Best Material for Soccer Cleats [2024 Review]

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Soccer cleats have different variations today but still hold true to giving soccer players the speed and agility on the field. Soccer cleats feature different materials depending on their aim and the target consumers. Thus, making me wonder what material is best for soccer cleats. 

What Are the Best Material for Soccer Cleats?

A player wearing a pair of orange soccer cleats while one of his foot is stepping on a soccer ball

The best material for soccer cleats would be leather, kangaroo leather to be specific. No wonder the most popular soccer cleat in Amazon, the Adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf Soccer Cleat, features kangaroo leather. 

Kangaroo leather is of high quality but is the most expensive among leather. It’s soft, comfortable, and lightweight making it a popular choice among soccer players. 

However, with all the softness and comfort, kangaroo leather tends to be less durable so expect it to not last long. You can make your soccer cleats last longer if you properly clean and maintain them.  

What Material Are Soccer Cleats Made of?

There are two most common materials used for soccer cleats: leather and synthetic. Both materials offer different features and different levels of soccer players favor one or the other. Synthetic has also been further developed to create a premium version as a great alternative for leather. 


Leather offers the best feel and fit for soccer cleats. The softer the leather, the better feel you get from it but it also compromises the durability of your soccer cleats. Most soccer players prefer using leather but they’re generally on the expensive side.  

Full-grain leather soccer cleats, on the other hand, are strong and durable compared to normal leather. The downside of using leather soccer cleats is that it readily absorbs water compared to synthetic soccer cleats. I wouldn’t recommend using them in wet fields. 

There are a variety of leathers for soccer cleats and these are the most common of them:

A pair of white leather soccer cleats
  • Kangaroo Leather: Kangaroo leather is a soft premium quality leather that easily stretches and molds to the shape of your foot. It’s the most expensive among leather resulting in expensive soccer cleats. Soccer cleats made of kangaroo leather are lightweight and among the most comfortable soccer cleats you can wear. However, don’t expect it to last long without proper care because kangaroo leather is soft. 
  • Calfskin / Full-Grain Leather: Unlike kangaroo leather, calfskin leather is durable and a bit harder. It doesn’t offer the flexibility and lightweight kangaroo leather offers but gives you soccer cleats that are tough and durable. It’s also more affordable than soccer cleats made of kangaroo leather. 
  • Pittards Leather: Only Puma soccer cleats use Pittards leather. It’s also calfskin leather but has undergone a process exclusively patented by Puma that makes it water-resistant and makes soccer cleats dry a lot faster. Even when undergoing this process, Pittards leather still retains some softness and stretchiness for a bit of flexibility. Soccer cleats made of Pittards leather aren’t as expensive as Kangaroo leather but are more expensive than calfskin leather. 


Synthetic is generally less expensive than leather soccer cleats. However, it doesn’t give a great feel compared to leather soccer cleats. They’re also a bit more durable than leather.

Synthetic-made soccer cleats are generally good for entry and mid-level soccer players who are still developing their skills in soccer. They’re less expensive than leather soccer cleats so they’re great for practice. 

They’re the ideal soccer cleats for beginners who want to learn soccer. They’re easier to clean and dry compared to leather soccer cleats. Synthetic-made soccer cleats generally have some sort of water-resistant component that makes them ideal for playing in poor conditions. 

Premium Synthetic

Thanks to modern technology, the quality of synthetic has improved and you can now consider them a premium. It’s more affordable and environmentally friendly. 

A pair of blue synthetic soccer cleats

Many of the new models of high-end soccer cleats use premium synthetic. The premium synthetic is also water-resistant. They’re made up of water-repellent microfibers which are also lightweight. 

A combination of synthetic and leather makes premium synthetic. It has a great fit and break-in with a comfortable use on natural field surfaces. 

Leather Vs. Synthetic

Thicker and more durableLighter
More comfortableDries faster
Absorbs too much waterDoesn’t offer a lot of protection

While both are materials for making soccer cleats, they vary greatly when played on the field. Beginners might think that the materials in soccer cleats don’t affect gameplay but they do. There’s a lot of differences between leather and synthetic. 

Pros of Leather

  • Most soccer players with wide feet prefer leather. Authentic leather provides you with a custom fit that easily molds to your feet because of the softness. 
  • Compared to synthetic, leather is a lot thicker and so provides better protection for soccer players on the field. However, premium synthetic is sometimes better than low-grade leather. 
  • Leather is a lot more durable compared to synthetic. Because leather is a lot thicker, it often lasts much longer than synthetic. If you properly take care of your soccer cleats, they can last you for a year or two. If you’re looking for long term soccer cleats then going for leather ones is the best choice. 
  • Leather is generally a lot more comfortable to use than synthetic-made soccer cleats. 

Cons of Leather

  • While leather offers better protection for the feet, it does so by being heavier than synthetic-made soccer cleats. Leather soccer cleats are made from actual leather which is heavier than you think it seems. Some soccer players prefer synthetic because they want more of a lightweight soccer cleat. 
  • Leather is a material that tends to absorb water. Add that to being a thicker material than synthetic and you’ll get a pair of soccer cleats that are so heavy in a rainy and wet field.
Player wearing a pair of blue soccer shoes while attempting to kick a ball
  • Soccer games aren’t called off because of light rain so playing with leather soccer cleats is a disadvantage for you in that situation. 
  • Since leather absorbs water it’s also susceptible to cracks. Leaving them out too long under the sun or air dry can cause some of its areas to crack or harden. It will lose the flexibility it once had and won’t properly mold to your feet. This can cause discomfort for you during soccer matches. Luckily, if you know how to properly clean your soccer cleats, you can avoid this dilemma and smelly soccer cleats.
  • Leather needs more proper care compared to synthetic because they’re a lot softer and stretchable. If you want your leather soccer cleats to last longer, you need to know how to properly take care of them. 
  • Authentic leather usually comes in black. Leather-made soccer cleats are usually limited in terms of colorway. Changing the color would compromise the quality of the leather. 

Pros of Synthetic

  • Synthetic-made soccer cleats are much lighter than authentic leather. Synthetic is thin for a lightweight soccer cleat. Although it has some durability, it doesn’t compare to leather. The thin synthetic also gives you a better ball feel when kicking or dribbling the soccer ball
  • Like leather, synthetic also molds to the shape of your feet. The ability of the synthetic to mold to your feet plus it being thin makes it an ideal soccer cleat for forwards. 
  • Synthetic dries a lot faster compared to leather-made soccer cleats. It also doesn’t absorb that much water. They’re ideal to use in rainy and wet conditions compared to leather soccer cleats. You also won’t worry about drying them because they don’t crack, unlike leather. Just simply, leave them out after a match and they’ll dry fast. 
  • Synthetic doesn’t stretch out too much after prolonged wear. Synthetic is a rigid material that holds the same shape even after long use. Synthetic is flexible and will fit right to your feet without breaking in. It’s not ideal for people with wide feet but it’s great for others. 
  • Synthetic has a wide variety of colorways you can choose from and its quality isn’t even compromised. 

Cons of Synthetic

  • Synthetic is less durable than leather. It’s thin so you won’t expect it to last long. You can use it for 1 or 2 seasons at most and you’ll notice the decrease in its quality. 
  • While synthetic does mold to your feet, it doesn’t shrink or stretch that well at all so it’s not ideal for people with wide feet. Leather is much better at molding to the shape of your feet. If your keen on buying synthetic-made soccer cleats, then make sure its the right size for you
  • The thin synthetic doesn’t offer protection as much as what leather gives you. Synthetic is great for maximizing speed which is why is thin and lightweight but not as tough as leather. Expect to hurt more when you come in contact with opposing players. 
Player wearing a pair of black soccer cleats while attempting to kick a ball

What Are the Most Durable Soccer Cleats?

Based on the comparison between leather and synthetic, leather soccer cleats are the most durable soccer cleats. Leather is thicker and more durable compared to synthetic. They will last you for more than a season or two if you maintain them properly. 

Synthetic soccer cleats are good for entry-level soccer players. They’re good to last you for one season before it wears out.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about soccer shoes.

What Cleats Do Pros Wear?

Most professional soccer players such as Luka Modric and Erling Haaland use Nike Mercurial Vapor 14s. However, most of these players change cleats very often, they don’t use the same model every game. Regardless of that, the Superfly 8s and the Mercurial Vapor 14s are the most common choices.

What Cleats Does Messi Use?

Lionel Messi tends to use Adidas Nemeziz 19+. However, he has many models made specifically for him that he wears very often. For example, he has worn the Messi 15, Messi 16, and ultimately, the Adidas X SpeedPortal Leyenda.1

What Cleats Does Ronaldo Wear?

Cristiano Ronaldo tends to use Nike Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 CR7. He also is prone to use any of his signature edition boots, after all, they are made after him. On top of that, he has worn Mercurial Dream Speeds and R9 Mercurial Vapours.


There’s no question that leather is the best material for soccer cleats. It’s flexible, comfortable, and gives you better protection than synthetic. Synthetic is good for beginners and mid-level soccer players. They’re also great for forwards since they’re thin and lightweight. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.