Nike CTR360 Libretto III Firm Ground Review

Pure Grip Socks

The Nike CTR360 Libretto is the third takedown in the CTR360 range, and while it shares the look of the higher-end Maestri, it doesn’t share any of the main features. From right out of the box, the Libretto III is very comfortable. The upper is soft and flexible from right out of the box, making for a boot that is game-ready from the first time that you put them on. The upper is what Nike calls KLTD synthetic leather, which is honestly nowhere near the quality of Kanga-Lite, the upper material used on the higher-end models, and is probably one of the nicest low-end synthetics that I have ever used. The heel is lined in synthetic leather, with just enough padding to comfortably lock your heel in place. If I had one complaint regarding the comfort of the shoe, it would have to be the insole/soleplate combo. The insole is glued into the shoe, so you do not have the option of taking it out. The insole itself is on the thinner side, and so is the soleplate, to the point where I felt like there just wasn’t enough cushioning through the heel of the shoe. This isn’t a major issue, but if you are going to be playing on harder surfaces, it could lead to some issues with discomfort.

As far as the fit is concerned, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. For being a low-end soccer shoe, the overall fit is actually pretty good. So many low-end soccer shoes suffer from having a very poor quality fit, but the Libretto III has a cut that is quite similar to the Maestri III. I would say that the Libretto fits slightly roomier in all sections in comparison to the high-end model, but even then, the fit is still decent. The slightly wider toe box and mid-foot will suit most types, and as long as you don’t have unusually wide feet, you shouldn’t have any issues fitting into the Libretto III. It is also worth noting that the synthetic leather upper does have just a little bit of stretch to it, so if they feel a little snug from brand new, don’t worry, they will give a little. Sizing is also a little off with the Libretto III, just as it is with the Trequartista III and the Maestri III. For whatever reason, this is the only line from Nike that does not fit true to size. I wore a size 9.5US for review, which is half size larger than my usual size 9US, and the fit in the length was perfect. If you are looking to order a pair of Librettos, or any shoe from the CTR360 Line for that matter, than I would strongly recommend going half a size up for the best possible fit.


The Libretto III weighs in at 8.8oz, which is surprisingly light, especially for a low-end shoe. For what you pay, the Libretto III is going to be one of the lighter shoes in this price, which may come as a surprise to many people. Keep in mind that weight is by far not the most important aspect of a soccer shoe, and has more of an effect on the overall feel of the shoe, rather than the actual performance of the shoe. To put it simply, lighter shoes don’t make you run faster.


The Libretto III features the exact same stud pattern as the rest of the CTR360 range. The new stud pattern is a play on the Tiempo Legend IV stud pattern from Nike, offering a blend of conical and bladed studs. The concept behind the design is to have bladed studs included for grip, and rounded studs to allow for a quick release from the ground. If you look at the stud pattern you will notice that the inside studs in the forefoot and heel are bladed studs, with a rounded edge facing the outside. The half moon shaped studs, are designed to allow for a quick release from the ground, as your foot turns over when pushing off. Like I have described before, a conical stud pattern offer a more agile feel, simply because it allows for a little more of a rotating motion than a straight edged bladed stud would. The studs on the outside, again, the four studs on the forefoot and the two on the heel, are simply bladed studs, without the rounded edge. This is to allow for the maximum amount of grip, as well as to provide additional stability. There are also two bladed studs through the middle of the forefoot. So, how does the stud pattern feel? Honestly, it doesn’t feel too far off from the Legend IV stud pattern, which is one of my personal favorite stud patterns. While there are bladed studs in use, the blades themselves are very short, so they penetrate the ground very easily, but still allow for that agile feel that a conical stud pattern provides. On firm ground, the stud pattern is great, and even on hard ground, you are going to get a very responsive feel.


As described earlier, the KLTD synthetic leather upper is actually quite soft, and does not feel cheap to the touch, like a lot of low-end synthetics do. The upper also features a nice amount of padding to it, giving a very soft touch on the ball. The problem for me lies in the actual feel on the ball. As with most low-end synthetics, the KLTD synthetic leather upper is made up of multiple layers, which gives the shoe a very soft feel, but also takes away a lot of the feel for the ball that you would get from an upper made up of a single layer of material. With that being said, there still is some feel for the ball, and in comparison to other shoes in this price range, this is the best upper that I have used, but by no means is it even close to the quality of Kanga-Lite. Also featured on the upper is the large pass pad, which is made up of eight strips of rubber. Of the three models of the CTR360, the Libretto III features the most low profile passing element, as the rubber is not very grippy on the ball, and honestly doesn’t change the feel on the ball all that much. It is nice that they included it on the low-end model, but just keep in mind that it is much more low profile on the Libretto III. Overall, the touch on the ball is by no means excellent, but it isn’t terrible either. For a shoe at this price, I was actually quite happy with the feel that the Libretto III had to offer. Also keep in mind that the Libretto III does not feature an ACC (All Conditions Control) upper. Only the top end Meastri III features ACC.


Striking the ball in the Libretto III is honestly not all that surprising. The shoe does not feature any striking elements, unless of course you consider the passing element on the instep a striking element, so all that you get is the cushion of the upper in between your foot and the ball. The soleplate is not overly stiff, but the solid fit of the shoe makes up for the lack of stiffness. You should have no issues striking the ball in the Libretto III, but the feel is nothing special.


The slightly padded upper offers what I would call an “average” amount of protection against getting stepped on. You also get an internal, plastic heel counter, so you should be protected from kicks to the heel as well. The shoe is by no means thin, so you won’t feel like you are running around with no coverage. I would say that the Libretto III offers enough protection for just about anybody.


As with most low-end soccer shoes, they are built to last. While the materials in use are not premium quality, they are tough, and should withstand a pretty good beating with minimal issues. If you’re still growing and are just playing recreationally or even at the competitive level, and are looking for a shoe to hold out for the season, you should be able to get that out of the Libretto IIIs with no issues whatsoever. Keep in mind that the firm ground version of the Libretto III is designed for use on firm ground, meaning a natural grass, playing surface. Use of any firm ground shoe on an artificial surface can have major effects on the durability of your shoes, and if you’re looking to get the longest possible life out of your shoes, avoid wearing your firm ground shoes on artificial surfaces.

The Verdict

Prior to wearing the Libretto III, I honestly did not expect much from them. After having the opportunity to give them a go, I have to say that they aren’t half bad, if you’re on a tight budget. For what you pay, the upper is half decent, the fit is pretty good, and you get a really nice stud pattern. For the $60 retail price, the Libretto III makes for a decent back up pair or budget boot. Just keep in mind that if you can spare an extra $20 to $30, I have to say that there are better options out there.

Comfort/Fit7 out of 10
Weight8 out of 10
Traction9 out of 10
Touch6 out of 10
Shooting6 out of 10
Protection7 out of 10
Durability7 out of 10
FINAL SCORE50 out of 70 or 71%
SR4U Laces