I’ll be the first to admit that I get totally confused when researching Nike’s line-up of soccer shinguards. There are always new colors being released to the market, and there really isn’t a whole lot of info that helps breakdown all the important differences. Case in point, the Nike Mercurial collection. Nike has always produced some of the best guards in the game, with retail prices that span a pretty wide spectrum. They all look similarly cool, but you can’t just buy s pair based on visuals! Even the images on the boxes (as per above) don’t help discern which are better than other.
So, we decided to do some research and breakdown what is on offer. First thing we did was discover how the naming convention works. And by doing so, we also discovered that Nike has added a simple piece of game-changing technology, something we had no idea about! Discovery through testing is the fun part. Then we picked up a different pair in each price-point. There wasn’t any specific reasoning between the colors we chose, it was a case of just picking up some newer versions that are more readily available.
We ended up with the following guide , and we hope it helps you find your next pair of guards!
The most basic guard Nike has available, but also one of the most popular. You get a protective outer shell that covers an oddly cut EVA foam inner layer. The thought process here is that you can have comfortable protection with holes cut out to reduce weight and allow for more breathability. Sleeves are included in the box for those that want to use them to hold the guards more securely in place on your leg. Most players will select these guards and they will work just fine, a definite value for money option on the market. But, note that there are better performing available! If you have always worn the Mercurial Lite, stick with and enjoy them. If you are ready for something a little extra special, continue to read below!
Mercurial Lite with SuperLock
It is the addition of SuperLock that makes this version different to the Mercurial Lite version above. What are you getting for the additional $13 you will pay for a pair? A layer of gripped dots or spikes is added to the outside of the shell, where the guard meets your sock. It’s purpose is to add a whole lot more grip, allowing the guard to sit more securely in place. If you ask me, it actually makes complete sense and allows you to wear the guards without sleeves, solving a huge problem for players that hate any movement from their guards. FYI, there are sleeves included in the box, in case you want to use them.
I didn’t know a whole lot about these before they arrived in. Now that I’ve got them in hand, boy are they different to what I ever expected! They have this really weird design where you get a super thin shell and a rubber “web” on the inside. This web is attached across the inside of the shell and acts as additional cushioning without adding much thickness. According to Nike, the actual concept behind the design is to diffuse the amount of impact through the use of minimal materials. And they really have got something special with this design.
Compared to the Mercurial Lite, they are a complete upgrade because of how much lighter they are, and how much thinner they are. Deciding whether the jump from $22 to $60 is really worth it comes down to personal preference. I don’t think there is a whole lot wrong with the $22 Lite; if you are on a budget they are definitely the pair you should have as your top choice. But, if you want something a little more up-scale, the FlyLite is the way to go.
Mercurial FlyLite with SuperLock
Again, SuperLock is the key upgrade these have over the Mercurial FlyLite. For an extra $10 you get that layer of gripped dots added to the outside of the shell. Something else to note here. Those rubber grip dots do add a little extra dimension to the guard, meaning it is slightly bulkier. If you prefer an ultra thin feel, the FlyLite is a better option here, using the included sleeves to keep the guards in play. Personally, I’m not a big fan of sleeves, putting them on and then having to deal with extra heat retention. I really like these the most of the 4 Mercurial pairs as they are lightweight, breathable and they can be worn in your socks without the use of sleeves!
I did a little extra digging into “SuperLock”, and it turns out to be a technology released to market mid last year, Nike’s press release for the Mercurial Flylite SuperLock included the following details:
The new shin guards feature small spikes on top of the face of the guard that safely pierce the sock, locking it into place. The entire surface area of the guard is covered with these safe, lightweight spikes for an aggressive look and precision placement, no strap or sleeve needed. Generative impact dispersion webbing ensures the shin guards are minimalist while also providing the necessary protection.
It really is such a simple addition that solves a pretty important problem in the game; a guard that actually grips your socks so they don’t slide or shift downward. I just can’t believe that it is not something that is more widely known about, or advertised in Nike circles. Most retail sites have zero details and no relevant breakdown into why the guards are so different. I’m hoping this guide proves useful for you guys and that it gives you a better understanding of what is available should you be looking to pick up some new Nike guards!
Find the entire range of Nike Mercurial guards available at soccer.com.