Built for the modern soccer player, the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial features several key elements that make them extremely unique and different to the market. This includes a tech advanced articulated, three-quarter length Zoom airbag that sits directly inside of the plate of the boot. And they have also upgraded the upper material, using a next generation Vaporposite+, which combines a grippy, grid mesh with a premium material for optimal ball control at high speeds.
Let the hype train begin right here. This is not like any other review I have done on a Mercurial release before. My experience with these has been incredibly positive from start to finish, with each new element and intricate piece of detailing adding its own level of value. What inclusion has the biggest impact? And could they be a new favorite boot? Details below.
Find all the latest Air Zoom colorways at SOCCER.com.
Nike has gone all out on the design, implementing several new key innovative elements that create a completely different level of performance. But, does that make them easier or more difficult to wear? Are they going to be overly complicated when it comes to performance? There is going to be a lot to breakdown about them. Design wise, they look incredible with signature call outs that create a sense of excitement.
I’ve always faced challenges when wearing Mercurial boots for the first time, the silo is built to be tight fitting and snappy. Every pair has needed a few wears before they felt truly ready for games. To my complete surprise, these are different – cue a level of sheer shock that I hadn’t experienced with the Mercurial before! I was able to take them out of the box and wear them comfortably first time out. When your experience with any boot is positive first time out, it really sets the tone. And that was exactly the case here. But I was left with a lot of questions; How can the mercurial be comfy from first wear? What makes them so different? What has Nike changed to enhance the fit and feel on foot?
Inside, Nike use a new speed cage that plays a big role in the fit. It is intended to create optimal lockdown, but unlike other speed cages, it is pliable and has natural movement with your foot. It is thin but made of a strong material, securing your foot between the upper and outsole without adding additional weight. And the upper itself is called Vaporposite+, something we will talk more about below. But the key takeaway here is that it is extremely pliable, allowing the upper to contour very easily around your foot shape. Both are huge upgrades on a silo that has been somewhat rigid in the past. Immediate upgrades that make them extremely comfortable to wear right out of the box.
Inside the boot, around the ankle, Nike has added a padded layer that keeps your heel comfortably locked in place. It also features a perforated design, which I’m assuming offers a little extra breathability during wear. Another simple, but solid addition to the boot.
Vaporposite+ Upper Material
We were first introduced to Vaporsite on the last generation of Mercurial. On our Vapor 14 Elite review, I noted that the material was on the rigid side, having an almost plastic like feel. On foot, they played far more pliable than imagined, offering a natural touch on the ball. This version offers a dramatic upgrade. Nike has just added a + to the name, but performance wise they are on an entirely new level!
Gone is that rigid feel and in its place comes a very responsive upper material. It still has a grippy, grid mesh design with a premium material for optimal ball control at high speeds. Nike has managed to successfully reduce the thickness of the material without impacting durability. Let’s hope we see this material used on future releases, as it is a HUGE win performance wise!
Touch, Control, Shooting
In terms of performance on the ball, the entire design creates a very natural feel and clean touch. If there is an upper where you can see and experience the impact of their research and development, this would be it. The added grip created by the grid mesh allows for a clean touch, with the thinness of the material ensuring you get full feel on the ball. They don’t fall into the power category, but they do fall into the “I want to get on the ball, dribble at speed and score some goals” category. Pretty sure there will be a large subset of players that are looking for a boot like that!
3/4 Zoom Airbag
On release, this is the addition that piqued most interest, with fans wondering just how Nike could integrate an airbag into a soccer shoe! It seems pretty wild and audacious to think it could positively enhance performance in a sport that relies on quick shifts and dramatic changes in direction.
For the first time in our history, Nike has developed an all-new, soccer-specific 3/4 Zoom Air unit. It sits in the plate and provides an additional level of springy underfoot feel that helps you move faster on the field and create separation when it matters the most—whether you’re scoring goals, being first to the ball or going by defenders.
One might expect an airbag to be super thick and make the footed 4 inches thick. Well, thankfully that is not the case! If you take the insole out, you will find the airbags that sit from the does back through the midfoot. It does sit off the surface of the footed, raised ever so slightly to add that extra layer of spring. To the touch, it feels squishy in the same way as memory foam does. There are groves in specific areas where the insole bends, ensuring it still offers a lot of natural flexibility.
In play, you can absolutely feel the difference and its impact on performance. There are not many times when you can actually tell the difference in soleplate technology. It is usually “if it doesn’t impact performance, it must be good.” But in this case, Nike has added high tech specs that positively impacts how you play in game. I would 100% agree with the statement that it creates an even greater sense of snappy, propulsive energy return.
Mid Cut Collar
Being that this is a Superfly, you won’t be surprised to hear that Nike has included a dynamic mid-cut collar design around the ankle. like previous editions, it fits comfortably around the ankle, creating a locked in fit. First few wears, it is a little challenging to get in and out of them. But once you have figured out a strategy that works, it only takes a few seconds to slip into them! If you have worn Superfly before, expect the same level of fit and feel.
Soleplate and Traction
Another important update is the introduction of a Tri-star stud design that provide multidirectional traction with every step, so you can change directions quickly and confidently. It is about as aggressive as you can get on a soleplate, creating a bite as you hit and push off the surface. I wore them on both FG and TF with success. In saying that, they are probably not going to work for players who prefer a more conservative configuration. In other words, if you like a simple, conical stud design you are going to want to completely avoid these.
Nike also use a contoured heel stud profile that provides traction and stability when braking. And there is a duo of toe-off center studs that give you traction during explosive starts.
How do they Fit?
Very, very well is the answer to this one! This is the most natural and accommodating Mercurial we have ever had! More players than ever will be able to wear them without the stress of being too narrow or snug. You do get a snug feel from first wear, but as per above it subsides thanks to the pliable materials used.
I’d recommend them as a true to size option in terms of width, with a forefoot width that will accomodate a far wider variety of players that ever before. If you have a medium/wide foot, they will work on nicely. If you have a wide foot and have never been able to wear the Vapor or Superfly before, give yourself the opportunity to try a pair on. These might just work!
I’m skipping this part, there isn’t anything worth adding here – they are too good to criticize!
There are already several colorways released and available, retail of $274.99. It might be a while before we see them drop in price, so you have to factor in if the elite level price offers value right now. And for once I would say they are worth it! Why?
Well, here we are at the end of the review, the review of a next generation Mercurial release. And, I’m floored by that fact that they are officially one of my favorite boots of all time! For those that know my feelings on the Mercurial silo, you will be well aware of how critical I’ve been in the past. But, this time around, Nike has nailed it and created a pure winner. I’ll be wearing this pair as much as I can in the near future, they are a joy on foot!
Find all the latest Air Zoom colorways at SOCCER.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: the best Mercurial Superfly released to date, featuring a 3/4 length Zoom airbag and a next generation Vaporposite+ upper.
Category: Built for Speed!
Weight: They drop in at 7oz.
Would I Buy Them: These could be one of my favorite boots on the market right now, so absolutely yes. I find it hard to justify paying $275 for a pair of boots, but when they offer the complete package and top-level performance, I have to recommend them.
Player Position: Think dynamic and forward thinking. If you like to tkae chances on the field and play with an attacking mindset, they will work out really well.