It’s becoming increasingly popular these days to have a “best boots” of all-time list, or a top 5 boots right now. Another popular list is top leather boot list or top 5 boot modern boot list. I haven’t seen many top 5 synthetic boots of all time lists so here is mine. A couple of caveats first though; I am not including boots currently on the market and I am also excluding knit boots as there are so many that have been released, I feel they are in a category of their own. This list is no particular order.
Lotto Zhero Gravity (2006)
The original Lotto Zhero Gravity was one the first laceless boots on the market, the first being a pair of Ryal boots released back in the ‘90s, as Ryal themselves have said before. When the Zhero Gravitys first released, everyone didn’t know what to make of them. Not only were they laceless, but the price point was around $100 more than anything else available at the time, as they retailed for $300. They also were not widely available, as many stores did not even bother to order in any pairs. In fact, I got my pair about a year after release for around $100, when Lotto was trying to clear their stock. Despite all of this, I still think they are one of the best synthetic boots of all time.
The upper was surprisingly easy to break in for a synthetic and although the boot had certain fit, if they did fit your feet, they were a dream to play in. Another part of this boot that I really enjoyed was the stud layout and the inclusion of a pair of SG studs. I always felt I got great traction and I never felt any stud pressure. Something else that I think went under-appreciated, even by those who owned the boot, the grippy upper part of the boot which had some slightly raised ribs that allowed you to have a little more grip on the ball. The lockdown wasn’t perfect but overall the boots were a solid package and even now I would love to have a new pair to use.
Adidas X 17+ Purespeed
The original X 16+ was a great boot that was a solid performer and had a great upper. It had some issues with the lace cover becoming sloppy after a while. The X 17+ took the great foundation laid down by the previous generation and improved upon it. The lace cover was made to fit tighter. The upper material was changed and made more durable. I also found the fit to be slightly better as well. These improvements really seemed to help the boots as they become very popular in some places and even though wasn’t released that long ago, its very hard to find a pair in new condition now.
Little details in the boot were nice too. I appreciated the grippy dots applied to the inside of the heel to stop the foot from sliding around, which was a big issue in the first X, the X 15.1. The little dots that ran up and down the upper were also a nice touch. They didn’t provide a ton of extra grip, but enough to give you a little bit of help. The stud layout was quite nice as well. It wasn’t overly aggressive, but it did allow the boots to perform well on both firm and artificial ground. It’s durability was also good, I still see some people rocking them now, even though its been a few years since its release.
Nike Air Zoom Total 90 II
A lot of people have fond memories of the AirZoom T90 IIIs but the AirZoom T90 IIs are probably one of many people’s favourite synthetic boots, especially if they are of a certain age. Released before and made popular because of the 2002 World Cup, the Air Zoom Total 90 IIs really pushed the expectations of a leather boot forward. Sure, the Vapor was a nice synthetic but the T90s were made from KNG-100, a synthetic made to feel like a leather, and the predecessor of KengaLite. The boots were easy to break in and offered a comfortable ride.
This was thanks in part to the small NikeAir pocket in the heel as well as what is in my opinion the best soleplate Nike has ever made, the Versatract soleplate. The plate offered a lot of grip without being too aggressive. This soleplate was so popular that even years after Nike stopped offering it on it’s global launches, it was still found on models releasing in Japan as well as on the feet of professionals. The upper also had a slightly stickiness and cushioning to it thanks to the way it was designed. It felt almost exactly like wearing a leather boot but because it was a synthetic, it felt like it packed a bit more of a punch than leather boots, save for the Predators that is. Still though, absolutely solid option.
Nike Mercurial Vapor III 10th Anniversary R9
For me this is the best Mercurial boot ever made and I do have heavy bias because the Mercurial Vapor IIIs are my all time favourite Vapor. I am sure if I were to start with a new pair today, they probably wouldn’t hold up as well as I remember. Despite this, I think they were great and the 10th Anniversary R9 editions, which were released to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Mercurial series, is the definitive edition of the Vapor 3. Instead of the Teijin synthetic like all other models of the Vapor 3s had, the 10th anniversary edition was given a KNG-100 upper which made the boot feel much better and gave the user an easier time to break it in.
Add this in with little bit of carbon fibre around the heel and in the insole that made the boot “pop off” as well as the classy black/red colourway and you had a brilliant looking boot. The soleplate for the Vapor 3s is still to date my favourite bladed soleplates ever produced. It had plenty of aggressiveness, bite and made you want to run around just for the sake of it. Plenty of people had issues with the heel liner but I never had problems with it for some reason. If Nike are to re-make another Mercurial, this is probably my most wished-for remake from them. It was just that brilliant.
Nike CTR360 Maestri II
This last one was somewhat of a tossup. There was strong consideration for the Predator LZ but ultimately, you can’t leave the Maestri off one of these lists. In some ways Maestri’s status is almost above most over boots among some boot nerds. For me, personally, the Maestri IIs were the pinnacle of the series. The first model had durability issues and I never felt quite comfortable in the 3s. The upper was made of the ridiculous KangaLite, which was on of the comfiest synthetic uppers I have experienced. The passing and control pads were in great spots and never seemed to get in the way. The soleplate was excellent, one of my favourites from Nike. It is somewhat hard to choose between the regular model and the Elite’s but I think the regular model gave you some of the best bang for your buck from boots that were available on the market at the time. Add into the fact that it came in some excellent colourways, with the Red/White ones being my preferred colourway, and you had not only a great preforming boot but a great looking one as well.
The Maestri was also one of those boots that seemed to fit most people. I had friends with wide feet who wore them, and I had friends with narrow who wore them. The boots could also stand a fair amount of punishment and people always seemed to choose the boot based on its performances and its adaptability. It remains one of the last great synthetic boots from Nike and even now I would say it the KangaLite upper would be an excellent addition to almost any boot Nike currently makes. In some ways then it is a shame that Nike choose to focus more on knitted boots because I would have loved to see what the KangaLite could have become.
That’s my top 5 synthetic boots of all time. But I want to know what you all think. What did I miss? What do you think I shouldn’t have had in the top 5? As always let me know in the comments and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.