rough finished a patented surface layer that Aspero refer to as “Touch Control“. It allows additional control and precision on the ball even in poor pitch or weather conditions.
Then there is the more space-age looking technology or the two parallel guides running alongside and above the laces. This is in place to offer the ball accurate guidance. Shots from the instep or outside of the boot are improved through the increased control offered by the Neokick Ball Control technology.
We are yet to see Aspero hit the US market, but thus far they have gained some traction in Europe.
No. 8 – Under Armour Dominate
Set as one of Under Amour’s initial releases to the soccer market, the Dominate provided an extremely unusual look with the intended benefit of extra protection across the forefoot. The Modular Protection Zone (MPZ) is a very unique feature that Under Armour has developed. The MPZ is the black area on the front of the cleat, and it helps support the metatarsal bone located in the front of the foot (highly prone to breaking in soccer players) while also enhancing power. In independent testing, UA report up to 30% additional power during ball strike. Everything about the boot seems like it makes sense, but the front region was in fact very soft and flexible making you wonder how much protection it actually offered. At the time of release, there was a lot of conversation about metatarsal injuries so it proved to be an extremely smart move from the US Company.
No. 7 – Mizuno Wave Ignitus
This is a boot that rose to popularity due to the performances of Keisuke Honda at the 2010 World Cup. His spectacular free-kicks were helped in part by the side Mukaiten Panels that exist on both boots.
The idea behind the Mukaiten panel is simple – deliver a shot from the instep that produces no spin. When you strike the ball with your instep, it naturally creates spin on the ball, like the technique of curling a shot around a wall. It is a very unique addition and there were a lot of players keen to test out the technology.
Another aspect of the boot that set them apart from the market was the black panels that sat across the front of the boot. Their official name is the 360 Bio Vamps and they are designed to give players 2 different types of ball contact. The front area consists of deeper grooves that create additional spin on shooting, while the goal of the instep area is to offer additional control and touch on the ball. Since their release on the market, we have seen a second follow-up version that features a lot of the same technology.
No. 6 – Concave PT+
I remember seeing these boots for the first time and there was definitely something about them that created initial intrigue and amazingly I don’t mean in a bad way. The Concave PT+ was a boot built on the concept of support and protection with the pretty obvious Metaguard Component designed to increase the sweet spot area, while also giving increased protection to the metatarsal region.
In independent testing, shooting power was increased by 15% according to Concave, while accuracy was increased by 30%. When I tested them, I did agree with those results. But, the tradeoff between balance and comfort caused any overall awkward feel. This was something I relayed directly to the boot designers. There was a strong desire to downsize the size of the plate and use lighter materials. But sadly, we never seen another edition as Concave filed for bankrupt before making alterations.
No. 5 – Zygo Deztruct
The idea of placing suction cups on the front of a boot just seems bizarre to me and I can’t really understand what the point is. Of course I have read all the press release details but I haven’t actually tested them. So my negative viewpoints could be completely unwarranted and there might be a performance benefit to the boots. But seriously, there are suction cups on the boot!
According to Zygo Sports: “The pods perform like a spring, storing and releasing vital energy. The ensuing friction provides exceptional grip – assisting ball control and accuracy. The instep zone amplifies spin and swerve. Inspired by the human fingerprint, the energy pod’s design stimulates feel by absorbing pace when receiving passes, and provides larger ‘sweet-spots’ to reduce your margin for error.” To date, the Australian company has not jumped into other markets outside their own, although they will ship internationally if the boot appeals to your taste!
No. 4 – Lotto Zhero Gravity
A boot with no laces – seems like something every company should have released by now, right? Well, not so and Lotto is the only company to actually have a laceless boot on the market. Realistically, creating something with this technology takes a lot of research and development, and you have to know that end product offers the right balance for soccer players. Lotto uses a rubber-like compound in place of the laces and also on the heel of the boot. There is some elasticity in this compound, allowing you a little flexibility when getting your foot in and out of the boot. It is a futuristic type design and to be honest, I really don’t even think Lotto has perfected it. We are yet to see top players taking to and endorsing the range, yet they continue to hit the market in new colorways.
No. 3 – Warrior Skreamer S-Lite
The newest release on this list and I have to admit that it feels to me like an unexpected inclusion. A few months back, we only knew Warrior as the company that sponsored Liverpool FC’s jersey. In the time since, they have gained massive amounts of tractions that the Warrior Skreamer S-Lite has received plenty of praise from players and fans.
The key to this design is the fish scale pattern placed across the front of the boot. It is called the ArrowHead Forefoot Vamp and it is intended to provide additional accuracy and power, constructed using an angled PU injection mold with rebound tech for added swerve. Basically, it is a new-age version of the initial Predator except this version weighs in at an extra lightweight 7.4oz. There is a lot of potential in this one!
No. 2 – Nike T90 Laser III
I could have added any of the T90 Laser releases to this list, but I feel like the 3rd edition offered the most unusual set of technology to the market. Now, I am in no way saying that this version performed the best – it simply had the most complex technology and futuristic look. Visually, they are a very domineering boot, with 5 shooting pods running along the strike zone designed to even out pressure distribution on ball contact – ideal for players who like to shoot. As well as that, TPU fins sit along the toe and lateral side of the boot added an extra level if touch and control on the ball. Each fin is raised a few millimeters off the honeycomb area, and you can move them by brushing your hand along the area.
No. 1 – adidas Predator
On release, people wondered what adidas were doing adding pieces of rubber to the front of their boots. In fact, there were a lot of skeptics who thought a shade of madness had kicked in at the 3-stripes headquarters. Yet ten generations later, the Predator range has thrived and is now one of the most sought after boots on the market. Who would have thought, right?
The boot featured rubber ridges across the front of the boot, designed to enhance power on shoots and add extra swerve as you struck free-kicks. It was something no one had ever seen before or even thought about adding to a boot – and for that reason, it earns our vote for top spot.
Now known as the Predator colors, the initial release only hit the market in one color, Black with White stripes and Red detailing.