Nike Mercurial Vapor VIII FG Review
Nike’s Mercurial Vapor silo has dominated the ‘speed boot’ market for over a decade. In that time Nike have completely reinvented and reinvigorated their speed boot. Earlier this year, Nike released the latest generation of the Vapor – the Vapor 8, or for those of you that don’t follow boots – the orange/red boots all the pros have been wearing.
Im going to start at the most obvious point on this boot, the colour. Nike chose to be controversial and release the boot in an extremely bright colour – as a result, its actually really hard to capture correctly on camera. Nike describe the colour as ‘mango’ and personally, I love it. The boot is also offered (at release) in a white /blue ‘solar/sailor’ colour way, but for me its a little too bland. This boot follows Nike’s philosophy that brighter boots make you easier to find on the pitch.
The upper of the boot is the first change to the vapor you will notice when you pick a pair up. Its unlike anything I’ve felt before, and features a ‘peach skin’ texture, or as Nike put it ‘suede-like, across the top. What is amazing about the upper Nike has created on this boot is that its 100% synthetic (still using Teijin Micro-fibre) but it is far softer than any leather boot I’ve ever owned (Predators, Adipures, F50s and Legends). This is really reflected in play with the boot, I have to say the touch on the boot is unreal – you maintain extremely close contact and feel with the ball, while the upper’s texture allows you to have an extremely solid grip on the ball – without that horrible plasticy coating a lot of synthetic boots (previous vapors included) have.
Appart from the upper – what sets this boot aside from any other boot on the market is the soleplate. This is really where Nike have changed the game with this boot. Nike has taken the conventional stud shape and pattern, and thrown it out of the window. Instead, we see a boot which is basically a running shoe
At the front of the boot, there are two small studs and a textured area, these are there to help with acceleration from the point you ‘push off’ – and it really does make a noticeable difference, especially over short distances. This is something that is vital for speed players – who need to burst into pace immediately.
The studs themselves are also revolutionary, Nike has created a ‘two tier’ stud for the boot, which allows for variable traction depending on what speed you hit the ground at. The more visible Mango studs break the ground when you run and allow maximum acceleration with minimal drag in the playing surface. Underneath the mango stud is a clear plastic stud base for the stud, these offer increased traction for slower speed runs/when you’re taking set pieces. They are all fitted with triangular shapes – which allows the boot to leave the ground quickly and easily.
The boot also features the addition of a carbon fibre spine, which feels extremely weird when you first wear the boot. With some speed boots – you can feel the boot is fragile or very constricting. This was a slight concern when I first put the Vapor 8 on, but as soon as you start running with the boot on – the spine makes sense. You feel an increase in support along the foot and it becomes unnoticeable when playing on grass surfaces. The spine also strengthens the soleplate of the boot, which is made entirely of Glass Fibre, unlike other vapor releases – this boot features two pieces of Glass Fibre. The first piece runs the length of the soleplate, while the second comes in around the mid foot and continues to the back of the boot. This is really to retain structural stability in the majority of the boot while giving the ‘forefoot’ an extremely flexible area – also for the start of a sprint.
Because the boot is a synthetic, you can guarantee that it will be bonded to the soleplate a lot better than other speed boots on the market with leather uppers, as the glue can bond much better with the synthetic upper. Obviously you could get a different synthetic boot – but there isn’t much point, the Vapor 8 is a completely different boot and nothing on the market today compares. Shooting in these boots is fantastic, with the lace area maintaining a good degree of padding (a lot of people were concerned that such a soft boot would cause discomfort when shooting). Passing in the boot is also extremely comfortable, but Nike – correctly have focused on running and dribbling with this boot. Next season we will see Nike push players in certain positions to wear ‘position specific’ boots, the Vapor 8 will be a Winger’s boot, so its quite right that nike has really focused on ball control on the boot.
That said, the Vapor Vii has one problem, staining – although mine has been extremely minimal, a lot of my friends have had slight issues with staining on the boot. As someone that keeps their boots meticulously clean normally, this was a bit of a problem for me – but I soon found out that stains that water can not get out of the upper can be removed using a ‘magic eraser’ . Also, my good friend Reon has found that using the tongue cleaning part of a tooth brush can get the deep stains out even better. That said, I’d advise against the White colour way – as EVERY stain would show up, and I’d be concerned and distracted by my boots during a game.
Although staining is a problem, Nike has already looked to move away from the ‘suede’ upper, and is now making all Nike ID boots, and future releases of the boot in a ‘leather-like’ finish. I am yet to get my hands on a pair of these, but i’d be really interested to see how the two compare.
In short, any speed player should buy this boot. Nike has removed the gimmicks from this boot – and while other companies have been busy playing with software, Nike have looked at what actually matters to a speed player – and made the best speed boot ever. Also, they come with a really nice bag.
The cheapest I’ve been able to find real vapor 8s online in the UK is from Sports Direct, who offer the boot at £99