What a whirlwind year it has been in the world of boots. Being that it was a World Cup year, we were always going to be treated to some special edition releases, but I don’t think anyone could have expected the sheer number of releases that the top brands threw at our way. It has ranged from limited edition remakes to reflective technology and player inspired designs – in total, well over 200 different designs were made available for players to choose from.
We have taken on the heavy handed task of whittling down the overall designs (including performance and visual appearance) to create our list of the 25 Best Soccer Boots of 2014.
No. 25 - Puma evoSPEED MR Tricks
Colorway: Black/Dortmund Yellow
Relevance: Special edition Marco Reus release.
As a leader in custom designed boots, Puma took one of their key players and asked him for his input into what mattered to him most. It was the concept of “hope” and its significance for children around the World that stood out. The first thing that Puma did was add the Borussia Dortmund colors to the boots, Der BVB being the German team that Reus plays for.
A pair of joined hands was added along the instep, representing an adult and child's hand connected. And on the lateral side of the boot, holograms depicting the figures of children were added. As a special edition boot, only 400 pairs were released worldwide.
No. 24 - Umbro UX-1 Blackout
Relevance: Winter UX-1 release
Over the past 12 months, we have been left wondering where exactly Umbro sit in the market and what their plans are. We still haven't got a comprehensive answer, but this release gave us an indication that the double diamond are not yet finished making their mark. This blackout release in the UX-1 series offers a seriously proficient visual appearance.
From a performance stand point, these boots pack a mean punch, featuring a rubber webbing that covers the forefoot of the boots and a breathable one piece upper called Armor-Tex, which is a composite material 40% stronger than Kevlar. Add the signature Blackout appearance and this is a boot set to please a wide variety of modern functioning players!
No. 23 - Nike Tiempo Legend V
Relevance: Part of the Champions League pack.
Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos were two of the players that took to wearing the highly visible Champions League edition of the Nike Tiempo Legend. Visually this colorway has a serious pop that counterbalances the heritage nature of the range.
The Legend V is a classy boot that has a lot to offer, especially midfield players that like to get on the ball and ping it around. At 8.5oz, it is not a speed boot, but they are definitely not intended to be. This is a heritage release so the focus is on providing players with a clean touch in a comfortable package.
No. 22 - Adidas Primeknit
Colorway: Black/Running White
Relevance: Featuring a fully knitted upper.
Talk about a limited edition release - these were sold out before most people woke up one early morning this past July. The second release in the Primeknit series featured a pretty tasty, yet classy Black/White design. It is a design that seems to have been inspired by a 1960's TV with a pair of funky rabbit ears! But we like it a lot!
What you need to know about the boot: Weighing in at 5.8ounces, this limited edition lightweight boot is set to be the first football boot to have an upper that is knitted from heel-to-toe, providing a completely new second-skin fit that retains the strength of a conventional boot. Primeknit employs just one yarn, knitting the entire upper – wrapping the shoe around the foot.
No. 21 - Puma King II
Colorway: Majolica Blue
Relevance: Latest "modernized" version of the King.
Puma has taken a bold step in the development of their range by modernizing what has been an ultra reliable boot in their arsenal. The King has always been a boot associated with heritage and simplicity, but this latest version takes the boot into the modern game. On the King II, you will find a new side panel that improves the overall fit of the boot. Visually it is easily distinguished with the EverFit lacing system running from the soleplate up around the second and third lacing eyelet.
Up top, a super soft leather upper is added, with Puma hinting toward improvements in its softness and touch on the ball. Thankfully, the key fundamentals of the range unchanged – comfort. And we thoroughly enjoyed this release colorway!
No. 20 - Under Armour Blur Carbon IV
Colorway: Black/Metallic Electric
Relevance: Classic colorway in UA's signature speed range.
Under Armour is definitely not the first brand name that rolls off the tongue when we talk about soccer footwear. The American company has made strides in the market over the past few seasons, and their latest "ultimate direction-changing machine" comes via the Blur Carbon IV. We were introduced to three different colorways this year, with this Black/Metalllic Electric blue being the highlight release. Set to mimic a leather, UA introduce a premium performance Wallaroo material. It is soft and looks ever so classy in the black. The dramatic pop, and what makes them so special is the Orange and the Blue detailing.
No. 19 - Adidas adiZero F50 Messi
Colorway: Messi Gold
Relevance: Signature Messi La Liga colorway.
In August, adidas announced that they were set to release two new signature colorways for Lionel Messi, one for La Liga and one for Champions League. This version was the domestic league version and was probably the best Messi colorway we saw released in 2014. This vibrant Yellow iteration of his f50 boots was designed to reflect the unique magic and success Leo Messi produces on the pitch for club and country. Like the Argentine star, the new colorway will stand out from the crowd and it has been created as a monument to every goal, record and trophy Messi has won in his career to date.
You might have noticed there is imprinted text covering the entire boot - it is the Messi Philosophy, inspirational wording that embodies his mindset.
No. 18 - Puma evoPOWER L
Relevance: Pre World Cup tone-down for the power range.
One of the best boots currently on the market, the evoPOWER was given a very sharp Blackout look and Leather upper prior to the World Cup. The initial release featured an upper constructed of AdapLite, a premium one-way stretchable microfiber. Coupled with the Gradual Stability Frame (GSF) spine, it provided a totally new type of performance.
The leather on this release changed that performance, as the upper doesn't quite function in the same capacity with the GSF. But, they provide a pretty tasty balance for players that want a classic looking boot with modern capabilities. These boots are a dream to play in!
No. 17 - Adidas 11Pro
Relevance: Reinvented version of the 11pro.
In order to really redefine the 11Pro range, adidas needed to unleash a unique design for the range. Imagine an initial black upper release being a shock tactic, but that was the case when these hit the market in November. Rather than hitting visual cues, adidas used a more traditional, timeless black design with a central stripe design to add a dynamic effect. Combined, it works really well and makes this a highly sought after boot right now.
adidas also reintroduced a k-leather upper to the range, choosing to use a skeleton cage support system rather than stitching to provide that perfect fit. It actually runs from the heel through the forefoot and allows for a new type of fit, as well as increased stability.
No. 16 - Adidas adiZero F50
Colorway: Neon Pink/Running Blue
Relevance: Released as part of the Tribal Pack.
This was the first series of boots released by adidas post World Cup, and it set their intent to continue momentum into the new domestic season. This version hit shelves with very little marketing, but it was needed as fans flocked to the standout design. A mixed Pink and Blue design created a pop effect that ensures they stand out on pitch.
At 5.4oz, these boots are all about speed with the mix of a Hybridtouch upper with DribbleTex across the forefoot making them a pretty ideal boot for players who want to take defenders on.
No. 15 - Nike Mercurial Vapor CR7
Relevance: Released to celebrate the performances of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Nike released these Mercurial Vapor IX CR7 Special Edition boots to celebrate one of the greatest seasons ever compiled by an individual player! Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible season saw him average more than one goal a game; became the quickest player in Real Madrid history to reach 200 goals for the club; and he was officially recognized as the best player in the world.
The boot features a very clean and simple white upper — a nod to Ronaldo’s affinity for white boots — and a special gold soleplate. The addition of Gold really sets these as a majestic looking boot, set for mass appeal. Added to that is some premium detailing and a numbered heel highlighting the limited run of this special Mercurial release.
No. 14 - Adidas Nitrocharge
Colorway: Infrared/Metallic Silver
Relevance: Introductory colorway of second generation Nitrocharge.
The first thing of note about these boots is that this is actually a second generation release in the Nitrocharge series. Rather than renaming the series, adidas stuck with the same introductory name and number, but they have dramatically redefined the performance of the range. This introductory colorway is hot and definitely designed to highlight the key fundamentals of the boot. With a mixed white/blue EnergySling, it is easy to distinguish where adidas has focused its attention.
As with the original release, everything about this boot caters to the Engine, or the busy player who tries to rule the center of the pitch.
No. 13 - Adidas Predator Instinct
Colorway: Running White/Glow
Relevance: Features a Glow in the Dark upper.
Another seasonal pack from adidas came in the form of the Hunt Series, featuring a glow in the dark effect. The marketing with this one was simple - ensure players stand out across the globe as the nights get ever darker through winter. In actuality, the technology really shouldn't ever come into play as you are competing - unless the floodlights go out. But we love the thought process behind it and the complete visual effect that adidas added right across the pack.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Predator, the Hunt Series is the final edition of the 14 special Predator Instinct boots launched during 2014. The effect is added to the advanced Hybridtouch upper without impacting their performance.
No. 12 - Warrior Superheat
Relevance: Pre World Cup release
Leading up to the World Cup, Warrior set about introducing some fresh new colorways intended to stand out on the feet of their signature players. Australia's Tim Cahill was the man to wear this White/Gold release and he scored one of the goals of the tournament while wearing them - it set off a media frenzy from boot fans wanting to know what he was wearing!
There is plenty going on with the Superheat, with Warrior using some extreme terminology to explain what the boot has to offer. The important thing to note is that the upper features a revolutionary Tri-fusion bonded skin, set in place to provide a clean touch and a speed like feel. As a boot, it takes a few seconds to comprehend the bizarre nature of the overall design, but as a system it comes together and offers a high level of competitive performance.
No. 11 - Puma evoSPEED Tricks
Relevance: Signature World Cup "Trick" colorway.
Right from the opening games of this summer's World Cup, it was apparent that the signature dual tone colorway released by Puma was going to make an impact on the tournament. This is part of the new Puma Tricks collection, that covers both the evoSPEED and the evoPOWER ranges. With the right boot pink and the left boot blue, we saw PUMA players including Mario Balotelli, Cesc Fàbregas, Sergio Agüero, Marco Reus, Olivier Giroud, Gianluigi Buffon and Yaya Touré wear them.
Designed for speed and explosive acceleration, the evoSPEED has become a key boot for many attacking styled players across the globe.
No. 10 - Nike Mercurial Superfly
Colorway: Electric Green
Relevance: Special edition Cristiano Ronaldo release for La Liga.
What better way to kick off a new La Liga season than to put your signature player, Cristiano Ronaldo, in a standout new colorway. And given the fact the Mercurial series is currently one of the most popular on the market you won’t be surprised to hear that these very in high demand when they hit shelves in August.The Superfly is driven by Nike’s leading technology, Flyknit, with a high-top Dynamic Fit Collar radically transforming the Mercurial silhouette.
When it comes to high profile, top of the line releases, the Mercurial Superfly IV is a definite winner and a boot that actually offers decent value for their price. Some players might not be in full appreciation of the soft Flyknit upper material, but it has been designed to create a better fit and a heightened sensation of the boot as an extension of the foot through play.
No. 9 – Nike Mercurial Vapor IX “Fast Forward ’02″
Relevance: Remake of the 2002 Mercurial, part of the "Fast Forward" collection.
We were introduced to a bunch of popular remakes during 2014, all of which celebrated the history of specific ranges. The best from Nike came in the form of the chrome 2002 Vapor remake, set to celebrate the original Ronaldo and his eight goals during the World Cup in Japan and Korea, where he officially confirmed his status as one of the world’s best strikers.
The ‘02 Mercurial Vapor was Nike’s first sub-200 gram boot and it featured the company’s first stitch-less upper. In comparison, the Vapor IX provides today’s players with modern boot technology that has been inspired by the ’02 model. A soft, microfiber upper is treated with a one piece dimple textured design.
No. 8 – Adidas Predator Instinct
Colorway: Core Black
Relevance: Released as part of the Pitch Black Pack.
Post World Cup, this was the sharpest release we saw in the Predator Instinct and one that man fans wish had been released in place of the Battle Pack version. The panel detailing on this boot is much more subtlet than it was on the Battle Pack. In recent times, the Predator has become more of a hybrid release, but on this version adidas has restructured the overall make-up of the boot and taken it back toward its roots - power!
There are 4 primary "Lethal Zones" and then a new gel pad region that sits along the instep of this boot. The most impactful is the the zig-zag design of the Drive Zone. It serves serves the dual purpose of allowing the upper to be more flexible while also adding additional traction on the ball and a more dynamic strike as you connect..
No. 7 – Puma King SL Classico
Colorway: Black/Puma Gold
Relevance: Limited edition 2001 King SL remake.
Puma saved their best release of the year till last, in the form of an absolute classic remake in the most modern way. Intended to celebrate Puma’s rich heritage and 65 years of soccer history, this special edition release is a remake of the groundbreaking King SL launched in 2001. Weighing in at 6.2oz, featuring a a K-leather upper and plenty of strategically positioned stitching, these is a boot that oozes class right out of the box.
In the words of Puma, this release is Perfection Re-Perfected: a lightweight boot inspired by its classic predecessor. With only 2001 pairs released worldwide, this boot sold out very quickly!
No. 6 – Nike Hypervenom Phantom
Colorway: White/Blue Lagoon
Relevance: Released as part of the Shine Through Collection
Performance wise, the Hypervenom has been pretty successful with a wide variety of players right across the pitch. They have served as a very functional addition to different styles of play. But before this release, we had been left craving a top notch colorway. Step in the Shine Through collection and this total winner! Nike’s color experts drew inspiration from the energy, atmosphere, and visuals that accompany New Year’s Eve celebrations in Brasil. White is the traditional color worn by those partaking in the festivities, with bright pops of accent colors.
For the Hypervenom, that accent color was Blue Lagoon and it serves as the perfect compliment to the very clean upper. As a boot, the Hypervenom is based on agility and fast paced movements with the ball at your feet. Visually, the first thing you note about the Hypervenom is the oddly textured upper. Basically, it is comprised of a mesh underlay, a layer of skin over it and the final product is treated with ACC technology.
No. 5 - Nike CTR360 Maestri Lights Out
Relevance: Last ever release of the Nike CTR360 Maestri.
Nike might have retired the CTR360 range, but they produced an extra classy, finale colorway to set it on its way to retirement. The decision to close out the series has been a quite controversial one, and it has left many players struggling to find a boot that offers similar "playmaker" type performance. But the thought process behind this one was pretty cool and matched with the colorway, it was the perfect way to signal the end. During the initial testing phase of any boot, companies use blackouts to keep the minute details out of the reach of interested fans. So, for the final installment Nike decided to pay homage to the range by taking it back to where it began.
When it comes to performance, the CTR360 was a top option for players. It quickly earned a reputation for being a weapon of choice for control freak’s, with attacking and creative players being the target market.
No. 4 - Adidas Copa Mundial Whiteout
Relevance: Part of the Copa Mundial Black/White pack.
Most players will reference the Copa Mundial as their top rated boot of all time, and it is a title that the heritage range does not take for granted. This year, adidas treated the range to some extra special releases included a completely vivid Samba collection. But, the best came post World Cup in the form of a modernized whiteout design. Yes, they are likely to pick up some visible scuffing, but goodness these things are classy!
As far as performance goes, you can’t really beat the Copa range for quality and consistency. It is a boot that ranks among the favorites of even the pickiest players. They come with an outsole constructed of dual-density direct injected Polyurethane and moulded, conical studs that will suit both FG and modern AG surfaces. If you are need of a K-Leather boot, they don't come anymore iconic than these!
No. 3 - Nike Magista Obra
Relevance: Part of the Nike Gold Pack
We were introduced to the a gold version of the Nike Hypervenom via Neymar during the World Cup this past summer, and shortly after Nike decided it was the right time to introduce a full series of inspired gold releases. What a wise decision, as the midas style boots were glorious!
Up until these were released, the range of colorways seen in the Magista series was very standard. These changed the general mindset and through the NikeID process, provided players with the opportunity to completely upgrade their boots. The use of Flyknit, something Nike has taken across from its running shoes, makes for an intriguing prospect and ultimately provides a totally different type of performance to any other boot ever released. Not only does the boot feature a unique identity, but the overall weight is an extraordinary 7.2oz, leaving them in the lightweight category and adding to the value of the package.
No. 2 - Adidas Predator Accelerator Remake
Colorway: Predator Black/White/Red
Relevance: The second of three iconic Predator remakes.
The kind folks at adidas decided the time was right to treat fans to a much requested remake of the Predator Accelerator boot. It was part of the 20th anniversary of the Predator range, as adidas set about celebrating the iconic range. They took the Predator Instinct boot and all its technology (which they rate as their most advanced to date) then added what could be one of the most easily recognizable visual designs of all. At 9.8oz, they were dramatically updated for 2014, with SL rubber zones placed across the Predator Zone for extra power and swerve on the ball.
For most Predator enthusiasts, the 1998 release stands among the top of the legendary range and that proved absolutely accurate as the limited edition release sold out in less than 6 hours! Only 1,825 pairs were available worldwide, and online stores were cleaned out before they had an opportunity to place them on shelves.
No. 1 - Nike Vapor X CR
Colorway: Shimmer Black
Relevance: Custom Cristiano Ronaldo release.
When it comes to custom boots, Nike know how to match Cristiano Ronaldo with boots (and colorways) that match his world class abilities. CR has been treated to plenty of sharp designs, but there is no arguing that the Galaxy themed Vapor X released in October tops the list. What differentiates these is the shimmer effect added to the NIKESKIN upper and it looks incredible. Think a standard blackout design topped off with some extra special sparkle, it works perfectly and provides a unique effect under the right lighting.
Added to all that is in the incredible performance of the range. This version of the Vapor X features an all new upper material and a built in tongue, which essentially makes them tongueless. In order to make the tongue-less design work with lacing, a new lace eyelet pattern has been employed, with a doubled up in-out style used.