With all the high publicity attention geared toward their advanced Mercurial Superfly release, Nike snuck the Vapor X in under the radar and set them on all out attack mode at this summer’s World Cup. A sneaky, but very smart move given it’s success to date!
For its tenth incarnation, a fresh new approach was taken and the Swoosh created something just a little bit different. It has less to do with materials or visual appearance, and more to do with modifications and that enclosed tongue design. Yes, this latest version of the Vapor is officially tongueless! As opposed to other brands that have tried this, Nike has pulled it off spectacularly well thanks to some specific cuts, folds and lace placement.
Added to all that, they also redesigned the soleplate and brought back some more dependable elements.Find out more about that below, as we feed you our review and performance breakdown of the Nike Vapor X.
You can find the latest Nike Vapor X colorways at Soccer.com.
Loving the overall design of these boots, with their bright Red upper and gold swoosh detailing. The tongueless design adds a fresh new dynamic, as does the lightly textured microfiber upper. Then there is the fact Nike reversed their two-blade heel design – you have to wonder what played a role in that decision?
Breaking In and Comfort
Out of the box, Nike has again pulled off a very comfortable boot, with an extremely flexible design throughout. It is almost like they have an army of testers who break in your boots before they put them in the box! The soleplate has a perfect bend through the forefoot, and although not the softest we have seen in the Vapor series, the upper is still moldable from first wear. Overall, you are getting a natural feeling boot from day one.
Pending you have the right size, this is also a boot that shouldn’t cause any discomfort as the heel is perfectly padded and the inner lining of the boot extremely smooth. A perfect test for a boot prior to breaking them in is slipping them on without socks to see if there is any area that rubs or just doesn’t feel as smooth as it should.
In terms of the soleplate and stud configuration, it is important to note that Nike has reversed its two-blade heel design and this boot features a slightly modified 4-blade. Performance is ever so slightly altered and there is definitely a different feel on impact, even compared to other 4-blade heel designs on the market. What makes these different is the unusual round shape or placement of the blades on either side, following the contours of the soleplate. Personally, I didn’t find this to be problematic but I have put out some feelers to find out how other players have reacted to the design.
In the history of boot designs, no one has truly pulled off a tongueless design effectively. Lotto and their Zhero Gravity is the closest anyone has got, but even they didn’t provide the right type of fit. But then there is the Nike development team, who obviously took note of prior designs before pulling these off in spectacular fashion. Yes, this is what you call a definite winner!
Right across the forefoot, the tongue is welded down with the only separation existing up around the ankle. This produces a very tight fit but one that is easy to work with since there is some flexibility through the ankle region. Pulling them on takes a second, but they prove to be a very compatible fit. The key is loosening up the laces prior to putting them up, that way you allow the microfiber upper an opportunity to mold to your foot shape before you seal them completely up. Out of the box, one of the first thing I noticed was a crease right down the center of the boot. Thankfully, this is completely removed as you put the boots up and your forefoot squeezes up against the upper material.
Looking at the boots in hand, there seems to be laces going into and coming out of several different holes. It is a big jumble! Well, the reason behind that is a new lacing system that brings the upper super tight in against your foot. Let me rephrase that; the boots are already super tight against your foot, but this lacing design brings the entire structure of the boot in tight around your foot. The best part is that you get to determine how tight you want the fit to be!
Basically, on either side of the faux-tongue, the lace goes in through one eyelet and then it comes back out on the same side through another eyelet. From there it crosses back to the other side and repeats the pattern. In other words, there is a double eyelet on each side and this increases the amount of material the lacing is using to pull the upper tighter.
We have covered the tongueless design, lacing structure and soleplate, so the final remaining area of performance that I want to focus on is the upper material and its texture. The synthetic microfiber used on this latest version of the Vapor X is very different to what we have seen before. You get a very standard thin feel and a soft inner lining, but this time around the outer coating of the boot features an added level of dimension. As a result, I found that the upper material is not as pliable as what we saw on the Vapor VIII and IX models. Is that a negative? Well it depends how you look at it.
What makes it different is that outer coating, with a much more textured feel on offer. On the ball and as you dribble, you get an additional level of grip that provides a different experience for players. Rubbing your hand along the surface, it feels slightly more tacky and you could compare it to having an almost very light sandpaper feel. The end result is a material that tops my all-time favorite Vapor list to date. Yes, I am a definite fan of what Nike has done to the upper. But, don’t mistake that for them being my favorite Vapor to date, that one is still up for debate. It is simply the textured upper that adds a completely new element to the normally smooth Vapor and provides an upgraded experience on the ball. Whether controlling along your instep of shooting along the strikezone, the material features the same feel throughout and is a definite plus for pacey wingers and forwards that like to take defenders on.
Finally, when it comes to striking shots, you get a pretty standard feel compared to all prior models of Vapor. Even with the textured upper on these boots, the material is still super thin and you are not going to notice any substantial difference as you drive the ball. Given that there are a slew of top class strikers wearing these, you can be confident in the fact that they are going to work pretty well as you put yourself in attack mode!
Superfly vs Vapor X
Both the Vapor and Superfly are part of the Mercurial series although there is not a great deal of similarities between both boots. Yes, they are both intended for speed and feature a tongueless design, but that is about where they split apart performance wise. The upper material is completely different, with a synthetic on the Vapor compared to a highly advanced micro-textured FlyKnit on the Superfly. It actually leaves the Superfly sitting as a closer compatriot to the Magista Obra than the Vapor X!
I’m sure there are a lot of players stuck trying to decide which boot they should get, the important thing is to research both to understand what they have to offer and who they are intended for. My advice is this; sometimes simple is better!
How do they Fit?
Once you slip them on, the Vapor X has a very much true to size fit length wise and the spacing along the toe line is ideal. Width wise, they are very different and offer a naroow fit. That is pretty much in line with previous Vapor models, but the difference with these lies in the tongueless design and the fact that they are not going to have much give to offer. As a medium-wide fit, I found them to be comfortable although the material around my little toe fits very snug. Basically, wider fitting players beware!
Ultimately, they are a snug fitting boot, right around the foot. From a personal perspective, it is something I very much love and it really sets them apart from other boots on the market. If you enjoy snug fitting boots, these get top marks!
This is a very restrictive boot with an extremely snug fit. This, of course, will prove to be beneficial to a lot of players and I am one of them. But, there will be a section of players that are on the fence and not sure if the tongueless design will work for them. Before excluding yourself, I definitely recommend trying on a pair prior to purchasing to ensure they suit your style. Where you can usually generalize a boots fit, it is not the case in this instance!
To date, there are two colorways to choose from in the Vapor X series. Find all the latest available on Soccer.com, or you can take on a pair of Veloce and do some customization through the NikeID process.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A high performing, lightweight Vapor release with a twist – Nike has given these a tongueless design and perfectly brushed, textured upper. Fantastic snug fit right around the foot.
Category: All-out lightweight Speed.
Weight: They officially check in at 6.4oz, which is slightly lighter than the Vapor IX.
Would I Buy Them: This is one of my favorite Vapor releases to date and I’d have no reservations about splashing out on a pair.
Player Position: Definitely more suited to attacking styled players, from pacey wingers and crafty attacking mids to strikers who like to dribble with the ball.