There are not many bigger boot releases in the world than when Nike drop a new Mercurial! This was as true as ever with the Superfly 8 and Vapor 14, both of which revealed a new Vaporposite upper, combining a grippy grid mesh with premium lining for ball control at high speeds. Along with that, Nike were very specific with the direction of their ultra dynamic silo. They placed an emphasized on the fact that the creation of Mercurial Vapor 14 was led by athlete insight, focusing on four key areas;
Fit – an upper that feels like a natural extension of the foot.
Touch – natural touch, helping athletes to maintain control at high speeds.
Traction – quick acceleration and breaking in all directions.
Style – brighter, lighter and faster.
This is another long over due review, so I’ve had plenty of extra time to work with the Mercurial Vapor 14. And the overall results have been pretty conclusive, Nike has formulated a boot that perfectly performs to their high expectations. Details on why and how below.
You can find all latest Mercurial colorways available at SOCCER.com.
Nike advertised these as being “engineered with the minimal amount of materials possible” and when holding them for the first time, I can understand how that is possible. The upper layer is more of a mesh that you can see through, and the bottom layer seems ultra thin with perforated circle cuts throughout. It all comes together astonishingly well, with Nike giving them a very well constructed make-up. In other words, they have total structure and seem like any regular style release, minus half of the upper materials.
I am interested to see how the upper feels over time, because initially it does feel pretty rigid. Love the boot bag included with them, Nike always do an incredible job of matching its design with the boots.
Breaking In and Comfort
As with any Mercurial boot, I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to breaking them in for the first time. I’ve endured plenty of stiff soleplates and tight midfoots to know that the Mercurial has always been geared toward a slightly narrower foot type than mine. So, my initial plan was to ease them into play over an extended time. I planned to wear them around at home, take them to my office and wear them around there, then break them in slowly during some practices. That was the plan. Ease them in, loosen them up, stretch them a bit, then give them a run out in game. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do all of that!
Out of the box, the fit is surprisingly forgiving and easy to wear. Yes, you need to wiggle your foot in through the tight ankle opening the first few times you wear them, but once they are on they felt great. I was pretty nervous when I took them right out and into a game, but they worked out far better than I could have anticipated. It did take 3-4 wears for the upper to really stretch out to my natural foot shape, and I’d still recommend playing it smart by easing them into play.
Having worn them several dozen times to date (a lot more than any other boot recently), they now rank as one of my preferred boot options and are very naturally comfortable on foot.
One of the key performance upgrades on the latest version of Nike Mercurial speed is a new upper called Vaporposite.
Evolving from the 2019 Mercurial 360, Vaporposite combines a grippy grid mesh with a premium “Avail Q” lining for ball control at high speeds. It adds what I’d describe to be a tactile feel across the surface of the upper. Visually, it is the type of styling that gives Nike a lot to work with and we have already seen several high profile colorways that highlight Nike’s creative path. Up close, you can see a semi-transparent design, with shades of yellow and blue hidden just underneath the Risk Red surface. It gives them a very dynamic look!
Across the history of the Mercurial Vapor series, we have seen a wide variety of upper materials and designs that have directly impacted the fit and feel of the boot on foot. This version is no different, with the Vapor 14 Elite offering a very distinct type of fit. First note, the material is on the rigid side, with Vaporposite having an almost plastic like feel. On foot, they play far more pliable than you would imagine, offering a natural touch on the ball. I think it has a lot to do with the structure, which looks like a criss-cross thread design, almost as if someone took a 3D pen to create some support to the upper. So, expect them to feel a little stiff but play perfectly on-pitch.
There are two things that I’ve learned about this version over time; they are quality performance wise and as a result I’ve worn them more than any other Mercurial release to date. And over that long duration, they have held up exceptionally well. Having that extra layer on the upper substantially increases their durability!
Heel Tab Design
One other unusual addition is the large flippy heel tab. It is made of a semi rigid material, so it stays in place along your achilles. But, it doesn’t put any pressure on the area and goes unnoticed during wear. Where I’ve found it to be most useful – and maybe it is actually the intended purpose – is as a heel pull tab that helps you get the boots on. I grab the knit just above the lace area with one hand and the tab with the other, then side angle my foot into the boots. In my opinion it serves to be a very simple yet efficient addition that you will definitely use.
Traction and Soleplate
Underfoot, Nike use a Aerotrak 2 soleplate that is all about speed. It features specially designed grooves for explosive acceleration, matched up with chevron studs to provide instant multidirectional traction for quicker cuts at high speed on firm ground surfaces. Just going off visuals alone, they are extremely aggressive and as seen on previous models, they are very effective on both FG and AG surfaces. I’ve worn them on both and have had positive results, with a natural feel and level of traction through play. The best boots are the ones you don’t have to think about through play (they don’t distract you) and that is how I found the Vapor 14 to be on foot.
Designed For Strikers?
Another definite I’ve learned about these over time is that they are definitely designed for attacking players that thrive on quick cuts, turns and snap shots. They are lightweight, have an upper that offers more protection than standard Mercurial releases, and the compact upper ensures they are excellent for taking shots. I’d rate them as being one of the most dynamic attacking style boots on the market.
Before jumping to conclusions, I am not saying that they can’t be worn by defensive players. I’m simply concluding that they offer a lot more for attacking players.
How do they Fit?
In terms of fit, they are a Mercurial release, so you won’t be surprised to hear the design is narrow compared to other Nike boots on the market. But, I’d actually rate them as being more accommodating through the forefoot than previous Mercurial releases. Having a knit material through the lacing really adds that extra stretch as you put them on. It means that more players will be able to consider them as their next boot option!
Consider them as a true to size option length wise, with a comfortable medium width that stretches to suit a medium-wide fit comfortably.
The initial colorway was released in January of 2021, so there have been plenty of version released since that time. The pictured Risk Red version is no longer available, but there are plenty of other awesome colorways available right now. The silo has another several months before it is replaced. Current retail price on new releases is $250, with sale pairs dropping in the $199 range. That is an investment, but one that I’d easily recommend considering the level of performance on offer.
Again, find all latest Mercurial colorways available at SOCCER.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: The latest generation of Mercurial is light, comfortable, dynamic, streamlined and ready to be explosive! Feature a new vaporsite upper that reduces the amount of material used in the boot.
Category: Pure speed
Would I Buy Them: These are hands down my favorite Mercurial release in several releases, and I will continue to wear this pair after testing!
Player Position: As per the above, I see them as holding a lot more advantages for attacking style players, but they are suitable for anyone that has a desire for a dynamic boot.