Cheap vs expensive football boots | Boot tier guide

From budget takedowns to expensive elite models, this guide explains all the differences between various football boot tiers.

cheap vs expensive boots

Let’s face it: choosing football boots is never easy. 

There are literally tons of awesome boot models out there these days, and you could spend countless hours figuring out whether you’re better suited to the Mercurial, Predator or something else entirely. Of course, this decision will completely depend on your own personal play style… or whether you fancy a particular colourway.  

But that’s not even the half of it. You’ve also got to contend with all kinds of surface types, materials and confusing numbering systems, while the sheer range of prices can lead to plenty of vigorous head-scratching indeed. After all, what exactly are the differences between expensive and cheap football boots?

Well, this complete guide tells you everything you need to know about the different boot tiers. It should also ensure you’re getting excellent value for money.


Why are Football Boots so Expensive?

Right, let’s start with the basics. Some football boots are much more expensive than others. But you probably already knew that. 

If you’re playing at a competitive level, you might have your eye on top-tier, elite-level boots which will really maximise your performance, and it’s these boots which really hit your bank balance. In fact, to be completely honest, these prices are only going to increase - thank you, Mr Inflation. 

The most expensive boots basically feature the best technology and materials, it really is as simple as that: you’re paying for quality and innovation. However, these more advanced models aren’t necessarily right for you, and you should by no means splurge out £250 when a £100 model will suit you just as well.

Every player has their own preferences, and it all comes down to what you’re personally looking for. Remember: just because a boot is the most expensive, it doesn’t always mean it offers you the best performance.


READ | Our rundown of all the most expensive football boots you can buy right now.


What is a Takedown Football Boot?

Not everybody needs boots bursting with innovative tech and cutting-edge materials. To be honest, the vast majority of us just want football boots which are comfortable to play in, and are usually trying to stick to a sensible budget. 

The big brands realise this, and so offer “takedown” versions of their most popular boots to suit players at all levels. Now, this is where a lot of that head-scratching begins, because the differences between these boots isn’t always clear. 

For example, you might finally decide that you want to buy a pair of the new Mercurial Vapors, but then be faced with something like this:

screenshot of nike mercurial vapor prices across four different boots

Why on earth would you fork out almost £120, when you can get what looks like the same boot for under £30? They’re all listed as Nike Mercurial Vapor 13, they’re all suitable for firm-ground surfaces and yet there’s more than a £100 difference. Um, yeah, I’ll take the £27.20 bargain, please. 

Sadly, it’s not that simple, and they are not the same boot. The most expensive model is the top-tier Mercurial, the one worn by professionals, while the others are takedown models of varying quality. The structure, materials and technology will differ wildly between these boots, and the lower price usually means less quality and innovation.


Cheap vs Expensive Football Boots - the Main Differences

When buying a new pair of boots, you need to ask one very important question: are they worth the money? The truth is, spending an extra £100 isn’t going to turn you into a better player, so why not just go for the cheaper option? 

The main differences lie in the materials, structure and technology of the boots in question. The more expensive version is designed to enhance your performance as much as possible, usually much lighter, cosier and more stylish, while also offering a much better feel for the football. It’s up to you whether these benefits outweigh the extra cost. 

As an example, let’s take a look at the new adidas Predator. Because, well, I haven’t stopped looking at it since it was released...

Good grief, these boots are beautiful. Image from adidas.

The most expensive version of this boot is the laceless Predator 20+ (pictured), and the extra money will be getting you the finest materials and technology on the market. It features a premium knitted upper and sock collar, alongside that famous Demonskin technology and Controlframe outsole. Basically, it’s all very impressive. 

By going down to the next tier (the Predator 20.1), some of those elements will remain, while others disappear. You won’t get the premium materials or feel of the elite model, but you still get most of the other technology and a great performance on the pitch. The quality of the materials and technology will then be reduced the further down the tiers you go. Simple.


Explaining Football Boot Tiers - adidas, Nike, Puma

So, takedown boots are cheaper, budget versions of the most innovative and popular models on the market. There are different tiers to most modern football boots, and it’s up to you to decide which particular level is right for you. No pressure. 

Unfortunately, this is where things get yet more confusing. All the major brands structure and display their boot tiers differently, meaning you can soon become lost in a whirlwind of names, numbers, models and prices. I’m dizzy just thinking about it all. 

Below you’ll find a complete guide to the different football boot tiers from the biggest brands, so you’ll finally know what all the names and numbers actually mean. 

adidas

selection of prices across four different adidas x boots
Prices taken from FOOTY.COM

adidas use numbers to distinguish their various football boot tiers. The lower number means the better boot, until you finally get down to the budget tier at the bottom. 

For example, there are various versions of the new adidas X available. The top-tier, premium model (the ones Mo Salah will wear) is the laceless 19+ model. From there, you’ve got the 19.1, 19.2, 19.3 and, finally, the 19.4, as displayed above.

Nike

selection of prices across four different nike mercurial boots
Prices taken from FOOTY.COM

The Nike boot tier system is much simpler than it once was, although this might actually add to the confusion if you’re also browsing older boots. I’ll try to explain. 

Previously, Nike’s cheaper “takedown” models would have entirely different names to the premium, top-tier boots. For example, the Nike Mercurial Vapor and Superfly were both elite models, while the Mercurial Victory and Veloce were two of the budget options. 

Now, things are more straight-forward. New boots keep the same name, but now fall into one of four categories: Elite, Pro, Academy or Club (in that order). 

PLEASE NOTE: you’ll also see a number in the name of a Nike football boot, but this signifies the generation (newness) of the boot and not its tier. So, a Tiempo 8 is more expensive than a Tiempo 7 simply because it’s the latest release. 

Puma

selection of prices across four different puma future boots
Prices taken from FOOTY.COM

Puma work in the same way as adidas, and use numbers to signal their various tiers. However, they often use numbers to signify new boot generations too (just like Nike), leaving you with a lovely jumble of numbers to sort through. 

For example, the Puma Future 4.1 was the follow-up to the Future 19.1, which is pretty confusing in itself. You can also get the Future 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4, which are all the available takedown models of that particular generation. 

Since there’s very little chronology to Puma’s boot names, the biggest challenge is figuring out which is the latest release - a problem which exists for both the Future and the Puma ONE. Check out our Puma boot guide if you still aren’t sure!


Which Football Boot Tier Should I Go For?

paul pogba and lionel messi with their adidas football boots
Obviously, the best only usually wear the best. Image from adidas.

This entirely depends on who you are, what level you play at, and how chunky your wallet is. However, here is some general advice: 

Competitive Players 

In an ideal world, you’d be looking at the more expensive, top-tier football boots. This is where you’ll find the highest level of performance (in most cases), and these boots are really ideal for anyone playing at a competitive level - both professional and semi-professional. 

Of course, this isn’t always feasible. You might browse all the deals on FOOTY.COM and decide that these elite boots are just too far out of your price range. In that case, there’s absolutely no problem in dropping down a tier (Pro for Nike, .1 for adidas). 

Casual Players

If you’re playing a bit of five-a-side, Sunday league or something similar, there’s no need to go out and spend top dollar on Primeknit laceless uppers. Instead, you’ll usually find much better value in the middle tiers, which will let you head out for a decent kickabout without costing both arms and both legs. 

Kids

Although you might be desperate to give them the best gear possible, I advise going for the takedown, budget options if you’re buying for kids or teenagers. Why? Because these younger players have an annoying tendency to grow out of things, so you’ll just end up replacing any new boots in a few months anyway.

If you have the resources to spend big on premium, elite-level kids football boots, then by all means go for it - you can always use FOOTY.COM to make sure you at least save some money. But the majority of parents are much better off going for something cheaper, because forking out for top-tier boots won’t suddenly turn them into Kylian Mbappe.

READ | Our complete guide on choosing the perfect football boots this season.

Summary

As with most things, when buying football boots you essentially get what you pay for. Premium models will naturally offer a supreme performance, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t compete on a tighter budget. The cheaper takedown versions could be just what you’re after, while you could always just go for an older (or completely different) boot model. 

Either way, the best way to save a little money is by shopping with FOOTY.COM. Compare prices with us today on all premium and takedown football boots - you might even save enough money to bump yourself up a tier!

I'm a huge Manchester United fan who's always up for a quick game of FIFA. It's just a shame I'm not any good.