words // Taylor Scharfenberg
I started playing soccer at the age of five. We’re talking 1993: the age of orange cones for a little goal, reversible YMCA jerseys and a choice in cleat color consisting of black or black. Fast forward to 2006 and I’m into my last season of varsity soccer, wearing the original Nike Mercurial Vapors like I did all through high school. That’s right, four years in the same boot. The heels are torn out, the studs are worn down by over half and the upper is pulling away from the outsole. But I was so attached to them (and superstitious) that I just couldn’t imagine playing in anything else.
Now in the new age of soccer, I work with some of the most surprising colors and technical advancements every single day. It’s incredible to me how much has changed in the five years since I left high school. Now it’s a waste to not check out the new styles (and colors), even if it means uncharted territory. For me, that’s adidas.
My indoor shoes are adidas, but my firm ground cleats have always been Nike. So welcome to my first experience. adidas has held a solid portion of the soccer cleat market for quite a while. I haven’t seen a match this year in which I couldn’t pick out at least one player in the new F50. But for the non-professionals out there who operate on a budget, I gave the F30 a go around the field.
Opening the box was an immediate thrill. Soccer fans love to talk about the look of cleats and these do not disappoint. After much consideration, I finally settled on the women’s Deepest Purple/White/Fresh Splash colorway. The white on the tongue and heel has an iridescent sheen to it that I can’t get enough of. They were glossy and smooth and just calling to be worn.
From the beginning, you notice the lack of weight. Lightweight is a big word for soccer these days, and adidas is right along with the other top brands. The F50 model weighs in at about 5.8 ounces. The F30 is marked at 9.4 ounces, but the way it fits your foot keeps you from feeling any weight at all. The best part, and what every player loves to hear, is that break-in time was essentially non-existent. I put them on, laced them up and was ready to go. I didn’t have any problems with blisters or discomfort.
Probably the most obvious design feature is the asymmetrical laces, which leave a pretty large kicking surface on the inner forefoot. I thought it had a great touch, and I felt like I had the freedom I needed to really aim. That extra space made it easier to get a little curve on my shots. There’s a little less protection over the top than I would have expected, but I didn’t miss it. At least for my preference, it was just the right amount of protection without eliminating my feel for the ball. Plus, the glossy synthetic actually has a little texture built into it, so it’s less slick than it looks.
I’m slightly concerned about the possibility of the upper peeling away from the outsole plate, maybe because I can see some of the glue around the seam. Nothing dramatic yet, just a concern. The synthetic is very easy to clean, however. I was glad I was able to keep this pair looking nice a little longer. Call it delaying the inevitable, but I’m just not ready to loose that pearly white yet.
The synthetic by nature doesn’t breathe very well, which becomes a little hot during the summer. But on the flip side, spring seasons for girls are often freezing, and that insulation would have been welcome during the games where there was actually snow on the ground. While the material doesn’t let much air in, it also keeps moisture out. I played in some damp grass and didn’t have any problem with feeling like my socks were absorbing moisture, so that was a big plus.
All the linings of the F30 are treated with AgION® to prevent any bacteria growth and to keep them from developing odors. Cleats not stinking up my bag? Priceless.
The sockliner is über comfortable, tempting me to wear them barefoot on more than one occasion. For me, though, I had trouble with the sockliner allowing the cleat to slip off my heel a little. This may be a combination of outside issues like my particular foot shape or the socks I chose for these particular days, but it was distracting to say the least.
The TPU plate had just the right amount of stiffness. I’m prone to ankle injuries and sore arches, so I don’t want a whole lot of movement or instability under me. There’s not much flex even getting up toward the toe, but I didn’t mind that.
The F30 has the same cleat configuration as the F50: four in the heel, three down each side of the forefoot and one in the middle just above the arch. From what I’ve seen, the number of studs is similar to, if not more than, most boots out there. But my biggest complaint with this shoe is it not having a stud in the middle of the forefoot. Getting that extra support right underneath the balls of the feet is necessary for me. I felt a little unstable, even while just running, and my plant foot really missed it during shots on goal.
On a positive note, the studs on the F30 are all a triangular bladed shape, which I loved. They made for great traction, even on damp grass. They’re designed to allow quick changes in direction without slipping. Mission accomplished on that point.
This is a pretty narrow shoe. Interesting for me since I inherited my mother’s feet that are so wide, they’re known in our family as “flippers.” But I’ll take the ostracism to give you this piece of information: Even with wide feet, I had very little problem with the fit, so don’t be scared off by how narrow they look. adidas recommends that you buy them a half-size larger than normal shoes. I ignored that advice (only after trying them on!) because I like a boot to fit like a sock. I wanted it to be tight and not leave much room above my toes. I ended up a half-size smaller than my normal shoe, and I think the narrowness actually helped give me the tight fit I prefer.
The negative here, and I’ll admit it may have been caused by my aforementioned flippers, was that I could not keep the laces tied. They’re a flat style, which is usually great, but they do have a slightly slick finish. My kicking foot needed to be retied every few minutes, which was frustrating. I ended up having to knot them pretty tightly, which was even more frustrating later when I tried to take them off.
As a step down from the F50, the weight is really the biggest difference, other than price. For a competitive player, the F30 should do just fine. I didn’t notice the extra weight, and the shoe felt great. I’m a forward and like many of adidas’ shoes lately, this is a great speed and striking shoe.
Overall, the athlete endorsements speak for themselves. It’s a great competitive shoe that’s hanging in my grade-school-nemesis-range: B+ to A-. The pros are the great feel and touch, which in this instance is not just a soccer cliché. They look great and are comfortable inside. You’re getting great traction with the cleat shape and solid support underneath. The lack of required break-in time makes this a great choice. The cons, though present, are mostly in the minor details. I found a little slip on the inside and had trouble keeping the laces tied. Mostly, I just really missed the middle forefoot cleat. It’ll take some getting used to.
Available now: adidas F30 TRX FG