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Laceless vs laced football boots - what's right for you?

We’re here to help find the right option for you in the age-old battle of laceless vs. laced football boots. Strap yourself in… or don’t?

adidas sense in black and gold and nike phantom gt in blue with laceless vs laced football boots title

To lace or not to lace? Shakespeare wrote. Or probably, if he was playing ‘ball for Stratford-upon-Avon FC in his day. The battle of laceless vs. laced football boots is a tale as old as time, or at least a tale as old as 2006 when the first laceless design was released.

We’re here to explore the pros and cons of each style, dig into the detail and find out which design could be your game changer. We’ll even throw a few of our favourite choices in for good measure. Plus, we’ll save you a fair few quid when you finally come to a decision. Tidy.

Get ready, it’s time for you to either slip into something comfortable or to lace ‘em up, let’s do this.

What are laceless football boots?

adidas football boots without laces in white black and yellow
Images from adidas.

Well, it’s right there. Laceless. Without laces. Sans laces. Yes, for once it’s something from the boot universe which hasn’t been hammered by marketing spiel, it’s just serving straight up facts. These are football boots designed for use, without the need for laces.

As adidas have a stronghold on this market today, many people won’t realise that it was the Italian boot veterans Lotto (yes, Ruud Gullit stylee) who dreamt up the first ever laceless design; Lotto Zhero Gravity arrived way back in 2006.

The Zhero Gravity was worn by leading names at the time including Andrei Shevchenko and Luca Toni, but it wasn’t particularly well-received and didn’t convert into sales for Lotto. This is most likely the reason why it took adidas another ten years to release their own laceless version, the 16+ PureControl. And they were decent.

How do laceless football boots work?

Laceless football boots are engineered to do away with traditional lacing, their material and construction means the player can slip them on and play, with little fuss. They are built to wrap around the foot with a sock-like fit, but lockdown and perform like a ‘normal’ laced football boot.

Agility, aesthetics and feel are top of the agenda. Removing laces gives a streamlined look and feel for the player, a bit like Jack Grealish’s barnet does for him. Control on the ball and a clean strike are just a couple of the key benefits.

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Laceless vs. laced football boots: pros and cons

The ultimate question is: which is better? Laced or laceless? We’re here to work that out with you. As with most things in our beautiful game, there’s a good chance some of it will come down to subjectivity. That’s why we’re about to plainly and simply lay out some pros and cons for both sides.

Pros of laceless boots

adidas nemeziz+ football boots in blue and white
Images from adidas.

The best thing about laceless boots in our opinion, is that the upper is as smooth as Pep Guardiola’s head. This may make you feel more at one with the ball when controlling, striking and passing. Brazilians famously play barefoot in their youth, but this is as close to samba football as you’re likely to get.

Side note: laceless boots (in our view) tend to be more aesthetically pleasing, doing away with unwanted lumps and bumps. They look streamlined and sleek, some would say more ‘in line with the modern game’. Plus, we can’t ignore that it’s the lazy person’s boot, slip on and slip off. Bliss.

Cons of laceless boots

A lot of people will like the fit, some people will not. It’s inevitable, as the laceless boot is manufactured to an almost one-size-fits-all shape. We use the term ‘almost’ due to the fact that the stretchy tech on the uppers will accommodate and adapt to a certain extent. If you have wide feet, it’s probably a no-go.

As with all innovative tech, you’re going to end up paying slightly more to get hold of it. Even at a cheaper takedown level (like an adidas .3), the laceless version will end up costing a little more.

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Pros of laced boots

nike phantom gt football boots in blue
Images from Nike.

Number one, you’re choosing laces because of the bespoke lockdown options. Like Pablo Escobar, you’ll be able to choose the exact lockdown you prefer by adapting the laces any which way you like. You’re guaranteed to get a fit which suits your foot perfectly this way.

Oddly, laced versions of the latest models are also a smidgen cheaper than their laceless counterparts, which is due to the increased tech needed on laceless boots to provide lockdown from the material, not the lacing.

Cons of laced boots

In theory, you’re not going to get as clean a strike on the football when you’ve got a layer of laces in the way. You’ll feel them through the upper and that could be annoying to some players. Laces have been around for decades though, and there’s no evidence to say that they can affect the quality of your play.

It sounds small but yes, you’re going to have to tie and untie them eeevery time you play. That’s the same come rain (quagmire included) or shine, we’re all aware of this mild inconvenience but we felt it’s worth pointing out. It only applies if you’re as lazy as Anthony Martial though.

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The verdict

It’s difficult for us to make a call on what’s right for you, we can’t see your feet and we’re not in your brain. You’ll know whether to go for laceless or laced when you try them out for yourself, all we can do is give you our advice.

With all that said, if you’ve got wide or flat feet, choose laces. If you’re a traditionalist, choose laces. If you like the feel of ultra-secure lockdown, choose laces. On the flipside, if you like clean lines, choose laceless. If you like sock-like feel on the ball, choose laceless. If you want people to ask where you got your boots from, probably choose laceless. Here are some options to tickle your senses...

Three must-have laceless football boots

adidas Copa Sense+

Image from adidas.

New Balance Tekela V3

Image from New Balance.

Adidas Predator Freak+

Image from adidas.

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Three must-have laced football boots

Nike Phantom GT

Image from Nike.

adidas X Ghosted.1

Image from adidas.

Nike Mercurial Dream Speed 4

Image from Nike.

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This blog is part of our Boot Battles series. Check out some of the other boots we’ve pitted against each other: 

  Predator vs Mercurial | X vs Mercurial | Kaiser Liga vs Copa Mundial | Predator vs ACE

Kevan Thorpe

Quintessential grassroots journeyman. I've had more "you look like Gareth Barry" comments than I have career goals.