What an incredible publicity winner the Nike Mercurial Vapor 8 has turned out to be. There is no doubt that Nike were expecting a mass of positive feedback from the release, but not to the levels that we have seen over the past 2 weeks!
Where the Vapor VII was seen as a boot that lacked a killer edge, the Vapor VIII is seen as a revival of previous Vapor releases, a sort of enigma of its former self. From the suede upper to new stud configuration, it is a boot built on innovative ideas. Nike sent over a pair on the day the boots were released – since then, they have been put through strenuous testing in order to see just what they have to offer. The key question surrounding them is how do they fit, and we have you covered on that! For testing, I wore a size 9US in the Bright Mango colorway.
Nike had the Vapor 8 at my office right in time for the official release of the boots – that was exactly 2 weeks ago. Since that time, I have been able to wear these in 3 games, 4 training sessions and a 3 hour film session – all with absolutely no comfort problems! Right out of the box, these boots are ready for game time, something that has not always been the case with boots in the Vapor range. The key difference on these is how flexible and soft the Teijen Microfiber is, and how quickly it starts to mimic your foot shape. You can tell from simply holding them that they are designed for comfort. I was also impressed with the soleplate and how easily it broke-in. Nike use a Double-composite glass chassis that is surprising flexible. The one area of note is that the midfoot has been trimmed, so there is not as much support for players who need a lot of width. It didn’t prove to be problematic for me, but it is something that players will need to consider.
How do they Fit?
My initial reaction when I got these was that they offered a fantastic fit right across the forefoot but with a slightly longer fit. I mentioned it several times and commented on the extra lenght you get from having an extremely thin upper. Compared to other boots like the Vapor VII, you get about an extra finger width of space. I have a medium/wide fit and having worn them several times, I can tell you that players with the same foot width should order true to size. Players with a narrow fit should order a half size down. Here is the thing, players with a wide fit will find the upper hugs your foot and you need that extra space up top to give you some breathing space. I’m sure your next question is “well won’t that make you feel clumsy?” and my answer is a simple no! Again, I have found that you need that extra space and it proves very useful as you twist and turn.
To summarize: Medium to Wide fitting players order true to size; Narrow fit consider ordering down a half size.
Compared to the Vapor VII
There are several key differences that distinguish the new from the old, all of which are important to note! It starts with the upper, where Nike has transitioned from a Teijen Microfiber upper to a new and extremely thin Suede Teijen Microfiber. The difference here is very evident and it produces a much more comfortable boot. Next, the stud configuration where Nike include not only a two stud heel design on the Vapor 8, but also a set of sharper blades to increase traction. The shape of the soleplate is also very different, with the Vapor 8 being much thinner though the midfoot. Weight wise, they have been dropped from 8oz to an impressive 6.5oz, which is the lightest soccer release we have seen from Nike! For more on how they compare, see the Nike Vapor VII vs Vapor VIII post that went up last week.
All-new Stud Configuration
One look at the soleplate and it is pretty easy to spot just how Nike has dramatically changed things up. First thing is the 2 stud heel design, which absolutely blows our everyday expectations! Other than the tripod design on the Pele Trinity, there is no other boot on the market with such a unique feature. The concept behind it is that it penetrates and release from the surface with less friction, resulting in a quicker release and improved acceleration.
You have to give it to Nike, they took feedback from fans about the Nike Vapor VII and used it to create a new boot that offers players a completely different level of performance. By different, I mean exciting! It all starts with that Suede Microfiber Upper, and to be quite honest the one word I would use to describe it is sensational! When they arrived, it was the first thing I noticed as it is super soft and extremely flexible. Through play, you get a fantastic natural feel and touch on the ball, ideal for players who like to dribble. The Suede feels also has benefits as it has a slightly rough feel. This gives the boot a little extra grip on the ball, especially in wet conditions.
An area that has it positives and negatives is the soleplate and those blades. I can tell you that they offer solid traction right through wear and they do feel very springy off the surface. So, in theory they do exactly as Nike advertise! But, the blades are thin and as a result I found the edges to be slightly sharp. I haven’t read the rule book, but I would be interested in finding out if there is any rules that determine how wide a blade should be. I have no problems with the blades on my own boots, but as a winger I do not want to be on the end of a tackle from a player wearing them!
Nike has decided to keep things pretty clean on this one, sticking with a single color one-piece upper. It is an absolutely welcome move in my opinion, and it really creates that original Vapor feel to the boot. After all the wild mixed color combo’s we have seen in the past, I think players are excited about this look. The one area where there is a splash of color is on the heel and unlike previous Nike releases, this is just for aesthetics rather than visual enhancement. The official colorways for the boots release are officially listed as a Bright Mango/Metallic Dark Grey/Challenge Red and Sail/Soar/Challenge Red.
First up, scuffing on the upper. Microfiber uppers are usually pretty easy to clean, but because these boot has a suede feel they are a lot tougher to keep clean. I noticed through wear that they scuff pretty easily and it is easy to spot on the Mango color. Those looking to pick up the White will have more problems! Another area of concern is those sharp blades and I am actually surprised that they are legal in the game.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Nike’s new speed boot that features a new and ultra-thin Suede Microfiber Upper and a new stud configuration for solid traction when you need it most!
Category: Lightweight and build for speed/acceleration.
Weight: 6.5oz, which is the lightest soccer boot ever released by Nike.
Would I Buy Them: Absolutely would, they are a great boot. But, you do have to factor in the fact that the upper scuffs easily.
Player Position: Because of their lightweight nature and solid traction, they are an ideal choice for wingers and pacey forwards. I have seen center mids and even center backs wearing them this week!