Nike Mercurial Vapor 9 Review
Its been a while since we last reviewed a set of boots on goals and gear, and what better to get us back into the swing of things than the sucessor to our favourite boot of 2012?
With an eye-catching and youthful new lick of paint, the vapor 9 has drawn inspiration from high end sports cars – increasing the visual connection with mercurial speed. So where better to start than with the new ‘body’ of the boot – the upper.
The upper features a two-level gradient that moves from pink to purple, as well as from gloss to a matte finish, which really screams speed – making it look like the air is breaking through the boot. That said, I personally do not like high gloss synthetic boots because they tend to look cheap and feel extremely stiff – but Nike has combatted this really well by mixing the matte and gloss finish, as well as continuing to use their super soft Tejin Micro-fibre upper from the Vapor 8 – which was so well received. My only personal criticism of the design is the black laces, which I feel do not suit the overall styling of the boot – but are based around the tires of the aforementioned super-cars.
When you pick up the boot, you immediately notice the newly designed ‘golf ball’ texture that the boot features, this was heavily criticised by fans of the vapor when images of the boot first surfaced online. However, having had the chance to actually test this feature out – I have to say it is a fantastic innovation from Nike’s design team. Based around the concept of a golf ball’s aerodynamic qualities, the design was considered to give you better airflow over the boot – but more importantly it gives you a far better range of grip and traction on the ball – which really helps when performing high speed dribbles and tricks such as the flip-flap, as the ball is far more attached to your foot than with its predecessor.
Nike has continued its tradition of giving the vapor an extremely low toebox – which is fantastic for getting underneath the ball, and for high speed dribbling. We also see Nike continue to use the fantastic ACC coating – which, paired with the dimpled texture of the boot, gives you a massive edge over your opponent (assuming they are not wearing the vapor 9s of course!).
One of the biggest visual changes to the boot sees the removal of the inner swoosh of the boot – and the introduction of a more youthful ‘NIKE’ logo on the instep of the boot, this has also proved quite controversial with a lot of the vapor-faithful, but I have to say it looks very cool on-pitch when the boot is sunk into the mud and grass – and the high contrast graphic stands out – screaming speed at your opposition!
Getting a little more technical, the last used on this model is similar to that of the Vapor 8 – but I would say that it hugs the foot a little more around the instep than on the Vapor 8. There have also been rumours that the upper was redesigned slightly to limit creasing on the upper, which I found true in the long term, but the high gloss finish on the toebox makes creasing a lot more apparent when the boot is on your foot during a match.
As always, the most exciting part of the mercurial vapor is the soleplate. Designed for speed – this is the engine of the Mercurial Vapor 9. Once again Nike has kept it to a single heel stud, which is fantastic at giving you stability when you need it, and not over gripping the turf, which many felt with the dual pattern of the vapor 7. Nike has also kept it hollow, which allows for minimal weight while offering optimum traction.
After the success of the previous model’s soleplate, Nike has kept the Mercurial Vapor 9’s soleplate fairly unchanged, with the main focus of the redesign being durability. As you can see there are two main changes here, firstly the whole sole is now dual layer glass fibre, rather than having a single layer in the forefoot and dual in the mid and rear-foot of the boot. This slightly decreases the flexibility you get in the toe – but it comes at a premium, because there is a noticeably greater energy return when running once the boot has been broken in, this means you can get more speed out of your run with the same amount of effort!
Speaking of energy return, long term readers of the site may be familiar with how much I love the glass fibre spine on the vapor – and it is fantastic to see it back. The spine offers support across the base of your foot – which feels very strange at first, but as soon as you start running in the boot it supports your foot’s movement and allows for far greater acceleration because the sole hugs your foot perfectly.
The second noticeable redesign feature of the boot is the high contrast black plastic that supports the glass fibre frame. Originally seen on Ronaldo’s custom colour-way of the vapor 8, the plastic is far stronger than that on its predecessor and means your Vapor 9s should last a little longer than the 8s did. It also gives a fantastic look when you’re running – Nike’s design team work on the ‘flair’ of a boot, which is the colour you see when it is moving, and it is fantastic to see them move this concept onto the soleplate of the boot – personally I’d love to see some really bright versions!
The stud design on the boot is exactly the same as on the previous model, which is great news – the breaking stud (the middle one in the above image) is there to help you both stop your run quick, and change direction much quicker – vital for speed players. Another feature I love is the dual stud design, this is where you’ve got thinner studs at the bottom which allow you to break the ground and have enough traction at speed, while not getting stuck and slowing down, and longer studs towards the top – which allow you an increased traction when standing or jogging.
Overall, Nike have taken one of the best boots they’ve produced and managed to make it even better – you’d be hard pushed to find a better speed boot out there.
Here is a short unboxing video of the boot itself
The Nike Mercruial Vapor 9 is available from most sports stores, and for £135.99 from Pro Direct in the Fireberry Colourway
Posted on April 9, 2013, in Reviews and tagged 9, best, boots, bright, cars, cleats, fireberry, green, light weight, mercurial, micro fibre, neymar, Nike, pink, player, players, purple, ribery, ronaldo, skills, soccer, speed, tricks, Vapor, walcott, young. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.