It’s the same old story: winter approaches, and you decide to open the cupboard where the faint scent of wet dog always lingers in order to find that trusty old pair of astro turf football boots. It turns out, however, that dumping your boots at the back of said cupboard, still caked in mud and slightly damp, wasn’t the best strategy for the successful upkeep of your prized possessions.
Time for a refresh. Luckily, the football boot market never rests on its laurels, with brands keen to create ever sleeker, more technologically advanced boots to entice even the most traditional of five-a-side players.
Finding the right pair makes a genuine difference, so it’s worth doing a little research. If you’re a part-time footballer, the astro turf (TF) boot is the best bet. Moulded rubber studs offer versatility across a range of pitch surfaces, from high end 3G or 4G artificial grass to a concrete cage that doubles as a basketball court.
There are also other options for use on most modern astro turf, such as firm ground (FG) boots, which provide deeper moulded studs more akin to traditional boots for an extra level of professionalism on both 4G and harder natural pitches.
Both styles include most of the features you’d see in professional boots, but usually TF boots come at a reduced price – you’re not going to be stepping out in the Premier League, after all.
And remember, football boots tend to be on the small side, so consider trying a half or full size bigger than you’d normally wear. If in doubt, check with your chosen brand.
How we tested
We ran ourselves into the ground trying these boots on for size, testing everything from shot and pass control, to acceleration, fit and looks, and we think we’ve found the best boots for all price points.
The best astro turf boots for 2021 are:
Best overall – Nike phantom GT elite FG: £224.95, Nike.com
Best for strikers – Adidas X speedflow.1 turf: £100, Adidas.co.uk
Best for defenders – Umbro speciali eternal team boot: £65, Umbro.co.uk
Best for speed – Puma ultra 1.3 FG: £180, Puma.com
Best for the connoisseur – Pantofola d’Oro del duca: £90.30, Pantofoladoro.com
Best for balance – New Balance furon v6 pro FG: £95, Newbalance.co.uk
Best classic look – Adidas mundial team boots: £110, Adidas.co.uk
Best for acceleration – Puma ultra 4.3 TT: £45, Puma.com
Best budget boot – Kipsta agility 900 HG: £34.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Nike phantom GT elite FG
We featured the original Phantom GT Elite boots in a previous version of this round-up: a whole roster of professionals swear by the phantoms, and the second edition serves to build on its glowing reputation.
The GT stands for “generative texture”, referring to the particular design of Nike’s flyknit upper. Straight from the serious-sounding Nike sport research lab, the texture is patterned and angled in such a way as to create the optimum level of grip. However the clever bods in the research lab have done it, they’ve delivered supreme control and spin when connecting with the ball that could elevate anyone’s game.
The “all conditions control” technology ensures that optimum control is retained in dry and wet conditions by keeping the same level of friction on the boot’s surface. The flyknit upper now also stretches further up your ankle, providing more support while still feeling like you’re putting on a sock. A worthy successor to the original GT.
There is a TF version that’s based on the firm ground boot (£72.95, Nike.com), but if you’re playing regularly on a 3G or 4G pitch – especially 11-a-side – these boots are hard to beat and a statement of intent.
Buy now £224.95, Nike.com
Adidas X speedflow.1 turf
Best: For strikers
Adidas has a great track record when it comes to bright boots for strikers: the footballing prestige linked to the word “predator” is enough proof of that. The X speedflow.1 builds on Adidas’s penchant for incredibly lightweight speed demons, with a series of developments geared towards quick, intense movement – perfect for the six-yard assassin.
“Light”’ is the buzzword for the speedflow. The sturdy internal frame provides reinforcement for the extra-lightweight upper, helping you both make sudden, explosive movements and protect your feet from any aggressive defenders. Speed is also the focus when it comes to the featherweight midsole and rubber outsole designed specifically for artificial turf.
The upper is perfect for precise shooting, but as it’s so thin, you feel the connection pretty acutely: great for accuracy, but it takes some getting used to. Adidas’s speedflow range benefits from an almost vacuum-like fit, aiding your agility and feeling like a slipper – though we recommend you go up half a size.
Buy now £100.00, Adidas.co.uk
Umbro speciali eternal team boot
Best: For defenders
You can trust Umbro to produce a good boot, and the “speciali eternal” range – Premier and team – doesn’t disappoint. The classic leather boot has been souped up for the modern game, based on an evolved version of the original “speciali” range.
These are the best choice for defenders – they’re a wider fit than the others within this round-up, which adds stability when backing up against a pacy winger. The hard, full grain leather, once broken in, has a supreme touch. These boots are for the unabashed football connoisseur, with a luxury finish to the front that almost made us feel bad for spoiling the look of them with an inch-perfect sliding tackle. Not quite, though.
Buy now £65.00, Umbro.co.uk
Puma ultra 1.3 FG
Best: For speed
The firm ground/artificial ground ultra 1.3 has taken the already lightweight brilliance of the ultra 1.2 (£180, Puma.com) and somehow shaved more non-existent bulk off. This isn’t to say that it’s a flimsy boot by any stretch: the strong sole ably aids any explosive acceleration and turning speed you might be lucky to possess. The 1.3 is narrower than its relatively wide predecessor, creating a tighter fit, but one that stays comfortable.
There’s a stickiness to the exterior fabric that helps with close control and accurate passing. While the lightness of the boot (even as far as transparent panels in the side) doesn’t provide a huge amount of protection from a tackle, the bounce you enjoy from the tech inside the boot means you should’ve jumped over the defender’s foot with ease, anyway.
The ultra 1.3 is the first boot to be offered in both a unisex and women-specific fit, blazing a trail for inclusivity in the beautiful game. Makes sense to us.
Buy now £180.00, Puma.com
Pantofola d’Oro del duca
Best: For the connoisseur
Pantofola d’Oro makes some of the purest football boots in the industry, and the del duca is no exception. It’s immediately obvious how much consideration and skill has been invested in the making of these boots. The hand stitched upper is padded and precise, with a quality rarely matched on the larger market. The quilted front and toe adds a layer of protection and luxury to your game while providing some help for your first touch (not that you need it, of course).
We’ve mentioned before how Pantofola d’Oro boots are for the casual player that loves football nostalgia and top-quality, handmade products. The del duca boots mix old-school aesthetic with a more contemporary silhouette to give you the best of both worlds.
Buy now £90.30, Pantofoladoro.com
New Balance furon v6 pro FG
Best: For balance
As a relative newcomer to the boot market, New Balance has caught up quickly with the big names, and no shoe is a better example of this than the furon v6 pro. The upper – made from the brand’s lightweight “fit weave” fabric – almost feels like a sock, but keeps it shape well, and the elastic knit collar completes the design around the ankle for one of the snuggest fits on this list.
Acceleration is the focus here, with the sole of the boot curled at the front for lower toe spring. On hard ground and artificial pitches, the studs do most of the work for you, their position aiding braking and acceleration.
Buy now £95.00, Newbalance.co.uk
Adidas mundial team boots
Best: Classic look
The great Mundial doesn’t need much of an introduction – any kid who had these growing up was the envy of the schoolyard, and that feeling hasn’t stopped into adulthood. Suede and kangaroo leather work together for high performance and comfort, while a hard-as-nails sole hides a springy foam midsole.
The look fantastic with the tongue up, but this also doubles as a way to cover the laces on the pitch for a cleaner connection. But these are good enough to wear off the pitch, too, if that’s your style. It’s a heavier boot, but, much like the Umbro speciali, not enough to hinder your game, and can, in fact, enhance defensive performance with its wider base. Long live the Mundial.
Buy now £110.00, Adidas.co.uk
Puma ultra 4.3 TT
Best: For acceleration
Another of the big players in boots, Puma’s latest astro offering in the “ultra” collection is a great-value option for the attack-minded player, especially in the bold, brash and aptly-named “sunblaze-Puma white-bluemazing” colour palette. The snazzy design isn’t just for Instagram, however: Puma’s grip control provides a great touch on the ball when going forward, and the lace closure offers a snug fit for a slipper effect.
The sole has been designed with running spikes in mind, which aids acceleration, and seems thicker and shock absorbent without the loss of any speed. The upper is super lightweight and holds its form well: you would fancy its chances under the strain of the odd niggle from an opposition player.
Buy now £45.00, Puma.com
Kipsta agility 900 HG
Best: Budget boot
This is a really capable shoe. One of Decathlon’s in-house brands, Kipsta might be more towards the budget end of the spectrum, but it still produces good products, including these boots.
The high lining around the ankle gives joint support and creates a nice cushion. Good padding around the foot helps the fit, while not getting in the way of ball control. These also looks a bit flash while not going over the top, and the strap at the back actually makes putting them on a pleasure instead of the usual struggle.
There are budget aspects to these boots, but nothing that would get in the way of a purchase. Most importantly, they feel sturdy, meaning there won’t be any issues of them falling apart when you’re one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Buy now £34.99, Decathlon.co.uk
The verdict: Astro turf boots
If you’re looking to take this season – or the next – by the scruff of the neck, then the firm ground Nike phantom GT2 elite is the boot for you, with the Puma ultra 1.3 a similarly serious option. Defenders should go for Umbro’s speciali eternal or Adidas’s mundial for classic looks and a sturdy feel.
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If you’re looking to improve your stamina on the pitch, take a read of our review of the best fitness skipping ropes and run your competitors into the ground