With the recent ‘announcement’ that natural leather uppers are being phased out, we here at Soccer Reviews thought we’d take a look at synthetics. Hopefully, we’ll make you see that by the end of this article that no more leather boots won’t be such a bad thing. So what are we going to talk about in this article? We’re going to discuss what we feel are the best synthetics on the market, and then backup that claim with an explanation.
1. Kangalite 2.0 – Nike CTR360 Maestri III
We recently reviewed the Nike CTR360 Maestri III, the first boot to employ Kangalite 2.0 as its upper, and found it be one of THE best boots on the market. The reason? The super-soft, leather-like upper. It requires absolutely no break in, provides a wonderful touch on the ball and is extremely comfortable throughout wear. Andrew and I are huge fans of this upper, and we feel it may be the one influence that really does condemn leather uppers to a sad death.
2. Hybridtouch – Adidas Predator LZ
Adidas’ attempt at creating a synthetic upper isn’t too far away from its main competitor, Kangalite 2.0, in terms of performance and fit. I reviewed the Adidas Predator LZ and found them to be (in my opinion) the best fitting football boots on the entire market. A lofty claim indeed, but one which ensures the Hybridtouch upper remains in touching distance of the Kangalite 2.0. We here at Soccer Reviews are hopeful that one or two tweaks to the upper can lift it to that top spot.
3. Teijin synthetic upper – Nike Mercurial Vapor VIII
The Vapor range struggled with its synthetic upper for quite some time. Tough to break in, ill fitting, stiff, and unkind on the feet, Nike needed a major revamp for the release of the Vapor VIII, and boy did they comply! Nike redesigned their Teijin synthetic to be ultra-thin and ultra-soft, a perfect combination. Interestingly, we feel this upper would top the Kangalite 2.0 if it was not for the serious durability issues. That in itself speaks volumes for the drastic improvement the Vapor range underwent from VII to VIII. We’re eagerly anticipating the impending release of the Vapor IX.
4. Teijin synthetic upper – Umbro GT Pro
We had to include this purely for its price! Umbro are slowly becoming renowned for their ultra-cheap boots that don’t compromise on top end quality. The Umbro GT Pro upper is a perfect example of this. While it may require a bit of break-in, once it is broken in then it is one of the most reliable releases on the market. I personally find it a terrible shame that Umbro athletes are switching boot allegiances left, right and centre, because Umbro truly is a top quality brand.
5. Touch Compound – Adidas Adi5 X-ite
Last but not least, perhaps the strangest choice of the lot. We have an impending review of the Adidas Adi5 X-ite that will be published in the next few weeks, but for now let us provide you with a little teaser. Throughout use, the X-ite upper is something really rather unique in the footballing community. It employs this funny sticky material that is attached to the super-soft upper that is designed to stick the ball to your foot. We’ll talk about this feature in more detail in the review, but I personally am a big fan of this upper.
So there you have it, a quick insight into the best synthetics on the market. There are plenty of benefits to synthetic upper, durability, water-retention, touch, fit. You just have to look hard enough to find the best ones. But we’ve made your job easy with this article. The undisputed winner is the Kangalite 2.0, and it seems like Nike have quite a job on their hands to improve it. Keep an eye out for future articles outlining the differences between synthetic and leather uppers. But for now, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.