After ranking our Colorways of the Year, taking stock of the best indoor shoes in the game, and handing out some miscellaneous awards, we come to the Main Event of our year-end “Boot-ies”. Throughout the year we keep our collective finger on the pulse of the boot world by following the latest technology, testing just about every new boot, and generally staying obsessed with all things soccer cleats. Now we take to our keyboards to honor the best choices on the market. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 Boots of the Year.
A first effort in the speed boot industry from any brand is usually garbage. However, Umbro’s first true speed boot is highly impressive, and it completes an impressive silo from the Double Diamond.
While some may take the praise for this boot a bit farther than I would like, it is a high quality outing from New Balance as they continue their shift away from Warrior. Perhaps it is the quality (or lack thereof) from the Furon that makes the Visaro shine all the brighter.
Under Armour is truly showing their intent to become a big player in the soccer equipment market, and the Speedform only continues that route. With the new ClutchFit already impressing, UA might be on the road to a massive 2016.
Hunter York: It was hard for me to pick just one or two boots that were missing from my list. The adidas X 15.1 is a boot that has everyone’s attention because of the TechFit collar that many compared to the Dynamic Fit Collar. However, they are nothing alike. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the X, but it was not good enough to make my Top 3.
The Nike Hypervenom Phantom II was arguably a failure for Nike on a professional scale with many of their athletes switching out of the boot. However, I rather enjoyed the new Phantom. I love the different collar that did not annoy me while breaking them in. The striking area is very large on the Phantom II and gives you a great area to hit the ball with power. I still grab these boots pretty regularly.
Much like the first generation Hypervenom, the New Balance Visaro is perfect for players wanting a nice grippy upper while still wanting a thin feel. I highly recommend the Visaro to any attacking players. New Balance brought some heat with this boot.
Jordon English: New Balance Visaro
2015 will go down as a big year in the history books for New Balance, as it is the year that NB have proven their worth as a solid company who can hold their own against the big boys. The centre point of their success has to be the Visaro, which has been very popular amongst the professionals throughout the year. And even though they have taken to the boot quite well, it also helps the Visaro is a top notch boot. It is comfortable, gives off a solid first touch and the fact that it is available in both a standard fit and a wider fit is a masterstroke by New Balance. Keep it up New Balance!
While I would say the buzz around the speed boot silo is not as strong in 2015 compared to a few years ago, but I would say that of the boots that make up the silo, the Mercurial is leading the way for being the best boot. However, there does seem to be a growing number of players opting for the Vapor X (a boot I have not tried). Personally, I cannot see why players are making the switch. The Superfly IV is an extremely solid boot and I think is the perfect balance between a lightweight boot without being too light that it starts to affect performance and comfort. Plus they come in nice colourways, what more is there to love?
McCole: Nike HyperVenom Phinish
While a few more weeks with the Tiempo VI might see that boot make next year’s list, the Phinish gives the quality of the Phantom with the fit of Nike’s seamless tongue (a tech the Swoosh has certainly perfected with their recent generation of boots). Be it the leather Tech Craft version or the standard synthetic (we’ve tested both), the Phinish offers an unhindered touch on the ball, an elite level of responsiveness, and great traction.
It would rank higher this year if there wasn’t still the nagging feeling that the original was still a slightly better boot. The new version definitely has a better bit of durability, but you never see the boot’s NikeSkin get to the same level of “soft” that the first Venom could reach. What else pushes the Phinish above its Phantom counterpart? You can usually find them for about $100 cheaper than the Phantom…a big final push for the Phinish.
York: Umbro Velocita
This one may shock a few, but if you have worn the Velocita you know why it is on my list. The thin golf ball-like upper feels like the Mercurial Vapor IX. I am a speed boot lover so the extremely light Velocita was off to a good start for me right out of the box. The traction is great with the Velocita and it gave me zero issues while testing the boot. I did not expect to wear the double diamond boot as much as I have been but I have worn it at least once a week even with my testing schedule.
English: Nike Tiempo Premier
Yes, I know this is an extremely unexpected placing, but hear me out. The writers here at the Instep are extremely fortunate to have the very best football boots within close reach. These top of the range and expensive boots (almost always, bar a few exceptions) end up being very good boots, but price is not always a reliable indicator of the quality of a pair of boots. No boot illustrates this point better than the Nike Tiempo Premier. For less than $100, you are getting a no-fuss leather boot that also happens to be one of the most comfortable boots on the market (and I do not mean that lightly). In this sense, we know people want value for money when it comes to boots, and if there happened to be a price-to-quality ratio for football boots (a near impossible ratio to compile, but if there was one), I am fairly confidence the Tiempo Premier would be right at the top of the class. That within itself means the Premier deserves to be within my top 3 boots.
McCole: adidas PrimeKnit ACE 15+
While we were still incredibly surprised by how much we didn’t hate the new adidas line-up, none of the main boots felt like cracking the top three of the year. However, the PrimeKnit ACE is a cut above them all. The boot lets the PrimeKnit shine above all the other previous PrimeKnit creations, the fit and comfort are amazing, and we still can’t get over that AG/FG soleplate (that actually works!). If adidas had led with their PrimeKnit versions as the standard boots of the revolution, the market might currently be seeing Nike undergoing a real assault from the German giants.
The future of adidas boots feels like it is certainly within the PrimeKnit material, and the ACE shows that the future is definitely bright.
York: Nike Tiempo Legend VI
I have been testing these for the last few weeks leading up to the Boot-ies and I have fallen in love with them. I normally do not enjoy the thickness of leather boots but with the internal support cage that keeps the leather’s shape for longer, I found the fit and feel enjoyable. The one piece upper that creates a tongue-less design really helps in striking and controlling the ball. I can tell you I will be wearing these boots a lot more in 2016.
English: adidas ACE 15.1
Strangely, the ACE15.1 is the only boot released this year which actually makes it into my top 3 boots. Is it a sign of poor quality releases from the manufacturers? Hardly, I just think it is a sign of an extremely strong boot market where the companies need to do more to beat what is already out there. But getting back to the ACE15.1. While it did have the difficult task of being the successor to the hugely popular Predator range, adidas put together an extremely impressive boot to put the famous Predator into retirement. The boot is comfy, the upper provides the perfect combination of a good kicking surface whilst giving the wearer a very solid feel for the ball, it ticks the boxes of a very good boot. It is a pity that it will be usurped by the ACE16.1 early next year, but hey, I had a good time with the boot.
McCole: Puma evoSPEED SL Leather
The blend of leather and lightweight has plagued the boot world for over a decade. Either the boot loses its lightweight nature from becoming a bit too heavy, or the leather isn’t up to par for a quality leather release. The Puma evoSPEED SL Leather strikes the perfect blend and was the boot that I still find myself using extensively. With an amazing touch, an incredible weight (sub-6 oz.), and a soleplate that provides a high level of traction, it’s an easy selection for my boot of the year.
Any follower of The Instep for the last few years will know about Jordon and my fondness for Mizuno’s Morelia Neo, and this is the closest any of the major brands have ever come to our hallowed Neo. The standard SL changed the way we look at standard lightweight releases, but the leather SL set the bar for everyone else to follow. A standout BOTY.
York: adidas ACE 15.1
For me, this was a no brainer. The ACE 15.1 is an absolute pleasure to wear. Replacing the famous Predator line, many were upset and wrote off the Ace line altogether. Boy, I’m glad I didn’t. The ACE has a 3D design upper and some NSG (Non-Stop Grip) dots that help aid in the grip during wet weather. The FG/AG soleplate is perfect when you play on all sorts of surfaces. No matter what position you play, the ACE is a perfect boot.
English: Nike Magista Obra
The Nike Magista Obra wins the best boot of the year…..again. For me, there is still nothing that has passed through my hands that has impressed me more so than the Obra. But in all honesty, I originally thought ‘is it right or wrong for me to have the Obra on top of my list two years in a row?’. Then I considered what I think about the Obra. The Obra is always the boot I go back to when I finish testing a new boot. It offers a brilliant locked down fit with the Dynamic Fit Collar, a slightly cushioned feel for the ball, a clean kicking surface for the power drive or the delicate pass and a no fuss conical outsole. It offers everything I want and is, in my mind, the perfect boot. While I do not have proper statistics for it, but when I consider all the photos I go through every week to do the boot spotting, I would say that there is a higher proportion of players opting for the top tier Magista over the Opus compared to the Hypervenom and Mercurial ranges. The latter two ranges are struggling with players opting for the Vapor and Phinish respectively, while the Obra seems to have a stronger representation of players in comparison. So if the pros are supporting the Obra, then that surely is a feather in the cap of the Magista Obra.