Nike Mercurial can be an institution. My first love for football boots was because of the Nike Mercurial Vapor 2 – worn by Thierry Henry in his pomp. It had been the sleekest thing ever and near 20 years on, I really believe it has aged well. Despite its early reputation for poor worksmanship and a claustrophobic fit, I maintained my admiration for the Mercurial since it led just how in innovation for the industry though my taste for boots started veering towards power boots and the convenient leather options.
It was only this past year when I reviewed the prior generation Mercurial to rekindle some love for the speed boot genre. I believed in speed again. However, when Nike launched an update to the boot towards the end of July, I was perplexed.
The Mercurial Vapor 12/Superfly 6 hadn’t been with us for too much time and the brand new “generation” looked almost totally alike. Could this have already been simply a minor facelift, falsely sold as a major update? How could they have improved on an already excellent boot which came near being THE VERY BEST Boot of 2018?
Same looking Mercurial Vapor, different upper
While I tested the high cut Superfly in the last generation, I made a decision to plonk for the Mercurial Vapor 13 these times considering my preference for lower cut boots. The Superfly will cost you some extra dollars because of its dynamic fit collar – something I had not been one overly thinking about as it didn’t provide much more affordability.
The largest change between both generations is its application of Flyknit. The last generation had a moderately stiff upper despite how thin it had been. I loved the “raw” feel of the Flyknit to touch nonetheless it definitely needed a few games to break into. The brand new Mercurial Vapor 13 however keeps the handsome look of its predecessor but has changed out the upper construction altogether.
Up close with the brand new upper’s texture.
The upper now looks less “raw” and includes a very glossy sheen. It’s also less smooth to touch as the Flyknit is strengthened with the infusion of “high tenacity yarns” which allows the boot to be softer while keeping its rigidity and condition for lockdown. This does mean we can bid farewell to Flywire cables to keep your foot set up while sprinting and changing direction as these yarns do its job throughout the complete upper.
And it’s because of these high tenacity yarns which creates that hand-knitted look on the complete upper, giving it some texture and character to the Mercurial Vapor 13. Despite its knit roots, the glossy coating does however make the boot feel most plasticky than knitted.
Still an extremely snug fit
As is tradition with speed boots, they’re usually narrow and tight and I was reminded of the Mercurial Vapor 13’s speed boot DNA when trying to place them on. Pro tip: loosen those laces generously and expect the very best. They are mighty tough to put up as a result of small opening and insufficient stretch around the mouth of the boot.
But once they’re on, my word, I was reminded again why I loved the prior iteration – and more. The anatomical soleplate returns and it just plants and hugs your foot snugly in to the foot of the boot. It does have a while to get accustomed to the feeling of something cradling your foot’s arch but that’s one feeling I could always get accustomed to.
Wiggle your toes and you will feel the difference in the upper. The Mercurial Vapor 13 feels more supple and is more forgiving to your feet.
Notice how narrow the boot looks.
Fit-wise, it accommodates slim footed players. It just barely fits people that have moderate width feet, like myself. I’ve also noticed hook narrowing of the toebox area (when compared with last gen’s model) which would come to haunt me later in the review. Go true to size, like I did so with my couple of US 9.5s.
For all those with wide feet, I’m sorry but this boot won’t be for you personally. The Mercurial hasn’t been kind to people that have wide feet and you could be better off with the adidas X19.1 or Nemeziz 19.1 if you wish a speed boot that may accommodate your width.
Similar to the best speed boots do, the Mercurial Vapor 13 enables you to feel very light on your own feet since it weighs only 190g in my own size US 9.5. But it’s not simply the low weight that provides you that nimble feeling.
The upper includes minimal padding so every touch you can get on the ball feels raw and engaging. I needed to be completely focused when acquiring the ball, with every touch in the dribble and with my passes as there is no cushioning to dampen the touch. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy nonetheless it got me to be razor sharp to execute better atlanta divorce attorneys aspect with the ball as I manipulated the ball at pace.
The glossy coating over the upper isn’t as sticky as some persons claim for this to be so don’t expect the ball to adhere to your feet like glue although knitted texture helps provide a little degree of friction in terms of connection with the ball.
Striking the ball was also surprisingly delightful as you are feeling the entire brunt of the connection with the ball – that is as barefoot since it gets. If you value a barefoot feel, the Mercurial Vapor 13 is obviously for you.
Off the ball, you can feel the high tenacity yarns working overtime to carry your foot set up as you pivot and make quick changes in direction. The lockdown is very good and I believe Nike deserve some kudos in trying to fix this issue while ensuring some comfortableness. That said, I believe Flywire cables do work just a little easier to enforce lockdown but they’re not the preferred experience so perhaps Nike was to get rid of them.
Longer studs on FG and AG
A word of caution on the studs. The FG studs are actually longer by 1mm and by the looks of the AG variation I tested, it could are also lengthened slightly. Considering how I almost exclusively play on AG, this isn’t actually very good news as longer studs dig in deeper and could cause big injuries if indeed they don’t dislodge when you run and move.
Thankfully, the AG studs maintain a balance of aggressive traction without having to be uncomfortable. There is little to no stud pressure and you will sense the boots digging in as you start every step over the AG field. The conical studs also make pivoting easy though I’d still have recommended shorter studs for a reassurance.
And finally, exactly what is a speed boot if it’s not snappy and responsive? The stiff midsole works effectively in tandem with the anatomical soleplate to cause you to feel locked in yet somehow, always springing forward with every sprint. I don’t end up having the split sole format and, actually, I think it creates the boot look that bit better.
Performance comes at a price
As I ended my first game in the Mercurial Vapor 13, I pointed out that my toes were in pain. A blister on my left big toe soon put into a bad cut that took weekly to heal. My next game saw my other big toe nurse a significant bruising.
For all your fantastic performance features in the above list, the Mercurial Vapor 13 reminded me again that boot isn’t for the faint of heart. That low volume and narrow toebox is a problem for all those with moderately wide/large feet. Regardless of the initial joy I had playing in the Vapors, the awful state it left my toes in really left a bitter taste.
Top performance but with a slim footed bias
There are boots where I go “I can’t wait to put them on again in my own next game” and unfortunately, the Vapor isn’t one of these purely as a result of punishment it dishes out to my toes. It’s an enormous shame because, save for the pain it has inflicted, this might just be the very best pure speed boot I’ve ever worn. It has fantastic traction, a softer upper that manages to keep your feet locked down, that barefoot sensation not to mention, the anatomical soleplate.
It’s also an extremely handsome boot with beautiful detailing around the heel and split sole area. It looks and feels as though just what a premium, state of the art boot should. However, it can seem to be like two steps forward but one step back for Nike with the Mercurial Vapor 13 because of those toebox problems.
I am hoping that 1 day, Nike produces a Mercurial that’s comfortable and fits most players easily without compromising its performance. Until that day comes, I’ll need to treat the Mercurial Vapor 13 like this short summer fling that was good although it lasted but leaves me wanting more.
A fantastic speed boot that, unfortunately, was mainly suitable for slim footed players.