Is there a bigger release in the boot world than when Nike announce they are releasing a new Vapor? Again the hype surrounding this latest 9th installment, or the Mercurial Vapor IX, caused a frenzy of action online and not even the wildly colorful debut releases deferred attention away. And with the likes of CR7, Ibrahimovich and Theo Walcott, attention has been fully focused on the new release. I’ve had a pair for the past few weeks and have been putting them through their paces to see just how much difference there is with the new dimpled synthetic upper!
This Fireberry colorway, plus the Sunset, are available at soccer.com.
The upper has a golf ball feel, with dimples covering the entire upper. Being honest, it looks extremely odd and I’m not sure about its purpose – interested to find out. The colorway is bright, but not quite as bad as I had anticipated. Soleplate looks extremely slick, liking the changes Nike has made.
Since the Superfly, Nike has continually improved the break-in period of new releases in the range. And the Vapor IX is no different. Right out of the box they feel very comfortable, with no hotspots to report. One of the highlights is how soft the upper is and it provides a gentle stretch across the forefoot while keeping your entire foot securely in place. You might notice that it creases in parts as you flex your foot to a 90 degree angle, showing how pliable the material is. Taking them out of the box, I questioned whether the updated soleplate would cause any problems but thankfully it didn’t. There is plenty of flex and the new black region doesn’t take away from that in anyway. All in all, an extremely easy boot to bring into play.
Obviously, the one thing that has changed between the Vapor VIII and the Vapor IX is the upper. On the VIII, we were treated to a suede like finish that provided excellent natural touch on the ball. The negative was the fact that it scuffed so easily. Well, this time around Nike has gone with a smooth synthetic material that is definitely minus the suede feel. Instead, the addition of a dimple effect coats the surface. It is almost like Tiger Woods had a stake in the design of this latest boot, and he insisted the same surface texture used on his golf balls (that can travel well over 300 yards) should be used to help Cristiano Ronaldo kick the ball as far. Ok, so it has less to do with Ronaldo breaking the longest soccer ball kick in the world, but it does play off the overall aerodynamics of the boot. See the “Performance” section to find out what I actually think of it…..
The debut colorways come in a Fireberry and Sunset, with both offering their own unique illuminating shade. I had the opportunity to test out the Fireberry version and have to admit that they look a lot better in person than I expected them to. The transition from a Pink Flash forefoot to a Purple heel works very effectively. In terms of branding, “NIKE” is printed along the inner forefoot, in a very visually significant area. It is simply part of Nike’s regular attempts to have their boots spotted, but it does have a seemingly negative effect from the beginning according to feedback from other players. I’ve noticed it has started to blend in and become less significant over time.
It can be risky for players to fork out big bucks on new releases, especially when they are new and there is little details on their performance. Well, let me be the first to tell you that Nike has taken this boot in the right direction and produced a winning package. The dimpled upper is a real winner, well the Teijin microfiber is and I’m tagging the dimples on to that! It offers a really soft touch and almost has an elasticity about it. When touching the ball, you get a slightly padded feel but it definitely doesn’t take away from the natural feel you want while dribbling. I’m of the opinion that the dimples are there to add definition and effect rather than any aerodynamic benefits (as some have stated) On a golf ball, dimples work as the ball travels through the air at 200mph. I’m not sure how that would transpire onto a boot at 20mph!
Now, there is one area where I do have concern and is worth highlighting. When the Vapor VIII was released my big concern was with the actual blade design on the soleplate. They felt sharp and I had concerns over player safety. This time around, the blades don’t feel as sharp and it seems like Nike might have adjusted things ever so slightly. But as a result, I definitely noticed some drag along the surface as I looked to back pedal. When I reference “surface” here, I am talking about artificial pitches. There is no doubt that 50% of players wearing them will be playing on an AG surface, so it is worth noting. On natural grass, there was no similar issue and I wouldn’t raise any concern if you are lucky enough to play on real pitches.
How do they Fit?
Absolutely true to size, with a little extra breathing room along the sides – something we haven’t seen with previous Nike releases. This is a boot that will suit a lot more players size requirements in my opinion. If sizing and width has proven the downfall in your relationship with Vapors, these might be worth considering.
Compared to the Vapor VIII
There are a lot changes between both boots, but it is difficult to determine if they are better or worse. For example, I was actually a fan of the suede textured upper featured on the Vapor VIII and loved how they felt on the ball, but there was the problem of scuffing, which they did very easily. This new release offers something completely different, with a smoother finish and a the ability to offer players with a slightly wider fit something more comfortable. Performance wise they are pretty equal and I really can’t pick one that is better over the other.
I don’t think Nike has perfected the actual blade design – if Sir Alex Ferguson got his hands on the designer, he would probably strangle him! They are still slightly sharp and I definitely had some concerns in the drag they caused while back pedaling. Also, I’m personally not a huge fan of the colorways used and the Nike text that runs along the inside of the boot. It comes as part of a Nike release, but I will be watching out and hoping for slightly less obscure designs to come!
Find everything Mercurial Vapor available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: Nike take a new approach to the Vapor range by redesigning the upper and materials used, with a speed-controlled, dimple textured upper offering a pretty unique visual effect.
Category: Lightweight and designed for explosive speed (in Nike’s words)
Weight: 6.6oz – the lightest Vapor to date.
Would I Buy Them: Pending the right colorway, I would invest in a pair to wear.
Player Position: I feel like there is enough about this boot to suit most players right throughout the field. But, realistically they are better suited for attacking players who thrive on dribbling and taking defenders one on one.