Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly 2 Elite Review
A note on my reviews…
I like to do my football boot reviews a little differently to most. I’m less pre-occupied with heel counters, stud configurations and whatever space age materials are involved as I am with how a particular boot feels on my particular feet which may be completely different to how these particular boots feel on your particular feet. Instead I try to take you through my process for evaluating my boots as honestly as I can and hope that you’ll find it to be a good read, and even a little helpful as you search for your next pair.
Over the next four weeks, I’ll be looking at the full four-silo family of the Nike Elite Series boots which the Nike generously hooked me up with – and in the limited edition purple/orange colourway used in the World Cup, no less.
This post features my written review primarily so I strongly recommend you check out the massive Nike Elite Family Unboxing Album I put together which features unboxing photos, close-ups from all angles and a lot more for all four boots from the Elite Series- the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly 2, Nike Total 90, Nike Tiempo Legend and Nike CTR360.
First up this week I’ll be taking a look at the flagship Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly 2 Elite. You can also find a full breakdown of the technological specs at the end of the review.
These babies are the flagship of the Elite family, boasting the most game-changing technology and of course the highest price point. I’ve worn a number of boots from the Mercurial line over the years, including last season’s original Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly 1, so to say I was looking forward to giving a run out to their successor would be an understatement, a deadly understatement.
Let’s start with some of the technical bells and whistles of the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly 2 before I get onto the good stuff.
- Includes exclusive shoe bag and box
- Next-generation Nike Flywire technology in a streamlined upper for a lightweight, stronger, more dynamic fit
- Anatomically correct, contoured speed last mirrors the shape of the foot for an enhanced fit and feel
- Lightweight perforated sockliner for superior low profile cushioning and support while reducing cleat pressure for comfort
- Strategically configured blades for superior footing and quick cuts in any direction
- Toe-off traction for bursts of speed
- Pressure-activated Adaptive Traction Technology at forefoot for superior grip and acceleration on a variety of field conditions
- Firm-ground molded cleats (FG) for use on short-grass fields that may be slightly wet, but rarely muddy
- Weight: 8.3 oz.
Some people do not enjoy “new boot smell”. I only assume these people also eat nails and shout at strangers in the street, because such things are also the behaviour of crazy people. New boot smell is the first thrilling tingle of the senses, and sadly is being phased out as boots move away from kangaroo leather and onto synthetic materials with less robust nose. Still, there was a decent kick out the box of the Superfly II’s that comes with anything new even if the leather scent was replaced with more of a “new trainer” smell, especially the inner boot where the less treated/painted materials tend to live and breathe. As far as synthetics go, the scent is top but I may be blinded by the sheer production values and beauty of the packaging. You can’t get an “A” for smell without some leather in there.
The Superfly II has one of my favourite silhouettes, reminding me of a sports car and a missile in one. Given that this is Nike’s “Speed” boot silo, that’s probably not by chance. The laces are also sleek and narrow, while the flywire now correctly invokes a track shoe. I can’t really talk about this particular pair without mentioning the colourway, which I’ve been lucky enough to receive in the ridiculously eye-catching World Cup metallic purple/orange setup. Nike has already moved on to selling the Elite Series in more conventional colours, so I’m really excited to have what may well soon be a limited edition versions. Despite having probably the most complicated technology, the Superfly is the cleanest and most simple/sleek design – even more so than the classic Tiempo, thanks to the lack of fold-over tongue.
THE SLIP ON:
Putting the boots on for the first time is a bit of a ritual for me, powered by my mild OCD. I tend to un-lace them completely and then re-lace myself. In lieu of getting the custom foot mold treatment that professional footballers enjoy, I guess it’s my way of feeling like these are my boots. I hate boots that you have to either jump up and down in, or destroy your index finger in order to get them on your feet. Conversely, a “too easy” slide-on is often a hint at a boot that fits your foot poorly, with excess space at the heel. Remember that you’re looking for the right boot for your foot, so a good fit for me won’t necessarily be one for you. The Superfly II Elite slide-on was much easier than the Superfly I for some reason, which I had a bit of a hard time with. My “bad fit” alarm bells went off at first, but after tightening the laces the boot felt just fine and just like the original I could immediately feel a little of that stiffness that has pros and cons. But more on that later.
I’ve worn a number of boots from the Mercurial silo over the years, I think 4 in total. Each had the same fit issues for my foot, which is that the boot tends to be one of the more rigid outsoles of Nike’s boots which leaves small but noticeable pockets of space inside the boot where my foot doesn’t quite fill it, and then small areas of pressure where my foot is a little too big. Notice I’m saying my foot is too big, not that the boot is “too small”, because again the your foot will fit this boot differently to mine. That said, the effect was much less noticeable in the Mercurial Superfly II Elite than it has been in previous Mercurials, including the Superfly I. In fact this was easily the most snug and best fitting of the Mercurial’s I’ve worn to date – that could be down to the superior materials, the re-working of the Flywire structure or any number of things but bottom line… they fit. The only area that still gets me (and does so in virtually every shoe I buy) is a little excess space around the toes, but I’ve longed to expect that from all my shoes since I have skinny feet or something.
The inner instep of the boot feels especially comfortable, which is heartwarming for me as I’ve often found that area to be harsh and unforgiving on synthetic boots. There’s a stretch of memory foam on the inside of the tongue, it’s hard to tell if that’s made the difference but I don’t feel the laces or the upper on my foot. Just a nice, snug, comfy home.
One of my favourite tests for new boots is the “Flex” test, that is how the boot performs when you squat down on your toes forcing the boot to flex severely in the center around where your toes bend. This gives me an idea of how the boot will feel after sprinting at full speed, since that’s the only other time the boot will bend like this. If I feel anything uncomfortable, any weird pressure points, while squatting in the “Flex” test then I know I’m going to have some issues after I run for 90 minutes. You can also see how the fit changes in this position, some boots flare out at the laces, others keep their shape etc.
Leather boots tend to pass the flex test well, especially when broken in. They keep their shape, there’s no drastic folding or changes in boot shape, it sorta just bends naturally where it’s meant to. No different to if you were flex-testing a pair of socks. Synthetic boots, however, often have issues. Big creases appear in weird areas and often will jut into your foot as a result, there may be stiffness and pressure at the flex point by the toes that will take some breaking in and the fit may well change. All these things will happen when you’re sprinting as well, so they’re important to take note of.
The Superfly undergoes the “Flex Test”
The Superfly doing the “Flex Test” side by side with the Umbro Speciali.
The Superfly II’s flexed better than the Superfly I’s, but not nearly as well as something like the Umbro Speciali’s which sport maybe the best out-the-box comfort I’ve ever experienced in a football boot (and k-leather). You can see above the difference in the number and severity of the folds and bends resulting from the flex test. The less bending and changing of shape the softer and more forgiving the boot.
Comparing the Superfly to a broken-in k-leather boot is a bit unfair, so a more helpful note may be that the lace and ankle area didn’t blow outwards as much as the original Superfly I’s, which meant the boot was keeping its shape better than previous models. But there was some pressure on the flex point by the toes, a lot of boots have this and it tends to ease up after they’re broken in. But there may be a couple matches of sore toes for me in these. The point of breaking in leather boots or shoes is that natural creases and softening will happen around where your foot naturally flexes, synthetic boots often do this much slower and more poorly depending on what materials are being used. I’ve had synthetic boots that never broke in properly and gave me the same issues after months of use. So I’ll have to check back on this after a few weeks and see how things are going, but as far as synthetic boots go the Superfly II Elite felt good out the box even compared to the Superfly I which just blew out in all sorts of places.
The record for best-review-matches-ever is held by the original Superfly I, which arrived in time for my Sunday League semi-final and final matches in which I bagged 5 goals and took home the trophy. Thank you, thank you.
So throwing on the Superfly II’s was exciting and the colourway immediately had my teamamates giving me plenty of stick. But there was something compelling about the challenge of playing up to your boots, because you can’t wear these and be an absolute clogger out there. The first few minutes I was surprised at how comfortable the boots were out the box, the Mercurials being notorious for blistering and a rough break-in, although I could feel that pressure on the toe flex-point but it’s not the sort of thing I noticed once the game really got underway. The lightness is still something that has me shaking my head even after I wore the original Superfly I for a season or two. It’s incredible to compare this boot to some that I wore a few years ago and you’re basically comparing a flip flop to a pair of construction boots.
Staying on the point of speed, the Superfly 2’s feature “Pressure-activated Adaptive Traction Technology” in the stud system. Basically there’s a couple studs at the front of the boot which can extend and retract a couple of millimeters, the idea being that if you step in a soft surface with give then the stud will extend and if you step on a hard surface the stud will stay put (or “short”). Thinking back to the Nike Innovation Event, lead designer Andy Caine told us that the idea was to allow the boot to provide increased traction from one spot of the pitch to another, let alone from match to match. Again this is one of those things that, no doubt, there is some scientific backing and testing that proves its effectiveness but you sort of have to take their word for it. The same goes for the fact that the stud system is designed to reduce costly slips during matches, or even slippage without the player going over, but again its not really possible to isolate that effect. The weight of the boot, however, leaves no doubts.
The colourway was one thing I really wanted to check out, the reasoning behind the bright orange of the heel counter was that Nike believed it would help activate the peripheral vision of your teammates, making it easier for them to spot you for a pass. The fact that only the heel is bright orange, as opposed to the entire boot, is on purpose as the idea is to create a flickering effect as your feet pass each other while running that will draw attention even further. It sounds simple but hard to argue with and the results were clear. After a few matches, a couple of my teammates commented at how they could easily see where I was because the orange drew their eye so quickly. I didn’t even explain that that was the point, so it was encouraging to hear them point it out on their own.
The shooting contact of the Nike Mercurial has always been my favourite part of the boot, even though it’s known for its lightness and speed. It’s not easy to really take note or measurement of boot performance other than comfort and weight, so its saying a lot that I can distinctly remember hitting crisp, powerful shots across all 4 pairs of Mercurials that I’ve worn over the years. I can even recall the matches, tending to be full of some of my best long shots and volleys as the instep really connected.
The Superfly II proved no different, running onto a long ball and volleying past the keeper early on. I resist the urge to do a somersault followed by removing my boot and kissing it, and settle for a simple, understated fist pump. For the next few matches, I really felt I was getting a hold of the ball every time I lined one up and even tried altering my technique to dig at the ball rather than follow through ala Cristiano Ronaldo. Delusional? Of course. But it felt amiss to not give it a go.
Eventually my ankle started to give me trouble on my planting-foot, with bruising beginning to form, but that’s something that’s been happening with a number of boots the last couple years so is almost certainly a problem with my foot rather than anything else. After a few matches I also noticed that the four, longer, injected studs on the heel of the foot would eventually give me some mild problems. Nothing major, but I could feel a little bruising by the end of the match – something that’s certainly a combination of the longer heel studs and relatively harder surface my team plays on.
A couple of my matches featured light rain and, in one of the major benefits of synthetic materials over leather, the boot remained unaffected. The rain ran off the boot rather than getting absorbed, and I felt as good in them in the last few minutes as the first.
A last note on the wear and tear, a downside to a bright colourway is that scuff marks and dirt will immediately show – taking some of the sheen off. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on how you like your boots to look. I’ll probably let them get well scuffed, so it doesn’t look like I just bought a new pair every week.
The boot is immense, unlike any boot I’ve put on my foot before. I’m usually a classic-look kind of guy (both my last two pairs of boots, the original Superfly 1’s and the Umbro Speciali were in plain black) but I’ve bought into this colourway and its tangible effect on your teammates. From the weight to the contact to the refined comfort, it’s excellent. There are still some minor trouble areas that will affect any synthetic boot, but the counter benefit of avoiding water-logging in wet matches and the gain in lightness more than balance things out. “Elite” is definitely the right word for these, and I can’t wait to try out its three siblings.
- Ridiculously lightweight.
- Noticeably crisper, solid contact on instep shots/volleys.
- Orange heel counter does actually help teammates find you.
- Outrageous purple/orange colourway forces you to play well, if you revel in that sort of pressure.
- Superior comfort and fit to previous Nike Mercurial boots.
- Synthetic materials didn’t soak up any water during a wet match, stayed light and unclogged.
- Mild pressure at the toe flex point that requires breaking in.
- Longer injection studs at the heel may create pressure on the foot on harder surfaces.
- Stiffer outsole of the Mercurial line means this is definitely a try-before-buy boot to make sure your foot fits as some gaps and pokes are likely as the boot flexes.
- Synthetic materials are the best I’ve felt of any boot so far, but still may not please the k-leather enthusiast.