8 Best Football Running Back Cleats for Speed 2020

Finding football cleats can be tough.  It’s easy to find them, sure, but narrowing them down to a few for your specific position is even tougher.  Running back cleats are much the same way.  A good pair of running back cleats are going to be different and have various features that are opposite good lineman cleats.  The two positions are just so different, and it means you have to have a serious think about what you want.  Today, our buying guide will be taking a look at running back cleats.  We’ll look at the ins and outs of the issue, help answer any questions that you might have, and then we will review the most popular pairs on the market in 2019 that are specifically made for running backs.

Top Running Back Cleat Comparison Chart

NameCleat HighPrice
1. Adidas Freak Mid MDMid Top$$$
2. Adidas Adizero 5-Star 7.0Low Top$$$4
3. Nike Alpha Pro 2Mid Top$$$$
4. Under Armour Speedform MCLow Top$$$
5. Under Armour Highlight MCHigh Top$$$$
6. Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3Mid Top$$$$
7. Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TDLow Top$$$$
8. Under Armour Men’s UA SpotlightMid Top$$

Running Back Cleat Buying Guide

Variance in Running Backs

For those of you that play, or even watch football, you’ll know that the position of running back is quite a varied spot on the field of play.  While each man is going to be asked to take the ball from the quarterback, either via a pitch or a hand off, and run with it, there are some different ways to do so.  There’s the downhill runner that looks to run you over with power.  He might not be agile, but he is tough to get to the ground.  There is the speedy running back that will look to get to the edge and hope not to get touched.

Then, there is the player that is in between.  On top of that, you have to think about your history with injuries.  Have you had injuries before, and if so, where have they been?  More injuries means you might want more protection to prevent further ones from happening.  Knowing what kind of back you are is just as important as anything in this process.  In fact, it’s just as important as identifying that you need a running back cleat, for that matter!  So, make sure you know which you are and adjust accordingly, because even some pairs of running back cleats will not be a good fit for you if you are not looking in the right places.

With this in mind, it’d be wise to talk about what a running back needs, no matter which one he is.  A running back needs a cleat that is good all-around and offers agility.  Even the biggest and most truck like, if you will, backs, will need to be able to shift some.  But remember, unless you play in solely the option offense or some strange spread variant, you’ll be doing some blocking as well, so you also need something to help support you as you do those duties of protecting the QB.

Levels of Foot & Ankle Protection 

When we speak of protection and support with football cleats, it usually centers around the ‘cut’ of the heel.  The reason why this is a big deal is because it greatly affects the size and weight of the shoe.  The heavier the shoe, generally speaking of course, the more support it will have.  The lighter it is, the less you will have to it.  It’s just basic science and common sense.  You can’t have it all.  Companies are getting better at using lighter materials, sure, but it’s still a trade off.  So it does matter how they look, not because of the designs, but because of the amount of protection that you are getting.

High Top Cleats

With that said, the high top, or cut, is the most protective of the three types.  A high cut is basically what you would see if you looked at a basketball shoe, but instead, it would have cleats on the bottom of them.  This comes up to your ankle and helps you protect that area much better.  It keeps you from rolling your ankles in just about all situations, and these types of cleats are going to be good for those that have had heel or ankle injuries because of that.  One thing you will notice is that they are not as freeing or as flexible on most occasions as other cuts, but that is just how the cookie crumbles.  As said before, you can’t have it all.

Low Top Cleats

The opposite choice that one can make is to go for a low cut.  Just like a low top used in basketball, this is a very quick and sleek looking cleat.  It has little protection in the ankle areas, meaning it going to be a cleat that gives you more flexibility and freedom to move around in the shoe and outside of it as well.  With these cleats, it is easier to roll your ankle, but that is to be expected due to the nature of them.  Smaller running backs would be those that would most likely want them, and those that are looking to be a bit faster and do everything they can to keep a competitive edge would also be good shouts to use these.  They aren’t going to make you literally go faster, but they will not slow you down as much as some others would.  It’s a hard choice sometimes if you are a smaller guy.  You want to be able to go fast, but you also want protection because if you do get hit, the chance for injury is greater.  It’s something to think about.

Mid Top Cleats

That’s why the mid cut is possibly the best choice if that is you.  Let’s say you are a mid size back.  A low cut is probably good for you because you have some body mass to keep you shielded and then they will help you be quicker.  But with a smaller guy, you don’t have that luxury.  A mid cut is going to breed the best of both worlds from the other two types.  You get some speed, freedom, and some flexibility from the low cuts and you also get some of the protection you got from the high cuts.  This is the best-case scenario if you are unsure because it is going to allow you to have confidence in both the amount of support you get and yourself that you can perform well.

With all of this in mind, honestly the best choice is going to be to go with a mid cut.  Wide receivers and defensive backs don’t have as many responsibilities and on the whole don’t have to take as many big hits, meaning they can go with a low cut and be just fine in most cases.  However, with running backs you have to factor in blocking, running, and everything that comes with the position.  If it were just getting outside, it might be different, but you have to be ready for everything.  It’s not to say you won’t see other cuts, but this is generally the top choice among the position.

Types of Spikes 

Spikes, or really what should be called cleats, are the things on the bottom of the soles.  In normal shoes, you just have rubber or leather, or something similar.  Spikes are what make a ‘cleat’ a cleat.  The reason you have this is due to traction.  When you’re on the gridiron, you need every bit of help you can get to stay on your feet.  With playing surfaces varying, there are multiple options to pick from.  First, we’ll look at styles.  There are three basic types.

Molded Cleats

The first is a molded cleat.  This is subdivided into two.  There are rubber molded ones and then there are hard molded ones.  The rubber molded spikes are used in order to keep down price and to also allow them to be extremely comfortable.  This is a good type of cleat, therefore, for younger age groups.  The peewee level see them used quite often.  These cleats can’t be removed.  Well, they can be, but they can’t be replaced easily and shouldn’t come off unless there is a defect.

Hard Molded Cleats

The other is the hard molded cleat.  These won’t be as comfy as the aforementioned rubber ones, but they are more durable and yield the wearer much better traction than the others.  They do their best work on turf fields, which are becoming more and more common in both college and high school football, so these are a good option.  They’re also typically pretty light, so that is a major bonus you can get from them as well.  With either of these two options that see the cleat molded one, all it takes is for one to come loose or off entirely before you need to replace them.  So, though, they are cheaper most of the time, they can be a pain in that area.  Thankfully, the cleats on our list are all going to have decent durability if you wear them properly, are fitted in the right way, and also use them on the proper surfaces.


Detachable/Removable Plastic & Metal Cleats

The other kind is called a detachable cleat.  Detachable cleats are just what they sound like: they can be detached and interchanged.  If you are playing on a very wet field, you can plug in a longer, more rounded cleat to help you dig in and then turn the corner without losing your footing.  If the field is super hard due to a lack of rain, you can use shorter cleats in order to dig in better.  These are obviously a good choice for grass fields, but some of them can also be used very well in turf environments.  This type usually costs a little bit more, both up front and later on.  The reason why is because you have to buy the extra studs.  Sometimes these will come in a package, sometimes they won’t.  It depends on what and where you buy them.  They also need a tool kit as well that comes along with them to help you put them on, so that is another expense.  They take some time, so if you are impatient, these aren’t the right choice for you, unless you have someone that will do the work for you.  In which case, they could be the go-to pick.

Length of the stud should also be briefly mentioned here.  The longer the stud, the more grip you will have on a softer or wetter field.  If the field is dry and hard, however, you will find yourself having a hard time.  Conversely, the shorter the stud is, the better it will do on harder ground.  A lot of cleats, like in soccer, are made to be “firm ground” ones.  This is an in between choice, and it does a pretty good job at both things.  It might not be supremely good in the super wet, but it will do nicely when it is damp out.  It can also do pretty well when it is all arid outside.


Major Football Cleat Brands 

Before we begin our reviews, we need to talk about the brands.  For whatever reason, the market has seen itself explode recently with only three brands taking the lead in the football shoe market.  As such, you should be ready to see them and only them in our reviews.  They are not only the most popular, but they also seem to be the best right now.  You don’t gain popularity by doing nothing, and this just underlines that point.

Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour are the leaders currently, and there is going to be a hard time faced by any that seek to challenge them anytime soon.  Nike have been at it the longest as they are an American company, Adidas then joined the fray after mainly sticking to soccer for a while, and Under Armour has been the new kid at school, so to speak, slowly carving their way into the landscape.  Each has ups and downs, and it will be up to you to pick which is best suited for you.


Best Football Cleats for Running Backs Reviews


Adidas Freak Mid MD

If you want something that just looks like traditional Adidas shoes, then this is your best bet. In addition to looking great and ultra classy, these cleats do a ton of work to keep you both happy and healthy. First of all, the Freak Mid is, you guessed it, a mid cut cleat.  This will help protect the ankle and heels as you block and run through the holes.  The bottoms of them and the upper are made out of a lot of synthetics, making them super easy to clean and also giving them a very shiny look to them.  The real work is put in to them by the Adidas “Sprintskin.”

This upper compound doesn’t just look great, but it also helps the shoes remain lightweight while also being comfortable and giving you support.  A lot of shoes, even ones that are mid cuts, are going to weigh you down a lot, but these serve to not do that, making them one of the most popular choices out there currently.  The bottom of the cleats, which are molded from rubber, are reinforced with Kevlar technology to make them even more grippy than they normally would be and also serves to make them last longer.

This plate is a really big deal in the advancement of shoes, and it’s a joy to see them in action as a result of it.  Coming in at a good, inexpensive price helps, too, to make these shoes very desirable.  Unlike the Carbon version of this shoe, it doesn’t have the awkward heel entry point, which is a saving grace for some wearers.



  • Kevlar helps give grip and makes them durable
  • Light yet durable and flexible
  • Classy look



  • Rubber molded cleats are a little less durable
  • Not a lot of colors to pick from


Adidas Adizero 5-Star 7.0

With a look very similar to that of a soccer cleat due to both its flashiness and its overall appearance, the Adizero 5-Star is one that will be remembered. Coming in a multitude of colors, each of which have the ability to either jump out at yet or to blend in well with a team color, they just look great and offer more choices than the Freak Mid did. Apart from the looks, these shoes are just pure fast.

They’ve got great aerodynamic properties built into them via the aforementioned Sprintskin.  This helps keep the weight down and makes them great for making quick cuts.  We haven’t mentioned a lot about breathability, but that is also something this pair does very well.  With holes made to the sides and in the back, they give you a lot of ability for your feet to drain out all that excess sweat and not weigh you down nearly as much.  Because of that, you almost feel like they are going to be double light, if you will, which further boosts them.

The way they have construced the laces to match up with your foot is also a great touch because it means you’re able to move freely and still also be locked down and supported inside the shoes, which is not always the case.  This is a mid cut cleat, though it doesn’t have as pronounced a look in the heel area as the Freak did.  The bottoms have rounded studs and they have been placed in such a way to help you pick up the pace from 0 to 60 in a hurry as well as to cut.  The downside to this pair is that they are not that great for people with wide feet.  They also take a bit of time to break in, so watch out for that and be ready to exercise a little bit of patience.



  • Very fast shoe
  • Tons of colors and styles to choose from
  • Yields great lockdown



  • Takes a little while to get to break in
  • Not for those with wider feet


Nike Alpha Pro 2

The first Nike pair to make the list is the Alpha Pro 2, and it is easy to see why. This pair of cleats is one of those that almost all positions could wear and do so with pride. Unlike the previous two options, this is a full-on departure from a ton of protection as it is a low cut. This means you will have much less weight, more freedom, and you have a better chance to flex your foot around more naturally.

Another big plus of the Alpha Pro 2 is the fact that they have detachable cleats that are screwed in.  This will let you change them depending on the conditions on the field, helping you to make the best out of any weather scenario that you might encounter.  Much like the Sprintskin with Adidas, Nike uses its own “Nikeskin,” which further gives you more football speed and agility across the ground to help you eat up the yards and move the chains.  The most noticeable thing you are going to notice about them is the new collar design they are using.

This design looks a little strange but it basically creates a larger opening for the foot.  This makes them easier to get on for some and it helps give you a bit more protection and support than an ordinary low cut would typically give to you.  On top of all of that, they come with a lot of comfort and padding inside of the shoe, which is something everyone’s got to have in order to play and be efficient at it.  The main point of contention is going to be the relative lack of ankle support that they offer.  Nikes also are notorious for being narrow, so that is another thing to watch out for.



  • Very agile and freeing
  • Changeable in various conditions
  • Comfortable inside of the shoe



  • Not going to offer as much ankle support as a mid or high cut
  • Could run narrow


Under Armour Speedform MC

If you’re looking for something that is going to offer a maximum amount of speed by allowing you to go nearly as fast with the pads as you are without, then the Speedform is a good choice for you to make. These shoes come in three sleek and shiny designs, all of which stand out under lights, and look very similar to soccer cleats. Despite the MC name, make no mistake about it, these are a low cut.

There will not be a ton of support for you, but instead you will not feel like you are being weighed down and will be able to glide around effortlessly.  Even though you won’t have that ankle support, you still have some great protection built in.  This begins with the V56 technology, which they have used to real a plum in the toe area.  This is designed to help you make sure that you do not hyperextend your toe.

It’s basically a plate added, not as prevalent as in hiking or steel toe boots, but it still does a good job at making sure you don’t mash your toes and get injuries that way.  The inside of the shoes do a really good job at keeping you stable, with the heel counter in the back being the best example of this.  It keeps you locked in and lets you make those cuts better, quicker, and sharper.  One of the biggest issues with these is that they are among the priciest on the market.  You also don’t get as much support, so that is worth considering, too.



  • Very fast and agile
  • Sleek and shiny looks
  • V56 proves it can still protect



  • Not as much protection due to low cut
  • Pretty pricey


Under Armour Highlight MC

If you are looking for an extreme departure from the Speedform and want to stay with Under Armour, then the Highlight is a good one to go with. Offering a low of support for the ankles and heels, the Highlight is a high cut built for the skill players, including running backs. Whether you are a bigger back that is going to go up and down hill, or you have had injuries, this is a good pair of cleats for you because of the support it adds to you. One thing that has to be said is that despite that, they are not going to weigh you down nearly as much as you’d think.

They use a lot of different things to make them comfy, including a 4D foam that will mold to your foot.  This will make you locked in, not allowing you to slip inside, and it will also reduce the pressure in your foot. Speaking of that, the “Clutchfit” that UA uses also helps alleviate that extra pressure on you while locking you in and making you stable as you make cuts.  One of the things you might not like about them is that they are little high on price.  They also seem to run a little narrow, so that is going to be an obstacle for some to have to overcome.



  • Light but with tons of support
  • 4D foam makes them very comfy
  • Takes pressures off of the feet



  • Runs narrow
  • Could be a little expensive for some tastes


Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 3

Coming in again with another super fast low cut is Nike with these Untouchable Pro 3’s. These cleats have a ton of different colors to choose from, each of which will help you match the rest of the team or to stand out to the scouts in the stands. If you want something light, then this is it because they use a blend of mesh and synthetics.  We all know what synthetics does, but mesh helps them to be breathable.

This will help you on those hot summer days when you are running two a days.  Not only are they light on your feet, but they will also take that sweat away much better.  The traction that the cleats give to you is superb, using 14 rounded cleats to help you cut and break ankles.  On top of that, they use a carbon fiber plate, which makes them even more lightweight, agile, and flexible all at the same to time to increase speed.  One thing that isn’t the best about these is that they do wear a little quick, so they might be best for games only.  Also, they have the tendency to run narrow as they are Nikes, so that is something to watch for.



  • Lots of colors to select from
  • Great traction
  • Carbon fiber reduces weight and adds flexibility



  • Runs narrow because Nike
  • Durability is a question mark


Nike Vapor Carbon Elite TD

Much like the Untouchable Pro 3, the Vapor Carbon Elite comes in a wide array of colors and also utilizes carbon in a very big way to make the wearer very happy. The upper is made out of 100% synthetics. This means it is durable, easy to clean, and pretty light, but it also means it is a little bit hard to be breathable.  However, they are good for the wet conditions, as they used a Dri-Fit fabric, so if that is the case for you, then you will have a chance to stay dry and comfy throughout all four quarters.  This could be just the pick for those in the Pacific Northwest!

Apart from that, they just look really nice and a heck of a lot like soccer cleats.  You don’t’ get a lot of ankle support due to them being a low cut, so that is a concern that some will have in regards to this pair of cleats.  They also don’t bend a ton of bend to them because of the use of the carbon fiber.  So watch out for that, as well as the narrowness.



  • Great in wet weather
  • Lots of colors and a shiny look
  • Agile cleats



  • Typically run narrow
  • Not much bend to them
  • Lack of ankle support due to low cut


Under Armour Men’s UA Spotlight

The final pair on our list, the Spotlight from UA offers another option for those that just do not want to be weighed down by the bulky mid or high cut cleats. This low cut isn’t going to give you a plethora of ankle protection, but it still will let you fly around making plays. Coming in a number of colors but with one design, these shoes are very shiny thanks to their synthetics.

Like the previous Nikes, they have a lack of breathability because of this.  It is made up for, though, by their use of a heel counter that keeps the heel in line with good structure and support.  In the inner part, they use a Speedform compound that will mold to your foot in order to keep you from worrying about how they feel and concentrate totally on the task at hand: playing the game and scoring TD’s.  The molded heel cup further helps them do this, keeping you locked in and happy all game long. The negatives include the fact that they damage a little more easily than you’d like.  They also run small, so be prepared to adjust with them.



  • Agile cleat
  • Keeps your foot in place
  • Good and comfy insole



  • Runs small
  • Not super durable


Conclusion & Final Recommendations About Running Back Cleats

Finding a good pair of running back cleats can be super tough for you.  Sometimes you get mired down in the details and there are just so many choices to pick from.  Internet listings are great, but they create a sense of hopelessness in some.  After today’s guide, however, you should be much more confident in knowing what you what and need for either you or the person closest to you.  The running back is a special player.  He can change the game in three ways- running, receiving, and blocking- and as such, he needs something that suits him.  By finding the right pair of cleats, with the right fit, you can assure him that he’ll remain happy and on the field for the foreseeable future.


FAQ’s About Running Back Cleats


How Do I Size Myself?

Sizing can be tough, but it is something you absolutely have got to get right when it comes to shoes, and especially with cleats.  Measuring, even more important if you haven’t done so in a couple of years, should be done.  You can do this at just about any store that sells shoes or even a foot specialist.  This can help you out a lot.  Also, measuring from your heel to the toe is another good way, especially if you are online shopping.

While it’s always smart to go in person and try on some pairs of shoes to get a feel for it, this can help pinpoint what you like and don’t like and how brands generally size.  Always make sure to allow your toe a little bit of room to move but not too much.  It’s easy to leave too much room “to grow into,” but this rarely has a good success rate.  You’ll outgrow them fast, and you’ll see yourself slipping frequently.  This can cause big problems, even more so than the blistering you’ll see if you fail to give yourself room.

Also, check the width out.  Some shoes run narrow, and it can be a disaster to get into this trap.  If you are online, look for reviews and see what people are saying.  If they say they are too narrow, chances are they are simply too narrow!  Some brands run like that, so you have to be careful.  Changing size doesn’t always work, either, because it can then throw off the length.  If you like a brand and have always wore their stuff, you might be wise to keep with them as it does sometimes take a while to get used to others.  One tip to remember is to try on shoes after some activity.  As you play, swelling takes place and makes the foot larger inside the shoe.  Failure to do this can make it impossible to get a good fit when you’re on the field.


How Do I Break in Cleats?

The best way to break in cleats is to just wear them around some beforehand.  You should never walk inside with cleats, that is bad etiquette and shows disrespect, and you should try and stay off pavement if at all possible, but you can still find grassy areas to wear them.  Wear them for a few minutes to begin with, and then increase the time you wear them until you are practicing or playing in them.  It can be super frustrating if you grab them out of the box and start trying to play immediately, so be patient.  Some pairs will break in quicker than others, and it also depends on your feet.  If you’re used to a brand, you’ll probably be OK with the same ones, as indicated before!


How Do You Clean Cleats? 

Given the way that cleats are made today, cleaning is almost always very easy.  Synthetic cleats are the simplest.  In a lot of cases, you just have to use water and wipe them off.  This is even more the case if they have spikes made from synthetics as well.  Just good old elbow grease will do the trick in most cases.  For others, you can refer to the instructions or look online for specific answers.  IF you do decide to put them in the washer, just make sure to air dry them.  The dryer can and will ruin them and leave you with a husk of a shoe.


Soccer Cleats Are Light, Can I Use Them?

In theory, you could use them, but you really should not unless you are a kicker.  Even then, it would maybe be smart to use one just on your kicking foot.  Soccer cleats are super light, and in recent years, they have become even much more so.  This makes them much less able to sustain blows, so if you get stepped on, you are in dire straights.  They also are not as good on the whole when it comes to supporting the ankles.  Another further reason to overlook them is they way the cleats are positioned.  In soccer cleats, there are no cleats under the toes, giving you less grip on the football field.  Futbol, but no football here, if you want the utmost in protection.  They are not bad shoes, but it’s just not a good idea!

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