43 Different Types of Cleated Shoes

A close look at a pair of blue soccer shoes with cleats.

Cleated shoes, or cleats, were first added to King Henry the VIII’s “…Great Wardrobe” by Cornelius Johnson, his personal shoemaker, in 1525, per the king’s request.

The games of soccer and rugby were physical and chaotic in the early 1800s. The players normally wore their steel-toed work boots to play, and playing often meant getting lacerations or fractured bones from the nails and metal plates they would use for “hacking-over.” In 1871, the Rugby Football Union was formed and this practice was banned.

That is when cleats first began to make its way onto the scene. In the late 1800s, the Laws of the Game went into effect bringing more structure to the game. Soccer cleats then became more standardized weighing 500 grams with six round studs and made of thick, hard leather up to the ankle.

Baseball players were certainly in need of cleats, so in the 1860s, do-it-yourself baseball cleats came into being with detachable spikes and an extra plate to hold them in place. In the 1880s, standard baseball cleats became available.

The first attempts at cleats for American football players used wooden and metal studs and more, and many injuries occurred. In the 1890s, metal studs were used for the first time in American football. In 1925, removable metal studs were created.

Now, they make cleats for use by all kinds of sportsmen and more, like loggers, lineman, and those traversing the ice in the wintertime.

Cleats Basics

Structure

Upper

  • Fashioned of leather or synthetic leather
  • This is what the shoe looks like, including the laces or straps
  • Provides ankle support

Midsole

  • Cushioning and support for the feet and calves
  • Impact absorption

Outsole

  • the shoe’s bottom, where the spikes stick out

Style

Low-Cut

  • For quick, agile players
  • No real support for ankles

Mid-Cut

  • Ankle-height
  • Adds some stability
  • Doesn’t sacrifice agility and speed too much

High-Cut

  • Usually 3/4 cut – 5/8 cut and up
  • Best ankle support
  • Good for players with damaged ankles

American Football Cleats

A pair of American football cleats with flag colors and patterns.

Hard-Molded Cleats

  • Spikes of plastic are attached permanently to the outsole
  • Less pricey
  • You are able to use them right out of the box

Artificial Turf Cleats

  • Should never be greater than 1/2″ in length
  • A longer stud could cause ankle or knee injuries while cutting on turf

Detachable Cleats

  • Choose longer spikes
  • Choose the type of studs
  • Choose the configuration
  • Easily removed
  • Easily replaced
  • More expensive

Soccer (Association Football) Cleats

A close look at a football player wearing black cleats.

Structure

Insole

  • Shoes come with factory insoles
  • You can special order specialized insoles to enhance comfort and performance

Midsole

  • Between the insole and outsole is the midsole
  • This is where the shock is absorbed to reduce the chance of injury to your legs, knees, ankles, and feet

Stud

  • Bladed
  • Hard-Grounded
  • Round

Type

Firm Ground Cleats

  • Usually used on real grass and outdoor fields
  • Series of rubber studs in a conical or bladed shape
  • The studs cannot be removed
  • Provides stability and traction

Soft Ground Cleats

  • Usually have metal and often detachable studs
  • This allows you to customize them at will per circumstance
  • Ideal for wet conditions or mud because they have longer studs

Artificial Grass Cleats

  • Usually have a rubber outsole
  • Usually have rubber studs under 1/2″

Hybrid Cleats

  • Less expensive than buying two pairs

Rugby Football Cleats (Rugby Boots)

A close look at a rugby player wearing a pair of green shoes with cleats.

How to Pick Rugby Boots

If you are more than 230 lbs (100 kg), you will need mid-cut rugby boots

  • They provide more ankle support for players who are a bit larger
  • They are heavier to protect your toes
  • They aid pack players
  • They keep your feet from slipping in a scrum
  • They aid you as you heave when you hoist in a lineout
  • They will slow you down a bit
  • They will tire you faster
  • They will make up for it in their offerings

If you always play in wet conditions, get low-cut boots and get the kind with screw-in cleats

  • More like everyday shoes
  • Lighter than mid-cut boots
  • More speed and freedom of movement
  • You need screw-in cleats because these are normally longer than molded cleats
  • You can get a hard-toe or soft-toe boot, depending on preference and of course, which position you play

For playing the ‘sevens’ version of rugby, for artificial turf, or for hard ground, the answer is molded cleats

  • Much like soccer shoes
  • Use when speed is the primary concern
  • Soccer cleats are not as durable as rugby molded cleats
  • For some though, since soccer cleats with molded studs are lighter, they are a good choice here

Australian Football Cleats

A pair of Australian football cleats with flag colors and patterns.

How to Pick AFL Footy Boots

Upper

  • The upper material needs to be very strong to support the foot upon swift changes in direction and kicks
  • Kangaroo leather is the go-to material nowadays
  • This is because it’s strong and it molds well to the feet but doesn’t get heavy

Lacing

  • The average AFL footy boot has the lacing placed in the middle
  • The lacing on some football cleats is off-center, mostly for soccer players

Weight

  • When a boot is lighter, you can maneuver better and have more speed
  • A lighter boot offers less support

Studs

  • You want the correct configuration for your playing conditions
  • You need a boot that gives in the forefoot so you can get smooth contact with the ball
  • If not, you can pay with blisters and callouses
  • The two basic types of studs are:
    • Molded studs – for hard and dry conditions
    • Screw-in studs – for wet and soft conditions
    • The latter tend to be longer for better traction

Footy boot basics

  • There are varied playing requirements, surfaces, and conditions in different footy codes.
  • The footy boots under Australian rules are designed for the different types of players
  • One primary thing to look at is the type of surface on which you train and play
    • Ideally, you would get a pair of footy boots for the hard, dry conditions and another for the soft, wet conditions
    • This, however, is too expensive for the average household
    • So, manufacturers are now offering hybrid boots that sporting multidisciplinary stud patterns that can work well in almost any playing circumstances
  • Synthetic materials work great for footy boots, especially for kids, but the material does not breathe, while kangaroo leather is a top-shelf material for higher-end boots and is gaining popularity

Baseball and Softball Cleats

A pair of vintage leather baseball shoes with cleats.

Molded Cleats

  • Plastic with rubber studs
  • More protective

Metal Cleats

  • Lighter
  • Gives more traction
  • Lends to a higher probability of injuries
  • Banned by recreational leagues and youth and amateur leagues

Artificial Turf Cleats

  • More comfortable
  • Not as much grip
  • Baseball players usually only wear during practice
  • More for slow-pitch players, who will be playing for long periods

Interchangeable

  • Screw on metal blades come off to reveal molded cleats
  • Versatile

Other Considerations

  • Length of Studs
    • For soft ground, longer studs give better traction.
    • For hard ground, shorter studs are better.
  • Pitchers’ Toe Drag
    • Pitchers push off their toes when delivering the ball wearing down that part of the cleat
    • For pitchers, there is a reinforced toe cleat

Lacrosse Cleats

A female athlete running across the field wearing a pair of lacrosse shoes with cleats.

Style

Mid-cut cleats are most ideal for midfielders and high-cut cleats are most ideal for defenders.

Type

For natural fields (studs are plastic or rubber with 4-6 large studs at the heel and 8-12 at the front)

  • Molded
    • Less expensive
    • Not as versatile
  • Detachable
    • Can adapt to various field conditions by changing stud length
    • Simplistic replacement

For artificial turf (has scads of small rubber nubs)

  • Turf
    • More flexible than hard-ground cleats
    • For use on synthetic surfaces

Metal spikes have been disallowed in Lacrosse.

Cycling Cleats

A close look at a gray cycling shoe with cleats.

SPD

  • Also called the “two-bolt” cleat as it attaches to the shoe with two bolts
  • Originally a trail and mountain bike pedal but works as a road or triathlon cleat
  • Compatible shoes are comfortable
  • Easiest to clip in
  • Closest to a universal cleat

Look

  • Mostly road biking
  • Three-bolt pedal
  • Wider contact platform
  • Have a little ‘float’, so it’s better for your knees
  • Compatible shoes are uncomfortable
  • Less universal

Speedplay

  • Lighter weight
  • Clips in quickly
  • Four-bolt system
  • Adjustable float and clip pressure
  • Pricey
  • Not really universal

SPD-SL

  • Three-bolt system arranged into a triangular profile
  • Broad, wide platform
  • Great float
  • Compatible with many shoes

Golf Cleats

A golfer walking on the golf course wearing a pair of golf cleats.

Golf Shoe Spikes

Metal spikes

  • Most durable
  • Require most upkeep
  • Does the most damage to the golf course
  • Their heaviness can affect your swing
  • Many places have banned them
  • Manufacturers have stopped making them

Rubber spikes

  • Made from polyurethane
  • Least expensive
  • Lighter than metal spikes
  • Feel better
  • Don’t damage the golf course
  • Less traction when the course is wet
  • Don’t last as long

Ceramic spikes

  • Most expensive
  • Extensively long-lasting
  • Resistant to cuts, scratches, and scuffs
  • Quite resilient
  • Often they have steel protuberances that are a real aggravation to maintain

Interchangeable Spike Systems

  • Large thread
  • Small thread
  • Fast twist
  • Q-LOK

Logger Boots

A close look at a logger wearing a pair of brown leather boots with cleats.

What to Know Before Getting Logger Boots

  • Most often has more of a square toe
  • Raised heel cap
  • 8-10″ tall
  • Most often lace-to-toe
  • On the tongue, there may or may not be a kiltie
  • Should be crafted with double welting for a quality boot
    • This is to make the boots sturdy
    • It is also to make and keep them waterproof
  • Should have a reinforced shank for a quality boot to help with foot support

Ask yourself:

  • Do I need a steel-toe boot due to OSHA regulations or personal safety preferences?
  • Do I need my logger boots caulked?

Ice Cleats

A close look at an ice boot with chain and cleats.

Crampons (metal spikes you attach to your boots that are much longer and sharper than cleat spikes)

  • For a Short Steep Climb
    • Strap-on, flexible crampons
      • They will work with your hiking boots
      • Simple to attach because they are lightweight
  • For General to Highly-Technical Mountaineering
    • Semi-rigid mountaineering crampons, 10-12 Point
      • Made of steel or stainless steel
      • 12 point crampons have 2 spikes in the front to help you climb
  • For Climbing Ice and Frozen Waterfalls
    • Vertical Point Crampons
      • Two straight and narrow points sticking out the front for sure gripping of vertical ice

There are ice cleats made just for:

  • Running on the ice and snow
  • Winter hiking and traction on hills with ice and snow
  • Walking on ice and snow
  • Walking on ice
  • Hiking and ice fishing

Track Spikes

An athlete about to run wearing a pair of yellow track spikes.

Sprint Spikes

  • For competitors in races 100-400 meters long
  • Spike plate is faster (more aggressive)

Middle Distance Spikes

  • For runners in races 800 meters to 1 mile long
  • For competitors with endurance as well as speed
  • Soft in the heel, yet still aggressive

Distance Spikes

  • For competitors in races 1 mile to 5K long (long-distance runners)
  • Soft spike plate and a more cushioned heel

Field Event Spikes

  • Special field events are less about running and more about jumping
  • These include the long jump, the high jump, the pole vault, and the shot put

Overall fit

Make sure your shoes fit properly. You cannot succeed at any sport if your feet are hurting or if you are sliding around in your shoes getting blisters.

  • Materials
    • Any genuine leather will stretch a little
    • Most synthetic materials tend to not stretch at all
    • So, know what to expect from your material before you choose
  • Always leave a thumbs worth of length between the end of your longest toe and the tip of your boot
  • This is for both comfort and prevention of injury from jamming your toes
  • Wear a pair of playing socks to try on your cleats so you’ll know exactly how they’ll fit
  • During play, the feet swell as a normal bodily function, so:
    • Getting cleats that are too tight will cause cramping and other pain and discomfort in the feet
    • Getting cleats that are too loose will not give the ankles and knees the support they require
  • Take into account the shape of your foot, as some manufacturers cleats run narrower and some wider than others
  • Consider whether you need orthotics and if you do, get higher-cut cleats to make room for them

We suggest trying your cleats on in-person and never buying online. Better than that, ideally would be to have yourself professionally fitted for your cleats.

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